Get your summer on

Daily Archive : Monday December 24, 2012

News

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    Police ramp up traffic patrols during the holidays

    Illinois State Police and transportation officials are stepping up their drunk-driving and seat belt enforcement as part of a final safety push this year.

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    Chicago man struck by truck dies

    Authorities say a 59-year-old man is dead after being struck by a truck in Chicago. The man was identified as Morris Giles of Chicago.

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    This combo made from photos provided by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department shows from left, Mark Leonard, 43, his wife, Shirley Leonard, 43, and his brother, Bob Leonard, 54, all of Indianapolis, who were arrested Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 and charged with murder, arson and other counts in a Nov. 10 gas explosion that killed two people.

    3 charged in Indianapolis home blast due in court

    Three people charged in a gas explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood are set to appear before a judge Monday to hear charges against them.

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    Ben Koehler, sixteen years-old, practices tricks on his unicycle in the gymnasium at St. Croix Central Elementary School in Roberts, Wis. Ben participates in a community education program hosted by the St. Croix Central School district that welcomes young and old to learn and master the unicycle with the assistance of the Twin Cities Unicycle Club.

    1 wheel, twice the fun for unicycle fans

    Thumping sounds reverberated through a western Wisconsin gym on a recent Thursday night, as unicycle seats regularly slipped from under their riders and hit the floor. The two dozen riders were mostly children taking part in a practice and instruction session at St. Croix Central Elementary School, where unicyclists of all ages come out each week to work on their skills.

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    Smoke is seen from the site of a fire in Webster, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Police in New York state say a man who killed two firefighters in a Christmas Eve ambush had served 17 years for manslaughter in the death of his grandmother.

    Police: NY gunman set 'trap' for firefighters

    A man who set his house on fire then lured firefighters to their deaths in a blaze of flames and bullets had attracted little attention since he got out of prison in the 1990s for killing his grandmother, authorities said. William Spengler set a car and a house in his neighborhood ablaze early Monday, luring firefighters to the neighborhood and then killed two, wounded two others and injured a...

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    Daily Herald employees sing “Hark! The (Daily) Herald Sings” in a Christmas video to our readers.

    Happy holidays from the Daily Herald

    This year, we decided to share the holiday spirit with you in song. Some of the lyrics may seem a bit lighthearted, but the message of service and community commitment is heartfelt. We apologize in advance for our singing voices (we are print journalists for a reason). We hope our carol conveys our best wishes for a bright holiday season and our deepest thanks for being a part of our lives this...

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    Palestinians gather around a Christmas tree at the Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012.

    Thousands enjoy merry Christmas in Bethlehem

    Christians from the world over packed Manger Square in Bethlehem Monday to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the ancient West Bank town where he was born. Christmas is the high point of the year in Bethlehem, which, like the rest of the West Bank, is struggling to recover from the economic hard times that followed the violent Palestinian uprising against Israel that broke out in late 2000.

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    Mario Monti, Italy’s prime minister, center, speaks during his end-of-year news conference in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. Monti said he won’t run in the country’s next elections, though he would agree to serve again as prime minister if a coalition backing his economic agenda won the vote.

    He’s not running, but Italy’s Monti has a plan

    For someone not running for political office, Premier Mario Monti has an awfully detailed plan for how to fix Italy's financial woes and bring the country and the rest of Europe back to economic health. And by Monday, not only had centrist leaders who want him as premier endorsed it, but so did the head of the Catholic Church in Italy.

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    This Dec. 16, 2012 file photo shows President Barack Obama pausing during a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. Obama faces a long list of problems he must address in his second term.

    Obama has big second term to-do list to tackle

    In the coming months, President Obama will have to decide where to be ambitious, where to be cautious, and where to buy time. Some of the big issues awaiting the president's decisions are immigration, gun control and the need for a tenable balance between taxes, spending and borrowing. "I see Obama as almost uniquely handcuffed by circumstances," said John Baick of Western New England University.

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    Exhaust fan starts small fire in Elgin industrial park

    Elgin firefighters extinguished a small fire in an industrial park late Monday morning, authorities said. Firefighters responded to a call at 11:30 a.m. at NTN Bearing Corporation of America, 1500 Holmes Road.

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    In this photo provided by CNN, actor Jack Klugman, right, answers a question as he is interviewed by talk show host Larry King, left, during a taping of the CNN program 'Larry King Live, ' Oct. 13, 2005, at CNN studios in Los Angeles. The actor, who starred in “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy M.E.” died Monday afternoon at age 90.

    Jack Klugman dies in Los Angeles

    Jack Klugman, who made an art of gruffness in TV's “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy, M.E.,” has died at the age of 90. The actor's son Adam says his father died Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. In the 1970s sitcom “The Odd Couple,” Klugman played sloppy sports writer Oscar to co-star Tony Randall's Felix, a fussy photographer. In “Quincy, M.E.,” which...

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    Minor delays for Metra trains

    Metra passengers on the Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West and the North Central may experience minor delays in leaving Union Station as the result of a derailment Monday evening.

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    Lawmakers scale back January schedule

    SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers have scaled back their schedule for January’s lame duck session in Springfield. Both the state Senate and House have cancelled days.

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    Kirk Morris

    Gurnee, foundation close to ending veterans memorial dispute

    Gurnee trustees will hold a special meeting lWednesday to approve returning the "Heroes of Freedom Memorial Park" name to the Pfc. Geoffrey Morris Memorial Foundation. The move is part of a mutual release agreement between the foundation and village. Foundation officials plan to announce in March 2013 a different town to build the memorial.

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    U.S. Army Spec. Joseph Cappello, 24, of Mount Prospect, hugs family and friends after arriving home from Afghanistan on Christmas Eve to a surprise welcome at the Arlington Heights American Legion Hall Post 208.

    Mt. Prospect soldier arrives home in style for Christmas

    Army Spc. Joseph Cappello, 24, was so moved by an elaborate homecoming ceremony attended by more than 200 people and held in his honor Monday afternoon, that he admitted to fighting back tears. "This is overwhelming," the Mount Prospect native said.

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    Kane County Chief Judge Judy Brawka

    Foreclosure mediation plan revived in Kane County

    Chief Judge Judy Brawka announced the details of her plan to bring foreclosure mediation to Kane County. The idea isn't new. Former Chief Judge F. Keith Brown pushed the idea back in 2010, but rules on the mediation from the Illinois Supreme Court were slow in coming. The housing market is rebounding, but Brawka said the current number of foreclosures will take up to five years to make it through...

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    Last-minute shoppers scrambled Monday afternoon to find that special gift or stocking stuffer at Yorktown Mall in Lombard.

    Last-minute holiday shoppers enjoy pressure, tradition

    Shoppers at Yorktown Center Mall in Lombard on Monday were short on time, but plenty were long on tradition. As in, they purposefully waited until Christmas Eve to complete most, if not all of their holiday shopping. "I always do my best under pressure," said, Chris Eckert, 23, who flew in from North Carolina to visit his parents in Glen Ellyn.

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    Visitors take picture outside a shopping mall on Christmas Eve in Hong Kong Monday Dec. 24, 2012. Christmas is a public holiday and recognized as commercial event rather than religious event in Hong Kong.

    Images: Christmas Eve around the world
    A holiday photo gallery shows how Christians around the globe are already beginning to celebrate Christmas, in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ.

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    In this Aug. 6, 2012 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, meets with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, 94, at his home in Qunu, South Africa. There may be no living figure so revered as Mandela around the world as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, his legacy forged in the fight against apartheid, the system of white minority rule that imprisoned him for 27 years.

    South Africa: World watches Mandela’s struggle

    As an idea, Nelson Mandela is monumental. As a 94-year-old man, he is frail and vulnerable, in hospital since Dec. 8, shielded from outside scrutiny by protective relatives and the South African government and military. "He's sick. What can we do? He's sick," said Beauty Sedunedi, a Soweto resident who described Mandela as a hero.

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    Britta and Steve McKenna

    Batavia couple named citizens of the year

    Britta and Steven McKenna, a Batavia couple known for their extensive involvement in Batavia's Riverwalk and in Scouting, are the 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce announced Monday. The annual award recognizes recipients' extraordinary contributions to the community during their lifetime. It's been handed out since 1958.

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    Gurnee race helps good causes:

    Gurnee police have announced the local charitable organizations receiving donations from an annual Thanksgiving Day run.

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    D103 wins Toro grant:

    The Toro Company announced that Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 won top prize in the "Green Spaces Make Great Places" grant program and will use the $7,000 grant to renovate the landscape and hardscape surrounding the playground at Laura B. Sprague Elementary School in Lincolnshire.

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    A Syrian man carriesan elderly woman after a government airstrike hit the Hama Suburb of Halfaya, Syria. A government airstrike Sunday on a bakery in a rebel-held town in central Syria killed tens of people, which left scattered bodies and debris up and down a street, and more than a dozen wounded were trapped in tangled heap of dirt and rubble, activists said.

    U.N. envoy worried after talks with Syria

    BEIRUT — The international envoy to Syria said after talks with President Bashar Assad on Monday that the situation in the country was still “worrying” and gave no indication of progress toward a negotiated solution for the civil war.

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    Afghan policewoman kills US adviser in Kabul

    KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan policewoman shot and killed an American adviser outside the police headquarters in Kabul on Monday, the latest in a rising tide of insider attacks by Afghans against their foreign allies, senior Afghan officials said.

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    Kids play with their uncle with newly bought Christmas toys, as they visit a display of lights in central Dakar, Senegal. As Christmas approaches in mostly Muslim Senegal, vendors ply the streets selling tinsel, artificial trees, and inflatable Santas, and the main boulevards are all aglow in holiday lights. Senegal, a moderate country along Africa’s western coast, has long been a place where Christians and Muslims coexist peacefully and share in each other’s holidays.

    Dakar mosque lit up for Christmas in Senegal

    DAKAR, Senegal — After prayers at the mosque, Ibrahim Lo is off to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. Soon he is eyeing the rows of dolls wrapped in plastic bags on a wooden table as he searches for gifts for his four children.A bouquet of inflatable Santa toys tied to a nearby tree bobs in the air at this outdoor market in the seaside capital as he makes his picks.

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    A general view of traffic crossing the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge across the River Thames at Dartford, south eastern England, as traffic builds up for the Christmas getaway.

    Britons struggle to get home for holidays with flood rail lines

    Travel plans for thousands of Britons were thrown into disarray as flooding damaged or disrupted railway lines operated by seven companies. The Great Western route between Exeter and Tiverton was closed until Dec. 28 after a deluge washed away ballast, while track further south was hit by a landslip, hindering travel from London Paddington station to tourist towns in Devon and Cornwall.

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    FDA warns doctors of counterfeit Botox

    WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have warned more than 350 medical practices that Botox they may have received from a Canadian supplier is unapproved and could be counterfeit or unsafe.

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    11 children dead in China van accident

    BEIJING — A van carrying 15 children to kindergarten plunged into a roadside pond in a rural area of eastern China on Monday, killing 11 children, state media and an official said.

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    Sentencing delayed for Iraqis in terror case

    BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — A federal judge has delayed sentencing until late January for a pair of Iraqi nationals who pleaded guilty to conspiring to send weapons, cash and explosives to al-Qaida in Iraq.

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    Rancher Dan Bell checks out part of the property he leases at the border fence between the United States and Mexico, in Nogales, Ariz. When Bell drives through the property, he speaks of the hurdles that the Border Patrol faces in his rolling green hills of oak and mesquite trees: The hours it takes to drive to some places, the wilderness areas that are generally off-limits to motorized vehicles, and the environmental reviews required to extend a dirt road.

    Ranchers split over US border security plan

    NOGALES, Ariz. — When Dan Bell drives through his 35,000-acre cattle ranch, he speaks of the hurdles that the Border Patrol faces in his rolling green hills of oak and mesquite trees — the hours it takes to drive to some places, the wilderness areas that are generally off-limits to motorized vehicles, the environmental reviews required to extend a dirt road.

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    Chicago mom, aunt charged in deaths of kids in house fire

    Two women are facing charges in the deaths of two children who were home alone when a fire broke out. Police say four children were in the apartment in Chicago's West Englewood neighborhood when the fire started early Saturday morning.

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    Wisconsin: No booze on Rose Bowl-bound truck

    There will be no alcohol on Wisconsin's Rose Bowl-bound equipment truck this year. The athletic department policy change prohibits transporting alcohol to off-campus events.

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    Ind. high court declines Star’s disclosure appeal

    INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Star likely must identify a person making anonymous comments on its website after the Indiana Supreme Court refused to hear its appeal.The high court Thursday denied the Star’s motion to take jurisdiction from the Indiana Court of Appeals, whose temporary stay of a local ruling ordering the identification has expired.

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    Abelbech Wagari sits near her son, Kelbesa Negusse as he plays with a tablet computer given to him by the One Laptop Per Child project in the village of Wenchi, Ethiopia. The project gave tablets to the children in the poor, illiterate village to see how much the children could teach themselves and now many kids can recite the English alphabet and spell words in English.

    Tablets as teachers: Poor African kids learn ABCs

    The kids in this village wear filthy, ragged clothes. They sleep beside cows and sheep in huts made of sticks and mud. They have no school. Yet they all can chant the English alphabet, and some can make words. The key to their success: 20 tablet computers dropped off in their Ethiopian village in February by a U.S. group called One Laptop Per Child.

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    The FOIA-related complaints jumped 28 percent to 720 in the last two years of President Barack Obama’s first term from 562 in the last two years of President George W. Bush’s second term, according to a study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

    Obama openness promise belied as disclosure suits outpace Bush

    Lawsuits filed in federal district court to force the government to comply with the Freedom of Information Act increased during the first term of the Obama administration. The FOIA-related complaints jumped 28 percent to 720 in the last two years of President Barack Obama's first term from 562 in the last two years of President George W. Bush's second term, according to a study by the...

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    The Troy family poses for a group photo in their Long Beach, N.Y., home., which is under renovation courtesy of Donald Denihan, a stranger who wanted to help a family impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Denihan, who considers himself lucky to have survived three near-death experiences, is paying for renovations to the Troy’s home. From left are Katie, 4, mother Kerry Ann, 12 year-old Connor, who suffers from a life-threatening neuromuscular disease, firefighter Chris Troy, and Ryan, 13.

    For family that lost home to Sandy, ‘a miracle’

    Superstorm Sandy destroyed the Troys home. Their story of struggle in the ravaged New York area isn't unique, but their story of miracles is. First, a family stepped forward and donated their vacation home until they found new housing. And the family discovered their Make A Wish trip to Disney World for their sick son didn't have to be canceled. And a stranger appeared with a plan to rebuild...

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    Metra commuters with 10-ride passes will pay more in February on the heels of another hike in February 2012.

    Toll hikes, NATO among 2012's top transit stories

    So what were the top transportation stories of 2012? Higher tolls? Higher Metra fares? Feuding transit agencies? Accusations of racial discrimination? Coffee banned on trains? Turning tollways into freeways? The answer is all of the above. Plus readers - like you - weigh in.

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    Christmas tree farm is pesticide-free

    It's not reindeer doing the lion's share of work at Hubbell's Grove Christmas tree farm. It's praying mantises. Through three seasons every year, praying mantises feast on insects bent on devouring Christmas trees. No chemical insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers are used at Hubbell's so the task of protecting trees falls to the beautiful and voracious mantis. Their long, elegant bodies pose...

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    Joffrey’s ‘Nutcracker’ wins national award again

    A Chicago production of "The Nutcracker" has won a national award for the second time. The Joffrey Ballet's production earned the Goldstar National Nutcracker Award, which includes a cash prize to go toward education programs.

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    Suburban man charged in 2005 murder of woman

    Authorities say a parolee has been charged in the 2005 death of a 23-year-old suburban Chicago woman. Twenty-nine-year-old Travon McDonald of Hickory Hills faces first-degree murder in the death of Nayely Murry of Cicero.

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    Report: High court restores some defeated judges

    Several politically connected Illinois judges have been appointed to judgeships after losing elections or dropping out of races, according to a report Sunday.

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    New Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor at his office in Waukegan.

    Chairman: Lake County Board ‘best place to serve’

    Only 30 years old, Aaron Lawlor has spent a third of his life in political office. Recently named the chairman of the Lake County Board, Lawlor talked to the Daily Herald about why he ran for the post, his goals and his political aspirations. "I've never had a problem holding my own regardless of my age. We need leaders who bring diverse perspectives and work toward better outcomes for our...

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    Man arrested in Wisconsin for alleged 12th DWI

    A driver in Columbia County is accused of driving while intoxicated — for the 12th time.

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    Man in Santa suit hits Dane Co. deputy, arrested

    A 69-year-old man in a Santa suit was arrested for drunken driving after authorities say he struck a Dane County Sheriff's deputy who was directing traffic.

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    Repayment of child care subsidy funds is slow in Wisconsin

    isconsin is trying to recover more than $8 million from roughly 300 child care providers shut down for cheating the taxpayer-subsidized Wisconsin Shares program, but gaps in the state's system for collecting restitution make it unlikely taxpayers will see full repayment anytime soon.

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    Site where girl died still haven for sex offenders

    An Indiana trailer park where a 9-year-old girl was slain and dismembered is now home to more convicted sex offenders than it was when she died just a few days before Christmas last year, state records show. The online state sex offender registry currently lists 17 sex offenders living on lots at the address of the trailer park where Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon was killed Dec. 22, 2011, compared with...

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    3 former smokers win Ind. ‘Quit Now’ contest

    Indiana's health commissioner is splitting $5,000 among three former smokers in reward for their quitting smoking. Mary Stackhouse of Kokomo won $2,500, Sean Terrell of Jasonville won $1,500 and Carla Reel of Lafayette won $1,000 for not smoking in October.

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    FBI: Purdue reports 2nd most campus hate crimes

    Purdue University reported the second-highest number of hate crimes among the country's colleges last year, according to statistics compiled by the FBI. The seven alleged hate crimes reported on the West Lafayette campus in 2011 were the most among Indiana colleges, the Journal & Courier reported Sunday. So far in 2012, Purdue police have documented 12 hate crimes.

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    Noah Strandberg, 3, of Warrenville gets a high-five from mascot Victor E. Huskie. A group of Northern Illinois University students, along with mascot Victor E. Huskie were in Naperville Friday. They were promoting the team’s trip to the Orange Bowl and handing out oranges to fans. They handed out almost 1800 oranges throughout the day.

    Images: The Week In Pictures
    This edition of The Week In Pictures features NIU Huskies Orange Bowl fever in Naperville, shopping with a cop in Mundelein, and a young girl who's donating her hair to the Wigs For Kids charity. And, a young Naperville resident is comforted by the gift of a new dog after his sister and dog were murdered recently.

Sports

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    It has been a very tough year for Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and others in the sports world.

    A time to remember those who can't forget

    We can be forgiven for not remembering during every minute of every day that each breath is fleeting, but there are always reminders, and sports saw its share of such heartbreak this year.

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    Hamilton practices, could return soon

    Richard Hamilton returned to practice Monday and could be on the verge of returning to game action. The veteran shooting guard has been out since tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot on Dec. 1. Meanwhile, Luol Deng rested a sore shoulder, but is expected to play against Houston.

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    Playing better than 30 minutes a game for the Rockets, former Bull Omer Asik is averaging 11.4 rebounds and 10.6 points this season.

    Bulls get a holiday visit from an old friend
    Following a Christmas Eve practice at the Berto Center, Joakim Noah admitted there are times when he really misses former teammate Omer Asik. "I don't talk to him that much," Noah said. "But sometimes I see the backgammon set that's still on the plane. We used to play backgammon together a lot. "Nobody else (on the team) knows how to play backgammon. Sometimes I get bored on the plane, I think about Omer. Kind of corny, but "

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    Bulls tipoff
    Houston Rockets at the United Center, 7 p.m.TV: WCIU, ESPNRadio: ESPN AM-1000Update: This will be the Bulls’ first Christmas Day home game since 1997, when they beat Miami. The Bulls lost at Houston 93-89 on Nov. 21, after squandering a 5-point lead with less than four minutes remaining. SG James Harden is the league’s fourth-leading scorer at 25.6 points, while ex-Bulls C Omer Asik is fourth in rebounds with 11.4. PG Jeremy Lin is averaging 11.7 points and 6.2 assists. The Rockets (14-12) have been hot, winning three straight and five of their last six.Next: Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 6 p.m. Wednesday — Mike McGraw

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    Bears coach Lovie Smith watches his team during Sunday’s season-saving (so far) victory at Arizona.

    There might be ways to make Lovie just leave

    Ah, here we are, waking up to another Christmas without Bears head coach Lovie Smith's firing under the tree. Smith's job scenarios remain nearly as diverse as the Bears' postseason scenarios have been. Today the playoffs are clearer: The Bears qualify Sunday if they win and the Vikings lose. If only Smith's situation were that simple.

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    Bears hurting at safety, running back

    Injuries to free safety Chris Conte (hamstring) and running back Matt Forte (sprained ankle) will force the Bears to consider adding depth at one or both of those positions this week.

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    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed only 1 of his first 11 passes Sunday at Arizona. He finished with a passer rating of 76.8, the third straight game he was under 80.

    Bears’ offense needs to step up vs. Lions

    The Bears kept their playoff hopes alive in the desert despite a disappointing passing game that struggled to get on track early and then did barely enough to match the scoring of the defense. More production may be necessary next Sunday against the Lions if Lovie Smith's team hopes to remain in the postseason picture.

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    Girls basketball/Top 20
    Unbeaten Rolling Meadows (13-0) has taken over the No. 1 spot in the Daily Herald's Top 20 girls basketball rankings. Montini (14-1) is now No. 2 and Wheaton Warrenville South (13-2) stays at No. 3.

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    Mike North video: Back the Packers

    For the Bears to get it in the playoffs, unfortunately we need the Pack to win. Jerry Rice's record for single season receiving yards is still the best even though Calvin Johnson broke it.

Business

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    Carl La Mell

    Clearbrook's La Mell climbing new heights for disabled

    Kukec's People features Carl M. La Mell, president and CEO of Clearbrook in Arlington Heights, knows about longevity. He's been with Clearbrook for about 17 years. He's attended opening day for the Chicago White Sox for the last 42 years. He's also still playing basketball at a North Side Chicago gym with two friends he's known since second grade. Now, he's been on the board of the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities for more than 25 years and will become its chairman starting in January. And he's also been reappointed by President Obama to serve on his Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

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    Wheeling officials are hopeful that an off-site parking lot for employees at the Fresh Farms grocery will help alleviate complaints from some residents about neighborhood onstreet parking problems since the store opened.

    New lot could solve Wheeling parking problem

    Employees of Fresh Farms in Wheeling will park across the street in a leased lot, answering complaints that they were parking on neighborhood streets, according to village officials.

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    In this New York Stock Exchange Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, photo, Trader Warren Meyers uses his handheld device as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks are down Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, amid concern that lawmakers will fail to reach a deal to stop the U.S. going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

    Stocks dip with budget deal in doubt at year’s end

    Stocks fell in light trading Monday during a shortened holiday trading session with lawmakers running out of time to reach a budget deal that would prevent the U.S. from going over the so-called fiscal cliff. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 51 points to 13,140. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 4 points to 1,426. The Nasdaq composite slipped 9 points to 3,012.

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    President Barack Obama speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.

    Don’t be fooled by January pay — higher taxes loom

    Workers probably won't feel the full brunt of next year's tax increases in their January paychecks, but don't be fooled by the temporary reprieve. No matter what Congress does to address the year-end fiscal cliff, it's already too late for employers to accurately withhold income taxes from January paychecks, unless all the current tax rates remain unchanged, which is an unlikely scenario.

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    Employment wage-and-hour issues loom in New Year

    The number of wage claims coming in our door the last year is more than twice the number of traditional discrimination claims, according to a local attorney. Small Business Columnist Jim Kendall looks into the issue.

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, talks to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a joint press conference following their meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Russia and India signed weapons deals worth billions of dollars Monday as President Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally.

    Russia, India sign weapons deals worth billions

    Russia and India signed weapons deals worth billions of dollars Monday as President Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally. Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed cooperation between their countries as officials signed a $1.6 billion deal for 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets that will be license-built in India from Russian components and a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.

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    Money traders watch screens showing foreign exchange rates at a foreign exchange firm in Tokyo.

    Markets flat on holiday-thinned trading

    Financial markets were largely steady in holiday-thinned trading Monday though concerns remain over the progress of U.S. budget discussions and the future of the economic reform program in Italy.

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    People walk through a mall in Orlando, Fla. A confluence of factors has led to a muted approach to holiday shopping in 2012 - bad news for retailers, which can make up to 40 percent of annual sales during November and December and were counting on the last weekend before Christmas to make up for lost dollars earlier in the season.

    Subdued mood on the last holiday shopping weekend

    Christmas shoppers thronged malls and pounced on discounts but apparently spent less this year, their spirits dampened by concerns about the economy and the aftermath of shootings and storms. Talk about more than just the usual job worries to cloud the mood: Confidence among U.S. consumers dipped to its lowest point in December since July amid rising economic worries, according to a monthly index released Friday.

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    In this undated file image originally released by Starz, Liam McIntyre portrays the title role in a scene from “Spartacus: Vengeance,” airing on Starz. Starz will likely be sold.

    Starz takeover looms as billionaire fights low value

    “Spartacus” and 55.1 million subscribers could be up for grabs at half the median valuation of television-industry takeovers as billionaire John Malone prepares to make premium channel Starz LLC a separate company. Liberty Media Corp. plans to split off its Starz unit in the coming weeks, and Chief Executive Officer Greg Maffei has said its cable networks may be more valuable to another owner, signaling a possible sale.

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    Yahoo upgrades e-mail to lure back customers

    Yahoo! Inc. upgraded its e-mail service to woo mobile users, the first major product unveiling since Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer took over with a mandate to improve tools and services to lure back customers.

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    This undated publicity image released by Activision shows soldiers and terrorists battling in the streets of Yemen in a scene from the video game, ìCall of Duty: Black Ops II.î Video-game violence has come under increased scrutiny after the killing of 26 people, including 20 children, in a Connecticut elementary school last week.

    Video-game makers face scrutiny over violence after killings

    Video-game makers and retailers are facing growing pressure from Washington and advocacy groups concerned about possible links between violent games and tragedies like the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. A bill introduced this week by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller directs the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether violent games and programs lead children to act aggressively, the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement.

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    Drive-in movie theaters that scraped by during the surge in modern multiplexes are edging closer to extinction as Hollywood phases out the 35-millimeter reels they need to show films.

    U.S. drive-in theaters face demise without funds for digital

    Drive-in movie theaters that scraped by during the surge in modern multiplexes are edging closer to extinction as Hollywood phases out the 35-millimeter reels they need to show films. Most of the remaining 368 U.S. drive-ins, down from more than 4,000 in 1958, must decide whether to pay as much as $70,000 to install digital projectors for their large outdoor screens.

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    Thousands of townspeople and nearly a million across Spain followed bank manager’s advice and invested their life savings in the bank’s stocks. Lured by the family-like ties nurtured between bankers and customers, they poured their life’s savings into higher-yielding financial instruments recommended by the people managing their money. When boom turned to catastrophic bust, they found the stock they had acquired had become all but worthless.

    Spanish savers fall victim to friendly bankers

    Nearly a million people across Spain lured by the family-like ties nurtured between bankers and customers, they poured their life's savings into higher-yielding financial instruments recommended by the people managing their money. When boom turned to catastrophic bust, they found the stock they had acquired had become all but worthless. Once-lifelong friendships have turned to enmity, as victims cry treachery.

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    Prize money at Britain’s biggest racecourses, such as Aintree and Epsom Downs, will jump 15 percent to 40.4 million pounds ($66 million) next year, the Jockey Club said.

    Prize money at top U.K. tracks climbs to $66 million

    Prize money at Britain’s biggest racecourses, such as Aintree and Epsom Downs, will jump 15 percent to 40.4 million pounds ($66 million) next year, the Jockey Club said. “We’re being more commercially successful, driving our profits and so we were able to put more back into prize money,” Jockey Club Group Chief Executive Officer Simon Bazalgette said.

  •  
    The Treasury Department said that it will sell its remaining stake in General Motors by early 2014, writing the final chapter of a $50 billion bailout that saved the auto giant but stoked a heated national debate about the government’s role in private industry.

    Government prepares to sell GM stock

    The U.S. government’s short stint in the auto business is coming to an end. The Treasury Department said that it will sell its remaining stake in General Motors by early 2014, writing the final chapter of a $50 billion bailout that saved the auto giant but stoked a heated national debate about the government’s role in private industry.

  •  
    South Korean navy sailors stand guard near a part of debris from a rocket launched by North Korea on a Navy ship at Navy’s 2nd Fleet headquarters in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 14, 2102.

    North Korea may see few buyers for missile

    By successfully firing a rocket that put a satellite in space, North Korea let the far-flung buyers of its missiles know that it is still open for business. But Pyongyang will find that customers are hard to come by as old friends drift away and international sanctions lock down its sales.

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    U.S. current account deficit fell in third quarter

    The U.S. current account trade deficit narrowed in the July-September quarter to the smallest level since late 2010, but the improvement may not last.

  •  
    A floating buoy marks the edge of the shipping channel on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, Missouri. Barges carrying grain, soybeans, coal, oil and other commodities on the Mississippi River have started to reduce their loads to navigate waters shrunk by the worst drought in 50 years.

    Storms improve outlook for Mississippi River

    A release of water from the Missouri River and recent snow and rain are offering some relief for the Mississippi River. Though still dangerously low, the Mississippi River channel at St. Louis was roughly 12 feet deep on Thursday — up about a foot-and-a-half since Monday.

  •  
    After new ad campaigns touting the quality of its food failed to spark sales, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster is retooling its strategy to attract diners with more promotional deals.

    Olive Garden owner shifts course to focus on deals

    After new ad campaigns touting the quality of its food failed to spark sales, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster is retooling its strategy to attract diners with more promotional deals.The shift comes after Darden Restaurants Inc. earlier this fall moved to update the image of its flagship chains and appeal to younger diners in their 20s and 30s, who increasingly prize fresh, high-quality ingredients.

  •  

    Right-to-work Nevada a rare bright spot for labor

    The future of the American labor movement may lie just off the Las Vegas Strip, inside a squat building huddled in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino.That’s the home of the Culinary Workers Local 226, a fast-growing union of hotel and casino employees that has thrived despite being in a right-to-work state and a region devastated by the real estate crash.More than 90 percent of Culinary’s 60,000 predominantly immigrant workers opt to be dues-paying members, even though Nevada law says they cannot be forced to pay unions for their services.As a result, housekeepers in most Strip hotels start at $16 an hour with free health care and a pension. Culinary’s track record gives a dispirited labor movement some hope even as it hemorrhages workers and reels from the approval of a right-to-work law last week in union-strong Michigan.“National unions need to look at what some of the folks out here have done,” said Billy Vassiliadis, former chair of the Nevada Democratic Party. In a right-to-work state that for years was relatively conservative, “they had to be smart. They had to be nimble.”As a result, he said, “labor here is a big pillar in the political debate.”But that’s less true on a national scale. American labor has been on a downward trajectory for decades: Unions represented 30 percent of the workforce when the federal government first began tracking membership in the early 1980s. Now they represent less than 12 percent.Michigan’s adoption of a right-to-work law follows a string of recent setbacks in the industrial Midwest. Indiana passed a right-to-work law early this year, and Wisconsin effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers last year.The American union member once was typified by the white Michigan factory worker who was hoisted into the middle class by the United Auto Workers’ package of good pay and benefits. Now Culinary’s service worker membership — largely Hispanic housekeepers, line cooks and hostesses at casinos — may be the new model.“Manufacturing jobs used to be horrible, until they got organized,” said D. Taylor, who just stepped down as Culinary’s secretary-treasurer to run its national organization, Unite-HERE. “Service jobs used to be the same — horrible jobs until they got organized. Nevada’s not some magic place. Those jobs just got organized.”Culinary has almost quadrupled its membership since the 1980s, but Nevada unions still struggle against national headwinds. The percentage of workers in the state who belong to unions is down to 14.6 percent from its 1996 peak of 20 percent — though much of that decline happened in the past four years after the real estate crash wiped out thousands of union construction jobs.Danny Thompson, head of the state AFL-CIO, says right-to-work has hobbled Nevada labor. But he’s mulling going on the offensive and asking voters to overturn the law, which passed narrowly in the 1950s.“There’s no question that this is a strong union state,” he said.The Nevada model, however, is difficult to duplicate.Michael Chamberlain, a Republican political consultant in Las Vegas, notes Culinary has thrived in a heavily regulated industry. If casinos, which must be licensed by the state, pay their workers high wages, it’s difficult for competitors to offer less. And cleaning, cooking and card-dealing jobs cannot be shipped overseas.“They have the ability to limit competition, and that allows the unions to develop their power,” Chamberlain said.Even Nevada’s formidable construction trade unions have had most of their success in casinos along the Strip, and less in private suburban projects where wages are competitive, Chamberlain said.Indeed, many of labor’s remaining success stories come in areas where competition is limited, said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California Santa Barbara.

  •  
    The Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles has a nearly 80 percent vacancy rate.

    Proposal may bring legal battle, new taxes to St. Charles

    It's the issue in St. Charles most elected officials don't want to talk about — and it involves a new tool those same officials hope they don't have to use. A new study commissioned by the city paves the way for possibly taking the Charlestowne Mall property through the courts. It also includes new taxes to rebuild the property. The East Gateway Business District Plan puts the words “blighted” and “eminent domain” in writing for the first time in public discussions about the future of Charlestowne Mall.

  •  
    Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods company, reported second-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as sales gained in North America.

    Nike profit tops estimates

    Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods company, reported second-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as sales gained in North America.

Life & Entertainment

  •  
    Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) takes on a new bounty hunter partner, an escaped slave named "Django" (Jamie Foxx).

    Tarantino rides high in the saddle with 'Django'

    "Django Unchained" represents Quentin Tarantino's idea of a comic romance — with graphic killings, torture, racism and anachronistic rap tunes playing under pre-Civil War America scenes. At its heart, this spicy American SpaghettiO western is a quest for love mixed, a buddy/road adventure and a gory revenge tale.

  •  
    Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

    Kids resilient in coping with trauma, experts say

    The school shooting in Connecticut raises the question: What will be the psychological fallout for the children who survived? For people of any age, regaining a sense of security after surviving violence can take a long time. They're at risk for lingering anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder. But after the grief and fear fades, psychiatrists say most of Newtown's young survivors probably will cope without long-term emotional problems.

  •  

    How to find the right champagne for you

    Before shopping for a New Year's Eve sparkling wine, ask yourself, “What do I want from my bubbly besides bubbles?” Whether dry or sweet; red, white or pink; imported or American made, elegantly austere or a fizzy mouthful of fun, the large sparkling wine category includes styles for every palate and pocketbook. The extra-value leader is cava, Spain's sparkling wine. With well-made, refreshing wines priced at less than $10, cava can be the beginning of punches, sparkling wine cocktails and mass consumption.

  •  
    This image provided by the Chrysler Group LLC. shows Motown Records founder Berry Gordy in a Chrysler advertisement. The automaker on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 launched the ad campaign that promotes both the new 2013 Chrysler 300 Motown Edition as well as an upcoming Broadway musical based on Gordy’s life.

    Berry Gordy star of new Motown-themed Chrysler ad

    Chrysler is joining forces with Motown Records founder Berry Gordy for a new ad campaign that promotes a new Motown-themed sedan as well as an upcoming Broadway musical based on Gordy's life. A 60-second commercial entitled "Who We Are" began airing Thursday. The spot showcases the 2013 Chrysler 300 Motown Edition.

  •  

    Regular aspirin use may raise risk of eye disorder

    Older adults who use aspirin regularly for 10 years or more may have an increased risk of developing an age-related eye disorder that can lead to vision loss, a study found. The risk of having wet age-related macular degeneration was about twice as high for those who regularly took aspirin a decade before researchers detected it in an eye exam compared with those who didn't take the medicine, according to research in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

  •  

    Silence golden for sound sensitive patients

    For as long as she can remember, Suzanne Belasik has been a prisoner to sound. Gum cracking, crunching and the clanking of silverware against plates are just a few of the unbearable noises that make her distracted, irritated and even enraged. While some say she is "overly sensitive," Belasik, 24, recognizes that she has a condition called misophonia, or selective sound sensitivity syndrome.

  •  

    Infectious arthritis requires quick treatment

    In rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, an overactive immune system causes joint inflammation. The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown. But joints also can become infected with bacteria and fungi. Once the microbe reaches the joint, it can multiply. The immune system recognizes the invading foreigner and tries to wipe it out. The infection and the immune response cause warmth, pain, stiffness and swelling.

  •  
    Rescue workers examine the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center terrorist attacks in New York. The most comprehensive study of potential World Trade Center-related cancers raises more questions than it answers and won’t end a debate over whether the attacks were really a cause.

    Questions remain with 9/11 cancer study

    The most comprehensive study of potential World Trade Center-related cancers raises more questions than it answers and won't end a debate over whether the attacks were really a cause. The study suggests possible links with prostate, thyroid and a type of blood cancer among rescue and recovery workers exposed to toxic debris from the terrorist attacks. But there were few total cancers and even the study leaders say the results "should be interpreted with caution."

  •  
    Know your goals and work hard at them, but first make sure your health is ready for the work ahead.

    Check in with your body to achieve success in the new year

    With the new year just days away, many of you are thinking about change. We hope this change comes in the form of making exercise a consistent part of the upcoming year. But, before you hit the ground running in 2013, we recommend evaluating your current fitness level and getting things in check before setting out to conquer your new goals.

  •  

    Chronic depression could have ties to 'leaky gut syndrome'

    Is it possible that the key to depression is linked to bacteria in the bowels? Numerous studies over the past five years have suggested that the root of chronic depression may be associated with a specific medical condition known as leaky gut syndrome. Correcting this medical condition can result in significant improvement in chronic depression.

  •  
    Moderate exercise can boost your immune system if you aren’t feverish and achy.

    Your health: Exercise can boost immunity
    Determing your activity level depends on your health and how you are feeling. Learn when to take it easy. Also, Weight Watchers has a new mobile app to track your food choices.

  •  
    Between family get-togethers and holiday parties, it’s hard to protect yourself from germs.

    Gift of germs not something you want during the holidays

    The most wonderful time of the year has a dark underbelly: germs, bugs and general ickiness that can travel more quickly than Santa's sleigh. We're not trying to give you the willies, just suggesting a few easy ways to prevent problems and make your holidays even happier.

  •  
    There’s a temptation to go overboard when it comes to drinking during the holidays.

    Don’t take a holiday from sensible drinking

    'Tis definitely the season to eat, drink and be merry. Some of us, however, take those festive guidelines a wee bit too seriously — particularly with eggnog, mulled wine, champagne and other alcoholic beverages. Why do people drink too much during the holidays? "A lot of traditions at this time of year involve alcohol," says Virginia clinical psychologist Diane Hoekstra.

  •  

    Study could spur wider use of prenatal gene tests

    A new study sets the stage for wider use of gene testing in early pregnancy. Scanning the genes of a fetus reveals far more about potential health risks than current prenatal testing does, say researchers who compared both methods in thousands of pregnancies nationwide. A surprisingly high number — 6 percent — of certain fetuses declared normal by conventional testing were found to have genetic abnormalities by gene scans, the study found.

  •  
    Be sure to check house plants for signs of insect activity throughout the winter.

    Check houseplants for insect problems throughout winter

    Be sure to monitor your houseplants for insect problems throughout the winter. Pest problems are more likely to occur when plants are stressed.

  •  
    Gregory owns a pair of Daytona Yellow Camaros. His Rally Sport Z/28 was found in downstate Decatur in 1998 and he purchased a Yenko-modified Super Camaro from a friend in Madison, Wis., in 2003.

    Can't get enough of the '69 Camaro

    Rich Gregory has a long history of enjoying the best four-wheeled machines Chevrolet offers, including his personal collection of Chevelles and Corvettes. But once the Barrington resident laid eyes on a neighbor's 1969 Camaro, his passion became laser focused.

Discuss

  •  

    Editorial: The re-emerging joy of big ideas

    After so many years of reporting losses and closures of commercial and civic projects, it's reassuring to note tones of optimism about building again, a Daily Herald editorial says.

  •  
    Lee Hamilton

    One thing we can agree On about government

    Guest columnist Lee Hamilton: My sense is that the public is demanding more from government, not in size, but in performance. Americans want government to work better for less, and the only way to achieve this is for government to become more effective and productive in dealing with the challenges before us.

  •  

    Custodian for pension fund a smart move
    A Skokie letter to the editor: In regards to the audit findings for the police and fire pension funds in St. Charles (“Audit knocks St. Charles police, fire pension boards,” Nov. 19), an independent custodian is certainly worth considering. Our Skokie police fund switched to a separate custodian a few years ago.

  •  

    ‘Mormon’ musical debases, exploits
    A Chicago letter to the editor: I strongly urge that the directors and writers of this play to do some soul searching as this popular show winds its way around the country. Perhaps a broad, public warning or a disclaimer to any unsuspecting patron, “to attend at their own risk of being spiritually maligned.” I am praying that you hear this word of wise council.

  •  

    Acts of kindness in memory of 26 victims
    A Gurnee letter to the editor: I placed my order, and when I drove up to the window to pay, the young man said, “That lady in front of you paid for your lunch.” He handed me a note that she had written that said, “In memory of the 26 victims in Newtown, CT. I am committing 26 acts of kindness. This is Act #1 in memory of James Mattioli. Please keep it going.”

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