Daily Archive : Sunday December 15, 2013


    Police are seeking two suspects after an armed robbery occurred Saturday evening at Helzberg Diamonds in Oak Brook.

    Oak Brook police investigate armed robbery at jewelry store

    Police are investigating an armed robbery that occurred Saturday evening at an Oak Brook jewelry store, according to a news release. Two males wearing black ski masks entered the store shortly before 6:30 p.m. at Helzberg Diamonds, 3031 Butterfield Road, according to police.

    Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) pushes Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) away after a catch in the second quarter.

    Images: Bears vs. Browns

    The Chicago Bears played against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. The Bears won the game 38-31 behind three toucdown passes by quarterback Jay Cutler.

    Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan speaks during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the Beloved Community Christian Church of God in Christ on Sunday in Chicago.

    Ex-Gov. Ryan speaks at Chicago Mandela tribute

    In one of his first public appearances since being released from prison this year, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan told attendees at a memorial service Sunday that Nelson Mandela played a role in his 2003 decision to empty death row.

    Police on Thursday investigated the shooting scene at 1917 Windham Court in Arlington Heights.

    Arlington Heights police officer remains in hospital

    An Arlington Heights police officer who was shot in the face Thursday night while responding to a hostage situation is still recovering in the hospital, according to one of his comrades. Michael McEvoy, 52, remains in critical, but stable, condition at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, said Sgt. Scott Winkelman of the Arlington Heights Police Department.

    In this video frame frame, Mandela family members and South African President Jacob Zuma watch as former South African President Nelson Mandela’s casket is lowered into his burial site following his funeral service in Qunu, South Africa, Sunday.

    Mandela buried in rolling hills of South Africa

    His flag-draped casket resting on a carpet of animal skins, Nelson Mandela was laid to rest Sunday in the green, rolling hills of the eastern hamlet where he began his extraordinary journey — one that led him from prison to the presidency, a global symbol of endurance and reconciliation in the fight against South Africa’s racist rule.


    Perez wants Ebey award to continue beyond 2014

    Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez hopes his successor won't scrap the Roscoe Ebey Citizen of the Year award after Perez leaves office next year. “I’m sure whoever steps into the role of sheriff will continue this because how could you not?" Ebey, a well-liked World War II veteran, was killed in spring 2007 Aurora Township home invasion.

    George P. Bush, the grandson of one former president and nephew of another, visits the Republican Party of Texas headquarters where he formally filed to run for Texas land commissioner, in Austin, Texas.

    George P. takes baby steps away from Bush name

    The latest scion of one of America’s most powerful political dynasties is trying to convince voters he’s something other than what his famous surname suggests. George P. Bush, Jeb Bush’s 37-year-old son who is a grandson of one former president and nephew of another, is launching his political career by running for Texas’ little-known but powerful land commissioner post.

    A researcher tags a blue whale off the coast of Southern California. Two recent studies found certain endangered blue whales and beaked whales stopped feeding and fled from recordings of noise similar to military sonar.

    Navy expands sonar testing despite troubling signs

    The U.S. Navy plans to increase sonar testing over the next five years, even as research it funded reveals worrying signs that the loud underwater noise could disturb whales and dolphins.

    The cold that hovered over much of the country wasn’t all hardship Sunday. From left, Valerie MacIsaac and Joseph Grutza skate at Comerica Park in Detroit.

    Ski lodges, snowmobilers buoyed by Northeast snow

    A weekend storm that dumped a foot or more of snow in parts of the Northeast made ski area operators and snow removal workers happy, but travelers were forced to deal with slippery roads and flight cancellations Sunday.

    Hundreds of Arapahoe High School students gathered for a candlelight vigil Saturday night to share their prayers for Claire Davis who was shot inside the school Friday. The vigil was held at Arapaho Park in Centennial, not far from the school.

    Colorado governor visits school shooting victim

    Colorado’s governor asked the nation Sunday for prayers for the 17-year-old girl who was critically wounded by a classmate at her suburban Denver high school. Gov. John Hickenlooper also credited security procedures adopted after the 1999 massacre at nearby Columbine High School for helping put a quick end to the Arapahoe High School shooting by Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student who shot...

    Cars from a Metro-North passenger train are scattered after the train derailed in the Bronx neighborhood of New York in this photo from Dec. 1. Although the train had an automatic breaking system that might have prevented the crash, at the time it wasn’t set up to enforce speed limits on the curve where the wreck happened.

    Many trains don’t use widely available auto brakes

    After a speeding Metro-North Railroad commuter train barreled into a curve and derailed in New York City on Dec. 1, safety advocates said similar deadly accidents might soon be avoided. Railroads across the country are preparing to deploy high-tech control systems that will let computers automatically slow trains that are moving too fast or headed for a collision.

    Santa Claus poses for pictures Sunday during Skate with Santa at Triphahn Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates. Families enjoyed open skating with Mr. and Mrs. Claus as well as Frosty the Snowman.

    Santa dons skates, takes to the ice in Hoffman Estates

    More than 200 people, and one notable and jolly old elf, took to the ice Sunday during Skate with Santa at Triphahn Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates. Families enjoyed an afternoon of open skating and the opportunity to take pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus as well as Frosty the Snowman.

    Model railroad operators Rip Paterson of Grayslake, left, and James Sullivan Jr. of Highland Park set up the North Pole Central during a Christmas-themed model train display Sunday at Fremont Public Library in Mundelein. The event was sponsored by the North Central O Gaugers Model Railroad Club, Inc. Children and families watched as trains passed by snow-covered towns and holiday crowds.

    Holiday train run brings smiles to kids in Mundelein

    Model train enthusiasts and fans gathered Sunday for the North Central O Gaugers Model Railroad Club's holiday display at the Freemont Public Library in Mundelein.

    While I was waiting with a crowd of children for Santa Claus to make an appearance in St. Charles, I turned in time to see a couple cowboys walking their horses past a bar. It was a like a flashback to the Old West days. I was able to rattle off a few frames before the back-in-time scene disappeared. It wasn’t until I was editing the photos that I noticed the “McWilliams Harness Shop Est. 1877.” I did a little research and according to the book “St. Charles” by Wynette Edwards, the shop did exist in town and was owned by David McWilliams. This photo was published in the weekly Perspective column in the print edition.

    Images: The Week in Pictures
    This edition of The Week in Pictures features snow shovelers, cops shopping with kids, and Santa Claus visits in the suburbs.

    Presidential candidate and former President Michelle Bachelet holds up her ballot before casting it during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday. Bachelet easily won re-election, beating conservative rival Evelyn Matthei in Sunday’s runoff vote.

    Michelle Bachelet easily regains Chile presidency

    Chile’s once and future leader Michelle Bachelet easily won Sunday’s presidential runoff, returning center-left parties to power by promising profound changes in response to years of street protests. Bachelet won with 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent for the center-right’s Evelyn Matthei, who promptly congratulated her rival.

    Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks to students gathered to see him before a speech in Tan An Tay along the Mekong River Delta Sunday. Along the winding muddy waters of the Mekong Delta where he once patrolled for communist insurgents on a naval gunboat, Secretary of State Kerry turned his sights Sunday on a new enemy: climate change.

    Climate change is new enemy for Kerry in Vietnam
    From an American gunboat decades ago, John Kerry patrolled for communist insurgents along the winding muddy waters of the Mekong Delta. From those familiar waterways that eventually turned the young lieutenant against the war, the top U.S. diplomat confronted a modern enemy Sunday — climate change.

    An Anti-Balaka Christian militiaman poses for a portrait outside Central African Republic’s capital Bangui on Sunday. The leader of the Christian militia says his fighters won’t put down their rebellion until President Michel Djotodia is gone from power, raising the specter of a prolonged sectarian conflict in the country.

    C. African militias seek president’s overthrow

    The leader of the Christian militia in Central African Republica says his fighters wonít put down their rebellion until President Michel Djotodia is gone from power, raising the specter of a prolonged sectarian conflict in the country. More than 600 people have been killed since Anti-Balaka launched a strike over Bangui last week before being pushed back.

    The Waterstraat family of Naperville, Liz, Max, 3 and Chris, check out some of the displays setup by the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club during the 12th annual Lego Train Show and Party on Sunday at Wheaton’s Cantigny Park.

    Lego fans flock to Cantigny for holiday train show

    The Northern Illinois Lego Train Club wowed fans of all ages Sunday with their 12th annual Lego Train Show and Party at Wheaton's Cantigny Park. The park was packed with intricate, detailed and occasionally eye-popping creations made from those wildly popular little plastic blocks.

    Audience members ask the cast of “Promise Land” and its director, Kevin Dalvi, questions after a screening Sunday at the Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville. Dalvi said the film takes a look at the experience of legal immigrants in America.

    Naperville filmgoers see different take on immigration

    Independent filmmaker Kevin Dalvi screened his film, "Promise Land," in Naperville on Sunday. The movie addresses immigration issues while telling three separate stories set in Chicago. Sunday's screening was organized in part by a Naperville resident.


    Dogs helping CLC students

    College of Lake County will have therapy dogs to help sooth students facing final exams.


    District 103 artwork on display

    The Lincolnshire Village Hall is exhibiting artwork from the students of Lincolnshire-Prairieview Elementary District 103, village officials said in a news release.

    The Elgin Choral Union surrounded the audience Sunday at the start of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s Magical Holiday Concert at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. The concert also featured the Elgin Children’s Chorus, Midwest Dance Collective and soprano Elizabeth Norman.

    Elgin Symphony Orchestra puts on “Magical” holiday performance

    The Elgin Symphony Orchestra’ performed its annual Magical Holiday Concerts this weekend at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. Resident Conductor Stephen Squires led the way through the performance, which included stagings of holiday musical favorites and featured performer soprano Elizabeth Norman.

    Cailey Johns, 10, of St. Charles, scratches a cat Sunday during the Santa Paws Workshop For Kids at the Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin. “I like helping all the animals,” she said. “I think it makes their day.”

    Kids, cats get together for holiday party in South Elgin

    Eighteen kids, a stack of pizzas, and more than 100 cats, all together for four hours, may sound like chaos to many, but it’s just another day to Christin Meyer at Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin. “We do this kind of thing every month,” said Meyer, humane education director at the shelter.


    Stevenson survey results

    Stevenson High School students overwhelmingly approve of the counseling services provided by the school’s student services division, according to newly released survey results.

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is praising fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan for the congressman’s role in broking a bipartisan budget bill that’s been blasted a by number of conservatives.

    Walker praises Ryan for budget deal

    Gov. Scott Walker is praising fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan for the congressman’s role in broking a bipartisan budget bill that’s been blasted a by number of conservatives.

    Actor Adrienne Matzen poses in Chicago’s theater district. Matzen, 29, who has been mostly uninsured since she turned 21, is now looking for a low monthly premium insurance plan on the federal website.

    Sticker shock may await health insurance buyers

    The next big challenge for the nation’s health care law may be sticker shock, when consumers find they’re still paying high medical bills after buying low-cost insurance for the first time.

    Americans who already have health insurance are blaming President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul for their rising premiums and deductibles, and overall 3 in 4 say the rollout of coverage for the uninsured has gone poorly.

    Poll: Health law seen as eroding coverage

    Americans who already have health insurance are blaming President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul for their rising premiums and deductibles, and overall 3 in 4 say the rollout of coverage for the uninsured has gone poorly.

    A Hispanic-themed mural is seen on the side of a building in Arcola, Ill., in Douglas County. Douglas has both a large Hispanic population and Amish population. Hispanics in the U.S. are more likely to be uninsured than the rest of the population _ about 31 percent lack health coverage, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Douglas is second only to Cook County in percentage of Illinoisans without health insurance.

    Out-of-pocket costs mixed under new health law

    Are requirements of the nation’s new health care law driving up out-of-pocket costs for people buying their own insurance? In some cases, yes. But the law also eliminated some of the largest deductibles, or the amount a consumer pays for actual medical care before an insurance company begins paying.

    Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela, right, watches as local chiefs drape the casket of former South African President Nelson Mandela with a lion skin as it arrives at the Mandela residence in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday.

    Traditional tribal rituals at Mandela’s funeral

    Nelson Mandela’s casket was draped in a lion skin, an ox was ritually slaughtered and a family elder kept talking to the body’s spirit: The state funeral for South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Sunday included these rituals from the tradition of the Xhosa tribe, to whom Mandela’s Thembu clan belongs.

    Nobody has taken more Harper College art classes than Bernie Bluestein, right. Art professor Jason Peot, left, has taught at Harper for 16 years, and Bluestein, 90, has taken every one of his classes.

    WWII ‘ghost army’ vet now an art institution at Harper

    Having taken just about every art course offered at Harper College, 90-year-old Bernie Bluestein has put together quite a collection of his own works. And he's got memories of those fake tanks he made to fool the Nazis during World War II.


    US education secretary to visit Chicago school

    U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Chicago for a pair of events on Monday.Duncan will visit Benito Juarez Community Academy and take part in a round-table discussion with staff from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.


    Wheaton man accused of hitting, killing pedestrian

    A delivery driver from Wheaton is accused of a felony charge alleging that he was driving impaired when he hit and killed an 82-year-old woman while she was crossing a Chicago street.

    In this Oct. 4, 2013 file photo, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, is joined by Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, left, during a news conference at the Capitol. People hoping for a better-functioning government canít decide whether to cheer or lament Congressí bipartisan budget bill. Legislative leaders call a breakthrough even as they acknowledge it does little.

    Budget deal may signal era of tiny achievements

    People hoping for a government that works better can’t decide whether to cheer or lament a bipartisan budget bill that legislative leaders call a breakthrough even as they acknowledge it does little. In an era of low expectations, House passage of the bill marks a rare cease-fire that should avoid a repeat of this fall’s government shutdown and flirtation with default. Yet it comes nowhere near...

    Before anyone like Ron Kammes of Winfield can use the shooting facility at Article 2 Gun Range in Lombard, he or she must either provide a Firearm Owners Identification card or be monitored by someone who is licensed.

    Special report: Gun license numbers don't tell whole story

    Even though their towns share a border, people who live in Libertyville are twice as likely to be legally authorized to own guns as their Vernon Hills neighbors. Similar wide variations show up across the suburbs, a Daily Herald town-by-town analysis of Firearm Owners Identification data shows. On average, 11.3 percent of the residents of 100 suburban towns in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry...

    Libertyville voters will be asked in March whether they would approve a tax hike to pay for up to $11.5 million in bonds to be issued by the village to rehab the former Libertyville High School into a community center.

    New twists in plan to convert former Libertyville High

    Libertyville voters will be asked in March whether they would approve a tax hike to pay for up to $11.5 million in bonds to be issued by the village to rehab the former Libertyville High School into a community center. The project includes a higher estimated price and aspects that are different from what originally was envisioned. “There could be some pushback from seniors and the Civic...

    Before anyone like Ron Kammes of Winfield can use the shooting facility at Article 2 Gun Range in Lombard, he or she must either provide a Firearm Owners Identification card or be monitored by someone who is licensed.

    What it takes to obtain a gun license in Illinois

    Illinois is one of three states to require guns owners to be licensed. You can get a Firearm Owners Identification card as long as you've never been convicted of anything more than a traffic violation, you don't have a history of mental illness and you've got $10.

    Despite the most recent “No Refusal” event in Kane County netting just two DUI busts, State's Attorney Joe McMahon said his office will continue to organize these law enforcement efforts even if they render zero arrests.

    McMahon vows 'No Refusal' events will continue

    Even though the most recent "No Refusal" event in Kane County only netted two DUI arrests, State's Attorney Joe McMahon said his office will continue to organize these law enforcement efforts even if they render zero arrests. McMahon says driving under the influence is a serious crime with huge costs to society and driving impaired is less socially acceptable now than it was 20 years ago.

    A gravestone at Elk Grove Cemetery recognizes Revolutionary War veteran Eli Skinner. The Illinois Sons of the American Revolution plan to install a historical marker at the cemetery to recognize Skinner and another Revolutionary War figure, Aaron Miner, who is also buried there.

    Cemetery markers to honor Revolutionary War veterans

    Few people may know about the role two men buried at Elk Grove Cemetery played in the fight for American independence. That's why the Illinois Sons of the American Revolution organization plans to install a historical marker to recognize them — a project the group's membership plans to expand to every cemetery in the state where Revolutionary War veterans are buried. "It's being part of our...

    Former South African President Nelson Mandela’s casket is take by military gun carriage to his burial place following his funeral service in Qunu, South Africa, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

    Images: Nelson Mandela funeral

    A hearse carrying Mandela’s body drove into his hometown Qunu in rural South Africa before his burial Sunday, returning the country’s peacemaker to the place where he had always wanted to die. According to Xhosa tribal tradition, Mandela was honored as a leader by placing a leopard skin on the coffin, replacing the flag. Here are images from his funeral ceremonies.


    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler passes during the fourth quarter Sunday under pressure from Browns defensive end Ahtyba Rubin. Cutler finished with a 102.2 passer rating in the Bears' 38-31 victory.

    Cutler returns, keeps Bears in playoff hunt

    A slow start after a five-week absence because of an ankle sprain and a ton of pressure didn't prevent quarterback Jay Cutler from rallying the Bears back to a 38-31 victory over the Browns. “I can only imagine the commentators and the fans back at home — after the first and second pick — what they were saying,” wide receiver Brandon Marshall said.

    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, left, looks to pass as Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) defends in the third quarter an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Pittsburgh.

    Steelers jump on Bengals early in 30-20 win

    PITTSBURGH — The Cincinnati Bengals lost their grip on the ball. Then they lost their grip on the game.Their coronation as the new power in the AFC North is going to have to wait at least one more week.Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a score in a 64-second span in the first quarter and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Bengals 30-20 on Sunday night.Shaun Suisham added three field goals for the Steelers (6-8), who built a 24-point lead and hardly looked like a team playing out the string.Ben Roethlisberger completed 20 of 25 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Le’Veon Bell added 117 yards of total offense.Andy Dalton completed 25 of 44 for 230 yards and two second-half touchdowns, but Cincinnati (9-5) never recovered after getting staggered early at frigid Heinz Field.Looking to move closer to a third straight playoff berth, the Bengals were undone by a series of miscues on special teams.Bell scored two plays after Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber dropped a snap while standing near the goal line after the Bengals’ first possession. Pittsburgh’s Will Allen dropped Huber at the 1 and Bell bulled into the end zone on second down for his sixth touchdown of the season.Cincinnati’s issues continued on the ensuing kickoff.Officials ruled Cedric Peerman called for a fair catch at the Cincinnati 9, wiping out a lengthy return. The Bengals eventually punted, setting up the Steelers with a short field. Pittsburgh went 47 yards in eight plays, with Roethlisberger buying enough time for Brown to get open for a 12-yard touchdown strike to make it 14-0.Brown’s early work wasn’t done. Cincinnati punted yet again and Brown took it 67 yards right up the middle, breaking a tackle at midfield on his way to the second punt return for a score in his four-year career for Pittsburgh’s third touchdown of the quarter.The Steelers, who need to win out to avoid their first losing season since 2003, had been outscored 77-43 in the first quarter coming in.Huber took a hard hit from Pittsburgh’s Terence Garvin during the return. Huber was down on the field for several minutes before walking straight to the Cincinnati locker room with a fractured jaw. Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent took over Huber’s punting duties.Bengals linebacker James Harrison, making his first appearance in Pittsburgh since leaving the Steelers to sign with the Bengals in the offseason, left in the first quarter because of a concussion.Pittsburgh extended its lead to 24-0 before the Bengals steadied themselves with a 47-yard touchdown drive capped by Giovani Bernard’s 1-yard run. The Steelers responded late in the half with Suisham’s 45-yard field goal by to give them their biggest halftime lead of the season.Suisham’s third field goal pushed Pittsburgh’s advantage to 30-7 before the Bengals responded with Dalton’s 1-yard touchdown pass from to Tyler Eifert.Dalton later found Marvin Jones for a 13-yard score on fourth-and-5 with 5:51 to play, but Dalton’s 2-point conversion attempt was batted down at the line of scrimmage, keeping the deficit at 10 points.Cincinnati got the ball back one more time, and Dalton’s long heave to A.J. Green on fourth down fell incomplete.

    Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta is congratulated by Kris Versteeg after Sunday night’s 3-1 victory over the Kings at the United Center.

    Blackhawks’ Raanta bounces back in big way

    Antti Raanta showed Sunday night why he fits in so well with the Blackhawks. Raanta and the Hawks were able to brush aside Saturday’s debacle in Toronto with a tidy 3-1 bounce-back win over the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. Raanta, who allowed 5 goals in the 7-3 loss to the Maple Leafs before being pulled to start the third period, overcame his first subpar performance as an NHL goalie with a 21-save performance.


    Hawks’ Quenneville pondering some options in goal

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was non-committal Sunday about whether newly acquired goaltender Jason LaBarbera would be recalled from Rockford anytime soon to replace Kent Simpson. “He could be in the mix,” Quenneville said.

    Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery catches a 45-yard touchdown pass at the goal line against Browns safety Tashaun Gipson in the fourth quarter Sunday.

    Another big Jeffery catch in big situation for Bears

    Another game, another spectacular catch by Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, whose 45-yard TD helped his team rally to a 38-31 victory over the Browns. Jeffery and fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall combined for 11 catches, 167 yards and 2 touchdowns.

    Chicago Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

    Toews leads Blackhawks over Kings

    Jonathan Toews set up two of Chicago’s three first-period goals, and the Blackhawks cooled off the Los Angeles Kings with a 3-1 victory Sunday night in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals at United Center.Rookie Antti Raanta made 21 saves to help Chicago bounce back from a 7-3 loss at Toronto on Saturday night. Marian Hossa had a short-handed score that snapped Los Angeles’ NHL-record streak of 18 games without allowing a first-period goal.Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago. Alec Martinez scored for Los Angeles. The Kings (22-8-4) had won six in a row and were hoping to complete a perfect four-game trip in the same building where their Stanley Cup title defense ended in June. But the matchup of the NHL’s best offensive team and the league’s stingiest defense went to the high-scoring Blackhawks, who have won four of five and lead the NHL with 53 points.Ben Scrivens had 37 saves for Los Angeles in his first start since Dec. 2, keeping the Kings in the game with a handful of nice stops after the sluggish first period. Scrivens and Martin Jones have done a terrific job in goal since Jonathan Quick was shelved by a groin injury last month.The defending NHL champion Blackhawks (24-7-5) also were without their top goaltender, Corey Crawford. The 29-year-old Crawford is out with a lower-body injury, and it’s unclear when he might return.Raanta has started every game since Crawford went down on Dec. 8. He made his best stop against Los Angeles in the second, sticking his right skate out to turn away Anze Kopitar on a prime opportunity.Martinez scored his second goal at 16:06 of the third, and the Kings then had a power-play opportunity when Andrew Shaw was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct. But the Blackhawks managed to kill it off.Chicago defeated Los Angeles in five games in the playoffs last summer, and went on to win the title for the second time in four seasons. The series against the Kings culminated with a hat trick for Patrick Kane in the deciding game, including the decisive score in the second overtime off a pass from Toews.Toews picked up right where he left off in the first game of his season between two of the NHL’s best teams.First, he won a battle for the puck with Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin behind the Kings’ net, and then threw it in front for Hossa’s 14th goal at 5:45 of the first. After Versteeg scored on a 2-on-1 break, Toews made a great cross-ice pass to Sharp for a power-play goal that made it 3-0 with 29 seconds left in the period.Kane picked up his 26th assist on Versteeg’s sixth goal. Kane has at least one point in each of his last nine games and 21 of 22 overall.

    Joakim Noah and the struggling Bulls hope to get some momentum going when they host the Magic today at the United Center.

    Can Bulls take advantage of mediocre East?

    Thanks to rampant mediocrity in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the Bulls are within striking distance of two suitable goals. They trail third-place Atlanta by just 2 games, even though the Bulls are just 3-9 since losing Derrick Rose to a knee injury. And assuming Milwaukee will be tough to catch for worst record in the East, they are just 3½ games ahead of the second-worst record in the East, a spot currently held by Philadelphia.

    Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely (4) celebrates after kicking a 41-yard field goal in overtime against the Tennessee Titans to give the Cardinals a 37-34 win in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.

    Cardinals blow lead, need OT to beat Titans

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jay Feely kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime, and the Arizona Cardinals edged the Tennessee Titans 37-34 in overtime after blowing a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter.Still, the Cardinals (9-5) won their sixth in seven games. With San Francisco and Carolina winning, they remain a game back of both for a NFC wild-card berth.The Titans scored 17 points in the final 3:12 of regulation to force overtime. They won the toss and drove to the Cardinals 43 before Antoine Cason intercepted his second pass of the game. Tennessee (5-9) lost its third straight and eighth in 10 games. The Titans also lost their fifth consecutive home game for the first time since moving to Tennessee in 1997.The Cardinals scored 21 straight points in the second half, the last when Cason returned his first interception for a TD and a 34-17 lead.

    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees gets up slowly after being sacked for a 6-yard loss by St. Louis Rams defensive end William Hayes during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in St. Louis. The Rams won 27-16.

    Rams delay Saints’ postseason plans

    ST. LOUIS — Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on the first two possessions and the St. Louis Rams got big days from Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn and on special teams to top the New Orleans Saints 27-16 on Sunday.Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, and his quarterback hit on the Saints’ first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald’s interception.The Saints (10-4) missed their first chance to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 at the half, but made it look respectable with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. They play at Carolina with the NFC South lead on the line next week.Kellen Clemens threw for two TDs for the Rams (6-8), who recovered an onside kick to set up a field goal in the first quarter, and Michael Brockers blocked a field goal at the end of the half.

    Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush (24) defensive end Datone Jones (95) and cornerback Tramon Williams (38) celebrate after beating Dallas Cowboys 37-36 at an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Arlington, Texas.

    Packers rally to beat Cowboys

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers matched the biggest comeback in franchise history. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys have a loss that might sting for a long time.Flynn threw four touchdown passes in the second half, Eddie Lacy had the winning score on a 1-yard plunge after an interception by Romo gave them another chance, and the Packers rallied from 23 points down at halftime to beat the Cowboys 37-36 Sunday.Romo tossed two interceptions in the final 3 minutes, the first one giving Green Bay a chance for the go-ahead score with the Cowboys in position to run out the clock with a 36-31 lead. Lacy scored with just over 1 1-2 minutes left.Playing on the same field where they won the 2011 Super Bowl, the Packers matched the 1982 team, which rallied past the Los Angeles Rams after trailing by 23.The Packers (7-6-1) kept their playoff hopes alive with Aaron Rodgers possibly returning next week.The Cowboys (7-7) blew a great chance to pull even with Philadelphia in the NFC East, remaining a game behind with two to play.Dez Bryant, who had 153 yards receiving, had picked up a first down just before the 2-minute warning that looked as if it would Dallas help hold off a huge Green Bay rally. But Romo threw behind Miles Austin after escaping a sack and Sam Shields intercepted at midfield.The Packers steadily moved downfield before the plunge by Lacy, who had 141 yards rushingBehind for the first time since the first quarter, Romo threw a ball too far in front of Cole Beasley, and Tramon Williams made a diving grab that was initially called incomplete. When the video review overturned the call, Flynn ended the game with kneel-downs.Bryant walked off the field and into the tunnel before the game ended.Williams had an earlier interception overturned on review with Dallas clinging to a 29-24 lead. He cradled a deflected pass in his arms, but officials reviewed that the nose of ball hit the turf. The Cowboys went on to score when Bryant made a leaping grab over M.D. Jennings and got two feet down in the back of the end zone for a 36-24 lead.Flynn answered with his fourth straight scoring drive to get back within five. He finished with 299 yards passing, including second-half scoring tosses of 13 yards to Jordy Nelson, 3 yards to Andrew Quarless, 11 yards to James Starks and 3 yards to James Jones.Romo threw for 358 yards to break a four-game streak where he didn’t have more than 250, but the late interceptions will only fuel the feeling his critical mistakes will keep the Cowboys from going deep in playoffs for the first time since their last Super Bowl title during the 1995 season.Rodgers was the MVP when the Packers beat Pittsburgh for the Super Bowl title on Dallas’ home field, but this time he had to watch from the sideline with a headset after doctors didn’t clear him to play, forcing to miss his sixth straight game since breaking his left collarbone. DeMarco Murray had 134 yards rushing and a touchdown for Dallas.


    DePaul clips Chicago State

    Billy Garrett Jr. scored eight points in overtime as DePaul beat Chicago State 77-70 on Sunday, barely continuing their dominance of the Cougars.Tied at 62, Chicago State (4-6) had a chance to take the lead with 17 seconds left in regulation but Quinton Pippen’s running 3-pointer from the left wing was long, and DePaul rebounded. Cleveland Melvin then had a chance to win the game for DePaul, but his lay-up attempt with three seconds remaining was blocked, sending the game to overtime.The Blue Demons then scored the first six points of the extra session, before closing out the game to beat Chicago State for the 12th straight time.Melvin scored 18 and Garrett had 17 for the Blue Demons (6-4), who have won two straight after losing three of four.Melvin, playing in his 100th career game, also passed Dallas Comegys (1,613) for seventh on the school’s all-time scoring list is nearing Stephen Howard (1,691) for sixth.DePaul led by as many as 12 in the second half but Chicago State took the lead 59-58 with 5:10 left on a Matt Ross 3-pointer, capping off an 11-0 run. Chicago State then went ahead for the last time on Corey Gray’s 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining, before Brandon Young made a free throw to tie the game at 62.DePaul is in the middle of a stretch of three games in seven days, wrapping up when it hosts Houston Baptist on Wednesday.The Cougars were led by Pippen and Nate Duhon’s 18 points. After starting 2-1, Chicago State has lost five of seven and plays again Monday when it hosts Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.Chicago State shot only 39 percent from the floor, and shot 13 free throws compared to DePaul’s 40.That all helped the Blue Demons continue their control of Chicago State. With Sunday’s win, DePaul improved to 12-0 all-time against the Cougars, whom they had beaten by an average of 23.5 points per game entering Sunday. DePaul also improved to 18-1 against current members of the Western Athletic Conference, which Chicago State joined before this season. Sunday’s game was also the Cougars’ first in eight days, following their 90-81 win last Saturday over Wisconsin-Parkside.Chicago State, winners of the final Great West Conference tournament last season, has already faced Indiana and Illinois and is scheduled to play at Cincinnati and Creighton before opening its first WAC season Jan. 4 when it faces Idaho.

    Carolina Panthers’ Captain Munnerlyn (41) celebrates his interception return for a touchdown with Drayton Florence (29) during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

    Newton, defense lift Panthers past Jets 30-20

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After one winning streak went by the wayside last week, the Carolina Panthers are looking to start another.Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a score and the Panthers defeated the New York Jets 30-20 on Sunday.Newton was an efficient 16 of 24 passing, including a 72-yard touchdown on a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams as the Panthers bounced back from their worst loss of the season, a 31-13 defeat last Sunday to the New Orleans Saints.Williams had 81 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving for the Panthers (10-4), who’ll get another crack at the Saints next Sunday in a game that could determine the NFC South division title and who’ll get a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.Geno Smith was 15 of 28 for 167 yards with a touchdown pass and one costly interception in the fourth quarter for the fading Jets (6-8), who will be eliminated from playoff contention if Baltimore wins at Detroit on Monday night.Jeff Cumberland had a touchdown catch, and rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson bulldozed his way for a 1-yard touchdown run on a goal-line play.The turning point came in the fourth quarter with the Panthers leading 16-13.The Jets had a chance to take the lead, but failed to pick up a first down and Ryan Quigley’s punt was blocked by Jason Williams and downed at the Jets 14. Four plays later, bruising fullback Mike Tolbert bowled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run to make it a two-possession game.“That play really kind of sparked us,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Williams’ blocked punt.On New York’s next series, Munnerlyn then stepped in front of a slant route, intercepted Smith and returned it to 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Munnerlyn’s fifth career interception return for a touchdown, a franchise record.It was also a little revenge for the Panthers’ secondary, which Jets receiver Santonio Holmes referred to as “the weakest link” of Carolina’s defense. The Panthers allowed Drew Brees to throw for 313 yards and four touchdowns in the loss last week at the Superdome. “Captain is a dynamo and had a really good week of practice and it showed,” Rivera said. “I told him he set the bar really high for next week.”The Panthers broke open a 6-6 tie late in the first quarter when Newton faked a screen pass to the left, spun around and threw back to the other side of the field to a wide-open Williams. The 30-year-old running back beat linebacker David Harris to the right sideline and turned it up the field, getting a smothering block from wide receiver Brandon LaFell en route to a 72-yard touchdown reception.Graham Gano, who had earlier hit from 35 and 22 yards out, tacked on his third field goal of the first half from 40 yards to give the Panthers a 16-6 lead at halftime.The Jets ran for 93 yards in the first half — the most against the Panthers in nine weeks — but could only manage a pair of field goals by Nick Folk.Carolina led by 10 in the third quarter and Rivera went for a knockout blow on a fourth-and-2 at the Jets 14. But Quinton Coples broke up a pass by Newton and the Jets briefly seized the momentum. Smith drove the Jets 86 yards on nine plays with Richardson, a 6-foot-3, 294-pound defensive tackle, capping the drive on a 1-yard touchdown plunge to trim the lead to 16-13.

    Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) runs against Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

    Chiefs clinch playoffs with 56-31 win vs. Raiders

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Jamaal Charles carried the Kansas City Chiefs straight into the playoffs with a record performance.Charles tied a franchise record with five touchdowns in a game and gained 215 yards from scrimmage as the Chiefs beat the Raiders 56-31 on Sunday to clinch at least a wild-card spot.Alex Smith threw five TD passes, going 17 for 20 for 287 yards to make the Chiefs the fourth team ever to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games. Kansas City (11-3) is tied for first place in the AFC West with Denver but needs help to win the division because the Broncos swept the season series.Matt McGloin threw four interceptions and lost a fumble while sharing time with Terrelle Pryor as Oakland (4-10) allowed the most points in franchise history and lost its fourth straight game. The Raiders had seven turnovers overall.The performance drew constant boos from a crowd frustrated over 11 straight seasons without a winning record and raise questions about whether the Raiders are showing enough progress in year two under coach Dennis Allen to convince owner Mark Davis to keep him around for a third season.There is not questioning the progress the Chiefs have made in their first year under coach Andy Reid. He took over a 2-14 team and authored an impressive turnaround.The addition of Smith to a talented roster that featured six Pro Bowl players also helped. Charles was one of those Pro Bowlers a year ago but he never had a game quite like this even though he only rushed for 20 yards in eight carries.He did most of his work in the passing game, beating blitzes with screen passes and also having success running patterns downfield. He caught eight passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns in the third-most productive receiving day by a running back since the 1970 merger.Charles also joined Shaun Alexander, Jerry Rice and Clinton Portis as the only players since the merger to score five touchdowns and gain at least 200 yards from scrimmage in a single game.The Chiefs built a 35-10 lead before the Raiders scored three straight touchdowns to make it a game late in the third quarter. It quickly became a blowout again.On a third-and-1, Smith found Charles on a wheel route down the sideline for a completion. Charles then cut toward the middle and raced in for the 71-yard score that tied Abner Haynes’ team record set in 1961 against the Raiders with five TDs in a game.The Chiefs put the game away after Taiwan Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting up a 6-yard TD pass to Sean McGrath that made it 49-21.Knile Davis’ 17-yard run midway through the fourth quarter gave the Chiefs the highest-scoring game in the NFL this season and the most points ever scored against the Raiders, breaking the mark of 55 last reached by Baltimore in 2012.The Raiders were officially eliminated from the playoff chase for the 11th straight season shortly before kickoff and played like a team going nowhere.The tone was set right from the start when Quintin Demps returned the opening kick 50 yards and Charles then took a short pass from Smith and raced 49 yards for the score. Charles scored on a 39-yard screen pass on third-and-19 on the next possession.The game quickly got out of hand from there as Eric Berry returned an interception 47 yards to make it 21-3. McGloin then fumbled a shotgun snap from Stefen Wisniewski, setting up a 1-yard TD run by Charles and threw another interception to Berry that was followed by a 16-yard screen to Charles on the next play to make it 35-10.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler celebrates a touchdown by Bears running back Michael Bush in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. Chicago won 38-31.

    Cutler rewards Trestman, Bears with win

    Many considered it a dangerous move, going back to Jay Cutler after Josh McCown had played so well, but perhaps Marc Trestman knew enough to pocket his winnings and that the real risk was in trying to play one more hand with McCown. In the end, it worked out for the Bears Sunday.

    The Bears’ defense held quarterback Jason Campbell and the Browns’ offense to 10 points until a late TD pass Sunday in Cleveland.

    A stop in the right direction for Bears

    Sure, the Cleveland Browns might be able to bring Jim Brown out of retirement and get better production than they’ve had from this year’s assortment of nobodies in the backfield.And certainly quarterback Josh Campbell will remind no one of Bernie Kosar. Still, a Bears defense accustomed to yielding rushing yards in huge chunks while hoping the offense scores enough to offset its faults could finally enjoy a Sunday of meeting goals and contributing in a 38-31 victory that kept alive hopes of an NFC North title.

    Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) fights off Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson after a catch in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Cleveland.

    Bears triumph in Cutler’s comeback game

    CLEVELAND — Jay Cutler hasn’t always been Chicago’s first choice. On Sunday, he was the right one for coach Marc Trestman.Cutler shook off some early rustiness and threw three touchdown passes in his first start since Nov. 10, leading the Bears to a 38-31 win over the Cleveland Browns.Cutler, who missed Chicago’s previous four games with a sprained left ankle, threw a 4-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett with 5:41 left as Bears (8-6) rallied in the second half and stayed in contention for an NFC playoff spot. Cutler finished 22 of 31 for 265 yards and validated Trestman’s decision to stick with him over backup Josh McCown, who had played well while filling in for Chicago’s starter.Michael Bush’s 40-yard TD run with 2:17 left sealed it for the Bears, who completed a four-game sweep of the AFC North and won their first road game since Nov. 4, when McCown led them to a win over Green Bay.Trestman had promised Cutler would keep his job once he was healthy. And after Cutler was cleared earlier this week to practice, Trestman kept his word and started the not-always-popular veteran, a decision that had some Bears fans questioning whether it might be better to stick with the hot McCown.Cutler looked shaky in the first half with the two picks, but he settled down and brought back the Bears, who fell behind 24-17 when Cleveland safety T.J. Ward returned a fumble 51 yards for a TD.Backed up at his own 5 in front of Cleveland’s Dawg Pound section early in the fourth , Cutler drove the Bears 95 yards — with the help of two defensive penalties and hit Alshon Jeffery with a 45-yard scoring pass to tie it with 10:59 left.Cutler lofted a deep pass toward the front of the end zone to Jeffery, who wasn’t open but hauled in the throw when safety Tashuan Gipson badly mistimed his jump.Chicago’s Zackary Bowman returned an interception 43 yards for a TD to give the Bears a 17-10 lead in the third quarter.The Browns (4-10) scored two defensive touchdowns, but as has been the case in recent weeks, Cleveland couldn’t get the big stop when it needed one. The Browns have lost five straight, eight of nine and dropped at least 10 games in six straight seasons.Gipson returned an interception 44 yards for a TD and safety T.J. Ward had a 51-yard TD fumble return for the Browns.Jason Campbell finished 23 of 39 for 273 yards and one touchdown, a 43-yarder to wide receiver Josh Gordon with 59 seconds to go to pull the Browns within 38-31.Cleveland, which lost a heartbreaker in New England last week when it couldn’t recover a late onside kick, was then penalized for illegal formation trying one of their own and the Bears ran out the final seconds.Ward’s 51-yard fumble return for a TD — moments after star cornerback Joe Haden injured his hip gave the Browns a 24-17 lead late in the third.Cutler completed a short pass to tight end Martellus Bennett, who was fighting for yardage and a first down when he was stripped from behind by defensive end Billy Winn. Ward scooped up the loose ball and was enveloped by a bubble of Browns for an escort to the end zone and Cleveland’s second defensive TD.Cutler didn’t crumble despite his two first-half miscues. His 5-yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall with 24 seconds left in the second quarter tied it 10-all. The pair hooked up on a 41-yard completion, with Marshall outjumping Haden, to set up the tying touchdown.Gipson’s TD return gave the Browns a 10-3 lead midway through the second. Chicago’s defense finally stopped an opponent on the ground, limiting the Browns to 93 yards rushing. The Bears entered with the NFL’s worst rushing defense.

    Miami Dolphins running back Marcus Thigpen (34) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

    Dolphins beat Patriots 24-20

    MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Tom Brady’s latest comeback bid fell short, and the Miami Dolphins helped their playoff chances with a breakthrough victory over AFC East leader New England.A fourth-down pass from Brady was intercepted by Dolphins newcomer Michael Thomas in the end zone with 2 seconds left, giving them a 24-20 victory Sunday.The Patriots had mounted second-half rallies to win their past three games, and Brady moved them from their own 20 with 1:15 remaining to the Miami 14. But he threw three consecutive incompletions before Thomas, playing his first NFL game, sealed the third consecutive victory for the Dolphins (8-6), who are 5-2 since tackle Jonathan Martin left the team in a bullying scandal. Miami snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses to the Patriots (10-4), who missed a chance to clinch their fifth consecutive AFC East title.Working against the Dolphins’ injury-depleted secondary, Brady threw 13 times in the Patriots’ final drive, including a fourth-and-8 completion in New England territory. But the Patriots used their final timeout with 27 seconds left, and after two passes into the end zone fell incomplete, Brady’s throw for Austin Collie was intercepted by Thomas.The reserve safety joined the Dolphins on Tuesday when he was signed off the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad, and he was pressed into duty because of injuries.Ryan Tannehill shook off four sacks to throw for 312 yards and three touchdown passes, including a 14-yarder to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 left that provided the winning margin. His other scoring passes covered 39 yards to Mike Wallace and 2 yards to Daniel Thomas.Brady went 34 for 55 for 364 yards and two scores, overcoming the loss last week of tight end Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending knee injury. Julian Edelman made 13 catches for 139 yards, and Danny Amendola added 10 receptions for 131 yards.New England took a 20-17 lead when Edelman scored on a 24-yard reception with four minutes left.The Dolphins caught a break when the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, allowing them to start at their 40. Charles Clay kept the driving going when he turned a short pass into a 6-yard gain on fourth and 5 at midfield, and Thigpen scored five plays later.New England, accustomed to slow starts, took a 10-0 lead when Michael Hoomanawanui made a one-handed 13-yard touchdown reception. But squandered scoring chances hurt the Patriots. They mounted drives of 16 and 15 plays but settled for a field goal each time, and Stephen Gostkowski misfired on a field-goal try for only the third time this year when he sailed a 48-yard attempt wide left.Miami took a 17-10 lead with a bit of trickery on the first play of the fourth quarter. Tannehill faked a handoff to Thomas, faked another handoff to Wallace on an end-around and then threw to Thomas for a 2-yard score.Miami moved 82 yards in the final two minutes of the opening half for its first score, which came on Wallace’s 39-yard reception. He beat cornerback Marquice Cole, who had just come in the game to replace an injured Kyle Arrington.The Patriots mounted a 16-play drive on their opening possession. When Miami rushed seven on third-and-goal, Brady threw incomplete, and New England settled for a field goal.Derrick Shelby’s pressure forced another third-down incompletion by Brady midway through the fourth quarter, and again the Patriots kicked a field goal.

    Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) celebrates with teammate Rhett Ellison after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Minneapolis.

    No AP, no problem for Vikings

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Philadelphia Eagles were soaring toward the playoffs. Matt Cassel and the Minnesota Vikings just made their flight path a bit bumpier.Cassel passed for two touchdowns and 382 yards, the most by Minnesota since Brett Favre was in charge, and ran for another score to lead the injury-depleted Vikings to a 48-30 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday to snap a five-game winning streak by the Eagles.With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart out, Matt Asiata rushed for his first three career touchdowns and Greg Jennings caught a career-high 11 passes for 163 yards for the Vikings (4-9-1). Playing for pride and probably coach Leslie Frazier’s job, they produced quite the spoiler performance against the previously surging Eagles (8-6).Fresh from a decisive win at home over Detroit in the snow to take control of the NFC East, the Eagles fell flat in the controlled climate of the soon-to-be-demolished dome. They took a one-game lead over Dallas into the weekend and must play at the Cowboys the last week of the season.Nick Foles threw second-half touchdown scores to DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz and Jason Avant, but he was picked off by former teammate Shaun Prater at the Minnesota 5-yard line in the third quarter. League rushing leader LeSean McCoy had 38 yards on only eight carries after posting a career-high 217 yards last week.Foles finished with 428 yards on 30-for-48 passing, including 10 completions for 195 yards to DeSean Jackson, but he took four sacks -- two each by Jared Allen and Brian Robison -- and misfired often on his downfield passes. The Eagles had nine penalties for 94 yards.Cassel completed 26 of 35 passes and improved to 2-2 as a starter. In two other games, he relieved an injured Christian Ponder and helped guide the Vikings to victory. Asiata needed 30 attempts to total 51 yards, but he helped the Vikings control the clock after taking an early lead and never letting up. Their time of possession was 36 minutes, 26 seconds.After nine straight games of allowing 21 points or less, the Eagles gave up their highest total since a 52-20 loss at Denver on Sept. 29. They cut the lead to 27-22 on a tricky catch in the back of the end zone by Ertz with 15 seconds left in the third quarter, but the 2-point conversion pass was broken up.The Eagles refused to kick deep to rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, the NFL leader in average yards per return, and the Vikings took advantage of the enhanced field position. After yet another short pooch kick by Alex Henery, they started with the ball at their own 46 and cruised to the end zone in six plays to push the lead back to 12 points.The Vikings forced two more punts and made it 41-22 after Patterson’s touchdown reception, his third score in as many weeks.The Vikings played their second-to-last game at the 32-year-old Metrodome in a library-like atmosphere, with a barely-above-zero temperature outside and a lost season clearly keeping fans away or at least tempering their game-day exuberance. The Vikings were mathematically eliminated from playoffs contention last Sunday at Baltimore, the fifth time this year they led with less than 52 seconds left and failed to win.This week, in addition to their top two running backs, they were missing their top two tight ends, starting right guard and their top three cornerbacks due to injuries. But that sure didn’t faze them.Cassel completed his first nine passes for 168 yards, including a textbook toss over the shoulder of Jennings that he snagged in stride and cruised untouched for a 57-yard score in the first quarter to cap a four-play, 92-yard drive.Henery kicked three field goals in the first half, the second one after a touchdown run on fourth-and-1 by Jackson was wiped out by an illegal peel-back block by Foles.

    San Francisco 49ers’ Kendall Hunter (32) dives into the end zone to score after picking up a fumble by Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Russell Shepard during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Tampa, Fla.

    Kaepernick, 49ers rip Bucs

    TAMPA, Fla. — Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass for the fifth straight game and Michael Crabtree scored his first TD since returning from injury to help the San Francisco 49ers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14 on Sunday.The victory was the fourth straight for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers (10-4), who pulled away for good with a 10-minute, fourth-quarter drive that produced a field goal. Kendall Hunter put it well out of reach, scooping up a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and diving 2 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.Tampa Bay got within 20-14 on Mike Glennon’s TD pass to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Bucs (4-10) didn’t get the ball back until after Kaepernick used 17 plays to march the 49ers 77 yards into position for Phil Dawson to kick one of his four field goals.

    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.

    Seahawks manhandle Giants 23-0

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — This is the best Seahawks road team in their history. Even better, they might not need to leave Seattle again — until another trip to the Meadowlands. For the Super Bowl.Seattle manhandled the New York Giants 23-0 Sunday for its sixth road win, holding the hosts to 181 yards. Richard Sherman had two interceptions, Marshawn Lynch scored on a twisting, triple-effort 2-yard run, and Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals.Russell Wilson toyed with New York’s defense, running for 50 yards and throwing for 206 and a touchdown before sitting out the last few minutes.The Seahawks (12-2) are closing in on the NFC West title and their best overall record; they went 13-3 in 2005 before losing to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.This season’s Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium and unless they collapse in their final two games at home, where they are undefeated, the Seahawks will be the NFC favorite to reach the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city.New York (5-9) will be deep into its offseason by then with its first losing record since 2004. It was Seattle’s first shutout since a 58-0 romp over Arizona on Dec. 9 last year. The Giants lost 38-0 to Carolina in Week 3.Eli Manning was picked off a career-worst five times, with Byron Maxwell also getting two. The Giants lost top receiver Victor Cruz to a concussion in the fourth quarter. Cruz is 2 yards short of his third straight 1,000-yard season.Hauschka, who is clutch from long distance (14 for 15 from beyond 40 yards), made 49- and 44-yarders, plus a 24-yard field goal.Seattle’s top-ranked defense had New York off-kilter so badly that three of Manning’s interceptions were into tight coverage. Maxwell and Sherman had clearer shots at the ball than Manning’s intended receivers.One interception came on a desperation pass to end the half and Earl Thomas’ pick in the final period was off a deflection.Sherman’s first pick led to Lynch’s brilliant short run for a 10-0 lead. Lynch seemed to be going down several times, but went into full Beast Mode to power into the end zone.Hauschka’s 44-yarder made it 13-0 at halftime, then Sherman got his sixth interception of the season.Maxwell’s second pick led to Wilson’s 12-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin, the 17th touchdown New York has yielded off a turnover. Lynch actually was most effective as a receiver with six catches for 73 yards. He rushed for 47.

    Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters (91) celebrates after the second half of an NFL football game against Washington, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 27-26.

    Falcons hold off fumble-prone Washington

    ATLANTA — Desmond Trufant deflected Kirk Cousins’ pass on a potential winning 2-point conversion with 18 seconds remaining, and the Atlanta Falcons edged Washington 27-26 on Sunday.The Falcons scored 20 points off seven Washington turnovers. Washington tied a team record with five lost fumbles.Cousins passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns but had three turnovers in his first start of the season after coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench Robert Griffin III. Griffin watched from the sideline.Cousins’ touchdown pass to Santana Moss gave Washington a chance to force overtime by kicking the extra point. Instead, Cousins’ attempted go-ahead 2-point pass for Pierre Garcon was deflected by Trufant.Steven Jackson ran for two touchdowns for Atlanta.Alfred Morris had 98 yards rushing but lost two fumbles for Washington.

    Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) intercepts a pass in the end zone intended for Jacksonville Jaguars running back Jordan Todman (30) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Bills beat the Jaguars 27-20.

    Manuel leads Bills over Jaguars

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — EJ Manuel’s latest trip to the Sunshine State was considerably better than his last.Manuel threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Buffalo Bills to a 27-20 victory against the banged-up Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.Manuel bounced back from the worst game of his rookie season — a four-interception performance at Tampa Bay last week — and left his college state with his first win in five road starts.The former Florida State star didn’t do anything spectacular, just dinking and dunking the Jaguars for 193 yards. He also ran for 37 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter.Manuel completed 17 of 24 passes. Robert Woods caught five for 82 yards, including a 7-yard score. And Scott Chandler added five receptions for 54 yards.The Bills (5-9) scored 10 points in the final 2:14 of the first half, taking a 20-10 lead into the locker room. The Jaguars (4-10) rallied to tie it in the fourth, evening the score on Chad Henne’s 13-yard TD pass to Marcedes Lewis.Manuel answered, though, capping an 89-yard drive with a 1-yard TD pass to Frank Summers. With it, Manuel set the franchise’s rookie record for touchdown passes with 11.Jacksonville looked like it would tie things up again, but Stephon Gilmore intercepted Henne’s end-zone pass intended for Jordan Todman with 3:15 remaining.The Jaguars had one final shot, getting the ball back with 1:46 remaining, but failed to pick up a first down.Buffalo finished with five sacks, bringing its season total to an NFL-leading 49. Jacksonville lost for the first time in a month and just the second time since starting the season 0-8.Few outsiders gave the Jaguars a chance in this one since they were without leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring), leading receiver Cecil Shorts III (groin) and starting left guard Will Rackley (concussion). Making matters worse, the Jaguars lost backup guard Mike Brewster to a broken left ankle in the first half.Along with Henne’s late interception, the play Jacksonville will point to is Denard Robinson’s fumble near the goal line early in the third. Aaron Williams knocked the ball loose for the Bills, and it rolled through the end zone for a touchback.Mike Brown, filling in for Shorts, also a key turnover that led to a field goal late in the first half.Henne completed 21 of 36 passes for 237 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jordan Todman ran 25 times for 109 yards. He also caught four passes for 44 yards.Buffalo finished with 198 yards rushing, including 80 from Fred Jackson and 67 from C.J. Spiller.Teammate Stevie Johnson had just one catch for 4 yards while dealing with his mother’s unexpected death. Rhonda Lewis, 48, died Saturday at her Northern California home, according to The Buffalo News.According to the paper, Johnson was “devastated” to learn his mother had died the day before the roads trip.

    Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson, right, celebrates a touchdown against the Houston Texans with wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

    Colts rout Texans 25-3

    INDIANAPOLIS — The AFC South champion Colts got just what they needed as a playoff tuneup.Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, and Robert Mathis broke Indianapolis’ single-season and career sacks records by forcing a second-half safety to lead the Colts past reeling Houston 25-3 on Sunday.Luck finished 19 of 32 for 180 yards with one interception and needed only two quarters to put up 20 points, four short of Indy’s combined first-half point total from the previous six games.But the Colts (9-5) did it against a team that has lost 12 straight overall and is 0-12 all-time in Indy.For Houston (2-12), it looked all too familiar.Indy took a 20-3 halftime lead, aided by two interceptions by Case Keenum and too many penalties. Keenum also was stripped of the ball by Mathis in the end zone, which led to the safety.Keenum was 18 of 34 for 168 yards.It was a complete reversal from what Colts fans had witnessed over most of the last two months, when they were outscored 114-24 in the first half.All that changed Sunday, even though Luck was working with an offensive line that started the day without two starters, lost one of the replacements with a concussion on the first series and lost starting running back Donald Brown with a stinger later in the first half.Indy used a heavy dose of bubble screens to receivers to finally end its long run of sluggish starts.Luck opened the game with an 80-yard TD drive that ended with Griff Whalen’s 14-yard scoring catch. It was the Colts’ first opening drive touchdown since Week 3 against San Francisco.And Luck was only warming up.After Houston’s Randy Bullock made a 49-yard field goal, Darius Butler picked off Keenum to set up Adam Vinatieri’s 37-yard kick.Luck made it 17-3 when he faked another receiver screen, then flipped the ball on a shovel pass to Trent Richardson for a 9-yard score with 7:03 left in the half. And after Butler’s second interception, Vinatieri made a 43-yard field goal to give Indy a 20-3 halftime lead.The Colts added another field goal and the safety in the third quarter for their most lopsided victory since winning 37-3 at Jacksonville on Sept. 29.Mathis, the NFL sacks leader, now has 16½ this season and 108 in his career, breaking the franchise records held by longtime teammate and close friend Dwight Freeney. Freeney set Indy’s single-season mark in 2004 with 16 and finished his Colts career with 107½.Texans receiver Andre Johnson, who came into the game with 95 catches, had four receptions for 18 yards.Indy has gone 29 consecutive games without back-to-back losses.

    North Central quarterback Spencer Stanek throws to a receiver against Mount Union Saturday in Ohio. Mount Union won 41-40.

    Naperville's North Central loses 41-40 heartbreaker

    A lot of numbers were staring Mount Union in the face Saturday — 16 trips to the Stagg Bowl, 19 straight Division III semifinal appearances, 28 wins in a row, 77 straight home victories. But the only number with any significance for the Purple Raiders was 41. Mount Union beat Naperville's North Central College 41-40 in D-III playoff semifinals.


    Marmion puts press on Willowbrook

    Marmion broke the game open early using its athleticism and aggressive play to put Willowbrook on its heels to win 67-41 on Saturday in Villa Park.


    The Pittsburgh skyline rises above the waters of the Ohio River, which starts at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. The U.S. Coast Guard wants to allow barges filled with fracking wastewater to ply the nation's rivers on their way toward disposal, an idea that's raising alarm among environmentalists but could also provide long-elusive information on what exactly the toxic brews contain.

    Coast Guard wants barges to ship fracking water

    The U.S. Coast Guard wants to allow barges filled with fracking wastewater to ply the nation's rivers on their way toward disposal. Many environmentalists are horrified, but industry groups say barge transport has its advantages.

    Computer parts are piled in a consolidated container for electronic scrap at the Bahrenfeld recycling park in Hamburg, Germany. The mountain of refrigerators, cellphones, TV sets and other electrical waste disposed of annually worldwide is forecast to grow by a third in the next five years, according to a United Nations study released Sunday.

    U.N. study: Electrical waste up by third by 2017

    The mountain of refrigerators, cellphones, TV sets and other electrical waste disposed of annually worldwide is forecast to grow by a third by 2017, according to a U.N. study released Sunday. E-waste — defined as anything with a battery or a cord — can pose a big problem because it often contains substances that are harmful to humans and the environment if not properly treated. On the other hand, some of it can be profitably recycled.

    The CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform robot, known as CHIMP, performs a set of doorway tests during a preparation run at the National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon researchers are testing the new search-and-rescue robot that will compete in the U.S. Defense Department’s upcoming national robotics competition in Florida. Competitors from other schools and companies will be vying for a $2 million U.S. Defense Department prize.

    Maybe not sci-fi, but robots readied for big tests

    The real world has not caught up yet with “Star Wars” and its talking, thinking robots, but some of the most sophisticated units that exist are heading to Florida this week for a Defense Department competition. Seventeen humanoid robots will be evaluated Friday and Saturday at Homestead Miami Speedway for how well they can complete tasks including getting into an all-terrain vehicle and driving it and opening doors.

    This photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 shows a drink called the Quinundrum, made with Quinetum, a new quinine cordial by Hendrick’s Gin, at the Rickhouse bar in San Francisco. The drink also contains Lillet Blanc and Suze. Quinetum is sold exclusively to a few bars around the country.

    Liquor producers experiment with exclusive booze

    Quinetum is a cordial from Hendrick’s Gin. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. That’s kind of the idea. Quinetum is sold exclusively to a few bars around the country. Hendrick’s is just one brand trying to lure business with "exclusive" liquors.

    Waters from a leaking pipe flows down steps at the Caroline Crosman School in Detroit. How much treated water is lost this way in Detroit is anybodyís guess. Not even the city knows. But the cost is passed on in higher rates to water customers in the city, which in July became the largest in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy, and ironically shut off many of its decorative fountains last summer as a cost-saving measure.

    Detroit’s water drains away from ravaged pipes

    As Detroit goes through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, the city’s porous water system illustrates how some of its resources are still draining away even as it struggles to stabilize its finances and provide basic services. More than 30,000 buildings stand vacant in neighborhoods hollowed out by Detroit’s long population decline, vulnerable to metal scavengers who rip out pipes, leaving the water to flow.

    The Nasdaq Composite is up 35 percent in 2013, but while other major indexes like the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 have celebrated all-time highs again and again, the Nasdaq remains 20 percent below its dot-com peak of 5,048.62.

    Once-frothy Nasdaq tries to reach dot-com peak

    It takes a long time to recover from a bad hangover, especially when you party like it’s 1999. The Nasdaq Composite is up 35 percent this year, but while other major indexes like the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 have celebrated all-time highs again and again, the Nasdaq remains 20 percent below its dot-com peak of 5,048.62.

    The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. each unanimously voted to adopt the so-called Volcker Rule, taking a major step toward preventing extreme risk-taking on Wall Street that helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis. The rule which states that U.S. banks will be barred in most cases from trading for their own profit under a federal rule is named after Paul Volcker, a former Fed chairman who was an adviser to President Barack Obama during the financial crisis.

    How Volcker Rule would limit banks’ risky bets

    U.S. regulators have approved a rule that seeks to defuse the kind of risk-taking on Wall Street that helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis. The Volcker Rule is expected to change the way the largest U.S. banks do business. It strives to limit banks’ riskiest trading bets that could implode at taxpayers’ expense. Here are questions and answers about the Volcker Rule.

    Copies of the application for the Health Insurance Marketplace from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are arranged for a in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. The health care website’s improved performance has both U.S. political parties shifting strategies, with President Barack Obama’s team preparing a January advertising blitz and a wave of celebrity promotions to boost enrollment, allies said. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

    Fact Checker: GOP leader’s healthcare claims

    Sen. Mitch McConnell has long been a critic of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But his recent comments on Fox News appeared overheated: Are the 85 percent of Americans who have health insurance facing “extraordinary disruption?”

    Firms with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the new health care law, unless those companies share a common owner. The aggregation rule is causing headaches for many small businesses.

    Health-care law’s aggregation rules vex small firms

    Firms with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the new health care law, unless those companies share a common owner. The aggregation rule is causing headaches for many small businesses.

    If a state gives a resident as little as $1 a year in heating assistance, it allows that person’s household to automatically qualify for an average of $1,080 in additional food stamps annually from the federal government.

    Loophole in law causes food stamp costs to swell

    Congressional critics looking to cut the nation’s food stamp bill -- which has doubled in the past five years -- are pointing to what some say is a loophole in the law: If a state gives a resident as little as $1 a year in heating assistance, it allows that person’s household to automatically qualify for an average of $1,080 in additional food stamps annually from the federal government.

    Loan officer and salesman Roy Knudsen, of Boston, left, displays earrings to Doreena Ruiz, of Framingham, Mass., as Ruiz shops at Suffolk Jewelers & Pawnbrokers, in Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. Pawnshop are emerging from the shadows. As access to credit remains tight, a growing number of borrowers are getting cash by pawning their jewelry, electronics and other valuables.

    Pawnshops for 1 percent turn conspicuous consumption into cash

    Last year, Marc Kaye suffered a cash shortage. Then Kaye remembered a friend in London who had pawned his Patek Philippe watch with a company called Borro Ltd. to cover a similar gap. Unlike traditional pawnshops, filled with guns and personal computers, Borro lends against luxury items. It’s the pawnbroker to the 1 percent.


    Billionaire Pritzker brothers turn from family feuding to deals

    Anthony and Jay Robert Pritzker, brothers and heirs to the Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Marmon Holdings Inc. manufacturing fortune, settle in for salads and sandwiches at their 40th-floor office in Chicago’s West Loop. A decade ago, the duo joined family members who allied against their sister, Penny, who’s President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary, and two cousins. The legal battle broke up the family empire and distributed at least $1.35 billion to each of 11 cousins. Now, the brothers say they are putting the discord behind them.

    The 2014 GMC Sierra debuts in Pontiac, Mich., late last year. General Motors is hoping southern Californians will get on board with their pickups.

    GM courting outdoorsy Angelenos to vie with Toyota pickups

    For Rick Alpern, who runs the Keyes Chevrolet auto dealership in Los Angeles, few tasks are tougher than selling big trucks to eco-conscious Californians. “We talked about going into a Silverado,” Alpern recalled last week about a sales attempt. “He goes, ‘The problem is that Silverado is just too big for me for what I do.’”

    In this Dec. 4, 2013, photo, provided by Lattice Engines, Lattice Engines’s Boston office participates in Paint Nite, in Boston. Paint Nite is a service event that gives painting lessons at bars and restaurants. About sixty-five people attended.

    Traditional office holiday parties getting ditched

    Many bosses are ditching traditional holiday parties. Instead, they’re sponsoring shopping sprees and cruises to reward staffers and celebrate at the end of the year. Others are holding parties that include a special activity or are doing volunteer events that they say are good for business.


    Career Coach: Focus on the fundamentals

    - Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Excellence is achieved by mastery of the fundamentals.” The same is true in the working world. Management is complex, but here are the five fundamentals to make sure you get it right.


    Work Advice: Co-worker danger zones

    You don’t have to like your colleagues, but you shouldn’t have to fear them. Two cases of disquieting co-workers, one concerning a reclusive and one that involves more aggressive interactions.

Life & Entertainment

    This April 1945 file photo shows actress Joan Fontaine wearing a gown. The Oscar-winning actress has died at the age of 96. Longtime friend Noel Beutel says she died in her sleep in her Carmel home Sunday

    Joan Fontaine, Oscar-winner for ‘Suspicion,’ dies

    Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, who found stardom playing naive wives in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” and “Rebecca” and also was featured in films by Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Nicholas Ray, died Sunday. She was 96.


    ‘Billy Jack’ creator Tom Laughlin dead at age 82

    Actor-writer-director Tom Laughlin, whose production and marketing of “Billy Jack” set a standard for breaking the rules on and off screen, has died. “Billy Jack” was released in 1971 after a long struggle by Laughlin to gain control of the low-budget, self-financed movie, a model for guerrilla filmmaking.

    British actor Peter O'Toole arrives for the British premiere of his 2007 film 'Venus' at a central London cinema. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, died at the age of 81.

    'Lawrence of Arabia' star Peter O'Toole dead at 81

    Known on the one hand for his starring role in “Lawrence of Arabia,” leading tribesmen in daring attacks across the desert wastes, and on the other for his headlong charges into the depths of drinking, Peter O'Toole was one of the acting world's most charismatic figures. O'Toole, who died Saturday at age 81 after a long bout of illness, was fearsomely handsome, with burning blue eyes and a penchant for hard living, which long outlived his decision to give up alcohol.

    The ensemble of Chamber Opera Chicago's production of "Amahi and the NIght Visitors."

    Sunday picks: Chamber Opera Chicago presents 'Amahi'

    Chamber Opera Chicago brings Gian Carlo Menotti's holiday opera "Amahi and the Night Visitors" to the Harold Washington Library's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. Animals, Santa and more than 1 million lights guide the holidays home at Brookfield Zoo's annual Holiday Magic celebration. And Janus Theater hosts a holiday show and fundraiser at Elgin Public House.

    Singer Celine Dion poses for a portrait on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2012 in Los Angeles.

    Celine Dion’s album dives in charts

    Virtually every entertainer has a misfire. But it’s news when an album by one of the best-selling recording artists in history quickly tumbles down the charts. Celine Dion’s first all-new English-language album in six years, “Loved Me Back to Life,” entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2. But just five weeks later, it’s plummeted to No. 35.


    Childless couple bows out, rankles siblings

    Q. I’m pretty annoyed and appalled at my brother, “Ted,” and his wife, “Lisa.” Three years ago we decided gifts would only be given to the children. Ted informed me that they are bowing out of the afternoon gift exchange and will only show for dinner in the evening because, as the only childless couple, they’re “not really a part of it.”


    Book notes: Pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer to sign his book
    Local author Donna Abear signs copies of her book "Relatively Criminal: A Memoir" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Cafe Books, 395 Lake St., Antioch.

    Mark Campbell portrays the phantom and Julia Udine stars as Christine in the re-imagined production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical plays Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre starting Jan. 9.

    Reinvented 'Phantom' takes darker, 'edgier' approach

    Mark Campbell started memorizing the songs from “The Phantom of the Opera” when he was 14. Not long after, he saw his first performance of the show, and waited outside the stage door to meet the man behind the mask. Now, he's playing the Phantom himself in a re-imagined production of the longest-running show in Broadway history. It plays Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre from Jan. 9 to March 2.

    Christmas can be amply represented with a clever fold out cardboard tree, complete with ornaments. This tree may appeal to apartment dwellers and those with tree allergies.

    Inventiveness, eclecticism can be celebrated over the holidays

    Holiday trim and accessories this year are an eclectic mix of traditional and nontraditional colors and styles. “Since folks are open to re-imagining what Christmas can look like, we’ll continue to see a looser interpretation of the traditional tree,” says Catie Parrish, associate editor at Wayfair, the online home furnishings outlet.

    Walk through the neighborhood of Galata to get to the stunning Galata Tower, a stone medieval observation tower, in Istanbul, Turkey.

    5 free things to see and do in Istanbul

    Last summer, Istanbul’s Taksim Square was the scene of confrontations between police and protesters. But protests have faded, and contrary to some lingering perceptions, it’s calm now — except for the normal hustle and bustle found in this vibrant city. And it’s as safe for tourists as it ever was. Here are five things to do in Istanbul that are free.

    Stephen Moyer as Captain Von Trapp and Carrie Underwood as Maria drew high viewership for NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!”

    What will NBC do for a ‘Sound of Music’ encore?

    NBC’s halls are alive with the sound of sequels.After the triumph of last week’s “The Sound of Music Live!” NBC understandably is now planning more live musicals. This is welcome news for anyone who likes seeing a network get off the beaten path. Few observers have failed to cheer NBC for raw ambition in presenting a live musical more than a half-century after the previous one aired. Attaboys even came from the loudest critics of the broadcast and its leading lady, Carrie Underwood, who played Maria.

    Emile Hirsch, as Diego, and Penelope Cruz, as Gemma, star in “Twice Born.”

    Penelope Cruz leads ‘Twice Born’ on and off camera

    Forgetting Penelope Cruz is almost 40-years-old is easy to do. Even when she bears heavy makeup to add wrinkles for her role as Gemma in the wartime melodrama “Twice Born,” it’s nearly impossible for the actress to truly look weathered. When pressed against 28-year-old co-star Emile Hirsch during love scenes, the bond seems natural and comfortable. The Sergio Castellitto film opened in limited U.S. release recently after first premiering in Italy last year. It’s based on the book of the same title, written by Castellitto’s wife, Margaret Mazzantini.

    Second-year medical student Alexis Sadecky, center, gathers vitals on patient Donna Eure while Lauren Daugherty looks on at the HOPES women’s clinic in Norfolk, Va., the only student-run clinic in Virginia.

    Medical students create, run free clinic

    For Cara Wright, taking someone’s blood pressure at a free clinic on Southampton Avenue in Norfolk is pretty straightforward. Not so the other tasks the third-year medical student has taken on this year: Finding money for medical supplies. Persuading fellow Eastern Virginia Medical School students and community doctors to help treat the uninsured. HOPES, where Wright works, is the only student-run clinic in Virginia.

    Cooper Volkman, 8, wears loom band bracelets that he made. The current craze for kids, Rainbow Loom bands and their many knockoffs, is surprising parents and child development experts.

    Looming large: Parents find a craft craze to like

    The current craze for kids — Rainbow Loom bands and their many knockoffs — has been surprising parents and child development experts since it broke out last summer and fall: In a market glutted with crafts marketed to girls, loom bands are the rare gender-neutral hobby that appeals to boys, too.

    Amaryllis bulbs can be potted in shallow containers with a soilless growing medium.

    Be careful when applying ice treatments

    When using ice melting chemicals on slippery areas, follow directions carefully. Many people apply too much ice melt, which can cause damage to walks and adjacent plants. Consider using sand on slippery areas. Mixing a small amount of ice melt with sand can also be effective and minimize the amount of ice melting chemical that must be used.

    Courtesy of Kohler Hydrotherapy bath choices have been very basic. But today’s bathing fixtures offer a variety of tub styles and bathing experiences.

    Choose a bath ‘hydrotherapy’ to match your lifestyle

    Years ago, your home hydrotherapy bath choices would have been very basic. But today’s fixtures offer a variety of tub styles and bathing experiences.


    Leaking roof pits unit owners versus association

    Q. I have a question about the responsibilities of our homeowners association vs. those expected of us. We contacted our association after finding the roof is leaking in our townhouse.


    Ceramic tile is not the best choice for front stoop

    Q. I’ve sent you pictures of the cracks in my front stoop. Can I ceramic tile over this or will the cracks appear in the new tile? I live in the Chicago area, so there are severe weather conditions.


    Before anyone like Ron Kammes of Winfield can use the shooting facility at Article 2 Gun Range in Lombard, he or she must either provide a Firearm Owners Identification card or be monitored by someone who is licensed.

    Editorial: The suburbs' different experience with firearms

    A Daily Herald editorial says it's important to understand the reasons gun ownership is comparatively low in the suburbs -- but also how that colors our perspective


    How we captured Elburn million-light holiday display

    Yeah, it's a big deal to string a million lights from your house in Elburn. But it's no walk in the park for the reporter and photographer who chronicled it all on the coldest week of the year, says Jim Davis, DuPage and Fox Valley news director.


    Holy suckitude!

    Columnist Kathleen Parker: ’Tis the season and Nancy Pelosi has given the hands-down best gift to the American people — her phrase “Embrace the suck.” Miraculous.


    Putting off student music shortsighted
    A Glen Ellyn letter to the editor: Reading that Indian Prairie Unit District 204 is going to begin band and orchestra in sixth grade is astounding. My hope is that other districts do not see this as a means to save money.


    Educators the losers in pension deal
    A Carpentersville letter to the editor: The new Illinois pension reform law was passed in the same cowardly manner that has become synonymous with Illinois politics. Lawmakers delayed voting on the measure until the day after the filing deadline for 2014 candidates; they rushed it to the floor before anyone had time to read or digest the complex bill, they allowed no opportunity for public hearings or input from those affected by the law, and they passed it with the barest of majorities.


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