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Daily Archive : Sunday January 5, 2014

News

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    English is the language he uses most in his job as an emergency room physician at Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, but Dr. Timur Kouliev speaks six languages including his native Russian, which he will use in his post as a medical coordinator for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    Globe-trotting Lake County ER doc at home for Sochi Olympics

    When Dr. Timur Kouliev of Lake County leaves Monday for his job as a medical coordinator for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he'll be returning to a place where his family vacationed when he was growing up in Moscow. “I stayed with my family in Sochi when I was a child,” remembers Kouliev, 36, who was born in Russia and took summer vacations to the resort city from his family home...

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    Ricky Chevarria, 11, who came to Happy Pet Parlor, a dog grooming business in Elk Grove Village, to help with the rescue pups, is holding Kewi while Jolie McGrath cuts her nails.

    Rescued dogs travel from Kentucky to Elk Grove

    More than 40 dogs from Kentucky shelters are brought to an Elk Grove pet grooming store for foster care or adoption.

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    Mundelein resident Richard Liss clears a neighbor's driveway Sunday as Lake County residents continued to dig out after a new round of snow fell on the area overnight and throughout the day. The snow was expected to clear out by the end of the day, but brutally cold temperatures are expected to settle in behind it.

    "Life-threatening" cold on the way

    The second half of a brutal one-two punch of winter weather lands Monday morning as dangerously cold conditions that experts describe as “life-threatening” grip the suburbs. The high temperature is predicted to be about 7 degrees below zero, with many parts of the Chicago area getting no warmer than 15 degrees below. The wind chills are even scarier; forecasters say they'll range from...

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    A snowboarder exhales into the frigid air as he hikes to the top of the hill Thursday afternoon at Randall Oaks Park in West Dundee. The popular sledding hill was packed with sledders, snowboarders and parents with cameras as the recent snowfall created a perfect chance to get out and play.

    Images: The Week in Pictures
    This edition of The Week in Pictures features shoveling, sledding, snowboarding and skiing in the cold snow, and people playing in the cold water of Lake Michigan.

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    Mohamed Yusuf, right, jump starts his stepfather Mohamed Adem’s car in Grand Rapids, Mich., Sunday. More snow was expected to blanket the state Sunday evening, followed by the same sub-zero cold that hit Chicago late Sunday.

    Below-zero temps push into Midwest, Northeast

    Icy, snow-covered roads and high winds made travel treacherous Sunday from the Dakotas and Michigan to Missouri as much of the nation braced for the next winter wallop: a dangerous cold that could break records.

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    Emergency crews respond as a plane lies on a runway at Aspen Airport in Colorado after it crashed upon landing Sunday.

    1 killed, 2 injured in Aspen plane crash

    A fiery plane crash at the Aspen airport Sunday afternoon killed one person and injured two others, one severely, Colorado authorities said. Officials said the flight originated in Mexico and all three aboard were Mexican men.

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    Fire causes $450,000 damage to St. Charles building

    A fire early Sunday morning significantly damaged a mixed-use building on Third Street in St. Charles. No one was hurt, authorities said. It took about three hours to put the fire out, and damage was estimated at $450,000.

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    Roselle’s John Maystadt captured this image at O’Hare International Airport.

    Roselle photographer captures golden moment at O’Hare

    Roselle resident John Maystadt's photo of sunrise at O'Hare Airport is the winner of this month's DuPage Photo Finish contest.

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    Folk singer Bucky Halker performs Sunday during the Elmhurst Historical Museum’s celebration what would have been Carl Sandburg’s 136th birthday. The birthday celebration coincided with the museum’s exhibit on Sandburg that runs through April 20.

    Elmhurst museum celebrates Carl Sandburg’s 136th birthday

    The Elmhurst Historical Museum held a 136th birthday celebration for prairie poet, political activist, newspaperman, folk song collector, movie critic, Lincoln biographer and children’s book author, Carl Sandburg. The birthday celebration coincides with the museum’s exhibit on Sandburg that includes rare photos, his typewriter, and one of his guitars.

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    MainStreet Libertyville seeks volunteers

    MainStreet Libertyville hosts a volunteer information night from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Shakou Sushi, 615 N. Milwaukee Ave., the group said in a news release.

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    Cabaret night in Indian Creek

    A cabaret night fundraiser for COVE Alliance, a volunteer group that helps orphaned and disadvantaged children in Uganda, Africa, is set for Saturday, Jan. 11, at St. Mary of Vernon Parish Center, 236 Route 45, Indian Creek.

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    Dist. 120 interviews

    The Mundelein High School board will hold three special, closed-door meetings this week to interview final superintendent candidates.

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    Roosevelt U. offers childhood literacy series

    Roosevelt University is starting a Saturday reading enrichment series in January at the Schaumburg campus to provide more opportunities for children in kindergarten through eighth grade to obtain the skills they need to excel in reading and writing.

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    Military veterans meeting in Lake County

    Military veterans in Lake County are invited to attend a special service session at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at American Legion Post 964, 51 Lions Drive, Lake Zurich, to learn more about the American Legion and veteran benefits, a news release stated.

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    This 2004 photo provided by Animal Planet shows investigator Annemarie Lucas of the Humane Law Enforcement division of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with a rescued dog in New York.

    ASPCA closes storied enforcement unit in NYC

    For all its 147 years, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been more than an advocacy group; it has served as the primary law enforcement agency for animal abuse and neglect in New York City. But now, that unit is losing its bite.

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    A snowplow makes its way on a slushy patch between two terminals after a Delta flight from Toronto to New York skidded off the runway into snow at Kennedy International Airport, temporarily halting all air travel into and out of the airport, Sunday in New York.

    Plane slides off runway at NYC’s JFK; no injuries

    A plane from Toronto slid into snow as it turned onto a taxiway after landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday, halting flights at the airport for two hours and causing residual delays.

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    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, accompanied by Sen. Charles Schumer, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington last Dec. 16. Congress returns to work Monday with election-year politics certain to shape an already limited agenda.

    Election-year politics shape congressional agenda

    Congress returns to work Monday with election-year politics certain to shape an already limited agenda. Republicans intend to focus on every facet of President Barack Obama’s health care law. They see a political boost in its problem-plagued rollout as the GOP looks to maintain its House majority and seize control of the Democratic-led Senate.

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    This photo taken Dec. 17, 2013, shows a section of Erie Marsh, where The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited are teaming up to regulate water levels, enhance fish passage and remove invasive plants to make the wetland more hospitable to wildlife.

    Report: Great Lakes only region to gain wetlands

    The eight-state Great Lakes region — extending from western New York to eastern Minnesota— was the only section of the U.S. where coastal wetland acreage increased during a five-year period when scientists took extensive measurements with satellites and field photography.

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    Kevin Ruth, 16, concentrates on his work during an English class at Huntley High School. The school's ACT composite score of 22.4 was the third highest in McHenry County, but school officials are shooting for an average score of 23.5.

    How suburban districts are handling changing ACT

    The ACT has been the benchmark for measuring college readiness since 1959. It's still an important factor, but things have changed: the test is tougher, it's graded harder, and suburban students are more diverse. “It has no resemblance to actual student performance,” said Steve Cordogan of District 214. Administrators are looking for new ways to measure college readiness and new...

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    Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman poses for photographers during a news conference to promote a TV program in Tokyo.

    Rodman sets team for North Korea game

    Irish betting company Paddy Power PLC — a driving force behind the exhibition — removed its name last month as the title sponsor. The company is still financing the trip and is honoring all contractual commitments.

Sports

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    Give Bears coach Marc Trestman, left, and general manager Phil Emery credit for admitting mistakes. But consequences will be great if they have to admit one on the commitment to quarterback Jay Cutler.

    GM, coach can only hope Cutler decision ‘isn’t on them’

    Phil Emery and Marc Trestman admitted to some mistakes last week, which always is a good strategy for soliciting forgiveness. But if they made one in evaluating and re-signing Jay Cutler, the consequences will be more severe than merely missing the playoffs one season.

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    Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in Chicago, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

    Despite shootout loss, Crawford shows his strength

    The Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks, two of the best teams in the Western Conference, hooked up at the United Center on Sunday night in a game that had to be decided in a shootout.The Sharks won 3-2 on shootout goals by Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp failed to score for the Hawks. The Hawks are 4-6 in shootouts this season.

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    Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday against the San Jose Sharks in Chicago

    Sharks beat Blackhawks 3-2 in shootout

    Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored in a shootout, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night for their first victory in Chicago in three years.

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    Teravainen shaping up as another rising Blackhawks star

    In Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks appear to have another star on the horizon. Teravainen finished with a tournament-best 15 points in seven games including 3 assists on Sunday in Finland’s 3-2 win in overtime over Sweden to capture the World Junior championship.

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    Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver has the NBA record for consecutive games with a made 3-pointer, which now sits at 103 and counting.

    Korver streak amazing, but Kerr best 3-point shooter

    There really isn't any way to measure the most talented shooters in NBA history. A couple of former Bulls are among the best at long-range shooting, while another of the all-time greats will coach against the Bulls on Tuesday.

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    San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) celebrates a touchdown catch with wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

    49ers send Green Bay packin’

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Home or away. Late summer or during one of the coldest nights of the year.Doesn’t matter where or when the San Francisco 49ers keep figuring out how to beat the Green Bay Packers.Phil Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired, and Colin Kaepernick threw for 227 yards and ran for another 98 to lead the 49ers past the Packers 23-20 on Sunday night in a frigid NFC wild-card game.In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the 49ers (13-4) threw the final punch. Kaepernick escaped a blitz on third-and-8 and scrambled for an 11-yard gain to the 27 with 1:13 left. “Just trying to figure out a way to get that first down,” Kaepernick said. “Had a play called, we didn’t get the look that we wanted. It worked out for us.”Dawson nailed the winning kick five plays later but only after nearly being blocked by edge rusher Davon House. He was whistled for offsides on the play, but the 49ers declined the penalty with the win in hand. The defending NFC champions came away with a huge win in conditions that resembled a meat locker. It was 5 degrees at kickoff, and the winds made it feel like minus-10.San Francisco plays at Carolina next Sunday in the divisional round. “They got us the first time,” linebacker NaVarro Bowman said, referring to Carolina’s 10-9 win on Nov. 10. “What’s on our minds is to get them now. It’s the playoffs. Win or go home.”Mason Crosby’s 24-yard field goal tied it at 20 for the Packers (8-8-1) with 5:06 left before the 49ers’ final drive.Until then, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did his best to turn into “Captain Comeback” again. After a slow first quarter, Rodgers finished 17 of 26 for 177 yards and touchdown. Kaepernick connected with a spinning Vernon Davis down the seam for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 10:39 left. The score quickly answered John Kuhn’s 1-yard touchdown run that briefly gave the Packers a four-point lead. That TD was set up after Rodgers, in the clutches of a 49ers defender, somehow managed to escape a sack on fourth-and-2 and found Randall Cobb for a 26-yard gain to the Niners 4. Eddie Lacy ran for 81 yards on 21 carries for the Packers, while Frank Gore had 66 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for the 49ers. Michael Crabtree had eight catches for 125 yards for San Francisco.But it was Kaepernick who was the difference-maker once again in San Francisco’s fourth straight win over Green Bay. He finished 16 of 30 with the touchdown and an interception.For the second year in a row, the Packers’ season has started and ended with losses to the 49ers. The latest edition of what’s turned into a chippy and heated rivalry took place on the worn, frozen turf of Lambeau Field. In a memorable playoff debut last January, Kaepernick ran for a quarterback playoff-record 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In the season opener in September, the strong-armed quarterback threw for a career-best 412 yards and three scores.This time, he did his damage on the ground and through the air. Kaepernick tore through the Green Bay defense for a 42-yard run, getting a break at one point after House whiffed on a tackle, to set up Gore’s 10-yard touchdown run that helped give the 49ers a 13-10 halftime lead.The Packers went without a first down in the first quarter before finally getting on the board with a methodical 14-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Rodgers’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson that gave the Packers a 7-6 lead with 5:50 left in the half. The drive was set up by Tramon Williams’ 17-yard interception of Kaepernick to the 49ers 30.In the end, Kaepernick came out with another win. The 49ers’ nasty defense got pressure on Rodgers most of the day, but the Packers still rallied in the fourth. A depleted Packers defense — already playing without linebacker Clay Matthews — lost two more starters Sunday in cornerback Sam Shields and linebacker Mike Neal but still managed to hold its own against the Niners.

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    Wolves win seventh straight at home

    The Chicago Wolves rallied to earn their seventh consecutive home victory, skating to a 4-3 shootout win over Rockford in an Illinois Lottery Cup game on Sunday afternoon at the Allstate Arena. Centers Alexandre Bolduc and Pat Cannone and left wing Sergey Andronov scored for the Wolves (19-13-1-2) in regulation and Chicago tallied on three of five chances in the shootout.

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    San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) avoids the tackle by Cincinnati Bengals safety Chris Crocker in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Cincinnati.

    Chargers rally for win over Bengals

    CINCINNATI — Philip Rivers’ gloved hands found the right touch in the January cold.The Bengals? Still can’t do anything right when it’s playoff time.San Diego took advantage of Andy Dalton’s three turnovers in the second half on Sunday, pulling away to a 27-10 victory that extended the Bengals’ stretch of playoff misery to 23 years and counting.With Rivers making accurate throws in the chilling rain, the Chargers (10-7) won their fifth in a row, beating the last team that had knocked them off. They’ll play next Sunday in Denver, which has the AFC’s top seed.It was a shocking finish for the Bengals (11-6), who won the AFC North, went unbeaten at home and had their top-ranked defense for the playoffs. With everything in their favor, they fell apart, getting outscored 20-0 in the second half. “We asked a lot of our defense today and they came up with three big turnovers,” said Rivers, who was 12 of 16 for 128 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. “We didn’t turn it over, which is always big in the playoffs.”The Bengals now have the sixth-longest streak of playoff futility in NFL history, stretching all the way back to the 1990 season. They’ve lost their playoff opener three straight years, matching a league record as well, according to STATS LLC.Coach Marvin Lewis fell to 0-5 in the playoffs during his 11 seasons as head coach, but is expected to stick around and get another chance to try again.A lot of it fell on Dalton, who has a trilogy of bad playoff games. He fumbled and threw two interceptions in the second half that set up San Diego’s win. Dalton finished 29 of 51 for 334 yards with a below-average passer rating of 67. Combined with the Saints’ victory over the Eagles on Saturday night, the two No. 6 playoff seeds won for the first time since 2010, when the Packers won the Super Bowl.And the Chargers are thinking: Why not us?“We talked all week about this being the fifth round,” Rivers said, referring to their five-game winning streak. “So the sixth round will be in Denver next week.”This one was a reversal from the last time they met. The Bengals forced three turnovers for a 17-10 win in San Diego on Dec. 1, which became the Chargers’ turning point.The Bengals got the rematch at home, where they had scored 49, 41, 41, 42 and 34 points in their last five regular season games. They were blanked in the second half on Sunday, when Dalton went 17 of 34 for 170 yards with two interceptions, a fumble and three sacks.In first-round playoff losses each of the past three seasons, Dalton has thrown one touchdown pass and six interceptions.Rivers completed a team-record and NFL-best 69.5 percent of his passes this season for 4,478 yards. He was only 5 of 6 in the first half for 48 yards with San Diego frequently backed inside its 20-yard line to start drives.He completed all of his six passes during a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter that put the Chargers ahead to stay, with his 4-yard pass to Ladarius Green giving San Diego a 14-10 lead.Dalton then made the mistakes that turned the game, allowing the Chargers to pull ahead. Ronnie Brown finished it off with a 58-yard touchdown run, the longest TD run against the Bengals in their playoff history.

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    Thibeaux, Detweiler pace Grayslake North win

    Brittney Thibeaux scored 21 points, and Kendall Detweiler added 18 as Grayslake North defeated visiting Hampshire in Fox Valley Fox Division action.

Business

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    Since Facebook launched almost 10 years ago, users have sought to expand their social networks for financial gain, winning friends, bragging rights and professional clout. And social media companies cite the levels of engagement to tout their value.

    Selling social media clicks becomes big business

    Celebrities, businesses and even the U.S. State Department have bought bogus Facebook likes, Twitter followers or YouTube viewers from offshore “click farms,” where workers tap, tap, tap the thumbs up button, view videos or retweet comments to inflate social media numbers.

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    Marchers concerned with water pollution protest against hydraulic fracturing and gas well drilling in Pittsburgh in this file photo from Nov. 3, 2010.

    Some states confirm water pollution from drilling

    In at least four states that have nurtured the nation’s energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.

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    Stanford University football team’s offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren, wearing Google Glass, answers questions from the media during a news conference in Los Angeles.

    Wave of wearable gadgets expected at CES event

    Will 2014 be remembered as the year wearable computing took off? Upstart entrepreneurs and major manufacturers such as Samsung, Qualcomm and Sony certainly hope so.

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    Career Coach: A year of leadership lessons

    When we review the major events that have occurred over the past year, there are many leadership lessons that we can apply to our daily lives.

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    Work advice: Managing family and client expectations

    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

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    A fabulous year for many mutual funds

    It was easy to make money with mutual funds last year, as long as you picked ones focused on stocks. Out of nearly 3,650 stock funds tracked by Morningstar, 92 percent rose over 2013. But funds that focus on bonds struggled, many of them after years of solid performance.

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    A good way to make your savings account grow is to have your employer send a certain amount of your paycheck directly to the account.

    5 money resolutions for the new year

    New Year’s resolutions often involve eating better and exercising, but you can also use the start of the year to get financially fit. Making resolutions is easier than keeping them, however. The Associated Press talked to a few financial experts about what you should be doing to keep your money goals for the year on track. HHere’s five money resolutions to consider for 2014.

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    Containers for retail marijuana await filling Tuesday at 3-D Cannabis Center in Denver. Colorado is making final preparations for marijuana sales to begin Jan. 1, a day some are calling “Green Wednesday.” The 3-D Cannabis Center will be open as a recreational retail outlet on New Year’s Day.

    Colorado’s fledgling pot shops face new normal

    The second day of the nation’s first fully legal marijuana industry was just a bit less frenzied than the first. Rather than hundred-deep lines outside the limited number of licensed retail shops, the queues held several dozen. Still, there were so many pot shoppers that one retailer asked customers to come back Friday. Here’s a look at the new normal in Colorado.

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    Tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013

    Congress let about 55 tax breaks expire Dec. 31. The full array includes everything from a credit for corporate research and development to tax relief for underwater homeowners. The list also includes a batch of energy tax breaks, such as a credit for wind farms that generate electricity or a deduction for commuters who take the bus to work. Those are now gone.

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    Ping’s Tibet shop owner Ping Wu Longval, left, in Cotton Exchange shopping center, helps local costumer Sherry Rhodes with her shopping in Wilmington, N.C., as Rhodes is looking for ideas for wedding anniversary gifts for her husband.

    A look at what 2014 may hold for small businesses

    What stresses small business owners the most? Our conversations with them and the research we come across suggest it’s a lack of clarity. Well, there’s no small business crystal ball — at least one we are aware of — but if one existed, here’s a look at what it might reveal for 2014.

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    Gold, considered a safe haven investment, was hit hard in 2013, while stocks soared. The price gained steadily for more than a decade, driven by concerns about the health of the economy. Then the metal plunged in 2013 amid signs that the U.S. economy was maintaining its recovery.

    ’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. Gold was another investment that went from haven to headache.

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    Newly insured using pricey ERs a test for health care

    Emergency rooms may be a preferred choice for care among 3.9 million people newly enrolled in the Medicaid program for the poor, according to a study that suggests the costs of the Affordable Care Act may be higher than expected. The concern is being raised by economists who said a state Medicaid expansion in Oregon five years ago led newly insured patients to visit ERs 40 percent more often than the uninsured.

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    Partygoers smoke marijuana Tuesday during a Prohibition-era themed New Year’s Eve party celebrating the start of retail pot sales in Denver.

    Marijuana: Frequently asked questions

    On Wednesday, Colorado became the first state to allow legal sales of marijuana for recreational use. Washington state will do the same later this year, and other states might follow suit. Here are answers to some basic questions about marijuana, its effects on the body and the interesting issues raised by legalization.

Life & Entertainment

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    Jason Beghe and Sophia Bush star as a members of a special Windy City police unit in NBC's new “Chicago P.D.”

    Midseason TV offers new crop of shows

    If this year's TV midseason has anything going for it, it's quantity. The crop includes a police drama set in Chicago, tons of new reality shows and a Fox comedy starring Greg Kinnear.

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    Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts pose backstage at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday in Palm Springs, Calif.

    Hanks, Bullock, Streep honored at film fest

    Sandra Bullock shared the painful results of Googling herself, Meryl Streep shadowboxed on-stage and Tom Hanks braced for awards season’s “celebrity mule train” at the year’s first glitzy Hollywood gala. Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper were among the stars who cracked jokes and praised one another Saturday night at the opening of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, a desert warm-up of sorts for more closely watched industry events in coming months.

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    According to studio estimates Sunday, Disney’s “Frozen” remained atop the box office with $20.7 million, freezing out the horror spinoff “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.”

    Disney’s ‘Frozen’ freezes out ‘Paranormal’ spinoff

    On a wintry weekend, Disney’s “Frozen” retook the box-office top spot with $20.7 million, freezing out the horror spinoff “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.” It’s extremely rare for a film to lead the box office in its seventh weekend, a feat accomplished by the likes of “Avatar” and, to go further back, “Legends of the Fall.” It’s rarer still for a film to retake the box-office lead so late in its theatrical run.

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    Trust your perceptions and make choices accordingly

    Q. I’ve been in a relationship for three years with a wonderful man. At the beginning, I was deliriously happy. Recently, though, my boyfriend is acting differently toward me — more withdrawn, needing more space, etc.

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    Oscar Isaac stars in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which the National Society of Film Critics chose as the best picture of 2013.

    NY critics pick ‘Llewyn Davis’ as 2013’s best film

    The National Society of Film Critics has chosen “Inside Llewyn Davis” as the best picture of 2013 at its annual meeting in New York. The society’s 56 voting members are movie critics from around the country. The critics held their 48th annual awards voting meeting at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on Saturday.

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    Cheese dip at Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro in Little Rock, Ark. At first glance, their bechamel-based dip looks more like hummus than a bowl of queso. But the cheese is there, along with grilled peppers, pico de gallo, green onions, salsa and a dollop of sour cream. Itís quite tasty, but far from a traditional cheese dip.

    Go for the food: Arkansas serves up cheese dip

    Memphis and Texas have barbecue. Mississippi has fried chicken. Louisiana has, gosh, what doesn't Louisiana have when it comes to food? But Arkansas, surrounded by these Southern foodie hot spots, has long been overshadowed by its neighbors. So, in an assertion of culinary pride, the state has tried to stake its claim as the home of a somewhat unlikely dish: cheese dip.

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    See a large model train run through a winter wonderland scene at the 12th annual Enchanted Railroad at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

    Sunday picks: Chug around with the Enchanted Railroad

    Catch the Enchanted Railroad display as it chugs through a winter scene for its final weekend at Lisle's Morton Arboretum. Comedian April Macie, finalist on "Last Comic Standing," performs shows this weekend at the Rosemont and Chicago Zanies locations.

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    Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) return for the much-awaited fourth season of Masterpiece’s “Downton Abbey.” This season, “Downton Abbey” remains a series about elegance, tradition and gentility, and the pressures of preserving them.

    Fans are up for ‘Downton Abbey’ starting season 4

    As it returns for its much-awaited fourth season, “Downton Abbey” remains a saga about elegance, tradition and gentility — and the pressures of preserving them. On the premiere, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on PBS, Lady Mary Crawley has buckled under the weight of widowhood six months after her husband, Matthew, perished in a car crash. Inconsolable at the start of the episode, Mary (played by Michelle Dockery) dismisses their infant son as “a poor little orphan.” Her father, Lord Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), wrestles with business pressures: the death of Matthew and the absence of a will have thrown the Downton manor, already financially fragile, into further crisis. And so continues the saga.

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    Ben Jacoby’s local credits include Marriott Theatre’s “Now & Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” in early 2013. Jacoby has been cast as the romantic rival Raoul in the new national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera,” playing the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago from Tuesday, Jan. 9, through Sunday, March 2.

    ‘Phantom’ tour brings actor back to Chicago

    Ben Jacoby, a former Chicago actor with a few credits at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, is making his national tour debut in the new production of "The Phantom of the Opera." Jacoby plays a key role in the musical, that of Raoul, the Phantom’s romantic rival for the love of the orphaned soprano Christine Daae.

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    A fan takes pictures outside Lambeau Field before a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers may only play here about a dozen times a season, but fans can visit practically every day of the year, for a tour that costs just $11.

    For Green Bay Packer fans and others, a tour of Lambeau Field

    About an hour's drive from those quaint Door County bed-and-breakfasts you promised you'd go to and those antique shops you promised not to complain about is something that makes it all bearable: Lambeau Field, the football stadium where the Green Bay Packers play. The Packers may only play here about a dozen times a season, but fans can visit practically every day of the year, for a tour that costs just $11. It offers a peek behind the curtain where so much of professional football's history has been written.

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    Chocolate Blount, 91, seen Dec. 18 at home in Pine Hill, Ala., was discharged from hospice care about three years ago.

    Hospices seek non-terminal patients to boost bottom line

    Over the past decade, the number of “hospice survivors” in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying, a Washington Post investigation has found. Healthier patients are more profitable because they require fewer visits and stay enrolled longer.

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    Touches of red appear on the table courtesy of apples hollowed out to hold votive candles and a scale pan holding apples near the back door repeats the tablescape’s motif, while gauzy curtains let in light and gently frame rustic furnishings.

    Antiques enthusiast turns accessorizes her home for winter

    For Genoa antiques lover Debby Karl, kitchen design is a gray area — and that’s just how she wants it. Having previously painted her 1974-built home’s original cabinets green, she took a more neutral approach when remodeling her kitchen last year. With a warm gray wall color as a starting point, she kept her galley and adjacent eating area’s primitive feel while upgrading its functionality.

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    Toilet duel between dual-flush and single-flush option

    Q. My wife and I are in a disagreement over the new toilet we plan to purchase. We both want to install a high-efficiency toilet, but we have not decided on the flushing system.

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    Beach pails and shovels are a hot new collectible.

    Check out the hottest collectibles on this year’s antiques market horizon

    If you’re in the market for a new type of item to collect, you’re in the right place — our annual list of the top 10 collectibles for the upcoming year should be your first stop. This week we reveal five of our favorites, and next Sunday we’ll complete our Top Ten with five more items.

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    Grass isn’t the only filler you can use between your steppingstones. Tumbled recycled glass, pebble mosaics, gravel and ornamental ground cover are also creative choices.

    Concrete steppingstones — big look, small cost

    All over, folks are rethinking their midcentury tract homes, which have become swanky architecture for the new millennium. Study these projects enough and you see that concrete steppingstones have evolved from the low-cost choice to hot stuff.

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    Is electric resistance heating worth the cost?

    Q. My utility bills are high and often I’m chilly. I know electric resistance heating is expensive to operate, but I like the idea of infloor heating. Does it only work in tile or can it be used under carpet?

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    Removing skunk spray stain will require some scrubbing

    Q. I have a white car and a skunk sprayed my back bumper. I’ve tried everything possible to remove the yellow stain with no luck. Would you know what I could use to remove this?

Discuss

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    Editorial: The move toward a graduated income tax in Illinois

    A Daily Herald editorial warns that an effort in Springfield to shift to a graduated income tax is nothing more than a blatant money grab by state government.

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    The war on Mideast Christians

    Columnist Michael Gerson: Promoting democratic institutions is no easy task in the midst of revolution and civil war. But even limited levers — stronger condemnation of abuses, conditioning aid on the protection of minorities, supporting moderate forces in the region — are worth employing when the stakes are so high.

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    Will doctors go the way of good barbers?
    A Palatine letter to the editor: Seems that in the near future, we won’t have any independent professional barbers and not as many Doctors around to choose from and will have to settle for national chain for a haircut and a national health care program where we will wait more often than not.

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    Juvenile discussion spoils Christmas
    A St. Charles letter to the editor: Dear Mr. Obama, Being a loyal American, I followed your request that we discuss Obamacare at our Christmas dinner. I thought you might be interested in the reaction that I got.

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    Anti-NRA cartoon went too far
    An Elk Grove Village letter to the editor: The cartoon on the Dec. 19 Opinion page showing a defender of the Second Amendment celebrating the anniversary of Sandy Hook was despicable.

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    Do a better job on the plowing
    A Barrington letter to the editor: Where are the snow plows? I am infuriated by what little effort has been made to clear snow from area roads, not only by IDOT, but by Cook County and local municipalities as well.

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    Wealthy continue to ignore the poor
    A Rolling Meadows letter to the editor: I don’t care if a few Americans take advantage of our society’s benefits. I do care that many wealthy Americans can never have enough money and don’t care who they harm.

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    Dold has proved he can compromise
    A Mundelein letter to the editor: The Schneider-Dold rematch for the House of Representatives looks to be shaping up as one of the top races in the country for 2014.

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    Schneider is committed to his ideals
    A Mundelein letter to the editor: In the 10th District Congressional race, I support Brad Schneider. I truly think he is the best representative for our area. He believes in working with the other side of the aisle, and at this point in our country that is a very important thing.

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