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Northwest Herald

Recent news from Northwest Herald


McHenry County College to offer academic summer camps, classesChildren start solar power rovers in a Tech Camp class called Exploration 2050: Future of Space Exploration and Drones at McHenry County College.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:12:00 GMT

Keep your children busy this summer with academic and enriching programs at McHenry County College with the MCC Kids and College program, offered June 18 to Aug. 9 for students in first through 12th grade.

This year’s theme is “Dream Big: Where Creativity and Innovation Meet Summer Fun.” Children can attend for one week or for all six weeks. Flexible programming is available, including before and after care to accommodate parents’ busy schedules.

“These quality and affordable programs aim to keep kids engaged in learning, sharpen critical thinking skills, inspire creativity and maybe even light a spark for a future career,” said Laura Beaupre, coordinator of College and Career Readiness at MCC.

New this year are high school STEM Boot Camps for students in ninth to 12th grade. Kids and College also offers half-day academic and enrichment classes and full-day STEM camps to prepare students for the upcoming school year, expose them to 21st-century learning skills and expand their knowledge in many content areas.

Instructors include MCC faculty, certified teachers and support staff who bring their passion and enthusiasm to MCC each day.

Kids and College offers a full menu of digital media and technology classes, including computer gaming, 2D animation, APP development and web design.

The popular MCC Tech Camp STEM offers weeklong sessions Monday to Thursday for students in first through ninth grad. The full-day MCC Tech camp is a one-week camp offering hands-on learning in the areas of science, engineering, art and technology, as well as outdoor fun. All campers in MCC Tech Camp will be placed in their age group of no more than 20 students.

Summer Academy classes include academic enrichment classes designed to tap into kids’ creativity and critical-thinking skills. Popular classes include Baking and Culinary Academies, Creative Writing, Essays and Presentations, Digital Storytelling, Persuasive Writing, Girls Only STEM: Tiny House Design and Décor, Intro to Web Design, 3D Video Game Design with Unity and more.

Flexible schedules are available, including one- and two-week Summer Academy classes, offered in both the morning and afternoon with an option to stay for lunch. Before and after care is available, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m., and 4 to 5:30 p.m.

For cost information or to register, visit For information, contact Laura Beaupre at

Children start solar power rovers in a Tech Camp class called Exploration 2050: Future of Space Exploration and Drones at McHenry County College.

Media Files:

Sun City Huntley among 'best-selling' active adult communities

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:12:00 GMT

Sun City Huntley by Del Webb has been named one of the “50 Best-Selling Active Adult Communities for 2018” by, the No. 1 resource for information about active adult communities in the U.S.

For the period of March 1, 2017, to Feb. 28, compiled a list of the best-selling active adult communities based on the number of sales through and other criteria.

“It has been nearly 20 years since development began in 1999, and the community is thriving. I often hear residents say that moving to Sun City Huntley was one of the best decisions they’ve made,” said Deanna Loughran, executive director of the Sun City Community Association of Huntley.

For information about Sun City Huntley, visit

Media Files:

Roads reopen after transformer fire

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:11:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Ackman and Golf Course roads were closed for an hour Friday because of a transformer fire on an electric pole that closed the intersection.

Crystal Lake police Cmdr. Scott Miller said the transformer blew and was causing some isolated sparks.

The Crystal Lake Fire Department requested a temporary closure of the area of Ackman Road from Westport Ridge to Golf Course Road.

ComEd fixed the transformer about noon, and the roads were reopened by 1:20 p.m.

- Megan Jones

Media Files:

Israeli fire in new Gaza border protest kills 4 PalestiniansPalestinian medics evacuate a wounded person during clashes with Israeli troops Friday along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:09:00 GMT

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli soldiers firing Friday from across a border fence killed four Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, and wounded more than 150 others, health officials said, as several thousand people in blockaded Gaza staged a fourth round of weekly protests on the border with Israel. Huge plumes of black smoke from burning tires engulfed the border area. Some of the activists threw stones toward the fence or flew kites with flaming rags dangling from their tails. The latest deaths brought to 32 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in protests since March. More than 1,600 have been wounded by live rounds in the past three weeks, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The rising Palestinian casualty toll signaled that Israel’s military is sticking to its open-fire rules despite international criticism of the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters. Israel said it’s defending its border, and alleges Gaza’s ruling Hamas uses protests as cover for attacks. Israeli soldiers are positioned on the other side of the border fence, including snipers taking cover behind earthen berms, and none have been hurt. Turnout for the marches has fluctuated, with the biggest showing March 30, but Friday’s crowd appeared to have been somewhat larger than the one the previous week. The marches are part of what organizers, led by Hamas, have billed as an escalating showdown with Israel, to culminate in a mass march May 15. The top Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said Friday that people should get ready for large crowds spilling across the border that day. “Our people will outnumber the occupation and force it from our land,” he said, referring to Israel. Hamas said the protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant group overran Gaza in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliament elections. The marches also press for a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from homes in the 1948 war over Israel’s creation. Palestinians mark May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s founding, as their “nakba,” or catastrophe, to mourn their mass uprooting. “We will stay here until we reclaim our lands,” said Ahmed Nasman, 21, speaking in a protest tent camp east of Gaza City, as activists near him prepared kites. “Every day, we will come here with a new way to resist them,” he said, referring to Israel. Several thousand protesters flocked to the border area Friday, most gathering at five tent camps several hundred yards away from the border. Smaller groups advanced toward the fence, throwing stones, burning tires and flying kites with burning rags. The kites are part of a new tactic aimed at setting fields on the Israeli side on fire. Most kites showed the colors of the Palestinian flag. One white kite bore a Nazi swastika. Earlier on Friday, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence and warning that they endanger their lives if they follow Hamas directives. While Hamas and smaller Palestinian factions have taken a lead as organizers, the mass marches are also fueled by growing desperation among Gaza’s 2 million residents. The border blockade has trapped nearly all of them in the tiny coastal territory, gutted the economy and deepened poverty. Gaza residents typically get fewer than five hours of electricity a day, while unemployment has soared abov[...]

Media Files:

Ex-FBI deputy director 'disappointed' in Comey commentsThen-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on June 7 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:08:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is “very upset and disappointed” by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday.

“Andy has at all times attempted to, and believes he’s been successful in, playing it straight with Jim,” Michael Bromwich told reporters as he again attacked an internal investigation process that led to McCabe’s firing from the FBI last month and a criminal referral to federal prosecutors.

The disagreement stems from conflicting recollections about a conversation the two men had after an October 2016 Wall Street Journal story about an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

McCabe said he told Comey after the article was published that he had authorized FBI officials to share information with the reporter – specifically, details of a heated phone conversation with a senior Justice Department official – in order to push back against a story he felt was going to be unfair to the bureau.

Comey, however, has said McCabe did not acknowledge having done so and left the impression that he didn’t know who had shared that information with the journalist.

The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that McCabe misled officials under oath about authorizing the disclosure. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him last month, and the inspector general’s office in recent weeks referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington for a possible criminal investigation.

Bromwich said Friday that the threshold for criminal referrals is very low, and that he did not expect the case to result in prosecution.

He said the investigation that led to McCabe’s firing was “unprecedented” in its speed and accelerated so that he could be terminated without being allowed to retire with full pension benefits.

The disagreement and contrasting memories have burst into public view this week, as Comey has insisted in television interviews that he stands by his account and that the FBI and Justice Department cannot tolerate lack of candor. He has said that he feels conflicted about McCabe’s legal problems given that the two men worked closely together.

“I like him very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn’t do,” Comey said in an interview with CNN on Thursday.

Bromwich also suggested that the disagreement was not personal, although he did note that McCabe feels “very upset and disappointed” by some of Comey’s comments.

“Andy McCabe and Jim Comey had an excellent relationship,” Bromwich said. “Andy McCabe looked up to Jim Comey. We are not for a moment suggesting that Jim Comey is making things up or lying.”

Then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on June 7 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Media Files:

Democrats' lawsuit alleges conspiracy between Trump camp, RussiaPresident Donald Trump listens during an April 18 news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, in Palm Beach, Fla. The Democratic National Committee on Friday sued President Donald Trump's campaign, Trump's son, his son-in-law, the Russian Federation and WikiLeaks.A lawsuit that was filed by the Democratic National Committee, as photographed Friday in Washington. The national Democratic Party sued President Donald Trump's campaign, his son, his son-in-law, the Russian Federation and WikiLeaks, accusing them of an intricate conspiracy to undercut Democrats in the 2016 election by stealing tens of thousands of emails and documents.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:06:00 GMT

NEW YORK – The Democratic Party sued Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Russia, WikiLeaks and Trump’s son and son-in-law Friday, accusing them of an intricate conspiracy to undercut Democrats in the 2016 election by stealing tens of thousands of emails and documents. The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court seeks unspecified damages and an order to prevent further interference with computer systems of the Democratic National Committee. “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. He called it an “act of unprecedented treachery.” The Democrats accuse Trump and his associates of trading on pre-existing relationships with Russian oligarchs tied to President Vladimir Putin and of collaborating with Russia as it worked to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The president has said repeatedly there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. On Friday, his campaign scorned the lawsuit as “frivolous” and predicted it would be quickly dismissed. “This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. He said the campaign would seek to turn the tables on the Democrats, using the legal discovery process to try to pry documents from the DNC including any related to a dossier detailing allegations of links between Trump and Russia. The dossier – a collection of memos – was written by an ex-British spy whose work was funded by Clinton and the DNC. Trump himself tweeted that the DNC lawsuit could be “very good news,” saying his campaign “will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI” as well as Hillary Clinton’s emails. Trump’s tweet also referred to “the Wendy Wasserman Schultz Servers and Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man.” He appeared to be referring to former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and reports of an IT specialist who once worked for some House Democrats. Requests for comment from the Russian Embassy in Washington were not immediately returned. The Democrats’ lawsuit doesn’t reveal new details in the sprawling storyline of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives working on behalf of the Kremlin. Instead it knits many of the threads that have emerged in public over the past two years to paint a picture of an alleged conspiracy between the Trump campaign, the Kremlin and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The DNC said the “brazen attack on American democracy” began with a cyberattack on DNC computers and phone systems in 2015, allowing the extraction of tens of thousands of documents and emails. WikiLeaks then blasted out many of the documents July 22, 2016, shortly before Clinton was to be nominated – upsetting the Democrats’ national convention. That added up to a “campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” the DNC lawyers write in the lawsuit. That conspiracy violated the laws of the U.S., Virginia and the District of Columbia, the lawsuit said, and “under the laws of this nation, Russia and its co-conspirators must answer for these actions.” The DNC accuses Donald Trump Jr. of secretly communicating with WikiLeaks, and blames the president, too,[...]

Media Files:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at Judson UniversityFormer Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich speaks as part of the World Leaders Forum on Thursday at Judson University in Elgin.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:05:00 GMT

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean showed how those on opposite political sides can be polite, work together and accomplish a goal at the 2018 World Leaders Forum on Thursday at Judson University in Elgin.

Dean, the Democrat, and Gingrich, the Republican, presented “A Bipartisan Conversation About Leadership in Divided Times,” illustrating by example how to conduct themselves without rancor or name-calling.

“There’s no reason we can’t work together,” Dean said. “The best years I had as governor was when one party controlled one chamber and the other party controlled the other chamber. If I needed help reducing spending, I went to the Republicans. If I needed help with a program, I went to the Democrats.”

Gingrich praised the genius of the nation’s Founding Fathers in designing the way government would work.

“The Founding Fathers saw themselves as engineers who were trying to build a machine that was sufficiently inefficient that no dictator could make it work,” Gingrich said. “Their design was very deliberate. They feared tyranny and fought a revolutionary war. They did not want to see freedom slide back into dictatorship, so they designed this very intricate, very complicated machine.”

The process called politics, Gingrich said, is a way to sublimate civil war where passions, dreams and fears “come into this arena we call politics.”

Neither Gingrich, nor Dean said anything about President Donald Trump.

Dean said America is an exceptional country because the founders created a system in which the government works for the public and not the other way around.

George Washington turned down a third term as president because he said the office was more important than the person holding it, Dean said.

“Somewhere along the line, we lost our way,” Dean said. “The two parties have very different philosophies, but that should not stop us from moving our country forward. … I’m optimistic about the future because of our younger generation – a powerful group of socially tolerant, respectful individuals who are eager to work together.”

The real effect of partisan attacks is it cuts off a legislator’s ability to communicate with other people, Gingrich said.

“It’s very important to remember the other person is a human being, not the ‘other.’ They are not alien,” Gingrich said. “And as a human being, they deserve a chance to have their views [heard].”

Gingrich said meetings are an opportunity “to listen, learn, help and lead – in that order.”

In that format, solutions emerge, Gingrich said.

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich speaks as part of the World Leaders Forum on Thursday at Judson University in Elgin.

Media Files:

Illinois woman sentenced to life in prison for deadly plot in CanadaLindsay Souvannarath arrives at provincial court in March 2015 in Halifax. Souvannarath has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for nearly a decade. The Geneva, Ill., resident pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder in a plan that involved opening fire at a mall in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2015.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:05:00 GMT

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – An Illinois woman who plotted to go on a Valentine’s Day shooting rampage at a Canadian mall was sentenced to life in prison Friday with no chance of parole for nearly a decade.

Lindsay Souvannarath of Geneva pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder in a plan that involved opening fire at a mall in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2015.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski said that Souvannarath is and will remain a threat to society.

He said she has not expressed remorse for her plot.

Rosinski also said that if the plan to kill unsuspecting shoppers had not been interrupted by an anonymous tip and the quick actions of police in Nova Scotia, it would have been carried out.

Rosinski said his sentence was partly shaped by the principles that apply to terrorism.

While he told the court the motivations and intentions in the case aren’t precisely the same as those related to terrorism activities, he said the crime requires the court to “send a clear message” to those conspiring to kill multiple people that “they will pay a heavy price.”

The judge also gave Souvannarath credit for time served in custody, so she will be eligible for parole in seven years.

Police thwarted the planned attack after receiving an anonymous tip, but Souvannarath had already boarded a plane in Chicago bound for Nova Scotia.

Her co-conspirator, James Gamble, killed himself as police surrounded his Halifax-area home. Souvannarath was arrested at the airport.

A third accomplice – a Canadian man described in court as the “cheerleader” of the plot – was previously sentenced to a decade in jail.

When Rosinski asked Souvannarath if she would like to address the court before sentencing, the 26-year-old said: “I decline.”

Before delivering sections of his decision orally in court Friday, the judge entered new letters from Souvannarath’s parents and grandparents as exhibits in the case.

The parents of both Souvannarath and Gamble were in court for the sentencing.

At the time the plot was being planned, Souvannarath and Gamble were unemployed and lived with their families.

Court documents released say online conversations between Souvannarath and her Canadian friend quickly devolved into a shared admiration for the Columbine killers, mass shootings and their murderous conspiracy to go on a shooting rampage at the Halifax Shopping Centre food court.

Lindsay Souvannarath arrives at provincial court in March 2015 in Halifax. Souvannarath has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for nearly a decade. The Geneva, Ill., resident pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder in a plan that involved opening fire at a mall in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2015.

Media Files:

Woodstock woman charged with DUI after crashing into police carCassandra Pociask, 52 of Woodstock, was charged with driving under the influence, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and failing the right-of-way at at an intersection.Cassandra Pociask, 52 of Woodstock

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:04:00 GMT

A Woodstock woman was charged Thursday with driving under the influence after crashing into an unmarked police car responding to a separate incident, police said.

Cassandra Pociask, 52, was driving a black Ford Focus south on South Seminary Avenue, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sandra Rogers said Friday. A Woodstock police officer was going east on South Street responding to a call for service with his emergency lights activated.

Pociask failed to yield at a stop sign and collided into the driver’s side of the police car about 6:35 p.m., Rogers said.

There was minor damage to both vehicles, and while interviewing Pociask, officers saw signs of impairment, Rogers said.

Pociask also was charged with failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and failing to yield the right-of-way at an intersection, Rogers said.

It was not clear whether a breath test was administered for Pociask.

Pociask is being held at the McHenry County Jail with bond set at $300.

No injuries were reported in the incident. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office investigated the crash because a Woodstock police car was involved.

Cassandra Pociask, 52 of Woodstock, was charged with driving under the influence, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and failing the right-of-way at at an intersection.Cassandra Pociask, 52 of Woodstock

Media Files:

Police still searching for car theft suspectA man fled after crashing into a traffic signal Wednesday in Crystal Lake.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:04:00 GMT

Police still are searching for a man who fled on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake, Cary Deputy Police Chief Jim Fillmore said Friday morning.

“No information has come in yet,” Fillmore said. “We’ve gathered some items, but we are going to have to wait for the results to come back. Sometimes that can take a long time actually with the backlog.”

A woman stopped at Bob’s Amoco BP Station, 400 Silver Lake Road, Cary, and was away from her vehicle when the male suspect jumped into her car and drove off about 9 p.m., Fillmore said.

About 9:30 p.m., a car crashed into a traffic signal at Randall Road and McHenry Avenue, knocking out power to the traffic controls, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.

A McHenry County Sheriff’s deputy later found the crashed car, and when the deputy approached the car, the man inside took off on foot, deputy Sandra Rogers said.

The suspect has shoulder-length blond hair and was wearing jeans and a camouflage jacket, Fillmore said.

Anyone with information should call the Cary Police Department at 847-639-2341, the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620 or McHenry County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-762-7867.

A man fled after crashing into a traffic signal Wednesday in Crystal Lake.

Media Files:

Woodstock senior wins scholarship in Illinois Realtors Bicentennial Essay ContestJim Haisler, the Organization’s CEO, who also served as the Essay Contest’s Chairperson.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:03:00 GMT

A Woodstock High School student was among 23 scholarship winners in an essay contest that celebrates Illinois’ bicentennial.

Jade Bellairs, a Woodstock High School senior, was awarded $750 toward academic expenses by submitting an essay on the theme “Home is Where the Heart is.” Her entry was selected from more than 450 essays submitted as part of the contest sponsored by Illinois Realtors as part of the association’s celebration of the state’s 200th birthday.

Bellairs’ entry was judged a winner by a 10-member selection committee. In all, the association’s Bicentennial Task Force awarded one $1,000 scholarship, 11 scholarships for $750 and 11 scholarships for $250. For information on the essay contest, go to

Top finalists also included:

$1,000: Hannah Young, Wheaton Academy, West Chicago

$750: Gabrielle Allen, Warrensburg-Latham High School, Warrensburg; Bailey Brooks, Forreston Junior/Senior High School, Forreston; Megan Coakley, Grant Community High School, Fox Lake; Dillon Davey, Barrington High School, Barrington; Kennedy Green, Sacred Heart-Griffin, Springfield; Emma Nelson, homeschool student, Brookport; Cooper Peterson, Glenwood High School, Chatham; Amber Tomlin, Heyworth High School, Heyworth; Clare Turano, Willows Academy, Des Plaines; Camilla Vazquez, William Fremd High School, Palatine.

The essay contest is one of several ways Illinois Realtors members are marking the state’s 200th birthday.

“Locally, the Heartland Realtor Organization in Crystal Lake will be partnering with five local ‘Tour of History’ events from April to October to celebrate the state’s history,” said Jim Haisler, the organization’s CEO, who also served as the essay contest’s chairperson.

On Aug. 26, the state association plans to open Bicentennial Plaza – A Realtor Community Partnership in Springfield.

The plaza’s grand opening is a signature event of the state’s Bicentennial Commission’s celebration of the milestone.

Jim Haisler, the Organization’s CEO, who also served as the Essay Contest’s Chairperson.

Media Files:

Council approves budget, votes to lease vehicles to save moneyCrystal Lake City Council approved a balanced budget that includes a new tactic to save funding: leasing department vehicles.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:03:00 GMT

Crystal Lake City Council approved a balanced budget that includes a new tactic to save: leasing department vehicles.

Council members voted, 5-0, to approve the budget Tuesday that spends about $89.8 million, a $16,000 decrease from this year’s budget, according to village documents.

A twist on the budget is a new leasing and replacement program for all city vehicles, except ambulances and fire engines. The police department is in need of 10 vehicle replacements.

The goal is to use a fleet leasing program instead of purchasing vehicles outright to improve cash flow, implement replacement schedules and reduce maintenance costs.

The city has 57 vehicles, and it would cost $4.8 million to purchase the vehicles for the next five years, finance director George Koczwara said. It would cost $3.8 million to replace 120 units through the leasing program, he said.

“It’s important we have a fleet that is safe, reliable and provides the necessary functionality at an economical cost,” Koczwara said. “As a vehicle ages, its capital cost diminishes, and its operating costs of maintenance and repair increases.”

Koczwara said ideally, vehicles should be replaced when these two costs meet each other. The city would lease from Enterprise Fleet Management and lease terms would span five years. The city would annually determine how many vehicles they will lease each year and Enterprise would pay for all repairs of the vehicles at local repair shops.

One fleet maintenance position will be eliminated through attrition once someone retires.

The city has budgeted $13.49 million for capital expenditures, including roadway improvements, automotive equipment, computer hardware, information technology equipment, tree replacement, sewer improvements and a water delivery study.

The city is expecting revenue to increase in the upcoming fiscal year because of an increase in sales tax with Mariano’s and Steinhafels Furniture opening.

The budget included the final year of 11.4 percent increases in water and sewer rates that go into effect May 1, when the city’s fiscal year begins.

Additionally, 27¼ positions were eliminated through attrition since the start of the Great Recession. Nonunion employees have the ability to receive a 3 percent raise based on individual performance for the upcoming fiscal year.

More than 70 percent of general fund expenditures go to personnel services.

Crystal Lake City Council approved a balanced budget that includes a new tactic to save funding: leasing department vehicles.

Media Files:

Bernotas Middle School prioritizes service learningA clothing committee made up of seventh-graders is pictured with Jennifer Kolarczyk, volunteer program coordinator for Home of the Sparrow.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:03:00 GMT

To enhance personal growth and development and create more civic-minded students, Bernotas Middle School has prioritized service learning during the 2017-18 school year. By pairing up with local not-for-profit organizations and agencies and a neighboring District 47 school, teams of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are making a difference in the Crystal Lake community.

The service learning project idea grew out of a desire to increase students’ awareness of the various needs in their community and to encourage them to get involved, assistant principal Kellie Marks said. Marks said the yearlong service learning plan came about during school improvement team meetings during the 2016-17 school year. After researching and discussing the benefits of service learning, the improvement team dedicated time throughout the 2017-18 school year to teach Bernotas students how to engage with their community.

“One of the goals of the service learning endeavor is for our staff and students to value working with our community and to continue this work in the future,” Marks said. “It is exciting to watch the progress that has been made so far.”

One of the unique aspects of the Bernotas service learning model is that each service team is run by students. At the beginning of the school year, each grade-level team chose a not-for-profit agency to work with. Students learned about their respective organization’s mission through guest visits or by taking field trips to on-site locations.

Grade-level teams then brainstormed ways to contribute to the mission of their partnering organization, creating committees to accomplish tasks. Once or twice a month, students meet with their fellow students to carry out their service learning projects.

Examples of student-community partnerships by grade level include:

Sixth-graders are taking up donations for PADS of McHenry County and creating holiday greeting cards for those served by the organization.

Seventh-graders are helping women and children through the Home of the Sparrow. After learning about homelessness from the organization’s volunteer coordinator, students brainstormed ways to help. Ideas presented included recipe boxes, grooming kits, first aid kits and a clothing drive.

Eighth-graders rang the bell over the holidays to benefit the Salvation Army. Illini students also worked on a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser to benefit childhood cancer research March 23 at Bernotas Middle School.

A clothing committee made up of seventh-graders is pictured with Jennifer Kolarczyk, volunteer program coordinator for Home of the Sparrow.

Media Files:

McHenry man accused of smuggling pills into jailNicholas B. Hitztaler, 19, of McHenry.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:03:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A man who police said smuggled pain and anxiety medication into the McHenry County Jail remained at the facility Friday.

Officers arrested 19-year-old Nicholas B. Hitztaler on Wednesday after he missed a court appearance on felony drug charges, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office sent Friday.

Hitztaler was charged in December with possessing more than 15 grams of heroin.

When police searched Hitztaler before letting him in the jail Thursday, 18 pills bundled in a wad of tissue paper fell out of his clothes, the release stated.

The man told police he already had taken 11 pills, according to the news release.

Hitztaler was placed under a 72-hour watch. He faces new charges of possession of a controlled substance and bringing contraband into a penal institution.

His bond is set at $115,000. He’s scheduled to make his first court appearance on the most recent charges Friday.

– Katie Smith

Nicholas B. Hitztaler, 19, of McHenry.

Media Files:

Couple facing drug dealing charges given OK to have jailhouse weddingDeonte L. BaughDurelle J. Hall

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:54:00 GMT

Two inmates at the McHenry County Jail have been granted permission to get married while in custody.

Both Durelle J. Hall, 26, and Deonte L. Baugh, 29, sent handwritten letters to the McHenry County Clerk’s Office requesting an order allowing the co-defendants to have a wedding ceremony at the jail.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather issued that order April 6, and it was not immediately clear when the wedding would occur.

Typically, a judge will perform the service at the jail in a room where newly arrested inmates are read their rights and have their bond set, McHenry County court administrator Dan Wallis said. Both Baugh and Hall will be required to wear their jail uniforms. Family can attend, but they’ll have to observe from outside the courtroom behind a glass window.

Police arrested Hall and Baugh in July after they were accused of selling cocaine to an undercover police officer on two separate occasions.

At the time, Hall was awaiting drug-induced-homicide charges in connection with a Marengo overdose death. She since has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The pair faces a series of felony drug and child endangerment charges stemming from a police search of their Woodstock home. There, McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies said they found more than 3 pounds of marijuana, 17 grams of cocaine and 10 Ativan pills.

Married couples sometimes are afforded a privilege that can protect them from having to testify against each other in court. It was not clear whether Baugh and Hall would qualify for that privilege, however, since they were not married when the alleged crime occurred.

Baugh and Hall both are due back in court May 9.

Deonte L. BaughDurelle J. Hall

Media Files:

Hubly says former student persuaded classmates to lie in courtFormer Crystal Lake Central choir director Justin Hubly arrives for court with supporters on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Woodstock. Hubly is accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:53:00 GMT

A 36-year-old former high school music teacher took the stand Friday and vehemently denied acting inappropriately with two Crystal Lake Central graduates, adding that allowing 19-year-olds to drink at his home on multiple occasions was use of “poor judgment.”

Visibly frustrated during testimony Friday, Justin Hubly told prosecutors that a disapproving student persuaded his peers to rally against the former teacher in court. The reason, his attorney said, didn’t matter.

“They walked into this courtroom like they walked into District 155 and lied,” Hubly said.

Hubly is charged in two separate cases with battery and giving alcohol to a minor. The charges stem from claims that the former teacher hosted parties at his Crystal Lake home, where he provided groups of mostly 19-year-olds with tequila and rum, and on two occasions, allegedly inappropriately touched young women. He denied ever touching one of the alleged victims. His account of what happened the night of Oct. 7, 2016, was in marked contrast to that of a now 21-year-old woman’s testimony during the first day of trial Wednesday.

The young woman told McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt that she had gone to Hubly’s that night to drink and left about an hour after he first kissed and touched her in ways that made her uncomfortable. Hubly, however, told a different story Friday about the kiss he said they shared.

“I stopped and said, ‘I don’t want to do this. We’re friends,’ ” he testified.

He believes the charges against him are the fault of a now 22-year-old Crystal Lake Central High School graduate, who defense attorney, Henry Sugden, said coached the other young witnesses before taking the stand.

The former student testified Thursday that he does not like Hubly.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Brette Dunbar noted that there was no evidence the 22-year-old and the other alleged victim even knew each other.

Wilbrandt called a brief recess after questioning between Hubly and Dunbar turned argumentative. When the trial resumed minutes later, Dunbar told the judge that Hubly took advantage of his relationship with the former students.

“He exploited their vulnerability and their impressionability,” Dunbar said.

Wilbrandt is expected to announce a verdict Friday.

Former Crystal Lake Central choir director Justin Hubly arrives for court with supporters on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Woodstock. Hubly is accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21.

Media Files:

McHenry County area red light cameras continue to generate millionsA truck travels east while a Metra trains speeds past a sign that indicates red light cameras are in effect at the intersection of Routes 14 and 22 on April 11 in Fox River Grove.McHenry County area red light cameras, such as this one photographed March 28 at the interesection of routes 120 and 12 in Lakemoor, have generated millions of dollars in revenue since 2016.Red light cameras are popping up more in the area, and the ones at the intersection of Routes 120 and 12, photographed March 28 in Lakemoor, have led to a lawsuit.A red light camera records images of drivers at the intersection of Routes 14 and 22 on April 11 in Fox River Grove.A red light camera records images of drivers at the intersection of Routes 14 and 22 on April 11 in Fox River Grove.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:53:00 GMT

Red light cameras in the McHenry County area are sparse but bring in millions of dollars in revenue annually. Fox River Grove and Lakemoor are the only two municipalities in the county that use red light cameras. Lake in the Hills and Algonquin both shut down red light camera programs in 2016. Fox River Grove officials said there are no plans to take down the camera at the intersection of routes 22 and 14. Lakemoor, which sits in both McHenry and Lake counties, is in the midst of a class-action lawsuit related to its red light camera program. Lakemoor officials didn’t return calls for comment. Red light camera programs typically are set up with the intention of making problematic intersections safer. They also are good for revenue – Fox River Grove has collected $1.6 million from violation fees since January 2016. Lakemoor has collected about $3.6 million in the same time period, according to records provided by the municipalities under a Freedom of Information Act request. That revenue came from 56,904 violations at Lakemoor’s Route 12 and Route 120 intersection and 30,994 violations in Fox River Grove, records show. Lake in the Hills issued less than 700 first- and second-violation notices in 2016 before the program was shut down, records show. Between 2010 and 2015, the village issued about 3,500 violations, which generated about $412,000. Village officials decided to end the program because of upcoming construction on Randall Road. “It will impact [the intersection of Randall Road and Acorn Lane], and we would have had to take the cameras out,” said Lake in the Hills Police Department’s Deputy Chief of Support Services Pat Boulden. “Construction hasn’t started yet, but at the time, we would have had to go into a long-term contract.” The village also would have to reapply for a red light camera permit through the county and demonstrate a continued need for the camera at the reconfigured intersection after construction is complete, he said. “The goal of the program was to bring attention to the issue and change driver behavior,” he said. “We accomplished that.” He said there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in crashes or issues at the intersection since the camera has come down. Algonquin shut down its program in 2016 as crashes and violation notices dropped. Fox River Grove Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said the village has no plans to take down its cameras because the program consistently improves safety. He said the village doesn’t rely on violation dollars for operations. “We specifically … put those funds back in the community,” he said, “so capital improvements, investments into the parks, our facade grant program for businesses in town.” A truck travels east while a Metra trains speeds past a sign that indicates red light cameras are in effect at the intersection of Routes 14 and 22 on April 11 in Fox River Grove.McHenry County area red light cameras, such as this one photographed March 28 at the interesection of routes 120 and 12 in Lakemoor, have generated millions of dollars in revenue since 2016.Red light cameras are popping up more in the area, and the ones at the intersection of Routes 120 and 12, photographed March 28 in Lakemoor, have led to a lawsuit.[...][...]

Media Files:

President George HW Bush greets mourners honoring his wifeDeborah Blanton of Houston signs a board honoring former first lady Barbara Bush on Thursday in Houston.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 02:49:00 GMT

HOUSTON – His daughter standing behind him, former President George H.W. Bush sat at the front of the cavernous sanctuary of St. Martin's Episcopal Church. He gazed up at the rose-draped casket holding his wife of 73 years. After a few moments, an aide came forward to help Bush with his wheelchair, turning it so he faced the rest of the sanctuary. A string of mourners began to approach: adults and children, many of the women wearing his wife's favorite color, blue, and trademark pearls. He offered his hand and smiled as people shook it. Thousands of people came Friday to pay respect to Barbara Bush, wife of the nation's 41st president and mother of the nation's 43rd. Among them was Houston social worker Varney Johnson, who like other mourners said he wanted to honor her work supporting literacy. "This woman dedicated her life to educating children," he said. Barbara and George Bush were married longer than any other presidential couple when she died Tuesday at their home in Houston. One of just two first ladies to have a child elected president, Barbara Bush was widely admired for her plainspoken style and her advocacy for causes including literacy and AIDS awareness. A hearse containing the former first lady's casket arrived before daybreak at St. Martin's, which is the nation's largest Episcopal church. Her body was to be in repose from noon until midnight. A spray of dozens of roses covered the closed light-colored metallic casket. The 93-year-old former president arrived at the church shortly after the viewing opened, accompanied by daughter Dorothy Bush Koch. He hadn't been scheduled to visit, but he decided to go after watching video from the church, said family spokesman Jim McGrath. Bush shook dozens of hands and stayed for about 15 minutes. "I think he was very touched by all of the people who were taking the time out of their lives," McGrath said. "It was just a natural inclination for him." Lucy Orlando was one of the more than 100 people in line well before bus service began from a separate location to the church. Originally from Haiti, the 74-year-old Orlando had traveled from Weston, Florida, and said she has admired Barbara Bush for years, including for her work promoting literacy. "She was a very sweet lady and she loves people," said Orlando, who was carrying a gray suitcase containing framed photos of the couple and members of their family, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. Jessica Queener, who works in special education and wears a cochlear implant to help with hearing loss, said Barbara Bush's work in education and helping people with disabilities "really resonates with me on a personal level but also professionally." In Houston for work from Washington, D.C., Queener and her husband decided to attend the public viewing, saying she also credits the former first lady for being a positive influence when her husband signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Barbara Bush's funeral will be held Saturday behind her husband's presidential library at Texas A&M University, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. The burial site is in a gated plot surrounded by trees and near a creek where the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953, is buried. In a statement released[...]

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Leak crackdown talk yields rare Comey, Trump agreementCopies of the memos written by former FBI Director James Comey, as photographed Thursday.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 02:46:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – James Comey and President Donald Trump seem to disagree on most everything, but the ex-FBI director's memos show consensus on at least one thing: the need to hunt down leakers. The two men bonded over the idea of a proposed leak crackdown, even sharing a chuckle over a crude joke involving jailed journalists, according to memos written by Comey and obtained by The Associated Press. The jocularity over leakers and journalists is striking given the otherwise tense nature of their conversations, which touched on loyalty pledges, Russian prostitutes and open FBI investigations. The memos kept by Comey show his unease with Trump's requests and his concern that the president was blurring the bright line between politics and law enforcement, including with a request that he end an investigation into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. Yet Trump and Comey were clearly on the same page about leaks, even if they weren't quite in agreement on whom to hold accountable for them. Comey recounts an Oval Office conversation from February 2017 in which Trump raises the prospect of jailing journalists who benefit from leaked information. According to the memos, Comey told Trump it would be tricky legally to jail reporters but said he saw value in going after leakers and "putting a head on a pike as a message" by bringing such a case. Trump shot back that sending that message may involve jailing reporters. "They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk," Trump says in one memo. Comey laughed as he walked out of the room, according to the memo. The Trump administration has loudly complained about leaks, and Trump himself has repeatedly accused Comey of being a leaker. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said there are several dozen leak investigations open, though that aggressiveness is similar to that of the Obama Justice Department, which was frequently criticized by media organizations and free press advocates. Comey's memos had been eagerly anticipated since their existence was first revealed last year, especially since Comey's interactions with Trump are a critical part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice. After his firing, Comey provided one of his memos to a friend so he could disclose details to journalists and prompt the appointment of a special counsel. Comey has said he was within his rights as a private citizen to make the disclosure. Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted that the memos "show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION." The documents cover the early months of the Trump administration, a period of upheaval marked by staff turnover, a cascade of damaging headlines and revelations of an FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The memos reflect Trump's uneasiness about that investigation, though not always in ways that Comey seemed to anticipate. In a February 2017 conversation, for instance, Trump told Comey how Putin told him, "we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world" even as the president adamantly distanced himself from a salacious allegation concerning himself and prostitutes in Moscow,[...]

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In new walkouts, students look to turn outrage to actionHarvard University students observe a moment of silence Friday during a protest against school shootings and gun violence on the steps of Widener Library on campus in Cambridge, Mass. Protests were planned across the country Friday, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 02:44:00 GMT

Once again, they filed out of class. In a new wave of school walkouts, they raised their voices against gun violence. But this time, they were looking to turn outrage into action. Many of the students who joined demonstrations across the country Friday turned their attention to upcoming elections as they pressed for tougher gun laws and politicians who will enact them. Scores of rallies turned into voter registration drives. Students took the stage to issue an ultimatum to their lawmakers. “We want to show that we’re not scared. We want to stop mass shootings and we want gun control,” said Binayak Pandey, 16, who rallied with dozens of students outside Georgia’s Capitol in Atlanta. “The people who can give us that will stay in office, and the people who can’t give us that will be out of office.” All told, tens of thousands of students left class Friday for protests that spread from coast to coast. They filed out at 10 a.m. to gather for a moment of silence honoring the victims of gun violence. Some headed to nearby rallies. Others stayed at school to discuss gun control and register their peers to vote. Organizers said an estimated 150,000 students protested Friday at more than 2,700 walkouts, including at least one in each state, as they sought to sustain a wave of youth activism that drove a larger round of walkouts on March 14. Activists behind that earlier protest estimated it drew nearly 1 million students. HeadCount, a nonprofit group that registers voters at music events, said 700 people had signed up to vote through its website during the past week. That’s up from just 10 people in the same period last year. Spokesman Aaron Ghitelman credited the uptick to walkout organizers who steered teens to the group’s website. Friday’s action was planned by a Connecticut teenager, Lane Murdock, after a gunman stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, leaving 17 people dead. It was meant to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado. The focus on the November elections reflects a shift after activists gained little immediate traction in Washington – and prospects for their influence remain uncertain. Congress has shown little inclination to tighten gun laws, and President Donald Trump backed away from his initial support for raising the minimum age to buy some guns. Among those who helped orchestrate the walkout – and the voter registration push – was the progressive group Indivisible, which formed after the 2016 election to oppose Trump’s policies. In cities across the country, it was common to see crowds of students clad in orange – the color used by hunters to signal “don’t shoot” – rallying outside their schools or at public parks. Several hundred gathered at New York City’s Washington Square Park, chanting “The NRA has got to go!” and “Enough is enough.” A large group in Washington marched from the White House to the Capitol building to rally for gun control. Nate Fenerty was among dozens of students who left class to rally in Richmond, Virginia. He registered to vote for the first time at tables set up by students at the protest and said he wants Congress to approve mandatory backgro[...]

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Site of unsolved 1981 Springfield ax killing to be razed

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 01:37:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – The city of Springfield is preparing to demolish a hardware store that was the scene of an unsolved ax killing 37 years ago.

The State Journal-Register in Springfield reported that a private contractor finished removing asbestos from Lauterbach Cottage Hardware Store on Thursday. City officials say the structure will be demolished sometime in the next week.

Police have been looking for a suspect since March 18, 1981, when a man walked into the store, grabbed an ax and forced three people in the store to get on their knees. He swung at their heads. One person, 64-year-old John Ewing, was struck three times and died. A customer found the victims a half hour later.

The building was abandoned and the remainder of the hardware store was auctioned in 2011.


Information from: The State Journal-Register,

50,000 Illinois firearm owner ID cards due for renewal

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 01:36:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police are urging those with firearm owner's identification cards to apply early if their cards are up for renewal this year.

State Police Director Leo Schmitz said Friday that the agency expects tens of thousands of renewal applications to come in over the next few months as the first wave of 10-year cards come due for renewal. State police are recommending gun owners send renewal applications at least one to two months in advance so the agency has enough time to process requests and issue new cards before expiration.

The agency says more than 50,000 FOID cards are due for renewal between June 1 and Aug. 1. Renewal notices have been sent to those whose cards expire June 1.

Illinois lawmakers in 2008 amended state law to allow FOID cards to be valid for 10 years.

Deerfield faces 2nd lawsuit after creating semiautomatic weapons ban

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 01:33:00 GMT

DEERFIELD – The northern Chicago suburb of Deerfield faces a second lawsuit after its village board voted unanimously to ban certain semiautomatic firearms.

The ban goes into effect June 13 and includes the AR-15, which has been used in mass shootings. The Chicago Tribune reported that the advocacy group Guns Save Life and Deerfield resident John William Wombacher III filed the lawsuit Thursday in Lake County court.

The new lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction. Guns Save Life executive director John Boch said the group wants to stop Deerfield from denying people "the right to firearms based merely on cosmetic appearance." The Illinois State Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation and Deerfield resident Daniel Easterday also filed a lawsuit against the ban.

The village has said it "believes it has acted within its statutory authority." Village Manager Kent Street said he couldn't comment because the village had not been served with the lawsuit.


Information from: Chicago Tribune,

Bill would remove Illinois from multi-state voter database

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 01:31:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – A measure awaiting action from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner would end the state's participation in a controversial multi-state voter registration database.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois House approved the legislation Thursday and sent it to Rauner, whose spokeswoman called the vote "troubling." Illinois is among several states re-evaluating the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Critics say the system doesn't properly protect personal information.

Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold says the systems are "intended to ensure access to voting while preventing opportunities for fraud." Republican lawmakers argued Thursday against the measure, saying the Illinois Board of Elections shouldn't be barred from accessing data because of political reasons.

Democratic sponsors say the state still will have access to an alternative voter data system called the Electronic Registration Information Center.


Information from: Chicago Tribune,

Comey memos offer new details on his interactions with Trump as probe intensifiedCopies of the memos written by former FBI Director James Comey are photographed in Washington, Thursday, April 19, 2018. President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, according to memos maintained by Comey and obtained by The Associated Press. The 15 pages of documents contain new details about a series of interactions that Comey had with Trump in the weeks before his May 2017 firing. Those encounters include a White House dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him for his loyalty. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:31:00 GMT

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump expressed concerns about the judgment of his national security adviser Michael Flynn weeks before forcing him to resign, according to memos kept by former FBI director James Comey that recount in detail efforts by Trump to influence the bureau's expanding investigation of Russia. The memos also reveal the extent of Trump's preoccupation with unproven allegations that he had consorted with prostitutes while in Moscow in 2013. Trump, according to the memos, repeatedly denied the allegations and prodded Comey to help disprove them, while also recalling being told by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has the most beautiful prostitutes. The details were disclosed Thursday as the Justice Department released redacted versions of memos - some of which contained previously classified material - that Comey composed in the immediate aftermath of his interactions with Trump, a step he says he took because he was troubled by their conversations and worried that the president might one day lie about them. The documents, first published by the Associated Press, provide a significantly more detailed account of those conversations than has previously been revealed through Comey's contemporaneous records and are largely consistent with his statements before Congress and in his newly published memoir. In a Jan. 28, 2017, memo, Comey said Trump blamed Flynn for botching the scheduling of a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May. "In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said, 'the guy has serious judgment issues,' " Comey wrote. Comey said he did not comment at the time. Trump has disputed Comey's accounts of their conversations. On Thursday night, Trump tweeted: "James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?" Flynn, who was forced out in the early days of the administration, has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller III's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In early February, Comey met with then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who asked the FBI director "if this was a 'private conversation.' I replied that it was," Comey recounted in one memo. Priebus then asked if the bureau was wiretapping Flynn, according to the memo. "I paused for a few seconds and then said that I would answer here, but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels," Comey recounted. "I explained that it was important that communication about any particular case go through that channel to protect us and to protect the (White House) from any accusations of improper influence. He said he understood." After that discussion, Priebus brought Comey to speak with the president, where Trump raised the issue of Comey's deputy, Andrew McCabe, who had been criticized by Trump during the campaign because McCabe's wife had previously run as a Democrat for a seat in the Virginia state legislature; she had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from then-Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton's. Comey told the president that if McCabe "had it to do over again, I'm sure he would urge his wife not to run, bu[...]

Media Files:

Giuliani to join Trump legal team in Russia probeThen-President-elect Donald Trump (right) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs Nov. 20, 2016, as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:21:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump since the early days of his campaign, is joining the team of lawyers representing the president in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. With the addition of Giuliani, Trump gains a former U.S. attorney, a past presidential candidate and a TV-savvy defender at a time when the White House is looking for ways to bring the president’s involvement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to a close. The president has been weighing whether to sit for questioning by Mueller’s team, and his legal team repeatedly has met with investigators to define the scope of the questions he would face. Giuliani will enter those negotiations, filling the void left by attorney John Dowd, who resigned last month. It’s a precarious time for Trump. His legal team has been told by Mueller that the president is not a target of the investigation, suggesting he’s not in imminent criminal jeopardy. But he currently is a subject of the probe – a designation that could change at any time. Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow told The Associated Press that Giuliani will be focusing on the Mueller investigation – not the legal matters raised by the ongoing investigation into Trump attorney Michael Cohen. That probe is being led by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, an office that Giuliani headed in the mid- to late 1980s. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room were raided last week by the FBI, who are investigating the lawyer’s business dealings, including suspected bank fraud. They also sought records related to payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claim to have had sexual encounters with Trump several years ago. The White House has denied the claims. The raids enraged Trump, prompting him to publicly weigh whether to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He also intensified his public attacks on the Mueller investigation, calling it “an attack on our country.” In a statement announcing Giuliani’s hire, Trump expressed his wish that the investigation wrap up soon and praised Giuliani, a fellow New Yorker, confidant and Mar-a-Lago regular. “Rudy is great,” Trump said. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.” Giuliani will be joining Sekulow on Trump’s personal legal team but will be working closely with White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has also been handling the administration’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation. “It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the President but with Jay, Ty and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement. In addition to Giuliani, two other former federal prosecutors – Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin – will be joining Trump’s legal team. The two, who are married and run a law firm together, are based in Florida but handle cases across the U.S.. Both have extensive exp[...]

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Protests erupt in Sweden over Nobel scandalWomen wear bow ties as a large crowd gathers in the Stortorget square in Stockholm, while the Swedish Academy held its usual meeting Thursday at the Old Stock Exchange building. The crowd gathered to show its support for former Academy member and Permanent Secretary Sara Danius who stepped down wearing her hallmark pussy bow last week.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:20:00 GMT

STOCKHOLM – Thousands of protesters called Thursday for the resignation of the secretive board that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature after a sex-abuse scandal linked to the prestigious Swedish academy forced the ouster of its first woman head and tarnished the reputation of the coveted prize. The ugly internal feud already has reached the top levels of public life in the Scandinavian nation known for its promotion of gender equality, with the prime minister, the king and the Nobel board weighing in. On Thursday evening, thousands of protesters gathered on Stockholm’s picturesque Stortorget Square outside the headquarters of the Swedish Academy, which has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901, to demand all of its remaining members resign. Parallel demonstrations were planned in Goteborg, Helsingborg, Eskilstuna, Vasteras, and Borgholm. The national protests have grown out of what began as Sweden’s own #MeToo moment in November when the country saw thousands of sexual misconduct allegations surfacing from all walks of life. It hit the academy when 18 women came forward with accusations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden who is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet who is a member of the academy. Police are investigating the allegations, which Arnault denies, but the case has exposed bitter divisions within the academy, whose members are appointed for life, and given rise to accusations of patriarchal leanings among some members. The turmoil began when some of the committee’s 18 members pushed for the removal of Frostenson after the allegations were levied against her husband, who runs a cultural club that has received money from the academy. In addition to sexual misconduct, Arnault also is accused of leaking Nobel winners’ names for years. After a closed-door vote failed to oust her, three male members behind the push – Klas Ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund – themselves resigned. That prompted Horace Engdahl, a committee member who has supported Arnault, to label them a “clique of sore losers” and criticize the three for airing their case in public. He also lashed out at Sara Danius, the first woman to lead the Swedish Academy, who was forced out last week amid criticism from male members of her handling of the scandal. Danius, a Swedish literature historian at Stockholm University, had cut the academy’s ties with Arnault and hired investigators to examine its relationship to the club he ran with Frostenson. Their report is expected soon. Supporters of Danius have described her as progressive leader who pushed reforms that riled the old guard. At Thursday’s protests, many participants wore pussy-bow blouses such as the ones worn by Danius. The high-necked blouses with a loosely tied bow at the neck have become a rallying symbol for those critical of the Swedish Academy’s handling of the case. Birgitta Hojlund, 70, who traveled several hours to attend the protest, said despite Sweden’s progressive image, women still face inequality. “There are still diff[...]

Media Files:

2 black men arrested at Starbucks get an apology from policeIn this Wednesday April 18, 2018 photo, Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, sit on their attorney's sofa as they pose for a portrait following an interview with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. Their arrests at a local Starbucks quickly became a viral video and galvanized people around the country who saw the incident as modern-day racism. In the week since, Nelson and Robinson have met with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and are pushing for lasting changes to ensure that what happened to them doesn't happen to future patrons. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:18:00 GMT

PHILADELPHIA – Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer. He thought nothing of it when he and his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting. A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police came into the coffee shop – until officers started walking in their direction. “That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told The Associated Press in the first interview by the two black men since video of their April 12 trespassing arrests touched off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling or what has been dubbed “retail racism” or “shopping while black.” Nelson and Robinson were led away in handcuffs from the shop in the city’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood in an incident recorded on a white customer’s cellphone. In the week since, the men have met with Starbucks’ apologetic CEO and have started pushing for lasting change at the coffee shop chain, including new policies on discrimination and ejecting customers. “We do want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody again,” Robinson said. “What if it wasn’t us sitting there? What if it was the kid that didn’t know somebody that knew somebody? Do they make it to jail? Do they die? What happens?” On Thursday, they also got an apology from Philadelphia police Commissioner Richard Ross, a black man who at first staunchly defended his officers’ handling of the encounter. “I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong,” Ross said. “Words are very important.” At a news conference, a somber Ross said he “failed miserably” in addressing the arrests. He said that the issue of race is not lost on him and that he shouldn’t be the person making things worse. “Shame on me if, in any way, I’ve done that,” he said. He also said the police department did not have a policy for dealing for such situations but does now and it will be released soon. Nelson and Robinson said they went to the Starbucks to meet Andrew Yaffe, a white local businessman, over a potential real estate opportunity. Three officers showed up not long after. Nelson said they weren’t questioned but were told to leave immediately. Yaffe showed up as the men were being handcuffed and could be seen in the video demanding an explanation for the officers’ actions. Nelson and Robinson did not resist arrest. “When you know that you did nothing wrong, how do you really react to it?” Nelson said. “You can either be ignorant or you can show some type of sophistication and act like you have class. That was the choice we had.” It was not their f[...]

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Illinois plan: Replace armed school officers with therapistsFILE - In this May 25, 2016 file photo, Illinois Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Westchester, speaks to lawmakers at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. Legislation before the Illinois House would replace school-based police officers with social workers. Rep. Welch is sponsoring the plan to address what proponents say is needless arrests of blacks and other minority students. A group called Voices of Youth in Chicago Education says police officers aren't equipped to handle behavioral health issues and commonly arrest students for non-violent behavior. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:18:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Some Illinois lawmakers want to give extra money to schools that replace armed security officers with unarmed social workers and behavior therapists, an approach to safety that’s far different than a national push to add police or arm teachers after a mass shooting at a Florida high school. Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said he proposed the plan after hearing from advocates who argue that investing in mental health resources is the best way of treating the epidemic of violence. His plan, which is backed by 16 other Democrats in the House, would allow schools to apply to an optional grant if they promise to reallocate funding for school-based law enforcement to mental health services, including social workers or other practices “designed to promote school safety and healthy environments.” But the measure could be a tough sell, especially amid a widespread effort to employ more of what’s known as school resource officers – fully armed law enforcement officers often paid for by schools. As of early April, 200 bills or resolutions have been introduced in 39 states regarding school safety, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than half of these measures were introduced after the events in Parkland, Florida. Thirty-four bills in 19 states address regulations and training for school resource officers. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions proposed a school safety plan in March that included a measure prioritizing grants to states that agree to use the money to put more law enforcement in schools. Michelle Mbekani-Wiley, from the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, said this approach is wrongheaded and that police are unequipped to recognize or respond to mental health problems. She said that many minority students within the Chicago Public School system are arrested by school resource officers for nonserious offenses, which could jeopardize their chances of applying for jobs and to colleges in the future. “This increased presence of law enforcement in schools does not necessarily enhance school safety,” Mbekani-Wiley said. “Instead, it dramatically increases the likelihood that students will be unnecessarily swept into the criminal justice system often for mere adolescent or disruptive behavior.” However, advocates for school resource officers argue their role is essential to keep students safe, especially in the event of a school shooting. After Parkland, Deputy Kip Heinle, former president of the Illinois School Resource Officers Association, said he was “fielding two to three phone calls a day” from school districts asking how they can add more patrolling officers. While there’s no official count on how many school resource officers are employed in Illinois, he puts the estimate at about 500. Heinle, who works as a school resource officer in an Illinois suburb of St. Louis, said he believes that the officers are “the best line of defense to keep students safe in school.” He added that, bey[...]

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Woodstock School District 200 uses Google Expeditions to create virtual reality experienceDean Street Elementary School fifth-grader Julia Laidig looks through a virtual reality device during a school program Thursday.Fifth-grader Brittany Cortes Landa after taking off her virtual reality device used to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.The Old Courthouse and Sheriff's Jail are seen through a virtual reality device Thursday during a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock. The students photographed multiple locations in the city using a 3-D camera, which then were published on Google.Fourth-grader Alex Benites (left) and fifth-grader Joselin Ortiz Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.Fifth-graders Brian Kus and Jessica Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:17:00 GMT

Woodstock School District 200 elementary students recently had a chance to create their own virtual reality experience of the Square and their school through Google Expeditions.

Katie Jacobson, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade dual language students at Dean Street Elementary School, introduced the worldwide project through a Google pilot program that allows students to showcase the world around them.

Google Expeditions allows users to immerse themselves in different virtual reality spaces using a 360-degree camera and the Google app. Many educators use the program to let students take virtual field trips around the world. Through the pilot program, participants have a chance to create their own tours.

Dean Street Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders created a tour of the Woodstock Square, and the experience now is published through the Google Expeditions app.

“We worked really hard on it, and I am sure everyone here is really proud of what we did,” fifth-grader Lauren Ribbe said. “My favorite place was probably the mural.”

Classmate Lilyana Espina, 11, said she enjoyed the field trip to the Square and learned new things about her town.

“I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about Woodstock,” she said. “Like it used to be called Centerville.”

In addition to taking pictures of about seven different locations, the students had to research and write about the featured places.

“We talked about ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Dick Tracy,’ ” Jacobson said. “We talked about the history of the Square, like the fire and the Opera House. We also took pictures of the front and back of the school and talked about the history of Dean Street Elementary. The research and collaboration was very extensive.”

Dean Street Elementary School fifth-grader Julia Laidig looks through a virtual reality device during a school program Thursday.Fifth-grader Brittany Cortes Landa after taking off her virtual reality device used to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.The Old Courthouse and Sheriff's Jail are seen through a virtual reality device Thursday during a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock. The students photographed multiple locations in the city using a 3-D camera, which then were published on Google.Fourth-grader Alex Benites (left) and fifth-grader Joselin Ortiz Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.Fifth-graders Brian Kus and Jessica Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.

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Diane Evertsen elected McHenry County Republican Party chairwomanDiane Evertsen, R-Harvard, is the new chairwoman of the McHenry County Republican Party.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:12:00 GMT

The McHenry County Republican Party has a new leader. Her name is Diane Evertsen, a 73-year-old Harvard grandmother and political insider with a long resume – a history that includes a stint as president of Minutemen Midwest, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a “nativist extremist” group. Evertsen won election as the GOP’s chairwoman Wednesday night at the party’s annual convention, beating out Old Guard representative Mark Daniel. Precinct committeemen from across the county descended on McHenry VFW Post 4600 to cast a weighted vote and cement the GOP’s leadership for the next two years. With votes counted, Evertsen ran away with the win, collecting 8,668 votes to Daniel’s 6,678. Evertsen – a retired real estate agent who served on the Harvard School District 50 Board for 11 years, the McHenry County Board and currently serves as a McHenry County College trustee – was president of the Minutemen Midwest, which the SPLC named several times on its annual list of nativist extremist groups between 2007 and 2010. The Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit defines nativist extremist groups as organizations that go beyond mere advocacy to personally confront suspected undocumented immigrants or those who hire or help them. In its Spring 2007 issue of Intelligence Report, the SPLC quoted this statement from the Harvard-based Minutemen Midwest: “There is a conspiracy afoot to merge the U.S. and Mexico. This heinous ongoing treason has been engineered by an entrenched cabal of legislators, courts, military brass and government employees embedded at all levels of the executive branch, constituting a ‘Shadow Government,’ who are working to dismantle this country in plain sight.” Evertsen – who had six children with her husband, Evert, and enjoys cooking, gardening and reading books by thriller writer Brad Thor – could not be reached for comment. Her opponent, Daniel, is a precinct committeeman in Nunda Township and once served as the vice chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party under Mike Tryon. To Daniel, Evertsen’s election, coupled with her ties to the Minutemen group, does not bode well for the McHenry County GOP. “I think the Democrats are going to win some races,” Daniel said. “I’m not sure the party is going to move forward because of this.” Chuck Wheeler, a District 4 McHenry County Board member, won election as the party’s vice chairman, collecting 8,787 votes to McHenry County Board District 6 representative Jim Kearns’ 5,975. To Wheeler, the GOP’s new leadership represents a catalyst for change in a place where many Republicans describe the party as fragmented. “Last night was a step in the right direction,” said Wheeler, the first black man elected to the McHenry County Board. “The Republican Party is going to come together.” Karen Ti[...]

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Huntley School District 158 chooses new high school principalMarcus Belin

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:12:00 GMT

Marcus Belin will serve as the new principal of Huntley High School starting in the fall.

The Huntley School District 158 Board approved Belin’s hire at its meeting Thursday, according to a news release.

Belin will begin the position July 1 and take over for Scott Rowe, who recently was promoted to associate superintendent for District 158.

Belin serves as the assistant principal of Dunlap High School, which is north of Peoria. During his time there, Belin has managed a broad portfolio of administrative duties and driven initiatives that have helped the school maintain its place among the top schools in the state, the release said.

He is from the South Side of Chicago and attended Bradley University in Peoria, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. He is pursuing a doctorate in education at National Louis University.

Belin previously served as a teacher, dean of students and assistant principal at Quest Charter Academy, a public charter middle school and high school in Peoria.

“Those of us who were part of the interview process with Marcus were immediately struck by his passion for the transformative power of education, his vision for driving meaningful change, and his infectiously positive attitude,” interim District 158 Superintendent Brad Hawk said.

Belin and his wife, Monique, have three children.

Rowe has served as principal for the past five years, and he previously was principal at Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills.

Marcus Belin

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Harvard man had about 19 ounces of marijuana, $11,000 in cash, police sayJack D. Hoschouer, 20, of the 400 block of Cobblestone Road, Harvard

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:11:00 GMT

A 20-year-old Harvard man faces drug charges after the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office discovered he posted photos of narcotics and weapons on social media.

Jack D. Hoschouer caught the sheriff’s office’s attention after someone tipped police off to “racially derogatory” comments posted on social media, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Deputies soon learned there was an active warrant out for Hoschouer’s arrest tied to an unrelated case.

On Wednesday, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Police Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Marshal’s Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Hoschouer on the warrant at his home in the 400 block of Cobblestone Road.

During Hoschouer’s arrest, officers observed numerous items related to narcotics sales and use in plain view, and a search warrant was granted to enter the residence, police said.

Detectives seized $10,974 in cash, about 19 ounces of marijuana, 11 grams of marijuana wax, digital scales, packaging materials and drug paraphernalia. 

The estimated street value of the seized drugs is about $10,800, police said. Hoschouer faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He is set to appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday. A judge set his bond at $25,000.

Jack D. Hoschouer, 20, of the 400 block of Cobblestone Road, Harvard

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Round Lake Park woman dies in Volo crash Wednesday

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:10:00 GMT

A 24-year-old Round Lake Park woman died after a Volo crash Wednesday.

Lake County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched about 12:23 p.m. to Route 120 at Ellis Drive in Volo for reports of a crash with injuries, according to a news release from police.

Off-duty paramedics were administering CPR to someone when sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene.

A 55-year-old Gurnee woman was driving an SUV east on Route 120, west of Ellis Drive, when for an unknown reason a sedan driven by the Round Lake Park woman entered the eastbound lanes of Route 120 and struck the SUV, police said.

The Round Lake Park woman was sent to an area hospital, where she later died, police said. The driver of the SUV was sent to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

The name of the woman who died is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of family. The Lake County Coroner’s Office was scheduled to perform an autopsy Thursday morning.

The Sheriff’s Office Technical Crash Investigations Team continues to investigate.

– Northwest Herald

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63-year-old Harvard man dies in house fire ThursdayA man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.A man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:09:00 GMT

A 63-year-old man was found dead Thursday morning in the basement of a Harvard home after a house fire.

The Harvard Police Department and Harvard Fire Protection District responded about 3:15 a.m. to the 400 block of East Blackman Street for a fire that began in the basement of the home, according to a news release from the police department.

The 63-year-old man was declared dead at the scene, Fire Chief Steve Harter said. A 10-year-old boy, 14-year-old girl and 55-year-old woman escaped the fire, police said.

“Officers, upon our arrival, were able to hear him calling out, but in terms of his cause of death, we are unsure,” Police Chief Mark Krause said, adding that the McHenry County Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy.

Krause said the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire, and it appears to be accidental and attributed to careless smoking.

The fire caused about $75,000 in damage and mostly was contained to the basement, Harter said. A man boarded up a second-story window of the home Thursday morning.

The three other residents of the home were uninjured, Harter said. The man was temporarily staying at the residence, Krause said.

Hebron and Capron rescues crews, as well as Marengo, Woodstock, McHenry and Sharon fire departments, also responded.

The incident and cause of fire is under investigation, Harter said.

The coroner’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.A man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.

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Corrections for April 20

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:09:00 GMT

A story on page A4 of Thursday’s edition incorrectly reported the day a former student testified in court. The former student testified Wednesday that Justin Hubly had kissed her and tried to touch her at a party in October 2016. The Northwest Herald regrets the error.

• A story on page A6 of Wednesday’s edition included inaccurate information about Diane Evertsen’s background. She is a former member of the McHenry County Board.

The Northwest Herald regrets the errors.

McHenry man facing charges after being found with cocaine, heroin, pills, police sayRyan B. Hurst, 35, of the 1300 block of North Riverside Drive, McHenry

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:08:00 GMT

A man who police said they found in a vehicle with drugs and more than $800 cash remained in the McHenry County Jail on Thursday afternoon.

McHenry County Judge Joel Berg set bond for 35-year-old Ryan B. Hurst at $100,000 Wednesday.

Johnsburg police said they found Hurst, of the 1300 block of North Riverside Drive, McHenry, with fewer than 15 grams of cocaine, heroin, buprenorphine, Xanax, oxycodone, Ativan and hydrocodone, according to a criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court.

He also had $892 in cash with him at the time, prosecutors said.

Hurst is charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, possession of a controlled substance and manufacturing or delivering heroin.

He could face four to 15 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Miller requested that Hurst prove the source of any bond money he might post, to make sure it wasn’t earned illegally. Berg granted the request Wednesday.

Hurst’s first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

Ryan B. Hurst, 35, of the 1300 block of North Riverside Drive, McHenry

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Mariano's to open May 1 in former Sears on Route 14 in Crystal LakeMariano's, shown Thursday in Crystal Lake, is set to open to the public May 1.Mariano's Facebook page announced the Crystal Lake store's opening date.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:08:00 GMT

Mariano’s will open May 1 in Crystal Lake.

The grocery store’s doors will open at 6 a.m. at 105 Route 14, according to a Mariano’s Facebook post.

The 74,800-square-foot building in Crystal Lake will feature Mariano’s signature glass rotunda, which houses a cafe area, and a 19,000-square-foot gas station.

The grand opening will feature live piano music, according to the post.

City officials have said the store could generate between $35 million and $40 million in sales annually.

The city’s community development department specifically sought out the chain because of the “catalyst” effect it has on communities, city officials have said.

“Mariano’s is a premier grocer that offers quality products, variety, exceptional service and convenience, and this is a perfect location for them,” Mayor Aaron Shepley previously said.

The amenities that are offered differ by store, but include specialties such as an Italian coffee shop with a gelato bar, wood-fired pizza, a sit-down sushi bar, a juice bar and others.

Mariano’s is hiring for the new Crystal Lake location, including a bartender and meat cutter, according to job postings online.

This will be the first Mariano’s in McHenry County, with the closest stores located in Lake Zurich, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Buffalo Grove and Gurnee.

The Sears building that was on the property was demolished in April 2017, and construction then began on the Mariano’s. Jewel-Osco, The Fresh Market and Fresh Thyme also sit along Route 14 near the Mariano’s site.

Mariano’s is a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc., which operates more than 150 grocery stores in Wisconsin and Illinois under the Pick ’n Save, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano’s retail banners.

Mariano’s representatives could not be reached for details Thursday.

Mariano's, shown Thursday in Crystal Lake, is set to open to the public May 1.Mariano's Facebook page announced the Crystal Lake store's opening date.

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Judge denies acquittal motion in Crystal Lake choir director's battery casesFormer Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly arrives for court with supporters Tuesday in Woodstock. Hubly is accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:06:00 GMT

On Thursday, defense attorney Hank Sugden said Justin Hubly didn’t break the law by allowing former students younger than 21 to drink at his home.

The second day of trial in two cases filed against the former Crystal Lake Central choir director included brief testimony from a Crystal Lake police detective. The trial only was in session for about an hour, however, before Sugden asked McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt to acquit Hubly of the charges, claiming prosecutors did not prove he had committed a crime.

The 36-year-old was arrested more than a month after allegations surfaced that he had former students at his house on several occasions, gave them alcohol when they were younger than 21 and had inappropriate contact with two of them.

One of those former students testified Wednesday that she had made plans to “get very drunk” with him the night he’s accused of kissing her multiple times and trying to touch her in a sexual manner.

According to her testimony, the former student, who was 19 years old at the time, went to Hubly’s Crystal Lake townhouse Oct. 7, 2016. She arrived at the party with a bottle of wine in hand but left nervous and clutching her purse.

Hubly greeted the young woman when she arrived at his house, and proceeded to give her two mixed drinks and a shot of tequila before kissing and touching her in ways that made her uneasy, she said.

“I wasn’t doing anything,” the now 21-year-old said in court Wednesday. “I was not reciprocating the action.”

Sugden, however, chalked the night up to a bad kiss from a man she wasn’t interested in. The attorney also referenced the woman’s testimony that her parents bought her the bottle of wine she arrived with that night, knowing she was going to Hubly’s house.

Sugden argued Hubly’s presence exempted him from criminal charges because he was supervising the group of mostly 19-year-olds. Assistant State’s Attorney Brette Dunbar called Sugden’s logic a “slap in the face of the Liquor Control Act,” and Wilbrandt ultimately denied the defense attorney’s request.

According to the Liquor Control Act, a person younger than 21 can drink alcohol as part of a religious service or ceremony or under the direct supervision and approval of their parents or guardian in the privacy of a home.

Closing arguments are expected to be heard Friday afternoon.

Former Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly arrives for court with supporters Tuesday in Woodstock. Hubly is accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21.

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Man stole car from Cary gas station, crashed it in Crystal Lake before fleeing, police sayA man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.Police directed traffic Wednesday night when the traffic light went out at the intersection of Randall Road and McHenry Avenue in Crystal Lake after a man crashed a stolen car into it, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:05:00 GMT

A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a vehicle in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake, Cary Deputy Police Chief Jim Fillmore said.

A woman stopped at Bob’s Amoco BP Station, 400 Silver Lake Road, Cary, and was away from her vehicle when the male suspect jumped into her car and drove off about 9 p.m., Fillmore said.

About 9:30 p.m., a vehicle crashed into a traffic signal at Randall Road and McHenry Avenue, hitting the Illinois Department of Transportation box that controls traffic signals, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said. Police directed traffic while the lights were out.

“The car wasn’t there when we got there, but there were a number of car pieces left behind,” Hyrkas said.

A deputy from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office later found the crashed vehicle, and when the deputy approached the car, the man inside took off on foot, Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said. Hyrkas said the car was found near Cardinal Wines & Liquors, 305 W. Virginia St.

The suspect has shoulder-length blond hair and was wearing jeans and a camouflage jacket, Fillmore said.

No arrests had been made as of Thursday evening, and police still are investigating the crash, officials said.

Police are actively looking for the suspect, and anyone with information can call the Cary Police Department at 847-639-2341, Crystal Lake police at 815-356-3620 or McHenry County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-762-7867.

To avoid vehicle theft, people should lock vehicle doors when they walk away and take their keys with them, Hyrkas said.

A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.Police directed traffic Wednesday night when the traffic light went out at the intersection of Randall Road and McHenry Avenue in Crystal Lake after a man crashed a stolen car into it, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.

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Huntley police: Downtown construction closes part of Coral StreetA portion of Coral Street in downtown Huntley will close Thursday for construction.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 15:39:00 GMT

A portion of Coral Street in downtown Huntley will close Thursday for construction.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Coral Street between Church and Woodstock streets will be closed, according to an alert from Huntley police sent Thursday morning.

A portion of Coral Street in downtown Huntley will close Thursday for construction.

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Global warming has changed the Great Barrier Reef 'forever,' scientists sayA dead reef covered in turf algae. The mass mortality event at Christmas Island is believed to be one of the worst casualties of the ongoing global bleaching event.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:09:00 GMT

Two years after a long-lasting undersea heat wave scalded large sections of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have now found that because so many corals died, much of the reef has likely been altered "forever." "What we just experienced is one hell of a natural selection event," said Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland. In a notably blunt study in the journal Nature - laden with words like "unprecedented," "radical" and "catastrophic" - Hughes and 15 colleagues report that in 2016 alone, about 30 percent of the Great Barrier Reef's corals were lost, with the most severe damage in the isolated northern sector. (In 2017, another ocean heat wave claimed another roughly 20 percent of corals, Hughes said.) Many corals died faster than expected and at a lower level of sustained heat than had been predicted to be deadly. The researchers add that since losses in certain species were much greater than in others, the entire ecological identity of much of the reef system has likely changed. In particular, elaborate branching corals that provide key fish habitat are being replaced by bulky, less intricate "dome-shaped" corals, Hughes said. And because it takes about 10 years for even the fastest growing corals to recover, the study warns that there is probably no reversing the sweeping change to the most damaged sectors of the world's largest barrier reef. Not before yet another bleaching event occurs. That certainly doesn't mean the end of the reef as a whole. The south, in particular, escaped much of the bleaching in 2016 and 2017. But it does mean that much of the reef will probably shift into a new ecological state with a less diverse, but more resilient, set of corals. "The 2016 marine heatwave has triggered the initial phase of that transition on the northern, most-pristine region of the Great Barrier Reef, changing it forever as the intensity of global warming continues to escalate," reads the study, written by scientists from numerous Australian institutions as well as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2016 and 2017, the Great Barrier Reef was pummeled by two successive summers in which ocean temperatures far exceeded normal for key portions of the reef - and stayed that way for a considerable time. Extremely warm ocean temperatures stress corals and cause a phenomenon called "bleaching," in which tiny algae called zooxanthellae abandon the corals they live with, causing the corals to lose their color. The consequence is not just outward - zooxanthellae are partners with coral in an ancient symbiotic relationship, conducting photosynthesis necessary for the corals to survive. If the algae are gone for too long, the corals die. Hughes and his colleagues have been directly studying this extreme die-off at the reef since its beginning during the 2016 El Nino event, when th[...]

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Pittsburgh police readying riot gear for 'large scale protest' if Trump fires MuellerSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller leaves a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on June 21, 2017. Bloomberg photo by Eric Thayer.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:14:00 GMT

President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that he is in no rush to fire either special counsel Robert Mueller or Mueller's boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But that hasn't stopped thousands of people across the country from planning protests in the event that the president does choose to give Mueller and Rosenstein the boot from the Russian investigation. One city's police agency is already preparing for the worst. Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has ordered its plainclothes detectives to bring full uniform and riot gear to work starting Thursday, "until further notice." "We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District," read an internal email from Victor Joseph, commander of major crimes, according to a copy obtained by a WTAE reporter and confirmed by Pittsburgh's mayor. The email was sent to plainclothes detectives, according to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. "There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller," Joseph's email continued. "This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing. The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice." "We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest," Joseph added in the email. The memo, which circulated on Twitter, quickly raised questions about what may have spurred the agency's preparations. Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich clarified in a statement that although authorities received information about potential events, "we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President's decision-making process." "The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur," Hissrich said. "Events can include anything from extreme weather to potential demonstrations. Often the events we prepare for do not occur. However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response." Indeed, plans are in the works for potentially large protests if Trump does fire Mueller. Thousands of people in cities across the country have signed up to participate in a series of "emergency" protests called "Nobody is Above the Law." "Donald Trump could be preparing to put himself above the law. We won't allow it," the group says on its web page. "Trump will create a constitutional crisis if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller, or attempts to compromise the investigation by other means." "Our response in the hours following a potential power grab will dictate what happens next - whether Congress will stand up to Trump or allow him to move our democracy toward authoritarianism," the group says. In Pittsburgh, more than 2,300 people have registered[...]

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'She has nerves of steel': The story of the pilot who calmly landed the Southwest Airlines flightNTSB investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday. NTSB handout

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:08:00 GMT

The pilot's voice was calm yet focused as her plane descended, telling air traffic control she had "149 souls" on board and was carrying 21,000 pounds - or about five hours' worth - of fuel. "Southwest 1380, we're single engine," said Capt. Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the Navy. "We have part of the aircraft missing, so we're going to need to slow down a bit." She asked for medical personnel to meet her aircraft on the runway. "We've got injured passengers." "Injured passengers, OK, and is your airplane physically on fire?" asked the air traffic controller, according to audio of the interaction. "No, it's not on fire, but part of it's missing," Shults said, pausing for a moment. "They said there's a hole, and, uh, someone went out." The engine on Shults's plane had, in fact, exploded Tuesday, spraying shrapnel into the aircraft, causing a window to be blown out and leaving one woman dead and seven other people injured. The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that investigators will examine whether metal fatigue caused an engine fan of the Boeing 737-700 to snap midflight. The protective engine housing broke off, and pieces were later recovered in fields in Berks County, Pennsylvania, 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia International Airport. The wing on the side of the plane where the explosion occurred suffered damage that left it "banged up pretty good," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. The cabin window blew out with such force that none of the materials were recovered inside the plane, baffling investigators, he said. "We didn't see any shards of glass [that blew in] - I say glass, but it's acrylic," Sumwalt said. "We found no evidence at all of any broken acrylic inside." In the midst of the chaos, Shults deftly guided the plane onto the runway, touching down at 190 mph, saving the lives of 148 people aboard and averting a far worse catastrophe. "She has nerves of steel," passenger Alfred Tumlinson said Wednesday. When the engine exploded, Tumlinson, 55, was sitting with his wife on the plane's left side, in the second aisle from the back. The couple from George West, Texas, sent texts to their children, telling them the plane was going down and that they loved them. "Did we think we were going to make it?" Tumlinson asked, turning to his wife. "No." "I got another day of my life because of that lady and the co-pilot," he said. "What do you want to know about [Shults] other than she's an angel?" Tumlinson described how soon after the explosion, a soothing voice came over the intercom. "She was talking to us very calmly," Tumlinson said. " 'We're descending, we're not going down, we're descending, just stay calm, brace yourselves,' " he recalled Shults saying. " 'Everybody keep your masks on.' " Finally, passengers were told to brace themselves, he said. " 'Everybody, you got to lean forward - hands up on [...]

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Police chiefs implore Congress not to pass concealed-carry reciprocity gun lawHouston Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks at a meeting of police chiefs and prosecutors in Washington in October. Washington Post photo by Tom Jackman

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:07:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The nation's police chiefs are rising up against another conservative crime-fighting initiative, sending a letter to leaders of Congress on Thursday opposing a bill that would allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits in one state to carry their concealed weapons in all 50 states. The letter from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, representing 18,000 police departments across the United States, and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans targets the "Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act," which passed the House in December and is now assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter is endorsed by 473 police officials from 39 states, from large departments such as Los Angeles and Atlanta to small departments such as Spanish Fork, Utah, and Falls Church, Virginia. "This legislation," the letter states, "is a dangerous encroachment on individual state efforts to protect public safety, and it would effectively nullify duly enacted state laws and hamper law enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence." The letter sets up a second conflict between American law enforcement on one hand and Republicans in Congress and the White House on the other. Last fall, a group of current and former big city chiefs of police and prosecutors urged the Trump administration not to return to the era of "lock 'em all up" policing by seeking maximum sentences and reducing oversight of police departments. The call in response to initiatives announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration said that modern policing techniques had reduced crime significantly and did not need to be rolled back. On concealed weapons, states currently issue permits to individual gun owners to carry concealed weapons, and different states have different criteria for issuing the permits. Some states require training and proof of proficiency, while some states require no qualifications. Some states recognize the permits of certain other states, but many do not. And a dozen states now have "constitutional carry," meaning weapons can be concealed without a permit. The bill in Congress, described by the National Rifle Association as its "highest legislative priority," would require all states simply to recognize the permits of all other states, regardless of the conditions imposed by individual states for obtaining the permits. The bill also allows visitors to national parks and other federal lands to carry concealed weapons, and it would let certain permit holders - off-duty or retired law enforcement officers - to carry concealed weapons in school zones. When the bill passed the House by 231 to 198 in December,[...]

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Crystal Lake Brewing to be featured at Long Grove's Craft Beer FestivalCrystal Lake Brewing general manager Beth Alberger pours a beer May 21, 2015. The brewery will be featured at Long Grove's Craft Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. April 28.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:26:00 GMT

Long Grove will transform into the suburbs’ biggest outdoor beer garden for a Craft Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. April 28. One of the participating brewers is Crystal Lake Brewing.

In addition to several local brewers, headlined by Long Grove’s Buffalo Creek Brewery, local food vendors and musicians will be featured at the event.

Along with unlimited beer samplings from 24 brewers and two wineries, Craft Beer Festival will include live music by Bellwether Blues (noon to 2:30 p.m.) and Jake Mack and the Lesser Stags (3 to 5:30 p.m.). There also will be multiple food vendors to provide nourishment during the day dedicated to imbibing.    

Participating brewers include 350 Brewing Co. Aleman Brewing Co., Babble Home Brewers, Blue Crane Imports BuckleDown Brewing, Buffalo Creek Brewing, Crystal Lake Brewing, Half Day Brewing Co. and more.

Full-access tickets for those 21 and older cost $40 in advance (includes a commemorative 3-ounce glass and unlimited beer samples) or $50 at the door, if still available.

Tickets for nondrinkers and designated drivers cost $15 (includes a commemorative glass and free water).  

The event will be in the Stempel Parking Lot in front of Buffalo Creek Brewing, 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove.  

Crystal Lake Brewing general manager Beth Alberger pours a beer May 21, 2015. The brewery will be featured at Long Grove's Craft Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. April 28.

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U.N. team fired on at suspected Syria chemical attack siteA child receives oxygen through a respirator after an alleged poison gas attack April 8 in the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus, Syria.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:23:00 GMT

BEIRUT – Assailants opened fire at a U.N. security team visiting the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, an official said Wednesday, forcing it to retreat to its base and further delaying a fact-finding mission by outside experts to examine the claims. Gunmen shot at the U.N. team in Douma on Tuesday and detonated an explosive, leading it to return to Damascus, said the head of the international chemical weapons watchdog, Ahmet Uzumcu. He did not identify the assailants. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been waiting since Saturday to visit Douma, the site of the alleged April 7 attack. They initially were blocked by the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, on Monday. Then on Tuesday, the advance security team from the U.N. came under fire, compounding the delays. The OPCW inspectors have not yet been able to visit the site, and Uzumcu did not say when they would deploy. The United Nations said more security measures were needed before the inspectors could go in. “There is still a lot of volatility in the area,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that the U.N. security team needed to make at least another visit before the fact-finding mission could go ahead. The town is under the protection of Russia’s military police. The Russian military said a Syrian security employee was slightly wounded in the crossfire Tuesday, but no Russian servicemen were at the site of the attack. Journalists visiting Douma on a government-organized tour Monday did not report any security threats. The Associated Press met with residents who said they were overwhelmed by chlorine fumes on the night of the alleged attack, and lost their loved ones. With 11 days now having passed, concerns are growing that evidence could fall prey to tampering or be otherwise compromised. In response, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, whose first responders were operating in Douma on the night of the alleged attack, gave the chemical weapons watchdog the locations of victims’ graves so it could salvage evidence, the group’s chief, Raed Saleh, told the AP. The Civil Defense no longer has a presence in Douma after being evacuated to rebel-held areas of northern Syria when the government took over the town. The government said the Civil Defense is a terrorist organization. Russia and the Syrian government have denied responsibility for the alleged attack, which took place during a government assault on the then rebel-held town. The Army of Islam surrendered Douma two days later. The U.S., which has draw[...]

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Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, selected as next president of CubaCuba President Raul Castro observes a monitor with the day's proceedings during the start of two-day session of the Legislature on Wednesday in Havana, Cuba.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:23:00 GMT

HAVANA – The Cuban government on Wednesday selected 57-year-old first Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez as the sole candidate to succeed President Raul Castro in a transition aimed at ensuring that the country’s single-party system outlasts the aging revolutionaries who created it. The certain approval of Diaz-Canel by members of the unfailingly unanimous National Assembly will install someone from outside the Castro family in the country’s highest government office for the first time in nearly six decades. The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as “the superior guiding force of society and the state.” As a result, Castro will remain the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being. His departure from the presidency nonetheless is a symbolically charged moment for a country accustomed to 60 years of absolute rule first by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and, for the past decade, his younger brother. Facing biological reality but still active and apparently healthy, Raul Castro is stepping down as president in an effort to guarantee that new leaders can maintain the government’s grip on power in the face of economic stagnation, an aging population and increasing disenchantment among younger generations. “I like sticking with the ideas of President Fidel Castro because he did a lot for the people of Cuba, but we need rejuvenation, above all in the economy,” said Melissa Mederos, a 21-year-old schoolteacher. “Diaz-Canel needs to work hard on the economy, because people need to live a little better.” Most Cubans know their first vice president as an uncharismatic figure who until recently maintained a public profile so low it virtually was nonexistent. That image slightly changed this year as state media placed an increasing spotlight on Diaz-Canel’s public appearances, including remarks to the press last month that included his promise to make Cuba’s government more responsive to its people. “We’re building a relationship between the government and the people here,” he said then after casting a ballot for members of the National Assembly. “The lives of those who will be elected have to be focused on relating to the people, listening to the people, investigating their problems and encouraging debate.” Diaz-Canel gained prominence in central Villa Clara province as the top Communist Party official, a post equivalent to governor. There, people described him as a hard-working, modest-living technocrat dedicated to improving public services. He became higher education minister [...]

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Trump says unless N. Korea summit is 'fruitful,' he'll leaveA South Korean army soldier passes by a TV screen showing file footage of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 18, 2018. Pompeo recently traveled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, a highly unusual, secret visit undertaken as the enemy nations prepare for a meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The signs read: " Mike Pompeo meets with Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:23:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday that although he’s optimistically looking ahead to a historic summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he could still pull out if he feels it’s “not going to be fruitful.” Trump said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim “got along really well” in their recent secret meeting, and he declared, “We’ve never been in a position like this” to address worldwide concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons. But speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after the allies met at Trump’s Florida resort, he made it clear that he’d still be ready to pull the plug on what is being billed as an extraordinary meeting between the leaders of longtime adversaries. “If I think that if it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful we’re not going to go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting,” Trump told a news conference. He also said that a U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign of tough economic sanctions on North Korea would continue until the isolated nation “denuclearizes.” Abe echoed the sentiment. “Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no reward. Maximum pressure should be maintained,” he said. Trump has said his summit with Kim, with whom he traded bitter insults and threats last year as North Korea conducted nuclear and missile tests, could take place by June, although the venue has yet to be decided. It would be the first such leadership summit between the two nations after six decades of hostility after the Korean War. Other than the threat posed to by North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, another issue overhanging the summit plans is the fate of three Americans detained there. Trump said that was under negotiation and there was a “good chance” of winning their release, but he wouldn’t say whether that was a precondition for sitting down with Kim. Pompeo raised the question of the three Americans in his meeting with Kim, a U.S. official said. Trump also said he had promised Abe he would work hard for the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. Tokyo said at least a dozen Japanese said to have been taken in the 1970s and 1980s remain unaccounted for. News of Pompeo’s trip to North Korea, which took place more than two weeks ago, emerged Tuesday, as lawmakers weighed whether he should be confirmed to become secretary of state. Trump and Republican senators he[...]

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U.S., Japan plan new talks on 'fair and reciprocal' trade dealPresident Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:22:00 GMT

PALM BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. and Japan said Wednesday they've agreed to start talks to develop what President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe described as a new "free, fair and reciprocal" trade deal between the two countries following two days of talks. But the leaders said they had failed to reach a deal that would exempt Japan from new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, as Abe had wanted. "If we can come to an arrangement on a new deal, that would certainly be something we would discuss," Trump said during a joint press conference at his private Mar-a-Lago club. But he said the current trade deficit between the two countries is too high for him to offer an exemption now. Most other key U.S. allies – among them Australia, Canada, the European Union and Mexico – already have been granted exemptions to Trump's protectionist measures on steel and aluminum. The U.S. trade deficit with Japan last year was $56.1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Trump said he was working to reduce that imbalance and pushing to remove barriers to U.S. exports. "We're committed to pursuing a bilateral trading relationship that benefits both of our great countries," he said. Japan has previously voiced reluctance to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S. Trump also made clear that he has little interest in rejoining negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal unless the terms are dramatically altered. "While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don't like the deal for the United States," Trump tweeted Tuesday, following a dinner with Abe and their respective wives at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. "Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn't work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers." Trump pulled the U.S. out of TPP days after his inauguration but recently said he might be open to rejoining. During Abe's two-day visit, Trump appeared to be seeking to reassure him of the pair's close alliance as the president prepares for a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump and Abe spent Wednesday morning golfing at one of Trump's nearby courses in their latest show of "golf diplomacy," and had an intimate dinner on Tuesday evening with their wives. The Trump-Abe summit has played out amid growing tensions between the two countries over North Korea and trade. Japan has raised [...]

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