Daily Archive : Sunday December 16, 2012


    Diego Vera, 6, of Carol Stream, and his sister, Leslie, 8, open a traditional 1890s Christmas gift call a “snowball” Sunday while visiting Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago for a historical interpretation of an 1890s DuPage County Christmas.

    Kline Creek Farm shows how different Christmas was 120 years ago

    Kline Creek Farm this weekend found out what Christmas was like in DuPage County in the 1890s.One of the history interpreters, Dennis Buck, said Christmas back then had less decorating, and less gift-giving. Another difference is that Kline Creek Farm already decorated the house, but in the 1890s, they would have waited until Christmas Eve.

    North Central College’s new Sesquicentennial Walkway will serve as a pedestrian thoroughfare through the heart of the downtown Naperville campus.

    North Central opens Sesquicentennial Walkway

    North Central College's new Sesquicentennial Walkway is open to foot traffic and will serve as a new pedestrian thoroughfare through the heart of the downtown Naperville campus. The Sesquicentennial Walkway is a 16-foot-wide path extending between Jefferson and Benton avenues and located in a former alleyway between Brainard and Loomis streets.

    Matthew Barker

    Man charged after joke text prompts investigation

    A St. Charles man was arrested on Friday after sending text messages that falsely claimed he had been kidnapped, Chicago Police said on Sunday. Matthew Barker, 32, of the 34800 block of South James, was charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct for false reporting, according to police.

    President Barack Obama speaks during an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn.

    Obama offers ‘love, prayers of nation’ to Newtown

    A mournful President Barack Obama said Sunday that the nation is failing to keep its children safe, pledging that change must come after an elementary-school massacre left 20 children dead. “I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depth of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.”


    Police looking for men in Naperville battery

    Naperville Police are looking for two men related to a battery at happened early Sunday morning, officials said.

    Noah Pozner

    Remembering the victims

    Most died at the very start of their young lives, tiny victims taken in a way not fit for anyone regardless of age. Others found their life’s work in sheltering little ones, teaching them, caring for them, treating them as their own. A glimpse of some of those who died during Friday's school shootings in Newtown, Conn.:

    This publicity film image released by Warner Bros., shows Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a scene from the fantasy adventure “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” “The Hobbit” made nearly $90 million in its first weekend of release in the U.S. breaking the previous record set by “I Am Legend” starring Will Smith.

    ‘Hobbit’ sets December box office record

    Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” led the box office with a haul of $84.8 million, a record-setting opening better than the three previous “Lord of the Rings” films. The Warner Bros. Middle Earth epic was the biggest December opening ever, surpassing Will Smith’s “I Am Legend,” which opened with $77.2 million in 2007, according to studio estimates Sunday.

    Sen. John Kerry is viewed as the front-runner to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

    On foreign policy, Kerry is Obama’s good soldier

    Democratic Sen. John Kerry stands tall as President Barack Obama’s good soldier. The Massachusetts lawmaker has flown to Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times to tamp down diplomatic disputes, spending hours drinking tea and taking walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai or engaging in delicate negotiations in Islamabad.

    Former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is President Barack Obama’s top candidate for defense secretary,

    Pentagon front-runner has strong Obama ties

    As President Barack Obama’s top candidate for defense secretary, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is a contrarian Republican moderate and decorated Vietnam combat veteran who is likely to support a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

    Gun owners and supporters participate in an Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day rally at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield last March 7. The issue of whether people have a right to be armed in public is moving closer to a Supreme Court review.

    Illinois faces difficult choices with gun law

    State lawmakers who are bitterly divided whether to legalize the concealed carry of weapons now have six months to do it — or they may end up with no say in the matter after a federal appeals court threw out the state’s concealed gun ban last week.

    Military tanks deployed in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday. Key Egyptian rights groups called Sunday for a repeat of the first round of the constitutional referendum, alleging the vote was marred by widespread violations. Islamists who back the disputed charter claimed they were in the lead with a majority of “yes” votes.

    Mistrust runs deep over Egypt referendum

    Rights activists and opponents of the constitution said Sunday that the first round of voting a day earlier was marred by widespread violations, including suppression of voting by opponents of the charter, particularly women, Christians. A coalition of rights groups said the first round was invalid and should be held over again.

    Mark Sherlach and his wife, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, pose for a photo. Mary Sherlach was killed by the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday.

    Staffers hailed as heroes after Conn. shooting

    Out of the ruins of families that lost a precious child, sister or mother, out of a tight-knit town roiling with grief, glows one bright spot: the stories of staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School who may have prevented further carnage through selfless actions and smart snap judgments.

    Larry Buske

    Rolling Meadows alderman dies after battle with cancer

    Rolling Meadows alderman and longtime community member Larry Buske died Sunday after battling lung cancer for more than a year. “That big bear loved three things: people, nature and the city of Rolling Meadows,” said Mayor Tom Rooney, who worked with Buske for eight years.

    State Rep. Daniel Biss is the chief sponsor of House Resolution 1193, which addresses the violent attacks on Sikh Americans, Muslim Americans and other minorities, as well as denounces hate crimes and hateful political rhetoric. Biss spoke Sunday during a ceremony at the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine.

    Sikh community gathers to commemorate anti-hate resolution

    When the South Asian and Sikh community planned an event to commend the Illinois House of Representatives on a resolution denouncing hate crimes, they expected to refer back to an August shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Instead, a moment of silence came for those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. “We can’t pretend this does not happen here," State Rep. Michelle...

    Brothers Thomas, 13, left, and Steven Leuci, 9, pay their respects at a memorial for shooting victims near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The incident has caused schools nationwide to review their security procedures.

    Schools around US increase security after massacre

    Schools around the country are reviewing security plans, adding extra law enforcement patrols and readying counselors for the first day of classes since a shooting massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut.


    CPS officials rely on existing safety plans

    Chicago Public Schools officials say no additional safety procedures will take effect Monday when students return to their classrooms after a deadly school shooting in Connecticut claimed the lives of 26 people. The nation’s third largest school district is relying on existing safety and emergency management plans to keep more than 400,000 students safe.


    Elgin drunken driver gets 5 years

    A repeat drunken driver from Elgin who authorities said was driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit recently was sentenced to five years in prison by a Kane County judge. Holly M. Deihs, 34, of the 500 block of South State Street, was sentenced by Judge Marmarie Kostelny after pleading guilty to a fourth DUI, according to court records.

    A man clutches two sobbing women at the site of a makeshift memorial for school shooting victims at the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. A gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town, killing 26 people, including 20 children before killing himself on Friday.

    Images: Day 3 from Newton, Connecticut
    Towns people attended makeshift memorials and church services Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 in memory of the lost lives by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. On Friday, a gunman allegedly killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the school, killing 26 people, including 20 children.

    Cheryl Girardi, of Middletown, Conn., kneels beside 26 teddy bears, each representing a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at a sidewalk memorial Sunday in Newtown, Conn.

    Evidence hints at deadlier plan in Conn. massacre

    The gunman in the Connecticut shooting rampage shot his mother four times in the head before going to the school and gunning down 26, authorities said Sunday as details emerged suggesting that Adam Lanza had planned an even more gruesome massacre but was stopped short.

    Gun owners and supporters participate in an Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day rally at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield in March. The next big issue in the national debate over guns – whether people have a right to be armed in public – is moving closer to Supreme Court review.

    High court fight looms over right to carry a gun

    The next big issue in the national debate over guns — whether people have a right to be armed in public — is moving closer to Supreme Court review. A provocative ruling by a panel of federal appeals court judges in Chicago struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois. The ruling is somewhat at odds with those of other federal courts that have largely...

    Cody Simpson performs during the Jingle Bash concert at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Saturday, December 15th, 2012.

    Images: Jingle Bash Concert, Allstate Arena
    The Jingle Bash holiday concert rolled into the Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Saturday night. Justin Bieber was the headliner but there were also performances by Calvin Harris, Ryan Beatty, Austin Mahone, Carley Rae Jepsen, Cody Simpson, Psy, Afrojack and Pitbull


    Illinois' Myke Henry (20) and Nnanna Egwu (32) fight for possession of the ball with Eastern Kentucky's guard Tarius Johnson (34) in the second half at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., Sunday. Illinois won 66-53.

    Paul, Abrams lead No. 10 Illini over E Kentucky

    Brandon Paul scored 17 points, Tracy Abrams added 13 and No. 10 Illinois pulled away late to remain unbeaten with a 66-53 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday night. In a game between undefeated teams, the Illini led by 11 early but needed a late 12-2 run to gain control and help John Groce become only the second coach in Illinois history to win his first 12 games.

    Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches the action during Sunday’s game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Enough is enough: Time to send Smith packing

    This one play alone, after too many of them over too many years, should be enough to get Lovie Smith fired.

    The Packer’s Aaron Rodgers is hit by the Bears’ Julius Peppers, who was called for roughing the passer on the play, during Sunday’s game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Bears get to Rodgers early, but then pressure disappears

    The Bears' dormant pass rush started off strong, sacking Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice in the first quarter, but it couldn't maintain the pressure and ultimately Rodgers produced another excellent performance.


    Bears’ offense proves utterly inept

    Season-long failures by the Bears' offense continued in Sunday's 21-13 loss to the Packers, and the frustration appears to be getting to record-setting wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

    The Bears’ Jay Cutler shows second half frustration after his down field pass, during Sunday’s game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Seems just about over now for Bears, Lovie

    The Bears looked and sounded like a beaten team after Sunday's loss to Green Bay, and it's fair to wonder now whether they can handle Arizona or Detroit.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) during Sunday’s game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Playoffs?!? Not after Packers beat Bears 21-13

    The Bears playoff chances took a serious shot in a 21-13 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field, their fifth loss in six games and their sixth straight loss to their NFC North rivals, who clinched the division title and improved to 10-4, while the losers dropped to 8-6.

    San Diego Chargers’ Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle watch as Carolina Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams(34) and Cam Newton(1) celebrate their 45-yard touchdown pass during the first half Sunday in San Diego.

    Panthers eliminate Chargers from playoff picture

    SAN DIEGO — Mike Tolbert came back to San Diego with his touchdown dance intact and “a whole bag of chips” on his shoulder, and helped assure that the Chargers will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.Tolbert scored twice against his former team and DeAngelo Williams turned a tipped pass from Cam Newton into a 45-yard touchdown reception to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 31-7 victory against the punchless Chargers on Sunday.Carolina (5-9) won consecutive games for the first time since last December. “It’s a great feeling to be able to score the first two touchdowns back here,” Tolbert said. “It’s indescribable.”The Chargers (5-9) clinched their first losing season since 2003, when they were an NFL-worst 4-12. Coach Norv Turner is expected to be fired at season’s end, most likely along with general manager A.J. Smith. The Chargers did a face-plant a week after upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-24 to remain mathematically, if not realistically, alive in the playoff picture.Some of that might have had to do with Tolbert extensively briefing the defense about his former team. Also, Panthers coach Ron Rivera was with the Chargers from 2007-2010, first as inside linebackers coach and then defensive coordinator. Also, Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is a former Chargers tight ends coach.“Now that the game is over, I can go ahead and say it. I gave a lot of tips to our defense about their offense, the keys, the checks, the audibles and stuff like that.” Tolbert said. “I think that helped. I think they had less than 200 yards of offense. Our defense played great, so it definitely helped.”Tolbert, who left San Diego as a free agent in March, capped Carolina’s first two drives with 1-yard scoring runs. Tolbert leaped over the top of the pile for his first TD to cap the game’s opening drive, which went 80 yards in 13 plays.“They don’t think a little fat man can jump but I can definitely get up,” Tolbert said.His second TD was set up when Philip Rivers lost a fumble. Tolbert went in standing up for a 14-0 lead.Both times he did his TD dance, the Dougie.“That’s in my nature. I’m a guy that loves to have fun when I’m playing games, so I’m going to dance regardless,” he said.“You can’t critique that,” said Newton, who cut his right index finger just before halftime and twisted an ankle, but said he’ll be OK. “He has a wild range of moves in his repertoire. I don’t think even he knows what he’s going to do.” Tolbert said his split from San Diego wasn’t about money.“Some things happened between myself and the front office that I’d rather not get into,” said Tolbert, who’s on a long list of players shown the door by Smith, in danger of losing his job because of glaring roster deficiencies. “Let’s say things didn’t happen the way we thought they were going to happen.”Tolbert doubled his touchdown production this season. His two touchdowns in a span of 3:35 were one more than San Diego running back Ryan Mathews has this season. Mathews broke his left collarbone in the second quarter. Mathews broke his right collarbone in the exhibition opener.“Anytime you know about the personnel it helps you game-plan, especially on defense,” Rivera said. “Knowing about Gates, knowing about Malcom Floyd, knowing about Philip, that was huge.”Said Newton: “It was kind of a gift or a curse to a degree because there was a lot of familiarity coming into this game with a lot of coaches on each other’s staff before, knowing what they were trying to get done. But it came down to the players executing.”Rivers lost another fumble in the fourth quarter, his 22nd turnover this season and 47th in less than two full seasons. He was sacked six times. Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson had two each.San Diego lost for the eighth time in 10 games, and dropped its third straight home game.

    Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells (26) stiff-arms Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) during the second half Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

    Cardinals beat Lions 38-10 to end 9-game skid

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — For a change, the Arizona Cardinals were the ones taking advantage of the mistakes of others.The Cardinals turned four turnovers by Detroit into touchdowns, including Greg Toler’s 102-yard interception return — the longest in franchise history — to beat the Lions 38-10 on Sunday and end a nine-game losing streak.Arizona’s first victory in 2½ months came a week after a 58-0 loss in Seattle, the most one-sided defeat in the long history of the Cardinals franchise.It was the Cardinals’ first win since beating Miami on Sept. 30, and it sent the Lions to their sixth straight loss.The Cardinals (5-9) intercepted Matthew Stafford three times, returning two of them for scores and setting up a TD with the other. Rashad Johnson brought back a pick 53 yards for a touchdown to cap Arizona’s 21-point second quarter. Patrick Peterson’s seventh interception of the season set up another score.“That’s about as bad as I can play,” Stafford said. Another TD by Arizona came after Detroit (4-10) muffed a punt.Detroit’s Calvin Johnson became the first player in NFL history with consecutive 1,600-yard receiving seasons and tied an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game.Johnson caught 10 passes for 121 yards. With two games to play, he needs 182 yards to break Jerry Rice’s NFL single-season record of 1,848 set 17 years ago. Johnson’s 3,348 yards receiving in the past two seasons are NFL record for consecutive years, one more than Rice’s total in 1994-95.But Johnson’s big numbers were the only bright spots on an afternoon when the Lions’ season turned from bad to worse.Coach Jim Schwartz, whose team made the playoffs a year ago, was “as mad as I’ve been for a long time.”“This team, the Cardinals, they lost a game last week because of turnovers, because of eight turnovers,” Schwartz said. “We went into the game wanting to take care of the football, wanting to establish the run. We did a poor job of both of those.”Arizona’s Beanie Wells had touchdown runs of 5, 1 and 31 yards.The Cardinals, who avoided tying the franchise record for consecutive losses in the season, had gone 11 quarters without a touchdown before getting three of them in the second quarter Sunday.“There was a lot of talk about if our team had quit,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “When it was 7-0 (Detroit) and we were punting the ball there, I didn’t see any quit in our guys.”On that punt, the return man Stefan Logan, trying to make a fair catch, had his feet knocked out from under him by teammate Pat Lee, who was trying to block Michael Adams. Adams chased the ball down at the Detroit 5, and Wells scored on the next play up the middle to tie it at 7 with 9:18 left in the half.Two possessions later, a pair of false-start penalties pushed the Lions back to their 2-yard line. Stafford overthrew Johnson, and Peterson made a leaping interception, falling to his backside after he caught the ball. He scrambled to his feet and returned 29 yards to the Detroit 3. Two plays later, Wells scored from the 1 and the Lions led 14-7.After a pair of incompletions and a false start, the Lions had it third-and-15 from their 43 when Stafford threw in the direction of Tony Scheffler. Rashad Johnson saw it all the way, intercepting it and running down the right sideline for the score to make it 21-7 with 30 seconds left in the half.Jay Feely’s 51-yard field goal that made it 24-7 with 9:19 left in the third quarter, then five minutes later Jason Hanson’s 41-yarder cut the lead to 24-10.A 30-yard pass to Calvin Johnson highlighted a drive that had Detroit threatening to cut the lead to a touchdown in the final quarter. A delay of game penalty negated a TD pass, then on fourth-and-2 from the 4, Stafford’s pass into the end zone went right into the arms of Toler, who with a brigade of blockers ran the length of the field for the score that made it 31-10 with 5:07 to play.


    DePaul defeats Northern Illinois 69-64

    ROSEMONT, Ill. — Northern Illinois gave Brandon Young and DePaul fits Sunday before the Blue Demons decided they needed to finally put the Huskies away.Young scored a team-high 15 points, including two free throws in the final seconds, to help secure a 69-64 non-conference victory.“We realized at the last second that it’s time for us to fight and that’s what we did,” Young said.DePaul (8-3) ran its winning streak to six as Jamee Crockett had 14 points and Cleveland Melvin added 12. Abdel Nader, playing in only his second game since serving a seven-game suspension, scored a game-high 20 points for Northern Illinois (2-7) while Akeem Springs added 11.DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said his Blue Demons finally caught fire in the last six minutes.“We call that winning time and clearly our guys did a good job,” he said. “We got all the big rebounds, we handled the ball under pressure, we made our free throws and every one of them was critical.”Young hit a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to play to open a 67-64 lead after Springs put the Huskies back in contention with back-to-back 3-pointers in a 14-second span.The last came with 16 seconds to play and trimmed DePaul’s lead to 65-64.The game came a day after DePaul and six other Catholic universities announced that they will withdraw from the Big East Conference in 2015 and form their own, yet-to-be-named league.The Blue Demons padded the edge early in the second half, pulling out to a 40-33 lead on Durrell McDonald’s 3-pointer at the 15:09 mark. But the Huskies bounced back as Nader scored six points and guard Mike Davis added a bank shot to force a 49-49 tie with 8:02 remaining.There were four lead changes and a tie until Crockett’s 3-pointer with 4:05 to play gave DePaul the lead for good at 57-56.Springs prevented DePaul from locking down by hitting two 3-pointers in a 14-second span, but Young’s free throws restored the Demons’ 67-64 lead with 15.6 seconds showing. “Our guys came out competing, playing hard,” said Huskies coach Mark Montgomery. “We had a chance to win this thing.”The Blue Demons led through much of the opening half but couldn’t pull away from the pesky Huskies. DePaul appeared poised for a run after a Crockett dunk gave the Demons their biggest lead at 22-16, but Northern Illinois replied with six consecutive points, including back-to-back steals and baskets from Davis, that forced a 22-22 tie with 7:32 remaining.The Huskies grabbed a temporary 24-23 lead on a layup by Aksel Bolin and held a 31-27 lead with 2:01 showing. But a pair of Charles McKinney free throws and two straight Young jumpers in an 8-second span in the final minute gave DePaul a 33-31 halftime lead. DePaul now holds a 25-6 series lead over Northern Illinois and has beaten the Huskies in three straight meetings.Young was presented with the Jay Goedert Award as the game’s outstanding player. The award was named for the former DePaul and Northern Illinois assistant coach who died in 2004.Northern Illinois opens a two-game western swing on Wednesday at Seattle University, while DePaul hosts Maryland-Baltimore at 1 p.m. Saturday.

    Miami Dolphins guard John Jerry (74) fumbles the ball after quarterback Ryan Tannehill lost it following a sack during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday in Miami.

    Dolphins stop Chad Henne and Jaguars, 24-3

    MIAMI — Ryan Tannehill took some hits when he came to the sideline following the Miami Dolphins’ final score.The rookie weaved along the bench playfully jostled by a nudge to the ribs, slaps on the helmet and whacks on the back. It was standard stuff as NFL celebrations go, but unusual for Tannehill and Miami’s offense.The Dolphins snapped their scoring slump with a ball-control attack, while the defense made three stops on fourth down and benefited from an odd penalty to help beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-3.“It feels good to go out and execute the game plan, have some fun, have some long sustained drives and convert third downs,” Tannehill said. “It was a lot of fun.”While Tannehill had a season-high passer rating of 123.2, counterpart Chad Henne failed to reach the end zone playing in Miami for the first time since he departed as a Dolphins bust last offseason. Tannehill went 22 for 28 for 220 yards and two scores with no interceptions, and he ran eight times for 52 yards. Reggie Bush ran for 104 yards, including a 53-yarder, while Dan Carpenter kicked field goals of 53, 30 and 31 yards.Miami (6-8), ranked near the bottom of the league in points and yards, had 26 first downs and won for only the second time in the past seven games. “These are the types of games we need to have more of,” Bush said. “We dominated a team we were supposed to beat.”The Jaguars (2-12) only helped their chances of getting the No. 1 draft pick next April.“We were not as disciplined as we have been — or we will be,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “Every time we take a step forward, we take two steps back. I take total blame for that.”Henne threw for 221 yards with no turnovers, but Jacksonville had the ball for just 14 minutes in the final three periods. The Dolphins’ first four possessions of the second half resulted in clock-eating drives of 76, 60, 64 and 85 yards.With the score tied, an illegal-substitution penalty cost Jacksonville a touchdown in the second quarter. Henne threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Justin Blackmon, but the play was negated because Guy Whimper had entered the game as a third tackle — as he had done five times earlier — without reporting as an eligible receiver.Whimper said he did report, but the official apparently didn’t understand him.“He reported to the offense a hundred times this year, and 400 times in practice,” Mularkey said. “Today, for some reason, I was told he didn’t report. He said he reported, but the official has to confirm it.”Instead of the score, the Jaguars retreated to their 25 and eventually lost possession when Henne was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 sneak.Jacksonville had another touchdown taken off the board in the final two minutes. Cecil Shorts’ 4-yard scoring reception was instead ruled incomplete when a replay review determined he failed to come down in bounds. On the next play, Henne threw incomplete on fourth down. The stadium was only half full, a reflection of the matchup between two teams out of the playoff race, and just a few thousand fans remained to applaud the home team as the clock ran out.The Dolphins’ first touchdown came when they converted three third downs in a 14-play, 89-yard drive that ended with Tannehill’s 4-yard scoring pass to fullback Jorvorski Lane. Tannehill went 6 for 6 on the drive.Leading 10-3, the Dolphins tried a fake field goal at the Jacksonville 5, but holder Brandon Fields’ pass fell incomplete. Miami quickly forced a punt, and Bush’s long run set up another field-goal situation. This time, Carpenter kicked a 30-yarder.Karlos Dansby stopped Henne on fourth down at the Miami 11, and Jason Trusnik tackled Montell Owens for no gain on fourth and 1 at the 15 early in the fourth quarter.The Dolphins sewed up the victory with an 85-yard drive that took nine minutes of the fourth quarter and ended with Tannehill’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.

    Bears head coach Lovie Smith reacts after a Packers touchdown in the first half of Sunday’s game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Images: Bears vs. Packers

    The Chicago Bears, with a shot at the playoffs on the line, hosted the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday, December 16th. The Bears fell 21-13 to the Packers, who clinched the NFC North division.

    Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works during the first half against New York Giants, Sunday in Atlanta.

    Ryan throws 3 TD passes, Falcons rout Giants 34-0

    ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons sent a message to all the skeptics with a resounding victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes and the Falcons defense handed New York its first regular-season shutout since 1996, stifling the Giants 34-0 on Sunday.Julio Jones caught a couple of scoring throws from Ryan, who broke his own franchise records for completions and passing yards in a season. Matty Ice finished 23 of 28 for 270 yards. The Falcons (12-2), who have already clinched the NFC South, moved a step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. One more win would ensure that any postseason contests before the Super Bowl are held at the Georgia Dome.Eli Manning threw two interceptions for New York (8-6), which dropped into a first-place tie with Washington in the NFC South. Dallas had a chance to make it a three-way tie later in the day, hosting Pittsburgh. The Giants also went 0-for-3 on fourth down and missed a short field goal.Despite their lofty record, Atlanta has received plenty of criticism for winning ugly against inferior opponents. A 30-20 loss to last-place Carolina the previous week only seemed to reinforce the notion that the Falcons are headed for another short stay in the playoffs. They have yet to win a postseason game since Ryan took over as the quarterback in 2008, going 0-3. But one thing the Falcons never seem to do anymore is lose two straight games. They extended the NFL’s longest active streak since consecutive defeats to 49 games, going back to the 2009 season. For the Giants, it was a miserable performance when they desperately needed a win, at a time of year when they normally play some of their best football. Manning threw his first pick on the second play of scrimmage, setting up a quick Atlanta touchdown. Coach Tom Coughlin made a curious call late in the first half, passing up another short field goal attempt when his team was almost 2 yards shy of the marker. Asante Samuel batted down a short pass intended for Victor Cruz, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a commanding 17-0 lead and all the momentum.But even if the Giants had taken the field goal, it’s probably wouldn’t have made much difference. The tone in this one was set right away.When Manning attempted to hit Hakeem Nicks on a short pass to the right, Samuel stepped in to make the interception and return it to the Giants 16. From there, Michael Turner ran it four straight times, the last of those a 1-yard plunge that gave Atlanta a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.It was all Falcons after Lawrence Tynes missed a chip shot kick from 30 yards, ruining an impressive second possession by the Giants. Atlanta took it 80 yards from there, with Ryan going to Harry Douglas on a 37-yard gain for the big gainer. Then, on third-and-11 from the 12, Ryan went to his favorite target, Tony Gonzalez, in the end zone. The 16-year veteran leaped over safety Will Hill to haul in the high throw — and hopped up quickly for his customary dunk over the goalposts.Early in the second half, the Falcons blew it open on Ryan’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Jones down the left sideline. Finally, after a drive that used up more than 9 minutes in the fourth quarter, Ryan went to Jones for a 3-yard TD.The Giants turned it over one more time in the closing minutes, finishing off their first shutout in the regular season since a 24-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1996. The performance came just a week after they put up 52 points on the New Orleans Saints.There was a moment of silence before the game honoring the Connecticut shooting victims, and the Giants also wore “SHES” decals on their helmets for Sandy Hills Elementary School.

    Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins passes against the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter in Cleveland, Sunday.

    Rookie QB Cousins leads Redskins over Browns 38-21

    CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III watched as the Redskins’ other rookie quarterback won again.Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for an injured Griffin, leading Washington to its fifth straight win, 38-21 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.Last week, Cousins came off the bench after Griffin got hurt and rallied the Redskins to an overtime win. Cousins was behind center from the start of this one and delivered a performance that extended Washington’s longest winning streak since 2007 and moved the Redskins into a tie for first in the NFC East.Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).Alfred Morris, a childhood rival of Richardson, had two touchdowns for the Redskins.Wearing a burgundy warmup suit instead of his No. 10 jersey, Griffin, who sustained a mild sprain in the fourth quarter last week against Baltimore, cheered from the sideline as Cousins kept the Redskins (8-6) moving toward a possible spot in the playoffs.Cousins may not have RG3’s talent, but the fourth-round pick from Michigan State was efficient, accurate and only made one major mistake — an early interception to set up Cleveland’s first TD.Cousins finished 26 of 37 as the Redskins improved to 5-0 since their bye. They’ll end the season with games against NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas, teams they beat in consecutive weeks to start their streak.Griffin’s playing status was in doubt all week before the Redskins surprisingly announced late Saturday night that Cousins would start. If the Browns thought they were getting a break, Cousins proved to be as challenging to stop as his more elusive and hyped teammate.The Browns (5-9) had their winning streak stopped at three and faint playoff hopes snuffed out. Coach Pat Shurmur’s fate may have rested on the Browns winning out, but that won’t happen and his days in Cleveland could be dwindling quickly.Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and two picks, both leading to Washington touchdowns.Cousins’ second TD pass to Hankerson, a 2-yarder, gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead. As Cousins came to the sideline, Griffin gave him a fist bump and then sat on the bench with his backup, who for the past two weeks has shown he too can lead the Redskins to victory.Washington went ahead 31-14 on Evan Royster’s 4-yard run.Weeden came back with a 69-yard scoring strike to speedy rookie Travis Benjamin to pull the Browns within 10, but Cousins calmly took the Redskins down the field again with Morris scoring from eight to make 38-21.The Redskins needed this win, and Cousins made sure they got it.He shook off the early pick and showed exceptional play faking ability. With Griffin out and inactive, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had to alter his game plan and Cousins ran it with precision.Linebacker Rob Jackson’s interception of Weeden helped the Redskins take a 17-14 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Morris’ 3-yard TD run.Jackson picked off Weeden and returned it to the 15. Three plays later, Morris pulled in for his eighth rushing TD, tying the team rookie record set by Skip Hicks in 199Richardson’s second TD run gave the Browns a 14-10 lead with 1:11 left before halftime.Cleveland’s offense had been in a funk for most of the second quarter before Weeden completed five passes to get the Browns to Washington’s 3. Richardson did the rest, busting over the left side for his 11th rushing TD. Earlier, he broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s 55-year-old team rookie record for rushing TDs.Kai Forbath’s 44-yard field goal put the Redskins ahead 10-7. Forbath has started his career 15 of 15.Cousins threw a 54-yard TD pass to Hankerson in the first quarter to tie it 7-7.

    Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno is stopped by Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, top, and defensive back James Ihedigbo, bottom during the first half in Baltimore, Sunday.

    Broncos rout Ravens 34-17 for 9th straight win

    Denver didn’t need Peyton Manning to beat the Baltimore Ravens. In a surprisingly easy victory, the Broncos’ defense did most of the work while ruining Jim Caldwell’s debut as an NFL offensive coordinator. Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown, and Denver cruised past the skidding Ravens 34-17 Sunday for their ninth straight win.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Anthony Gaitor (26) breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (16) in the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday.

    Brees leads Saints over Bucs, 41-0

    NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees made easy work of Tampa Bay’s league-worst pass defense and Josh Freeman’s frustrating day only made things worse for the desperate Buccaneers.Brees passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns, and the Saints recorded their first shutout in 17 years in a 41-0 victory over the Buccaneers on Sunday, virtually ending Tampa Bay’s already slim playoff hopes.Brees connected on his scoring passes with tight end David Thomas, running back Darren Sproles and receivers Lance Moore and Joe Morgan. Mark Ingram added an 11-yard touchdown run. Freeman endured one of his worst outings of the season for Tampa Bay (6-8), throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble. Jabari Greer made two interceptions, Rafael Bush and Isa Abdul-Quddus the others. Cameron Jordan forced Freeman’s fumble on a sack and recovered it.New Orleans (6-8) also bottled up standout rookie running back Doug Martin, holding him to 16 yards on nine carries as the Buccaneers lost for the fourth straight time.Although many fans had left in the fourth quarter, those remaining made as much noise as they could as the Saints allowed Tampa Bay to get into the red zone before preserving the club’s first shutout since a 12-0 win in the 1995 season finale against the Jets in New York.Brees had been in a bit of a rut during New Orleans’ recent three-game skid, throwing nine interceptions during that stretch. That he would snap out of it against Tampa Bay made sense; the Bucs entered the game giving up 311.6 yards per game. Brees eclipsed 200 yards by halftime but eased off after his 34-yard touchdown strike to Morgan in the second half, when the Saints looked to run down the clock. Ingram finished with 90 yards rushing and the Saints had their third-best total on the ground this season with 149 yards against a Tampa Bay rushing defense that came in first in the league, allowing 78.2 yards per game.Brees completed 12 of his first 13 passes for 132 yards and his 9-yard touchdown over the middle Thomas.He marched the Saints inside the Tampa Bay 5 before the second drive stalled with a false start penalty, followed by his second incompletion, which led to a field goal early in the second quarter.At that point, New Orleans had outgained the Bucs 170-63 and had a 9-2 advantage in first downs.The Bucs’ squandered a chance to close the gap when Freeman missed badly on two straight passes, the first to an open Mike Williams in the end zone. The next was his second interception of the first half. Reserve safety Rafael Bush, who wears No. 25 as Reggie Bush once did, grabbed Freeman’s errant pass at the 9 and looked like his namesake during a 40-yard return, coming to a complete stop near sideline to his left, then going backward and laterally to find more running room.The Saints capitalized, thanks in part Brees completing a pass as he was flatted to Marques Colston for a drive-extending, 21-yard gain. That helped set up Brees’ second TD toss, a 2-yarder to Sproles to make it 17-0.Brees managed to put one more scoring drive together after Sproles returned a punt 37 yards to the Tampa Bay 38 with 1:04 left. Moore’s 8-yard TD grab made it 24-0 at halftime, at which point Brees was 19 of 29 for 216 yards and three scores.

    Houston Texans linebacker Bryan Braman (50) celebrates with Johnathan Joseph, left, after blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, in Houston.

    Texans clinch AFC South with 29-17 win over Colts

    The Houston Texans have a message for the Indianapolis Colts: Now we own the AFC South. The Texans are division champions for the second straight year after beating the Colts 29-17 Sunday. Andre Johnson gained 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, Bryan Braman scored a special teams score on a blocked punt, and Shayne Graham kicked five field goals.

    Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) breaks free for an 82-yard touchdown run during the second quarter against the St. Louis Rams Sunday in St. Louis.

    A. Peterson runs for 212 as Vikings top Rams 36-22

    ST. LOUIS — Well in the clear, Adrian Peterson had enough time to sneak a peek at the video board in the end zone as he finished an 82-yard run — and topped it off with some fancy high-stepping.After piling up a season-best 212 yards on 24 carries in a 36-22 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday that wasn’t as close as the score indicated, the Minnesota Vikings running back remained hot on the trail of the NFL single-season record.Peterson has a career-best 1,812 yards rushing, leaving him 294 shy of breaking the mark of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984. Peterson, less than a year removed from a serious knee injury, has two games left — at Houston and home against Green Bay — to top Dickerson.The Vikings (8-6) scored 10 of their 23 points in the second quarter off turnovers by Sam Bradford, including a 29-yard interception return by defensive end Everson Griffen that the Rams quarterback watched in disbelief from his knees. They were up by 26 before Bradford, whose botched center snap also cost the Rams (6-7-1) a field goal in the second quarter, threw touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Lance Kendricks in the fourth quarter.The Vikings remained in the playoff picture while seriously damaging the Rams’ postseason hopes. St. Louis had won three in a row to become a dark horse candidate for the playoffs.Steven Jackson became the 15th player to rush for 10,000 yards for the Rams. He had 73 yards on just eight carries and has 909 yards on the year, keeping him in range of an eighth straight 1,000-yard season.A moment of silence was observed for victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting before the national anthem, with dozens of children wearing uniform jerseys holding hands with players in a circle extending from the 30-yard lines and centered on the Rams’ logo at midfield.In a tribute to the 26 victims, each team sent the players wearing the No. 26 jersey — Rams running back Daryl Richardson and Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield — and they held hands with coaches Jeff Fisher and Leslie Frazier to form a smaller interior circle.Peterson topped his previous single-season best of 1,760 yards in 2007 on a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter. On both long runs, Peterson made something out of nothing with nimble cutbacks to daylight.Christian Ponder had a turnover-free game and ran for the game’s first score for the Vikings, who had been just 1-5 on the road with the other victory at Detroit in September. Rookie kicker Blair Walsh was perfect on five field-goal attempts, three of them from 50 yards and beyond.The Rams stopped Peterson, held to minus-3 yards on five carries, but not Ponder on the Vikings’ opening drive. Benefiting from a short field at the St. Louis 45, the quarterback was 3 for 3 for 38 yards plus a 5-yard scramble that put them up 7-0.Rookie Brian Quick won a jump ball with A.J. Jefferson in the end zone on a 4-yard reception, landing just inbounds to tie it early in the second quarter.Then, the Vikings took over.Peterson’s 82-yard score came on the next play, Walsh’s 50-yard field goal made the Rams pay for Bradford’s botched snap and Griffen’s interception return gave Minnesota 17 points in a span of just 3:56.

    Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) in the second half Sunday. The Packers won 21-13 to clinch the NFC North division title.

    Pack it up: Bears lose to Green Bay 21-13

    The Green Bay Packers had the best comeback for all that trash-talk from the Chicago Bears.Another NFC North title. The Packers clinched their second straight division crown with a 21-13 victory over their archrivals Sunday — at Soldier Field, no less. Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones on all three touchdowns, Clay Matthews hounded Jay Cutler with two sacks and the Packers limited the Bears to just 190 yards, their third-lowest total of the season. Rodgers finished 23 of 36 for 291 yards as Green Bay won its sixth straight against Chicago. Brandon Marshall had a 15-yard TD catch for the Bears. But Cutler had another dismal day against the Packers, throwing an interception that led to Green Bay’s second touchdown, and Alshon Jeffery was whistled for three offensive pass interference calls late in the second half. Chicago has lost five of six and is in danger of missing the playoffs after beginning the season 7-1. Boos rained down on the Bears in the fourth quarter, and again as they walked off the field. Packers vs. Bears is the NFL’s oldest — and fiercest — rivalry, and it got a little more heated earlier in the week when Marshall and Lance Briggs ripped on their neighbors to the north. Marshall was particularly vehement, saying he’d never disliked a team as much as he did the Packers. Green Bay had held him to 24 yards on two catches in their first meeting back in September, and the NFL’s receptions leader called the rematch “personal,” adding, “But the talk, you have to back it up. We’ll go out there and we’ll do everything we need to do to get a win.” Marshall did his part, sidestepping one tackle and stiff-arming Casey Hayward on his way to the end zone for a touchdown that gave Chicago a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. He screamed and tossed the ball into the stands while the Chicago sideline erupted in high fives and hand slaps.But the Packers silenced the Bears — and their fans — with a touchdown, interception and another touchdown, all in a three-minute span. Having already been sacked twice, Rodgers was on the run again on third-and-6 when he spotted Randall Cobb down the right sideline. He threw a dart to Cobb, who hauled it in for a 31-yard gain that put the Packers at the Chicago 35. Three plays later, Rodgers connected with Jones for a 29-yard score that tied the game at 7.After exchanging punts, Cutler was looking for Devin Hester but found Hayward, instead. It was the sixth pick of the season for the rookie, who grabbed the ball at midfield and returned it 24 yards. Five plays later, Rodgers hooked up with Jones again, this time for an 8-yard catch that made it 14-7 at halftime. The Packers made it 21 unanswered points on the first drive of the second half. In another third-and-long situation, Rodgers threw incomplete to Jermichael Finley. But the Packers got a second chance when Chris Conte was called for pass interference. After a delay of game penalty on Green Bay, Rodgers found Jones for a 6-yard score. It was Jones’ first three-touchdown game and the fourth multiple-TD game of his career.The Bears had a chance to get back in the game when Charles Tillman forced a fumble by Ryan Grant and Nick Roach recovered it. Chicago got another break when Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett hauled Jeffery down right in front of the end zone — and right in front of an official. The pass interference penalty gave Chicago the ball at the Green Bay 1. But the Bears could only get a 34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare out of it after Jeffery was called for pass interference, his first of three.

    Lovie Smith has had plenty of things go his way in his nine seasons as Bears head coach. A victory Sunday over the red-hot Packers would help his cause if he wants to stick around for a 10th season in Chicago.

    Has Lovie’s Bears luck finally run out?

    Sometimes, it’s truly about how you lose, not necessarily how many. That’s worth keeping in mind as you ponder the possible end of the Lovie Smith era in Chicago. The Bears have been a disaster in November and December, and have taken the field appearing old, broken and unprepared against teams like Seattle and Minnesota.


    Questions — and possible answers — about Big East upheaval, future

    The Blue Demons cleared a major hurdle Saturday regarding their conference. When schools like Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and West Virginia started exiting the Big East in recent years and were replaced by schools like San Diego State, East Carolina, Central Florida and Navy, the conference was viewed as a joke.

    Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams reacts as he walks off the court after their 83-82 loss to the Bulls in an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012.

    Watson reflects on his days with Bulls

    Ex-Bull, current Net C.J. Watson's pregame chat a the United Center got interesting when the topic of how last season ended came up. Watson was criticized for passing the ball to notoriously bad free-throw shooter Omer Asik in the waning seconds of Game 6 at Philadelphia.


    Insurance Auto Auctions, which sells totaled vehicles to the highest bidder and hopes to open a location in East Dundee.

    Barrington Hills group adds fuel to auto auction battle

    Three environmental issues that Insurance Auto Auctions settled in recent years elsewhere have given a Barrington Hills-based citizens group renewed vigor fighting the company's plans to build in neighboring East Dundee. IAA says no allegations were proven in one case and the others involved minor problems that were corrected.

    Google has been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission,

    Google said to end FTC probe by promising changes

    Google Inc. is poised to offer voluntary concessions that will end a 20-month antitrust probe of the company’s business practices by U.S. regulators without any enforcement action being taken, two people familiar with the matter said.

    The maker of Diet Pepsi is quietly changing its sweetener.

    Diet Pepsi quietly changes sweetener

    Diet Pepsi is quietly changing its sweetener ahead of a major rebranding of the soft drink set for next month. The change comes as PepsiCo Inc. looks to reinvigorate its namesake brands after losing market share to Coca-Cola Co. in recent years.

    Most on Wall Street are confident congressional Republicans and the White House will stave off the full “fiscal cliff” because the stakes are so high. Economists say the tax hikes and spending cuts could trigger a recession early next year.

    Could a budget fight rattle the bond market?

    Long-term interest rates will creep higher, as the economy gradually gains strength, says Priya Misra, a top investment strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The wild card is Washington, where talks are under way to avert tax increases and government spending cuts scheduled to start in January.

    House Speaker John Boehner, seen here, and other Republicans have said they are open to more tax revenue through reducing or eliminating unspecified tax breaks. But Boehner late last week moved toward the president’s position, proposing raising top rates for people earning more than $1 million in exchange for deeper spending cuts.

    Millions face higher taxes real soon without fix

    Millions of families and businesses will get hit by big tax increases a lot sooner than many realize if Congress and the White House don't agree on a plan to skirt the year-end fiscal cliff of higher tax rates and big government spending cuts. In fact, they already have.


    Career Coach: Tips for staying sane during the end-of-year crunch

    It's that time of year when everything seems to be looming in front of us — work responsibilities to close out before year end; holiday shopping to do for our families, colleagues, friends; houses to clean and get ready for visitors; and much more. As much as you would like to retreat to a cave, you have to tough it out.


    Work advice: Fiscal Cliff notes

    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers. This week's question deals with a government contractor who wants to know if there is any help out there for contractors who've lost work because a program's funding has been cut.

    Teens on the beach at Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., next to pilings that used to support part of a boardwalk that was washed away by Superstorm Sandy. Coastal towns are racing to repair their boardwalks in time for next summer.

    New York, New Jersey ponder boardwalks without the boards

    Coastal areas of New Jersey and New York that lost their boardwalks to Superstorm Sandy's surge are racing to rebuild them in time for tourist season — in some places, without the boards. For reasons both practical and environmental, some communities are proposing to replace their wooden boardwalks with more durable synthetic materials or even concrete. That is raising objections from those who say nothing else looks, feels or even smells quite like a true wooden boardwalk.


    6 top ETF trends of 2012, and the outlook for 2013

    Exchange-traded funds remain relative upstarts compared with mutual funds. But they're leading the race for investors' assets, on Main Street as well as Wall Street. Check out the key ETF trends of 2012, and it's not a stretch to ask whether investors might someday commit as much cash to ETFs as they have to their more established cousins.

    David Sheehan, representing the trustee for Bernard Madoff’s fraud victims, leaves federal court in New York. Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to recover funds for Madoff victims, and a battalion of lawyers headed by Sheehan have spent long days untangling Madoff’s fraud. On the fourth anniversary of Madoff’s Dec. 11, 2008, arrest, it’s an international effort that shows no signs of slowing.

    Madoff trustee still pursuing assets 4 years later

    When he was first told in 2008 about Bernard Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme, attorney David Sheehan had a response that now sounds inconceivable. "Who," he wondered, "is Bernie Madoff?" Four years after Madoff's arrest, Sheehan has been thoroughly educated about the disgraced financier Irving Picard and a battalion of lawyers headed by Sheehan have spent long days untangling Madoff's fraud. On the fourth anniversary of Madoff's arrest, it's an international effort that shows no signs of slowing.

    People walk inside a garment-factory where a fire killed 112 people on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. About a year before the fire, executives from Wal-Mart, Gap and other big clothing companies met nearby in the country’s capital to discuss a legally binding contract that would govern safety inspections. But after a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, got up and said the proposal wasn’t “financially feasible,” the effort quickly lost momentum.

    Why efforts to stop factory fires have failed

    About a year and a half before a fire at a clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people in November, executives from big retailers met nearby to discuss ways to prevent the unsafe working conditions. Discussions seemed promising. Then, on the second day, Sridevi Kalavakolanu, an executive at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., spoke up. "In most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories," Kalavakolanu was quoted as saying in the minutes of the meeting.

    Dr. Abdul Mabud, director of the scientific services division of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, holds up a bottle of snake liquor from east Asia at a laboratory, in Beltsville, Md. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which collects taxes on booze and smokes and tells the companies that produce them how to do business, is one example of the specialized government offices threatened by Washingtonís current zeal for cost-cutting.

    Booze, smokes on agenda for quirky government group

    A chemist tests shiny flecks from a bottle of Goldschlager, the spicy cinnamon schnapps, to make sure they're real gold. Back at headquarters in downtown Washington, a staffer prepares for a meeting of the Tequila Working Group. These are the proud scientists, rule-makers and trade ambassadors of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, one of the federal government's least-known and most peculiar corners.

    Brian Hajeski, 41, of Brick, N.J., reacts as he looks at debris of a home that washed up on to the Mantoloking Bridge the morning after superstorm Sandy rolled through in Mantoloking, N.J. In a severe economic disruption, access to credit or investments may not be available. Stocks may suddenly drop in value. Lenders may reduce or eliminate credit lines overnight, as many borrowers discovered in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

    6 tips on how to weather a financial apocalypse

    Being prepared to ride out everything from a worldwide cataclysm to the aftermath of a hurricane begins with getting one's finances in order. "Before the disaster strikes is the time to start getting prepared, in terms of financially getting yourself out of debt and establishing some savings and supplies," says Arthur Bradley, a NASA engineer and author of the "Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family."

    Sitting in his office, Vince Fudzie, pauses Wednesday while speaking about the impending fiscal cliff and what it might means for his company in Dallas, Texas. Fudzie, CEO of Triune, a general contracting company based in Dallas, says business with the government has been shrinking since 2006, and the cliff presents yet another challenge. He’s already been waiting to find out if he’ll get approval to finish a dormitory project for the Department of Labor that’s 95 percent complete.

    Small businesses already slipping off the ‘cliff’

    More than 1,000 miles from Washington, D.C., Marie DeNicola's small business is already experiencing the consequences of lawmakers' inability to compromise on the budget. This "fiscal cliff," as it is commonly being called, is already hurting DeNicola's company Mainstream Boutique, a Minneapolis-based chain of 23 franchise stores that sell women's clothes. DeNicola recently got an e-mail from a prospective franchisee who said that she changed her mind about opening a store because of uncertainty about the economic and political climate.

Life & Entertainment


    Late 19th century Shakespeare statue worth drops recently
    Q. This statue of Shakespeare was a wedding gift to my husband’s great-grandmother in the 1800s in England and has no flaws or visible makings. Is there anything you could tell us about this piece, including its value.

    This service is solid silver, not plated, but is it sterling?

    A Taft connection for this tea set?

    Q. I would like for you to tell me about this sterling-silver coffee-and-tea set. I am a retired jeweler who carried most American silver manufacturers — such as Kirk, Gorham and International -- in my shop. I do not recognize the hallmark stamped on this set. All I could find was "800." I received this from my sister's estate. She had gotten it from my mother, who had purchased it from the Taft estate in Cincinnati. What is its history and value?

    Was this piece made using butterfly wings or with foil and feathers?

    Does this serving tray include actual butterfly wings?

    Q. I have a glass serving tray that has been decorated with butterfly wings. The tray seems to have some sort of Art Deco design, with an exotic-bird pattern in the background instead of images of butterflies. It has gold-trimmed detailed etchings. I also noticed that it has a newspaper clipping, in German, in the back underneath a picture. The picture has a tag with “Czechoslovakia” written on it. Any information as to date and value would be greatly appreciated.

    This 12 inch long Asian carving is a representation of the Senain Kinko.

    Sennin Kinko statue is a curiosity, not a work of art

    Q. The enclosed photos were taken of an item removed from a castle in Germany during World War II. There are no markings or dates and the antiques dealers in our area could offer no information except they believe it is old jade and of Chinese origin. Can you provide any information, and is there a market for it?

    The Gaudete Brass Quintet presents an afternoon concert of brass chamber music on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Byron Colby Barn at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake.

    Sunday picks: Gaudete Brass Quintet in concert
    The Gaudete Brass Quintet presents an afternoon concert of brass chamber music at the Byron Colby Barn at Prairie Crossing. Also, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra will perform its "Let It Snow!" concert at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.

    “I do think that it's important when we have the opportunity to talk about violence and not just kind of have it as entertainment, but connect it to the wrongs, the injustices, the social ills,” Kerry Washington said at a promotion for upcoming release, “Django Unchained,” Saturday in New York.

    Hollywood responds to deadly school shooting

    Hollywood has responded to the rampage at a Connecticut elementary school by pulling back on its offerings, and one star says the entertainment industry should take some responsibility for such violence. Jamie Foxx, one of the industry's biggest stars, said Saturday as he promoted Quentin Tarantino's upcoming ultra-violent film about slavery, "Django Unchained," that actors can't ignore the fact that movie violence can influence people.

    Skyla Freeman’s living room has a small-scale sofa and a wall of magazine photos framed in $10 frames.

    Mini to the max: Living well in 425 square feet

    Skyla Freeman left her West Wing job at the Bush White House on Jan. 20, 2009, part of a wave of Washingtonians who retool every four or eight years when administrations change. "What can I do now?" Freeman remembers thinking. "I was ready to try something nonpolitical."


    Battery care is vital for stored cars

    Q. I purchased a new 6-year battery in January 2011. On average, how many weeks would a garaged 2002 Pontiac Bonneville's battery be OK before a trickle charger would be necessary?

    Erik Hall of Rochester, N.Y., looks up at the elaborate holiday displays during a tour in Brooklyn.

    Brooklyn goes over the top with Christmas displays

    Tony Muia was born and raised in Brooklyn and always loved the Christmas lights of Dyker Heights, an Italian-American neighborhood where proud locals cover their homes in twinkling bulbs and fill their front yards with life-size Santas and Nativity scenes. Now he makes his living taking busloads of tourists from around the world to see these over-the-top holiday displays, playing Frank Sinatra on the bus and ending the night with a stop for cannolis and hot chocolate.

    People stroll in the Tuileries gardens with the Arc de Triomphe in the background, in Paris.

    5 free things to see and do in Paris

    Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world — and it sure knows it. That's why the French capital — ranked among the world's priciest and most visited — can afford to charge tourists so dearly for sampling its timeless beauty and world-class cuisine.

    Milwaukee’s Pabst Mansion is decked out for the holidays and offers tours and Dickens Dinners.

    On the road: A Grand Avenue Christmas

    Even Martha Stewart would be envious of the holiday décor at Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee, Wis. The mansion's display, called A Grand Avenue Christmas, is new each year. Enjoy it during a daylight or twilight tour with Victorian holiday history and warm refreshments. You can also dress the kids in their finest holiday attire for what has become a Chicago tradition for 18 years. The concert Welcome Yule! consists of all kinds of holiday music favorites at Orchestra Hall.

    This paperweight vase was made by Robert L. Hamon.

    Hamon vase paperweight secures function and beauty

    Q. This solid piece of glass with a slight depression in the neck is signed by Robert L. Hamon and was given to me by my employer, who advised me to "take care of it." The piece is 10 inches tall. Any information you can give me — especially its value — would be appreciated.


    Adult slacker son causing rifts among adults

    Q. Since he graduated from college four years ago, my son has been drifting among friends and family but mostly staying with his cousin and his wife. My son is searching for his dream job and shows signs of pursuing that dream but basically doesn't work. I try not to feel ashamed, but it really bothers me.

    Laura Christensen, a Wheaton landscape architect, has completely transformed her yard and shares her techniques with garden clubs in the area.

    Landscape architect uses her yard design to teach others

    Members of the Lombard Garden Club had two reasons to book Laura Christensen as one of their presenters: She is a professional landscape architect who specializes in residential work and seasonal containers. But more importantly, she has spent more than 20 years on a phased design plan — on her own home.


    When recaulking, tile and joints must be spotless

    Q. We are faithful readers of your article in the Daily Herald; thank you for all of the help we have received. This past spring, you had an article praising Sikaflex. As I hope you can see from the attached pictures, the caulk has separated from the wall/floor. Should we caulk over, or start over?

    Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum will be wed on “The Bachelorette: Ashley and J.P.’s Wedding” airing Sunday on ABC.

    ‘Bachelor’ endures even if its couples don’t

    Try taking a look at ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise by the numbers, and it’s impossible to count the hot tub scenes, candlelit dinners, dramatic confrontations and on-camera breakdowns that have populated the reality dating show since its debut in 2002. Yet one statistic is clear: After a decade on air, the show — along with its companion, “The Bachelorette” -— has spawned only three successful relationships. Still, the series has lasted a decade and is one of the longest-running reality shows in history.


    Pros and cons of buying a foreclosed home

    Q. I have been looking for my first house and have been told to look at bank-owned properties or HUD properties. I am wondering what advantages or disadvantages there are to these types of deals.

    Model Lily Aldridge has been a Victoria’s Secret model since 2009, has walked the runway for Rag & Bone and Giles Deacon and appeared in ads for Coach, Clinque and Anthropologie.

    Lily Aldridge: Victoria’s Secret model, full-time mom

    Sure, her job involves parading in lacy underwear and her husband is a rock star. But Lily Aldridge says she does the same things on a given day as millions of other women: She fed her baby daughter, talked to her mom on the phone, kissed her husband before she left for work. Aldridge says her work on the Victoria's Secret runway is a job — a good, fun one that she loves and that introduces her to stars like Rihanna, Justin Bieber and the Black Eyed Peas — and she's realistic that it won't last forever.

    A handmade ornament adorns the “Tree Of Hope,” in Union Beach, N.J. The artificial Christmas tree was fished from the gutter following Superstorm Sandy, and the town has made it a rallying point amid the storm’s devastation.

    N.J. town finds hope in rescued Christmas tree

    In the days after Superstorm Sandy wrecked this gritty blue-collar enclave on the New Jersey shore, creating iconic scenes of devastation and loss, the artificial Christmas tree was just an inconspicuous part of tons of rubble, the detritus of people's lives in a town ripped open for all to see. A local youth soccer coach plucked the tree from its waterlogged storage bag, set it up in a vacant field — and watched in amazement as grieving residents made the tree their own, adorning it with handmade ornaments, lights, and messages of hope, defiance and recovery.

    A holiday present for Fido or Fluffy used to be an extra table scrap or a new squeeze toy. But as with gifts for their human counterparts, pet presents are becoming increasingly high-tech.

    Even Fido and Fluffy can get high-tech gifts

    A holiday present for Fido or Fluffy used to be an extra table scrap or a new squeeze toy. But as with gifts for their human counterparts, pet presents are becoming increasingly high-tech. Like presents for young children who lack the dexterity to enjoy their new playthings, pet gifts are usually for the human who owns the pet. Allie Robino of Austin, Texas, bought a dog treat maker for her 8-year-old rescue mutt Bentley, but it'll be her baking the biscuits — not Bentley.

    The music of “Nashville” has been as much a star on the hourlong ABC drama as actress Connie Britton.

    Songs take center stage in TV drama ‘Nashville’

    The music of "Nasvhille" has been as much a star on the hourlong ABC drama as Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson, Bowen and Palladio. Yes, each really does sing his or her own part, and so far fans seem to be responding, buying more than 800,000 digital singles.


    Little changes can make a big difference in water savings

    Q. My family and I recently moved into a small, older home connected to our local water and sewer utilities. Well, I was very surprised to see our first water and sewer bills, and now realize we have to start conserving water to lower these costly utility bills.

    From left, World Market’s Travelers Trunk is a prime example of a multifunctional piece; Anthropologie’s Italian Campaign Canopy Bed adds drama to a small room; and Crate & Barrel’s Klyne Chair and a Half offers a generous space to read or lounge.

    Pieces that make the most of small spaces

    Although maximizing space while also taking design and function into account might seem to require a little smoke and mirrors (mirrors will, in fact, make a space look bigger), it mostly takes smart shopping for "decorative choices in a scale appropriate to the space," says Mary Douglas Drysdale, a Washington-based interior designer and 2009 nominee for a Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Interior Design Award.


    A mother hugs her daughter following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. AP Photo

    Editorial: The unopened gifts in Newtown, Conn.

    A Daily Herald editorial says the only sure response to the random violence at a Newtown, Conn., school is to show your children you love them.


    Dispelling the second-term blues

    Columnist Michael Gerson: Our politics moves from budget showdown to cultural conflict to trivial controversy while carefully avoiding the greatest single threat to the unity of America: the vast, increasing segregation of young, African-American men and boys from the promise of their country.


    Congress’ public standing very shaky

    Guest columnist Lee Hamilton: As we move deeper into December, the question for Congress is this: Can members of the House and Senate do something to make the public feel more positive about Congress's competence, or will 2012 end on the familiar note of Americans taking an unrelievedly dim view of Congress's job performance?


    Hurricane harangue was disaster bigotry
    A Grayslake letter to the editor: I did get a laugh at the characterization of "lazy, irresponsible, financially dependent hurricane victims" compared to the independent tornado victims.


    Indoctrination starts in college
    A Kildeer letter to the editor: It was very fascinating to me that in trying to decode the election results I noticed that Mitt Romney did very well with white people that had high school diplomas, but not nearly as well with white people that had college degrees.


    List of legislative districts was helpful
    A Wheeling letter to the editor: Thank you for printing the list of legislative districts. That's a great service and you didn't have to do it! Now I know what I didn't know and need to know.


    More taxation is not the answer
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: The president and Ms. Yates think this is not "fair"; the "rich" should pay even more. I think it's fair to say that these two are the ones who are very far from fair. The real solution? Rein in the unconscionable spending.


    Brubeck’s death a loss for music lovers
    A Mount Prospect letter to the editor: I had the pleasure of hearing the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1957 at Arlington Heights High (our senior concert). All he and his sidemen did was swing! May he rest in peace and his music live on.


    Consider the life of a human being
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: But in your support of killing the unborn child in the womb, did you consider that a human being dies? In spite of Planned Parenthood, there are other options for women besides an abortion.


    More questions on immigrant licenses
    A Round Lake letter to the editor: I agree with the Lake Bluff resident Nancy Thorner's comments in the Fence Post of Dec. 13 about granting driver's licenses to illegal


    It may be too late for our democracy
    An Elgin letter to the editor: I was told there is a book out about democracies that says that none has lasted more than 250 years. Ours is at around 238 years. The failure comes about because people vote for the politicians that do them favors, and politicians keep doing the majority favors to keep getting elected.


    Pranks often have a tragic ending
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: The story of how the English nurse taking care of Kate Middleton, hospitalized for hyperemesis (morning sickness), was tricked into divulging information about her patient has gone worldwide.


    Court cameras can be a private matter
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: On Dec. 2 DuPage Editor Jim Davis wrote on the subject of cameras in Chicago-area courtrooms. He reported that in a poll of readers, 43 percent opined that cameras should not be allowed in courtrooms, and I must agree with that conclusion.


    Deals to cut spending never work out
    A Woodstock letter to the editor: When it comes to taxes, the reality seems to play out like this: Overspending leads to a deficit/debt problem; An offer is made to cut spending and increase taxes in what is hailed as a great compromise to solve the deficit/debt problem; taxes go up but the spending always increases and we are back at step one with a deficit/debt problem for the continuation of the endless loop.


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