Daily Archive : Thursday December 22, 2011



    ComEd announces Northwest suburban upgrade projects

    ComEd Thursday announced several infrastructure upgrades in the Northwest suburbs aimed at reducing the frequency and duration of power outages. Crews will be replacing underground cable in five projects expected to be completed in January.


    Study linking virus and chronic fatigue retracted

    NEW YORK -- A prestigious scientific journal is retracting a controversial 2009 report that linked chronic fatigue syndrome to a virus.In an unusual move, the journal Science is taking that step on its own. Normally, authors retract their own research papers when serious problems arise after publication.


    Nurses authorize strike

    Nurses at University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago have voted to authorize a strike as recommended by union negotiators. Illinois Nurses Association spokesman Chris Martin says a vote ended late Thursday with an overwhelming rejection of the proposed contract.


    Rhyming justice authors insurance fraud opinion

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — This judge’s rulings, for better or worse, are poetic justice because they’re in verse.A state Supreme Court justice known for opinions written in rhyme has done it again, producing six pages of verse Thursday in the case of whether the maker of a forged check also had committed insurance fraud.

    A team of engineers inspected the exterior of the Washington Monument for earthquake damage on Sept. 28. Their report was released Thursday.

    Washington Monument quake damage extensive

    WASHINGTON — The earthquake-damaged Washington Monument has extensive cracking and chipped stones near its peak that left it highly vulnerable to rainfall, and inspectors found cracks and loose stones along the entire length of the 555-foot structure, according to a report released Thursday by the National Park Service.

    John C. Kacena

    Three charged with possession of heroin in Naperville

    Two Naperville men and a Lemont man have been charged with possession of heroin after a traffic stop on Dec. 14, according to police.

    Becky Johnson, worship vocalist, performs at a dress rehearsal for Willow Creek Community Church's Christmas Eve services.

    Willow Creek services months in the making

    Approximately 80,000 members and guests are expected at Willow Creek Community Church's 12 Christmas Eve services in South Barrington this week. This year's services include the debut of a new, professionally-made film. The “live” part of the Christmas Eve services itself involves a full stage of musicians and choir singers who've been rehearsing for weeks now.


    Director of MacArthur Fellows Program steps down

    The director of the Chicago-based MacArthur Fellows Program is stepping down. MacArthur President Robert Gallucci says Daniel Socolow will end his tenure on July 1. Socolow has run the “genius grants” program for 15 years.

    This undated image provided by the Phoenix Police Dept. is a missing adult flyer for Lauren Elizabeth Weinberg. Weinberg, a Arizona State University student, was released from the hospital Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 after surviving what she said was a nine-day ordeal of being stuck in her car in the snow with no heavy coat, blankets or gloves and only two candy bars for food. (AP Photo/Phoenix Police Dept.)

    Stranded student and Texas family rescued

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A college student was released from the hospital Thursday after surviving what she said was a nine-day ordeal of being stuck in her car in the snow with no heavy coat, blankets or gloves and only two candy bars for food.

    Carlos Luna

    Driver charged in gang-related murder in Round Lake Park

    Reckless homicide is among the charges that have been leveled against a Round Lake Park man accused of chasing rival gang members in the vehicle he was driving in July.

    A child enjoys her spaghetti dinner at a Two Guys and Spaghetti free community dinner in St. Charles. Since April 2009, Joe Ryan and Matt Rhead have put together a free spaghetti dinner served to anyone in the community.

    Third weekly free dinner offered in Tri-Cities

    There soon will be at least four places in the Tri-Cities that offer free meals once a month. Bethany Lutheran Church of Batavia wants to help people in need _ "whether it be in need of fellowship, to be with someone else," or as their cupboard runs bare, said Beth Lawniczak.

    Myshawn Bonds

    Technology strikes back in Craigslist thefts

    Knuckleheads — that’s the word Carpentersville police have used to describe a pair of local teenagers accused of stealing an $8,000 watch they saw advertised on Craigslist Sunday, re-listing it on the website for $6,500, only to unwittingly arrange for the victim to buy it from them, police said.

    Best Buy had some unahppy news for its online customers Thursday when it announced some of their orders — some dating back to November —would not be filled by Christmas.

    Best Buy cancels some online orders

    Best Buy has alerted some customers that it will not be able to fill their online orders, just days before Christmas.


    Driver charged in Aurora pedestrian’s death

    A 73-year-old Aurora man died Thursday afternoon shortly after being struck by a driver without a valid license, according to police. Roberty Myzia was trying to cross North Farnsworth Avenue at Marshall Boulevard when he was hit by a northbound pickup truck driven by a 21-year-old Elgin man, police said.

    Jesse A. Williams

    Teen injured in McHenry hit-and-run

    A 18-year-old girl was seriously injured in a hit-and-run crash as she was crossing a McHenry road Wednesday night, police officials said. A 30 year old McHenry resident was charged later Wednesday for leaving the scene of the crash.


    Teenager injured, man arrested, following hit and run in McHenry

    A McHenry man faces charges in a hit-and-run that injured an 18-year-old girl while she was crossing a street, McHenry Police officials said.

    Delbert K. Cooper

    Aurora murder suspect identified

    The 31-year-old live-in boyfriend of Rennee Ann Perry, who was found strangled and stabbed to death in her apartment Wednesday, has been charged in her murder, police announced Thursday evening. Police apprehended Delbert K. Cooper about 7 p.m. Wednesday at an Aurora hospital where he was being treated for a cut to his finger, according to police.


    Illinois infant had same infection as formula recall

    An Illinois infant is recovering from the same unusual bacterial infection that prompted a nationwide voluntary recall of baby formula. The Illinois Department of Public Health said Thursday the baby contracted the infection Cronobacter sakazakii. It’s unclear whether the child drank any of the type of formula removed from Walmart stores.


    Bartlett looking into iPads for board members

    Bartlett trustee Greg Martin has brought up the idea of purchasing iPads for the village board in an effort to save money on paper and printing costs. The board was open to his idea, and agreed to let the village staff research it more. All the board members brought up concerns though of what the real cost would be.


    Arlington Hgts. reports rash of vehicle burglaries

    Arlington Heights police reported that the village has had 10 vehicle burglaries in three days. Police reminded motorists to lock vehicle doors and remove valuables from view.


    Mount Prospect woman’s request deferred

    The efforts of Mount Prospect resident Nanci Koschman to have a special prosecutor investigate her son’s death have been postponed until Jan. 4.


    Golf gift cards available:

    Surprise the golfer in your life with a gift card for any Lake County Forest Preserve golf club.


    CLC hosting art exhibit:

    College of Lake County in Grayslake will launch a free art exhibit Jan. 13 that runs through Feb. 19.


    Holiday lights recycling program:

    Mundelein is partnering with Elgin Recycling, Inc., for a free holiday light recycling program that runs through Jan. 31


    Carpentersville seeks to lower electric bills

    Carpentersville residents saw higher water bills this year and also will see a slight increase ion the village’s portion of the property tax bill in 2012. But officials are seeking to lower everyone’s electric bills by negotiating for lower rates, should voters give them the power to do so in a spring referendum.

    John C. Bogle is the retired founder of the mutual fund company Vanguard — and is sympathetic to the Occupy protesters and others challenging corporate America.

    Vanguard founder: Time for speculators to pay fair share

    John C. Bogle counted himself among the 1 percent of wealthiest Americans a couple decades ago. You might not guess that today, when you hear the 82-year-old founder of mutual fund company Vanguard rail against economic inequality.

    Wal-Mart has pulled a batch of powdered infant formula from more than 3,000 of its stores nationwide after a newborn Missouri boy who was fed the formula died from what preliminary tests indicate was a rare bacterial infection, the retailer said.

    Wal-Mart awaiting tests on formula after baby dies

    Wal-Mart and health officials awaited tests Thursday on a batch of powdered infant formula that was removed from more than 3,000 stores nationwide after a Missouri newborn who consumed it apparently died from a rare infection.


    Police reports
    A 19-inch television was stolen from the basement of a home in the 5N500 block of Route 476 near Maple Park between 10 p.m. Monday and 3:25 p.m. Tuesday, according to sheriff reports.


    Elgin police reports
    About $1,160 in cash, a department store card, a credit card and a debit card were taken Sept. 27 from someone’s purse at an address in the 300 block of Adams Street. The owner of the purse reported the theft Thursday. She said she had asked a man to help her move furniture, and later that evening she noticed the items were missing.

    House Republican leader Tom Cross sent a letter to House Speaker Michael Madigan seeking a meeting next month to review high-return but high-risk investments by the Teachers Retirement System.

    Cross wants to examine pension investment strategy

    Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross has asked lawmakers to examine a new high-risk, high-return investment strategy by the state’s teachers’ pension system to make sure it won’t cause further economic strain.


    Attorney: Mt. Prospect tavern owner wins lawsuit

    A Cook County judge has awarded Mount Prospect business owner Tod Curtis nearly $1 million in a legal dispute with a local developer, Curtis’ attorney said Thursday. Curtis, owner of Ye Olde Town Inn at 18 W. Busse Ave., had sued Oz Development LLC, claiming Oz damaged a wall on his building while developing an adjacent site into the Blues Bar.


    Arlington Heights family collects for soldiers

    As families celebrate the homecomings of soldiers returning from Iraq, Dawn Hedrick wants people to remember that for many, the war isn’t over yet. For those with family members still in Afghanistan, this is another holiday season without their loved ones, which is why Hedrick, of Arlington Heights is collecting stuff for the troops still overseas. The drive is in memory of her late son-in-law,...

    Timothy Gersch

    Antioch man, woman facing drug charges

    A 22-year-old Antioch man and a 24-year-old Antioch woman were charged after police found cannabis and crack cocaine in their home, authorities said.


    Emington woman’s dad had also killed family member

    The father of an Emington woman believed to have fatally shot her family and then herself had killed his own spouse decades ago, court records show. Authorities have said Sara McMeen, 30, shot her boyfriend, Daniel Warren, 29, and her three children last Friday. According to court records, McMeen’s father fatally shot his first wife about 10 years before McMeen was born.

    Jacqueline Loyola

    Probation, fines in Carpentersville birthday party murder

    A judge sentences Jacqueline Loyola of Carpentersville to four years probation and $8,000 restitution for funeral costs after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of an Aurora woman who was an uninvited guest and started a fight at Loyola's 19th birthday.

    Keith Nygren

    Decision on Nygren case months away

    A judge could decide in February or March on whether to grant a request to have a special prosecutor investigate McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren. A judge troday denied a move to dismiss claims brought forward by Nygren's rival, Zane Seipler.

    Cardinal Francis George

    Chicago cardinal compares gay rights groups to KKK

    Chicago Cardinal Francis George is drawing criticism after comparing the gay rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan. George was asked during an interview on WFLD-TV what he thought about a local priest’s concerns that the city’s annual gay pride parade might interrupt morning Mass at his church. George replied that he was concerned the gay rights movement might “morph into something like the Ku Klux...

    Sean McInerney lettered in three sports at Carmel High School in Mundelein.

    Buffalo Grove basketball tournament promotes organ donation

    A sixth grade basketball tournament celebrating the life of a former St. Mary student and raising awareness of the importance of organ donation is turning 20 this year. Sean McInerney, who played basketball and football for the Bisons at the Buffalo Grove school, died in a car accident in 1990 at age 19.


    No video yet of Barrington Hills meetings

    By a tie vote, the Barrington Hills village board this week narrowly rejected upgrading its meetings’ audio webcasts to video. While the board did vote in favor of a $5,000 equipment upgrade for the quality of the audio itself, the 3-3 vote on a $36,000 video component failed to make any changes on that front.

    Santa's even gotta go sometimes — is he hitting the cookies and milk early? Santa takes a break at the Manitowoc Public Library in Manitowoc, Wis.

    Images: Santa caught slacking?
    We're all for Santa having a good time and making the rounds, as long as that means he still has enough fuel in his sleigh to hit our homes in the burbs this weekend. He seriously seemed to be everywhere this week except at the North Pole, toiling over our gifts. So we decided to watch him all week to see if he's been naughty or nice. Here's where we found that Jolly Old Elf hanging out.


    Schaumburg grinch who stole Christmas presents caught

    A grinch almost got away with stealing the Christmas presents of an Elk Grove Village family earlier this week. The man was caught, police said, after he tried to return the gifts to the store where they were purchased.

    Iraqi security forces inspect a crater caused by a car bomb attack in Baghdad on Thursday. A wave of bombings ripped through Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing or wounding hundreds of people.

    Wave of bombings across Baghdad kills 69
    A wave of 16 bombings ripped across Baghdad Thursday, killing at least 69 people in the worst violence in Iraq for months. The apparently coordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left the country and in the midst of a major government crisis between Shiite and Sunni politicians that has sent sectarian tensions soaring.


    Gurnee police seek ‘ripoff’ robber

    Authorities are investigating the Gurnee Mills parking lot robbery of a man who was trying to complete a purchase of wireless telephones that was initiated online.


    Waukegan man denies attacking person who gave him a ride

    A Waukegan man police say attacked a person who offered him a ride home and tried to steal the victim’s car pleaded not guilty Thursday to a host of criminal charges.


    Northwest suburban police blotter

    Men from Elgin and Chicago were arrested in Des Plaines after run-ins with security agents at Rivers Casino. One man reportedly took a swing at a security agent while the other reportedly refused a request to leave until he had eaten at the buffet.

    Tony Rezko

    Blago cohort Rezko won't serve more time for fraud

    An imprisoned former fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to a wire fraud scheme unrelated to the former Illinois governor, but will not face additional time behind bars.

    While standing on Michigan Avenue street corners in Chicago as “the girl with the white board,” 22-year-old Aurora University student Lauren Lawson poses for photos and talks with many shoppers and workers, explaining the mission of her motivational messages. The white board project continues from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 23-25 and Dec. 30-Jan. 1.

    Suburban ‘Girl with white board' inspires in Chicago

    “Do something meaningful.” “Remember your worth.” “Inspiration is contagious. Lauren Lawson's words -- formed into those phrases and others -- are inspiring thousands, across the world. She knows this. She's seen the reactions of people from every continent to the short, motivational phrases she's displayed while spending weekend afternoons on Chicago street corners...

    Jordan Kipper, 14, shops with Roger Otto, a Naperville police officer, during the “Shop with a Cop” program, allowing disadvantaged children to select holiday gifts for their families at a Naperville Target. “They think of everyone else,” Otto said.

    Naperville cops help youngsters play Santa

    Debra Shelton's 5-year-old grandson, Isaiah, hunted for gifts for his family at a Naperville Target -- armed with a Christmas wish list and a police escort. He was one of ten shoppers participating in the "Shop with a Cop" program, allowing disadvantaged children to select gifts for themselves and their families. "My grandson was tickled pink," Shelton, of Naperville, said.


    Wood Dale VFW needs help to buy service dog for veteran

    At $6,000 a pop, members of the Wood Dale VFW Men's Auxiliary Post 2149 are saving up for one pricey dog. But they insist the canine is worth every penny, since it will be trained by New York-based America's VetDogs. The group provides dogs that help disabled veterans with day-to-day tasks like providing balance, retrieving dropped items, or aiding amputees in and out of chairs.

    Josie Passantino, 16, hosts two weekly Internet radio shows out of her Bartlett home. She'll also release a modern country music album early next year.

    Bartlett teen is a radio host, country singer

    What started as something for Josie Passantino to do on a Friday night has blossomed into two Internet radio productions that at last count had more than 2 million listeners. And as if hosting "The Josie Show" and "Josie's Hard Country" weren't enough, the 16-year-old from Bartlett is preparing to release her own modern country album. “I didn't think it would ever be something people would...


    Attorney asks Wisc. justice not to hear redistricting

    A motion has been filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking the recusal of Justice Michael Gableman from a pending case that could affect ongoing recall efforts targeting four Republican state senators.

    Bob and Sue Peterson

    Batavia citizens of the year announced

    Bob and Sue Peterson are the 2011 Batavia Citizens of the Year. Chamber of commerce Director Roger Breisch said the couple was an obvious choice. “Batavia would be far more desolate had Bob and Sue not nurtured its growth with such love and devotion,” he said.

    Toyota, beset in the last couple years by technical problems and the March disaster in Japan, is aiming for a comeback next year. Above, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda talks up his product.

    Toyota aims for comeback in 2012

    Toyota is aiming for a comeback, targeting record global sales of 8.48 million vehicles in 2012 and an even bigger number in 2013, after being battered this year by the March disaster in Japan and flooding in Thailand.

    Nuclear plants like the one seen above in Byron, Ill., may be a thing of the past now that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a new nuclear reactor design.

    NRC approves new nuclear reactor design

    Federal regulators have approved a nuclear reactor designed by Westinghouse Electric Co. that could power the first nuclear plants built from scratch in this country in more than three decades.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday urged House Speaker John Boehner to pass a stopgap renewal of the payroll tax cut before it expires Jan. 1.

    McConnell: Extend tax cut short-term

    The Senate’s top Republican on Thursday urged the GOP-led House to pass a short-term renewal of payroll tax cuts and break an impasse that threatens 160 million workers with a 2 percentage point tax increase on Jan. 1.

    House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, left, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, both Maryland Democrats, spoke to the press Thursday in Washingtonand urged House Republicans to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

    Understanding Congress’ payroll tax cut fight

    If President Barack Obama, the House and the Senate all want to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut and jobless benefits through next year, why are they fighting so bitterly over doing it?


    J&J recalls Motrin caplets that may work slowly

    Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has issued another recall of Motrin pain relievers, at least the sixth in two years. It’s part of a string of more than two dozen recalls of consumer health products, prescription drugs and medical devices over 2½ years.


    2 Ind. men arraigned in killings of girl, 7, uncle

    Relatives of a 7-year-old girl and her uncle allegedly slain by a longtime family friend and another man left a courtroom looking somber and without commenting after the two Indianapolis men were arraigned on murder charges.


    Lawmaker wants review panel for Ill. tax breaks

    An Illinois lawmaker wants to create a committee to review tax breaks given to companies by the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity before the incentives take effect.

    Warrenville photographer Sheila Rutledge said the $200 daily fee to shoot commercial photos at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton and other DuPage forest preserve property is too expensive. She’s asking officials to change the ordinance.

    Photographer wants DuPage forest district to ease $200 daily permit fee

    Sometimes, Warrenville-based photographer Sheila Rutledge adds a special touch to her portraits by taking clients to scenic locations like St. James Farm in Warrenville. But while the earthy backdrop is a bonus for clients, Rutledge said it’s a blow to her business because the Forest Preserve District charges $200 per day for any commercial photographer or videographer shooting on district...

    Born on Nov. 14 while her father was on duty in Iraq, Leah Elizabeth Vega will meet her returning dad in person when the Carol Stream native flies home on Christmas Eve.

    Soldier will meet daughter on Christmas Eve

    Carol Stream native Matt Vega, fresh off his third tour of Iraq, will fly into O'Hare on Christmas Eve to reunite with his wife and hold their newborn daughter — Leah Elizabeth Vega — for the first time. “I got a PlayStation when I was little, but it's nothing like this,” says a giddy Matt. Matt watched his daughter's birth through a shaky laptop connection in southern...

    Here are the names of local soldiers killed during the war of terror engraved on the Howard County Veterans Memorial at Darrough Chapel Park in Kokomo, Ind. In the wake of the December 2011 departure of the last U.S. troops from Iraq, this Midwestern town joins hundreds of others across the nation that will be wrestling with the legacy of a nearly nine-year war.

    Iraq War leaves mark on Indiana town

    Kokomo, Ind., is known for embracing the military, whether it's memorializing its fallen heroes in the middle of the war, stretching Veterans Day into an eight-day tribute or flying POW-MIA flags outside the schools. But now, in the wake of the departure of the last U.S. troops from Iraq, Kokomo joins hundreds of smaller towns across the nation that will be wrestling with the legacy of a nearly...


    D95 board to interview candidates for vacancy

    Lake Zurich Unit District 95 board members will interview candidates for a vacant spot on their panel next month, officials said.


    Gilberts levy slightly higher than last year

    The village of Gilberts will ask for 4.9 percent more in its property tax levy this year than last year. Village Administrator Ray Keller said the increase is based on a desire to capturerevenue from new construction, but the village probably won’t get the entire $930,765 it is requesting.

    Genoa Township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt looks at corrugated stainless steel tubing, or CSST, installed in a new home near Westerville, Ohio, on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. Reports of lightning-related fires and gas leaks in at least a dozen states have sparked concerns about the use of the flexible tubing for gas lines.

    Gas tubing fires linked to lightning spark concern

    Reports of lightning-related fires and gas leaks in at least a dozen states have sparked concerns about the use of flexible gas lines made of corrugated stainless steel tubing.


    Woman suing embattled Ariz. county over 2009 birth

    PHOENIX — More problems for the embattled Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. A lawsuit has been filed against the department and others, claiming county employees exhibited deliberate indifference to a female inmate’s medical needs and violated her constitutional rights when they kept her shackled before and after her 2009 Caesarean section.

    Veteran Philadelphia sportswriter Bill Conlin has been accused of molesting children decades ago.

    Reports: 2 more accuse Philly columnist of abuse

    Two more people have come forward claiming they were abused by a Philadelphia sports columnist who abruptly retired just before the publishing of a report alleging he abused young children decades ago.


    Suicidal Ohio animal owner not drunk or on drugs

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — A final coroner’s report shows an Ohio man who released dozens of wild animals and then killed himself had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system.

    In this Dec. 6, 1961 photo, Syracuse university football player Ernie Davis, holds his Heisman Trophy at the Downtown Athletic club in New York. A fire Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 at an upstate New York middle school named for the late Syracuse University football star has destroyed some of his memorabilia that had been on display.

    Fire destroys Ernie Davis memorabilia at NY school

    ELMIRA, N.Y. — A fire at an upstate New York middle school named for the late Syracuse University football star Ernie Davis has destroyed some of his memorabilia that had been on display.


    Homeless victim of videotaped beating has seizure

    BELMAR, N.J. (AP) — A homeless New Jersey man whose videotaped beating was posted on YouTube, leading to an outpouring of charity, has suffered a seizure.

    Police say this man robbed the Elgin State Bank, 1001 Randall Road, late Monday afternoon.

    Dawn Patrol: Aurora woman found killed; serial bank robber hits Elgin

    Police are following leads in the murder of an Aurora woman. A bank robber that hit an Elgin bank is thought to have hit Geneva, Wheaton and Glendale Heights this month. Carol Stream soldier to meet daughter for the first time. The Hawks' starting goaltender is back and winning.


    Illinois adds days to pheasant season at 2 sites

    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has extended the controlled pheasant hunting seasons at two state recreation areas.


    Man accused in son’s death pleads not guilty

    METROPOLIS, Ill. — A man jailed in southern Illinois on charges he killed his 15-month-old son more than a year and a half ago says he’s not guilty.The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan (http://bit.ly/s7Psgd) reports that 35-year-old John Pruett of Metropolis entered the plea Tuesday on a Massac County charge of first-degree murder.


    6 Illinois fire departments get federal grants

    Six Illinois fire departments have been awarded federal grants to help buy equipment and vehicles and for additional training.In all, more than $757,000 will go to the departments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fire departments receiving the grants are the Adams County Ambulance and EMS and fire departments in Charleston, Effingham, LeRoy, Northbrook and Rockford.


    Cardinal Francis George to celebrate Christmas Mass

    Cardinal Francis George will celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Holy Name Cathedral and Cook County Jail. The archbishop of Chicago will also continue his holiday tradition of visiting seriously ill children and their families at Children’s Memorial Hospital.

    Chicago airport officials say Thursday is the busiest day of the holiday travel period at O'Hare International Airpor

    Today will be busiest at O'Hare

    An estimated 2.7 million passengers are expected to fly in and out of Chicago airports through Christmas and New Year's Day.

    Anthony Alfano, of Lake in the Hills, DePaul University's first openly gay student body president, sits at the University House on campus. Alfano, who began telling his closest friends several years ago that he was gay, officially “came out” to the world Oct. 10.

    Lake in the Hills man is DePaul's first openly gay student president

    When Anthony Alfano was an eighth-grader, he first began wrestling with the idea that he might be gay and he felt compelled to keep everything bottled up inside. The former captain of the Huntley Raiders varsity hockey team, he was aware of homophobic attitudes that existed both on and off the ice. Today, Alfano has put those worries behind him as the first openly gay student body president in...

    Brian Greene

    Grayslake charter school director is interim principal

    Prairie Crossing Charter School's executive director has outlined an immediate plan for operations in the wake of last week's firing of Principal Brian Greene. Meanwhile, Greene attorney Anthony Esposito said Wednesday his client refused a severance deal. “His integrity cannot be purchased,” Esposito said of Greene.


    Images from the Huntley vs. Hope Academy basketball semifinal game Thursday, December 22nd at the Jacobs high school basketball tournament in Algonquin.

    Images: Huntley vs. Hope Academy, boys basketball
    The semifinal round of the Jacobs high school basketball tournament featured Huntley High School winning 66-60 over Hope Academy.

    Elgin’s Kory Brown celebrates after a win over La Lumiere Thursday in the championship game of the Elgin Holiday Tournament.

    Images: Elgin vs. La Lumiere boys basketball
    The Elgin Maroons won 40-34 over the La Lumiere Lakers in the title game of the Elgin boys basketball tournament at Elgin High School.


    Marmion’s 3s sink Sycamore

    With his coach Ryan Paradise still searching for the right combination in his starting backcourt, junior Alex Theisen stated his case Thursday in the Cadets’ first game at DeKalb’s Chuck Dayton Tournament. Theisen, who started earlier this season, came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points in Marmion’s 59-50 victory over Sycamore.

    Crystal Lake Central’s Nick Decoster is unable to stop Elk Grove’s Jeff Miceli in the first quarter as he drives to the basket in Jacobs tournament semifinal play Thursday.

    Crystal Lake Central tips Elk Grove

    Elk Grove nearly continued its upset-filled run to the title game of the Jacobs Holiday Tournament but lost 61-59 to unbeaten Crystal Lake Central in the semifinals. Austin Amann scored 16 points to lead the Grenadiers, who will play for third place at 6 p.m. Friday.

    Hope’s Tyrone Smith fouls Huntley’s Troy Miller in the first period of action as Miller drives for the basket Thursday during the semifinals of the Jacobs Holiday Classic.

    Huntley gets another title shot at Jacobs

    In a game of runs, the Huntley boys basketball team had the final one. The Red Raiders rallied from a 16-point second-quarter deficit Thursday night and scored 8 of the game’s final 10 points to beat Hope Academy, 66-60, in the semifinals of the Jacobs Holiday Tournament. The Red Raiders meet Crystal Lake Central Friday night for the championship.

    Elgin's players and fans celebrate after beating La Lumiere Thursday during the championship game of the Elgin Holiday Tournament.

    Elgin turns out the lights on La Lumiere

    As upsets go, Elgin's win over nationally ranked La Lumiere was downright illuminating. The Lakers, ranked No. 10 in the country by Maxpreps.com, weren't given an inch by the host Maroons in the title game of the 37th Annual Elgin Holiday Tournament Thursday. The Maroons sank their first five shots from 3-point range and confounded the Lakers by switching between man-to-man and 2-3 zone defenses throughout a thrilling 40-34 victory in a sectional-like atmosphere at Chesbrough Field House.


    Thursday’s wrestling scoreboard
    High school results from Thursday's varsity boys wrestling meets, as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Thursday’s girls basketball scoreboard
    High school results from Thursday's varsity girls basketball games, as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Thursday’s boys basketball scoreboard
    High school results from Thursday's varsity boys basketball games, as reported to the Daily Herald.

    The Jayhawks’ Elijah Johnson attempts a layup as he is guarded by USC’s Maurice Jones Thursday in Los Angeles.

    No. 12 Kansas romps against USC 63-47

    Elijah Johnson scored 14 points, Conner Teahan added 13 and No. 12 Kansas bounced back from a surprising loss to beat Southern Cal 63-47 on Thursday night.Thomas Robinson had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Tyshawn Taylor added 10 points and nine assists for the Jayhawks (8-3), who suffered an 80-74 home loss to Davidson on Monday.

    Baylor’s Pierre Jackson tries to grab a loose ball after he stumbled Thursday against Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas.

    No. 6 Baylor stays perfect with 72-59 win over Saint Mary’s

    Quincy Miller scored 15 points and Perry Jones III had 14 points and nine rebounds to lead No. 6 Baylor over Saint Mary’s 72-59 Thursday night in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational.

    Nashville Predators left wing Martin Erat scores the game-winning goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis Sanford with 8.4 seconds left Thursday in Nashville.

    Erat’s late goal lifts Predators past Blue Jackets

    Two weeks after rallying in the final two minutes at Columbus before winning in overtime, the Nashville Predators needed more late heroics against the Blue Jackets.Martin Erat scored with 8.4 seconds remaining to give the Predators a 6-5 comeback victory Thursday.


    Antioch snaps skid, tops Marengo

    William Waschow scored a game-high 19 points, including two 3-pointers, and Antioch’s boys basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak by edging Marengo 46-43 in opening-round action of Marengo’s holiday tournament Thursday night.


    LPGA founding member Danoff dies at 88

    Bettye Danoff, one of the LPGA Tour’s 13 founding members, has died. She was 88.At 5-foot-2 and barely 100 pounds, Danoff earned the nickname “Mighty Mite” and was the first grandmother to play the tour.

    Calgary’s Curtis Glencross, center, celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Jarome Iginla, right, and Jay Bouwmeester Thursday night at home against Detroit.

    Glencross’ 2 goals lead Flames past Red Wings

    Curtis Glencross scored twice, including the game-winner, to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Jiri Hudler and Ian White scored third-period goals for the Red Wings, who have lost two straight.


    Hoffman Estates rallies again for victory

    Evidently, no lead is ever safe when going against Hoffman Estates’s girls basketball team.Two days after rallying from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to edge Waukegan in overtime, the Hawks dug themselves a 17-point deficit in the same period against Prairie Ridge on Thursday. Once again, they charged back for a triumph, this time topping Prairie Ridge 56-54 for the consolation championship of the Lady Mustangs Holiday Classic at Mundelein High School.

    Marquette’s Junior Cadougan shoots in front of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Kaylon Williams during the first half Thursday in Milwaukee.

    No. 10 Marquette wins 39th straight over Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    Junior Cadougan tied his career high with 15 points and No. 10 Marquette beat cross-town rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the 39th straight time, 64-50 on Thursday night.Darius Johnson-Odom and Davante Gardner added 12 points each for Marquette (11-1), which was coming off its first loss of the season Monday at LSU.

    Northwestern’s John Shurna reacts to a call Thursday night against Creighton.

    Wildcats fall to No. 23 Creighton

    Doug McDermott scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half and No. 23 Creighton defeated a Big Ten opponent for the third time this season with an 87-79 victory over Northwestern on Thursday night.


    Cool win for Coombs, Wauconda

    Chavez Coombs kept her cool. Wauconda’s 5-foot-11 senior had 9 points, 18 rebounds, 5 steals, 5 assists and a blocked shot to lead the Bulldogs to a 39-23 win over North Chicago in final-day action of the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic at McHenry on Thursday.

    Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley announces he will play his senior year of college football during a Thursday news conference in Los Angeles.

    Trojans QB Barkley coming back

    Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley has decided to return for his senior season and put off the NFL for another year. With USC coach Lane Kiffin and his family in attendance, Barkley announced Thursday that while he feels prepared for the NFL, he has unfinished business with the Trojans.

    Boise State running back Doug Martin surges forward with Arizona State safety Eddie Elder (2) and linebacker Anthony Jones trying to bring him down Thursday in the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas.

    No. 8 Boise St. rolls over Arizona St. in Maaco Bowl

    Doug Martin rushed for 151 yards and returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, giving No. 8 Boise State a lead 14 seconds into the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on the way to a 56-24 win Thursday night.

    The Colts’ Reggie Wayne celebrates with teammates after his touchdown reception against Houston Texans’ Kareem Jackson (25) during the fourth quarter Thursday in Indianapolis.

    Colts get past Houston 19-16 for 2nd straight win

    Reggie Wayne caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Dan Orlovsky with 19 seconds left, giving the Colts their only lead of the game in a 19-16 victory over AFC South champion Houston.

    Michigan State’s Draymond Green blocks a shot by Lehigh’s Mackey McKnight Thursday in East Lansing, Mich.

    No. 19 Michigan St. drops Lehigh 90-81

    Keith Appling scored 19 points, including all 12 of his free throws, and had seven rebounds to lead No. 19 Michigan State over Lehigh 90-81 on Thursday night.

    Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe fights for a rebound with Boise State forward Thomas Bropleh on Thursday in Iowa City.

    Iowa passes Boise State test 81-72

    The Hawkeyes needed some big plays in the final minutes to beat Boise State 81-72 Thursday night. Devyn Marble and Aaron White each scored 18 points to lead Iowa.


    Practice makes perfect for Meadows

    Rolling Meadows spent its entire two-hour practice on Thursday morning working on Libertyville’s trademark half-court and three-quarters-court traps. And it was being able to solve those traps that made the difference in the Mustangs’ 35-30 victory over Libertyville in the championship game of the Lady Mustangs Holiday Classic at Mundelein High School. Rolling Meadows improves to 12-3 on the season and has now won 10 straight, a school record.


    Loyola of Chicago rallies to beat Canisius 59-45

    Ben Averkamp scored 22 points and Walt Gibler added 17 points and 12 rebounds as Loyola of Chicago rallied to defeat Canisius 59-45 on Thursday night for the Ramblers’ fourth straight win.

    Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, center, heads to the basket past Missouri’s Phil Pressey, left, and Kim English Thursday in St. Louis.

    No. 9 Mizzou keeps bragging rights over No. 25 Illini

    Phil Pressey had 18 points, five assists and two steals, and ninth-ranked Missouri held off a second-half charge by No. 25 Illinois for a 78-74 victory in the annual Braggin’ Rights game on Thursday night.The Tigers have won three straight in the series and are 12-0 for the first time since a 19-0 start in 1981-82. The loss was Illinois' second in three games.

    Montini’s Nikia Edom dribbles out of traffic Thursday against Sterling.

    Montini misses its chance at Sterling

    Montini let a five-point lead slip away in the final minute Thursday at the Sterling Shootout, unbeaten Hononegah hitting two free throws with 2.6 seconds left for a 49-48 win.


    Benet reaches championship game

    Sidney Prasse scored 18 points while sister Christen had 12 points of her own in Benet’s 54-38 victory over DeKalb Thursday evening in Lisle. The game was tight, but a 20-8 Benet third quarter clinched its chance in the tournament championship game.


    Warren’s hitting its stride

    For the second game in a row Thursday night, Warren held its opponent to 20 points. “I got to hand it to them,” coach John Stanczykiewicz said of his Blue Devils, after they outlasted Carmel Catholic 29-20 in final-round action of Warren’s Blue Devil Classic. When Grayslake Central defeated Niles North 34-32 in the evening’s finale, Warren had earned itself the tourney championship by virtue of its win over Grayslake Central on Wednesday. Both Warren and Grayslake Central finished 4-1 in the tournament.


    St. Charles E. tops Geneva

    Ryan Valesh has made the most of his opportunities for the St. Charles East wrestling team. With Isaiah Vela, the Saints’ returning state medal-winner missing the Saints’ Upstate Eight Conference River showdown against Geneva, Valesh earned 6 points with his second-period fall. The pin began a run of 6 straight wins, translating into a 29-point unanswered run, and St. Charles East took command of the River Division with its 41-23 victory Thursday night in Geneva.


    Glenbard North stops Buffalo Grove

    For those who like exact measures when watching their sports, the third quarter of Thursday afternoon’s seventh-place game of the Elgin Holiday Tournament determined the winner. After two Buffalo Grove baskets to open the third period, Glenbard North erupted for a 19-0 run and went on to prevail 74-65.

    Zoe Swift of Naperville North leaps to keep the ball inbounds during a game against Geneva at the Naperville North and Benet Academy 2011 Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament at Benet Aceademy in Lisle, Thursday, December 22, 2011.

    Naperville North stuns Geneva

    Don’t look now, but here comes Naperville North. Long an afterthought at its own tournament, the Huskies advanced to Friday’s championship game against co-host Benet with a 62-56 upset of No. 5 Geneva, the Huskies’ sixth consecutive victory.

    Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger shoots over Miami (Ohio)’s Drew McGhee during the first half Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

    No. 2 Ohio State never trails against Miami of Ohio

    William Buford scored 18 points and Aaron Craft dominated at both ends as No. 2 Ohio State started fast and never looked back to beat Miami of Ohio 69-40 on Thursday night.


    Plenty of changes to tournament lineup

    Get your score cards ready. Some changes have arrived for the holiday boys basketball tournament season in DuPage County.

    Batavia’s Cole Gardner battles Neuqua Valley’s Jabari Sandifer for a rebound during their game Thursday for third place in the Elgin Holiday Tournament.

    Neuqua Valley steers clear of Batavia

    The Neuqua Valley boys basketball team played keep-away with the lead Thursday night thanks to a 21-point third quarter and went home a 66-54 winner over Batavia in the third-place game of the Elgin Holiday Tournament.


    Chicago Wolves storm back for victory

    The Chicago Wolves trailed 2-1 after one period, but they stormed back with 4 unanswered goals to earn a 5-2 victory Thursday night over the Abbotsford Heat at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.


    Harlan aerial attack sinks Dundee-Crown

    Dundee-Crown expected Harlan to attack by driving to the basket. The Falcons launched an aerial barrage instead. Harlan shooters canned 6 of their first 7 attempts from 3-point range to take a 17-point halftime lead, an advantage they ballooned to 26 points early in the third quarter before settling for a 60-42 victory in the fifth-place game of the 37th Annual Elgin Holiday Tournament Thursday.


    Laird’s 31 lift Burlington Central to win

    Senior Jessica Laird struck for a career-high 31 points Thursday to lead the Burlington Central girls basketball team to a 69-35 win over Woodstock on the final day of play in the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic at Woodstock North.Laird hit five 3-pointers, 4 of them in the first half when she scored 24 of her points in leading the Rockets (6-8) to a 44-21 lead at halftime.Sarah Nelson added 9 points for Burlington Central.Zion-Benton 71, Cary-Grove 54: Cary-Grove fell behind 35-24 at halftime and couldn’t recover in losing the third-place game at the Mundelein tournament. Olivia Jakubicek had 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists to lead the Trojans (8-5), while Alyssa Lee added 9.Rockford Auburn 60, Streamwood 56: Jessica Cerda and Hannah McGlone each had 19 points but the Sabres (6-7) couldn’t hang onto a 12-point lead and lost to Rockford Auburn on the final day of play at the Lady Mustangs Classic at Mundelein.CL South 46, Jefferson 35: Sara Mickow had 20 points to lead the Gators (6-10) to a win at the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic. Lauren Delvecchio and Rachel Rasmussen each had 8 points for CL South.Huntley 45, Waukegan 22: Sam Andrews, who was named to the all-tournament team, had 18 points as Huntley (9-4) came away with a win on the final day of the Mundelein tournament. Haley Ream added 9 points, 5 assists and 3 steals for the Red Raiders.John Radtke contributed to this report


    Palatine teams up and gets defensive

    When 5 points is the most you give up in any quarter, you are playing some good defense. That was the case for Palatine’s girls basketball team which held Lake Forest to a season-low 15 points on the final day of action of the Blue Devil Classic at Warren High School. The Pirates also came up with one of their most balanced offensive efforts of the season - six players scored between 4 and 8 points - to register a 40-15 triumph in Gurnee.


    St. Charles N. rolls by Prairie Ridge

    Quinten Payne found a favorite spot on the floor – and his St. Charles North teammates made sure he got the ball. Payne, a 6-4 junior guard, put on a scintillating shooting display with 22 second-quarter points while helping lift the North Stars (5-8) to a 71-44 victory over Prairie Ridge (3-8) Thursday afternoon at the Jacobs Holiday Basketball Classic in Algonquin.


    Western Illinois downs North Dakota 68-46

    Terell Parks’ fourth double-double of the season helped Western Illinois defeat North Dakota for the second time this season

    Florida’s Bradley Beal shoots for three of his 21 points against Florida State on Thursday.

    No. 11 Florida uses big 2nd half to beat Florida State

    Patric Young scored 15 points and had a highlight-reel block — a left-handed gem that sparked a decisive second-half run — and No. 11 Florida beat rival Florida State 82-64 on Thursday night.

    Mississippi State guard Dee Bost dribbles past Northwestern State guard John Brisco on Thursday in Jackson, Miss.

    No. 18 Mississippi St. beats Northwestern St. 82-67

    No. 18 Mississippi State coasted to an 82-67 victory over Northwestern State Thursday night at the Mississippi Coliseum. Mississippi State (12-1) has won 11 straight games.

    Minnesota’s Ralph Sampson III gets off a shot during the second half Thursday gainst North Dakota State.

    Minnesota edges North Dakota State 63-59

    Ralph Sampson III had 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks and Rodney Williams added 14 points and eight boards to lift Minnesota to a 63-59 victory over plucky North Dakota State on Thursday night.


    Chicago Express falls to Cyclones

    The Chicago Express could not hold several leads, coming up short in a penalty-filled battle by a 4-3 decision to the Cincinnati Cyclones at the U.S. Bank Arena on Thursday night.


    Batman’s big effort helps Stevenson win

    Stevenson defeated Barrington 41-31 in the Suburban Holiday Showcase held at Niles West in Skokie. Katie Batman led the Patriots with a game-high 17 points. The Patriots (10-4, 1-1) broke away from the Fillies (5-8, 0-2) after a 21-21 tie at the break with an 8-1 run.


    Kuzmanic sparks Wheeling past Deerfield

    At the conclusion of Wheeling’s 50-28 victory over Deerfield on Thursday, Wildcats senior Kellie Kuzmanic was announced as a member of the all-tourney team for the Blue Devil Classic at Warren High School in Gurnee. All one had to see was her play in the first seven minutes to see why she earned the honor. Kuzmanic scored all but two of the Wildcats’ points as they raced ahead 14-4 with 1:42 left in the opening period.


    Lake Zurich tops Zion-Benton

    Lake Zurich beat Zion-Benton 62-54 to advance to today’s fifth-place game (4:30 p.m.) against Barrington in the Consolation A bracket of Jacobs' Holiday tournament. Thursday’s win in Algonquin was LZ’s second against Z-B in eight days; LZ topped visiting Z-B 54-47 in a North Suburban Conference Lake division game Dec. 15.


    NIU extends Doeren’s contract

    Northern Illinois extended the contract of head football coach Dave Doeren by one year Thursday and will raise his salary by nearly $50,000 after the first-year head coach led NIU to its first Mid-American Conference championship in 28 years and secured the school’s second straight 10-win season.

    Images from the Naperville North vs. Geneva girls basketball game Thursday, December 22, 2011.

    Images: Naperville North vs. Geneva girls basketball
    Naperville North played Geneva in girls basketball semifinal action at the Benet Academy Christmas Tournament in Lisle Thursday night.

    Former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist has decided to transfer and play for Charlie Weiss at Kansas next season.

    Weis gets two new QBs at Kansas

    Kansas coach Charlie Weis landed a pair of high-profile quarterbacks Thursday. Former top recruit Dayne Crist announced on Twitter that he would join the Jayhawks for his senior season after a checkered career at Notre Dame, shortly before news broke that BYU quarterback Jake Heaps was also transferring to Kansas.

    Images from the Elk Grove vs. Crystal Lake Central boys basketball semifinal game Thursday, December 22nd at the Jacobs high school basketball tournament in Algonquin.

    Images: Elk Grove vs. Crystal Lake Central, boys basketball
    The semifinal round of the Jacobs high school basketball tournament featured Elk Grove vs Crystal Lake Central.

    Memphis guard Joe Jackson and Georgetown forward Otto Porter dive for a loose ball Thursday in Washington.

    No. 16 Georgetown dispatches Memphis

    Jason Clark scored 18 points and Hollis Thompson added 17 as No. 16 Georgetown beat Memphis 70-59 Thursday night. Georgetown (10-1) extended its winning streak to eight games. The Hoyas held the lead for the entire game

    Tulane’s Ricky Tarrant, right, runs into Syracuse’s James Southerland on Thursday in Syracuse, N.Y.

    No. 1 Syracuse beats Tulane 80-61 to move to 13-0

    James Southerland and Brandon Triche each hit a pair of 3-pointers to key a 19-point first-half surge, and top-ranked Syracuse beat Tulane 80-61 on Thursday night to remain unbeaten. It’s the third straight season Syracuse has won its first 13 games.

    Connecticut’s Roscoe Smith blocks a shot from Fairfield’s Rakim Sanders in the first half Thursday in Hartford, Conn.

    No. 8 UConn tops Fairfield 79-71

    Shabazz Napier scored 24 points to lead No. 8 Connecticut over in-state rival Fairfield 79-71 on Thursday night in the final game before coach Jim Calhoun serves a three-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations.

    Indiana’s Cody Zeller puts up a shot over UMBC’s Jamar Wertz Thursday in Bloomington, Ind.

    No. 17 Indiana cruises against UMBC

    Matt Roth scored a season-high 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc to lead Indiana to an 89-47 win over Maryland-Baltimore County on Thursday night.

    Carlos Beltran batted .300 with 22 home runs, 84 RBIs and a .385 on-base percentage for the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants this year.

    Beltran, Cardinals agree to 2-year contract

    Carlos Beltran and the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a two-year contract pending results of a physical, fortifying the team’s lineup following the departure of Albert Pujols.

    Mundelein’s Amanda Davis (25) passes to teammate Connie Dimick (11) after reaching a loose ball ahead of Vernon Hills’ Meri Bennett-Swanson during Thursday’s Lady Mustangs Holiday Classic basketball game in Mundelein.

    Vernon Hills celebrates tourney win at Mundelein

    Three days before the most popular day of the year to wake up early and play all morning, the Vernon Hills and Mundelein girls basketball teams unwrapped a holiday tournament game at 9 a.m. Thursday. Still morning after Vernon Hills’ 50-39 victory over the hosts, Nolan Brettner clung to the chest and shoulder of his daddy, winning coach Paul Brettner, before the 3½-year-old relinquished his spot to his 19-month-old sister Reagan. Merry day. Real merry day three days away. How fitting that Vernon Hills’ Meri — Meri Bennett-Swanson — had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds (plus 3 blocks and 3 steals) and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

    Reigning MVP Derrick Rose, smiles during a news conference flanked by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, left, and general manager Gar Forman on Wednesday announcing Rose’s five-year contract extension.

    Bulls’ Derrick Rose overwhelmed by fan support at mall

    Bulls guard Derrick Rose was still gushing about the huge crowd that greeted the players during an apprearance Wednesday at Northbrook Court. Rose had several hundred people waiting in line to get his autograph, while people stood two and three deep on the upper level.


    Barrington has winning effort against Cary-Grove

    Barrington topped Cary-Grove 62-40 win on Friday in the semifinals of its pool of second-place finishers from the four round-robin groups at the Jacobs Holiday Classic in Algonquin. Barrington meets Lake Zurich today at 4:30 p.m. for the pool title and an overall fifth-place finish in the tournament.


    Grayslake North wins title at McHenry

    Brooke Sauer sported big bling, making the Grayslake North senior stand out much like her basketball team has in the last five weeks. Sauer squeezed an elaborate trophy so tall it was nearly the size of 5-foot-3 teammates Jordyn Bowen and Kendall Detweiler. Sauer decorated the trophy by draping her individual medal over it. “It feels great to hold it,” a smiling Sauer said after she and her teammates defeated Marengo 46-31 in the championship game of the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic at McHenry on Thursday. “It’ll look nice in our case.”


    Boys basketball/Fox Valley roundup

    Bartlett 54, Marian Central 43: Bartlett bounced back from 3 straight losses to claim this victory at the Jacobs Holiday Classic. John Moss had 13 points for the Hawks (6-6), while Matt Chaltin added 11, Marcus Aluquin 10 and Jonathan Leigeber 9. The Hawks close out the tournament today at 1:30 p.m. against Crystal Lake South.Moline 50, Hampshire 36: The Whip-Purs fell behind 32-16 at halftime and couldn’t recover in losing in the first round of pool play at the Chuck Dayton Tournament in DeKalb. Tyler Watzlawick had 13 points to lead the Whip-Purs (2-7) and Shane Hernandez added 9.Westminster Christian 45, Woodstock 41: Will Woodhouse and Robert Kleczynski each had 11 points as Westminster Christian (7-4) held on for a win on the first day of the E.C. Nichols Tournament at Marengo. Sam Carani added 9 points for the Warriors.

    Batavia’s Cole Gardner battles Neuqua Valley’s Jabari Sandifer for a rebound.

    Images: Batavia vs. Neuqua Valley boys basketball
    The Batavia Bulldogs won 66-54 over the Neuqua Valley Wildcats in the third-place game at the Elgin boys basketball tournament at Elgin High School.

    Since Week 4, Houston’s Arian Foster is the No. 1 tailback in terms of garnering fantasy points.

    Fantasy football: Time to look ahead to 2012

    With Week 16 upon us and three quarters of you done with fantasy football for the year, it’s time to look ahead to 2012. Just like last year at this time, I’m going to devote a column to players who have been red hot since Week 9 and give you my read on some trends.

    Larkin guard Derrick Streety (2) goes to the hoop past Rockford’s C’Vontez Johnson (4) and Devion Smith (5) during the consolation title game at the Elgin Holiday Tournament Thursday.

    Rockford East runs away with Larkin

    For Larkin it was a second half to forget. It was one to remember for Rockford East. With the score deadlocked at 27 at halftime, the E-Rabs outscored the Royals 46-24 during the final 16 minutes in recording a 73-51 win in the consolation championship game of the 37th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament Thursday afternoon.

    Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. reacts to scoring Thursday against Bradley in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    No. 20 Michigan pulls away to beat Bradley 77-66

    Evan Smotrycz had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway Jr. added a soaring dunk during a decisive run in the second half to lead No. 20 Michigan to a 77-66 win over Bradley on Thursday night.

    Kobe Bryant, right, sits out with a wrist injury as he talks with forward Luke Walton on Wednesday during an exhibition game against the Clippers. The Lakers’ star says he plans on playing in the season opener against the Bulls on Christmas Day.

    Bulls plan on seeing injured Kobe on the court

    Despite news that Lakers star Kobe Bryant tore a ligament in his right wrist, the Bulls expect to see him on the court during Sunday's season opener in Los Angeles. The Lakers will play without center Andrew Bynum, though, who is serving a five-game suspension.

    Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder is fouled by Southern Illinois guard Diamond Taylor, left, as SIU’s Dantiel Daniels watches Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.

    Kansas State runs past SIU 83-58

    Freshman Angel Rodriguez came off the bench and scored a season-high 17 points, including five 3-pointers, as Kansas State cruised to an 83-58 win over Southern Illinois in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic on Thursday.

    Kurt Busch has joined Phoenix Racing.

    Busch gets new ride with Phoenix Racing

    NASCAR’s most polarizing figure announced he’ll drive the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing and owner James Finch for the entire 2012 Sprint Cup season. Busch said in a release “after entertaining a lot of quality offers, there’s no better place for me.

    Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, right, dunks on Loyola’s Erik Etherly Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

    Loyola (Md.) wilts against No. 3 Kentucky

    Reserve Kyle Wiltjer scored a personal-best 24 points and a trio of freshmen sparked Kentucky’s 17-2 second-half run to beat Loyola (Md.) 87-63 on Thursday for the Wildcats’ 42nd straight win at home.

    Former baseball player Barry Bonds was convicted of felony obstruction of justice on April 8.

    Bonds files appeal of obstruction conviction

    Barry Bonds' attorneys paid $455 and filed a one-sentence notice to the federal trial court, saying the former major leaguer was asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal to toss out his obstruction of justice conviction.


    Bears’ Craig Steltz has stepped up at strong safety

    Rookie safety Chris Conte is out for the season with a sprained foot and ankle, but safety Major Wright returns this week after missing two games with a shoulder injury.

    Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland, lower left, and the Hawks’ John Scott are separated after a fight during Tuesday’s game. On Thursday, Engelland was suspended for three games for a hit to Marcus Kruger’s head.

    Suspension is too little, too late for Blackhawks

    The Blackhawks should feel no satisfaction by the NHL’s decision on Thursday to suspend Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland three games for the head shot on Marcus Kruger on Tuesday.

    Green Bay Packers tackle Derek Sherrod is taken from the field after an injury during the second half of an NFL football game with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011.

    Bears must attack Packers’ depleted offensive line

    The Bears' defensive line should have a big advantage Sunday night over a Packers offensive line that has been weakened by a rash of injuries.


    Crystal Lake South denies Jacobs

    Crystal Lake South’s boys basketball team saved its best effort for the fourth quarter. Trailing Jacobs 37-29 after three quarters, the Gators outscored the Golden Eagles 27-10 in the fourth quarter and 13-2 in the last 3 minutes, 37 seconds in posting a 56-47 victory in the consolation bracket of the Jacobs Holiday Classic in Alqonquin Thursday morning

    Images from the Rockford East vs. Larkin boys basketball game Thursday, December 22, 2011.

    Images: Larkin vs. Rockford East boys basketball
    The Larkin Royals lost 73-51 to the Rockford East E-Rabs in a consolation game at the Elgin boys basketball tournament at Elgin High School.


    Terry’s 3s not enough for Hoffman Estates

    Austin Terry hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points but Hoffman Estates lost its final game of the Elgin Holiday Tournament 73-53 to Rockford Guilford.


    NFL previews for Week 16

    Saturday’s gamesNew York Giants (7-7) at New York Jets (8-6) Time: noon, FOX Ch. 32Line: Jets by 3 Last meeting: Giants beat Jets 35-24, Oct. 7, 2007 Last week: Giants lost to Redskins 23-10; Jets lost to Eagles 45-19 Notes: After week of trash talk, most of it from Jets coach Rex Ryan, teams meet in showdown of New York-area rivals with plenty of playoff implications. If Giants beat Jets and then Dallas next weekend, they win NFC East and return to playoffs for first time since 2008. Two wins will likely clinch Jets a third straight wild-card appearance under Ryan. ... Three players in game have played for both Ryan and Giants coach Tom Coughlin: Jets WR Plaxico Burress and QB Mark Brunell, and Giants P Steve Weatherford. ... Giants have lost five of last six, but have won last four regular-season games against Jets. ... QB Eli Manning has thrown for franchise-record 4,362 yards, and with 25 TDs joined Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino and Drew Brees as only QBs with at least 3,000 yards and 20 TDs in seven straight seasons. Manning, who won only other start vs. Jets, has 14 TDs in fourth quarter, tied for most in a season. Also has three 400-yard games, tied for NFL’s single-season mark. ... WR Victor Cruz has 1,194 yards receiving and needs 150 in last two games to top Amani Toomer’s team record set in 2002. ... Hakeem Nicks has 1,096 yards receiving, making him and Cruz the first pair of Giants WRs to have 1,000 yards in same season. ... DE Jason Pierre-Paul has 13½ sacks, and at least a half-sack in 10 of 14 games this season. ... Jets looking to improve to 7-1 at home, which would match best mark in team history: last set in 1998. ... Burress facing Giants for first time since they released him in 2009 after accidentally shooting himself in November 2008. Later served 20 months in prison on gun charge, and signed with Jets less than two months after release. ... QB Mark Sanchez needs 283 yards passing to top career best of 3,291 set last season. ... RB Shonn Greene needs 59 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the first time in three-year career. Leads AFC with four TDs rushing in December. ... RB LaDainian Tomlinson has 13,599 yards rushing, 64 from passing Jerome Bettis for fifth place on c areer list. ... WR Santonio Holmes has TD catch in four straight games, and he and Burress are only duo from same team in AFC with at least eight TD receptions. ... KR-RB Joe McKnight leads NFL with 32.3 yard kickoff return average, but status was uncertain as he recovers from separated right shoulder and hyperextended right elbow. Oakland (7-7) at Kansas City (6-8)Time: noon Line: Chiefs by 1 Last meeting: Chiefs beat Raiders 28-0, Oct. 23, 2011 Last week: Raiders lost to Lions 28-27; Chiefs beat Packers 19-14


    Audit: Peoria Chiefs losing money

    A pair of audits shows the Chicago Cubs’ Class A affiliate in Peoria is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a season. And one audit raises questions about the long-term ability of the team to continue.

    Images: Vernon Hills vs. Mundelein girls basketball Thursday, Dec. 22 at the 2011 Lady Mustangs Holiday Classic at Mundelein High School.

    Images: Vernon Hills vs. Mundelein girls basketball
    The Vernon Hills Cougars played the Mundelein Mustangs in the first game of Thursday's 2011 Lady Mustangs Holiday Classic basketball tournament at Mundelein High School Dec. 22. Vernon Hills won the game 50-39.

    Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is the new head football coach at Pittsburgh. Under Chryst this season, the Badgers ranked fourth in the nation in scoring.

    Wisconsin’s Chryst takes Pitt job

    Pittsburgh hired Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst on Thursday as its new head football coach. The 46-year-old Chryst is Pitt’s fourth head coach in the last 13 months. Chryst turned Wisconsin’s offense into a high-powered attack that lit up scoreboards across the Big Ten.


    Basketball preview: Northwestern at Creighton
    When: 7 p.m. Thursday at CenturyLink Center in OmahaStreaming video: ESPN3.comRadio: WGN 720-AMThe skinny: This could be a scoring fest. The No. 21-ranked Bluejays are hot, trouncing Tulsa Monday behind Doug McDermott’s 35 points and shooting 58.6 percent from the field as a team. He should have a nice scoring duel with Northwestern’s John Shurna, who had 32 points against EIU Sunday and hit 9 three-pointers. Creighton ranks sixth in the nation in scoring at 86 points per game. The Bluejays average 9.7 3-point makes per game, while the Wildcats are at 9.5 per game.

    Reports are that the Cubs are shopping starting pitcher Matt Garza.

    No shock if Cubs move Garza, too

    This concept has been hard for some people to understand, but the Cubs have been in rebuild mode for two months and, if moving players like Matt Garza makes them better long term, they won't hesitate. "Apparently it was difficult to comprehend when Theo Epstein said, “There is a significant amount of work to do. I’m not going to put a timetable on it, but there’s a lot to do to get this where we want it to be.”

    Images from the Batavia vs. La Lumiere boys basketball game Wednesday, December 21, 2011.

    Images: Batavia vs. La Lumiere boys basketball
    Batavia lost 59-35 to La Lumiere in the semifinals of the Elgin boys basketball holiday tournament.


    In this Dec. 20, 2011, photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks off the floor of the House chamber in Washington.

    Boehner says House leaders accept Senate tax terms

    WASHINGTON — Their isolation complete, House Republicans on Thursday caved to demands by President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats and fellow Republicans for a short-term renewal of payroll tax cuts for all workers.


    AT&T can buy airwaves from Qualcomm to boost LTE

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved AT&T’s $1.9 billion purchase of wireless airwaves from Qualcomm. The approval provided a much-needed boost for the telecom giant, which this week suffered a rejection of its much bigger bid for T-Mobile.After a 3-1 vote approving the deal, AT&T will acquire airwaves that it will use to bolster its high-speed mobile Internet network, known as its fourth-generation LTE network. AT&T is in a dash to keep up with competitor Verizon Wireless, which has built out its network more quickly and also has been on a spectrum-buying spree to keep up with the Internet demands being created by new smartphones and tablets.The commission cited the companies’ argument that the airwaves weren’t going to be used by Qualcomm, therefore a sale doesn’t reduce competition.But Democrat Michael Copps, the only commissioner who voted against the deal, said the transaction would give Verizon and AT&T, the top two carriers, too much dominance. And he said that conditions attached to the deal were too weak.“I could be persuaded, with the right set of pro-consumer conditions, to concur in the transaction,” said Copps, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the year. “While much of the competitive analysis in today’s order is strong, the conditions the commission does attach strike me as falling short of advancing the public interest demand.”The increase in airwaves falls far short of what AT&T was trying to acquire from its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile. Federal antitrust officials blocked that deal.AT&T said that even with the Qualcomm airwaves, it will continue to hunt for spectrum so it can continue to build more robust networks to avoid the dropped calls and slow downloads it experienced when it began to carry its first real smartphone, Apple’s iPhone.Rural carriers had argued against allowing AT&T to store the spectrum for a rainy day. And they wanted rules attached to the deal that would prevent AT&T from striking exclusive deals with consumer electronics makers, as it did with Apple for more than three years.The FCC rejected those requests. But it did require AT&T to allow competitors to roam on its network.Some consumer groups said regulators should allow smaller competitors a chance at scarce airwaves.“AT&T obviously wants more spectrum for itself, and less for potential competitors, but it doesn’t need this spectrum to improve its own offerings,” said Matt Wood, policy director of public interest group Free Press.

    Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. Strong earnings from FedEx and a sharp drop in claims for unemployment benefits sent stocks higher in early trading Thursday.

    Stocks close higher on better job market news

    Encouraging economic reports pushed stocks higher Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points, its third gain in a row. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April 2008, the latest sign that the job market is healing.

    Greg Kirksey talks about the payroll tax cut as he fills his pickup truck up with gas on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 in Little Rock, Ark. Kirksey, a pastor in Little Rock, said a payroll tax increase would be little more than an inconvenience for him, but others are ìtalking about whether to buy dried beans or ground beef to get their protein.

    Americans frustrated by congressional stalemates

    Around the country, people of different backgrounds, incomes and political leanings say they're angry and downright disgusted by the posturing in Washington after the House rejected a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut passed by the Senate, then both chambers adjourned for the holidays.

    In this July 5, 2011 file photo, dedestrians with shopping bags make their way along Fifth Avenue in New York. The U.S. economy grew more slowly in the summer than previously thought because consumers spent less than the government had first estimated. But economists expect growth in the current October-December quarter to be stronger.

    Fewest layoffs since ‘08 as economy strengthens
    The job market is getting healthier, adding to evidence that the economy is improving as 2011 nears an end. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level since April 2008, the government said. The report suggested that layoffs are slowing further and that employers may be ready to hire more aggressively in the new year.

    Workers at the Chollima Steel Mill Complex stand in front of a large mosaic of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on the western outskirts of Pyongyang on Thursday Dec. 22, 2011.

    North Korea reforms may languish amid leader transition

    Tentative economic reforms in North Korea may languish as its next leader focuses on consolidating support in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death, experts said. North Koreans are turning inward as they observe an 11-day mourning period following Kim’s death Saturday, with business and commerce largely at a standstill, according to reports from Pyongyang.

    In this Dec. 20, 2011 file photo, traders John Panin, center, and Robert Charmay, right, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. European markets bounced back Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, as the traditional holiday slowdown began in earnest, rising a day after investors were rattled by the European Central Bank’s huge loans to bolster the continent’s banks.

    Better job market news sends stocks edging higher

    Encouraging economic reports are sending stocks slightly higher in midday trading Thursday. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April 2008, the latest sign that the job market is healing.

    Apple Inc. is unlikely to win a ban on sales of Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy 10.1N tablet computer, a modified version introduced after sales of the original tablet were blocked, a German court said. “Consumers are well aware that there is an original and that competitors try to use similar designs, so buyers are vigilant when looking at products,” the judge said. “We don't think that someone buys a Samsung to make his table neighbor at the coffee house believe he owns an iPad.”

    Apple unlikely to win ban on Samsung Galaxy 10.1N, court says

    Apple Inc. is unlikely to win a ban on sales of Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy 10.1N tablet computer, a modified version introduced after sales of the original tablet were blocked, a German court said. “Consumers are well aware that there is an original and that competitors try to use similar designs, so buyers are vigilant when looking at products,” the judge said. “We don't think that someone buys a Samsung to make his table neighbor at the coffee house believe he owns an iPad.”

    Employees of Spain's Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi SA had to party without the penguins this year. The Antarctic animals sporting Rovi's scales logo welcomed workers to past Christmas celebrations at the Faunia nature theme park in Madrid. The drugmaker cut this year's budget by almost 60 percent to about 25,000 euros ($32,600), Chief Financial Officer Javier Lopez-Belmonte said. Christmas parties have gone the way of Spain's AAA credit rating.

    Penguins out in cold as Spanish firms freeze holiday spending

    Employees of Spain's Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi SA had to party without the penguins this year. The Antarctic animals sporting Rovi's scales logo welcomed workers to past Christmas celebrations at the Faunia nature theme park in Madrid. The drugmaker cut this year's budget by almost 60 percent to about 25,000 euros ($32,600), Chief Financial Officer Javier Lopez-Belmonte said. Christmas parties have gone the way of Spain's AAA credit rating.


    Italy’s government faces confidence vote

    Italian Premier Mario Monti is facing a vote of confidence in the Senate that would signal parliamentary approval of the government’s (euro) 30 billion ($39 billion) package of tax and pension changes.


    Air China controlling shareholder to boost stake over 12 Months

    Air China Ltd. shareholder China National Aviation Holding Co. plans to buy as much as 2 percent of the airline’s total yuan-denominated shares within a year, Air China said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today.China National Aviation bought 13.8 million A shares in Air China in the open market yesterday, comprising a 0.11 percent stake, the airline said. The controlling shareholder does not plan to sell any shares in the company during the next 12 months, it said.


    Suspicious package found at Italian Stock Exchange

    Several suspicious packages have been identified in public offices in Milan, including the Italian Stock Exchange, according to a regional health official. Giorgio Ciconali, a health official for the Lombardy region, said the packages were discovered in the last 24 hours. Police and fire department officers, including hazardous materials specialists, were outside the stock exchange at 11:30 a.m. A spokeswoman for the exchange said the bourse’s offices weren’t evacuated.


    Most Chinese microblogs adopt real name rules

    BEIJING — More Chinese cities are requiring users of Twitter-like microblog services to register with their real names, state media said Thursday, in a move likely to deter many online voices.China has more than 485 million Internet users, the most of any country in the world. Sites that are deemed politically destabilizing or pornographic are routinely blocked, but microblogs have been widely used to share information not available in the state media.China blocked Twitter and Facebook after they were instrumental in anti-government protests in Iran two years ago, and instead encouraged homegrown alternatives in the apparent belief that domestic companies would be more responsive to government demands.The official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday that the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen have adopted rules requiring users of microblogs based there to use their real names.Last week, Beijing introduced similar guidelines which affected the hugely popular Weibo microblog service run by Sina Corp. With the rules expanded to Shenzhen, Weibo rival Tencent must follow suit.Xinhua said the rules would “purify the Internet environment, as fake and fraudulent information is often seen spreading through microblogs.”An editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper on Thursday defended the rules against critics who have suggested they are a blow to free speech. It said they were necessary to prevent misuse of the Internet.“Regardless of whether it is in China or the West, there are always some users who use the Web to spread rumors, or even engage in criminal activities,” it said.Government officials warned in October that tighter guidelines for social media sites were coming. Officials said then they were concerned about people using the Internet to spread lies and rumors. But the government is also clearly worried about the use of Weibo and other sites to mobilize potentially destabilizing protest movements.Microblogs helped mobilize 12,000 people in the northeastern city of Dalian to successfully demand the relocation of a petrochemical factory and served as an outlet for public anger after a crash on the showcase high-speed rail system in which at least 40 people died. They also have given a national platform to a handful of independent candidates who have run this year for local legislative councils.

    Traffic is dense on a main artery into Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. A 24-hour pre-Christmas public sector strike to protest pension reform hit rail and bus traffic across Belgium, but major airports were operating close to normal.

    Strikes over austerity hit Europe holiday travel

    Strikes to protest austerity measures paralyzed ground traffic in Belgium and hit Christmas travelers in several nations across Europe, promising days of headaches through the holidays. Workers were walking off the job to show their ire at budget-slashing measures by their governments to tackle debt and high deficits, and officials were scrambling to try to mitigate delays and cancellations.


    Central Ind. companies plan expansions, 365 jobs

    INDIANAPOLIS — Two central Indiana companies are expanding with plans to add 365 jobs over the next four years. Quality inspectors Stratosphere Quality LLC and financial software provider Archway Technology Partners Inc. announced their plans Wednesday with Gov. Mitch Daniels at the Statehouse. Stratosphere plans to spend $2.4 million at its Fishers offices and hire 225 new workers by 2015. Archway plans to spend $1.7 million doubling the size of its Indianapolis offices and adding 140 new jobs by 2015.The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is offering Stratosphere up to $1.7 million if it follows through with its job promises. The IEDC is offering Archway up to $2.5 million in conditional aid.

    Did you know you are not allowed to tip post office employees?

    Last minute tips: Who gets thanked, and how much?

    Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” influence your holiday tipping decisions this year. The newspaper carrier who never misses a delivery, the dog walker who shows up each day while you’re at work, the overnight doorman at your apartment complex. Here are some guides for last-minute tipping.


    Postal Service warns of bogus delivery emails

    The U.S. Postal Service is warning its customers of a bogus email about a package delivery. The agency said some customers are receiving emails that claim to be from the Postal Service and contain fraudulent information about an attempted or intercepted package delivery.

    There is a lot of temptation for criminals this time of year. Packages are dropped off at eye-popping speed: UPS delivers about 300 packages per second the week before Christmas. During its busy season, the company says, volume increases by about 10 million packages a day, offering easy pickings to criminals who can quickly sell the goods on the black market.

    Surge in online shopping a boon for thieves

    There is a lot of temptation for criminals this time of year. Packages are dropped off at eye-popping speed: UPS delivers about 300 packages per second the week before Christmas. During its busy season, the company says, volume increases by about 10 million packages a day, offering easy pickings to criminals who can quickly sell the goods on the black market.

Life & Entertainment


    Grandmother Mauer's Frosted Oatmeal Cookies
    Grandmother Mauer's rosted Oatmeal Cookies: Don Mauer


    Continuing grandmother's tradition of home-baked gifts

    Holidays, food and families have been woven together, like braids on a challah loaf or strands of colored beads on a Christmas tree, since time now forgotten and continues to be true for me. When I was a kid, the parade of holidays always stepped-off with Thanksgiving and since my folks couldn't decide whether we should be with Mom's family or dad's folks we settled on being with both. This didn't happen just once, but for many years. If you ever wondered how I got to be more than 300 pounds, knowing just that bit of holiday history should be enlightening.


    Some borrowers hoping to refinance with HARP loan face delays

    The government’s revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program could save many owners from foreclosure, but computer-related problems will prevent some from getting help until next spring.

    McHenry's new Italian restaurant, Marzano's, makes wood-fired pizzas.

    Eating out: Pizza and Paula Deen

    McHenry welcomes a new pizza and pasta restaurant, Marzano's: Food Network star Paula Deen brings her southern creations to a Joliet casino; and Tokio Pub features tacos on the menu on Mondays.


    Have a festive, frugal Christmas

    Christmas is almost here. This week, I've compiled reader tips that will help you hide gifts, have frugal holiday fun, make a couple of gifts for kids and pets.

    A young lad (Jeremy Irvine), center, befriends a magnificent, spirited show horse in Steven Spielberg's epic “War Horse.”

    Spielberg rides anti-war message in ‘War Horse'

    “War Horse” gets stranded in the no man's land between a heartfelt, tear-jerker family film and a gritty, tear-jerker war movie.Yet, this is a beautifully rendered motion picture photographed by Oscar-winning Columbia College grad Janusz Kaminski and scored with emo-button-pushing music by John Williams. That's more than enough to compensate for Steven Spielberg's bumbling narrative schizophrenia.

    Willie Nile, whose three-decade career has won him admirers like Bono, Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, recently released “The Innocent Ones.”

    Willie Nile's ‘Innocent Ones' strikes a chord

    He's a cheerfully noniconic rocker, with old-school cool oozing from every pore. Over three decades of musical exploits, Willie Nile has earned a global cult following, including marquee-name admirers like Bono, Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Now Nile is enjoying enthusiastic audiences worldwide for his party-hearty yet socially conscious new album, “The Innocent Ones.”

    George Hamilton plays gay nightclub owner Georges and Christopher Sieber plays his partner Albin in the national tour of “La Cage Aux Folles,” running through Jan. 1 at Chicago's Bank of America Theatre.

    Sieber impresses, Hamilton flounders in ‘La Cage Aux Folles'

    Christopher Sieber is terrific as a flamboyant diva plagued by midlife insecurity in Broadway in Chicago's touring production of 2010's Tony Award-winning musical, “La Cage Aux Folles,” starring George Hamilton as gay nightclub owner Georges and Sieber as his longtime partner Albin. With Sieber at the helm, “La Cage” sails smoothly. But when Hamilton takes over, the show tends to flounder.

    British singer George Michael has been released from a Vienna hospital after being treated for pneumonia.

    George Michael healthy, home for Christmas

    Austria’s state broadcaster says British pop star George Michael has been released from a Vienna hospital and will be able to celebrate Christmas at home.

    Melanie Amaro wowed the judges of Fox's “The X Factor” during Wednesday's final performance, prompting head judge Simon Cowell to declare that Amaro should win the show's grand prize.

    Cowell backs Amaro to win ‘The X Factor'

    “The X Factor” judges didn't want to stop listening to Melanie Amaro. The powerful 19-year-old vocalist from Sunrise, Fla., wowed the Fox talent competition's panel with her soaring rendition of Beyonce's “Listen” during Wednesday's final performance round, prompting head judge Simon Cowell to declare that Amaro should win the show's grand prize: a $5 million recording contract and a starring role in a Pepsi commercial.

    Two love-crossed stars in the silent cinema (Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo) find redemption and each other in the silent, black-and-white feature "The Artist."

    Touching silent film ‘The Artist' speaks volumes

    The idea of watching a black-and-white silent movie (with the exception of two comical slips) probably sounds pretty lame, but “The Artist” is an inventive, cleverly constructed poem to cinema that's surprisingly moving, very funny and a tad sad.

    Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) makes friends with one of residents at his new home in Cameron Crowe's “We Bought a Zoo.”

    ‘We Bought a Zoo' a story of hope and heart

    In "We Bought a Zoo," Cameron Crowe stuffs this comic drama with movie magical moments, most of them involving Matt Damon, wild animals, and the effusively cute Maggie Elizabeth Jones as his 7-year-old daughter Rosie. Damon carries this movie, and his restrained performance as an optimistic risk-taker gives the story its heart and narrative glue.

    Tintin, left, voiced by Jamie Bell, Haddock, voiced by Andy Serkis, and Snowy await rescue in a scene from “The Adventures of Tintin.”

    ‘Tintin' an adventure for Spielberg, Jackson

    Steven Spielberg hopes he's the typical American when it comes to Tintin: the filmmaker had never heard of the guy, but once he got acquainted, they became friends for life. Peter Jackson has known Tintin since before he could read. Together, the two Academy Award-winning filmmakers hope to achieve something that eluded Belgian artist and writer Herge with his Tintin books: a place for his hero in North America.

    A cat eats some illegal hormone juice and turns into a human (Carice van Houten) with a penchant for climbing trees in the Dutch children's movie "Miss Minoes."

    'Miss Minoes' is simple ... too simple

    Dann reviews the new catty kiddie movie "Miss Minoes" and interviews the director/writer of the new silent, black-and-white comedy romance "The Artist."



    Government by brinkmanship failing the nation

    A Daily Herald editorial says that leaders of both parties are to blame for gridlock that is threatening the health of the nation.


    Christmas choices

    Kids who grow up as nothing lose something that is very important. That something matters more than feeling left out when Santa skips your house. It defines us in critical ways, gives us comfort in difficult times, gives us faith when that is all there is.


    The temptation of Callista Gingrich

    The Gingriches may be utterly sincere in action and pure of motive — no better or worse than any other politician who weighs every sound bite and photo op for optimum effect. But this aspiring first wife has tread where few others have dared — stepping out front to slay her husband’s foe.


    Hippocratic oath needs an update
    As a doctor of philosophy specializing in economics and the quality of life, I have had ample opportunity in recent decades to observe the rise of our $2 trillion sickcare/health care industry and its component parts.


    ‘Family values’ report was balanced
    A Grayslake letter to the editor: I checked the Florida Family Association website and found the association’s opinions to be very balanced in its reporting of extremist Muslim threats


    There’s intolerance in ‘happy holidays’
    Not that it matters, but just for the record, I’m a non-Christian who loves Christmas. So smile and wish me a “merry Christmas.” I’ll smile and wish it right back at ya.


    Postage stamps still a relative bargain
    Throughout the years wages and the cost of postage have increased. Postage, however, has increased at a much slower rate and service has eroded.


    Mainstream media ignore big news
    Letter to the Editor: Mainstream media hopes by ignoring poor decisions uninformed voters and the nearly 50 percent that receive government assistance will vote for more Hope and Change.


    Don’t support failed right wing ideology
    Letter to the Editor: It’s time for voters to be rational, and remove from office those who subscribe to the failed right-wing ideologies that we’ve used to develop policies for the past 30 years. Otherwise, we’re doomed to continue the downward slide to Third World nation status.


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