Daily Archive : Wednesday January 1, 2014


    Amber Gail Creek

    Murder of suburban girl still unsolved after 2 years
    Two years after the body of a former Northwest suburban girl was found in a public hunting ground in western Racine County, Wis., police have yet to find her killer.

    This is an undated sketch of a man, possibly from Chicago, whom police want to interview in connection with Amber Creek’s disappearance and death.

    New sketch creates new leads in former suburban girl’s murder

    Wisconsin police say they have several new leads in the murder of a former Northwest suburban girl, thanks to a national television show that again aired her story. America’s Most Wanted ran an update on the Amber Gail Creek case last weekend.

    Amber Gail Creek

    Wisconsin police hunt third suspect in murder of suburban teen

    Wisconsin police are focusing on one suspect in the investigation of a Northwest suburban girl killed last year. So far, two of three suspects have not matched DNA evidence taken from the crime scene where 14-year-old Amber Gail Creek was found dead of asphyxiation.

    Amber Gail Creek

    Rolling Meadows fliers ask for help in girl’s murder case

    Fliers with two different pictures of Amber Gail Creek are going up around Rolling Meadows. Police there are hoping residents who remember the 14-year-old can help solve her murder.

    This is an undated sketch of a man, possibly from Chicago, whom police want to interview in connection with Amber Creek’s disappearance and death.

    Police seek 3rd suspect in Palatine girl’s death

    Wisconsin police are banking on a composite sketch released Thursday to aid in finding a man last seen with a Northwest suburban girl murdered last year. The sketch is of the third suspect police have identified in the 20-month-old murder investigation of Amber Gail Creek, the 14-year-old victim, formerly of Palatine and Lake Zurich.

    Amber Gail Creek

    Police forces coordinate effort to find Palatine teen’s killer

    Today Amber Gail Creek would have turned 16. Instead of celebrating the milestone with family and friends, police in Illinois and Wisconsin are searching for her killer. They are hoping DNA and fingerprint evidence found on Amber’s body will help them. The girl, formerly of Palatine, was found dead Feb. 9, 1997, of asphyxiation in a public hunting ground in western Racine County, Wis.

    Amber Gail Creek

    Police admit trail is cold in Palatine teen’s murder

    Although investigators remain optimistic, the likelihood Amber Gail Creek’s killer will be found is questionable, crime experts said Thursday. Time, they argue, is crucial when solving a murder, and with the homicide trail nearly 17 months cold, police already have lost a lot of it. Still, members of a newly appointed task force say they are “confident” they will find...

    Amber Gail Creek

    Detectives from Wisconsin look for clues to murder in suburbs

    Detective Joyce Singer never gave up hope she’d one day find the real name of a Jane Doe discovered murdered in the Wisconsin county where she works. It took nearly 1½ years to identify her as Amber Gail Creek, formerly of Palatine.

    Amber Gail Creek

    DCFS examined after Palatine girl found murdered

    While police continue to search for the killer of a former Palatine girl, a state inspector will investigate whether the agency charged with her welfare failed to properly report her missing the last time she ran away. The Office of Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is examining all state documents on 14-year-old Amber Gail Creek, who became a ward of...

    Amber Gail Creek

    Remains identified as missing Palatine girl

    The remains of a body found in a Wisconsin forest preserve more than one year ago have been identified as those of a 14-year-old Palatine girl, Wisconsin police said.Amber Gail Creek was last seen Jan. 23, 1997. Her body was found in a wildlife refuge February 9 last year in Burlington, Wis., in western Racine County. She had been listed as a Jane Doe.

    Amber Gail Creek

    Palatine girl’s uncle questions investigation of her murder

    Little can comfort the family of a former Northwest suburban girl who found out the runaway had been murdered in Wisconsin more than a year ago. But what does make the pain more bearable is knowing there were kind people to bid her farewell. At least 100 strangers from Racine, Wis., attended a September memorial service for someone they knew only as Jane Doe.


    Daily Herald drug series wins award
    The Daily Herald won a prestigious Sarah Brown Boyden award for public service Sunday from the Chicago Press Veterans Association. A team of journalists won in the public service category for a four-part study of the growing suburban heroin and club drug problem in a series titled "The Hidden Scourge."

    Theresa Blasucci and her son, Nick, of Glendale Heights.

    Mom hopes to spare others pain caused by child’s overdose

    It wasn’t just her son’s heroin overdose that stunned Theresa Blasucci in June 2001. She was more shocked to learn some neighbors knew of the boy’s drug problem, but never told her about it.


    Kane County drug court impresses DEA chief

    Calling it a successful tool, the nation’s top drug cop promised to spread the word about Kane County’s drug rehabilitation court program. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Director Asa Hutchinson Wednesday got a first hand look at Judge James Doyle’s drug court program.

    Steven J. Renauer, of Naperville, died of a suspected heroin overdose.

    After being clean for nearly 3 years, Steve Renauer fell back into addiction

    This is part of an occasional series of reports about the area teens and young adults whose deaths this year are attributed to suspected drug and alcohol abuse. Dreamt a friend of mine O.D.’ d on heroin. I think it’s a psychic reading that will come true, or a scare from my higher power to show me what will happen.


    Drug death profiles inform and, with luck, may save a life

    "If you're married, you can divorce your wife / But when you're married to "H," then you're married for life / You're married to "H" and you're married for life." -Savoy Brown, 1970

    Mary Minton, left, talks about her son’s drug problem during a Families of Young Adult Addicts meeting at All Saints Lutheran Church in Palatine. At right is Melanie Mintin.

    Different support group started by addict’s family

    After enduring the pain of watching her grown son spiral into a cycle of drug abuse and recovery, Palatine resident Mary Minton has decided to reach out to those who might be in the same situation. Minton and her daughter, Melanie, are working to establish a support group for families of drug users between the ages of 18 and 30.


    Addicted teen struggled to feel connected

    Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of reports about area teens and young adults whose deaths this year are attributed to suspected drug and alcohol abuse. Justin Hirschenbein was like a champion boxer, one friend says. He was determined to survive the fight, taking punches as if the pain could not penetrate and hitting right back.


    Drug test policies not likely to change, area schools say

    Despite a ruling by the Supreme Court Thursday that gave permission to test students involved in extracurricular activities for drugs, most schools throughout the suburbs said such testing is unlikely to happen or even harmful. However, some recognized the tests as a potential tool against drug abuse.


    Governor signs off on drug courts for teens

    SPRINGFIELD - Drug courts for juveniles could be set up in counties across Illinois under a law approved Monday by Gov. George Ryan. Supporters of the law say the courts may help addicted youth kick substance abuse habits, possibly reducing juvenile crime and saving the state millions of dollars by not having to put them in jail.

    Matthew Smyl, of Cary, allegedly murdered his mother and then committed suicide Jan.15, 2001, at his parents’ residence in Cary.

    Son’s addiction reached point of murder, suicide

    As he sat with Cary police late on the night his wife and son died, Jacek Smyl, a staid, Polish-born electrician not normally prone to expressions of emotion, sobbed openly. “Basia,” he cried over and over. “Basia, Basia.” It was the name he called his wife Barbara, her Polish name.


    Chicago to seize cars to curb suburban drug demand

    With suburban college students arriving home and high school kids off for the summer party season, the popular West Side of Chicago drug connection may be in jeopardy - as will the cars of those caught buying in the city.

    Gregory J. Hopkinson, “G.J.”, at age 2. Hopkinson, a 19-year-old Glendale Heights man, overdosed on heroin on January 19, 2002.

    How a suburban teen lost his life to heroin

    Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of reports about area teens and young adults whose deaths this year are attributed to suspected drug and alcohol abuse. Five weeks after Gregory James Hopkinson's 19th birthday, his family and friends gathered to celebrate his life.

    Jaimie Misicka, 15, of Hanover Park, listens along with a packed house at the Arcada Theater as a 7-person panel answers questions from the audience about heroin and club drugs during Tuesday’s Daily Herald sponsored community forum in St. Charles. Jaimie’s mom Tina brought along a contingent of girl scouts from pack 737.

    700 gather to talk about drugs

    One man told the audience of overdosing five times on heroin before being arrested - a moment he calls the answer to his prayers. His mother recalled how she prayed over her son’s hospital bed the night of his first overdose, and how she pledged not to let the drugs win.


    How candidates would face suburban drug crisis

    Republican governor candidate Patrick O’Malley believes anyone harmed by the sale and use of drugs or alcohol to minors should be allowed to sue for money damages in civil court. A state senator from Palos Park, O’Malley supports a legislative proposal that would allow such civil lawsuits in Illinois.

    DuPage County Coroner Richard Ballinger

    Coroner sees how drug abuse can affect anyone
    By Richard Ballinger Editor’s Note: The Daily Herald asked DuPage County Coroner Richard Ballinger to give his thoughts on the impact of illegal drug use.


    How club drugs affect you and your children

    Though club drugs and heroin are taking hold in the suburbs, parents often are reluctant to admit it can strike so close to home. But it can and it has. The Daily Herald will sponsor a free community forum, “The Hidden Scourge: How Heroin and Club Drugs Have Taken Root in the Suburbs,” from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Arcada Theater in downtown St. Charles.


    Telling these difficult stories is worth it if it saves young lives

    Andrew Davidson, we were told often, was “one of the good ones.” The fact is, all of them are.

    Scott McDonald pauses as he gets choked up while speaking about his experience with and recovery from heroin addiction during Tuesday’s Daily Herald sponsored community forum on heroin and club drugs held at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles.

    Forum for drugs, teens set for end of January

    As a community outreach project following the publication of the Daily Herald’s four-day series on the rise in heroin and club drug use in the suburbs, the newspaper will sponsor a panel discussion: “The Hidden Scourge: A Community Forum.” The forum will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Arcada Theater, 105 E. Main St., in downtown St. Charles.

    Pallbearers carry Andy Davidson’s casket after his funeral Wednesday at Evangelical Free Church.

    Surrounded by friends, family, teen loses lonely battle with drugs

    They go to proms and concerts, ball games and classes. They shouldn’t go to funerals. Not for a 17-year-old friend. But on Wednesday, instead of heading for Rolling Meadows High School, fellow students gathered to bury a boy they loved. They sat solemnly in pews, arms around each other, crying and staring at Andy Davidson’s casket.


    Series shows 'scourge' thrives on being ignored

    When it comes to information about drugs, it is hard to find much credibility anywhere.

    Keith Lane

    Life after a club drug death: Heartache for family, friends

    In the snapshot, 1-year-old Keith Lane peers over the top of a small shopping bag at the camera. An inscription on the back reads, “Uncle Ron put you in a grocery bag when you were one year old and you fit! I love this picture and I love you. Love, Mom.”


    Can we prevent teens from using drugs?

    It’s the million dollar question - how do we keep kids from ever using drugs in the first place? Talk to a recovering addict and some will say there was nothing anyone could have done or said to keep them from using. They wanted to snort that first dose of heroin or swallow that Ecstasy pill and nothing could have stopped them.

    Tom Carnevale, center, former St. Francis High school student, recovering from addiction, tells his story , during Panel discussion on teen drug, and on his left, Courney Barkei, also a former St. Francis High school student, who recovering from addiction.

    Road to recovery is a long, bumpy one for addicts

    Courtney Barkei didn’t put much thought into taking her first dose of heroin. A friend had it, and she tried it. But recovery has not been that simple. Much like other addicts, the 20-year-old Batavia woman has been through a series of treatment programs only to relapse again and again since her first dose in 1998.


    Cure or just another addiction? Methadone providers say opiate keeps scores of addicts off heroin

    Cathy, a 45-year-old Palatine resident, used heroin steadily for 10 years before she sought treatment from a methadone clinic.

    Just a small portion of packets of heroin that was confiscated during a sweep of drug related arrests by Elgin Police.

    Inside a suburban rave: Dancing, drugs and dealing at your kid’s ‘teen party’

    We are in the door less than 10 minutes when the young man approaches me. It’s still early - about 10 p.m. -and only a few people are dancing. The rest are milling about, waiting for the party to get going. I can only assume that’s why the kid - a soccer player, maybe, judging by his build - taps me on the shoulder. “You got any acid?” he asks.

    Heroin use is on the rise in the suburbs.

    How kids hide drug habit, and how parents can tell

    For a year and a half, Matthew Albano was so addicted to heroin he woke up to a bag of dope in the mornings and stole cash from family members to feed his habit. But his mother had no idea. He still spent time with her, watching television and just hanging out; when he felt himself nodding off from the narcotic, he’d innocently say he needed a nap.


    How to talk to someone you think may be using club drugs or heroin

    Jean Brown watched her oldest son turn to a life of heroin. She couldn’t bear to watch it again. Fuming with anger when she began to expect that her younger son, then 14, also was experimenting with drugs, she flat-out confronted him - and took the situation straight to the family doctor.


    Drugs through the eyes of those in the trenches

    Lt. Keith Stegman Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Lisle-Woodridge Fire District It takes some prodding, but Keith Stegman can remember one especially disturbing overdose. The kid was 17. He was alone with his heroin in his bedroom, and he was far beyond help when paramedics arrived. “It was too late,” Stegman says.

    Judge James Doyle (R) gives a harsh talk to one of the subjects in his drug court. The man had failed 5 urine tests and was later taken to jail for the failures.

    Judge takes some unusual steps to help rehabilitate drug users

    Donned in a orange jumper from the Kane County jail, Carrie Brummel stood before Judge James Doyle hoping for the best. She had been living on the streets of Chicago for three years and using heroin for five. She wanted help and knew exactly where she could find it. “Carrie, how bad is your heroin addiction?” Doyle asked.

    Pastor Angelo Valdes of the H.E.L.P.S Ministry Community Center reviews drills just completed with the center’s Maverick basketball team on a Tuesday night practice in the Valley View neighborhood of St. Charles. Valdes coaches the team which has helped several young men turn their lives around in a more positive direction.

    Tackling addictions with the help of God in Fox Valley

    Angelo Valdes has people who used to use drugs living with him. But none are recovering addicts. Rather, each have been delivered from their addiction through their faith in God, he says. “We don’t fix it,” Valdes said. “God does.”

    Heroin use is on the rise in the suburbs.

    How suburban teens score heroin for $10 a bag

    It’s a short trip along I-290 or on the CTA Green Line or the Metra line from Geneva to Chicago’s West Side, where suburban teens and adults come to buy their heroin. Walk or drive down just about any side street off of the major thoroughfares of Central and Cicero and Lake streets and you enter an open-air, 24-7 drug market.

    Tom Carnevale, a recovering heroin addict from Lisle.

    Recovering addict: ‘I was more lost than anybody knows he could be’

    He was 16, had the keys to his mother’s forest green Ford Windstar and nothing much to do. Lisle resident Tom Carnevale, his buddy and their two girlfriends decided one March day to do something completely different together. So, they drove from the Western suburbs to Chicago’s West Side and bought a bag of heroin for $10.

    Michael Rubicz of St Charles in an aurora halfway house as part of the Kane County Drug Program.

    Hooked on heroin: How one group of friends nearly ruined their lives

    When his 17th birthday rolled around, Michael Rubicz knew what he wanted to do. Heroin. Before his birthday, the St. Charles teenager had vowed to add heroin to the list of drugs he has tried. So when he got together with his friends the night of his birthday, they all made good on that promise.

    Kurt Mayer, inmate at Illinois Department of Corrections

    Former drug user: ‘It creeps up on you so fast’

    Kurt Mayer can remember, when he really tries, how things used to be when he was in control. That was before the needles, the stealing, the arrests and the tiny cell he shared with a young man serving 46 years for murder. Before a drug manipulated him with its unrelenting hunger.

    Waukegan police seized drugs from an operation near Route 41 and Route 137 in North Chicago.

    Police say more heroin equals more crime

    The crimes were so unusual that even before police caught the offender, they had a nickname for him -”the polite robber.”

    According to “Scott”, a recovering heroin addict from South Elgin, caps such as this one are commonly used to transform powder heroin into an injectable liquid. (near corner of Kedzie and Lake streets in Chicago)

    How heroin and club drugs have taken root in the suburbs

    Club drugs and snortable, high-grade heroin have taken hold of a segment of the suburbs’ teen and young adult population, creating a hidden subculture filled with more addicts, more traumatized families and more deaths than they did just three years ago, experts say. More young people are trying the drugs, experts say, believing they are relatively harmless.

    Heroin use is on the rise in the suburbs.

    Suburban drug scene - new methods, new dangers

    Do you know anyone “nodding” or “rolling?” One and two generations ago, teens and young adults who experimented with drugs were getting “stoned” or “tripping.” If you were a flower child of the ‘60s, the stuff your children may be taking is not the stuff you thought got you harmlessly high, drug researchers say.

    Heroin use is on the rise in the suburbs.

    Heroin: Why these drugs are so tough to fight

    A teenage girl lies flat on her back, staring up at her friends as they wave glow sticks in her face. From the look in her eyes it is obvious the girl is “rolling” on the illegal club drug Ecstasy. A few feet away, a dealer is selling the drug to another group of teens. They sit in a circle on the floor, one of the girls sprawled across a young man’s lap.


    Naperville leaders put out the call to fight drug, alcohol abuse at home

    When Naperville parents are hosting beer parties for their kids, “just say no” doesn’t cut it. A group of Naperville police, school principals, elected officials and other advocates have issued a challenge: Take responsibility for keeping Naperville children drug-free.


    What works best - drug scare tactics or good news?

    It’s a different strategy in the drug war. You’re cool if, like most teens your age, you don’t try drugs. Some experts say more young people might think twice about using drugs if they honestly believed most of their peers weren’t either. Others believe youths will be less likely to use drugs if they are scared out of it.

    Kelly Costello

    Heroin addict thought falling of the wagon once wouldn’t hurt

    This is part of an occasional series of reports about area teens and young adults whose deaths this year are attributed to drug and alcohol abuse. Kelly Costello fell asleep on an unfamiliar bed and in unfamiliar surroundings in the early morning hours of May 19.

    Vernita McGee (left) of Aurora and Kimberlee Morris (right) of Elgin share a laugh with fellow graduates as they prepare to march during the Kane County Drug Court graduation at Christ Community Church in St Charles on Thursday.

    First drug court class graduates 18 earn another chance in life

    There were no questions Thursday night about what they’ve been up to the past week, how the job search is going or how they got started using drugs. For 18 participants in Kane County’s Drug Rehabilitation Court program, Thursday night was a day to celebrate. It was graduation day, and their last official visit before Kane County Judge James Doyle.


    Kane County drug court draws national attention

    The national agency that warns us of the dangers of drugs on TV is interested in sending out a new message. In addition to telling us what drugs will do to us, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America soon may be encouraging us to help those using drugs to get the treatment they need. And Kane County may play a part in that.


    Kane’s drug court is key to turnaround for addicts

    When Gilbert Feliciano was sitting in the Kane County jail in March of 2001, he wasn’t necessarily looking for a way to kick his drug habit. He just wanted to get out of jail and stay out of the state prison system. So when his attorney told him Kane County’s drug court program would be a chance to stay out, Feliciano jumped at the opportunity.


    Parents hear advice on how to handle a child’s addiction

    When the disease of alcohol or drug addiction pulls a teenager into its gaping maw, the addict’s family is dragged along for the long, turbulent journey. Members of Families Anonymous know that truth as well as they know the myriad choices that confront them in dealing with their loved ones’ tragedies.

    Karen Schultz, 19, of Mount Prospect, died Feb. 3.

    Just one use, and a future was gone for Arlington Heights teen

    On Nov. 9, 2001, Karen Schultz scribbled a brief entry into one of the many journals she kept. The item was labeled "plans for future," and it listed three goals: "a job in medical industry (nurse??); career and family; college degree."

    Heroin use is on the rise in the suburbs.

    Why heroin is such a dangerous drug

    Dr. Gregory Teas of Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Care center in Hoffman Estates specializes in dealing with heroin addiction. Here is an edited version of an interview with Teas, an addiction psychiatrist who runs the chemical dependency program at the center. Q. Why is heroin so addictive?


    21-year-old addict hid drug abuse until his death

    To at least one friend, Tony Devita, in his early years, goes down as a legend - Ferris Bueller-style. In high school, he pulled all the pranks. As one story goes, Devita was working at a video store when a school official he recognized walked inside and rented a pornographic movie.

    Daniel Elderkin, right, with his father, David. Daniel Elderkin died in August 2003 after taking cocaine and falling into a Bartlett pond and drowning.

    Father says cocaine addiction killed his son

    When in the full grip of drug addiction, Daniel R. Elderkin would run around, sometimes with knives, convinced someone was out to get him. Family members said the 22-year-old once called police for help, babbling about the imaginary people he thought meant to harm him.

    Nick Blasucci is in recovering from heroin addiction.

    Suburban teen, family hopeful after heroin addiction

    Editor’s note: This story is a follow up to Daily Herald investigations in 2001 and 2002 that chronicled a growing number of overdoses among suburban teens. It was a night when two prayers defined Nick Blasucci’s young life. He lay in his bed, facing prison time for residential burglary and reliving his ill-fated attempt to get drug money.


    Rays of hope emerge from dark tales of drug abuse

    Drug court worked for some. Or the realization there are reasons to live. People and things to be better enjoyed without the aid of artificial substances. A belief in something greater, a creator. The fulfillment that can come from meaningful relationships.

    According to “Scott”, a recovering heroin addict from South Elgin, caps such as this one are commonly used to transform powder heroin into an injectable liquid.

    An addiction shared by two suburban brothers

    Kevin Riggs was out in the garage tinkering with his dirt bike when his younger brother, Tim, walked up and asked, “What’s that white stuff you’ve got in your desk drawer?” The white stuff was heroin, broken up into snortable lines on a CD jewel case and hidden in a drawer in his bedroom in their Warrenville home.


    Treatment options dwindling for families hit by ‘hidden scourge’

    Despite a rise in the numbers of drug-addicted teens and young adults in the Northwest and West suburbs, the number of treatment facilities available to help them is shrinking.


    Parents the first line of defense
    By Mark Henry Editor’s note: The following guest commentary is from Mark Henry, director of the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, the multijurisdictional narcotics task force. I believe no one person or organization can effectively reduce drug abuse alone.


    Why kids who weather divorce might be more likely to use drugs

    Going through a divorce can be rough. But as hard as it is for adults, it's twice as tough on their children, said Suzy Marta, founder and president of the Rolling Meadows-based Rainbows, a grief support organization for children. And all too often, when mom or dad moves out, drugs or alcohol fill the void.


    Heroin’s grip on young people in suburbs seems as tight as ever

    Editor's note: The Daily Herald concludes its more than yearlong look at drug abuse by teens and young adults with reports today and Thursday. After an initial four-part series in December 2001, the newspaper's editorial staff members committed to telling the life stories of those who died in the past year.

    Janine Mokrzycki

    Heroin’s grip proved too strong for Batavia woman

    Janine Mokrzycki was 16 when she started using drugs. Her parents had just moved from the suburbs of Atlanta to Batavia - 750 miles away from her friends. Janine was angry and looking for a way to rebel. She started out with pot and acid and moved on from there. Friends say whatever drugs a co-worker could get his hands on, she’d do.


    Addict’s heroin use, rap sheet went hand in hand

    Jeffrey H. van Teylingen packed a lot of lawbreaking into his 23 years.


    Father sues dealer of drug that killed son

    The father of a McHenry teen killed two years ago today in an Ecstasy-related overdose is suing his son’s supplier and several other suspected drug dealers, saying they bear responsibility for the boy’s death.


    Lawmakers want stiffer penalty for heroin dealers

    SPRINGFIELD - Illinois lawmakers voted Tuesday to tighten penalties for heroin possession, attempting to close loopholes prosecutors and police say have led to the narcotic’s rise in popularity in the Chicago area.

    Tour Coordinator and Training Liaison Deputy John Mondelli lines up the participants during H.E.A.L’s scared straight tour of the DuPage County Jail in Wheaton Tuesday night.

    Jail tour shows troubled kids where poor choices can lead

    A dozen parents smile at each other as they file into the lobby of the DuPage County jail. It feels like the opening minutes of a school field trip, when everyone is eager for a little diversion and excited about the adventure ahead. Deputy John Mondelli puts a quick end to the joviality.

    Seth at age 4. Seth Lieberman of Warrenville, died of a heroin overdose at age 21 on February 17, 2002.

    Heroin stole 21-year-old’s exuberance, then his life

    Editor's note: This is part of a series of occasional reports about area teens and young adults whose deaths this year have been attributed to substance abuse. When Seth Lieberman was a young boy, he was stung by a jellyfish as he swam in the Atlantic Ocean during a family vacation in Pompano Beach, Fla.

    Nick’s mother, Theresa Blasucci, right, speaks, about her son, Nick, left, who recovery from heroin addict. at their home in Glendale Height.

    Joe and Nick: Teen addicts struggling to stay clean

    Though they lived three doors apart for most of their childhoods, Joe McKirchy and Nick Blasucci were never really friends. A year’s age difference - an often unbridgeable gap in grade school - kept them in different social circles. They remained strangers until high school, when a dangerous love for heroin brought them together.


    Herald writers, photographer honored for exemplary work
    The Daily Herald won three Peter Lisagor awards for exemplary journalism Friday night, including top honors for public service. At a banquet held by the Chicago Headline Club, the Daily Herald won honors for deadline reporting, photojournalism features as well as public service.

    18 years-old, Nick Blasucci’s heroin addiction. He is in recovery now, speaks at his home, in Glendale Heights, while his mom, Theresa, in the back, look on.

    Parents form addiction support group

    Heroin not only brought Joe McKirchy and Nick Blasucci together, it bonded their parents as well. After discovering the boys’ heroin use, the McKirchy and Blasucci families began an organization called Help End Addiction with Love, or HEAL.

    19-year-old Streamwood resident Melissa Schieler who is a former prescription drug abuser.

    Prescription drugs: They’re legal but still lethal

    Sequestered in her bedroom with her best friend, teenager Melissa Schieler sobbed uncontrollably. Earlier that day, her mother refused to drive them to the mall. Schieler was furious. She was so distraught over her mother’s decision, she took eight times the dose of her prescription anti-depressant, thinking the resulting high would make her feel better.


    Teen’s overdose ruled accidental

    A Glendale Heights teen died earlier this year after ingesting a fatal amount of heroin, a coroner’s inquest confirmed Thursday. A jury ruled the death of Gregory “GJ” Hopkinson an accident after reviewing autopsy results and listening to testimony of two police officers who investigated the overdose.


    Learn secrets of club drugs, officer says

    With a pacifier on a multicolored plastic necklace dangling from his raised arm, police Sgt. Bruce Talbot declared it part of today’s hidden drug paraphernalia that often goes undetected in schools.

    Dog owners in Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect could have a dog park in Melas Park by next summer.

    Arlington Hts., Mt. Prospect seek dog park input

    Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect residents can learn about a dog park planned for Melas Park and give their opinions at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, at Central Community Center, 1000 W. Central Road in Mount Prospect. “This is something people have been asking for; for a lot of people dogs are part of the family,” said Maryfran H. Leno, president of the Arlington Heights park board.

    Steve and Kelle Lalko of Aurora hold their newborn daughter, Ella Marie, at Edward Hospital in Naperville. Ella was born at 1:11 a.m. Wednesday, weighing 5.8 pounds and at 18 inches long. She was the first baby born in 2014 in DuPage County.

    Aurora family welcomes first baby of 2014 for DuPage County

    Kelle Lalko didn’t have anything exciting planned for New Year’s Eve — just a quiet dinner with her husband, Steve, and 2-year-old daughter, Emma. Instead, the Aurora woman ushered in the new year at Edward Hospital in Naperville, delivering a healthy baby girl early Wednesday morning — the first baby of 2014 for DuPage County.

    James Avery played Philip Banks on the NBC series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Avery, 65, the bulky character actor who laid down the law as the Honorable Philip Banks has died.

    James Avery, Uncle Phil from ‘Fresh Prince’ dead at 68

    James Avery, the bulky character actor who laid down the law at home and on the job as the Honorable Philip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” has died. Avery’s publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., following complications from open heart surgery. He was 68, Snyder said.

    Unlike in other states like Washington, Illinois isn't yet ready to go with its medical marijuana program, even though the law allowing it takes effect today.

    Medical pot legal, but state needs time to write rules

    The state's first medical marijuana law officially takes effect today, but people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases will have to wait another year or longer before they can use the drug to ease their pain. Illinois officials are working through the details of how to implement the four-year pilot program, trying to decide everything from who will be allowed to grow and sell...

    Brad Paschall of Waukegan feels victorious as he braves the freezing Lake Michigan water celebrating the new year during the 15th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Waukegan Municipal Beach.

    163 people brave snow, frigid water for Polar Bear Plunge in Waukegan

    The weather outside was frightful but the faces on people after they emerged from the freezing Lake Michigan water was so delightful Wednesday during the 15th annual Polar Bear Plunge at the Waukegan Municipal Beach.

    Passengers link arms and stamp out a helicopter landing site on the ice near the trapped ship in Antarctica on Tuesday.

    Rescue delayed for icebound ship in Antarctica

    The latest attempt to rescue passengers on board a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for more than a week was delayed again Thursday after sea ice prevented a barge from reaching one of the rescue vessels.

    Rich Bennett

    Mundelein jewlery store customers await snow total

    More than 200 customers are waiting to learn if enough snow fell Wednesday for them to wind up with refunds for their purchases as part of a Mundelein jewelry store's promotion.

    Juanita Moore, a groundbreaking actress and an Academy Award nominee for her role as Lana Turner’s black friend in the classic weeper “Imitation of Life.”

    Oscar nominated actress Moore dies at 99

    NEW YORK — Juanita Moore, a groundbreaking actress and an Academy Award nominee for her role as Lana Turner’s black friend in the classic weeper “Imitation of Life,” has died.Actor Kirk Kelleykahn, her grandson, said that Moore collapsed and died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99, according to Kelleykahn. Accounts of her age have differed over the years.

    A student fills out a survey at a tent set up by Generation Opportunity, a national conservative organization that targets young adults, while tailgating before the start of an NCAA college football game between Miami and Virginia Tech, Nov. 9, 2013. The 100-yard stretch of free pizza and party tents is a carefully crafted strategy aimed at getting students to opt out of President Barack Obama’s controversial new health law.

    Marketing efforts to uninsured youth ramp up

    The so-called “young invincibles” are so important to the success of the Affordable Care Act that supporters and detractors are spending millions to reach them with racy ads, social media campaigns and celebrity endorsements. The president is even (gasp) asking their mothers to help convince them to sign up for insurance.

    Employee David Marlow, right, helps a customer, who smells a strain of marijuana before buying it, at the crowded sales counter inside Medicine Man marijuana retail store, which opened as a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver on Wednesday, a day some are calling “Green Wednesday.”

    Legal recreational pot industry opens in Colorado

    Crowds were serenaded by live music as they waited for the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops to open. They ate doughnuts and funnel cakes as a glass-blower made smoking pipes. Some tourists even rode around in a limo, eager to try weed but not so eager to be seen buying it.

    Maurice Dyer, Elgin Area Historical Society board member, and Jeff White, a member of the group, were instrumental in getting an Elgin National Road Race trophy won by race car driver Charles Merz in 1912. They obtained other memorabilia, such as Merz’s canvas helmet and goggles, for the Elgin History Museum.

    1912 road race trophy back in Elgin

    To the members of the Elgin Area Historical Society and Museum, it’s nothing short of serendipitous that an Elgin National Road Race trophy from 1912 is back in town. The so-called Illinois Cup won by racer Charles Merz is now on display at the Elgin History Museum, along with Merz’s racing helmet and googles, his World War II victory medal and pilot wings, and a few photographs, including one...

    Laura Abundes of Waukegan with son, Lazaro Matias Abundes, born at 12:33 a.m. Jan. 1, at Northshore University Health System Highland Park Hospital. He was the second baby born in Lake County in 2014.

    First babies of 2014 in northwest Cook and Lake counties arrive early

    The first babies of 2014 born in Lake and Northwest suburban Cook counties didn't waste time welcoming the new year. They were born at 12:31 a.m. at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington and 1:18 a.m. at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.

    Lou, a 3 year old a pit bull mix, models temporary tattoos. The color used is non-toxic, water soluble, and approved for use on skin. Birthdays are the most popular occasion for chalking, said groomer and PetSmart salon project manager, Megan Mouser, in Phoenix. Sports team colors are also in demand, she said.

    Groomers are dazzling up dogs with bling, bows

    For some dog owners, simple bathing and combing is not enough. So they pay groomers to turn fur into an artist’s canvas, where vibrant sweeps of chalk and paint transform pooches into fantasy fur balls that draw both compliments and strange looks. For an extra 10 or 15 minutes at the groomer, the everyday dog can get an outlandish redesign with a temporary paint tattoo, Mohawk, feather extension...

    The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy leaves Seattle for a scientific mission in the Arctic that will include breaking ice well north of Barrow, Alaska, in this file photo from 2007. The U.S. is racing to keep pace with stepped-up activity in the once sleepy Arctic frontier, but it is far from being in the lead.

    Nations jockey for Arctic position, U.S. not in lead

    The U.S. is racing to keep pace with stepped-up activity in the once sleepy Arctic frontier, but it is far from being in the lead. Nations across the world are hurrying to stake claims to the Arctic’s resources, which might be home to 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas.


    2013 ends with a big drop in homicides in Chicago

    Following a year when Chicago led the nation in homicides with more than 500, the city’s Police Department said Wednesday that in 2013 the city recorded the fewest killings since 1965 and saw its overall crime rate fall to level not seen since 1972.

    Steve and Kelle Lalko of Aurora hold their newborn daughter, Ella Marie, at Edward Hospital in Naperville Wednesday. Ella was born at 1:11 a.m. weighing 5.8 pounds and 18 inches long.

    First babies of 2014 arrive early for Fox Valley area moms

    Three Fox Valley area moms delivered the first babies of 2014 Wednesday at separate hospitals. Rebecca Mantz of Elgin recorded the first birth in Kane County, Kelle Lalko of Aurora had the first baby in DuPage County, and Erin Curtin of Crystal Lake had the first baby in Lake County.


    Arlington Lakes hosts Chilly Open Jan. 18:

    Arlington Lakes Golf Club in Arlington Heights hosts its Chilly Open, an annual tradition that pairs up golf with tasty chili, on Saturday, Jan. 18. The $35 fee per person entitles each player to a round of golf, a raffle ticket with a chance to win a special prize, and all the hot chili you can eat. Coffee, beer, and hot chocolate also will be available. Prizes will be awarded to the top players...


    Sustainability topic of meeting:

    The Lake County Regional Planning Commission will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, at the Lake County Division of Transportation, 600 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville,


    See movies at library:

    The Wauconda Area Library will exhibit three of 2013’s top movies for free in January, February and March.

    Tony Borcia

    Illinois’ new laws: No indoor tanning if under 18, cellphone rules

    Indoor tanning for those under 18 and driving with a handheld cell phone are banned, while voting is allowed for some 17-year-olds as a result of new state laws taking effect Jan. 1.

    Brad Paschall of Waukegan braves the freezing water at the 15th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Waukegan Municipal Beach.

    Images: Waukegan Polar Plunge
    Images of the Waukegan Park District's 15th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at 10:00am on New Year's Day at the Waukegan Municipal Beach 201 Sea Horse Drive. Proceeds from the event benefit the Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County-Waukegan scholarship program.


    Luol Deng was back in the lineup Monday night, but it did little to change the Bulls’ fortunes as they lost to the Raptors at the United Center.

    Bulls trying to find their rhythm

    The Bulls finally had their full lineup on the floor — minus Derrick Rose — for the first time since Rose was injured on Nov. 22. But they scored just 79 points in Wednesday's loss to Toronto, so obviously there is work to be done.

    Former Bears coach Lovie Smith will receive a four-year deal to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to NFL sources.

    Report: Lovie Smith to coach Bucs

    Former Bears coach Lovie Smith has reached an agreement to become the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL sources told ESPN. Smith will replace the ousted Greg Schiano on a four-year deal. Schiano was 11-21 in two seasons as the Buccaneers' coach and had three years remaining on his contract, which he signed in 2012. The Buccaneers, who entered the 2013 season with high expectations, stumbled to an 0-8 start before finishing 4-12.

    Patrick Kane, left, made the U.S. Olympic team, but Blackhawks teammate Nick Leddy did not.

    Another shot at gold for Blackhawks’ Kane

    Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, as expected, was named to the U.S. Olympic team on Wednesday. But Brandon Saad and Nick Leddy did not make it and will have to wait their turn. Kane was one of the 14 forwards named to the squad that will be going to Sochi, Russia, looking to avenge its overtime loss to Canada in the 2010 gold-medal game in Vancouver.


    Blackhawks game day
    Blackhawks vs. New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, 6 p.m. ThursdayTV: Comcast SportsNetRadio: WGN-AM 720The skinny: The Islanders have only 13 wins and are last in the Metropolitan Division. Defenseman Lubomir Vishnovsky is out with a concussion. Corey Crawford starts in goal for the Hawks for the first time since Dec. 8, when he suffered a groin injury against Florida.Next: New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, 6 p.m. Friday— Tim Sassone

    Bears coach Marc Trestman, left, and general manager Phil Emery, who both will meet with the media Thursday morning, have plenty of roster decision to make.

    No free time for Bears brain trust

    Bears general manager Phil Emery faces a monumental task in the off-season with 28 free agents on the roster. We take a preliminary look at who might be back, and who might be playing elsewhere next season.

    Michigan State wide receiver Tony Lippett celebrates his touchdown past Stanford cornerback Wayne Lyons, during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif.

    Michigan St. beats Stanford 24-20 in Rose Bowl

    PASADENA, Calif. — Connor Cook passed for a career-high 332 yards and hit Tony Lippett with a tiebreaking 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, leading No. 4 Michigan State to a 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford on Wednesday night in the 100th Rose Bowl.Cook also threw a TD pass to Trevon Pendleton, and Jeremy Langford rushed for 84 yards and a score in the first Rose Bowl victory in 26 years for the Big Ten champion Spartans (13-1), who finished the season with 10 straight wins.Michigan State’s defense capped its dominant season with one more old-school, smash-mouth performance during the centennial celebration of the Granddaddy of Them All.“It’s a special time for all Spartans, and we came here in force,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “I’m very happy for our football team, the resilience we showed all season long.”The nation’s best defense ended it by stopping the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (11-3) on fourth-and-1 with 1:46 to play, utterly stuffing a run play up the middle. Kyler Elsworth, who started in place of suspended senior leader Max Bullough, hurdled the pile to deliver an electrifying, head-on hit to fullback Ryan Hewitt.“When I saw their offensive linemen’s stance, I knew the way to make a play was to go over the top,” said Elsworth, selected the game’s defensive MVP.Tyler Gaffney ran for 91 yards and an early TD for Stanford, and linebacker Kevin Anderson returned an interception 40 yards for a score late in the first half. But the Cardinal couldn’t follow up last season’s victory in Pasadena with back-to-back Rose Bowl wins, managing just three points from their offense after the first quarter.The Spartans have long labored in the shadow of Michigan and Ohio State, but coach Dantonio’s seven-year rebuilding project in East Lansing has put them on top of the Midwest this season with an unbeaten run through conference play.After knocking off the unbeaten Buckeyes in the league title game, Michigan State earned only the Big Ten’s second Rose Bowl win since 2000, even rallying from its first double-digit deficit of the entire season to do it.Cook led the way in his own inimitable fashion, making incredible plays and huge mistakes along the way. Along with his costly interception to Anderson, he also threw two passes that went through the hands of Cardinal defenders, and an interception in the third quarter was wiped out by a defensive holding call.But when the Spartans needed big plays in the second half, Cook repeatedly delivered, finishing 22 for 36.Kevin Hogan beat Wisconsin in last year’s Rose Bowl, but he couldn’t match Cook, going 10 for 18 for 143 yards and a key interception for Stanford.A mere 112 years after the game considered the first Rose Bowl was played in a park elsewhere in Pasadena, Stanford and Michigan State engaged in an old-fashioned slugfest in the venerable stadium that will host the BCS title game Monday night.Michigan State fans dominated the Rose Bowl grounds and stands, with about 70 percent wearing green in the crowd of 95,173 the game’s largest turnout since 1998.After Tournament of Roses Parade grand marshal Vin Scully flipped the coin, Stanford started with a 77-yard drive culminating in Gaffney’s 16-yard TD run.Michigan State had never trailed by double digits all season long until Jordan Williamson’s field goal put Stanford up 10-0 late in the first quarter, but the Spartans finally connected with a 13-play, 75-yard drive culminating in Langford’s bounce outside for a 2-yard TD.The Spartans dominated the second quarter, but Cook handed seven points to the Cardinal shortly before halftime. With Usua Amanam bearing down on him unblocked, Cook inexplicably threw a soft looping pass directly to Anderson, who returned his first career interception untouched for a score the first defensive touchdown allowed by Michigan State all season.

    Patrick Sharp is a consistently reliable leader on a star-studded Blackhawks roster that is playing at a historic pace.

    A toast to the Hawks’ dominance in 2013

    The Chicago Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions, closed a phenomenal calendar year with 80 victories and only 21 regulation defeats in 113 games. Thus far this winter, they are 28-7-7 while exhibiting no signs whatsoever of ennui or fatigue as 2014 arrives. This binge is historic stuff, and Blackhawks Team Historian Bob Verdi puts it into perspective in this report.


    The pulse of the Keys becoming more faint

    The fishing in the Florida Keys is a far cry from what it once was, and anglers — along with anyone who cares about our collective future — should take note.

    Patrick Kane has been chosen to play in the Sochi Games for Team USA.

    Blackhawks’ Kane will play for U.S. in Sochi

    The U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team is set, and Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane will be going to the Sochi Games. Teammates Brandon Saad and Nick Leddy were passed over. Ottawa Senators forward and 2010 Olympian Bobby Ryan was perhaps the most surprising omission on the 25-man roster revealed Wednesday after the Winter Classic. Jimmy Howard, who couldn’t help Detroit beat Toronto on Wednesday in a shootout, appears to be the Americans’ third goaltender behind Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller.

    Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg leads his team as they shake the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs after the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The Maple Leafs won 3-2.

    Maple Leafs beat Red Wings in snowy Winter Classic

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A lot of winter. Very little classic hockey.Tyler Bozak scored the winning shootout goal and Jonathan Bernier made two saves in the heart-pounding final moments, lifting the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 victory over Detroit at the snowy Winter Classic in front of the largest crowd to watch a hockey game.The announced attendance Wednesday of 105,591 surpassed the 104,173 who saw Michigan and Michigan State skate in the same football stadium known as the Big House in 2010.The game began with temperatures in the low teens and steady snow that didn’t stop on a windy afternoon, leading to the sixth Winter Classic being much more of an event than a game.It was, though, a closely contested spectacle.Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg appeared to have good chance in overtime with the puck in the Maple Leafs’ end and defenseman Cody Franson on his left side. The horn, however, sounded to stop play at the 2:30 mark of the extra period so that both teams played into a 10 mph wind for an equal amount of time. The game also was halted midway through the third period so that the teams could switch sides.In the shootout, skaters for both teams attempted shots with the wind in their face toward the same net — or end zone.The game-time temperate was 13 degrees with a wind chill of zero. The average temperature of the previous five Winter Classics was 39 degrees, and the average attendance was 53,045.A slew of skaters with shovels cleared significant amounts of snow during early stoppages in play, but players still had a tough time pushing the puck through piles of the white stuff.The struggling yet storied franchises did their best to put on show in the league’s annual showcase in awful conditions.Joffrey Lupul, who might face discipline from the NHL for a cross-check that knocked Patrick Eaves out of the game in the first period, scored the first of two goals for the Maple Leafs in the shootout.Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit’s only goal in the shootout and teammate Tomas Tatar was foiled on his team’s third attempt because he struggled to control the puck on the snow-covered surface and didn’t even get a shot off.Bernier, with a knit hat over his helmet, made 41 saves.Jimmy Howard had 24 saves for Detroit. After leaving the ice and the snow-covered football field, he returned minutes later when he was introduced as one of the members of the U.S. Olympic team that will go for gold next month in Sochi.Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader tied it 2 with 5:32 left in regulation after Bozak scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period.Daniel Alfredsson opened the scoring for the Red Wings at 13:14 of the second and James van Riemsdyk tied in on a power play with 37 seconds left in the period.

    Buffalo Grove native Megan Bozek has been named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team.

    Stevenson grad makes Olympic hockey team

    Eleven returning Olympians are on the roster for the women’s hockey team that will represent the United States at Sochi. The roster, which includes 2009 Stevenson High School graduate and Buffalo Grove native Megan Bozek, was announced during the break between periods of the NHL’s Winter Classic. Bozek, a defenseman, won two NCAA hockey championships with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and will play in her first Olympic games.

    LSU defensive back Rashard Robinson (21) knocks a pass away from Iowa wide receiver Tevaun Smith (4) during the first quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Tampa, Fla.

    LSU beats Iowa 21-14 in Outback Bowl

    TAMPA, Fla. — Jeremy Hill rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns, helping No. 14 LSU and inexperienced quarterback Anthony Jennings hold off Iowa 21-14 in the Outback Bowl on Wednesday.Craig Loston’s interception stopped a potential game-tying drive, giving Hill a chance to put the game out of reach by carrying four times for 87 yards on a six-play, 92 yard march that gave the Tigers (10-3) a 21-7 lead.Iowa (8-5) again pulled within a touchdown after Jordan Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tigers’ 4.Jennings rushed for a touchdown but only threw for 82 yards while standing in for the injured Zach Mettenberger in the freshman’s first college start.Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard’s fourth-down interception stopped one promising drive for Iowa, but he also tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley to trim the Hawkeyes’ deficit to 21-14 with 1:42 remaining.

    South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) salutes towards fans after catching a touchdown on a pass from receiver Bruce Ellington during the first half of the Capital One Bowl NCAA college football game against Wisconsin in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.

    Wisconsin drops Capital One Bowl to South Carolina

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Connor Shaw was responsible for five touchdowns, including three passing, and No. 8 South Carolina outlasted No. 19 Wisconsin 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl on Wednesday.The Gamecocks’ senior was named the game’s MVP after picking apart the Badgers defense, completing 22 of 25 passes for 312 yards. Shaw also had rushing and receiving scores. South Carolina (11-2) won its third straight bowl game to cap its third straight 11-win season.Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. The Badgers (9-4) lost their fourth straight bowl game, failing to capitalize on 100-yard rushing games from both Melvin Gordon and James White, and struggling after quarterback Joel Stave left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.Backup Curt Phillips was intercepted twice. While the Gamecocks struggled to contain the Badgers rushing attack for most of the game, Shaw and Ellington did plenty to keep South Carolina productive on offense. Trailing 17-13 in the third quarter, Ellington reeled in a juggling reception near the sideline on a fourth-and-7 play. Then, two plays later Shaw found Ellington for 22-yard touchdown strike to put the Gamecocks up by three. The Badgers lost Stave on the next series, and with Phillips taking over, were stopped short on fourth down run inside the Gamecocks 30.South Carolina took advantage, and needed just six plays for Shaw to find Jerrell Adams for a 3-yard touchdown that made it 27-17 with 11:05 to play in the game. Wisconsin wasn’t done. Kenzel Doe took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 91 yards for a score to get the Badgers back within a field goal. But then Shaw went back to work. Pinned inside his own 15 to start the drive, he used a combination of runs and passes to set up his 1-yard touchdown plunge to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive that made it 34-24. Wisconsin appeared to be done after Phillips was intercepted by Kaiwan Lewis with less than five minutes to play. But the Gamecocks gave it right back on a Brandon Wilds fumble on the next series. The Badgers picked up a few first downs, but then Phillips was intercepted again by Skai Moore with 3:14 left to end the threat.Wisconsin got the ball back one more time, but Gordon fumbled inside the South Carolina 20 to help the Gamecocks secure the win.Wisconsin led 14-13 at the half, scoring on a pair of touchdown passes by Stave.But the Badgers did most of their damage on the ground, piling up 159 rushing yards and 7.2 yards per carry in the opening 30 minutes. Both drives were over 70 yards against a South Carolina defense that entered the game ranked second in the Southeastern Conference, giving up just 142 yards per game. Jadeveon Clowney had four tackles in the half, including one for a loss. But he was mostly a non-factor early as the Badgers alternated White and Gordon in the backfield.

    North Texas players hold aloft the Heart of Dallas Bowl trophy following their 36-14 win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Dallas.

    North Texas tops UNLV 36-14 in Heart of Dallas Bowl

    DALLAS — Derek Thompson threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, Brelan Chancellor scored twice and North Texas dominated the second half Wednesday to beat UNLV 36-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Both of Chancellor’s touchdown runs came in the fourth quarter after he keyed the go-ahead scoring drive in the third with some nifty footwork on a first-down catch. He had 121 yards combined rushing and receiving.This was the Mean Green’s first postseason appearance since a 2004 New Orleans Bowl loss to Southern Miss and its first bowl victory since New Orleans in 2002. The Rebels lost for the first time in four bowl games.UNLV (7-6) drove 95 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession but didn’t score again until the Mean Green (9-4) were up 28-7 in the fourth quarter.With the score 7-7 at halftime, the Mean Green went ahead for good at 14-7 in the third quarter on Thompson’s 7-yard scoring pass to Drew Miller — the fourth third-down conversion on the drive.Chancellor kept the possession alive by slipping past UNLV’s Peni Vea along the sideline and staying inbounds for a 17-yard catch on third-and-16. That was one play after North Texas was backed up by a late-hit penalty on guard Mason Y’Barbo.Tim Cornett, UNLV’s career rushing leader, was held to 33 yards — 71 below his average and the same total as quarterback Caleb Herring, who threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns.Chancellor, who had 74 yards receiving and 47 rushing, scored on runs of 3 and 15 yards. The Mean Green sacked Herring five times.Darnell Smith had a 34-yard catch to put North Texas up 28-7 before Herring’s 13-yard scoring pass to Jerry Rice Jr., the first career touchdown for the son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in his final college game.North Texas came in with one of the nation’s top scoring defenses and forced seven straight scoreless UNLV possessions. The Rebels punted on their first three possessions of the second half, and the Mean Green scored each time.UNLV missed a chance to take control in the first quarter when Keith Whitely muffed a punt to keep the Rebels from getting the ball back after a 95-yard drive highlighted by Herring’s 29-yard pass to Devante Davis and punctuated with a 9-yard scoring toss to Marcus Sullivan.Zed Evans recovered Whitely’s muffed punt at the UNLV 42, and Antoinne Jimmerson scored from inside the 1 a play after his run from the 3 was ruled a touchdown before getting overturned on replay.Davis had 10 catches for 96 yards for the Rebels.North Texas’ James Jones dropped what would have been an easy interception that he could have returned for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Coach Dan McCarney called timeout moments before the Mean Green blocked a field goal that Kenny Buyers would have easily taken about 50 yards for a score on the final play before halftime.The Rebels were in position to try the 52-yard field goal at the end of the half after the Mean Green jumped offside with UNLV punting on fourth-and-5 with 24 seconds left. Nolan Kohorst’s kick was well short.

    Nebraska wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (18) catches a pass for a 99-yard touchdown reception during the second half of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against Georgia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla. Nebraska beat Georgia 24-19.

    Nebraska beats Georgia 24-19 in Gator Bowl

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tommy Armstrong Jr. connected with Quincy Enunwa for two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in the third quarter, and Nebraska held on to beat No. 23 Georgia 24-19 in the rain-soaked Gator Bowl on Wednesday.Playing in their 50th bowl, the Cornhuskers (9-4) ended a four-game losing streak against teams from the Southeastern Conference. The streak included a 45-31 loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl last season.The rematch was much different.Nebraska did a solid job against running back Todd Gurley, who ran for 125 yards and a touchdown last year. Gurley finished with 86 yards on the ground.Gurley was more effective in the passing game, catching seven passes for 97 yards and a score. His 25-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter cut Nebraska’s lead to 24-19.But the Huskers stopped Georgia (8-5) twice on fourth down in the closing minutes. Rantavious Wooten and Arthur Lynch dropped fourth-down passes that ended drives in the red zone.Those drops were indicative of the entire game for Georgia. The Bulldogs moved inside the 25-yard line seven times, but settled for four field goals.Despite those, Georgia had a chance late.Wooten dropped a fourth-and-2 pass at the 10-yard line with 4:42 remaining. Georgia got the ball back with 3:18 to play and marched toward the end zone. But Lynch couldn’t haul in a fourth-and-3 pass that would have moved the chains with about 25 seconds remaining. Nebraska ran out the clock from there.The Huskers pulled ahead 24-12 late in the third on the longest play in Gator Bowl history.Armstrong dropped back on a third-and-14 play at the 1 and heaved the ball as far as he could to Enunwa, who was streaking wide open down the left sideline. Georgia cornerback Shaq Wiggins let Enunwa go, but got no safety help deep. Quincy Mauger had a chance to tackle Enunwa, but bounced off him just past midfield.Enunwa coasted the rest of the way.Enunwa finished with four receptions for 129 yards. He also broke a school with 12 touchdown receptions, eclipsing the mark of 11 set by Johnny Rodgers in 1971.Armstrong, filling in for injured starter Taylor Martinez, completed 6 of 14 passes for 163 yards. He also had a 5-yard TD pass to Enunwa in the second quarter.Ameer Abdullah ran 27 times for 122 yards and a score. It was his 11th 100-yard game of the season.Nebraska finished with 307 yards, 109 fewer than Georgia.Turnovers were the difference.Nebraska turned two of them into two touchdowns. Reggie Davis muffed a punt deep in Georgia territory in the second quarter and Nebraska scored two plays later. The Huskers also turned Hutson Mason’s lone interception into points. Mason overthrew Chris Conley near the sideline. Josh Mitchell picked it off, setting up Abdullah’s TD run.Mason, making his second straight start in place of injured starter Aaron Murray, completed 21 of 39 passes for 320 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.


    Tom Edwards poses for a portrait with his chain saw and logging clothes Thursday in the woods near Spanaway, Wash. Edwards was not cutting trees the day the photo was taken, and work has been slow this season for him. Despite working as a logger all his life, he is pessimistic about his chances of ever retiring, an opinion common among blue-collar baby boomers in the U.S.

    Retirement unlikely for some blue-collar Americans

    Many blue-collar boomers expect to work the rest of their lives because they have little cash put away for their old age and they worry Social Security won’t cover their bills. Some hope to move to jobs that are less physically demanding.

    Plumber Ruben Rodriguez, 67 stands next to his house overlooking the high-rises of the upscale Santa Fe neighborhood in Mexico City. It’s hard to remember the country before the North American Free Trade Agreement but a majority of Mexicans have seen little benefit in income. While there is undoubtedly a larger middle class today, Mexico is the only major Latin American country where poverty has grown in recent years.

    At 20 years, NAFTA didn’t close Mexico wage gap
    While it changed the country in some fundamental ways, the North American Free Trade Agreement never met many of its sweeping promises to close Mexico’s wage gap with the United States, boost job growth, fight poverty and protect the environment.

    Sealed Air employee Eddie Ruiz moves giant rolls of Bubble Wrap at the company’s plant in Saddle Brook, N.J. Sealed Air led the gains in the materials sector in 2013 after returning to profitability. This year’s gain: 22 percent.

    Consumer discretionary stocks rose most in 2013

    The Standard & Poor’s 500 index logged its best year since 1997, gaining 29.6 percent. All 10 industry groups that make up the index rose, led by consumer discretionary stocks, a broad category that includes department stores, restaurants and entertainment companies. Telecommunications stocks rose the least. Here’s a breakdown:


    Netflix rose the most in the S&P 500 in 2013

    Netflix soared while Newmont sank. Here are the three biggest winners and the three biggest losers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index in 2013.

    With Wednesday marking the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight in mind, the Associated Press reached out to today’s aviation leaders to see what they are predicting for the future of flying.

    CEO predictions for the next 100 years of flying

    With Wednesday marking the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight, the Associated Press reached out to today’s aviation leaders to see what they are predicting for the future of flying.

    Ten-gram gold bars lie on display in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Gold, considered a safe haven investment, was hit hard in 2013, while stocks soared.

    ‘Safe’ investments like gold were hit hard in 2013

    Being safe left some investors sorry in 2013. That’s because some financial assets that are considered safe and steady lost money. After three decades of steady gains, bonds had a bad year. Prices for Treasurys and other kinds of bonds slumped as the U.S. economy improved, investors’ nerves steadied and the Federal Reserve prepared to pull back on its huge bond-buying program.

    Facebook may be a victim of its own success after nearly ten years as the country's leading social network, said Pew senior researcher Aaron Smith. “It's hard to get more than 85 percent of anyone doing anything,” he said. “A lot of the easy converts in the younger group, or even in the older and middle-aged group, are already on the site. The senior group is the only area that has any substantial area for growth.”

    Facebook still leads social media, but sees slower growth among young users

    WASHINGTON — This is not your father's Facebook. It's your grandfather's.New data from the Pew Center for Internet and American Life released Monday show that Facebook's strongest growth over the past year has come from users over the age of 65, as more older users sign onto the site to keep in touch with their friends, children and grandchildren.The survey found that 45 percent of American seniors who use the Internet are on Facebook, up from 35 percent the previous year.Use among teens, however, has stagnated at 84 percent. That's in keeping with growing concern that Facebook is seeing lower engagement with the younger users that drove its early popularity, something that the company has acknowledged itself in an earnings call this year.Facebook may be a victim of its own success after nearly ten years as the country's leading social network, said Pew senior researcher Aaron Smith.“It's hard to get more than 85 percent of anyone doing anything,” he said. “A lot of the easy converts in the younger group, or even in the older and middle-aged group, are already on the site. The senior group is the only area that has any substantial area for growth.”Facebook is seeing an uptick in teen use on Instagram, which it bought for $1 billion in 2012, indicating that it's far from being down for the count.Still, a stagnating teen audience — the percentage of those in the 18-29 age group that use the site fell two percentage points compared with last year — fits in with a recent study from researchers at University College London, which found some British teens at are leaving Facebook because of the influx of older users.An ethnographic study of 16-18 year olds north of London found teens are opting to use private messaging services such as WhatsApp and Snapchat to communicate with their friends. In many cases, the study said, teens stay on Facebook at the behest of their parents, who have made it a tool for keeping track of their children.“You just can't be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion,” wrote Daniel Miller, a professor of Material Culture at UCL, who ran the study.In other words, teens are using Facebook, but not for the same reasons that they once did. And that, Smith said, fits in with a larger trend in the social media space: Americans are diversifying the social networks that they use.More than 40 percent of Americans, Pew found, maintain multiple social network accounts for different purposes.Facebook, which has more than 1 billion users and is used by 71 percent of Americans, seems to be the “default” social network, he said, while Pinterest skews more heavily to women, LinkedIn to more educated or wealthier users and Twitter among young adults and African Americans.“People are pretty utilitarian,” Smith said. “This fits really well with a lot of the research we've seen in terms of how people navigate all of these things.”Users go to specific places based on what they're trying to do, Smith said, and so engagement for many of the smaller sites are on par with Facebook, Smith noted. Fifty-seven percent of Instagram users, for example, return daily to the site to check for updates, compared to 63 percent of Facebook users. Nearly half of Twitter's users, 46 percent, also make the site a daily habit.Pew researchers surveyed 1,800 adults in English and Spanish via landline and cellphone for the study. The survey was conducted in August and September.

    A MetLife Stadium employee walks on the end zone while prepping the field ahead of Sunday's game between the New York Giants and the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, N.J. The days of natural grass may be long gone in many NFL venues, including MetLife Stadium, but that doesn't mean the paint and the texture and the surface doesn't need to be absolutely perfect on Feb. 2, 2014 when millions will watch Super Bowl XLVIII take place at the stadium.

    NFL's turf gurus gird for historic Super Bowl

    It may qualify as a small irony that in the run-up to the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl, the people seemingly least threatened about the possibility of bad weather are the folks whose job is to protect the surface on which the game will be played. It should come as no surprise, since the NFL's groundskeeping experts are used to dealing with the elements — and improvising when they have to.

    About 1.1 million people selected health plans in time to have coverage in January using the federal enrollment system, which covers 36 states including Texas, Florida and Illinois, the Obama administration said Sunday. The government didn't say how many people paid for their plans, the final step to complete their enrollment.

    Historic coverage expansion to test promise of health plan
    After three months of turmoil surrounding the rollout of President Obama's health care plan, the country faces a historic turning point on Jan. 1. From emergency rooms to pharmacies to company human- resources departments, changes will unfold within the U.S. health care system as the nation guarantees insurance coverage to all Americans for the first time, a goal that has eluded presidents and lawmakers since the end of World War II.


    In technology, 2013 was a more amazing year than you think

    If you go by the headlines, the iPhone 5S and Google Glass were the big technology stories of 2013, and Twitter’s IPO was the event of the year. The coverage of Glass focused mostly on its privacy implications — not its ability to change the world. And iPhone and Twitter were just more of the same. So we could end the year really disappointed because nothing dramatic seems to have happened on the technology front. But look again, at the stories we missed.


    SeaTac wage experiment could be over before it begins

    In November, the voters of the city of SeaTac — the community of 27,000 around the airport — approved a ballot measure that would have raised his hourly wage from $10.88 ($1.69 above the state’s legal minimum) to $15 an hour. On Friday, in response to a lawsuit backed by the airlines and the restaurant industry, the King County Superior Court ruled that the measure could apply only to the 1,600 people who work at hotels and car services outside the airport. That cuts out 4,700 people who work within the airport itself, which is technically a separate jurisdiction belonging to the Port of Seattle and not subject to the voters’ desires.

    Hyundai, South Korea’s largest automaker, is counting on new leadership at its U.S. unit to help the company revive market-share gains. In naming Executive Vice President David Zuchowski as the next CEO of its U.S. operations from Jan. 1, Hyundai turned to one of its top salesmen to battle Toyota Motor Corp. to Ford Motor Co. in the country. He’ll replace John Krafcik, 52, who in his five-year tenure as U.S. chief oversaw Hyundai gain the most market share among major automakers until late 2012, when it began ceding back some of those gains.

    Hyundai replaces U.S. chief to revitalize 2014 sales
    Hyundai, South Korea’s largest automaker, is counting on new leadership at its U.S. unit to help the company revive market-share gains. In naming Executive Vice President David Zuchowski as the next CEO of its U.S. operations from Jan. 1, Hyundai turned to one of its top salesmen to battle Toyota Motor Corp. to Ford Motor Co. in the country. He’ll replace John Krafcik, 52, who in his five-year tenure as U.S. chief oversaw Hyundai gain the most market share among major automakers until late 2012, when it began ceding back some of those gains.


    USAA to GEICO test voice apps seeking $12 billion savings

    First it was the tellers. Now, call centers are under threat as financial services firms weigh new voice-activation technology to cut the cost of customer service.USAA, GEICO Corp. and other financial firms are turning smartphones into virtual clerks. USAA in February became the first to let depositors use its mobile application via spoken commands. Now, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and ING Groep also are among about 50 firms working with Nuance Communications Inc. to use similar technology in mobile apps.While banks have offered basic services over the phone for years, new programs seek to provide more complex interaction, similar to Apple’s Siri talking digital assistant, also powered by Nuance’s voice and artificial-intelligence software. Customers will eventually be able to ask, “Has my check cleared?” or “Am I on track to save for retirement?” using apps, instead of visiting a branch or dialing a call center.The feature lessens the need for human interaction and could reduce the number of customer calls to banks by as much as 40 percent, said Richard Crone, chief executive officer of researcher Crone Consulting. By using voice-based apps to cut the number of call centers and workers to staff them, the financial-services industry could save $8 billion to $12 billion a year, he said.“There’s a business case around reducing call-center calls,” said Dominic Venturo, payments chief innovation officer at U.S. Bancorp, which tested voice banking with hundreds of its own employees earlier this year.While apps vary from bank to bank, a user can typically activate the tool with a button and then start asking questions. The software bases its response on a quick review of such information as the customer’s account and banking history, providing answers with text or spoken word.The overhaul of banking apps was prompted largely by Nuance’s release in August 2012 of Nina — a Siri-like virtual assistant designed for mobile apps. Using artificial intelligence and a dictionary of thousands of banking-related phrases, Nina can simplify finding answers to complex financial queries on the go, said Robert Weideman, an executive vice president at Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance.“We are seeing something very similar to mobile-check deposit — all of a sudden, everyone is doing it,” Weideman said. Mobile deposits, which let customers snap photos of a check to submit it to their accounts, are used by 21 percent of Generation Y households — those born in the early 1980s to early 1990s — according to Raddon Financial Group.The market for voice-recognition technologies will reach $113 billion in 2017, up from about $53 billion last year, BCC Research estimates. In two to three years, mobile will account for more than half of all industry customer-service interactions, up from less than 30 percent today, according to Crone. That’s happening as more consumers bank using their phones. Some 48 percent of smartphone owners had used mobile banking in the previous 12 months, up from 42 percent in December 2011, a 2012 Federal Reserve Board survey showed.Nuance, whose stock is down by a third this year, could use the growth. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has taken a 19.2 percent stake in the voice-technology company and has named two directors to the board.Protecting consumers’ privacy and security will be key for increased adoption of mobile-banking apps, said Seth Schoen, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. With smartphones functioning as small computers that store sensitive information, identity thieves are increasingly trying to steal users’ banking credentials, he said.

    Alzheimer patients from Switzerland are cared by Thai caretakers during afternoon activities at Baan Kamlangchay care center in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand. Thailand is poised to attract more Alzheimerís sufferers from the Alpine country and elsewhere. In this pleasant city ringed by mountains “Baan Kamlangchay” will be followed by a $10 million dollar, holiday-like home scheduled to open before mid-2014 and a small Alzheimerís unit within a retirement community set on the grounds of a former four-star resort.

    Some with Alzheimer’s find care in far-off nations

    Spouses and relatives in Western nations are increasingly sending thousands of Alzheimer’s patients abroad for care as costs rise, and the supply of qualified nurses and facilities struggles to keep up. Faraway countries are offering cheaper, and to some minds better, care for those suffering from the irreversible loss of memory. The nascent trend is unnerving to some experts who say uprooting people with Alzheimer’s will add to their sense of displacement and anxiety, though others say quality of care is more important than location.

    A Jaguar C-Type XKC 023 automobile, owned by Christian J. Jenny, is seen in Greer, Ariz. Jenny, the former chief information officer of Zurich Insurance Group AG, spent five years proving his rare 1952 Jaguar C-Type convertible was authentic, after another model showed up on the market claiming to have the same identification number.

    That $2.5 million classic Jaguar you’re buying may be fake

    In the 1930s, British sports-car maker MG made exactly 33 of the K3 open-top race car. If you want to buy one now, there are more than 100 to choose from. No, the defunct carmaker didn’t restart production. The tripling of the K3 fleet is part of the booming trade in fake antique autos as soaring prices for classic cars spur sophisticated counterfeits.

    Super Bowl ticket demand is high, especially from Wall Street gurus looking to go to the game since it's in New Jersey this year.

    Super Bowl in Wall Street's backyard sparks record ticket demand

    Super Bowl ticket demand is at a record high as denizens of Wall Street seek seats for the game in nearby New Jersey. There has been a robust market for weeks as New York businesses try to satisfy their own customers' requests, say ticket resellers. “A lot of clients are calling us saying, 'We don't have them, but we're expected to have them and I can't tell my client I don't have them,' especially on Wall Street,” said Jason Berger, broker.

Life & Entertainment

    Industrial-style shelving units and tables made from planks of wood and plumbing parts are gorgeous and trendy, and can cost thousands of dollars. But creating custom-designed, industrial furniture yourself is surprisingly easy.

    DIY bookcase: Steps to an industrial-style piece

    I started by shopping, assuming the only way I could have an industrial-style bookcase was by paying a hefty sum for one. As this style of furniture has become more popular, many different companies and craftsmen have begun offering variations on the theme: rustic, sturdy shelving units, and tables made from planks of wood and plumbing parts. Meanwhile, the Internet has also become crowded with do-it-yourself instructions for making these pieces.

    Aaron Pritchard replaces grass after laying a headstone on the previously unmarked grave of blues musician Aaron Sparks in Crestwood, Mo. Pritchard is part of the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit effort to posthumously honor sometimes long-forgotten blues musicians with grave markers.

    Grave marker project helps bury the blues

    Blues guitarist Tommy Bankhead rubbed shoulders with some of the genre’s royalty, from Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James to Albert King and Sonny Boy Williamson. But visitors to the overgrown St. Louis cemetery where Bankhead was buried more than a decade ago would never know his musical legacy. Or his name. That will soon change thanks to the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit effort to bring belated recognition to long-forgotten blues musicians.

    Sherry Scott, who receives dog food for her 10-year-old golden retriever Tootie through the Animeals program, said she would give her lasagna and pork riblets from Meals on Wheels to Tootie if MOW didn’t bring dog food for the dog.

    Seniors, disabled get help feeding furry friends

    If Meals on Wheels didn’t deliver donated dog food, Sherry Scott of San Diego says her golden retriever Tootie would be eating the pasta, riblets and veggie wraps meant for her. But thanks to partnerships between the program for low-income seniors and pet groups across the country, fewer people and pets are going hungry.

    Unlike many plants, holly’s pollen is borne on flowers that are strictly male, while its eggs are contained in flowers that are strictly female. So you need trees of both sexes if you want to see any berries.

    Hollies need males to look their best

    You might deck your halls with boughs of homegrown holly, but unless you planned ahead, those boughs could lack red berries. And that leads us to some frank talk about sex. A holly berry, like any other fruit, is a mature ovary, home for a seed or seeds. Seeds are what stimulate development of any fruit, but seeds themselves can’t get started without sex.

    Hip-hop and rap artist Jay-Z is set to headline Chicago’s United Center on Thursday, Jan. 9.

    Music notes: Jay-Z returns to the UC

    Mike & Joe get the new year started in Palatine with their energetic rock covers, while rapper Jay-Z makes another stop in Chicago as part of his massive Magna Carter Tour.

    “One day, you might be told to travel to London or Hawaii or somewhere, and all of a sudden, a week later, everything has changed,” says Raffael Dickreuter, a 32-year-old freelance previsualization artist who was born in Switzerland but lives in West Hollywood, Calif.

    As new film meccas flourish, artists become nomads

    Even as new filmmaking centers help spread Hollywood’s wealth around the world, the boost to local economies comes at a personal cost to the specialists who must follow the work. As movie production migrates from place to place, friendships get left behind and raising a family can be difficult. But the life can be exciting for a highly skilled class of adventurers.

    Director James Cameron announced plans to shoot and produce the next three “Avatar” sequels largely in New Zealand. What Cameron gets out of the deal is a 25 percent rebate on production costs, as long as his company spends at least $413 million on the three films.

    Hollywood struggles against new film meccas

    In the old days, filmmakers flocked to Hollywood for its abundant sunshine, beautiful people and sandy beaches. But today a new filmmaking diaspora is spreading across the globe to places like Vancouver, London and Wellington, New Zealand. Fueled by politicians doling out generous tax breaks, filmmaking talent is migrating to where the money is. The result is an incentives arms race that pits California against governments around the world and allows powerful studios — with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal — to cherry-pick the best deals.



    Educate athletes about injury risk
    A Schaumburg letter to the editor: Am I the only one getting tired of reading the “woe is me” stories about brain injuries resulting from sports such as football and boxing? I find it hard to believe that we haven’t been aware for many years that our brains cannot withstand battering without repercussions.


    Vote for Quinn a vote for higher taxes
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: Recently, Gov. Quinn signed the pension reform law estimated to save taxpayers $160 billion and claimed a victory for the people. After his re-election several years ago, Gov. Quinn immediately signed into law a 67 percent increase in the Illinois income tax rate. His election was a mandate by the people to raise income taxes, according to Quinn.


    Buried power lines an impractical joke
    An Elgin letter to the editor: I am 88 years old and a former lineman for Western United and ComEd. I have worked many stormy nights and cold winter days. Now when the public needs additional electric lines, ComEd has been told to bury the lines. To me that Is a joke.


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