Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Rescuers end effort to find body of man presumed dead in sinkhole

SEFFNER, Florida -- Florida rescue workers have ended their efforts to recover the body of a man who disappeared into a sinkhole that swallowed his bedroom while he slept in a suburban Tampa home, and the house will be demolished, a public safety official said on Saturday.

Jeff Bush, 36, who is presumed dead, was asleep when the other five members of the household who were getting ready for bed on Thursday night heard a loud crash and Jeff screaming.

Authorities have not detected any signs of life after lowering listening devices and cameras into the hole.

"Our data has come back, and there is absolutely no way we can do any kind of recovery without endangering lives of workers," said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Dam.

The sinkhole also has compromised the house next door, officials said Saturday.

Officials planned to let family members, accompanied by firefighters, into the threatened  home for about 20 minutes to gather some  belongings, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ronnie Rivera told reporters Saturday.

She said demolition of the home would begin early on Sunday.

Bush's body hadn’t been removed by Saturday afternoon and the ground near the home was still "very, very unsafe," Rivera said at a televised press conference Saturday.

"At this time we did some testing and we determined that the house right next to the house that’s actually damaged is also compromised by the sinkhole," Rivera said.

Jeff's brother, 35-year-old Jeremy Bush, jumped into the hole and furiously kept digging to find his brother.

"I really don't think they are going to be able to find him," Jeremy said on Saturday. He "will be there forever."

A small memorial of balloons and flowers for his brother had formed near the house on Saturday morning.

"I thank the Lord for not taking my daughter and the rest of my family," he said.

Jeremy himself had to be rescued from the sinkhole by the first responder to the emergency call, Douglas Duvall of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. When Duvall entered Jeff Bush's bedroom, all he saw was a widening chasm but no sign of Jeff.

"The hole took the entire bedroom," said Duvall. "You could see the bed frame, the dresser, everything was sinking," he said.

Norman Wicker, 48, the father of Jeremy's fiancee who also lived in the house, ran to get a flashlight and shovel.

"It sounded like a car ran into the back of the house," Wicker said.

"There is a very large, very fluid mass underneath this house rendering the entire house and the entire lot dangerous and unsafe," Bill Bracken, the head of an engineering company assisting fire and rescue officials, told the news conference late on Friday.

"We are still trying to determine the extent and nature of what's down there so we can best determine how to approach it and how to extricate," Bracken said.

After suspending the search overnight, it resumed at daylight on Saturday, with engineering consultants trying to determine the extent of the collapse so that a perimeter boundary can be established for setting up heavy equipment for future excavation.

Several nearby homes were evacuated in case the 30-foot wide sinkhole got larger but officials said Friday it only appeared to be getting deeper. Soil samples showed that the sinkhole has compromised the ground underneath a home next door, engineers said Saturday.

The residents of that house were allowed 20 minutes in their home on Saturday to gather belongings. Firefighters and residents formed an assembly line to move items out of the house into SUVs and trucks.

Rescue officials said that in addition to soil samples, they were focusing on engineering analysis, ground penetration radar and other techniques to determine the extent of the ongoing collapse. Listening devices were being used to detect any evidence of life although Bush was presumed dead.

The Bush brothers worked together as landscapers, according to Leland Wicker, 48, one of the other residents of the house.

The risk of sinkholes is common in Florida due to the state's porous geological bedrock, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. As rainwater filters down into the ground, it dissolves the rock, causing erosion that can lead to underground caverns, which cause sinkholes when they collapse.


Read More..

Blackhawks' streak at 21 with overtime win over Blue Jackets

Chalk one up for the "slug defenseman."

Brent Seabrook's goal in overtime kept the Blackhawks' record-breaking streak alive as they edged the Blue Jackets 4-3 Friday night at the United Center to remain without a regulation loss this season. At 18-0-3, the Hawks keep piling up the points, securing 39 of a possible 42 this season.

Friday night's hero — with a little help from his friends — was Seabrook, who took a pass from Jonathan Toews 3 minutes, 23 seconds into overtime and beat Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason for the game-winner.

"(Toews) is good — he's a hell of a player," Seabrook said, giving credit to his captain. "He usually likes to shoot low and I think Mason was probably thinking he was going to shoot it. (Toews) had a slug defenseman (in me) going down on the off side so he made a great pass. I don't think the Blue Jackets defenseman, Mason or I expected it to come. Somehow he saw me and made a great pass.

"He didn't look at me once and I didn't yell. He's pretty good in those situations so I just let him do his thing. I don't think I shot the puck, it was such a hard pass it hit my stick and just bounced in."

Against a banged up and usually bumbling Blue Jackets squad, the Hawks increased their points streak over the course of two seasons to 27 consecutive games — third-longest in NHL history.

Viktor Stalberg, Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell had goals in regulation and Ray Emery earned the victory in net for the Hawks.

Vinny Prospal, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen scored for the Blue Jackets but it wasn't enough. The Blue Jackets, who entered the game with the fewest points in the league, were without defensemen James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson and John Moore and forwards Derick Brassard and Brandon Dubinsky but fought gamely.

A night after the Hawks opened their victory over the Blues with a Toews goal just 10 seconds into the game, the Blue Jackets struck quickly when Prospal jumped on a big rebound Emery yielded off a Derek Dorsett shot and fired it into the open net with 31 seconds elapsed.

Stalberg later continued his mastery over the Blue Jackets with his 11th goal in his 15th game against them when the winger tapped in a puck in the crease during a scramble.

"We're finding ways to really get it done," Stalberg said. "It's pretty amazing to be a part of a run like this. It seems like it hasn't gotten to our heads at all. We're staying with it … and that's all we can do right now."

The Jackets kept coming and took the lead when Anisimov's shot from the point deflected off the Hawks' Daniel Carcillo and bounded past Emery.

Late in the second, the Hawks' offense kicked into gear. Sharp evened the score at 2-2 when his backhander from the left circle somehow made it through Mason's pads and trickled across the goal line.

Bickell's splendid individual effort put the Hawks ahead just less than a minute later. The winger stripped Anisimov of the puck, skated in two-on-one with Stalberg and rifled a wrist shot from the left dot past Mason to the stick side.

After Johansen tied it midway through the third, the goalies held and the game went to overtime where Toews and Seabrook won it.

"(The Blue Jackets are) a hard-working team," Seabrook said. "They play 60 minutes hard and you have to come to play this team hard every time. There are no easy games in this league and you never can take a night off. I thought we fought hard on the second part of a back-to-back and it was good to get the win."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

Read More..

Crawford injured as Blackhawks extend streak to 20

ST. LOUIS — A little adversity never hurt anyone. Especially the surging Blackhawks.

Though their starting goaltender wasn't around to see it, the Hawks continued their assault on the NHL record book with a 3-0 victory over the Blues on Thursday night at the Scottrade Center.

Goalie Corey Crawford made it through the first period but didn't come out for the second after suffering an upper-body injury. That didn't slow the Hawks as they rode backup Ray Emery to extend their streak to 20 games to start the season without a loss in regulation and 26 in a row overall dating to 2011-12.

"We have thick skin," said captain Jonathan Toews, who scored two goals — including one 12 seconds into the game off a terrific passing play from Duncan Keith to Marian Hossa to Brandon Saad and finally to Toews — to help the Hawks improve to 17-0-3. "Whether there's momentum going against us or a call we didn't like or any sort of adversity that might get in our way, we've always been positive and stuck with it. We've been hungry and determined to win every single game."

Andrew Shaw also had a goal and Hossa added two assists to provide the offense, while Emery made 15 saves as the Hawks recorded their third shutout of the season.

Crawford was credited with the victory after making six saves in the first. After the period, he gingerly made his way off the ice and didn't return. Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford would travel back to Chicago with the team Thursday night and is day-to-day.

"Hopefully, it's just our training staff being cautious and he'll be healthy," Toews said. "In a case like that, we know Ray can step in and take care of the job."

Emery did just that, shutting down a Blues team that was without key offensive players Andy McDonald, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. Jaroslav Halak suffered the loss in goal as he couldn't match Crawford and Emery.

"The guys played a really good defensive game," Emery said. "You're kind of surprised when you get to go in in the second. You have to be prepared for that, (but) that's why I'm there."

Hawks penalty killers were again outstanding as the units blanked the league's top power play in four opportunities. The Blues entered the game scoring 30.6 percent of the time with a man advantage but came up empty on five shots against the Hawks.

"Our team game, led by the goalies, was really strong in all zones," Quenneville said. "Penalty killing did a great job against the top power play in the league. Everybody contributed in a comparable way like we've had all year.

"We've had some good games to date, but that might have been the best."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

Read More..

Chicago archdiocese to close 5 schools in cost-cutting move

Budget cuts announced Wednesday by the Archdiocese of Chicago signal that the area's Roman Catholics are entering a period of austerity when there will be less money for their parishes and schools.

The cuts, which were officially announced as Cardinal Francis George and other leaders of the church gathered at the Vatican to select a new pope, include closing five schools, eliminating 75 positions at the archdiocese's headquarters and placing a moratorium on loans to parishes from the archdiocese bank for three years. Other changes include creating stricter guidelines for local parishes applying for subsidies and reducing the number of the agencies in the archdiocese.

George, who spoke publicly about the cuts when asked by reporters in Rome, said they are needed to address the archdiocese's chronic financial problems. The archdiocese has run deficits of more than $30 million annually over the last four years, including being $40 million in the red for the fiscal year ending in June 2012.

All told, the measures will save tens of millions of dollars over the next few years, officials said.

“The expenses have gone up, and the income is pretty well flat,” George said after a news conference in Rome about Pope Benedict XVI's last audience Wednesday in St. Peter's Square. “We tried to ride out the recession without making any changes — and we can't do that. We're giving more grants to parishes and schools that need more money. The budget is not balanced. Not just layoffs, but a lot of other things being done, other ways to use the resources we have.”

The archdiocese sold $150 million in bonds in 2012 that helped it get through a cash-flow problem, but ultimately that wasn't enough, George said. He hopes the cuts will enable the archdiocese to balance its budget in two years.

Although the cardinal's announcement made headlines, the archdiocese's financial situation has been no secret to its priests. Several clergymen said they knew the archdiocese had planned to scale back loans to parishes.

“We have already made adjustments,” said the Rev. Dennis Ziomek of St. Barbara Parish in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood. “We have to be responsible stewards with the money.”

In a letter posted on the archdiocese website, the cardinal thanked parishioners for their generosity and asked them to pray for the employees now out of a paycheck.

At the archdiocese's Pastoral Center headquarters on Wednesday, people funneled in and out of the building during their lunch breaks but declined comment on the layoffs. Before the announcement, staffers received memos asking them to report to their desks early Wednesday.

Of the 75 positions, 55 were full-time jobs. Sixty people were let go, while the remaining posts had been vacant. Those cuts are expected to save $11 million to $13 million annually by fiscal 2015, George wrote in his letter.

Employees who received pink slips will get job counseling, extended health benefits and generous severance packages.

“We're keeping up counseling for helping people find jobs, looking for places where they might look for jobs,” George said.

Along with the layoffs, the archdiocese will reduce the number of capital loans and grants it gives parishes, while creating “stricter criteria” for them to qualify for the financial assistance.

A Parish Transformation initiative in the works for at least two years will also try to save money by laying out measures to provide more financial stability, though the letter did not give details.

Those cuts are expected to save an additional $13 million to $15 million annually by fiscal 2015, the letter states.

By next year, the archdiocese will reduce its aid to Catholic schools by $10 million. It plans to give scholarships to children affected by the five school closings so they can attend nearby Catholic schools. Officials said low enrollment was a key factor for closing the schools: St. Gregory the Great High, St. Paul-Our Lady of Vilna Elementary and St. Helena of the Cross Elementary in Chicago, plus St. Bernardine in Forest Park and St. Kieran in Chicago Heights.

Now, Catholic schools will start relying on scholarships for student financial aid instead of grants from the archdiocese to make tuition affordable, Superintendent Sister Mary Paul McCaughey said.

She pointed to a new partnership with the Big Shoulders Fund, a charity supporting urban Catholic schools, that will help families pay for school with scholarships.

McCaughey did not expect tuition at other Catholic schools to immediately rise because grants from the archdiocese have been reduced. About two-thirds of schools already have posted their tuition rates for the upcoming school year, she added.

“Although things are challenged, I think (Chicago) is a Catholic community that's always supported its schools,” McCaughey said. “I think the support will be there.”

Outside of St. Bernardine Elementary in west suburban Forest Park, one of the schools that will close this summer, Maria Maxham said she was devastated when she heard last month that she'd have to send her children, one in second grade and the other in fourth grade, to a different school.

Maxham, who lives in Forest Park, said she is not sure the two will attend another local Catholic school because some lack what she thought was St. Bernardine's strength.

“There is so much diversity at St. Bernardine, and that's part of what makes it so fantastic,” Maxham said. “It was a special place and a second family for us.”

The school, which has been open since 1915, has about 100 students currently enrolled in its preschool-through-eighth-grade classrooms.

Administrators, teachers and parents were notified of the closing in January, when McCaughey led a meeting at the school and explained the large amount of money that the archdiocese needed to reduce from the schools budget, Principal Veronica Skelton Cash said.

One family left the school shortly after hearing the news, she added.

Cash, who joined the school in the fall, said there was much frustration among staff members afterward. Many believed they would have at least a few years to turn things around.

“I could see a lot of things changing for the better at this school,” Cash said. “The culture of the community is changing, and we were getting more and more inquiries about the school. There was momentum going forward.”

Current employees were given guidance on severance and benefits by the archdiocese's human resources officials, Cash said. Teachers without jobs will also be placed on a priority list for future employment with the archdiocese, she said.

“I'm incredibly disheartened,” said Daniel Kwarcinski, who hopes to find a job at another private school after teaching art for seven years at St. Bernardine. “There's a need for a school like this where we are at.”

In Rome, George said the decisions to let people go and reduce aid were not easy. But he reiterated that the archdiocese's financial situation drove the decision.

“We have to balance the budget, especially if it's precarious,” he said. “The growth being very slow means we can no longer ignore the kinds of deficit situations that have been imposed on us. We have to take action.”

Tribune reporter Manya A. Brachear reported from Rome, with Tribune reporters Bridget Doyle and Jennifer Delgado in Chicago.

Read More..

Kelly easily wins Democratic race to replace Jackson Jr.

Former state Rep. Robin Kelly easily won the special Democratic primary Tuesday night in the race to replace the disgraced Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, helped by millions of dollars in pro-gun control ads from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political fund.

A snowstorm and lack of voter interest kept turnout low as Kelly had 52 percent to 25 percent for former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson and 11 percent for Chicago 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale with 99 percent of precincts counted.

Kelly will formally take on the winner of the Republican primary in an April 9 special general election in the heavily Democratic district. In the GOP contest, less than 25 votes separated convicted felon Paul McKinley and businessman Eric Wallace.

Kelly framed her win as a victory for gun control forces.

"You sent a message that was heard around our state and across the nation," Kelly told supporters in a Matteson hotel ballroom. "A message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end.

"To every leader in the fight for gun control ready to work with President (Barack) Obama and Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel to stop this senseless violence, thank you for your leadership and thank you for your courage," she said.

Halvorson told supporters to rally around Kelly as the Democratic nominee. But Halvorson also made it clear she believed her biggest opponent was the mayor of New York, whose anti-gun super political action committee spent more than $2.2 million attacking her previous support from the National Rifle Association while backing Kelly.

"We all know how rough it was for me to have to run an election against someone who spent ($2.2) million against me," Halvorson said at Homewood restaurant. "Every 71/2 minutes there was a commercial."

Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC was the largest campaign interest in the race and dominated the Chicago broadcast TV airwaves compared to a marginal buy by one minor candidate.

Beale also called Bloomberg's influence "the biggest disservice in this race."

"If this is the future of the Democratic Party, then we are all in big trouble," Beale said.

Bloomberg, an Emanuel ally in the fight for tougher gun restrictions, called Kelly's win "an important victory for common sense leadership on gun violence" as well as sign that voters "are demanding change" in a Congress that has refused to enact tougher gun restrictions, fearing the influence of the NRA.

But as much as Bloomberg sought to portray the Kelly win as a victory over the influential NRA, the national organization stayed out of the contest completely while the state rifle association sent out one late mailer for Halvorson.

Be it the TV ads or a late consolidation toward Kelly in the campaign, the former Matteson lawmaker made an impressive showing with Democratic voters in suburban Cook County, where the bulk of the district's vote was located, as well as on the South Side.

Despite the size of the field, Kelly got more than half of the votes cast in the two most populated areas of the district. Halvorson won by large percentages over Kelly in Kankakee County and the district's portion of Will County, but those two areas have very few votes.

The special primary election, by its nature, already had been expected to be a low-turnout affair — an expedited contest with little time for contenders to raise money or mount a traditional campaign.

Adding to the lack of interest was the fact that there were no other contests on the ballot in Chicago and most of the suburban Cook County portion of the district. Few contests were being held in Kankakee County and the portion of Will County within the 2nd District.

Turnout was reported to be around 15 percent in the city and suburban Cook. More than 98 percent of the primary votes cast in Chicago were Democratic, as were 97 percent of those cast in suburban Cook.

On the Republican side, the unofficial vote leader was McKinley, 54, who was arrested 11 times from 2003 to 2007, mostly for protesting, with almost all of the charges dropped. In the 1970s and '80s, McKinley was convicted of six felony counts, serving nearly 20 years in prison for burglaries, armed robberies and aggravated battery. He previously declined to discuss the circumstances of those crimes but has dubbed himself the "ex-offender preventing the next offender" in his campaign.

Records show McKinley also owes $14,147 in federal taxes, which might explain his answer at a forum when asked if he would cut any federal programs. "Certainly," he said. "The IRS."

Read More..

Blackhawks win in overtime, extend streak to 19

Nikolai Khabibulin stumbled coming out of the tunnel from the Oilers' dressing room to start the second period before steadying himself on the bench and taking the ice.

Then the Oilers goaltender was tripped up by the hottest team in hockey as the Blackhawks made sure the longest streak in NHL history to start a season without a regulation loss lives on at 19.

Marian Hossa scored the winner in overtime to lift the Hawks to a 3-2 victory over the Oilers on Monday night at the United Center. Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg each had a goal in regulation and Ray Emery earned the win in goal as the Hawks' improved to 16-0-3. Dating to last season, they have gone 25 consecutive games with at least one point.

"It's a great feeling," said Hossa, who sent the crowd of 21,127 home happy when he batted in a rebound of a Patrick Sharp attempt from in front 1 minute, 44 seconds into overtime. "We try to enjoy the streak, keep playing a simple game and try to have fun. We know we'll find a way to win the hockey games."

For just the third time this season, the Hawks found themselves trailing entering the third period after Jeff Petry and Nail Yakupov had scored for the Oilers.

"After the second period, guys weren't very happy we were down a goal and we knew we wanted to come back and change that right away," Kane said.

Stalberg did just that when he stuffed a shot under Khabibulin's pad after taking a pass from Michal Rozsival. Regulation ended that way and the Hawks had extended their streak but still had work to do. Sharp did the bulk of it, taking the puck hard to the net and creating the opportunity for Hossa.

"That was great work by Patrick Sharp," Hossa said. "He was hanging on to the puck, I tried to get open in the slot and he cut right in through the defense and tried to shoot. I saw the rebound and (Khabibulin) made a great save and I just kept battling and tried to put it in and it worked out."

Emery improved to 8-0-0 and helped lead the Hawks to their sixth consecutive victory. They finished their season-long seven-game homestand 6-0-1.

"Without sounding arrogant, it's kind of just business as usual," Sharp said. "We have an attitude in here that we can win every night. We're healthy right now, we're a confident group and we want to keep getting better."

The Oilers kicked off a 17-day, nine-game trip by gaining a point and a lot of respect for the Hawks.

"Big picture, it's an excellent point against the strongest team in the National Hockey League right now," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "Of course you feel pain, having the lead going into the third period. It's definitely something you dream and believe you can close it, but they really are an amazingly powerful team."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

Read More..

Oscars analysis: 'Argo,' Ang Lee are night's big winners

Blowing past the distant Civil War history of “Lincoln” and the more controversial recent history of “Zero Dark Thirty,” director and star Ben Affleck’s rousing, reassuringly apolitical thriller “Argo” won Sunday’s Academy Award for best picture.

This was a rebuke to the very academy bestowing the prize: Affleck failed to receive a directing nomination for “Argo,” joining “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow as the evening’s most conspicuous snubs.

MORE OSCARS: Red carpet pics | Winners | Backstage

In their place, Ang Lee scored his second directing Oscar (following “Brokeback Mountain”) for the formidable technical achievement that was “Life of Pi,” which won four Oscars in all. Widely considered an unfilmable novel, Lee’s supple handling of the story of a boy, a tiger, a lifeboat and a slew of digital visual wonders has led to a picture grossing nearly $600 million in worldwide. box office receipts.

This has happened with Lee before. His “Brokeback Mountain” directing Oscar didn’t come attached to a best picture win for the same movie; the big prize that year went to “Crash” instead.

Sunday night’s "Life of Pi" win for Lee marked the second time the director went up against industry lion Steven Spielberg, nominated for "Lincoln," and won.

Spielberg's film won just two Oscars, for Daniel Day-Lewis's towering lead performance and production design. It was instead the night of "Argo," which won three Oscars, and "Life of Pi."

A couple of months ago the best picture Oscar seemed like "Lincoln's" to lose. But after receiving top prizes from the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America, as well as the Screen Actors Guild ensemble award, "Argo" officially became the front-runner. No movie has ever won the Globes, the DGA, the PGA and the SAG without eventually picking up the Oscar.

In the academy’s 85-year awards history, "Argo" is only the fourth to secure best picture without an accompanying directorial nomination. The other three: "Wings" (1927, the first best picture winner), “Grand Hotel” (1932) and "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989).

“Lincoln” seemed to lose its Oscar mojo the second the nominations were announced Jan. 10, even though Spielberg’s superb slice of historical fiction (scripted by the dramatist Tony Kushner, who lost the adapted screenwriting Oscar to “Argo’s” Chris Terrio) pulled down 12 nominations in all, the most of any film.

The best actress race was widely considered one of the evening’s tough calls. Emmanuelle Riva, at 86 the oldest-ever leading actress Oscar nominee (for “Amour”), made the trip all the way from Paris to attend the academy’s prom night Sunday. Quvenzhane Wallis, 9, was the youngest-ever best actress nominee, cited for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

But it went to Jennifer Lawrence, queen of several news cycles’ worth of magazine covers. This was her first Oscar (she was nominated previously for “Winter’s Bone “), recognizing her performance as a young widow dancing her way to a better place in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

When Affleck got squeezed out of a directing nomination (owing, perhaps, to the heartening inclusion of Michael Haneke for “Amour”) invisible waves of “not fair!” sympathy starting rolling Affleck’s way last month. People like “Argo”; it’s a good time, triumphantly rousing in its depiction of a CIA success story free of nagging elements such as waterboarding or other forms of enhanced interrogation techniques depicted in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

A vote for “Argo” was a vote for Hollywood, and for America. Inspired by a real-life CIA mission, “Argo” told a gripping story of Americans in hiding and their savior, CIA “exfiltration” expert Tony Mendez, posing as a Hollywood film crew scouting locations in Tehran for a “Star Wars”-type adventure movie, the “Argo” of the title.

Affleck, who plays Mendez in the picture, cast the beloved character actors Alan Arkin (nominated in the supporting actor category) and John Goodman as the mission’s Hollywood connections. Their deceptions help save the day. “Argo” is a bigger valentine to the film industry than even last year’s big Oscar winner, “The Artist."

People just plain like Affleck’s movie. Its confident, propulsive craftsmanship plays well no matter how little sleep you had the night before (can’t say the same about “Amour” or “Lincoln,” excellent films both). Oscar voters relished Affleck’s evocation of such 1970s thrillers as “Three Days of the Condor” or “All the President’s Men."

The movie is a throwback, but it feels vital. And it’s a good time —triumphantly rousing in its depiction of a CIA success story free of nagging elements such as waterboarding or other forms of enhanced interrogation techniques, the ones depicted in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

In the feature documentary category “Searching For Sugar Man,” an irresistible portrait of a nearly forgotten singer-songwriter, aced its weightier competition, chiefly the superb Israeli doc “The Gatekeepers.”

The “In Memoriam” segment of Sunday’s Academy Awards paid tribute to film industry talents who died last year. We lost beloved character actors: Charles Durning, Jack Klugman, Ernest Borgnine. Even avant-garde filmmaker Chris Marker got his (fleeting) due, along with film critic Andrew Sarris. And Barbra Streisand sang “The Way We Were” in honor of that infernally durable song’s late composer, Marvin Hamlisch.

I always like the looking-back part of the Oscars best, but Sunday’s show looked back in something like adoration adoringly at the old days throughout. Like “Family Guy,” the animated snarkfest on which host Seth MacFarlane made his fortune, the Oscar bash worked on alternating currents of ethnic, misogynist and/or “Star Trek” wisecracks and Ggolden Aage movie and Broadway standards. Strange mixture. But “Family Guy’s” is still running.

The evening’s first surprise: Christoph Waltz. Over such contenders as Robert De Niro (for “Silver Linings Playbook”) and Tommy Lee Jones (for “Lincoln”), the droll character actor scored his second Oscar in four years, both times for bringing a voluble Quentin Tarantino character to life. First time, a Nazi, in “Inglourious Basterds”; this time, a dashing bounty hunter riding through Tarantino’s spaghetti-Western version of the Civil War era.

The evening’s least surprising win, next to Day-Lewis: Anne Hathaway, winning the supporting actress statuette for singing her dying guts out as Fantine in “Les Miserables.” Even those who detest “Les Miserables” and its overbearing attack on the audience’s tear ducts have to concede: Hathaway's the best thing in it. As widely predicted, given her various wins in recent weeks leading up to the Oscars, Hathaway’s fervent portrayal scored the actress her first win Sunday. Her big number, “I Dream a Dream,” was filmed by director Tom Hooper in a single-take, full-bore close-up, thereby enshrining the performance and the performer for academy sanctification.

After which New York magazine’s Frank Rich tweeted: “God is dead.”

Read More..

2 hurt in melee near Ford City Mall

Two people suffered minor injuries and police arrested at least 16 people during a disturbance involving crowds of young people tonight at Ford City Mall on the Southwest Side, authorities said.

About 4:45 p.m., a large group of disruptive teens ran yelling through the mall, which is located at 7601 S. Cicero Ave., according to a mall official.

Officials closed the mall minutes later, but the chaotic scene continued outside, where police found between 100 and 200 people damaging vehicles in the shopping center's parking lot, according to a police report.

Two people were taken to hospitals, according to Chicago Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva, a department spokesman.

A CTA bus driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, said Roccasalva, who added he did not know what happened to him.
A “kid’’ was also hurt, and that person was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, also in good condition, Roccasalva said.

About 50 police squad cars assigned to multiple South Side districts, including Chicago Lawn, Englewood and Deering, and a helicopter responded to the scene, police said.

Traffic came to a standstill as teenagers jumped on cars, both parked and moving, according to a police report obtained by the Tribune. Many of those involved ignored orders to disperse, and police arrested 16 people, many of them juveniles, according to the report.

Officers did their best to control the disturbance, "trying to get everyone out of there safely," Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala said.

During the disturbance the CTA had to reroute the No. 79 buses, which travel on 79th Street, as well as other buses in the immediate area.

Earlier in the afternoon, members of the teen band Mindless Behavior had appeared at the mall food court from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to promote their new release, "All Around the World," said John Sarama, the mall's senior general manager.

The band's autograph signing drew approximately 1,000 parents and children, primarily mothers and girls between the ages of 6 and 13, Sarama said.

About 45 minutes after the band left, the chaos began, Sarama said.

"A group of older youths came into the mall with the intent of causing havoc and chaos and were running through the mall, screaming, yelling and so forth," he said.

Security staff contacted the police department, and mall officials closed the mall about 5 p.m., Sarama said.

The mall did not sustain any property damage apart from a single broken planter, and it will reopen Sunday at 11 a.m. as usual, Sarama said.

In the meantime, mall officials are at a loss as they try to understand what happened.

"Ford City is a family-oriented mall," he said. "We have not had an incident like this [in the past], and I’m still in a little bit of a state of shock actually.

"What would make these youths comes here to try and cause this kind of commotion and trouble?" he continued. "I don’t know. But they did have a plan in mind."

Tribune reporter Adam Sege contributed.

Read More..

Hawks make NHL history

The shot was low and hard and cemented the Blackhawks' spot in the history books.

When Brandon Saad rifled the puck past goaltender Antti Niemi early in the third period Friday night at the United Center, the rookie propelled the Hawks to a 2-1 victory over the Sharks and continued a streak for the ages.

Viktor Stalberg also scored and Ray Emery was impressive in goal again as the Hawks finished their 17th consecutive game to start the season without a regulation loss, the longest such streak in league history.

"It's a great feeling," said Stalberg, who scored late in the second period to pull the Hawks into a 1-1 tie and energize the crowd of 21,670. "We've had a great run here. (This) maybe wasn't our best game but we're finding a way to win.

"We want to keep this going and see how far we can take this. It's kind of crazy to think you're not going to lose a game in regulation for the first 17 games. It's a cool thing to be a part of."

The Hawks also pulled into a tie for third in NHL history for longest overall points streak at 23 games over parts of two seasons — matching the 1975-76 Flyers and '40-41 Bruins.

Emery made 26 saves, allowing only a late first-period goal to Patrick Marleau as he out-dueled Niemi. The Hawks moved to 14-0-3 overall and 6-0-1 at home this season and continued their assault on the Western Conference standings with their 31st point of a possible 34.

"Our group has had a great year so far so we don't expect anything less," Saad said.

After a sluggish first period for both teams, Marleau put the Sharks ahead with his 11th goal of the season as the clock ticked down. After a Joe Thornton shot, Marleau batted at the rebound and the puck trickled under Emery's pad and across the line.

Late in the second, Stalberg awakened a subdued crowd with his fourth goal of the season. The winger had been without a point in five consecutive games but found the scoresheet when he banked a shot from behind the goal line off Niemi and into the net.

The Sharks entered the third period on the power play but it was the Hawks who cashed in when Saad notched this third goal of the season. The rookie winger rifled a shot from the left circle that sailed past Niemi to the glove side. It was the Hawks' first short-handed score of the season and gave them life as they marched toward history.

"It was a huge goal for us," Saad said. "I just took him wide and tried to get a shot off and luckily I beat him."

After that, the defense tightened and Emery turned aside whatever offense the Sharks could manage.

"It's special to do something as a group," said Emery, who improved to 7-0-0 with a .930 save percentage this season. "The start of the year is the worst time to do it I think, you'd rather do it at the end but it's great in a short year to get off to a good start and we couldn't ask for more. At the same time we can't be complacent."

The only negative on a night when the Hawks had Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Daniel Carcillo back in the lineup after missing time with injuries, was Dave Bolland suffering an upper-body injury in the second period and not returning to the game. Coach Joel Quenneville said the center was "day-to-day."

Otherwise, it was all smiles in the Hawks dressing room for team that will look to extend the streak to 18 games Sunday night when it faces the Blue Jackets at the United Center.

"The guys should be proud of the achievement and the accomplishment," Quenneville said. "I just think that we shouldn't be happy with where we're at. We just want to keep trying to get better.

"I like the demeanor and the approach and just looking forward to the next game, trying to make a contribution to your linemates or your defense partner or your fellow goalie. It has been a nice environment for the guys and they keep pushing one another."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

Read More..

Retired general: National Guard could help curb Chicago violence

To reduce the homicides and shootings plaguing Chicago streets, elected officials should consider calling on the state and federal governments for help, even the National Guard if necessary, said a retired Army lieutenant general who spearheaded the military response after Hurricane Katrina.

"Just like we do with any disaster. When the tornado comes, or the floods come, the federal government comes in to help," Russel L. Honore said Thursday at a news conference in Chicago.

"Let's not let this be about pride. 'We are big ol' Chicago, we are too proud, we can handle this.' Maybe you can't handle it. If you need help, get the federal government here. But let's control the streets so children and elderly people can be in a safe community."

Honore, known for his no-nonsense leadership, was in Chicago as part of The HistoryMakers project to record and archive the stories of African-American military leaders. The nonprofit organization houses the largest collection of recorded histories of African-Americans.

As part of his visit, Honore met with high school students to discuss his career.

At the news conference at the Chicago Military Academy in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Honore spoke out against the gun violence that affects the lives of so many of the students.

Honore was mild in his tone and fell short of demanding action. Instead he suggested a strategy he thinks could work.

To tackle the violence here, Honore said, the state police and other law enforcement agencies could lend a hand to local police. And the National Guard could take over routine duties, patrolling the streets and handling traffic, while police concentrate their efforts on solving crimes and increasing their presence in troubled neighborhoods.

Last year, Chicago homicides exceeded 500 for the first time since 2008, a 16 percent jump from 2011. And January saw the most homicides for that month since 2002. In addition, the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton has placed an international spotlight on the random violence in Chicago because the 15-year-old honors student with so much promise was killed less than a mile from President Barack Obama's home.

To reduce the violence, more attention needs to be paid to poor communities infested with drugs, Honore said.

"Trust me, we can tap this down," Honore said of the shootings. "It would take a commitment, and it's not going to be popular. Many people are going to say why are you bringing that to my community? (But) do you want law enforcement or do you want people shooting day and night and destroying the lives of innocent people like the little girl who lost her life here a few weeks ago?"

Rondell Freeman, a 17-year-old junior at Prologue Early College High School who was among the students to hear Honore's remarks, said he feels afraid on the streets or even visiting the local park in his Garfield Park community. Honore's suggestion to bring in state police and National Guard seems radical, but it may be necessary, he said.

"We should do whatever it takes to end the violence, so we won't have to feel scared," he said. "These kids have guns. We need experienced people that can stop them."

When he's not working as a Chicago police officer, Richard Wooten said he's in the neighborhoods — Auburn Gresham, West Chesterfield and Chatham — helping residents develop neighborhood watch groups.

"Crime in Chicago is just running rampant," said Wooten, who does community work as part of his own organization, the Gathering Point Community Council. He attended Honore's news conference.

"This is going to require more than just the Chicago Police Department," he said. "We are in a state right now where we need not only to get the community activated and mobilized and dealing with the issues in their community, but somewhere along the way, we're going to have to tap into some federal funding."

Read More..

Jackson Jr.: 'Tell everybody back home I'm sorry I let 'em down'


— It was the kind of runaway spending usually reserved for someone with newfound riches — a holistic retreat, a cruise, pricey restaurant tabs, flat-screen televisions and even a pair of stuffed elk heads —and former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. admitted Wednesday that he conspired with his then-Chicago alderman wife to pay for it all with campaign money and cover it up.

In two quiet federal court appearances just hours apart, the power couple who once sought to write a new chapter in Chicago political history instead became the latest entry in an infamous culture of public corruption. Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiring with his wife, Sandi, to siphon campaign funds for personal use, and she pleaded guilty to not reporting most of the take as income on the couple's tax returns.

A sullen Jackson gave his wife a peck on the cheek at his own hearing and at times appeared to wipe tears from his eyes as he told a judge he was guilty of misusing about $750,000 in campaign money. And with that, a political star once seemingly destined for the U.S. Senate or the Chicago mayor's office dissolved once and for all.

"Tell everybody back home I'm sorry I let 'em down, OK?" Jackson told a reporter as he left the courtroom.

As part of Jackson's plea agreement, prosecutors filed a 22-page statement filled with stunning details of how the Jacksons used his congressional campaign fund to fuel a lavish lifestyle. Jackson admitted that together the couple used campaign credit cards to buy personal items, tapped campaign funds to pay those bills, sometimes arranged for their campaign treasurer to make purchases for them, filed falsified campaign-disclosure forms to hide their actions and ultimately understated their personal income for tax purposes.

Both Jacksons face the prospect of time in federal prison.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors and Jesse Jackson's defense agreed that sentencing guidelines in the case call for a term of between 46 and 57 months, but the sides reserved the right to argue for a sentence above or below that range when he is sentenced June 28.

Sandi Jackson is to be sentenced days later on July 1 and may face from one to two years. Among the conduct in her case, prosecutors said, was failing to report that money in her aldermanic campaign fund was used for personal expenses.

Experts said the agreement for Jesse Jackson leaves room for the defense to argue for probation and use his mental health as a mitigating factor.

Jackson removed himself from the public spotlight last June after winning a primary election in March. His medical leave was initially attributed to "exhaustion." It was later revealed that he had been treated in the Sierra Tucson facility in Arizona and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

He resigned in November amid the swirling probe, ending a 17-year congressional career just two weeks after winning re-election.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins asked Jackson during the hearing whether he understood what was happening.

"Sir, I've never been more clear in my life," Jackson answered.

At a news conference after the hearing, Jackson Jr.'s attorney, Reid Weingarten, said Jackson's health problems contributed to his crimes, hinting it may be an issue raised in a sentencing hearing.

"It turns out that Jesse has serious health issues. ... Those health issues are directly related to his present predicament," Weingarten said. "That's not an excuse, that's just a fact."

Documents filed with the plea agreement lay out a steady pilfering of Jackson's campaign fund during a period of nearly seven years dating to August 2005.

Six people identified by letters of the alphabet — Persons A through F —- were involved in various aspects of the crimes, prosecutors said, and have not been granted immunity in the case. They include two former campaign treasurers, an Alabama businessman who issued a check to pay down a Jackson credit card balance and a Chicago consultant.

In January 2006, Jackson personally opened a bank account under the name "Jesse Jackson Jr. for Congress," and the following year withdrew $43,350 he used to buy a gold Rolex watch, prosecutors said. In 2007, he was also withdrawing funds to pay down personal credit cards, according to case documents.

After that year, the spending went into high gear.

"These expenditures included high-end electronic items, collector's items, clothing, food and supplies for daily consumption, movie tickets, health club dues, personal travel, and personal dining expenses," prosecutors said. When he was charged last week, Jackson was accused of buying, among other items, a fedora that belonged to pop superstar Michael Jackson, an Eddie Van Halen guitar and a football signed by U.S. presidents.

Read More..

Blackhawks make history in shootout win over Canucks

Three times the Blackhawks broke in alone on Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider during the opening period. Three times they came away empty.

For a while, it appeared that for the first time all season maybe it wouldn't be the Hawks' night as they faced their archrivals Tuesday night at the United Center.

Yeah, forget that.

The Hawks wobbled but came away with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Canucks and in the process made a little history. With their 16th consecutive game to start the season without a regulation loss, the Hawks equaled the Ducks' 2006 league record. At 13-0-3, the Hawks have captured 29 of a possible 32 points.

Andrew Shaw scored the game-winner in the shootout, Marian Hossa had two goals and Patrick Sharp also scored in regulation to provide the offense. Ray Emery earned the victory in goal despite yielding two scores late in the third period to send the game to overtime.

"It's probably not the way we'd want to pull that one out but give credit to our team to respond after they tied it up," Sharp said. "We have to find a way to tighten things up late in games, whether it's to be more disciplined, staying out of the box or whatever it may be. Credit to the guys, we pulled out the win and we can feel good about it."

The loss could prove costly as Hossa took a forearm to the back of the head from the Canucks' Jannik Hansen in the third period and did not return. Hossa suffered a serious concussion during the playoffs last season and was not cleared to play until mid-November. The Hawks were already without the services of defenseman Brent Seabrook, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler and Kevin Bieksa scored for the Canucks in regulation but it wasn't enough as Schneider couldn't stop Patrick Kane and Shaw in the shootout.

The game had a postseason-like feel with physical play and a heart-pulsing pace that included five breakaways during a span of 7 minutes, 41 seconds in the first.

"There were some big hits out there — some questionable hits on both sides," Sharp said. "That's to be expected when these two teams face each other. There's obviously a lot of bad blood."

Said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville: "It was an amazing pace. When you play Vancouver the pace is as good as there is in the game. It was an exciting hockey game as far as the quantity and quality of chances at both ends."

The Hawks will look to set the record to start a season Friday night when they face the Sharks at the United Center.

"It's a remarkable start," Quenneville said. "Guys should be proud of the achievement and where they're at.

"Especially in a 48-game season, it has put us in a real good spot."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

Read More..

Rose returns to 5-on-5 drills for first time since injury

A sense of doubt has evolved into a hint of optimism about Derrick Rose's comeback from knee surgery.

The Bulls guard, who last week mentioned the possibility of sitting out the season, appeared to take another step Monday as he participated in 5-on-5 drills during practice.

"He was able to get out there, and it's good," teammate Kirk Hinrich said. "It was something that (we) as a team needed, as far as every individual coming off the (All-Star) break needed to scrimmage a little bit. And I'm sure it was good for (Rose), helpful to ... give him a good gauge of where he's at."

Coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose did "what everyone else did'' and said his participation wasn't out of the ordinary based on the previously stated outlook. The plan all along was to have Rose return to 5-on-5 action after the break.

Rose cited his inability to dunk as the reason he knew he hadn't fully recovered, and Joakim Noah said Rose still wasn't dunking Monday. The Bulls went through three scrimmages of seven to eight minutes, during which Rose ran full-court. It was unclear how much contact Rose endured or how much pressure he put on his left knee.

"He's doing what he should be doing,'' Thibodeau said. "He's focused on his rehab, doing more and more. We just have to be patient. When he's ready, he'll go.''

Thibodeau reiterated how his players need to pick up their intensity after dropping five of the last seven games and six of the last 10. A Rose return would instantly inject life into the 30-22 Bulls, although they've performed admirably at times in his absence while currently holding the Eastern Conference's fifth seed.

Until Rose steps on the court for a game, his teammates have to lean on each other.

"When we're right and we're playing the right way, we've proved that we can beat everybody,'' Noah said. "We've also proved that if we don't come with the right (attitude), don't play together, we can lose to anybody.''

The return of Hinrich to the lineup for Tuesday night's game in New Orleans should provide a boost. The Bulls went 2-5 with Hinrich sidelined by a right elbow infection and committed 15.6 turnovers per game in the losses.

With all due respect to Nate Robinson and his scoring ability, Hinrich runs the offense more efficiently and is a better defender.

"He's a huge part of what we do, and it just feels good to have Kirk back,'' Noah said. "What he brings to our team, it's hard to measure. His defensive intensity, the ball movement ... it's all big.''

The Bulls have lost two straight and take on a 19-34 Hornets team that has won its last two and is 5-5 over the last 10. Four of the Bulls' next six opponents have sub-.500 records, but the Heat (36-14) and Thunder (39-14) are in that stretch too.

"We have to clean some things up offensively and defensively,'' Thibodeau said. "But the biggest challenge is going to be the level of intensity, to get that back.''

Twitter @vxmcclure23

Read More..

CPS officials taking note of feedback on school closings

Chicago Public Schools officials gathering input on school closings started taking notes when the director of a local Boys and Girls Club of Chicago spoke up on behalf of West Pullman Elementary School at a hearing on the Far South Side late last week.

Then a local pastor spoke about the changing culture and the positive effect of a new principal at Whistler Elementary, which like West Pullman is on the preliminary list CPS released last week of 129 schools that could be closed. Another pastor talked about the problems with gangs near Lawrence Elementary, and CPS officials wrote some more notes.

School communities across the city are pulling out all the stops to make their case as the district prepares to make a final decision, due by the end of March, on what schools will be shuttered. Parents, teachers and community leaders are bringing healthy amounts of data and emotion to the meetings in their effort to convince district officials which schools should stay open.

The meetings will continue over the next several weeks. The district says it needs to close an as yet unknown number of under-enrolled schools to help address a projected deficit of $1 billion in the coming year.

District chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has set specific criteria for the closings, and schools that don't want to be on the final list will have to show how they plan to build enrollment or improve academics. Security concerns will also play a role in deciding what schools to close.

Among the schools on the preliminary list were six that are part of the politically connected Academy for Urban School Leadership, which takes over schools known as turnarounds that are deemed in need of academic recovery.

CPS has invested nearly $20 million in capital improvements at the six AUSL Schools. AUSL, which runs 25 schools throughout the district, replaces teachers and administrators at its schools with AUSL-trained staff.

AUSL parents have appeared at meetings to speak about changes at schools being considered for closing.

"We know this has to run the course through the community meetings," said Shana Hayes, managing director of AUSL's external affairs department. "When CPS comes out with the new list, we hope our six schools will come off the list. We see significant positive changes in enrollment."

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the school closing process is "far from complete."

"We expect to get significantly more feedback from the community that will continue to guide this process and remove other schools from consideration," Carroll said. 

The schools on the preliminary list are mostly on the West, South and Southwest sides. In all, more than 43,000 students attend the 129 schools still under consideration.

For many parents and educators, the meetings have provided an opportunity to vent their frustration and anger with the district. They've complained about being denied resources, increasing class sizes and the growth of privately run but publicly funded charters schools.

"You've taken our students away from us — that's why (the school is) under-enrolled," said Tonya Saunders-Wolffe, a counselor at the pre-kindergarten to third grade Owens Elementary in Roseland, referring to the growth of charter schools.

Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, said the meetings have allowed parents to come out and voice what's happening in their schools and what they need to get better. Woestehoff said she thinks the number of schools on the preliminary list will be far lower when the final list is released.

"Given the powerful push-back from schools and communities that has already happened, (the district) ought to be concerned about an exponential increase in the level of anger that is sure to explode if they announce the closure of anything like 100," she said.

Read More..

Rev. Jesse Jackson: 'This has been a difficult, painful ordeal'

Members of Jesse Jackson Jr.'s family said this morning they are struggling in the aftermath of Jackson being charged with misusing $750,000 in campaign funds.

"We felt the impact of this court," said Jonathan Jackson today outside the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's Saturday Morning Forum at the group's Chicago headquarters. "The gravity has affected our family."

He said his brother is still following a medical regime from his illness. He said his brother, mother and father are in Washington D.C. and Jonathan Jackson said he planned to join them.

Jackson's sister Santita said, "We love our brother very much."

They said Sandi and Jesse Jackson Jr.'s children were aware of the developments involving their parents.

"They are part of the Jackson family. We will take care of them," said Santita Jackson.

The family said they were thankful for the public's prayers, and Jonathan Jackson said he hoped people would remember the good things his brother had done during his political career.

Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi intend to plead guilty to federal charges alleging the former congressman misused $750,000 in campaign funds while she understated their income on tax returns for six years, their lawyers say.

Jackson Jr., 47, a Democrat from Chicago, was charged in a criminal information Friday with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements. He faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and other penalties.

Sandi Jackson was charged with one count of filing false tax returns. She faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and other penalties.

Jackson Jr. is accused of diverting $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

Federal authorities allege that Jackson Jr. used campaign funds to purchase a $43,350 men's gold-plated Rolex watch, $5,150 worth of fur capes and parkas, and $9,588 in children's furniture. The purchases were made between 2007 and 2009, according to the criminal information, which authorities noted is not evidence of guilt.

Other expenditures listed by prosecutors include $10,105 on Bruce Lee memorabilia, $11,130 on Martin Luther King memorabilia and $22,700 on Michael Jackson items, including $4,600 for a "Michael Jackson fedora."

The government also alleged that Jackson Jr. made false statements to the House of Representatives because he did not report approximately $28,500 in loans and gifts he received.

"He has accepted responsibility for his actions and I can confirm that he intends to plead guilty to the charge in the information," Jackson Jr.'s attorney Brian Heberlig said.

Sandi Jackson is accused of filing incorrect joint tax returns with her husband for calendar years 2006 through 2011, reporting income "substantially less than the amount of income she and her husband received in each of the calendar years," with a substantial additional tax due.

Her attorneys released a statement saying she has "reached an agreement with the U.S. attorney' office to plead guilty to one count of tax fraud."

Jackson Jr. stepped down from the House of Representatives on Nov. 21, citing both his poor health and an ongoing federal probe of his activities. In a statement then, he said he was doing his best to cooperate with federal investigators and to accept responsibility for his "mistakes."

In a statement, Jackson Jr. said:

"Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties. Still I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made. To that end I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my family, my friends and all of my supporters for my errors in judgment and while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for the things that I did right."

Sandi Jackson's attorneys released a statement saying she "has accepted responsibility for her conduct, is deeply sorry for her actions, and looks forward to putting this matter behind her and her family. She is thankful for the support of her family and friends during this very difficult time."

Jackson's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., said he wanted to attend President Barack Obama's speech Friday at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago but traveled to Washington, D.C., instead, to be with family members while they waited for the federal charges to come down.

"This has been a difficult and painful ordeal for our family," the civil rights leader said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he would "leave it up to the courts system" to determine his son's fate.

"We express our love for him as a family," he said.

Twitter: @nsnix87

Read More..

1 dead, 3 wounded in 90 minutes Friday night

Chicago police were flagged down by a man on the street as they responded to a shots fired call Friday night and found a woman lying on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her upper body.

She and three others were wounded between about 5:55 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. on the South and West sides, according to Chicago police.

The woman, whose age wasn't available, was shot in the 1100 block of North Pulaski Road, just a bit south of Division Street in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood about 7:05 p.m. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead there.

About 7:20 p.m., two people were shot in the 7800 block of South Merrill Avenue in the South Shore neighborhood. One was shot in the knee and the other suffered a graze wound. Police didn't have any other details about that incident.

About 5:55 p.m., a man sitting in his car near his home was shot in the leg by one of three guys who approached him on foot, police said. The 29-year-old was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where his condition had stabilized.

Earlier Friday, a 17-year-old was shot in the hand in the 7800 block of South Morgan Street in the Gresham neighborhood.

Check back for more information.
Twitter: @peternickeas
Twitter: @ltaford

Read More..

Stricken cruise ship docks

MOBILE, Alabama—

A crippled cruise ship that lost power for more than four days in the Gulf of Mexico was pulled into a port in Mobile, Alabama, late on Thursday as passengers cheered the end of a "hellish" voyage marked by overflowing toilets and stinking cabins.

Tugboats pulled the Carnival Triumph into port in a drama that played out live on U.S. cable news stations, creating another public relations nightmare for cruise giant Carnival Corp. Last year, its Costa Concordia luxury ship grounded off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.

Exhausted passengers lined the ship's decks, waving towels and flashlights and cheering as it pulled into dock, while hundreds of people watched from the shore.

Carnival officials said it could take up to five hours for the more than 4,200 people on board to disembark the ship, which has only one working elevator.

Once on solid ground, many passengers still had a lengthy journey ahead. More than 100 buses were lined up waiting to carry passengers on a seven-hour bus ride to Galveston, Texas, while others had elected to stay overnight in hotels in Mobile before flying home, Carnival said.

An engine fire on Sunday knocked out power and plumbing across most of the 893-foot vessel and left it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship, which went into service in 1999, was on a four-day cruise and on its way back from a stop in Cozumel, Mexico.

Over the last four days, passengers described an overpowering stench on parts of the ship and complained to relatives and media by cellphone that toilets and drainpipes overflowed, soaking many cabins and interior passages in sewage and turning the vessel into what some have described as a giant Petri dish.

"The thing I'm looking forward to most is having a working toilet and not having to breathe in the smell of fecal matter," said Jacob Combs, an Austin, Texas-based sales executive with a healthcare and hospice company.

Combs, 30, who said he had been traveling with friends and family on the Triumph, had nothing but praise for its crew members, saying they had gone through "hell" cleaning up after some of the passengers on the sea cruise.

"Just imagine the filth," Combs told Reuters. "People were doing crazy things and going to the bathroom in sinks and showers. It was inhuman. The stewards would go in and clean it all up. They were constantly cleaning," he said.

Officials greeted passengers with warm food and blankets and cell phones. Carnival Cruise Lines Chief Executive Gerry Cahill told reporters he planned to board the ship and personally apologize to passengers for their ordeal.

"I know the conditions on board were very poor," he said. "I know it was difficult. I want to apologize for subjecting our guests to that," he said.

"We pride ourselves with providing our guests with a great vacation experience and clearly we failed in this particular case."

Operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, the flagship brand of Carnival Corp, the ship left Galveston a week ago carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew. It was supposed to return there on Monday.

A Coast Guard cutter escorted the Triumph on its long voyage into port since Monday, and a Coast Guard helicopter ferried about 3,000 lbs of equipment including a generator to the stricken ship late on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, some passengers reported on the poor conditions on the Triumph. They said people were getting sick and passengers had been told to use plastic "biohazard" bags as makeshift toilets.

Smoke from the engine fire was so thick that passengers on the lower decks in the rear of the ship had to be permanently evacuated and slept the rest of the voyage on the decks under sheets, passengers said.


Cahill has issued several apologies and Carnival, the world's largest cruise company, says passengers will receive a full credit for the cruise plus transportation expenses, a future cruise credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage, plus a payment of $500 a person to help compensate for the "very challenging circumstances" aboard the ship.

Mary Poret, who spoke to her 12-year-old daughter aboard the Triumph on Monday, rejected Cahill's apology in comments to CNN on Thursday, as she waited anxiously in Mobile with a friend for the Triumph's arrival.

"Seeing urine and feces sloshing in the halls, sleeping on the floor, nothing to eat, people fighting over food, $500? What's the emotional cost? You can't put money on that," Poret said.

Some passengers said conditions onboard improved on Thursday after the generator was delivered to the ship, providing power for a grill to cook hot food.

Carnival Corp Chairman and CEO Micky Arison faced criticism in January 2012 for failing to travel to Italy and take personal charge of the Costa Concordia crisis after the luxury cruise ship operated by Carnival's Costa Cruises brand grounded on rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio. The tragedy unleashed numerous lawsuits against his company.

The cruise ship mogul has taken a low-key approach to the Triumph situation as well, even as it grabbed a growing share of the U.S. media spotlight. His only known public appearance since Sunday was courtside on Tuesday at a game played by his Miami Heat championship professional basketball team.

"I think they really are trying to do the right thing, but I don't think they have been able to communicate it effectively," said Marcia Horowitz, an executive who handles crisis management at Rubenstein Associates, a New York-based public relations firm.

"Most of all, you really need a face for Carnival," she added. "You can do all the right things. But unless you communicate it effectively, it will not see the light of day."

Carnival Corp shares closed down 11 cents at $37.35 in trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares closed down 4 percent at $37.46 on Wednesday after the company said voyage disruptions and repair costs related to Carnival Triumph could shave up to 10 cents a share off its second-half earnings.

The Triumph is a Bahamian-flagged vessel and the Bahamas Maritime Authority will be the primary agency investigating the cause of its engine room fire.

Earlier this month, Carnival repaired an electrical issue on one of the Triumph's alternators. The company said there was no evidence of any connection between the repair and the fire.

For all the passengers' grievances, they will likely find it difficult to sue the cruise operator for any damages, legal sources said. Over the years, the cruise industry has put in place a legal structure that shields operators from big-money lawsuits.

(Additional reporting by David Adams and Kevin Gray in Miami, Writing by Tom Brown; Editing by Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker)

Read More..

Injured Bulls star Rose says 'leg still isn't feeling right'

Derrick Rose spoke after Wednesday's Bulls loss in Boston.

BOSTON — Derrick Rose doesn't know if he will return to play on his surgically-repaired left knee this season, but he does know this:

"It's really on me to make that decision when I'm going to play again," Rose said late Wednesday. "That's cool that they left it up to me."

Speaking casually and comfortably after the Bulls' 71-69 loss to the Celtics that sends them into the All-Star break eight games above .500, Rose emphasized the communication about his return is collaborative but said he feels no urgency to return until he is mentally and physically ready.

  • Related

  • VOTE: Will Rose play this season for Bulls?

    VOTE: Will Rose play this season for Bulls?

  • Photo gallery: Derrick Rose in action

    Photo gallery: Derrick Rose in action

  • Bulls' offense AWOL in 71-69 setback

    Bulls' offense AWOL in 71-69 setback

  • Box score: Celtics 71, Bulls 69

    Box score: Celtics 71, Bulls 69

  • Bulls' Paxson takes Rose remarks in stride

    Bulls' Paxson takes Rose remarks in stride

  • Maps

  • TD Garden, Boston Bruins, 100 Legends Way #200, Boston, MA 02114, USA

  • United Center, 1901 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

"I'm feeling good," he said. "But if it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I don't mind missing this year.

"I would love to (return). That's why I approach my rehab and workouts so hard. I'm trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything lingering on, it's no point.

"My leg still isn't feeling right. Mentally, I still feel I'm fine. Every week, I'm trying to do something different —stay on my rehab, lift a little more, squat a little more. I'm taking it very serious."

The team said Rose should begin 5-on-5 full-court scrimmaging after the break. Rose said he still can't dunk off stride and has yet to take a hit on his knee during his half-court sessions against teammates.

"I'm not afraid of that," he said. "I know that's going to happen. That's the way I play. I'm not scared of taking a hit at all."

Rose also said suggestions he will become more of a grounded facilitator and jump shooter are overstated.

"I'm working on my shot, but you're not going to label me as a shooter," he said. "My game is always going to be driving."

Rose said he has suffered no setbacks and consistently pushes himself during rehabilitation. He estimated he has put on 10 pounds of muscle.

"I'm feeling pretty good, man," he said. "I'm slowly getting back in the mix. The other day, we played three-on-three and one-on-one. I felt good out there. I'm not trying to rush myself still. I'm still trying to be patient."

Rose is impressed that the Bulls have fared well in his absence.

"It's great, man, knowing that they're winning games," he said. "It seems like they're fighting for me so I don't have anything but respect for how hard they've been working."

The Bulls have maintained a conservative stance regarding Rose's return throughout. The only official timeline they have given is the 8- to 12-month range following his May 12 surgery. Following that, there is a chance Rose sits until 2013-14.

Luol Deng, who endured pressure to return in 2009 when he had a stress fracture in his right tibia, said Rose is doing the right thing.

"We have to let him decide," Deng said. "He knows his body better than anybody. Everybody wants to see him back. You have to look at where we are as a team, how he's feeling. As someone who has been through injuries, I feel like you have to make a decision for yourself and how you feel and not so much on how everybody is pressuring you."

Rose said he feels no pressure.

"It's exciting that all my hard work is going to pay off one day," Rose said. "I just don't know when."

Twitter @kcjhoop

Read More..

Dorner manhunt: Confusion over whether body was found

Raw footage of Christopher Dorner's cabin engulfed in flames. It is unclear who set it. There are also reports of ammo exploding inside.

There were conflicting reports tonight about whether a body was located inside the burned-out cabin Tuesday night where Christopher Jordan Dorner was believed to have kept law enforcement authorities at bay.

Several sources told The Times and many other news organizations that a body was located in the rubble. But LAPD officials just said that the cabin is still too hot to search and no body has been found.

Another update is expected within the next hour from law enforcement officers near the scene, and officials said they might have an update clarifying the confusion.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said officials have not confirmed what is inside the cabin. She said police believed a suspect was inside the cabin at the time of the fire but that officials have not gone in yet to look for the body.

As authorities moved into the cabin earlier Tuesday, they heard a single gunshot.

According to a law enforcement source, police had broken down windows, fired tear gas into the cabin and blasted over a loud speaker urging Dorner to surrender. When they got no response, police deployed a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin "one by one, like peeling an onion," a law enforcement official said.

By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard. 

As darkness descended on the mountainside, Dorner's body had not been found, authorities said. Police were planning to focus their search in the basement area, the source said.

Earlier Tuesday, a tall plume of smoke was rising as flames consumed the wood-paneled cabin. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel had swooped down on the site near Big Bear after the gun battles between Dorner and officers that broke out in the snow-covered mountains where the fugitive had been eluding a massive manhunt since his truck was found burning in the area late last week.

Law enforcement personnel in military-style gear and armed with high-powered weapons took up positions in the heavily forested area as the tense standoff progressed. 

One San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy died of his wounds after he and another deputy were wounded in an exchange of gunfire outside the cabin in which hundreds of rounds were fired, sources told The Times. The deputy was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.

The afternoon gun battle was part of a quickly changing situation that began after Dorner allegedly broke into a home, tied up a couple and held them hostage. He then stole a silver pickup truck, sources said.

Then Dorner was allegedly spotted by a state Fish and Wildlife officer in the pickup truck, sources said. A vehicle-to-vehicle shootout ensued. The officer's vehicle was peppered with multiple rounds, according to authorities.

Dorner crashed his vehicle and took refuge in a nearby cabin, sources said. One deputy was hit as Dorner fired out of the cabin and a second deputy was injured when Dorner exited the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again in an apparent attempt to flee. Dorner was driven back inside the cabin, the sources said.

During the unprecedented manhunt, officers had crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner's possible whereabouts -- including efforts in Tijuana, San Diego County and Big Bear -- and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and the Point Loma area of San Diego.

Statewide alerts were issued in California and Nevada, and border authorities were alerted. The Transportation Security Administration also had issued an alert urging pilots and other aircraft operators to keep an eye out for Dorner.

The search turned to Big Bear last week after Dorner's burning truck was found on a local forest road.

At the search's height, more than 200 officers scoured the mountain, conducting cabin-by-cabin checks. It was scaled back Sunday -- about 30 officers were out in the field Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.

Dorner allegedly threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police in a lengthy manifesto that authorities say he posted on Facebook. The posting named dozens of potential targets, including police officers, whom Dorner allegedly threatened to attack, according to authorities.

Records state that the manifesto was discovered by authorities last Wednesday, three days after the slaying of an Irvine couple: Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.

Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.


Read More..