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Daily Archive : Thursday July 14, 2011

News

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    Bartlett Village President Michael E. Kelly, middle left, and Perry Shen, director general of the Taipei Economic Cultural Office in Chicago, cut the ribbon to open the photo exhibit Thursday at the village hall. The exhibit is on display until July 26.

    Bartlett opens photo exhibits on Taiwan

    A crowd gathered Thursday for the unveiling of a photo exhibit, “Enchanting Taiwan,” at the new Bartlett Center for the Arts. Open houses with refreshments will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. A group of Bartlett residents last year visited sister city Miaoli City in Taiwan and they returned the favor Thursday.

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    Elgin-O’Hare Expressway plan calls for tolls

    There’s consensus the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway extension and western bypass around the airport will be toll roads, but whether a systemwide toll increase is part of the package remains unclear.

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    Adult-film actress Jenna Jameson at a 2008 screening of her film “Zombie Strippers” in New York.

    DuPage judge lifts judgment against porn star

    A DuPage County judge Thursday vacated a default judgment against adult-film actress Jenna Jameson, who is accused of faking illness to avoid scheduled appearances at two local movie theaters. The ruling means Jameson can proceed with a defense.

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    From left, Ada Scheidler, Hope Miller and mom Cathy Miller of Lake Zurich take part in the Pro-Life Action League's anti-abortion demonstration today along Rand and Dundee roads in Palatine.

    Abortion protesters demonstrate in suburbs

    Graphic photos of aborted babies confronted drivers in Lake Zurich, Palatine and Arlington Heights Thursday as an eight-day tour by Chicago-area anti-abortion demonstrators came back to the Northwest suburbs.

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    Overdue paperwork could land Rod Blagojevich in hot water with a judge after prosecutors complained that the former governor hasn't met conditions keeping him out of jail as he awaits sentencing on convictions including that he tried to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

    Prosecutors: Blagojevich not fulfilling bond terms

    Overdue paperwork could land Rod Blagojevich in hot water with a judge after prosecutors complained that the former governor hasn't met conditions keeping him out of jail as he awaits sentencing on convictions including that he tried to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

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    Netflix has provoked the ire of some of its 23 million subscribers by raising its prices by as much as 60 percent for those who want to rent DVDs by mail and watch video on the Internet.

    Why Netflix is raising prices

    Why is Netflix raising its prices? In part, because the company miscalculated how many people still want to receive DVDs by mail each month, a more expensive service to provide compared with its streamed Internet videos.

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    CLC shows canceled due to outages

    Due to the extended power outages at the College of Lake County, performances of “Oliver!” scheduled for today, Friday and Saturday have been canceled. Two additional performances will be held next weekend, however. Performances are now scheduled for: 7:30 p.m. July 21; 7:30 p.m. July 22; 2 p.m. July 23; 7:30 p.m. July 23; and 2 p.m. July 24. Ticket holders for this weekend’s...

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    Buffalo Grove, firefighters agree to new contract

    Buffalo Grove approved a new three-year deal with its firefighters union this week that will give them yearly raises between 2 and 3.5 percent in exchange for concessions on starting pay and insurance contributions.

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    Truck pulls down wires in Gurnee, closes library

    A semitrailer pulled down both electrical and communication lines in Gurnee late Thursday afternoon, forcing the library to close for the day and the police department to route its calls through the Waukegan Police Department.

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    Man charged with attack on 2 faces drug charges

    A man accused in the brutal beating of two women during a robbery has been charged with smuggling marijuana into Cook County Jail.Prosecutors say Heriberto Viramontes arranged to have his girlfriend bring in marijuana during visiting hours on June 11. Kira Lundgren was arrested as she left the jail.

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    Quinn to visit factories on Israel trip

    Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will head to Israel next week on an education mission paid for by the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, his office said Thursday.Quinn leaves Monday and will spend about a week in the country, a close U.S. ally that many American politicians have visited.

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    Obama campaign moves Emanuel New York fundraiser

    President Barack Obama’s campaign has moved a New York fundraiser to be headlined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.Next week’s event originally was to be held at Pfizer’s headquarters but now will be at New York’s University Club. Emanuel was Obama’s chief of staff before being elected Chicago mayor this year.

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    Not guilty plea for Chicago man in NW Ind. death

    MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — A not guilty plea has been entered for a 19-year-old Chicago man accused of fatally punching another teenager trying to break up a fight on a northwest Indiana beach on July Fourth.

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    Police: Man sets self on fire, jumps from overpass

    EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A man is hospitalized after police say he set himself and various items on fire before jumping from an Interstate 64 overpass in southwestern Illinois.Police in East St. Louis say the man survived the jump Thursday morning onto a grassy strip at the approach to a Mississippi River bridge and was standing as emergency crews worked to get him to the hospital.

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    Jury sides with 2 former East St. Louis officials

    EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Federal jurors awarded $41,000 in damages to two former East St. Louis officials who claimed they were fired in retaliation for publicly questioning whether top administrators of the largely black city were discriminatory against white applicants for the police force.

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    Former police officer accused in death of mistress

    RIVER FOREST — A former North Chicago police officer, his son and a third man have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of the ex-law officer’s mistress.

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    Hoffman donates for food pantries

    Over the July 4 weekend, Hoffman Estates officials collected $388 for area food pantries.

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    Man on lam surrenders to Lake County police

    On the run from the U.S. Marshals Service since late June, a 25-year-old man suspected of delivering heroin that killed a Round Lake Park man turned himself in Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

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    Little City artists display work

    Artists from Little City Foundation’s Center for the Arts will be in attendance for a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday for their “Clean House” exhibit. The free event will take place at the Health in the Arts Clinic Gallery on campus, 1760 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine.

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    Buffalo Grove endures two more outages

    Buffalo Grove sustained two further power outages since the once caused by Monday’s storm in which 6,183 village customers lost electricity.

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    Man exposes himself to girl in Mt. Prospect

    A man in his 20s exposed himself to a 9-year-old girl walking in Mount Prospect around 8:15 a.m. July 13. She was on her way to Euclid School when she saw the man standing on the northwest corner of Boxwood and Wheeling. She ran to the school and reported the incident.

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    Dist. 59 appoints administrators

    Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 school board recently approved appointments for three administrative positions.

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    Hanover Park asks for input on Village Center

    Hanover Park has released a survey to gain public input on the development of a Village Center Plan for the area around the Metra station.

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    A teenage girl is dead and her father seriously injured after this SUV plunged into a hole in the highway near Tabiona, Utah, early Thursday.

    Huge sink hole opens causing fatal Utah crash

    A 15-year-old girl died after heavy rains caused a huge sink hole to open on a Utah highway, swallowing one vehicle and causing her father’s SUV to careen off the road.

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    Anthony Sowell listens to testimony during his trial Thursday in Cleveland.

    Ohio murder suspect on video: ‘I guess I did that’

    A man charged with killing 11 women and dumping their remains around his property told police “I guess I did that” when asked about the bodies found in his home.

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    A hotel is being considered for the Arboretum Club golf course in Buffalo Grove.

    Hotel proposed for Buffalo Grove golf course

    Buffalo Grove’s high-end golf course, the Arboretum Club, could have a hotel in its future. A developer appeared before the village board this week proposing a 92-room hotel on the course's parking lot.

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    Members of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative stage a protest Thursday in front of the Taco Bell restaurant on Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows. They allege that several workers, some working there for over 10 years, were unfairly fired.

    Protesters picket Rolling Meadows Taco Bell

    Members of the Rolling Meadows-based Chicago Workers Collaborative organized a protest Thursday at the Taco Bell on Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows. They say two Hispanic employees who had been working there for more than a decade were unfairly fired.

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    Antioch man faces sex abuse charges

    A 40-year-old Antioch man was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault after authorities say he molested an underage girl from 2001-2005. A Cook County judge set bail at $100,000 for Timothy Harte and ordered him to have no contact with anyone under age 18.

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    Libertyville will share tree buying power

    Libertyville homeowners who lose parkway trees to the emerald ash borer can get a discount on a replacement.

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    Franco Coladipietro

    Coladipietro won’t seek re-election

    Rep. Franco Coladipietro announced Thursday that he won’t run for re-election to the Illinois House in 2012.

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    Cardinal Francis George of the Chicago Archdiocese passes the crosier to Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, during Conlon’s installation as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Joliet on Wednesday at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet.

    New Bishop takes helm in Joliet Diocese

    With a touch of humor, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon took the helm of the Diocese of Joliet on Wednesday during a ceremonial installation Mass at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet.

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    Jenna Jameson

    Porn star fights back in DuPage lawsuit

    Lawyers for an adult film star say they’ll be in DuPage County court Thursday to fight allegations that she broke her contract by skipping a personal appearance to promote her movie at two suburban theaters.

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    Kane court security arbitration request debated

    Arguments were heard Wednesday about whether Kane County court security workers are "essential services" public workers and therefore entitled to arbitration to settle a labor dispute. They have worked without a contract for three years.

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    Former North Chicago school officials charged in kickback scheme

    Two former officials with North Chicago School District 187 have been charged by federal officials with collecting at least $800,000 in kickbacks from student busing contracts.

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    Guilty plea in Kane fairgrounds scam

    Jin Y. Qu, a 50-year-old from New York who is one of four accused of selling counterfeit designer purses and sunglasses at the Kane County Fairgrounds earlier this year, pleads guilty to a misdemeanor trademark violation, is given credit for jail time and fined.

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    Sylvia Christensen, 16, of Wisconsin loads soy powder into a bag via a funnel Thursday at Feed My Starving Children in Aurora. She is one of 180 students from five states providing service work this week in Geneva, St. Charles and Aurora. The work was organized by the First Baptist Church in Geneva.

    Students from 5 states come to Geneva for service work

    180 middle school and high school students from five differnt states provided service to four different locations in the Tri-Cities area this week. Hosted by First Baptist Church in Geneva and sponsored by Lead222, the students have learned about leadership in local communities.

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    Club Energy in Antioch will open without a liquor license.

    Club Energy to open without liquor license

    The owners of the new Club Energy in Antioch want to serve liquor, but village officials aren’t ready to approve a liquor license and want the business to open in late July without one.

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    Police briefs

    Between April 3 and Wednesday, someone stole a pair of license plates from a garage in the 300 block of Hickory Place in Elgin, put them on a vehicle and drove through I-PASS lanes without paying, police said. The plates’ owner discovered this once she started getting notices from the Illinois Tollway Authority about her owing money from her old license plates, reports said. She suspects a man...

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    Help ‘Stuff the Bus’ for D300 students

    Community Unit District 300 will hold another “Stuff the Bus” on Saturday to benefit homeless students in the district. Officials will collect school supplies in the parking lot of Walmart in Algonquin.

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    St. Charles jeweler returns diamonds, but bill not settled, lawyer says

    A Chicago-based diamond wholesaler will seek a summary judgment against the owner of the now defunct Diamond-Mart of St. Charles.

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    Megan Mikenas is a Wauconda High School student who received a perfect score of 36 on her ACT test.

    Wauconda High School student receives top score on ACT

    A Wauconda High School student has recorded a top score of 36 on the ACT college entrance exam, the first at the school to do so since the test became mandatory for juniors statewide in 2002.

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    The United States’ Brandi Chastain celebrates by taking off her jersey after kicking in the game-winning penalty shootout goal against China in the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Tony DiCicco sees more than a few similarities to his 1999 team, the last group of Americans to win the World Cup: heart, desire, the refusal to give up.

    ‘99 team watching Americans with pride, nostalgia

    Lauren Cheney was just 11 during the 1999 World Cup, watching from the stands and imagining what it would be like to be on that field with Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers and Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.

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    Phil Grenier, owner of Wine Knows in Grayslake, sits outside his business as he tries to attract customers for a wine tasting Thursday. It was the fourth day Grenier’s store was without power.

    Some business owners waiting for power to return

    As power blinks on at small businesses across Lake County, Philip Grenier sits in front of his wine store on Washington Street in Grayslake, perplexed and a bit depressed.

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    NBA lays off about 114 league employees

    The NBA has laid off about 114 people over the last two days, planned cost-cutting moves that a league spokesman says are “not a direct result of the lockout.”

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    Ricardo Robledo-Espino

    Stepfather testifies in Elgin child abuse case

    Ricardo Robledo-Espino, an Elgin man accused of breaking his infant stepdaughter's legs, took the stand in his trial Thursday. The case will wrap up on July 25 and Kane County Judge Patricia Golden could render a verdict then.

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    Elgin in the 1950s looked much different along South Grove Avenue when this picture was taken. Take this quiz to learn more about the times.

    Quiz yourself: Elgin in the 1950s

    How much do you know about life in the Elgin area in the 1950s?

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    Kimberly Schoenwolf

    Bartlett family arrested on drug charges

    Mom had cocaine, dad had pills, son had narcotic mushrooms, and daughter had marijuana. That’s the portrait DuPage County prosecutors painted of a Bartlett family that appeared in bond court Thursday on an array of drug charges.

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    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was back on Capitol Hill for a second consecutive day Thursday, speaking before Congress about the economy. His remarks were not interpretted as optimistically as they had been a day earlier.

    Stocks fall after Bernanke dims stimulus hopes

    Remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that dimmed hopes for a third round of bond-buying pushed stocks lower Thursday.

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    The old administration building in Wheaton’s Central Park most likely will be razed as part of a plan to install a gateway to downtown. Park officials said portions of the park could be part of a land swap deal that would secure 13 acres of land for the park district at the old Hubble Middle School site.

    Hubble deal may involve land swap

    Wheaton Park District has plenty of options on the table to get the 13 acres of flood plain land on the old Hubble Middle School site, including swapping land with the developer.

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    Glen Ellyn seeks compromise to end road dispute

    Glen Ellyn's capital improvements commission has endorsed a plan to widen Hawthorne Boulevard from 21 to 22 feet.

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    Gustavo Torres-Medel

    West Chicago dad gets 45 years for infant’s murder

    A DuPage County judge sentenced a West Chicago man Thursday to 45 years in prison for “savagely beating” his 3-month-old son to death in 2009 after the infant wouldn’t stop crying. Gustavo Torres-Medel, 27, blamed the attack on drugs and alcohol.

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    Fielders players line up during the national anthem during their game against the Chico Outlaws Wednesday night in Zion.

    Fielders now sour on Zion baseball diamond

    Lake County Fielders representatives were upbeat about playing in a bare-bones baseball diamond in Zion before the July 3 opener. Now, the team is criticizing the city of Zion for the lack of a permanent ballpark.

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    Harvard University-bound Owen Prunskis, 18, of Barrington Hills speaks three languages, got straight A’s at Barrington High School, scored a perfect 36 on his ACT test, competes in triathlons and volunteers in the Lithuanian community. He’s managed to stay humble despite his accomplishments.

    Trilingual triathlete tries anything and succeeds

    Harvard University-bound Owen Prunskis, 18, speaks three languages, got straight A’s at Barrington High School, scored a perfect 36 on his ACT test, competes in triathlons and volunteers in the Lithuanian community. Despite his many accomplishments, the Barrington Hills teen has managed to stay humble through it all.

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    Police reports

    An Aurora man was charged with felony aggravated battery of a police officer at 8:30 p.m. Sunday after officers were called to the 600 block of South Sumner Avenue because the man was causing a disturbance.

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    Whether this is the work of winds, gulls or pranksters, it is a pretty neat pile of fish.

    Storm spawns mysterious fish in driveways

    One wacky report of fish showing up on a Buffalo Grove driveway after Monday's storm leads to more reports of fish showing up on driveways in Gurnee. No one is saying that it's raining fish, but something is happening.

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    Naqvi bids farewell to suburbs

    Meet Cesar Vega, an artist who works in a variety of mediums, including sculpting, painting and drawing. Most notably, Vega works with toothpicks.

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    Finding joy in life isn’t always easy
    Sometimes life seems to be a series of hurdles. But knowing how to find true joy in life puts everything in perspective.

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    Art project helps CDH celebrate new wing

    In one day, Winfiled will support it's historical society, check out a new hospital wing and help others in need during Community Day at Central DuPage Hospital.

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    Russian ballet dancer Valery Vantratov to appear in Batavia July 18.

    Moscow Ballet soloist leads master class in Batavia
    World-renowned Russian ballet dancer Valery Vantratov will visit and teach a master ballet class the Batavia Academy of Dance from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, July 18.

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    It’s Christmas in July food drive in Deer Park

    HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab will host a special “Christmas in July” canned-food drive Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 31, to help replenish local food banks and shelters.

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    The Art at the Shops festival returns to Yorktown Center in Lombard this weekend with 50 juried artists from all over the country. Robert Rodenberger of Marietta, Ga., was among those who exhibited last year.

    Art at the Shops festival returns to Yorktown Center

    The Art in the Shops festival welcomes 50 juried artists into the outdoor gardens of the Shops at Butterfield, outside Yorktown Center mall in Lombard.

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    Donate pet supplies in Grayslake

    Lake County Farm Bureau office will once again be serving as a collection site for pet supplies for local area shelters. Area shelters are trying their hardest to take in as many animals as they can. These shelters take in and care for sick, abused, and neglected animals.

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    Gary Sinise, center, and the Lt. Dan Band are a staple at Operation Support Our Troops-America’s summer benefit concert, Rockin’ for the Troops. The sixth annual event will be Saturday, July 16, at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

    Wheaton concert supports troops, families

    The sixth annual Rockin' for the Troops benefit concert, featuring Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, is Saturday, July 16 in Catigny Park in Wheaton.

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    California secessionists seek corporate sponsors

    Proponents of a new state of South California are looking for corporate sponsors to underwrite a conference to explore secession, labeled a “silly fantasy” by a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown.

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    The Elgin Cultural Arts Commission presents the fourth annual Walkabout: Theater on your Feet in downtown Elgin, running on Saturdays, July 16, 23 and 30. Tour guides will lead groups of people to downtown locations where they will see one play performed by three different theater companies. The characters will stay the same, but the actors will change as the play reaches its climatic conclusion. Shown are actors from Nothing Special Productions at last year’s Walkabout.

    Elgin theater scene out on the street

    Elgin is hosting its fourth annual Walkabout, where tour guides take groups of people to downtown locations where theatre companies will perform the same play, but in different locations.

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    Target’s first union election in two decades took place last month amid allegations of skimpy wages. Although it failed, the election is expected to spur other union opposition against Target throughout the country.

    Target’s honeymoon could be over

    Until recently, Target largely had avoided the labor disputes and public relations challenges that have plagued Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer. But now the retailer could face the same union opposition as its much bigger rival.

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    Partnership to launch Aurora STEM school

    Gov. Pat Quinn's signature on a new education law will allow Aurora University and four Aurora-area school districts to open a STEM partnership school to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics to third- through eighth-grade students.

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    A photo of Terry Moran, held by his mother, Geri.

    Heydays of the Terry Moran festival over, but softball tournament lives on

    After 14 years, Terry Moran Day in Rolling Meadows is changing. The softball tournament will continue, with 30 teams, but the festival portion of the day has been dropped. The day, which honors the memory of the Rolling Meadows man who died in a car accident in 1995, is Saturday.

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    Crowds at the 2010 Buffalo Grove Fine Arts festival.

    Buffalo Grove fine arts fest back for 10th straight year

    The 10th annual Buffalo Grove Invitational Fine Arts Festival, ranked as one of the top 50 in the nation, is back this weekend, July 16-17, in the village's Town Center.

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    Retail sales up slightly in June after May drop

    Consumers spent more on cars and in big chain stores in June but falling gas prices held back retail sales. The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales rose a modest 0.1 percent last month. That follows a 0.1 percent decrease in May, the first time in 11 months that sales fell.

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    ComEd worker Jason Schmidt is part of a Highland Park crew working to restore power in Lake Villa Tuesday morning.

    ComEd hoping for most customers back online by Friday night

    ComEd said they are running ahead of a prposed schedule that originally had everyone back online by Sunday. Now, they said, 99 percent of customers would have power restored by late Friday night. The latest numbers are here too.

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    Friends and family of Guillermo Pineda, 18, are replacing their own profile pictures on Facebook with this one of him in response to his death July 4 after a gunshot wound to the head.

    Elgin teen’s family craves justice from court

    Isabel Pineda and her two sons moved to Elgin last year in an effort to start fresh and escape the dangers of Humboldt Park – particularly for 18-year-old Guillermo Pineda. Despite the move, the Pineda family is dealing with the anger and grief tied to Guillermo’s death – now from a new home in a largely unfamiliar city.

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    Traffic on Interstate 405 is seen from the Sherman Oaks Galleria mall parking lot Wednesday.

    Carmeggedon looms on California's 405
    Thousands of doctors and nurses will bunk at hospitals, an emergency operation center will be set up and Southern California residents are being urged to stay home and stock up on food.

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    Susan Kang Schroeder, public information officer for the Orange County District Attorney, center, speaks to media after a court hearing for Catherine Kieu, pictured at right.

    Man's penis cut off, put through garbage disposal

    Prosecutors say an argument over houseguests led a Southern California woman to cut off her estranged husband's penis and put it down a garbage disposal.

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    Authorities release videos taken by Dugard captors

    Officers' repeated visits to the home of a sex offender even as he held Jaycee Lee Dugard captive in his backyard are a concern and embarrassment for California parole officials. Now, a newly released video is adding salt to the wound.

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    ComEd officials say Smart Grid technology would have notified them immediately of power outages during Monday's storm and they could have responded faster.

    ComEd: Smart Grid would have cut storm power outages

    ComEd and the Citizens Utility Board answer questions about how the proposed Smart Grid would have responded to the effects of Monday's storm.

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    Legislators question state-run institutional housing

    Three state representatives Wednesday night assured advocates for people with disabilities their voices will be heard if they speak in unison about the need to close more of the state’s eight institutional housing facilities for people with disabilities. And advocates say they’re ready to band together and contact legislators about the benefits they say the state could realize if more...

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    Save-A-Pet staff member Teig Evans walks “Bubba” past donated bottles of water Wednesday as the facility continues to cope without power.

    Grayslake animal shelter carries on without power

    Despite having no power since Monday morning, the staff and animals at the Sav-A-Pet animal shelter near Grayslake are holding their own as donations of gasoline for borrowed generators, food, water and volunteer help through a tough time.

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    Paramedics from the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District rush a patient into the emergency department at Advocate Condell Medical Center Wednesday afternoon. The Libertyville hospital has seen a 25 percent increase in the number of emergency patients since the storm and power outage on Monday.

    Power outage swamps suburban ERs

    Suburban hospitals say the enduring power outage has bumped up traffic in their emergency rooms as people seek treatment for things like tree branch cuts, overexertion and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.

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    People, left, wait outside the morgue of J.J. hospital to claim the bodies of their relatives who died in bomb explosions in Mumbai, India, Thursday.

    Mumbai bomb death toll down to 17; no leads yet

    Indian police are looking into "every possible hostile group" in their search for the culprits behind the triple bombing in the heart of Mumbai that killed 17 people and wounded 131 others, officials said.

Sports

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    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, and Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt arrives at a Manhattan law firm Thursday. With time running short to keep the NFL's preseason completely intact, owners and player representatives are back in force, trying again to work out a new labor deal.

    AP sources: NFL players, owners making progress

    NEW YORK — Significant progress on a major sticking point in the NFL labor impasse — soaring rookie salaries — during marathon talks Thursday raised hopes that a tentative agreement in principle could perhaps come within 24 hours, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.They cautioned, however, that other key issues remained for owners and players to resolve, including free agency and new offseason workout rules.The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations aimed at ending the NFL's four-month-long lockout are supposed to be confidential.With time running short to keep the preseason intact, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith, eight owners and about a half-dozen current or former players met for a second consecutive day of lengthy negotiations — nearly 15 hours on Thursday alone. They were going to meet again at a Manhattan law firm on Friday as they attempt to end the sport's first work stoppage since 1987.When the last of the participants left after 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Baltimore Ravens defensive back Domonique Foxworth noted that even after the framework for an agreement is established, "there's really no deal until our players approve it."The NFL locked out players in March, after negotiations broke down and the old collective bargaining agreement expired, and now the preseason is fast approaching. The need to arrive at a deal becomes greater with each passing day.The Hall of Fame game that opens the exhibition season is scheduled for Aug. 7 between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, who hope to be able to start training camp at the end of next week. Yet camps will not open without a new CBA in place.Talks gained steam in May, overseen by a court-appointed mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who is on vacation this week. Boylan ordered both sides to meet with him in Minneapolis early next week, and the owners have a special meeting set for next Thursday in Atlanta, where they potentially could ratify a new deal — if one is reached by then.Any agreement also must be voted on by groups of players, including the named plaintiffs in a class-action antitrust lawsuit pending in federal court and the NFLPA's 32 team representatives.On rookie salaries, four people familiar with the talks said Thursday that first-round draft picks will sign four-year contracts with a club option for a fifth year. That represents a compromise; owners were hoping for five-year contracts, while players wanted highly drafted rookies to be under a team's control for only four years.NFL owners have long sought to restrict the huge bonuses and salaries paid to unproven rookies, particularly those selected at the top of the draft. Quarterback Sam Bradford, taken No. 1 overall in 2010 by the St. Louis Rams, signed a six-year, $78 million contract that included a record $50 million in guaranteed money.Under the system discussed Thursday, people told the AP, clubs will have an option for a fifth year on a rookie's contract for a predetermined amount based on the player's performance during the previous years of the deal.Even once an agreement in principle on the core economic issues is drawn up, there will be more work to be done. That's because there are certain issues that won't be addressed in full until after the NFLPA re-establishes itself as a union — a process that might take a couple of days — and can then serve once again as a collective bargaining unit for the players.Items that could fall under that umbrella include the league's drug-testing program, health insurance, retired players' pensions and other benefits, none of which is likely to be resolved completely while the union is still dissolved.

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    Norway’s Thor Hushovd, wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey, cruises in the pack with teammate Tom Danielson of the United States, left, and Mickael Delage of France during the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Friday.

    This year, Tour peaks offer relief

    Finally, the mountains. After seven days of narrow, sinewy roads and sometimes fierce rain, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck await a change of scenery. They made it through the crash-marred first week of the Tour de France relatively unscathed. Although the hills in Saturday’s eighth stage are far less daunting than later climbs in the Pyrenees and Alps, they will be a welcome sight. “It will be a relief after several nervous and dangerous stages,” Schleck said.

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    Cougars, Bandits lose

    Kane County right-hander Greg Billo tossed his third straight quality start Thursday night but suffered a hard-luck loss as the Cougars lost 3-1 to the Lansing Lugnuts at Elfstrom Stadium.The Cougars have scored just 1 run so far in two games in the series and are 4-10 against the Eastern Division. It is only their second losing series out of seven in the second half.Billo’s only blemish came in the first inning. After striking out his first two batters, he gave up a solo homer to Jake Marisnick, and Lansing never gave back the lead.Billo (7-2) gave up 1 run on 5 hits, walked one and fanned four. Marisnick’s home run was just the second Billo has allowed this year in 84⅔ innings and only the 12th extra-base hit.Allen Caldwell gave up 2 runs in the eighth to make it 3-0, and Cole White logged a scoreless ninth in his Cougars debut to finish up.Racers 5, Bandits 1:Roya St. Clair served as Nikki Nemitz’ catcher for four years at the University of Michigan, and her first pro home run came off her former Wolverines teammate.The undrafted rookie free agent smashed a home run to left-center in the second inning for the first of her 2 hits in the Racers’ victory over the visiting Chicago Bandits at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The Racers move 2 games behind the Bandits in the NPF standings.The Bandits signed former Loyola University catcher Jenna Grim for the rest of the season.Outlaws 10, Fielders 5:The host Lake County Fielders fell to the Chico Outlaws in a game that saw a combined 10 errors Wednesday night.

  •  
    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will have plenty of lineup decisions to make once camp starts.

    Hawks say everything to be sorted out at camp

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman prefer to wait until training camp to play what's my line.

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    Cubs manager Mike Quade wants to see an improved product on the field in the second half. The Cubs were better for 8 innings Thursday before losing 6-3.

    Quade sees Cubs hit a new low in loss to Marlins

    Cubs manager Mike Quade talked to his team before Thursday night's game against the Marlins. He said he was looking for "better" everything as he tried to draw on last year's final weeks, when the Cubs played well.

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    The Vernon Hills Stingers 16U elite team won the McHenry County Heatwave tournament last weekend.

    Stingers net Heatwave title

    The Vernon Hills Stingers 16U elite team won the 14th annual McHenry County Heatwave Girls Fastpitch Tournament, a North American Fastpitch Association Class “Open” national qualifier, last weekend.

  •  
    Chris Maranto, right, is having a big summer with the Lake County Indians.

    CMC Crew initiates Indians’ tourney win

    Chris Hoffman, Mark Lynam and Chris Maranto combined to go 31-for-58 (.534) in helping the Lake County Indians roll to victory in a U17 baseball tournament in Ohio last week.

  •  

    Harper women’s hoops coach resigns

    Harper College women's basketball coach Mark Smith has decided to resign so he can spend more time watching his daughter Kelsey play at Michigan State.

  •  

    Mount Prospect likes progress

    Mount Prospect's American Legion baseball team had the same record as a year ago at 9-15-1 but coach Tom Krumsee believes there has been a big difference in his team's play this summer.

  •  
    Dewayne Wise scores on a 3-run double by teammate Greg Dobbs during the ninth inning Thursday night at Wrigley Field. The Marlins won 6-3.

    Marlins score 6 in ninth, beat Cubs 6-3

    Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs delivered a two-run double against closer Carlos Marmol, and the Florida Marlins scored six times in the ninth inning to rally for a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night that extended their season-high winning streak to six games.

  •  

    Quade, Castro enjoy all-star treatment in Phoenix

    Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro and manager Mike Quade said they enjoyed their All-Star Game experiences. However, Quade was detained for 40 minutes at the Phoenix airport by TSA personnel.

  •  
    While the struggles of Adam Dunn have received most of the attention, Alex Rios has been another offensive sore spot for the White Sox.

    Fresh start or more of the same for White Sox?

    There are plenty of things to watch as the White Sox open the second half of the season Friday against the first-place Tigers. The play of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios tops the list.

  •  

    Critical time for Cubs is right now

    If Tom Ricketts doesn't believe Jim Hendry should be the GM next season, he should have already fired him because the trade deadline is critical to shaping the team for next year and beyond.

  •  

    White Sox scouting report

    Scouting report: White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers

  •  

    Ga Tech fined $100K, ACC title game victory tossed

    ATLANTA — The NCAA put Georgia Tech on four years of probation, fined the school $100,000 and stripped its ACC title game win from the 2009 football season on Thursday for violations that also included problems in the men's basketball program.Georgia Tech did not lose scholarships and was not ruled ineligible for postseason games in either sport, but the basketball team had the number of recruiting days and official visits reduced for the next two seasons.The NCAA vacated the final three games of the football team's 2009 season — a loss to rival Georgia, the Atlantic Coast Conference title game victory over Clemson and the Orange Bowl loss to Iowa. It was the Yellow Jackets' first season under coach Paul Johnson.The NCAA said Georgia Tech should have declared an unidentified football player ineligible after he allegedly accepted $312 worth of clothing from a friend of a sports agency employee. The NCAA said the school failed to cooperate with its investigation, and said it was hindered by a school staff member who alerted the player about potential eligibility concerns before his interview with NCAA investigators."It appeared to the committee that the institution attempted to manipulate the information surrounding potential violations involving (the player)," the report said, "so there would be enough doubt about its validity to justify the decision not to declare him ineligible."There was no immediate comment from Georgia Tech, where president Bud Peterson and athletic director Dan Radakovich were planning a late afternoon news conference.The basketball violations involved a youth basketball tournament held on campus in 2009 and again in 2010. A graduate coaching assistant helped administer both tournaments, violating NCAA prohibitions on scouting, and in 2010 an academic adviser for the team "evaluated prospects and reported his observations" to the coaching staff.The NCAA said the violations were considered major."They were not isolated because the violations occurred over two academic years and involved members of the men's basketball staff," the infractions committee report said. "They were also not inadvertent, as the institution and head men's basketball coach were aware of its staff members' involvement in the tournament, which had occurred on the campus for a period of 10 years."

  •  

    Shaquille O’Neal joins Turner Sports as analyst

    The calls came as soon as Shaquille O'Neal decided to retire, all wanting to hire one of the NBA's greatest entertainers.TNT's "Inside the NBA" studio show had been O'Neal's favorite as a player, so the choice was easy.Get ready for the Big Analyzer, Big Commentator, or whatever other nickname he takes in the next phase of his career.O'Neal agreed Thursday to a multiyear deal with Turner Sports to become an analyst on its NBA coverage, where he will fold his 7-foot-1 frame into the fourth chair on the TNT set alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson."I'm just going to try to make it more fun than it already is," O'Neal said during a conference call.O'Neal also will contribute to NBA TV and NBA.com, and his agreement includes a development deal with Turner's entertainment and animation networks.O'Neal said he had offers from ABC/ESPN and others upon retiring last month, but quickly chose the Turner offer, saying he wasn't interested in creating a bidding war for his services.A four-time NBA champion during his 19-year career, O'Neal also had one of the NBA's biggest personalities, with Turner Sports president David Levy calling him one of the most "dominant, popular and charismatic players in the NBA." So O'Neal, who says he still one day expects to run for sheriff, was expected to quickly find work in the entertainment industry upon his retirement if he wanted it."The addition of 'The Big Analytical' will be terrific," Smith said in a statement. "I can't wait to make verbal passes to the most dominant center of our time."O'Neal will be part of TNT's coverage of All-Star weekend — scheduled next season for Orlando, his first NBA home — and the playoffs. He doesn't think it will be difficult having to criticize Kobe Bryant, whom he feuded with as Lakers teammates, or any other players."I have the ability and the backing to give fair criticism. The only time I have trouble with people giving criticism is when they haven't walked that walk," O'Neal said. "I've walked many walks in my 19-year career, so I think any criticism that I give should be fair."He showed a strong opinion in his first day on the job when referring to the state of the center position with himself and Yao Ming deciding to retire within a month of each other."The beasts are now gone, the Goliaths are now gone, so that leaves Dwight Howard out there by himself," O'Neal said of Orlando's All-Star center. "So if he doesn't win two or three championships, I'll be very disappointed, because he has no competition out there now. None. Zero."A 15-time All-Star, O'Neal decided to retire in fifth place on the league's career scoring list after he was slowed by injuries in recent seasons. Even as his game suffered, he remained one of the NBA's most popular players and should fit right in on the fourth seat of the TNT studio show, occupied mostly last season by Chris Webber.Neither O'Neal nor Levy had any concern about O'Neal finding room to give his insight with Barkley and Smith already in place."Shaq knows the game and, on and off the floor, he has always been entertaining; a guy who gets it," Johnson said.O'Neal said he also expects to work on cartoons and TV shows, adding he's interested in being the executive producer for a program.

  •  
    Stage winner Samuel Sanchez of Spain, center, climbs towards Luz Ardiden ahead of second place Jelle Vanendert of Belgium, rear left, during the 12th stage of the Tour de France cycling race Thursday.

    Sanchez wins 12th Tour stage in Pyrenees

    LUZ ARDIDEN, France — Spain's Samuel Sanchez thrilled fans of his Basque-based team with the stage win Thursday and France's Thomas Voeckler surprised himself by keeping the yellow jersey on Bastille Day as the Tour de France finally hit the mountains.Defending champion Alberto Contador ran into more, if modest, trouble in the 12th stage by losing ground to other race favorites on the day's final climb in the Pyrenees.The 131-mile run from Cugnaux to the Luz-Ardiden ski station featured three tough ascents — including two that are among the hardest in pro cycling.After 11 stages on wind-swept flats and hills that favored sprinters and breakaway riders, Thursday's mountains began to separate the overall race contenders from the rest of the pack.The day's toughest climbs — the Col du Tourmalet and the uphill finish in Luz-Ardiden — gave the favorites a chance to gauge each other's stamina and look for signs of weakness.Sanchez and Jelle Vanendert of Belgium overtook a group of breakaway riders in the final climb and the Spaniard then won their two-man sprint in the last several hundred yards, crossing 7 seconds in front of Vanendert."It's incredible," Sanchez said of his first Tour stage victory. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, who finished fourth overall last year, said he got extra inspiration from spectators waving the red, green and white flag of the Basque country — a nearby region along the border between France and Spain."I can't believe I won this in front of all our fans," he said.Frank Schleck of Luxembourg made a string of attacks on other prerace favorites before surging away to finish third — 10 seconds back — and vault into second place overall.Italy's Ivan Basso was fourth, Australia's Cadel Evans was fifth, and Schleck's younger brother Andy was sixth, each 30 seconds behind Sanchez. Contador placed eighth, 43 seconds back.Voeckler gave the home crowd a delight on France's national holiday, clinging to the yellow jersey that he expected to lose in the punishing climbs."I'm glad I was wrong," Voeckler said. "It clearly wasn't expected. Keeping the jersey was far from expected as the stage started today."You have to believe that the yellow jersey gives you a bit of added inspiration on the Bastille Day."Voeckler leads Frank Schleck by 1 minute, 49 seconds overall, and Evans is third, 2:06 back. Contador is seventh overall, 4 minutes behind."I was a bit careful," the three-time Tour champion said. "I saw the Schlecks were discussing together and that they were going to play their cards. Frank was the stronger — and both of them attacked."But I'm nevertheless happy with this first mountain stage. Each day, I feel better ... I still don't have my best legs. I'm not riding with the same rhythm, but it's encouraging."Andy Schleck, the Leopard Trek team leader who was runner-up to Contador last year and in 2009, said he and his brother gave the Spaniard a preview of what's to come."I think today was a perfect day for us. ... For sure, this is not a decisive stage, but we showed we are here," he said. "Contador is not unbeatable — he lost more time today."We had a discussion with Frank and we decided to attack. I attacked, Frank attacked, we played it like this. Then it was time for him to go all out," he added. "If we keep going like this, we can win."On the 10.6-mile climb up to the Col du Tourmalet, a string of top riders — including some potential title contenders — dropped behind the pack. Among them were Dutch rider Robert Gesink, Germany's Tony Martin, and Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez, who was second overall as the day began.A few crashes marred the ride, including some on a harrowing downhill from the day's first climb up the Hourquette d'Ancizan, an ascent making its debut on the route of cycling's showcase race.

  •  
    Roger Clemens

    Mistrial declared in Roger Clemens perjury case

    The judge declared a mistrial Thursday in baseball star Roger Clemens' perjury trial after prosecutors showed to jurors evidence that he had ruled would out of bounds in the case. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said Clemens could not be assured a fair trial after prosecutors showed jurors evidence against his orders in the second day of testimony.

  •  
    England's Tom Lewis shot a 65 Thursday at the British Open Championship at Royal St George's golf course Sandwich, England.

    Amateur Tom Lewis, Bjorn shoot 65s at British Open

    SANDWICH, England — Tom Lewis shares a name with one of the British Open's greatest champions.The kid sure lived up to it Thursday.Lewis, a 20-year-old amateur, shot a 5-under 65 to share the lead after the opening round of golf's oldest major — a day that was even more special because he played alongside the man he was named after: five-time Open champion Tom Watson."I was more nervous not to embarrass myself in front of him," Lewis said.No worries there. Lewis pulled off some Watson-like shots at Royal St. George's, making four straight birdies coming down the stretch before a par-saving tap-in at the 18th left him tied with Thomas Bjorn."He could be my grandson," quipped the 61-year-old Watson, who needed seven more strokes than his namesake to get around the course. "I just had to smile inside watching him play. I didn't play particularly well myself, but I certainly was impressed by the way he played."Lewis' late-afternoon charge was definitely impressive, but it didn't totally overshadow an early morning round by Bjorn, who was playing at this course on the English seaside for the first time since his meltdown in the 2003 Open.That's when he threw away a two-stroke lead in the final three holes — who can forget him needing three swings just to escape the bunker at No. 16? — and allowed Ben Curtis to snatch away the claret jug with one of the sport's most shocking upsets.Two very different players.Two hugely compelling stories atop the leaderboard."I'm 40 years old," Bjorn said, "and there might just be a little bit more in me."Long after the Dane had completed his round — he was done by lunchtime — an English phenom half his age surged up the board by taking full advantage of the afternoon calm that made this place ripe for the taking.Lewis posted the lowest round ever for an amateur in the British Open, beating the 66 posted by Frank Stranahan in 1950 and matched by Tiger Woods (1996) and Justin Rose (1998). The youngster also became the first amateur to lead a round at a major since 1976, when Mike Reid was up by three strokes heading to the second day of the U.S. Open."We certainly have a new young breed out here, don't we?" Watson marveled. "We have a lot of young players playing very good golf."An older one didn't do so badly, either.Bjorn has struggled since the death of his father two months ago, breaking down in tears when asked what effect the loss had on him."He meant a lot to me," the golfer said. "He would have been very proud of what I did."Bjorn certainly isn't dwelling on what happened eight years ago, the last time the Open was held just up the road from the cliffs of Dover."A lot of people make a lot of things about that, but the only way I can play golf is to concentrate on the shot in front of me," he said. "It never entered my mind."Bjorn had some good fortune at the 16th this time. He thought his 9-iron was headed for the bunker, but the ball took a fortunate bounce and rolled down toward the cup. He made the putt for his third birdie in a row."We all know what it's like," Bjorn said. "A bounce here or there, and then it goes either wrong or right. Today, it went my way."U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy got off to a sluggish start but was still in the mix, putting up a 71 that left him six strokes back.Considering he played in the morning, when conditions were tougher, McIlroy had no complaints about a round that began with a pair of bogeys on the first three holes."It was a day where you just needed to grind out a score," McIlroy said. "Anywhere around even par was a good start."In the afternoon, the gusting breezes off the Strait of Dover died down and the rain held off, resulting in about twice as many rounds in the 60s as the morning starters put up.

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    Fire to host Mexican club

    The Chicago Fire announced Thursday it will host Mexican club Chivas of Guadalajara in an international friendly at Toyota Park on Sept. 14.Chivas has won the Primera Division 11 times. The teams played once before, in 2000, a 1-0 Chivas win.Tickets are available at chicago-fire.com or by calling (888) MLS-FIRE. Tickets for the July 23 friendly against Manchester United at Soldier Field also are available.

  •  

    WNBA Capsules

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Katie Douglas scored 20 points, and the Indiana Fever beat the Connecticut Sun 90-78 on Wednesday for their seventh consecutive victory.Jessica Davenport scored 14 points for the Fever (10-3), who improved on the WNBA's best record. Erin Phillips and Tamika Catchings had 13 apiece.Six Indiana players scored in double figures for just the third time in franchise history.Indiana made 11 3-pointers, with six Fever players making at least one 3.Tan White went 5 for 5 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points for Connecticut (6-5). Tina Charles had 15 points and 11 rebounds, but Renee Montgomery, the league's No. 5 scorer, was held to six points on 2-for-12 shooting.Indiana led 32-18 at the end of the first quarter. The Fever went 4 for 5 from 3-point range and made 12 of 19 shots overall in the first 10 minutes.Mercury 112, Lynx 105MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Diana Taurasi scored 27 points, including five 3-pointers, and Phoenix rallied to grab sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.Reserve DeWanna Bonner had 24 points for Phoenix, which has won five straight and nine of 10 after beginning the season with three consecutive losses.Penny Taylor added 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Mercury (9-4). She scored 14 in the fourth quarter to help Phoenix overcame an 11-point deficit.Seimone Augustus led the Lynx (7-4) with 22 points. Lindsay Whalen added 19 and Rebekkah Brunson had 16 points and had 16 rebounds. Rookie Maya Moore had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting.Liberty 91, Dream 69NEW YORK (AP) — Nicole Powell scored 20 points and the Liberty won for the sixth time in seven games.Kia Vaughn had 14 points, Leilani Mitchell scored 12 and Plenette Pierson 11 for New York (8-5). Cappie Pondexter and Quanitra Hollingsworth each added 10 points.Angel McCoughtry scored 17 points, Coco Miller had 15 and Armintie Price added 12 for Atlanta (3-9), which has lost six of eight.The Liberty scored six consecutive points, capped by Pondexter's fast-break layup, to take a 64-43 lead with 5:42 left in the third.New York led 54-37 at the break, its highest scoring first half of the season.Sky 72, Shock 54ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — WNBA scoring leader Sylvia Fowles scored 21 points to power Chicago to the victory.Fowles, now averaging 20.4 points, added 13 rebounds in front of a franchise-record crowd announced at 13,838 at Allstate Arena.The Shock (1-12) has lost seven straight. Interim coach Teresa Edwards is 0 for 2 since taking over following Nolan Richardson's resignation last week.Reserve Jennifer Lacy had 13 points and Andrea Riley added 12 for Tulsa.Epiphanny Prince had 11 and reserve Tamera Young added 10 points for the Sky (7-7), who led 21-9 after one quarter.

Business

  •  

    Google 2Q earnings soar past analyst estimates

    Google has ushered in new CEO Larry Page with second-quarter earnings that were far better than analysts expected.

  •  

    June video game retail sales drop 10 percent

    U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories dropped 10 percent in June to $995 million compared with the same month a year ago.

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    Bound woman found hanging at California mansion

    The girlfriend of a pharmaceutical company CEO was found dead at a historic California mansion, her nude body hanging from a balcony with her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound, investigators said Thursday.

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    Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton gets down on a knee to talk to Mark Siegel, a state employee and blogger, after Dayton appeared at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School Thursday and announced he would seek a budget deal with GOP leaders.

    Minnesota governor, GOP reach agreement

    Minnesota's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators struck a deal Thursday to end a budget impasse that led to the longest state government shutdown in recent history.

  •  
    Today, airlines make more than $4 billion a year combined from program partnerships _ topping the reported revenue from baggage fees. There are an estimated 90 million U.S. frequent flier members with 2 trillion unused miles. (AP Photo/Andy King, file)

    Can frequent-flier programs work for you?

    NEW YORK — They lure millions of travelers each year with the promise of free vacations, first-class upgrades and a chance to cut the security line. But are frequent-flier programs really worthwhile?Miles programs sound simple enough. Passengers typically earn one mile or point for every mile flown. Those miles can be redeemed for free trips, usually starting at 25,000 miles for a domestic, round-trip flight.Loyalists say not participating is like leaving free money on the table. Free flights are the most obvious perk. Miles can also be traded in for things like magazine subscriptions.Others argue the programs are difficult to maintain and aren’t of much value to travelers who fly only once or twice a year. And they say there’s no guarantee of getting the flight you want. It’s been 30 years since the first frequent-flier program was created. Today, airlines make more than $4 billion a year combined from program partnerships — topping the reported revenue from baggage fees. There are an estimated 90 million U.S. frequent-flier members with 2 trillion unused miles. As families head out on their summer vacations, they’re once again debating the merits of signing up. Here, Associated Press Airlines Writers Samantha Bomkamp and Scott Mayerowitz argue the programs’ worth:Mayerowitz: It’s a no-brainer. Travelers taking only one or two trips in a year can benefit with minimal hassle and no cost. You won’t be upgraded to first class, but there are still plenty of perks. Just one round-trip flight between Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Fla., earns enough miles for a magazine subscription.Bomkamp: Most travelers don’t care about getting a free Sports Illustrated or Entertainment Weekly in their mailbox. They’re lured to the programs by upgrades that are hard to snag and free tickets that can be impossible to redeem. And if they focus too much on racking up miles, they may miss out on cheap flights.Mayerowitz: Hey, free is free. And loyalty doesn’t only pertain to the airlines. Some hotel programs are particularly generous to even the lowest-tiered members, giving away mini-bar credits or free Wi-Fi. With car rental companies, the perk is precious vacation minutes: you can skip the check-in counter and walk straight to a car.Bomkamp: What’s your time worth? With the sheer number and complicated nature of frequent-traveler programs, they’re too much trouble to keep track of for too little gain. There are at least a dozen airline programs in the U.S. alone, and more than 20 hotel loyalty plans. Who wants a wallet full of cards and three dozen extra usernames and passwords?Mayerowitz: Free sites like AwardWallet, MileTracker and Points.com keep track of login information, point balances and provide warnings about expiring points.Bomkamp: Sure, that helps — unless you have lots of time between tallies. If you travel twice a year like the average American, it would take you at least six years to be eligible for a free flight on most U.S. carriers.Mayerowitz: There are plenty of ways for those average Americans to earn miles without traveling. Many credit cards offer a generous signup bonus — often large enough for a free domestic flight — and waive the annual fee the first year. For online shoppers, airline and hotel shopping portals allow you to earn points at retailers such as Best Buy, Gap and L.L. Bean. Linking your credit card to a Rewards Network account could get thousands of extra miles just for eating out. Banks such as BankDirect and stockbrokers including TD Ameritrade and Fidelity offer signup bonuses for new accounts.Bomkamp: Most airline credit cards have higher interest rates and annual fees than traditional cards, making them a lousy deal and not worth the possible “free” trip down the road.

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    Yum Brands bracing for another US profit decline

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Fast-food restaurant operator Yum Brands Inc. said Thursday that its domestic business remains in the doldrums as Taco Bell, its most profitable brand in the U.S., struggles to recover from publicity surrounding a dropped lawsuit over the beef content of its taco filling. One day after the owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell reported a 10 percent rise in second-quarter profit, mainly driven by surging business in China, the company said it’s bracing for another round of operating profit declines in the U.S. Investors shrugged off those domestic struggles Thursday, bringing Yum’s stock up 63 cents to $56.21 by mid-afternoon.Louisville, Ky.,-based Yum generates nearly three-fourths of its operating profit from China and other foreign countries —which together host just under half of Yum’s nearly 38,000 restaurants worldwide. The company was upbeat about growth in those international markets, especially China. It raised its full-year earnings forecast Wednesday, another sign the overseas business is more than offsetting lackluster U.S. sales.Yum said its second-quarter U.S. operating profit fell 28 percent as sales slumped at its three largest brands. Yum also operates Long John Silver and A&W restaurants and has put both those chains up for sale. Chief Financial Officer Rick Carucci predicted another double-digit drop in U.S. operating profit for the current quarter, but the company said it expects things to get better in the fourth quarter.Yum Chairman and CEO David C. Novak didn’t offer sugarcoating. “Our obviously very disappointing year-to-date U.S. results have frankly taken some of the luster away from what otherwise would be a great year,” Novak said in a conference call with industry analysts.The company’s biggest concern is Taco Bell, which accounts for about 60 percent of Yum’s U.S. profit. The Mexican-style chain has been reeling from publicity surrounding the lawsuit, which claimed that the filling in Taco Bell’s tacos and burritos didn’t contain enough beef to be called that.Taco Bell called the accusations false and fought back with hard-hitting marketing on television and in newspapers. But the chain pegs the drop in its sales to the days after the suit and since then has struggled to win back customers. “Frankly, the negative sales that resulted from the lawsuit has lasted longer than any one of us thought it would,” Novak said. High unemployment among young adults, Taco Bell’s core consumers, also has hampered the brand’s recovery, as have high fuel prices, he said.Carucci said Thursday that Taco Bell, which saw revenue at restaurants open at least a year fall 5 percent for the quarter, indicated the figure is likely to fall again in the third quarter, though not as much. Novak was upbeat about long-term prospects, pointing to new menu items.“As far as we’re concerned, the meat issue is over,” Novak said. “The economy is something we have to deal with. And we just need to be doing a better job building this brand going forward.”Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski remained upbeat about Yum’s prospects. He said Yum’s weak U.S. performance didn’t seem to portend an industrywide slump. “While these numbers are poor, we do not believe they are indicative of a worsening U.S. quick-service sector overall,” he wrote in a note to investors. “Yum’s shares will likely shrug off the domestic disappointment, given how robust China is.”Carucci said the company remains on track to open at least 500 restaurants in China this year.Novak said its KFC business is “on a roll” in China, where nearly all 3,400 KFC stores offer breakfast and many have delivery service and stay open around the clock. Yum also forecast continued solid growth in its international business outside China.

  •  
    Borders Group teetered on the brink of liquidation Thursday after an offer from a private-equity investor disintegrated.

    Judge okays Borders auction, liquidators open bid

    NEW YORK — Borders Group, the nation’s second largest book store chain that once operated over 1,000 stores, appears headed for liquidation after a judge on Thursday approved its motion to auction itself off with a team of liquidators as its opening bid.The move came after an offer made earlier this month from a private-equity investor disintegrated overnight. Borders said it will accept bids until 5 p.m. Sunday and will give notice by Monday if no other bidder emerges. Earlier this month private-equity investor from Phoenix offered $215 million for the company, plus the assumption of $220 million in debt. But on Wednesday, creditors objected, saying that the agreement would not prevent Najafi from taking possession of the company and liquidating it immediately for profit. Landlords also objected.Creditors said a bid from liquidators Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers is stronger. They believe it would pay out between $252 million and $284 million in cash. Creditors said in a court filing that they were hopeful Najafi would submit a higher bid, but Najafi stood by its original offer.On Thursday, Borders said it wouldn’t seek approval for Najafi’s bid at a scheduled hearing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York and designated the liquidators as the primary, or “stalking horse” bid. Meanwhile, one analyst speculated that if Borders liquidates, that could spark a higher bid for its chief rival Barnes & Noble. Financier John Malone’s Liberty Media made a $1 billion offer to buy Barnes & Noble in May.Liberty Media has said it values Barnes & Noble for both its Nook e-reader business and its retail stores, so a full liquidation of Borders would increase the value of the retail side of the business, Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser said.“This is perhaps an opportunity for a higher negotiated bid via Liberty or an entrance of another bidder,” he wrote in a note.Borders Group Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Mich., filed for bankruptcy protection in February. The company started with a single store in 1971, and helped pioneer the book superstore concept along with larger rival Barnes & Noble Inc. It was brought down by heightened competition by discounters and online booksellers, as well as the growth in popularity of electronic books. It currently operates about 400 stores, down from its peak in 2003 of 1,249 Borders and Waldenbooks, and has about 11,000 employees.

  •  
    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Banking Committee hearing to deliver the semiannual Monetary Policy Report.

    Dollar strengthens on Bernanke comments

    NEW YORK — The dollar edged up against the euro late Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress a third round of bond-buying to support the economy isn’t imminent. The head of the U.S. central bank had said on Wednesday that the Fed may resume buying bonds if the economy stagnates. That could keep interest rates low, hurting the dollar’s investment appeal. The dollar sank in response.But in a return trip to Capitol Hill on Thursday, Bernanke told Congress that the Fed is not currently planning any stimulus measures. Morgan Stanley currency strategist Ron Leven said that “the market started acting like (stimulus) was a done deal” but now recognizes that “apparently there’s a high threshold before it would happen.”The euro fell to 1.4135 late Thursday from $1.4151 late Wednesday.In other trading, the British pound was rose to $1.6127 from 1.6110. The dollar edged up to 79.11 Japanese yen from 78.99 yen, easing off a four-month low of 78.44 yen earlier in the day. The dollar dropped to 0.8173 Swiss franc from 0.8199, hovering above a record low of 0.8079 Swiss franc set on Wednesday.The yen and Swiss franc are both considered safe-haven currencies and have been gaining because investors fear that global growth is slowing and are wary of a debt crisis, whether in Europe or the U.S. Currency trading has been volatile this week because of those debt worries. Fears that the European debt crisis could spread to Italy or Spain had driven the euro below $1.39 earlier this week. Moody’s warned on Wednesday that it could cut the U.S. debt rating if politicians can’t get a deal done on raising the nation’s debt limit.If no deal is reached, the current debt limit could soon constrain government borrowing and its ability to pay its bills. In other trading, the dollar traded up to 96.04 Canadian cents from 95.88 Canadian cents.

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    Brian Austin, national sales manager for the Mobility Conquest Wheelchair Motorcycle, shows how a wheelchair goes up a ramp in the back and into the driver's position. The motorcycle is actually a tricycle that allows a wheelchair-bound person to own and ride a motorcycle.

    Villa Park to host new wheelchair motorcycle

    Mobility Works in Villa Park will display what the company says is the world's only wheelchair motorcycle from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, at its site on 155 E. North Ave. The bike will be given away at the Strugis motorcycle rally on the West Coast later this summer.

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    Amtrak must cede some opeations control

    Amtrak will have to give up some rights to operate trains in the Northeast U.S. to attract private investment in high-speed train service, said John Mica, chairman of the House transportation committee.

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    Foreclosure activity slowed in first half of 2011

    The number of homes taken back by lenders in the first half of this year fell 30 percent compared with the same 2010 period, the result of delays in foreclosure processing that threaten to stall a U.S. housing recovery.

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    Wholesale prices drop for first time in a year

    WASHINGTON — Companies paid less for raw materials and factory goods in June, evidence that inflation pressures are weakening as gas prices fall.The Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, declined 0.4 percent in June, the Labor Department said. That's the steepest drop since February 2010. Wholesale energy prices fell 2.8 percent, the biggest decline in nearly two years.Gas prices peaked in early May near $4 a gallon, but have fallen steadily since. Prices at the pump averaged $3.65 on Wednesday, according to AAA.Food prices rose 0.6 percent in June, mostly because of higher fruit and melon costs. Oranges jumped 41.2 percent, and carbonated soft drinks rose 7.5 percent, the most since the government began tracking that category in 1996.Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the so-called core index rose 0.3 percent, driven largely by a jump in prices for pickup trucks.The core wholesale price index has risen 2.4 percent in the past year, the department said. That's up from a 2.1 percent increase in the 12 months ending in May.Rapid rises in gas and food prices earlier this year raised fears that inflation could get out of hand. The index has risen 7 percent in the past twelve months, down from an annual increase of 7.3 percent in May.But as gas and food prices ease, the threat of higher inflation appears to be receding.Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that recent price increases are likely to be temporary. Prices for commodities like oil and farm goods have stabilized, he said. And high unemployment makes it unlikely that workers can press for higher wages, which in turn makes it hard for companies to raise prices.Fed policymakers expect core consumer inflation to average between 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent this year, Bernanke said. That's within the Fed's informal target range.

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    Cindy Bliss of Plano, Texas, fills out a questionnaire at a EFG Companies recruiting booth during a National Career Fairs job fair Wednesday in Dallas.

    Unemployment aid applications fell for 2nd week

    Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, an encouraging sign that the job market may be slowly improving. The number of applications dropped by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 405,000, the Labor Department said, the lowest level in almost three months.

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    ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, said Thursday that it will split itself into two separate publicly traded companies and its CEO and Chairman Jim Mulva plans to retire once the transaction is complete.

    Oil giant ConocoPhillips to split into 2 companies

    ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, said Thursday that it will split itself into two separate publicly traded companies and its CEO and Chairman Jim Mulva plans to retire once the transaction is complete.

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    U.S. stock futures rise ahead of reports on economy

    Stock futures are rising as investors weigh a warning on U.S. debt and await reports on the economy.

Life & Entertainment

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    Home inspector: If home inspector missed problem, do we have a claim?

    Q. Last week, we replaced our old, leaky water heater, but there was a huge additional expense. The plumber said our exhaust flue didn't meet code. It was installed through a basement window and did not extend up to the roof. We paid an additional $600 to install a proper flue pipe. When we bought the home, two years ago, our home inspector did not report this problem. If he had, we could have requested repair by the sellers. Is our home inspector liable for the cost of this repair?

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    Drew Peterson's attorney says he's sent a letter to those involved with the movie saying that the commercial use of Peterson's name, likeness and story are illegal because Peterson didn't give his written authorization as required by law.

    Drew Peterson tries to stop movie about him

    Drew Peterson, a former police officer charged with murdering his third wife and suspected in the disappearance of his fourth, joked that he'd rather see Denzel Washington play him than Rob Lowe when he heard there would be a television movie about him. Now, though, he wants to pull the plug on the project.

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    WBBM Newsradio 780 AM to simulcast on 105.9-FM

    Beginning Monday, Aug. 1, Chicago's WBBM Newsradio 780 AM will launch a simulcast of its 24-hour programming on 105.9 FM.

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    Actor Tom Felton says he's nothing like his Potter character, nasty Draco Malfoy.

    Nice guy Felton bids farewell to bad boy Malfoy

    The bad boy of Hogwarts clearly is good at his job. In person, Tom Felton is as amiable as they come, yet he spent his youth believably playing a bully as Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films.

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    Suburban native Lee DeWyze will perform live next week at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

    Music events: Local Lee returns

    Suburban native Lee DeWyze will perform live next week at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. DeWyze grew up in Mount Prospect and won last year's “American Idol” crown. His performance is free with paid admission to the park, so enjoy a few roller coaster rides then take a seat for some locally grown pop songs.

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    As a light supper or sophisticated appetizer, a pizza topped with bitter greens and havarti from “Eat Greens” does the trick.

    The bitterer, the betterer

    eat in and save: Biter Greens on Pizza

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    High temperatures are the secret to these potatoes.

    High heat key to amazing baked potatoes
    For years, Beverly and I tried to figure out how to duplicate the potatoes at our favorite steakhouse, with the skin a little crunchy and the middle moist and fluffy. “Real” baked potatoes, we discovered, need to cook at 475 degrees for an hour.

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    Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com Apricot tart by Chef Michael Maddox at Le titi de Paris restaurant in Arlington Heights.

    French cuisine suits the seasons

    Think about French cuisine and dishes like beef bourguinon and cassoulet surely come to mind, but they’re hardly suited for 90-degree days. Classic French cuisine, however, is deeply rooted in the seasons. Summer’s warm weather calls for delicate squash blossoms filled with chicken mousse, the blush of ripe apricots in a refreshing tart and fillets quickly sauteed in a light wine sauce.

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    Kelsey Brennan and Will Allan play lovestruck youngsters in First Folio Theatre's "Romeo and Juliet."

    Humor animates First Folio's ‘Romeo and Juliet'

    Director Nick Sandys evokes Shakespeare's other great tragedies and presents the star-crossed lovers as the impetuous teens they are in First Folio Theatre's distinctive "Romeo and Juliet."

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    Jon Hamm received his fourth lead acting bid for "Mad Men," which received 19 Emmy nominations Thursday.

    'Mad Men,' 'Mildred Pierce' get top Emmy nods

    "Mad Men," the sharply observed drama of a changing 1960s America, captured 19 Emmy nominations Thursday morning to lead the series pack, with the melodramatic miniseries "Mildred Pierce" starring Kate Winslet grabbing a top 21 bids.

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    To maintain a clear complexion, be sure to cleanse and moisturize daily, even if you have oily skin.

    Show off your skin this summer: Tips for a clear complexion
    Everyone loves the sunshine, but summertime can wreak havoc on your skin.

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    Boy drinking water

    Kids should steer clear of energy drinks, limit sports drinks

    Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don’t need them – and some of these products contain substances that could be harmful to children.

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    When choosing whether a dog will be a good addition to the family, consider whether you have time, money and space and stability before making a commitment.

    How to choose the right dog for your family

    Thinking of adding a dog to your family photo? Recently, we sought the advice of local pet pundits who say that before Fido finds a place in your home, there are a few questions your family will want to seriously consider.

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    Learning to swim enables a child to be more comfortable around the water.

    How to help a child learn to swim

    Teaching a child to swim can enable him or her to enjoy a life filled with fun in and around the water. It is also one of the ways to prevent water-related injuries or death.

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    Brian Burke plays Francis Hardy, the titular character in Brian Friel's masterful "Faith Healer" in a laudable revival from Buffalo Theatre Ensemble.

    First-rate cast makes masterful ‘Faith Healer’ a must-see

    Buffalo Theatre Ensemble in Glen Ellyn does a remarkable job bringing "Faith Healer" to the stage. Set during the 1950s, this drama centers on a hard-drinking Irishman eking out a living (occasionally) curing what afflicts the residents of backwater Welsh and Scottish towns.

Discuss

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    Feeding Average Joe to Wall Street

    A few guys make a quick buck milking the unsophisticated, and when the music stops, the taxpayer picks up the debris. It happens every time, and it will happen again if Republicans succeed in emasculating the new Consumer Financial Protection Board.

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    Nostalgic reminder to let freedom ring
    Since President Obama wrote the children’s’ book “Of Thee I Sing” for his daughters, I’ve wondered if many know the source of the title? It is from the song “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee.”

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    New map improves 10th District
    Limiting my observations to my own U.S. 10th Congressional District, the newly enacted-into-law redistricted boundaries represent a marked improvement over what we had before.

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    District 41 teachers work hard for clients
    The mission of the Illinois Education Association is to advocate for the education of children by providing them with the opportunity to experience best teaching practices available. The Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 school board works very hard to secure educators that enable that experience for the Glen Ellyn children.

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    Consider cases of Clemens, Vargas
    Roger Clemens, born in Dayton, Ohio, graduate of the University of Texas and seven time winner of major league baseball’s Cy Young Award, started trial on July 6 for making false statements to Congress. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. On the other hand, Jose Antonio Vargas, an award-winning journalist, is an admitted illegal immigrant.

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    Mentally ill have important role
    Proud I am, to be among those genuine, thoughtful and courageous people who have been diagnosed with mental illness. Humbly, accept your burden, discipline yourselves that you may carry that burden with dignity.

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    Blagojevich deserves ‘full’ jail experience
    Like other former corrupt politicians, Blagojevich will probably end up in a Club Fed Recreational Facility like Ryan, Rostenkowski, Kerner and other assorted crooks. There he’ll enjoy a life full of perks unknown to many real inmates.

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    A different kind of chair to vote for
    In the June 29, edition of the Daily Herald, front section, the headline of a story read, “Kane chair to run for Senate.” At first glance, my immediate thought was, “A chair made of cane is running for the Senate?”

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    Breaking down corporate taxes
    A letter in the July 7 edition of the Daily Herald says, “U.S. companies (are) hardly at a disadvantage,” referencing oft-heard comments about American businesses playing on a sloped playing field. American businesses pay income taxes. That results in an average of 25.9 percent of American product prices being federal tax and related “compliance costs.” The WTO prohibits waiving or rebating those taxes when our products are exported. When those exports arrive in foreign countries they add their federal taxes on top of ours. But foreign countries can export their products tax-free to the U.S., and we don’t impose federal taxes on those imports. That seems like a one-way-street to me. The result is our $1.5 trillion trade deficit.

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