Daily Archive : Sunday January 6, 2013


    Brant Taylor, of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, plays the cello Sunday during the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra faculty's fundraising recital at Elgin Community College. David Anderson accompanies him on piano. Taylor is the coach of the EYSO's Maud Powell String Quartet.

    EYSO faculty concert a 'gift' to the community

    Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra faculty members performed in a free recital for the community Sunday with donations going toward scholarships for student musicians. The show featured the cello, violin, viola, trumpet, bassoon and piano in an hour-long set that gave EYSO members a chance to hear their own teachers perform.

    Nichole Guzzo of Geneva and Brian Johnston of St. Charles are finalists in a contest to win a wedding from theknot.com. Johnston is a part-time firefighter.

    Tri-Cities couple in running to win 'dream wedding'

    How can one top a wedding proposal delivered from a firetruck? Perhaps an all-expenses-paid Valentine's Day wedding in New York City. Nichole Guzzo of Geneva and Brian Johnston of St. Charles are among the five final couples in theknot.com's National Dream Wedding Contest. Online voting starts Monday.

    Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, left, testifies while Rep. Elaine Nekritz, of Northbrook, looks on during a hearing in May.

    Hearing on pensions plan set for Monday

    State Rep. Elaine Nekritz said Sunday she believes there is still time to get a pension deal done before a Wednesday deadline, and a hearing on one proposal she agreed to with House Republican Leader Tom Cross is set for Monday. "I certainly, to my core, hope for a resolution to this," Nekritz said. "As much as anybody, I hope to move on to different issues than this."


    Leftover NATO funds to help improve Chicago parks

    Chicago parks and cultural programs will get a multi-million dollar funding boost thanks to last year’s NATO Summit. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday that an additional $2 million in private funds left over from last year’s meeting of world leaders will be invested in neighborhood parks and cultural programs. Chicago hosted the two-day meeting in May.


    Deputy fire chief charged with attempted murder

    A suburban Chicago fire official has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly breaking into a woman’s condominium unit.Tinley Park police say 49-year-old Gary Swiercz allegedly broke into the condo early Saturday while armed with a knife, forced the woman to the floor and beat her.


    Cullerton: Gay marriage, gun debates not a ‘waste’

    SPRINGFIELD — Highly touted but abruptly halted action in the Illinois Senate last week set the tone for a roller coaster lame-duck legislative session of escalating hopes, discouraging dips and resurgent optimism continuing Sunday.

    Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health insurance plans, pushed to get its southern California doctors to ask patients about exercise. Now almost 9 million patients are asked at every visit, including those belonging to other medical systems.

    Your medical chart could include exercise minutes

    The next time you visit the doctror for a checkup, you may be asked how many minutes you are active or getting exercise. It's a growing movement, but there's still a way to go. One recent national survey found that a only third of Americans said their doctors asked about or prescribed physical activity on their last visit.

    Katie Harley, 5, of Naperville, tries to catch a couple bubbles as she celebrates at the DuPage Children’s Museum Bubble Bash at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville.

    Images: The Week in Pictures
    This edition of The Week in Pictures features New Year babies, New Year parties, and a lot of winter sports.

    In a Nov. 6, 2006 file photo actor Michael J. Fox greets supporters at a rally for Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in Milwaukee. On his upcoming NBC comedy, Fox will play a newscaster who quits his job because of Parkinson’s disease but returns to work in the show’s first episode because a new medical regimen has helped him control many of the disease’s symptoms. NBC said Sunday his comedy closely tracks many aspects of Fox’s personal life and tries to have fun with an image that has left him an object of admiration.

    Michael J. Fox to play newscaster in new NBC show

    On his upcoming NBC comedy, Michael J. Fox will play a newscaster who had quit his job due to Parkinson's disease but returns to work in the show's first episode because a new medical regimen has helped him control many of the disease's symptoms. It mirrors the life of the former "Family Ties" and "Spin City" star, who said last year that drugs have helped minimize the physical tics of...

    Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus on Sunday. He outlined a new peace initiative that includes a national reconciliation conference and a new government and constitution but demanded regional and Western countries stop funding and arming rebels first.

    Defiant Assad pledges to continue fighting

    A defiant Syrian President Bashar Assad rallied a chanting and cheering crowd Sunday to fight the uprising against his authoritarian rule, dismissing any chance of dialogue with "murderous criminals" that he blames for nearly two years of violence that has left 60,000 dead.

    Rosemarie DeWitt, left, as Alice and Matt Damon, as Steve, appear in a scene of Gus Van Sant’s contemporary drama, “Promised Land,” which will be released nationwide this week.

    “Promised Land” clashes with pro-fracking ad
    Before many Pennsylvania movie-goers settle in for Matt Damon's film about the fight over natural gas drilling, they will see a message from the energy industry offering "straightforward facts" about hydraulic fracturing. The unorthodox, on-screen pre-buttal of "Promised Land," which opens nationwide Friday, is part of an industry campaign aimed at heading off criticism about the process, also...

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he hopes President Barack Obama provides leadership on upcoming spending reduction talks. “It’s a shame we have to use whatever leverage we have in Congress to get the president to deal with the biggest problem confronting our future, and that’s our excessive spending,” McConnell said.

    No movement: Lawmakers dig in heels on debt crisis

    Congressional leaders on Sunday showed no signs of emerging from their corners to resolve the next step in the financial crisis, with Democrats still talking about higher taxes on the wealthy and the Senate's top Republican suggesting that a crippling default on U.S. loans was possible unless there were significant cuts in government spending.

    President Barack Obama will nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as his next defense secretary, a senior administration official said Sunday.

    Sources: Obama to nominate Hagel as Pentagon chief

    President Barack Obama will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary, a senior administration official said Sunday, choosing a former Senate colleague and a decorated Vietnam veteran and signaling he's ready for a contentious confirmation fight likely dominated by questions about Hagel's stands on Israel and Iran.


    Gurnee police special enforcement

    Gurnee police have announced results from a special enhanced safety restraint and impaired driving enforcement campaign that ran from Dec. 14 through Jan. 1.


    Lincolnshire Christmas tree pickup

    Waste Management will collect Christmas trees each Wednesday between Jan. 1 and 15 in Lincolnshire.


    Lake Villa Township Ribfest on Jan. 26

    Ribfest teams are sought to participate in Lake Villa Township's fifth annual winter Ribfest. The competition is set for Saturday, Jan. 26, noon to 4 p.m. at Caboose Park, 37908 N. Fairfield Road, Lake Villa.

    Ruth Girard of Lombard tries out Tai Chi during a class with John Robertson at Lombard Park District’s Health Fair and Fitness Expo Sunday at the Sunset Knoll Recreation Center.

    Lombard Park District showcases health and fitness programs

    Lombard residents got a jump on their new year's resolutions to get in shape by attending the Lombard Park District's annual Health Fair and Fitness Expo Sunday. The park district provided demonstrations of fitness classes and hosted a variety of health-related vendors.


    Congrats to Aurora on murder-free milestone

    If no news is good news, then this is great news. Aurora, the state's second largest city, marked a milestone last week: the city went an entire calendar year without a murder for the first time since 1946, when its population was just 48,000.


    Newtown sets up task force to handle donations

    Chris Kelsey is the tax assessor in Newtown, but for the better part of three weeks, his job has been setting up and organizing a warehouse to hold the toys, school supplies and other gifts donated in the wake of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary school. Despite the town's pleas to stop sending gifts, Kelsey said trucks have been arriving daily with tokens of support from across the...

    Joe Branin, manager of the Belford Seafood Co-op in Midletown N.J., walks across sand where the commercial fishing port’s dock used to be before Superstorm Sandy destroyed it, leaving only rows of support pilings. The port sustained nearly $1 million in damages from the storm, some of which its owners hope to recoup through federal storm aid.

    Fishermen hoping for help with Sandy storm losses

    While Superstorm Sandy did highly visible damage to homes, boardwalks and roads, it also walloped the Northeastern fishing industry, whose workers are hoping for a small piece of any future disaster assistance that Congress might approve. The storm did millions of dollars' worth of damage to docks, fish processing plants and restaurants. But it also caused millions more in lost wages to boat...


    Lake County sees 10 homicides in 2012

    For the second consecutive year, Lake County recorded 10 homicides in 2012. That number is far below the 25 murders committed in 1982 and 1994 when the county's population was significantly lower than it is now. Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said he believes a change in staffing at the courthouse in Waukegan that allowed more deputies to be on the street was a factor.

    Nazneen Hashmi

    Suburban elections see rise in Muslim candidates

    More Muslim candidates are running for elected office in the suburbs and a group called Project Mobilize is helping with training, networking, fundraising and resources to reach target demographics. "We wanted to be the vehicle to help those individuals gain leadership skills," group co-founder Reema Ahmad said. Running for office "gives friends and neighbors, and the public an opportunity to see...

    This 2008 photo provided by Stephen Lee shows him, right, having a meal with Afghans in Paktika province, Afghanistan. Lee was still in Afghanistan — his second deployment to the war zone — when he began looking at colleges. The California native settled on the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had already begun his studies when he learned of the coming changes to his GI Bill benefits. He was looking at an extra $20,000 a year out of pocket.

    Vets face confusion using GI Bill at state schools

    Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the federal government will pick up the full in-state cost for any honorably discharged service member wishing to attend a public college or university. But because the often intricate rules governing residency differ from state to state, and even within university systems, many veterans face a bewildering battle to exercise the benefits they've already fought for.

    Wearing a red practice jersey, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson talks over plans with head coach Brian Kelly, right, during practice before Monday's championship game against Alabama.

    History offers fresh perspective on Notre Dame vs. 'Bama

    When Notre Dame plays Monday night in the national championship game against Alabama, the cheering interests of suburban fans will revolve around Notre Dame and the hate and love that school inspires. Burt Constable talks to some of its fans and looks at some of the reasons to love Notre Dame. "I got all my injections of Notre Dame loyalty" attending a Catholic grade school in Chicago, said Al...

    Gary Roberts, 71, of Arlington Heights gives a proud thumbs-up Saturday to his family and his friend Jack McCabe for medals he finally received for his service 47 years ago in the Dominican Republic. The medals were pinned on by Brig. Gen. Gracus Dunn of the 85th support Command standing to the right.

    Arlington Heights veteran Gary Roberts receives long-overdue medals

    Forty-seven years after U.S. Army Specialist Gary Roberts' unit was sent to the Dominican Republic during the Caribbean nation's civil war, the Arlington Heights resident received the medals he earned during that service.

    People have been known to take turtles from the wild. It’s never a good idea, says naturalist Valerie Blaine. Shown is a Blanding’s Turtle, an endangered species, at the Cosley Zoo in Wheaton.

    What are the ethics of collecting plants and wildlife

    This month, a familiar question came up about collecting in forest preserves. A visitor to the nature center had read that some native plants could be used as medicine, and wondered where he could get some of these plants. The answer? Not in the forest preserves.

    Composer and performing artist Tom Sharpe will deliver the keynote address, “Tom Sharpe’s World Music that Rocks!” during North Central College’s 13th annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference. Sharpe is a drummer for the Grammy Award-winning group Mannheim Steamroller and for Dennis DeYoung of Styx.

    North Central conference aims to help aspiring artists

    North Central College's 13th annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference Feb. 22-23 will help aspiring artists learn to become successful entrepreneurs. It features performances, workshops, panel discussions and other activities tailored to actors, filmmakers, musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and other artists.

    Left to right, Product Program Manager Michelle Kruse shows Tatiana Doroskin, Samantha McKeown, and Madison Korta, all of Schaumburg, and Brianna Randecker of Hoffman Estates how to swipe a credit card as the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana kicks off its annual Girl Scout Cookie Program Saturday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

    Girl Scouts gather in Rosemont to kick off cookie sales

    More than 5,300 girls and their family members attended the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program kickoff Saturday afternoon at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, where the buzz was all about learning to take payment via credit or debit card.


    The Bulls have signed free agent Daequan Cook to a contract. Cook, a six-year NBA veteran at age 25, most recently played for Houston.

    Bulls sign free agent guard Daequan Cook

    Daequan Cook said he didn't mind leaving Houston, because he wasn't going to get a chance to play much for the Rockets. Where he fits in the Bulls' playing rotation remains a question for the 3-point specialist, who officially signed Sunday.


    Bulls tipoff
    Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center, 7 p.m.TV: WGNRadio: ESPN 1000-AMUpdate: The Bulls have won twice in Cleveland this season and are 10-0 against the Cavs since LeBron James left town. Second-year guard Kyrie Irving (23.4 points, 5.6 assists) was out with a broken finger when these teams last met Dec. 5. He has scored 63 points in the past two contests. Anderson Varejao leads the league in rebounds at 14.4 and is tied for second on the team in scoring with rookie SG Dion Waiters at 14.1 points.Next: Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center, 7 p.m. Wednesday— Mike McGraw


    Wolves skate to 6-3 win

    Defenseman Derek Joslin scored his first 2 goals in a Wolves uniform and right wing Andrew Gordon added 2 goals as Chicago won 6-3 over Oklahoma City on Sunday at the Allstate Arena.

    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

    Irish offensive line a cohesive block

    Rarely does any O-line gain any notoriety at all, and if they do it's usually only because they're part of a championship-caliber team. But even then there's no guarantee. After one false start earlier this season, the Notre Dame O-line that will play for the BCS title Monday night shall remain nameless. "We don't have one yet. Hopefully we can get one in the next few years," said standout guard Chris Watt.

    Offensive guard Chris Watt, who stands 6-feet-3 and weighs 310 pounds, will try to open some big holes for Notre Dame running backs against Alabama in today’s BCS national championship.

    Glenbard West standout Watt ready for ND’s big moment

    Chris Watt admits it: he's thought about what it's going to be like tonight in Miami when he and his Notre Dame teammates line up against Alabama with the national championship at stake. A lot. "Definitely," the former Glenbard West standout offensive lineman said. "Before you go to bed at night you think what it's going to be like walking on that field with all of America watching one of the biggest sporting events of the year."


    Bears expand coaching search list

    The Bears' head-coaching search has expanded to Canada to include Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman in addition to Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.

    Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa should be fully recovered from his concussion when training camp opens. The Hawks have other roster questions to settle before the season starts.

    10 questions on the Blackhawks’ new season

    Now that the NHL lockout is over, it's time to turn our attention back to the Blackhawks. And even though Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman or coach Joel Quenneville won't be talking until the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized, we have you covered with our hockey expert, Tim Sassone. He answers 10 questions facing the team.

    Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III falls after twisting his knee while reaching for a loose ball during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.

    Seahawks soar past Redskins; RGIII injured

    LANDOVER, Md. — The Seattle Seahawks finally won a road playoff game Sunday, taking a 24-14 NFC wild-card victory over the Washington Redskins, who lost Robert Griffin III to another knee injury in the fourth quarter.Marshawn Lynch ran for 131 yards, and Russell Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and ran eight times for 67 yards for the Seahawks, who broke an eight-game postseason losing streak away from home. Seattle will visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.Lynch’s 27-yard run with 7:08 remaining gave the Seahawks (12-5) the lead. On Washington’s next series, Griffin reinjured the right knee he sprained about a month ago while trying to field a bad shotgun snap.The knee buckled badly, and the Seahawks recovered the fumble and kicked an insurance field goal.Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin, but Washington (10-7) was unable to come back.

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) celebrates his touchdown catch with quarterback Joe Flacco (5) during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore.

    Ravens eliminate Colts 24-9

    BALTIMORE — Ray Lewis’ last ride now will take him to Denver.Anquan Boldin, Joe Flacco and a staunch Baltimore defense made sure of that Sunday.Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards receiving, including the clinching touchdown in the Ravens’ 24-9 victory over Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card game. The win delays star linebacker Lewis’ retirement for at least another week as Baltimore (11-6) heads to Denver next Saturday.The Broncos beat the Ravens 34-17 three weeks ago.Lewis even lined up at fullback for the final kneel-down in his last home game of a 17-year career, then went into a short version of his trademark dance before being mobbed by teammates.Sunday’s victory also enhanced the Ravens’ success rate in opening playoff games. Flacco now has won at least one postseason game in all five of his pro seasons, the only quarterback to do it in the Super Bowl era. His main target Sunday was Boldin, who had receptions of 50 and 46 yards, plus his 18-yard TD on a floater from Flacco in the corner of the end zone with 9:14 to go.Baltimore overcame the first two lost fumbles of the season by Ray Rice, too, as John Harbaugh became the first head coach with wins in his first five playoff campaigns.Backup halfback Bernard Pierce rescued Rice with a 43-yard burst that led to Boldin’s touchdown, and ran for 103 yards.Flacco also connected with Dennis Pitta for a 20-yard TD and rookie Justin Tucker made a 23-yard field goal.The loss ended the Colts’ turnaround season in which they went from 2-14 to the playoffs in coach Chuck Pagano’s first year in Indianapolis (11-6). Pagano missed 12 weeks while undergoing treatment for leukemia and returned last week.Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who went 9-3 as interim coach, was absent Sunday after being hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. Quarterback coach Clyde Christensen called the plays, but Baltimore’s suddenly revitalized defense — inspired by Lewis’ pending retirement, no doubt — never let standout rookie QB Andrew Luck get comfortable.Indy’s only points came on three field goals by Adam Vinatieri, from 47, 52 and 26 yards.Reggie Wayne had 108 yards on eight receptions and moved into second in career playoff catches with 91 — only 60 behind leader Jerry Rice.

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews says he’s ready to get back on the ice. “I’m excited to play hockey again, although it’s bittersweet because a lot of damage was done to our game,” Toews said via text.

    Hawks’ Toews excited about end to NHL lockout

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews echoed the sentiments of many Sunday when discussing the end to the NHL lockout. "I'm excited to play hockey again, although it's bittersweet because a lot of damage was done to our game," Toews said via text. "As players we need to keep showing out fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there, but for now it's great to know we'll be back on the ice very soon."

    In this image from video, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman talks to the media as Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, stands next to him. A deal to end the 113-day NHL lockout was reached early Sunday morning following a 16-hour negotiating session.

    NHL fans deserve end of Bettman era immediately

    There will be many suggestions, most of them useless, about how the NHL can win back fans and apologize for another lockout. But there is only one thing owners can do to prove they understand fans' anger.

    Declan Sullivan, shown at age 20 in this 2010 photo, would have been in his element this weekend, video camera at hand, adding his own sly observations about the team for which he grew up rooting and served as a film assistant until his death in October 2010.

    Declan Sullivan's family learns to widen its embrace

    Carmel High School graduate Declan Sullivan, named after an Irish saint, never got to finish his journey. He was killed in an accident on Oct. 27, 2010 — a fall off a 40-foot lift, from atop which he was taping a Notre Dame practice. He was 20.


    Morehead State defeats Eastern Illinois 65-50
    Morehead State had three players score in double figures and the Eagles used their rebounding advantage to beat Eastern Illinois 65-50 Saturday night in Ohio Valley Conference play.

    The Bulls’ Carlos Boozer and the Heat’s Chris Bosh battle for the ball during the second half Friday night in Miami.

    Bulls’ Boozer off to fast start on his resolution
    Warm weather and home cooking seemed to be an ideal combination for Carlos Boozer this week. In victories over Miami and Orlando, the veteran power forward averaged 29 points, 11.5 rebounds and shot 64 percent from the field.


    A paroled thief (Hugh Jackman) struggles to make a new life for himself in the film version of the pop opera “Les Miserables.”

    HBO will continue screening Universal movies

    HBO on Sunday its deal with Universal Pictures to be the exclusive pay-TV provider of the studio's movies for another decade, the companies said. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

    Kevin Slota, co-owner of No Limit Arcade in Algonquin, plans to remove 12 violent video games from his business.

    Algonquin arcade removes violent games

    An Algonquin video arcade owner has decided to pull the plug on 12 of his violent games. Spurred by the shootings of school children in Connecticut, Kevin Slota says he doesn't want to have a part in any role the games might have in grooming mass shooters. "We don't need these games," he said. "I can replace them with something else."


    SCORE holding workshop in Buffalo Grove

    SCORE is presenting a program on Marketing Essentials For Improved Competitiveness in conjunction with the Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce and Buffalo Grove Bank & Trust 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Continental Restaurant, 788 S. Buffalo Grove Road, Buffalo Grove.


    Des Plaines officials to address chamber members

    Des Plaines City Manager Mike Bartholomew and his staff will present the city's 2013 plans for Des Plaines, review the 2012 accomplishments and discuss the continuing relationship between business and local government at a Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce breakfast, 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at Manzo's Banquets, 1571 S. Elmhurst Road, Des Plaines.

    French actor Gerard Depardieu, left, greets Russian President Vladimir Putin after his arrival late Saturday at the president’s residence in Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Depardieu dines with Putin

    Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who was granted Russian citizenship, met President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi after receiving his new passport, according to a statement on the Kremlin's website.

    Krispy Kreme returned to profit in fiscal 2011 after six straight years of losses, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

    Coffee deal wave sparks Krispy Kreme-to-Jamba appetite

    Following the biggest surge in takeovers of restaurant and coffee companies since the last recession, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. and Jamba Inc. could be next on the menu.

    NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt can bask in the glow of his network’s win in the November ratings sweeps. It was NBC’s first such victory in the 18-to-49 demo since 2003, vaulting from fourth place to first after being largely moribund in prime time for a decade.

    Comcast’s NBC delays biggest shows to avoid reruns

    Comcast Corp.'s NBC is delaying the return of three of its most popular shows until March so that it can air only new episodes for the remainder of the season. "Revolution" and "The Voice" return March 25 and "Grimm" restarts on March 8, allowing the series to avoid repeats, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said.

    There could be more turmoil in the market soon because decisions on cutting the federal budget deficit have been put off until March, when the government will reach its borrowing limit.

    Wall Street cheers ‘cliff’ deal, but only for now

    When lawmakers delivered a long-delayed, last-minute agreement on the budget, Wall Street celebrated. And it would be easy to think that the surge in the Dow the following day meant that investors had put their concerns about Washington's political gridlock behind them. But that isn't the case.

    Portfolio managers Samantha McLemore, left, and Bill Miller, right, of the Legg Mason Capital Management Opportunity Fund. Legg Mason Capital Management Opportunity was the top-performing U.S. diversified stock mutual fund of 2012, with a return of 39.6 percent. That’s more than double the 16 percent return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

    Top mutual funds of 2012 rebound from poor 2011

    The stock market posted impressive returns last year, even with the presidential election and the resulting political gridlock. It was a welcome change from 2011, when the market rose only slightly. The two top-performing stock mutual funds of last year posted returns greater than 35 percent, more than twice the gain of the broader market. But go back further than last year and their recent strength doesn't look as impressive. Both funds performed dismally in 2011.

    Rose Leslie, left, and Siobhan Finneran are shown in a scene from “Downton Abbey.” Food plays a role in the series. Rather than letting it serve as mere eye candy, creator and writer Julian Fellowes has worked crepes, puddings, roast chicken and other edible props into some of the series’ most memorable plots.

    ‘Downton Abbey’ gets some of its sizzle, steam from food

    We can analyze the recipe for success of "Downton Abbey," the British television import whose Season 3 makes its breathlessly anticipated debut on PBS Jan. 6, until our cups of tea go cold. But one element that can't be overlooked, especially for those of a culinary bent, is the food. Rather than letting it serve as mere eye candy, creator and writer Julian Fellowes has worked crepes, puddings, roast chicken and other edible props into some of the series' most memorable plots.


    Career Coach Q&A: Reader wants more work from boss

    Career Coach columnist Joyce E.A. Russell, an industrial and organizational psychologist, discussed workplace issues in a recent online forum. One reader wants to know how they can get more work to do from their boss.


    Rich catch a break with budget deal on higher tax rates

    It could have been much worse for top earners. The budget deal passed by Congress Jan. 1 and signed into law by President Barack Obama the following day raises taxes on the income and investments of fewer high earners than Democrats proposed. "The increases in taxes and limits to deductions are more favorable than expected," said Christopher Zander, partner and head of wealth planning at Evercore Partners Inc.'s wealth management unit. "They could have been worse for high net-worth taxpayers."

    Wendy’s, the fast-food company known for its Frosty shakes and square burgers, has replaced its 99-cent value menu with a beefed up array of options called “Right Price Right Size,” with items ranging from 99 cents to $1.99. At a time when costs for meat, cheese and other ingredients are rising, the revamped menu is intended to give budget-minded diners more options, while giving Wendy’s more flexibility on pricing.

    Wendy’s moves past ‘99 cents’ with new value menu

    Wendy's no longer thinks a hamburger has to be 99 cents to be a deal. The fast-food company known for its Frosty shakes and square burgers has replaced its 99-cent value menu with a beefed up array of options called "Right Price Right Size," with items ranging from 99 cents to $1.99. At a time when costs for meat, cheese and other ingredients are rising, the revamped menu is intended to give budget-minded diners more options, while giving Wendy's more flexibility on pricing.

    Television cameras roll as store manager Bob Chebat, middle, hands over Wes Prinzen’s, right, modest $4 winnings, at a 4 Sons Food Store where one of the winning tickets in the $579.9 million Powerball jackpot was purchased in Fountain Hills, Ariz. When two winning tickets for a record Powerball jackpot were claimed last month, the world focused on the winners. One, from Missouri, showed up at the news conference, while the other, in Arizona, chose to remain anonymous. Releasing information on the lottery winners reflects a broader debate playing out in state Legislatures and lottery offices nationwide: Should the winners’ names be made public?

    Should lottery winners’ names be kept secret?

    Lawmakers in Michigan and New Jersey are proposing bills to allow anonymity because winners are prone to falling victim to scams, shady businesses, greedy distant family members and violent criminals looking to shake them down. Lotteries object, arguing that publicizing the winners' names drives sales and that having their names released ensures that people know there isn't something fishy afoot, like a game rigged so a lottery insider wins.

    U.S. rates on fixed mortgages moved closer to their record lows this week, a trend that has made home buying more affordable and helped sustain a housing recovery.

    Housing a sweet spot for economy as rebound extends to 2013

    U.S. home sales and prices are poised to rise in 2013, solidifying a recovery that began last year after a half-decade slump that was the deepest since the Great Depression, according to analysts and economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Record-low mortgage rates and attractive prices, supported by declining unemployment, are luring buyers as the inventory of distressed homes shrinks. Homebuilders are responding by adding supply, bolstering economic growth.

    A Avis is buying Zipcar for $491.2 million, expanding its offerings from traditional car rentals to car sharing services.

    Is car sharing right for you? A look at pros, cons

    While car-sharing is a popular alternative for those who rely on public transit or live on walking-friendly college campuses, it's not feasible in less-populated areas. Traditional car rental companies still dominate at airports, catering to travelers that need a car while they're on business or visiting family away from home. Here's a look at how Zipcar works, for whom it works best and what it can cost.

Life & Entertainment

    Leatherface drove “Texas Chainsaw 3-D” into the leading box office slot this weekend.

    ‘Chainsaw 3-D’ carves out No. 1 debut

    It took Leatherface and his chainsaw to chase tiny hobbit Bilbo Baggins out of the top spot at the box office. Studio estimates Sunday show the horror sequel "Texas Chainsaw 3-D" at No. 1 with a $23 million debut.

    The "Cougar Town" gang (Christa Miller, left, Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps, Josh Hopkins) returns Jan. 8 at a new address: TBS.

    Courteney Cox sitcom makes the move to cable

    "I can't believe we're finally back." That's more than a line of dialogue for Courteney Cox, but it's the first one she speaks as "Cougar Town" resumes by moving from ABC to TBS. The edgy comedy series starts a fourth season of new episodes on the cable network Tuesday, Jan. 8, with Cox back as Jules ... the mom who recently married her neighbor just as her son was committing himself to playing the dating game.


    Mom has right to grieve lack of grandchildren

    Q. My mother-in-law is currently battling cancer, and has lately been making passive-aggressive comments to my husband about how she's so disappointed she'll never see our kids, and talking about birth details of all of her kids. I don't want kids! Even if I did, the endometriosis and ovarian cysts have rendered me about as fecund as the lunar surface.

    Colorful puppets are part of

    Sunday picks: Last chance for Kohl Children's Museum's 'Wizard of Oz' exhibit

    Kids won't want to miss out on the final day for “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” exhibit at the Kohl Children's Museum in Glenview. Winter bumming you out? Navy Pier's Winter Wonderfest can help. Enjoy indoor ice skating, inflatable slides, music and more. Head down to Chicago's Harris Theater today for the final performances of “Potted Potter," the 70-minute stage spoof of the seven “Harry Potter” novels.

    NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt can bask in the glow of his network’s win in the November ratings sweeps. It was NBC’s first such victory in the 18-to-49 demo since 2003, vaulting from fourth place to first after being largely moribund in prime time for a decade.

    NBC’s Greenblatt rebuilds network long in disarray

    The world didn’t end as some predicted last month. Even more remarkably, NBC demonstrated it just might have a future. No wonder Robert Greenblatt is marking two years as its boss with a new bounce in his step. Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment, can bask in the glow of his network’s win in the November ratings sweeps. It was NBC’s first such victory in the 18-to-49 demo since 2003, vaulting from fourth place to first.

    A diver uses a magnifying glass to look for a shrimp inside an anemone during a dive at the Shark Shoal site.

    Island of Saba welcomes divers to ocean realm

    The small propeller airplane lands quickly and softly, like a butterfly, on one of the world's shortest commercial runways on the rain forest-capped island of Saba, which rises stunningly out of the Caribbean. It won't take long for visitors to see why the sign outside declares: "Welcome to The Unspoiled Queen." Plus, it's a diver's paradise.

    The Chicago History Museum hosts a variety of activities for families during Discover Chicago.

    On the road: Families can Discover Chicago

    Discover Chicago by exploring the Great Chicago Fire, city landmarks and blues music through creative activities that engage the whole family at the Chicago History Museum. Also, enjoy outdoor winter recreation at the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park with the state's longest snowmobile and cross-country ski trail on more than 80 miles of tow path.


    Savvy travelers can avoid airline fees

    Dave Johnson is one of those people who gets a real charge out of flying. It's not that he looks forward to long security lines and flight delays. He's talking about the fees the airlines add to the cost of travel. There are ways to fight back and avoid some of the airline fees. Here are a few suggestions.


    How to make a build-it-yourself solar heater

    Q. I would like to use some free solar heating in a south-facing kitchen. I cannot afford to have a system installed professionally. What type of simple solar heater can I build myself for one room?

    A heart tag bracelet in sterling silver.

    Stories not stones often give jewelry its value

    It's the story, not necessarily the stone or other bells and whistles, that gives jewelry shared between generations its high value. And there is so often a good, interesting and meaningful story since many people get or give jewelry to commemorate an event or send a message: It could be a birthday or anniversary, a statement of love or gratitude.


    New year brings changes in furnace efficiency standards

    Q. I live in a four-story condo building with 64 residents. It is my understanding that if we do not upgrade our older furnaces to 80 percent AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) by May 1, we will be required to install 90 percent AFUE furnaces after that.


    New landlord’s obligations for return of security deposit

    Q. I am a landlord who purchased a small apartment building approximately four years ago. Recently, a tenant who was there when I bought the building moved out, and this is the first time any tenant has moved out since I purchased the property.

    Members of the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club collect plants outside a home greenhouse as they prepare for their annual plant sale.

    Suburban experts give advice on greenhouses

    Before investing time and money into having a greenhouse built, Hentschel and two owners of suburban nurseries, suggest that homeowners first think about what they will use the greenhouse for and if the enjoyment they will gain from the greenhouse, outweighs the cost and time commitment involved. After considering these factors, the gardening experts agree that it will become clear to homeowners what kind and size of greenhouse they should purchase.


    Things to consider before adding a greenhouse

    Though greenhouses are a great place for gardeners to hone their crafts, they can also be quite expensive, and there are some things gardeners should consider before building a greenhouse.

    Home or “hobby” greenhouses run the gamut from lavish, Victorian-style conservatories to primitive structures cobbled together from discarded window frames.

    Warm up to the idea of a greenhouse

    Now is not the time of year for sowing, unless it's sowing an idea: As the weather turns colder and the landscape becomes washed in grays and browns, imagine a retreat, an oasis of lush greenery and brightly colored flowers suffused in warm, moist air. A greenhouse. Home or "hobby" greenhouses run the gamut from lavish, Victorian-style conservatories to primitive structures cobbled together from discarded window frames.


    Winter tires increase traction for performance cars

    Q. I bought four Goodyear Eagle GTs for my 2006 Pontiac G6 GT coupe. They do not perform well in snow. Do you think this is because the tires I bought are too aggressive for the car?


    Olympians often enjoy longer lives

    When medal-winning athletes return home from the Olympic Games, their fame may be short-lived, but they can look forward to a long life. A new study has found that Olympic medalists live an average of 2.8 years longer than the rest of us. The study used data on 15,174 male and female athletes who won medals in Olympic Games since 1896 and found that 30 years after their success at an Olympics, 8 percent more medalists were alive than were similarly aged people from their country.

    A “universal design” remodeling job now may keep you from needing a bathroom update later.

    Consider a ‘universal design’ bathroom remodeling job

    Q. My wife and I are in our early 50s and we plan on completely remodeling our master bathroom. Can you give us some plumbing advice on what we should do now with this project that can save us another remodeling job down the road?



    Editorial: Our congressmen and the fiscal cliff test
    A Daily Herald editorial criticizes the votes of Roskam, Hultgren and Walsh against the fiscal cliff compromise while calling for new representatives Duckworth, Foster and Schneider to show seriousness of purpose in finding ways to reduce spending in Washington.


    Lawmakers, here’s a bill you really could get behind

    Yes, there are more pressing issues in Springfield, but would it be asking too much for a law requiring candidates for public office to list their email addresses on their nominating petitions, asks DuPage/Fox Valley News Director Jim Davis.


    Republicans adrift

    Columnist Richard Cohen: Now, it is conservatism that is both intellectually exhausted and nearly indefensible. It is the movement of the ideologically ossified, of gun zealots and homophobes, of the immigrant-phobic and the adamantly selfish. It insists that government must be small (an impossibility!), education must be local (a stupidity), and that debt, no matter what the reason, is immoral and reckless.


    Notre Dame and the sports-academia complex

    Columnist George Will: This year Notre Dame is the first school in the history of the Bowl Championship Series to rank first in football and first in the graduation rate (tied with Northwestern) of its football players. Notre Dame graduates 97 percent; Alabama 75 percent.


    Amendment to the Constitution needed
    A Rolling Meadows letter to the editor: The retired teachers are right that cutting or diminishing benefits is a violation of the Illinois Constitution. Amending the Illinois Constitution is the first step, but it should include all state employees. Yet no one has taken on this task.


    Social Security didn’t cause deficit
    A Rolling Meadows letter to the editor: The deficit is caused by bad spending choices, such as all these tax breaks for millionaires and big businesses and two long wars that were put onto the nation's credit card.


    A note to honor teachers, principals
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: My own experience with teachers and principals teaches me that each of you would do what Dawn Hochsprung, Victoria Soto, Maryann Jacob and the host of other heroes and heroines did that Friday to protect the kids for whom they cared so deeply.


    Students are blessed while blessing others
    A Glen Ellyn letter to the editor: I was deeply moved as I read your Dec. 21 story about 46 high school students donating their time to not just one but countless aid projects around DuPage County and Chicagoland.


    Obama re-election: Back into bondage
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: Thank heaven for the Republican majority in the House. It is serving as a brake on the profligate spending of the Democratic administration. However, it is very disheartening to have to conclude that a voting majority has learned that it can vote itself largesse out of the public treasury, and will vote for the candidates who promise the most.


    Another tragedy of innocent children
    A Bensenville letter to the editor: Recently, we have heard the term "innocent children have been killed" in the horrible Sandy Hook School tragedy for all of us to remember and we will remember. However, innocent babies that are in a mother's womb are murdered daily because of a mother's choice to abort and we do not hear of the innocence of that child-to-be, do we?


    Protect ourselves — and our children
    Protect ourselves — and our childrenAll Americans hearts have been wounded by the murders of the children and teachers in Newtown, Conn. This was a senseless act of cruelty by a terribly disturbed young man. We must find a way to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We must also preserve our ability to defend ourselves. The 2nd amendment codifies our God given right to defend our lives, liberty, and property.Schools in Israel were formerly easy targets for terrorist attacks until some teachers were asked to accept the responsibility of being trained and armed. Those attacks stopped. A few “sheepdogs” among the “sheep” are all that is needed to stop the “wolves.” We arm Air Marshals to protect travelers. Should we not give the same level of protection to our children?In 2007 the Herald, Tex school district chose to do just that. Teachers with CCW permits were given the option of receiving additional training and being armed in the classroom. No child in the district has been harmed since then. “Gun Free Zones” must be eliminated because they offer a false sense of security and a target rich environment for criminals; 49 states have found that having responsible adults carrying arms makes us all safer. Seconds count when the police are only minutes away.Politicians calling the loudest for gun control are hypocrites who have people with guns protecting them. Their lives are no more valuable than ours. We all must have the ability to protect ourselves and our children. Victor M. LaPorteElgin


    Higher taxes result of legislative follies
    A Huntley letter to thee editor: The editorial states: "...(I)s it fair that thousands of rank-and-file teachers and state employees will have to sholder a burdan in the resolution of this chrisis." And: "Fair or not ... taxpayers undoubtedly will have to pay more in whatever reform ultimately is enacted."


    Make decisions, make compromise
    A Carpentersville letter to the editor: I guess the folks in Springfield and Washington don't really get it. To put it bluntly: You are messing with my life ... not yours, not your friends, not your contributors, but my life.


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