Daily Archive : Wednesday December 26, 2012



    Contested village board races throughout Kane

    There are contested village board elections in April in Wayne, Campton Hills, North Aurora, Elburn and Sugar Grove. But not enough people are running in Lily Lake.

    Juan Rivera gives a hug to Miguel Diaz, right, after he is released from Stateville State Prison.

    Lake County's top newsmakers of 2012

    A lawmaker with a health crisis, a man who was wrongly convicted of murder and a bureaucrat at the center of a battle over a land plan were among the people who made headlines in Lake County in 2012.

    Jeff Turner's In the Neighborhood Deli has become a gathering place for many people to enjoy good food and good company. Turner, known in Elgin for his service to the community and the free holiday dinners he organizes, was named one of the 10 Outstanding Young People of 2012 by the Illinois Jaycees.

    Fox Valley People of the Year, 2012

    A man who donated a kidney to save the life of someone he'd never met. A local high school graduate competing in the Olympics. A mayor retiring from public service after 20 years. They were among people making headlines in the Fox Valley in 2012.

    Cpl. Alex Martinez and his wife. Martinez, of Elgin, was killed in Afghanistan in April.

    Remembering the lives of residents who died in 2012 in the Fox Valley

    Several well-known Fox Valley residents died in 2012, leaving behind impressive accomplishments and years of service as their legacy. The list includes servicemen, veterans, politicians, educators and volunteers, each of whom had a lasting influence on communities across the area.

    Buske_Lawrence_W_mg022403 Lawrence Buske, Rolling Meadows alderman, 3rd ward.

    A final farewell
    The Northwest suburbs lost some renowned movers and shakers in 2012. Here is one last salute.

    Heartland Community College student Ari Lipp pets Abby, a therapy dog in in Normal.

    Students use therapy dogs during finals

    Final exam week is a stressful time for students at Heartland Community College.Judging by the attention given to Abby the therapy dog, it can be stressful for professors, too. When Faye Freeman-Smith, Heartland's director of student counseling, considered a therapy dog for students, math professor Deb Wentzel said she had the right one.Abby, which Wentzel describes as "a Labrador mix," went...

    In a Tuesday, June 12, 2012 file photo, former President George H.W. Bush, and his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, arrive for the premiere of HBO's new documentary on his life near the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

    George H.W. Bush still in intensive care

    Former President George H.W. Bush remained in guarded condition overnight in the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital after a day marked by "a series of setbacks including persistent fever," according to his spokesman.

    Debbie Herrmann

    Last day of candidate filing brings showdown in Island Lake

    The last day of candidate filing for the April 2013 election solidified some much anticipated political showdowns in Lake County. Perhaps most prominently, a slate of relative political newcomers led by a former veteran mayor will challenge Island Lake's sitting mayor and her allies.


    Family displaced, 3 dogs die in Gurnee fire

    A Christmas Eve fire killed three dogs and left a Gurnee family displaced, according to fire officials. The Gurnee Fire Department responded to a report of a single-family home on fire at 4939 Ridge Dr. shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Monday, according to Battalion Chief John Skillman.


    Man who injured 2 in Hampshire DUI in 2010 faces new DUI charge

    A 23-yaer-old South Elgin man who was sentenced to boot camp after he severely injured an elderly Hampshire couple in a December 2010 drunk driving crash was arrested on Christmas and charged with felony DUI. Eric M. Barth faces up to three years in prison and is due in court on Jan. 4. He's being held on $100,000 bail.


    7 families displaced after Carol Stream apartment fire

    Seven families were displaced after a fire caused damage to a Carol Stream apartment building Wednesday afternoon, according to officials. The fire was limited to two units on the second floor of the eight-unit building, but caused about $250,000 in damage, said Battalion Chief Joe Gilles.


    Contested mayoral races take shape in DuPage County

    Voters in Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Winfield and Villa Park will cast ballots this spring in contested mayoral elections. The last day of candidate filing ended Wednesday for municipal, park, school and fire district boards in the April 9 election.


    Interest is high in most Northwest suburban races

    If you believe the maxim that all politics is local, April 9 is the election for you. Filing closed Wednesday, and the interest in local municipal offices is keen this cycle -- six Northwest suburbs have contested mayoral elections, and nine city councils and village boards will be contested.

    North Aurora President Dale Berman

    Array of Fox Valley mayoral candidates unopposed

    A wide array of incumbent mayors will run unopposed, as filing for the April local elections closed Wednesday. Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke is alone in his bid for a ninth term, as are numerous others. But in St. Charles, as many as four people want the post being vacated by Mayor Don DeWitte.


    Elmhurst cops tight-lipped on death probe

    Elmhurst police released no new details Wednesday about the death of a Bensenville man found Monday afternoon along Salt Creek. The DuPage County coroner's office performed an autopsy Wednesday morning on Russell Winkler, 45, but would not release his cause of death pending the results of an ongoing police investigation.

    Kirk Morris

    Another settlement in long-running Gurnee memorial dispute

    Gurnee village board members have approved a lawsuit settlement with Trustee Kirk Morris, which presumably will end a 3-year controversy over his private foundation's attempt to build a memorial to troops who died in Iraq and Afghanistan on public land.

    Frank Calabrese Sr. in 1990

    Convicted mobster Calabrese dies in prison

    The Federal Bureau of Prisons says convicted Chicago mobster Frank Calabrese Sr. has died at the age of 75. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross says Calabrese died Tuesday at the Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina. Ross had no information on the cause of death.


    Geneva man wants to serve on school, park, library boards

    A Geneva man is running for seats on the local school, park and library boards, though it's unclear whether he can serve on all three. Jay Moffat is chairman of the Geneva Plan Commission. His home voice mail box was too full to accept a message, and he did not respond to emails sent to personal and work addresses.


    Fox Valley police reports
    BataviaŸ Someone stole a black iPhone 4 at the Goodwill store, 450 N. Randall Road, it was reported at 3:19 p.m. Dec. 23.Ÿ Outdoor holiday decorations were damaged on the 1200 block of Payne Avenue, it was reported at 8:33 p.m. Dec. 23.Ÿ Tools were stolen at a construction site on the 500 bloc of North College Street, it was reported at 9:39 a.m. Dec. 22.


    Dist. 33 teachers, board heading back to bargaining table

    Negotiating teams in West Chicago Elementary District 33 are scheduled to return to the bargaining table Jan. 3 and 4 — just days before teachers legally will be allowed to strike. The school board and teachers union both have agreed to resume talks with a federal mediator as the threat of a job action looms. The two sides last met Dec. 3.

    Two horse wearing Santa hats nuzzle at a private barn called Canterfield Farm in West Dundee on Christmas Day. This is the eighth year the horses have worn the hats. Many drivers stop along Route 31 to look and take pictures.

    Holiday Weekend in Review: West Chicago school strike threat

    What you may have missed over the long holiday weekend: Gunman in New York left behind chilling letter; Bears face high stakes in game vs. Lions; Connecticut town celebrates Christmas after shootings; S. Elgin Santa continues holiday tradition; weather messes with holiday travel; Buffalo Grove boy struggles with violent impulses; few housing options in suburbs for mentally ill; Bulls lose to...

    Laura Wallett

    Elgin Township appoints new clerk

    Laura Wallett, a former Republican candidate for Kane County auditor, was named Wednesday to serve as Elgin Township clerk. Wallett, 42, of South Elgin, is also the lone Republican candidate running for the post in the February primary.


    Free senior food market in Schaumburg

    The Senior Program at the Schaumburg Barn has teamed up with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to provide its community with a free food market for seniors age 60 and over from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28 at the Schaumburg Barn, 231 S. Civic Drive in Schaumburg. Staff from the Greater Chicago Food Depository also will be available to assist with SNAP program applications.

    Coyotes attacked small dogs in Wheaton, Warrenville and elsewhere.

    DuPage animal stories made big news in 2012

    It was a ruff year for animals in DuPage County. Everywhere you turned it seemed fur was flying and feathers were being ruffled. Everybody's bite was worse than their bark. There was the guy in Aurora who pretty much turned his townhouse over to hundreds of birds who made such a mess that when cleanup crews finally arrived, they had to wear hazmat suits.Coyotes attacked dogs in Wheaton and...

    Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steve Balinski speaks during a village board meeting. Balinski will retire April 2.

    Buffalo Grove hires firm to search for new police chief

    Buffalo Grove has hired Voorhees Associates LLC to conduct a search for a new police chief following the announcement last week that Steve Balinski will retire April 2. Village officials praised Balinski, a 36-year veteran of the force who has been chief almost 10 years, at last week's board meeting.

    ABC 7 sports anchor Mark Giangreco and entertainment reporter Janet Davies will host “Countdown Chicago 2013” Dec. 31. The top-rated show is now in its 22nd year, and will include two suburban parties in its broadcast.

    Suburban parties to be featured on ABC 7’s ‘Countdown Chicago 2013’

    Chicago's top-rated New Year's Eve countdown show isn't Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. It's ABC7's live "Countdown Chicago" broadcast of the New Year's Eve parties around the Chicago area.

    The 2011-2012 Larkin High School Poms won first place in the 3A open dance category at the state finals last March. Bottom row, from left: Student manager Megan Malone; coach Laura Newmeyer; former captain Briana Ripoli; former captain Jordan Maijala. Middle row, from left: Chloe Hamilton; Brenna Fulin; Aine Naughton; Madison Cherry; Julia Burch. Top, from left: Liz McKee; Micaela Bender; Chloe Petramale; Dakota Judson and team manager Cayley Norton. Mika McCullough and Alexis Jorgensen are not pictured.

    Larkin High School poms prepare for Orange Bowl

    The Larkin High School poms squad will join hundreds of dancers from across the country in a halftime performance at the Orange Bowl Jan. 1 in Florida. Besides representing their school, the girls will work with some of the top choreographers in the nation. "The girls are going to get the chance of a lifetime," said poms coach Laura Newmeyer.

    In this Wednesday, July 18, 2012 file photo, former South African President Nelson Mandela as he celebrates his birthday with family in Qunu, South Africa.

    Mandela released from hospital

    Former South African President Nelson Mandela was released Wednesday from the hospital after being treated for a lung infection and having gallstones removed, a government spokesman said. But the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon will continue to receive medical care at home. Mandela had been in the hospital since Dec. 8. In recent days, officials have said he was improving and in good spirits, but...

    Dauphin Street at North Carlen Street in the Midtown section of Mobile, Ala. is impassable after a tornado touched down Tuesday.

    U.S. storm's toll up to 6 dead as system heads east

    A winter storm system that blew through Christmas Day with Gulf Coast tornadoes and snow in the nation's midsection headed for the Northeast on Wednesday, spreading blizzard conditions that slowed holiday travel.The death toll rose to six with car accidents on snow and sleet-slickened highways in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

    Opposition activists hold a poster reading “Do not involve children in politics” during a protest against a bill banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday.

    Russian parliament considers anti-US adoption bill

    Defying a storm of domestic and international criticism, Russia moved toward finalizing a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, as Parliament's upper house voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a measure that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign into law.


    Man found dead in car in Antioch

    Officials are investigating the death of a 26-year-old man, whose body was found Christmas Eve in a car parked on an Antioch street.


    Sheriff warns of lottery scam

    Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart is warning residents not to be fooled by scams where "winners" are told they are entitled to a large lottery cash prize without ever having purchased a ticket.


    Northwest suburban police blotter

    Burglars cut a hole in the roof at RJ Jewelry, 1231 E. Higgins Road, Elk Grove Village, between 6 p.m. Dec. 14 and 4:30 a.m. Dec. 15 but apparently did not take anything. Employees arriving for work found water on the floor and the hole in the roof. Damage was estimated at $2,000.

    Lightning flashes as another line of thunderstorms approaches a severely damaged home near McNeill, Miss. on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. A Christmas Day twister outbreak left damage across the Deep South while holiday travelers in the nation’s much colder midsection battled sometimes treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard conditions.

    Images: Christmas Day weather
    Freezing rain and sleet made for a sloppy Christmas trek in parts of the nation's midsection, while residents along the Gulf Coast braced for thunderstorms, high winds and tornadoes that were doing damage in some areas.

    British travelers, left to right, Liam Skalley, John Arthurs, Ben Saunders, Sam Hope and Liam Fillingham kick up their heels as they celebrate Christmas Day despite wet and cold weather at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    Images: Christmas Day around the world
    Images from Christmas Day around the world.

    Kelvyn Park players appreciate the Barrington jerseys they use in practice.

    Barrington High School donation helps Chicago football program grow

    A high school football team on Chicago's Northwest Side is benefiting from a donation made by Barrington High School football coach Joe Sanchez. Cleats, practice jerseys and pads are just a few of the items that the 52 players at Kelvyn Park High School football are putting to use. "(Barrington High School's) practice jerseys ... were better than our game jerseys," the Kelvyn Park coach says.


    Dawn Patrol: Armed robbery, fire in Naperville; body found

    Naperville police seek a robber of a Naperville gas station. A Bensenville man's body was found in Elmhurst along Salt Creek. A fire damages a Naperville home on Christmas. A teenager alarms people in Geneva with his fake rifle. Fallen soldier's family welcomes naval recruits to Arlington Heights.

    Alison Moro, 10, of Lombard, bites into her favorite snack. Alison’s mother lobbied for the right for her daughter to snack at school.

    Suburban schools vague on 'healthy' snacks

    Snack policies in suburban schools tend to be vague, varying from classroom to classroom under wellness policies that may allow "healthy snacks" without defining "healthy." Schools also may fail to specify which ages of students are allowed snacks. But a Lombard mom challenged the system -- and won. "It is in the best interests of students to have a snack."


    Keeneyville Dist. 20 gets $1.6 million grant to build preschool

    Keeneyville Elementary District 20 will receive a state grant of more than $1.6 million to build an early childhood education center aimed at meeting the needs of its poorest preschoolers. It will be housed at Greenbrook Elementary School in Hanover Park. "We are going to be able to meet the needs of a larger portion of the age 3 to 5 population who cannot afford to go to preschool," said a...

    Kildeer Countryside School in Long Grove is one of seven schools in District 96, whose board members spent $4,281 to hold a meeting at the InterContinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

    Kildeer District 96's $4,281 board meeting with $7 sodas

    The $350 officials from Kildeer Countryside District 96 spent on the meeting room at Chicago's InterContinental Hotel would be one of the cheapest expenditures for the school board's Nov. 16 meeting. Taxpayers living in the Buffalo Grove-based school district also covered $988 for 26 continental breakfasts, $1,638 for 26 lunches, $72 for nine bottles of iced tea and $392 for 2½ cases of soda.



    St. Charles East’s rally falls short

    There were several strong comebacks staged by St. Charles East's girls basketball team Wednesday afternoon. But it was a lackluster start that left Saints coach Lori Drumtra exasperated during their 57-48 loss to Lyons Township (8-4) in the opening round of the Falcon Classic/Bill Neibch Holiday Tournament at Wheaton North.


    Storm postpones Bulls-Pacers game

    The Bulls game against the Indiana Pacers has been postponed by a snowstorm that hit the Indianapolis area. The Pacers announced the postponement Wednesday afternoon, a few hours before the scheduled tip off. No date has been set for rescheduling the game.


    Wednesday’s girls basketball scoreboard
    Here are the results from Wednesday's varsity girls basketball results as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Wednesday’s boys basketball scoreboard
    Here are the results from xxxday's varsity boys basketball results as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Top this: McConnell, Fremd keep rolling

    Five days after hitting her career-high of 33 points, Fremd's Ashley McConnell didn't wait long to top that number. The senior guard rang up 35 points on Wednesday to help lead the Vikings to a 64-47 victory in their opening-round game of the Montini tournament in Lombard. The victory moves Fremd (14-3) into a quarterfinal match today with state power Marian Catholic. McConnell had 10 baskets, four from 3-point range, and was 11-of-11 at the free throw line.


    Batavia buries Bogan

    Batavia 70, Bogan 51: In the opening round of the Montini Christmas Tournament, Batavia (11-5) used a 22-9 third quarter to break away from Bogan (10-2).

    Round Lake’s Karnell Wright, left, and Zack Pick battle for a loose ball with Grant’s Luke Lostroscio during their game Wednesday night at Grant High School.

    Images: Round Lake vs. Grant boys basketball
    The Round Lake Panthers played the Grant Bulldogs in Wednesday's game at the Grant Holiday Tournament on December 26.

    Round Lake’s Karnell Wright drives in for a layup Wednesday night at Grant High School.

    Miller, Grant up to the task

    There's a hard-fast rule about dunking on the Grant basketball team. "If you can make the dunk, by all means, throw it down," Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said. "If not " Well, let's just say some bench time is in your future. Forward Keion Miller knows the rule all too well, but that didn't stop him from attempting two dunks in Wednesday's Grant Holiday Tournament game against Round Lake. He's missed a dunk in the past. But this time, Miller never needed a sub as he threw down both dunks with authority in Grant's 64-47 authoritative win over Round Lake.


    Naperville Central victorious at Dundee-Crown

    Shannon Ryan poured in 16 points, Victoria Trowbridge had 14 and 15 rebounds, and No. 4 Naperville Central beat Buffalo Grove 53-41 in first-round action Wednesday at the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic. Laura Dierking and Jamie Cuny each added 8 points for the Redhawks (14-1), who advance to play New Trier today.


    Girls basketball/Fox Valley roundup

    Streamwood 49, Niles West 38: Deja Moore scored 15 points and Hannah McGlone added 14 as the Sabres won their opening round game at the Mundelein tournament. Jessica Cerda added 10 points for Streamwood (13-2), which will play Conant today in the quarterfinals.Conant 34, Huntley 32: Ali Andrews had 12 points and Sam Andrews added 9 for Huntley (10-3) in this loss at Mundelein.Cary-Grove 58, Lake Park 35: Olivia Jakubicek had 16 points and 8 rebounds and Joslyn Nicholson added 14 points and 7 steals as the Trojans (8-4) prevailed at the Mundelein tournament. Cary-Grove will take on defending Class 3A state runner-up and undefeated Vernon Hills in the quarterfinals today.Maine South 50, Dundee-Crown 27: Lauren Lococo had 8 points to lead D-C (1-11) at the Charger Classic. The Chargers will take on Bartlett today.Chicago Latin 54, St. Edward 52: Rena Ranallo scored 17 points but St. Edward (0-13) fell just short of its first win of the season at the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic. Cece Rapp added 12 points and Chelsea Gnan had 8 for the Green Wave, who play Chicago Christian today.IC 45, Hampshire 38: Emma Benoit had 15 points and Jen Dumoulin added 13 but Hampshire (2-10) fell to Immaculate Conception at the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic. The Whip-Purs will take on Reed-Custer today.Hinsdale Central 57, Jacobs 41: Melanie Berg scored 11 points to lead Jacobs (1-12) at the Wheaton North tournament.


    Vernon Hills nets victory against Mundelein

    Sydney Smith had 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals, as Vernon Hills' undefeated girls basketball team opened the Mundelein Mustang Holiday Classic with a 54-29 win over the host school Wednesday morning.


    Hampshire wins 11th in a row

    The Hampshire boys basketball team survived another scare to its winning streak Wednesday, holding off Geneseo 35-33 in the final game of pool play at the Chuck Dayton Tournament at DeKalb.The Whip-Purs (11-1), who have now won 11 straight, will take on Moline at 5 p.m. today in the championship semifinals.Ryan Cork had 13 points to lead the Whips Wednesday, with Tyler Crater adding 11.Hampshire had a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter and was able to hold off the Maple Leafs’ comeback.St. Edward 59, Westmont 47: Antonio Domel scored 16 points and Luke Duffy added 13 as St. Edward notched a win at the IC/Westmont tournament. John Butzow added 10 points for the Green Wave (11-2).Burlington Central 65, Sandwich 41: Moter Deng scored 27 points and had 7 rebounds as the Rockets (4-8) won at the Plano Christmas Classic. Ryan Ritchie added 13 points and Reed Hunnicutt had 10 for BC.CL Central 63, Cary-Grove 46: Jason Gregiore led Cary-Grove (7-4) with 9 points in this loss at the Jacobs tournament.CL South 63, Elk Grove 51: Austin Rogers scored 16 points and Alex Bartusch added 9 to lead the Gators (4-5) to a win at the Jacobs tournament.North Lawndale 50, Huntley 40: TJ Adams scored 11 points and Jason Shields added 9 for Huntley (4-5) at the State Farm Classic in Bloomington. The Red Raiders suffered their fourth straight loss.


    Clark, Lakes handle Jacobs

    Impressive runs on the football field were a regular occurrence the last two seasons by Lakes senior Direll Clark. The two-time Daily Herald All-Area running back and Division I recruit showed he can perform similar feats on the basketball court in Wednesday night's second round game against the hosts of the Jacobs Boys Holiday Basketball Classic. The 5-foot-11 Clark ran off Lakes' final 14 points of the first quarter and wound up matching his career high of 26 in a 68-48 victory in Algonquin.


    Carmel’s effort is well worth watching for Perz

    The pressure of a tight game was more than Carmel Catholic coach Kelly Perz could stand. OK, not really, but Perz decided that for good luck, she wouldn't watch her Corsairs shoot free throws. Until, that is, they were perfect through their first seven. "My assistant reminded me we hadn't missed one and then I turned around," Perz said. "We had been struggling with free throws and I knew in this game it would come down to that." For the rest of the second-round game at the Warren Blue Devil Classic in Gurnee on Wednesday night, Perz didn't miss a play. Good thing, too, because lucky or not, the Corsairs were on their game against Palatine. Carmel broke open a tight contest with great free throw shooting down the stretch, and Palatine couldn't overcome the loss of leading scorer Nia Pappas as the Corsairs defeated the Pirates going away 45-36.


    Stewart, Wheaton North jet past Downers Grove North

    Don't blink, or Reilly Stewart is by you. Wheaton North's 5-foot-3 head-banded blur is the engine for one of the area's most highest-octane offenses, and was at it again Wednesday. Stewart scored 7 points and dished out 7 assists in about three quarters of action, and No. 2 seed and 14th-ranked Wheaton North used two big runs in each half to fly past Downers Grove North 60-32 in first-round action at the Bill Neibch Falcon Holiday Classic.


    Porter’s 3 lifts Deerfield past Prospect

    Funny thing about 3-point shot attempts. Sometimes it doesn't matter how many you miss as long as you make one at the perfect time. Prospect found that out the hard way at the 35th annual Wheeling Hardwood Classic, thanks to Deerfield guard Eric Porter. The junior nailed a long, off-balance, falling-out-of bounds 3 at the buzzer as Warriors defeated the Knights 46-43.

    Angela Bruno, right, of Willowbrook drives the ball around Erin Jacobsen of West Aurora in girls basketball action at the 2012 Bill Neibch Holiday Tournament at Wheaton North High School on Wednesday.

    Experience pays off for Willowbrook

    When Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell watches West Aurora, the familiarity hits close to home. "They remind me of my team last year," said Harrell, whose Warriors went 15-15 a year ago. "They're in every game, they have the ability to beat everybody and at the end of the year they'll look at about 10 plays that made the difference between being .500 and having a really good record." A year older, and a year better, Harrell's No. 3 seed and 19th-ranked Warriors were pushed by West Aurora before advancing 51-44 in Monday's first round of the Bill Neibch Falcon Holiday Classic at Wheaton North. Harrell and his kids knew to expect a fight.


    Naperville North disappoints in defeat

    The fact Naperville North lost to Riverside-Brookfield had Huskies coach Jeff Powers in a foul mood, but it was how the Huskies went down in defeat that really upset him.

    Central Michigan running back Zurlon Tipton (34) breaks away from the Western Kentucky defense Wednesday during the second quarter of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.

    Central Michigan edges Western Kentucky 24-21 in Little Caesars bowl

    DETROIT (AP) — Ryan Radcliff threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson with 5:11 remaining to give Central Michigan the lead, and Western Kentucky was stopped on fourth down when a field goal would have tied the game in the final minute, giving the Chippewas a 24-21 win in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Wednesday night.Lance Guidry, coaching the Hilltoppers on an interim basis before Bobby Petrino takes over, decided to play for the win on fourth-and-2 from the 19 with 51 seconds left, but Kawaun Jakes threw incomplete.Western Kentucky (7-6) fell just short in its first bowl since joining college football’s top tier in 2009.Avery Cunningham blocked a punt for Central Michigan (7-6) to give the Chippewas a short field before Wilson’s TD.


    Kaneland, Aurora Christian reach quarterfinals

    Matt Limbrunner came alive offensively and Kaneland's defense did the rest in a 47-29 victory over Lisle on Wednesday at the 50th annual Plano Christmas Classic.


    Naperville Central eases past Streamwood

    If you think Naperville Central's boys basketball team looks good now, wait till you seem the Redhawks next year. OK, next week. All right, tonight, against upset-minded Deerfield in a quarterfinal game of the Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic. This young Redhawk squad moved to 7-3 Wednesday night with a methodical 69-44 breaking down of Streamwood in a first-round tournament game.

    Loyola defender Kevin Kucera falls over Wheeling’s Nate Laude after a battle for a loose ball in Wheeling on Wednesday.

    Tosh victories for Palatine, Conant

    Palatine and Conant each earned first-round pool play wins in the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic hosted by York on Wednesday.

    St. Charles East’s Dom Adduci is fouled by Von Steuben’s Malachi Matias, 33, Wednesday at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in Hillside.

    St. Charles East blows out Von Steuben

    The first four minutes were a sluggish start for both teams. But once the St. Charles East boys basketball team found its rhythm against Public League member Von Stueben, the Saints' maiden appearance in the famed Proviso West Holiday Tournament was an unqualified success.


    Aurora Central battles but falls to defending champs

    Aurora Central Catholic has never shied away from playing bigger schools at holiday tournaments, and Wednesday that meant defending Class 3A state champion Peoria Central on the opening day of the 47th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament.


    Wheaton Academy expects to profit from loss

    Ever the educator, Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson still saw positives in Wednesday's 78-60 loss to Morgan Park at the 52nd annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament in Hillside.


    Fast start propels Dundee-Crown

    The Dundee-Crown boys basketball team started out fast Wednesday afternoon and cruised the rest of the way. The Chargers scored the first 17 points, led by as many as 27 and went on to defeat Chicago Michele Clark, 68-48, in the first round of the 38th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament.


    Batavia shakes off slow start

    Despite a slow first-half shooting start that included a 0-for-9 slump from 3-point range, Batavia basketball coach Jim Nazos remained confident things would change in the second half Wednesday afternoon. He was right. Senior guard Jake Pollack helped jump-start the offense with a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, and junior guard Micah Coffey connected on back-to-back 3-pointers during the first 2 minutes of the fourth period, as the Bulldogs (4-7) rallied for a 50-36 victory over Chicago-Harlan (3-5) in the opening round of the 38th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament.


    Wells’ return boosts South Elgin

    What a difference the return of a key starter can make for a team. Just ask the South Elgin Storm. Missing 6 games due to a knee injury, Darius Wells returned to the South Elgin boys basketball lineup in style, contributing 16 points including 3 3-pointers in leading the Storm to a 58-41 win over Tilden Tech in second round action of the Jacobs Holiday Classic in Algonquin Wednesday afternoon.

    Arie Wiliams

    Williams’ half-courter lifts Elgin to win

    The best word to describe the final 30 seconds from those who participated in the Elgin vs. F.W. Parker game Wednesday to describe the final 30 seconds was crazy. There was a player scoring in his team's own basket. Parker missed 3 of 4 free throws. And Arie Williams hit a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot to lift the Maroons to a 55-54 victory in the first round of the 38th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament.


    St. Charles North finds positives in loss

    No team likes to lose the first game of a tournament, but if there's a silver lining in losing, the St. Charles North girls basketball team may have found one.


    Neuqua Valley rattles Geneva

    Neuqua Valley pressured Geneva into a season-high 25 turnovers Wednesday at the 47th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament, denying the Vikings a chance to be the first team to put a dent in the Wildcats' perfect 11-0 record.


    Rough 2nd half does in Bartlett

    It was a scene that's becoming all too familiar for the Bartlett girls basketball team. And one that Hawks' coach Denise Sarna has seen quite enough of. The Hawks played as well in the first half as they have all season Wednesday, then crumbled in the second half in losing 50-37 to Mother McAuley in the opening round of the 30th annual Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s passer rating for the season is 80.2, 22nd in the NFL.

    Bears’ playoff hopes could rest on Cutler’s shoulders

    Quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears' passing attack have been less than impressive for most of the second half of the season, but they get another chance in Sunday's must-win game against the Lions. Even though he had a lackluster performance in the first meeting with Detroit, Cutler has traditionally put up exceptional numbers against the Lions, who the Bears have defeated in eight of the last nine meetings.

    Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton made the Pro Bowl Wednesday for the first time.

    Five Bears to go Pro Bowling

    Five Bears received special post-Christmas presents Wednesday — Pro Bowl berths. The celebrating quintet includes defensive Julius Peppers, who was voted to his eighth Pro Bowl; wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who made it for the fourth time in five years; cornerback Charles Tillman, going for the second straight season; and defensive tackle Henry Melton and cornerback Tim Jennings, who are in for the first time.

    Larkin’s JD Darke (11) goes to the hoop past Islamic Foundation’s Aakif Khan Wednesday at the 38th Annual Elgin Holiday Tournament.

    Larkin soars to win in Elgin opener

    It was bad enough top-seeded Larkin had to open up the 38th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament in the 9 a.m. slot the day after Christmas at Chesbrough Field House Wednesday morning. What was even worse was that Royals' guard Quentin Ruff didn't even hear his alarm, mainly because "it wasn't even on," Ruff said after the Royals' 84-38 win over Islamic Foundation.


    Late heroics give Barrington’s Tucker No. 300

    Barrington boys basketball head coach Bryan Tucker didn't want to bring attention to the fact that the heroics of Brad Zaumseil and Robby Vollman helped Tucker win the 300th game of his career. In fact, Tucker solemnly tried escaping without any talk of the milestone but there was nothing escaping the bright red T-shirts with the number 300 the Broncos donned upon exiting the locker room after Barrington pulled off a dramatic 42-40 victory over Bartlett in the 13th annual Jacobs Holiday Classic in Algonquin Wednesday afternoon.


    Mayer take Libertyville’s scoring higher

    It's not that Olivia Mayer's shots are short. Rather, it's the short guard's shot totals that are falling short of her coach's expectations. "I mean, it's not that I don't like to shoot," said Mayer, Libertyville's 5-foot-5 veteran. "It's just that I like setting up my teammates better than I like shooting." Mayer fired up 9 shots in Libertyville's 62-33 win over Grant in opening-round action of the Mundelein Holiday Classic on Wednesday. She sank 5 of her field-goal attempts and scored 12 points, in addition to coming up with 7 steals and 5 rebounds.

    A man rides his bicycle through the streets as he makes a delivery Wednesday in Indianapolis. The blizzard warning issued the day before by National Weather Service came to fruition in the region as winds picked up and snow began falling in earnest. The Pacers postponed their game with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

    Postponement gives Bulls extra day to regroup
    The Indiana Pacers postponed Wednesday night's game with the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. A blizzard warning was in effect throughout the state until 7 p.m., and forecasts were calling for 8-12 inches of snow through central Indiana.


    Niles North presses past Vernon Hills

    Vernon Hills neutralized Niles North's intense ball pressure with a steady stream of back-cuts in the first half, and as a result, the Cougars trailed by just 3 at halftime. But the second half was a different story as Niles North showed why it is one of the top teams in the area, wearing down Vernon Hills in posting a 71-57 victory in the first round of the 35th annual Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic.


    Another fast start, another Hersey victory

    Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales knew all about Hersey's fast starts this season.And then he saw it in person Wednesday in the first round of the Bill Neibch Falcon Classic at Wheaton North High School. Taking advantage of a diamond press, the Huskies defense was good as gold again. Hersey scored numerous baskets off its press in the first quarter, racing to a 15-2 lead. The Huskies increased the cushion to 25-2 at intermission before coasting home to a 35-17 victory.'


    Glenbard East turns up the intensity

    To JaRon Hall, a Glenbard East victory on Wednesday at the 52nd annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament was just a matter of Glenbard East buckling down.


    Glenbard South too strong for Schaumburg in second half

    A Schaumburg team looking to produce strong-starting second halves ran into the wrong team Wednesday morning in first-round action of the Wheaton North Falcon Classic.

    Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey poses with Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot, Wednesday as the team arrives at Miami International Airport in Miami. Northern Illinois is scheduled to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday.

    Images: Northern Illinois arrives in Miami for Orange Bowl
    Northern Illinois arrived in Miami Wednesday for its game against Florida State in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.

    Wheeling’s Chris Peirro takes to the air splitting two Loyola defenders including Matthew Bauer, left, in Wheeling on Wednesday.

    Images: Wheeling vs. Loyola Academy
    The Wheeling High School boys basketball team hosted the Loyola Academy boys on Wedensday, December 26th.


    Brunson’s big shot lifts Stevenson past Hinsdale Central

    Earlier this season, Stevenson's Jalen Brunson had chances to close out a couple of games. It didn't happen for him then, but Brunson picked a bigger stage for his first game-winning shot on Wednesday afternoon. Brunson's clutch bucket gave Stevenson a 56-54 victory over Hinsdale Central in the opening game of the 52nd Annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament in Hillside.

    Larkin’s J D Darke, 11, goes to the hoop past Islamic Foundation Minarets’ Aakif Khan, 13, Wednesday December 26, 2012 at the 38th Annual Elgin Boys Holiday Basketball Tournament.

    Images: Larkin vs. Islamic Foundation Minarets, boys basketball
    Larkin High School played the Islamic Foundation Minarets in Wednesday's game at the 38th Annual Elgin Boys Holiday Basketball Tournament on December 26.


    Fremd answers the bell in Hardwood tipoff

    Fremd boys basketball coach Bob Widlowski was determined not to let his team come out flat for its 9 a.m. tipoff. Widlowski had his team clock in at 7 a.m. the morning after Christmas to watch game film and get shots up before its early start against Maine West. There was no holiday hangover for Fremd. The Vikings rode a hot start to a 49-38 victory against Maine West on Wednesday morning to kick off the Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic.

    While trying to block a shot Libertyville defender, Drew Cayce falls over the back of St. Viator’s Robert Grant at the 35th annual Hardwood Classic in Wheeling on Wednesday.

    Second-half surge lifts St. Viator

    There are plenty of NBA teams that would love to score the way St. Viator did in the second half against Libertyville. The Lions put up 48 points after halftime, including 27 in the third quarter, to roll to an 80-60 victory over the Wildcats in the first round of the 35th annual Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic.

    Images from St. Charles East vs Von Steuben at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in Hillside, Wednesday December 26, 2012.

    Images: St. Charles East vs. Von Steuben
    St. Charles East played the Von Steuben in Wednesday's game at the Proviso West tournament on December 26.

    The NHL lockout has already wiped out the first three months of the season, and it may take a judge to end the lockout.

    NHL owners show little interest in saving season

    Every major sport has faced work stoppages in the past 40 years. In the past two years, only baseball, which invented the notion of the shutdown, has managed to avoid a collective bargaining stalemate of some kind. But no sport gets it all wrong the way hockey gets it all wrong.

    Anna Lentsch of Willowbrook, right, looks for room to shoot a basket as Molly Jordan, left, of West Aurora defends in girls basketball action at the 2012 Bill Neibch Holiday Tournament at Wheaton North High School on Wednesday.

    Images: Willowbrook vs. West Aurora girls basketball
    Willowbrook played West Aurora in girls basketball action at the 2012 Bill Neibch Holiday Tournament at Wheaton North High School on Wednesday.

    Images from the St. Viator vs. Libertyville boys basketball game on Wednesday, December 26th, in Wheeling.

    Images: Stevenson vs. Libertyville, boys basketball
    The St. Viator basketball team faced Libertyville High School Wednesday, December 26th, at the Wheeling Holiday boys basketball tournament.

    Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan was traded to Boston in a six-player deal that was announced Wednesday.

    Boston gets closer Hanrahan in 6-player deal

    BOSTON — The Red Sox have acquired all-star closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a six-player deal. Boston completed the trade Wednesday, also receiving infielder Brock Holt. The Red Sox gave up right-handers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. and first baseman-outfielder Jerry Sands.


    Mississippi State’s defense ready to rebound against Northwestern

    Mississippi State's veteran defense is one of the biggest reasons the program has emerged as a consistent competitor in the Southeastern Conference over the past three seasons. But it's also been a big contributor to the Bulldogs' disappointing finish to this regular season, which included losses in four of five games.


    For fishing, light lines still the way to go

    Don't pay too much attention to bass anglers using heavy gear to horse fish out of heavy cover. Ultralight fishing puts much of the fun back into the sport and makes every fish an achievement, as Mike Jackson explains in this week's column.


    Outdoor notes: ice not ready for fishing

    Mike Jackson provides a weekly outdoors notebook with the latest fishing reports in the region.

    At age 72, SMU head coach Larry Brown shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to coaching basketball. “The only reason I took a job is because I love to coach and teach, and this school afforded me this opportunity,” he said.

    Larry Brown settles in nicely at SMU

    Larry Brown was a young assistant on coach Dean Smith's staff at North Carolina in the mid-1960s when he turned down his first head coaching offer. At the time, Brown didn't think he was ready. But Smith asked him where he'd like to coach one day. "I said, of course North Carolina, but I didn't ever want to see him step down," Brown recalled. "So I said Stanford, Northwestern, Princeton and Vanderbilt. ... Great academically and great conferences and great areas to live." A record nine NBA jobs later, and a quarter century after leading Kansas to an NCAA title, the 72-year-old Brown found that kind of fit in his return to coaching this season at SMU, which is 9-4 at the moment.


    With Conte in doubt, Bears sign safety Nolan

    Needing help because of injuries at the safety position, the Bears signed Troy Nolan on Wednesday, team officials announced. Starting safety Chris Conte suffered a hamstring injury in last week's win at Arizona, and he could be questionable to play against Detroit this weekend.

    Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski will have a base salary of $7.5 million with the Texas Rangers next season. In addition to catching, he'll also share time as the designated hitter for the Rangers.

    It’s official: Rangers complete Pierzynski deal

    The Texas Rangers have completed a one-year contract with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and the deal has been approved by Major League Baseball.According to a report at dallasnews.com, the former White Sox catcher will receive a base salary of $7.5 million.


    Mike North video: Bulls need D-Rose to succeed

    Tom Thibodeau is a great coach, but he practices and plays the team hard and the Bulls just might wear out before the end of the long season.


    Two books well worth the read

    Take those Christmas gift cards and use them to buy this reverently factual history of the Bulls and that irreverently satirical encyclopedia of the world.


    Would Bears’ Emery really give Smith more time?

    Just try to picture Phil Emery standing before Bears fans, speaking into a microphone, and explaining to the masses that Lovie Smith will be back for another season. It's a tough sell.


    Another Chicago neighborhood is seeking to be the future home of the Barack Obama presidential library.

    Chicago neighborhood wants Obama library

    Another Chicago neighborhood is seeking to be the future home of the Barack Obama presidential library. No official plans have been made yet. But residents in the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood say there's 37 acres there that are a perfect fit. Harold Lucas is president of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council in the neighborhood. He tells the Chicago Tribune that the neighborhood is the ideal place to tell the story of the nation's first black president. Bronzeville is where a number of black leaders, artists and pioneers worked or lived.

    Associated Press Anneliese Benesh, left, and Erin Wustrack of Omrol, Wis. lug Benesh's custom cowhide couch to their van in Dixon/

    Winning bidders get Crundwell items

    Never in her wildest dreams could Anneliese Benesh afford the cowhide and couch that was loaded into her van.That is what Benesh said after picking up the sofa she won in an auction of former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell's personal belongings. Crundwell, 59, pleaded guilty Nov. 14 to federal wire fraud in a scheme in which she admitted stealing nearly $54 million in city funds since 1990.

    A plaintiffs’ attorney says Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a settlement in a case involving hundreds of lawsuits over accelerations problems.

    Billion-dollar settlement in Toyota recall case

    Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it has reached a settlement worth more than $1 billion in a case involving unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles. Steve Berman, a lawyer representing Toyota owners, said the settlement is the largest in U.S. history involving automobile defects. "We kept fighting and fighting and we secured what we think was a good settlement given the risks of this litigation," Berman told The Associated Press.


    Hospitals, insurers back Medicaid expansion

    With attention turning in 2013 to how states will implement the health law, Gov. Pat Quinn is pushing legislation to establish a state-run health insurance exchange to help middle-class citizens and small businesses, along with a multibillion-dollar expansion of Medicaid to cover the poor. Quinn is expected to get support from the hospital industry and major insurance companies for the Medicaid expansion, since it involves bringing billions of federal dollars to the state, but some legislators object in principle to such an expansion of government programs.

    Faced for the third time with the question of whether to assist the agency that owns the Westin Lombard hotel with a looming bond payment, Lombard trustees for the third time have said “no.”

    Lombard trustees deny funding for Westin bonds

    Faced for the third time with the question of whether to assist the agency that owns the Westin Lombard hotel with a looming bond payment, Lombard trustees for the third time have said "no." The Lombard Public Facilities Corp., an agency created to finance construction and operation of the hotel, sought $1.9 million to help make a loan payment due Jan. 1.

    Aurora will continue to invest in the area around Chicago Premium Outlets by transferring funds from an expiring tax increment financing district into two new TIFs on either side of the outlet mall.

    Aurora wants more development near Chicago Premium Outlets

    The city of Aurora will encourage more commercial growth on either side of Chicago Premium Outlets by extending roads, adding greater access, and possibly developing a hotel and convention center. "The expectation there is that the outlet mall will expand into that area," Alderman Abby Schuler said. "If they don't use all of it, there could be the potential for some other related convention use, hotel use."


    Retailers pull stocks lower on poor holiday sales

    NEW YORK — For the stock market, this week hasn’t been the most wonderful time of year. U.S. stocks fell Wednesday for the third trading day in a row. Disappointing holiday sales weighed heavy on retail companies, and the unwelcome “fiscal cliff” package of higher taxes and lower government spending loomed nearer.The Dow Jones industrial average slipped seven points to 13,131 as of 3:08 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell six to 1,421 and the Nasdaq composite lost 17 to 2,995.Karyn Cavanaugh, market strategist with ING Investment Management in New York, wrote a note to clients Wednesday about the less-than-merry retail sales. “I hope that they’re reading this from the mall,” she said later, “because retail sales could use a boost.”The MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report found that sales of electronics, clothing, jewelry and home goods increased just 0.7 percent in the two months before Christmas compared with the same period last year.That’s well below the growth of 3 to 4 percent that analysts had expected and the worst performance since 2008, when spending shrank during the Great Recession. It’s also well below last year, when sales climbed 4 to 5 percent during November and December, according to ShopperTrak.Major U.S. retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch, Sears Holdings, Urban Outfitters, Limited Brands, Nike and Gap were all down. Handbag maker Coach, a bellwether of the luxury market, plummeted $3.13 to $54.40. It lost more than 5 percent of its value, more than any other company in the S&P 500.Amazon.com, which helps analysts get a read on the entire retail market, was down 4 percent, losing $10.24 to $248.38.Plodding retail sales are a concern because roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy depends on consumer spending. When it slows, that can take a chunk out of company earnings, which in turn pushes down the stock market. The retail numbers are also a sign that, despite scattered reports indicating an improving economy, including a Wednesday report about rising home prices, many consumers remain uneasy. “Consumers just aren’t confident,” said Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of SICA Wealth Management in Morristown, N.J. “They don’t feel a sense of security that they’re going to be able to maintain their job or their income or their savings.”Sica said that normally the market rises at this time of year, for five days before and five days after Christmas — the so-called Santa Claus rally. Since 1969, stocks have risen an average of 1.6 percent over the last five days of the year and the first two of January, according to The Stock Trader’s Almanac. This year, it seems, the retail sales and “fiscal cliff” have been too much of an overhang.If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree to a new budget by Dec. 31, then the country will go over the “fiscal cliff,” which means lower government spending and higher taxes will kick in. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama cut short his Christmas vacation in Hawaii to resume budget talks with Congressional Republicans. The market has risen more or less steadily since mid-November, despite the lack of a deal. That means many traders assumed that lawmakers would work out something before the deadline. While that’s still possible, some analysts said that what the market feared most wasn’t the cliff, but the possibility that lawmakers would come up with only a stop-gap solution. That would probably mean they’d have to meet again in the new year to hammer out a permanent deal, dragging out the feeling of uncertainty. “It’s like ripping the Band-Aid off now versus later,” Cavanaugh said. “The Band-Aid’s got to come off. We’ve got to cut spending, we’ve got to pay down the debt.”

    Travelers walk to a ticketing desk at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. For many passengers, air travel is only about finding the cheapest fare. But as airlines offer a proliferating list of add-on services, from early boarding to premium seating and baggage fees, the ability to comparison-shop for the lowest total fare is eroding.

    Fees undermine fliers' ability to compare fares

    For many passengers, air travel is only about finding the cheapest fare. But as airlines offer a proliferating list of add-on services, from early boarding to premium seating and baggage fees, the ability to comparison-shop for the lowest total fare is eroding.Global distribution systems that supply flight and fare data to travel agents and online ticketing services like Orbitz and Expedia, accounting for half of all U.S. airline tickets, complain that airlines won't provide fee information in a way that lets them make it handy for consumers trying to find the best deal.

    U.S. home prices rose in most major cities in October compared with a year ago, pushed up by rising sales and a decline in the supply of available homes. Higher prices show the housing market is improving even as it moves into the fall and winter, when sales traditionally slow.

    U.S. home prices rise in October from previous year

    U.S. home prices rose in most major cities in October compared with a year ago, pushed up by rising sales and a decline in the supply of available homes. Higher prices show the housing market is improving even as it moves into the fall and winter, when sales traditionally slow.


    Oil prices rise as 'fiscal cliff' talks to resume

    The price of oil rose Wednesday after President Barack Obama indicated he would cut his Christmas holiday short and head to Washington to try to work out a deal to keep the U.S. from heading over the "fiscal cliff." Benchmark oil for February delivery rose 49 cents at late afternoon Bangkok time to $89.10 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

    A man walks in front of the electronic stock board of a securities firm showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index that rose 126.55 points to 10,066.61 in Tokyo Tuesday.

    Asia stocks rise as Japan gets new government

    Asian stock markets rose Wednesday as traders snapped up stocks before the end of the year, while the Tokyo benchmark hit a nine-month high after a new, pro-business government prepared to assume leadership in a country plagued for years by economic lethargy.Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 1.5 percent to close at 10,230.36 as a further weakening yen gave momentum to the country's major exporters. That was its highest close since March 27.

    Trader Warren Meyers uses his handheld device as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

    Futures higher during year’s final days of trading

    Stock futures are moving higher before the latest data is released on the housing market, one of the bright spots of the year with just a few trading days left.Volume is extremely light Wednesday, because of the holidays and because markets are still seeking a resolution to the budget showdown in Washington.


    Iraqi telecom Asiacell hopes to raise $1.3 billion

    Asiacell, one of Iraq's three mobile service providers, said Tuesday it is looking to raise $1.3 billion through what would be the country's biggest stock offering yet. A successful floatation on Baghdad's low-volume stock exchange could reassure international investors, many of whom remain wary of the risky Iraqi market nearly a decade after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

    Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the Capitol in Washington, Friday.

    Over the fiscal cliff: What kind of landing?

    Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end "fiscal cliff" were in disarray as lawmakers fled the Capitol for their Christmas break. "God only knows" how a deal can be reached now, House Speaker John Boehner declared.President Barack Obama, on his way out of town himself, insisted a bargain could still be struck before Dec. 31. "Call me a hopeless optimist," he said.

    Associated Press A high-speed train G802 leaves for Beijing from Shijiazhuang, capital of north China’s Hebei Province.

    World’s longest fast train line opens in China

    China on Wednesday opened the world's longest high-speed rail line that more than halves the time required to travel from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in southern China. The opening of the 2,298 kilometer (1,428 mile)-line was commemorated by the 9 a.m. departure of a train from Beijing for Guangzhou. Another train left Guangzhou for Beijing an hour later.

Life & Entertainment

    A door handle in the shape of pi is seen at the new National Museum of Mathematics in New York. The museum is aimed at kids aged 8 to 13, and curators have given the place a playground feel.

    Interest in NYC’s math museum adds up

    Squealing schoolchildren ride a square-wheeled tricycle and a "Coaster Roller" that glides over plastic acorns. Downstairs, they fit monkey magnets together at the "Tessellation Station." This is how math is presented at New York City's new Museum of Mathematics, the only museum of its kind in the United States and a place where math is anything but boring.

    Vodka shows its versatility in cocktails like the Blueberry ’Tini, clockwise from top, Basil Martini and a Cantaloupe Rush at the Bistro Boudin in San Francisco.

    Multitasking spirits: Raise the cocktail bar with versatile liquors

    Booze with multiple personalities, like the best kind of party guests, can adapt to the situation and provide a festive little home bar that adds panache to your holiday party. Our experts share their ideas for blending vodka, mezcal and bourbon into festival cocktails.


    Pick up items on holiday clearance

    Holiday clearance sales are a great way to buy gift items or add to your home inventory. Many of the items in these sales are not in traditional holiday colors, and clearance products cover much more than just candy and decorations now, too. Shop for kitchen tools, paper goods, home scents, health and beauty items, clothing and accessories, dishes and cookware, craft supplies and appliances.

    Red and green tortilla chips are really no healthier than the white or yellow varieties.

    Ask the nutritionist: Don’t count on veggie wraps for nutrition boost

    Don't count on green and orange tortillas for a meal time nutrition boost, says dietitian Karen Collins. Instead, she says adding more veggies to wraps and other favorite meat-based dishes.


    There’s only one Santa, but three different North Poles

    The Earth has a trio of North Poles, but only one is habitable. The "geographic" and "magnetic" North Poles are both at the top of the Earth, about 400 miles apart. There's also North Pole, Alaska.


    Readers weigh in on meatless weddings, prenups and pregnancy

    Readers weigh in with advice while Carolyn Hax takes some time off.

    Add a scoop of a gunky paste called Marmite to green bean soup and you've got a surefire cure for holiday hangovers.

    Soupalooza: Yeasty green bean soup cures holiday hangovers

    Can the gunk collected from the bottom of beer barrels set you straight after a night of too much of said beer, or wine or spirits? According to M. Eileen Brown Marmite, that yeasty paste, adds the right balance of nutrients to green bean soup and provides a delicious hangover cure.


    Music notes: Empty Bottle fetes Chilton’s legacy

    A number of local bands will gather to celebrate Alex Chilton's legacy Friday at the 8th annual Alex Chilton Birthday Bash at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Suburban band Dot Dot Dot performs this weekend in Downers Grove, and don't forget about the big New Year's Eve shows in Rosemont (featuring Soul Asylum) and Lincolnshire (featuring Lucky Boys Confusion).

    Add a scoop of a gunky paste called Marmite to green bean soup and you’ve got a surefire hangover cure.

    Catriona’s Green Bean Soup
    Green Bean Soup

    Chris Hemsworth as Thor, left, and Chris Evans as Captain America, in “The Avengers.”

    Hollywood enjoys big year at box office

    The big deal for Hollywood is not the record $10.8 billion that studios took in domestically in 2012. It's the fact that the number of tickets sold went up for the first time in three years. Thanks to inflation, revenue generally rises in Hollywood as admission prices climb each year. The real story is told in tickets, whose sales have been on a general decline for a decade, bottoming out in 2011 at 1.29 billion, their lowest level since 1995.

    Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) realizes his grandsons, Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, center) and Turner (Joshua Rush) have had too much sugar in the film, “Parental Guidance.”

    'Parental Guidance' is tolerable, but uninspired

    The schmaltz is piled on thick, and if the comedy were any broader it would require an IMAX screen, but there's still something touching about how hard Billy Crystal and Bette Midler hustle to peddle the threadbare material that makes "Parental Guidance" a perfectly tolerable, if uninspired, moviegoing experience.

    John Butts has a weakness for appetizers, like these goat cheese-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.

    Cook of the week: Bloomingdale loves to share love of cooking with friends, family his students

    John Butts loves to cook and share his talent for charitible groups. He enjoys being part of the 50 Men Who Cook fundraiser held annually in Bloomingdale and has won twice in the appetizer category. The school superintendent also shares his passion at school, conducting cooking demonstations for his high school students.

    Watch out for high-spirited waltzers at the New Philharmonic's New Year's Eve concert “Viennese Pops With a French Twist,” relocated this year to Dominican University's Lund Auditorium in River Forest.

    Best bets: Ring in 2013 with New Philharmonic

    Watch out for high-spirited waltzers at the New Philharmonic's New Year's Eve concert “Viennese Pops With a French Twist” at Dominican University's Lund Auditorium in River Forest. Award-winning comedian and writer Hannibal Buress returns to the area this weekend for performances at Zanies in Rosemont, St. Charles and Chicago. See if your searching skills are up to snuff at The 35th Annual Hunt for the Yule Log Sunday at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

    This book cover image released by Bantam shows "Invisible," by Carla Buckley. Family bonds unravel and a horrible secret tears sisters apart in Buckley's new book. (AP Photo/Bantam)

    Buckley's 'Invisible' is enthralling drama

    Family bonds unravel and a horrible secret tears sisters apart in Carla Buckley's enthralling new drama, "Invisible." What secret would be horrible enough to cause two sisters who love each other deeply not to speak for 16 years? Dana regrets not patching up things with Julie, but now it's too late. Julie's daughter, Peyton, calls Dana with the news that Julie is dying of kidney failure. Dana rushes home to be with her sister, but Julie dies before she arrives.

    The revenge drama in “Dishonored” combined a witty plot, crisp gameplay and an uncommonly distinctive milieu, making it one of the best video games of 2012.

    ‘Dishonored’ tops a diverse year in video games

    The video game universe in 2012 is a study in extremes. At one end, you have the old guard striving to produce mass-appeal blockbusters. At the other end, you have a thriving community of independent game developers scrambling to find an audience for their idiosyncratic visions. Can’t we all just get along? Turns out, we can. Here are this year's top 10 games.

    John Butts wraps prosciutto around shrimp to keep the herbed goat cheese filling from escaping.

    Herbed Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Shrimp
    Herbed Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Shrimp: John Butts


    Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash
    Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash: John Butts


    Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip and Celery
    Buffalo Shrimp: John Butts


    State legislators in Springfield have an intriguing option to address the pension crisis in their hands now. We hope they can get to work and tackle the problem in the lame-duck session coming up starting Jan. 3.

    Editorial: Don't let opportunity for pension reform slip by

    The election is over. The holidays will soon be over. In a week's time, legislators will head back to Springfield for a lame-duck session that should have pension reform as its No. 1 priority. No more excuses or delays. As the state's pension debt continues to soar, a proposal by two suburban lawmakers provides a starting point for compromise that may lead to solutions, a Daily Herald editorial says.


    Politics and personal responsibility

    Columnist Susan Estrich: Each of us needs to take personal responsibility, however difficult that may be. Personal responsibility means never allowing a gun to get into the hands of a troubled person, and admitting your father or your son needs help and getting it for him. It means taking responsibility for your ownership of a dangerous weapon.

    Jennifer Bishop Edwards

    Teach kids early to live productive lives

    Guest columnist Jennifer Bishop Jenkins: Voluntary home-visiting programs employ trained workers who help at-risk families understand the developmental needs of infants and young children and ensure they receive a safe and healthy start.


    We must do more about weapons
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: When weapons that can be easily hidden by killers who are U.S. citizens are used to shoot children on the streets of Chicago or at a school in Connecticut, the best our political leaders can do is call for moments of silence or lower the flags to half-mast.


    Jefferson’s wisdom resounds today
    A Des Plaine letter to the editor: President John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the most brilliant minds of the time. He stated: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”


    Those here illegally shouldn’t be driving
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: When I was learning to drive I was told that driving was a privilege, not a right, and when you are here illegally you don’t have any rights whatsoever.


    Early intervention needed to stop tragedies
    A Hawthorn Woods letter to the editor: I hate guns but know the reality is they won’t go away. Since guns will always be here, what you can do is twofold:


    ‘Gun Gods’ demand daily sacrifices
    Can I have an Amen to the two Gun Gods of the almighty Church of the NRA: The Gun Gods that demand that we have daily sacrifices of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters so we can worship and sing the praises of their firing rate, muzzle velocity and magazine capacity. The Gun Gods known as Automatic Weapon and his more demanding brother Semiautomatic Weapon. These Gods demand these sacrifices because that is the only reason why they exist. They don’t exist to hunt elk, deer, duck or geese; no, they only exist to murder our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.These two Gods that don’t acknowledge the existence of two simple words, the second and third words of the Second Amendment ”well regulated” for they fear that if these two simple words were acknowledged then everyone would ignore their existence and they would fade away. But never fear, this will never happen since most other fellow churches at the minimum keep silent and ignore them and at other time sing their praise.Jerry LoftisElgin


    Does anyone get the Constitution?
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: Howard Huber, in the Dec. 15 Fence Post, states, among other things, that Congress could “reverse the law that limits the president to two terms.” Is Mr. Huber unaware of or just ignoring Amendment XXII, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the election of anyone to president more than twice?


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