November 2012 Archives

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Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 30, 2012.

• Rejoice, ye Chicagoans, for yonder moat of despair - Wacker Drive - is completely open to thy masses once more. Go forth and drive. [Sun-Times]

• I've done worse for less. [Tribune]

• Former alderman William Beavers is accused of blowing campaign money gambling which is shocking because if history has ever taught us anything it's that gambling has never resulted in anything bad. [Sun-Times]

• As if Beavers wasn't enough, here's another example of Chicago just not trying anymore to be original in the scandal department: The owner of a firm involved in work at O'Hare has been connected to a reported mob figure. [Sun-Times]

• The winter parking ban goes into effect tonight so don't come whining to us about your tow fees. [WBEZ]

• Your guide to the "fiscal cliff" because Happy Friday, everyone! [Sun-Times]

• The WGN Morning News team was totally duped by the shooting of a scene for NBC's show Chicago Fire. I'd "LOL" more but hats off to the team who are not only self-aware but able to have fun at their own expense. [Gawker]

• Here come the next round of menus at NEXT. [Crain's]

• Jay Cutler was fined for taunting a Vikings' player last weekend when he tossed a ball at the player. $10,000 for the best thing Cutler has ever done? Small price to pay. [ESPN Chicago]

• BRIGHT ONE: Mark Potash sides with NBA commissioner David Stern in his clash with Spurs coach Greg Popovitch. [Sun-Times]

• TO DO: Sudoku; Weather (In a word: nice); Transit (Weekend work: Red Line bypasses on the North Side)

• FINALLY: Forget Mars: NASA has found organic matter on Mercury. Which is cute because we all know every planet is already inhabited by pandimensional beings that are biding their time before they descend from above and enslave us, laughing about they way they totally RickRolled us with those crop circles. [Gizmodo]

Sun-Times photographer Andrew Nelles took a drive on to the newly reopened Lower Wacker earlier today, giving us an idea of what it looks like after several years of construction.

False alarm! Climb out of your bunkers - there was no plane crash downtown today.

WGN Morning News pulled a major whoopsie on air this morning in reporting a plane crash at King and 29th, only to find out that it was just a part of filming for the NBC show "Chicago Fire."

The network's traffic helicopter captured the scene and morning anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten reported the crash from the news desk. They went so far as to say there were injuries before realizing the mistake. Oops!

The Office of News Affairs for the real Chicago Fire Department sent out a tweet to clarify that the crash was a simulation and to disregard the news report.

Potash and Baumgarten owned up to the mistake and even redeemed themselves by turning the false report into a running gag by airing clips from 'Godzilla' and warning those at Navy Pier to get off the Ferris wheel.

"We don't call it #mustwatch for no reason. Another solid journalstic effort today," WGN later tweeted.

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Graphics editor Max Rust put together this guide on lower Wacker Drive finally opening back up, just in time for the Friday morning commute.

Graphics aside, anyone who works or travels through Downtown Chicago knows what this really means: freedom. Freedom to actually walk on real sidewalks and drive unimpeded on city streets. From Tina Sfondeles' report:

The pedestrians at 57 high-rise buildings who depend on Wacker Drive for access won't have to use temporary sidewalks. And the 65,000 vehicles that travel daily on upper and lower Wacker Drive will be free to roam once again -- even those 11 CTA bus routes that were rerouted during construction.

On Friday, the Wacker-Van Buren intersection, the Congress Parkway interchange and the entire length of Upper and Lower Wacker Drive will open, as the $303 million project takes its bow.

It's not often that Friday happy hour comes during the morning rush.

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The United Center, awash in fiery splendor // Sun-Times Photo, Tom Cruze


Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 29, 2012.

• Blah blah State Rep. La Shawn Ford blah blah bank fraud blah blah indicted Illinois politician. [Sun-Times]

• Also shocking: lots of people don't like Governor Milquetoast. In fact, so few that he's the "most unpopular governor" in the nation, according to one poll. [Sun-Times]

• The Congress Theatre, already a paragon of entertainment virtue, has defaulted on a $4 million loan. [WBEZ]

• A Will County judge who was caught using his work computer to view hardcore porn admitted to being addicted to porn since childhood and not realizing you could just watch it on your personal smart phone thus not getting in trouble for looking at hardcore porn on a work computer. [Sun-Times]

• The city's most expensive condo has been sold for $15 million to Citadel's Kenneth Griffin. No word if it includes a moat, carousel, or indoor water park features. But it should. [Tribune]

• The price tag on the investigation into the death of David Koschman - killed after a fight with Richard M. Daley nephew Richard Vanecko - has topped $585,000. [Sun-Times]

• Despite recent struggles, Groupon is still wheelin' and dealin', including a new partnership with Major League Baseball meaning there's a better chance that the White Sox might fill their stadium past half capacity. [Crain's]

• Community radio station CHIRP has launched a spiffy new website. [CHIRPRadio]

• There's a small local groundswell of support for Northern Illinois star Jordan Lynch for Heisman. [ChicagoSide]

• BRIGHT ONE: Mark Brown takes on the loony circus that is the Mel Reynolds "Redemption" campaign. [Sun-Times]

• TO DO: Sudoku; Weather (In a word: subdued); Transit (in a word: okay)

• FINALLY: At one time, the U.S. military wanted to nuke the moon. [CNN]

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A parent involved in the lawsuit against Maine West High School addresses the press. // Sun-Times Photo


Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 28, 2012.

• A horrible story gets even worse today as three more plaintiffs have joined the lawsuit against Maine West High School alleging sexual abuse as part of hazing. All plaintiffs are members of either the boys soccer or baseball team and rumors have persisted of more hazing on the swim team, though no one from that team is involved in the current lawsuit. Adding insult is that it appears the same coach who is mentioned with regard to the soccer team hazings is connected to the baseball team hazings as well, indicating a culture of this sort of thing if the allegations are true. [Sun-Times]

• Business is a little awkward these days over at Groupon where CEO Andrew Mason is in the unique position of reading news reports about the company's board debating whether or not to fire Mason. For his part, Mason's playing it cool. Like Kool-Aid man cool. [Crain's]

• Mel Reynolds doesn't think his conviction for sex with an underage girl should prevent him from serving the seat he vacated in disgrace because that was sooooo two decades ago. That's the message he sent today when he announced his candidacy for the 2nd U.S. Congressional seat, the same seat just vacated by Jesse Jackson, Jr. because God forbid a politician from Illinois shouldn't have some taint of criminal wrong-doing. [Sun-Times]

• $4.5 million is spent on pretty flowers downtown. Because flowers are pretty, that's why. [WBEZ]

• United Airlines is going after Untied.com, a website that vents vitriol toward the airline for its alleged mistreatment of passengers. [Tribune]

• Millions of Americans are spending money so they can be disappointed when they don't win the Powerball lottery. [Sun-Times]

• The Blackhawks are the fourth most valuable team in the NHL, their value doubling since 2006. This would be better news if the NHL wasn't skidding towards yet another full season lost to a lockout. [Forbes]

• Michael Jordan banned from golf course for choice of pants marking the first time Jordan has ever drawn a foul. [Chicagoist]

• The whole saga over whether or not a student really put a Hinrich jersey in a toilet for game tickets is just silly. This would have never happened with Luc Longley. [Sun-Times]

• BRIGHT ONE: Richard Roeper takes Gilda's Club to task after the cancer patient support group announced they were going to change their name because younger patients don't know who Gildna Radner was. [Sun-Times]

• TO DO: Sudoku; Weather (In a word: average); Transit (in a word: uneventful)

• FINALLY: NYU learns why it's important to always use "BCC" when emailing all 39,000+ students at one time. [Buzzfeed]

Jon Stewart's The Daily Show was the latest media to address the demise of Hostess and it's iconic Twinkie brand.

Stewart, though, was far from nostalgic about the passing of Twinkie. While he spent time Tuesday night defending the unions vilified for their part in the end of the company, he was less than charitable for the junk food cake with 37 questionable ingredients:

In case you've been in a cave, gorging on Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs for the last couple of weeks, the Hostess saga has played on in a tale of labor unrest, liquidation and overly hyped angst about vanishing snack cakes, hoarded and sold for hundreds of dollars on eBay.

Americana, circa 2012.

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Rich Hein/Sun-Times


Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 27, 2012.

• Stuff got real when then Blue Line had a major malfunction earlier today, the second straight day the line had experienced significant delays. And it comes a day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters during a press conference that if commuters didn't like the new higher pass rates for the CTA, they could just drive. While the comment has been taken out of context and blown out of proportion a little bit, it still reeks of tone-deafness, particularly given the number of slow zones and CTA construction issues that already exist. [Sun-Times; Gapers Block]

• Christopher Vaughn, found guilty of murdering his entire family earlier this year, was sentenced to four life sentences today for the crimes. [Sun-Times]

• The Florida man accused of stabbing a Bears fan visiting Jacksonville for the Bears-Jags game earlier this fall now has a March trial date. [FOX 32]

• A Sun-Times investigation shows that a guy who sells t-shirts that say "Boobies Rock" is - shockingly- actually just defrauding those who think they're contributing to a charity. [Sun-Times]

• The latest gun control battle: Illinois and concealed carry because we don't have enough gun problems. [WBEZ]

• For once, an alderman wants to put a vote on hold after last-second information was introduced into a three-tower development in Wolf Point. No idea where this thinking was a few years ago on the parking meter vote. [Sun-Times]

• Harley-Davidson's River North spot is being stalked by Shake Shack because heaven forbid this city ever get a damn Waffle House. [Crain's]

• In Soviet Russia, airplane rides YOU from Midway to Branson to see Yakov Smirnoff. [Chicagoist]

• The night Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones formed the Voltron of blues at Checkerboards Lounge. [Sun-Times]

• BRIGHT ONE: Rick Morrissey says no Heisman for Notre Dame's defensive star Manti Te'o. [Sun-Times]

• TO DO: Sudoku; Weather (In a word: chilly); Transit (in a word: clear ... for now)

• FINALLY: The Chinese obviously didn't learn their lesson years ago from that "retractable Capitol Hill dome" story. The Onion has once again duped a Chinese paper, this time the Communist Party's The People's Daily which congratulated North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as being named The Onion's "Sexiest Man Alive." [Yahoo!; The Onion]

Caption this: Coyotes spotted in Wrigleyville

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coyote.jpegPhoto by Will Byington


Although the recent rise of coyote sightings in increasingly urban areas is no laughing matter, we can't help but think that this photo of two wild coyotes spotted across from the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville over the weekend seem like the set-up to a good joke.

So tell us, dear readers, how would you caption the photo?

Black Friday Backlash

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As much attention as Black Friday attracts, there's just as much negativity directed towards it, be it complaints about the superficial nature of the day, the spending of money we don't have, or even sales reports that fall short of expectations. There are several examples of those already evident this year. There are more videos after the jump.

The Washington Post has a report today that analyzes Thanksgiving weekend sales and how they relate to the overall holiday reports and come to a somewhat surprising conclusions: that strong Black Friday weekend sales are actually indicative of weaker overall holiday sales.

Retailers know that a typical family spends whatever it will spend on holiday gift-giving, and that whether that spending comes on Nov. 23 or Dec. 23 doesn't make that much difference in the aggregate. But retailers aren't a monolith; they are all chasing market share from the others. And the minute one retailer discovers that opening at midnight on Thanksgiving will attract a mob of people, cash in hand, others are reluctant to cede those sales to the guy down the block. Thus, an opening-time arms race that resulted in this year's prevalence of stores opening at 8:00p.m. on Thanksgiving.

For the media, it is a ready-made story. It takes place at a time that there is little other news, and it is known in advance, so editors and TV news directors can plan in advance for coverage. And there's no doubt that video of people stampeding through the doors of a Wal-Mart in hot pursuit of a new Wii makes for great television. That is even putting aside more cynical possibilities, such as that media depend on retail advertising and thus have a vested interest in creating a sense of hype and anticipation around an orgy of consumerism.

• Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren took some backhanded shots at competitors whose sales result in scenes in the video above. Speaking to CNN this morning, Lundgren said, "We haven't had any problems. I don't know what that means exactly in terms of the crowd that we attract."

• Social media is providing a good outlet for Black Friday shoppers to blow off steam when they don't find what they want or take umbrage with a store's organization.

• Even locally, there were some fights, including a brawl at a Joliet mall that saw 6 teens arrested.

Black Friday Live Blog

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Customers line up on Wednesday at a local Best Buy to prep for the big sales on Black Friday // Photo by Matthew Grotto-Southtown Star

We'll be live-blogging all the chaos of Black Friday (which actually starts tonight, now right here. Follow along as our reporters from all over the metro area report on what they see.

If you see anything news-worthy, including traffic jams, tweet at us and let us know by using the hashtag #BlackChiDay.

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John Ackerman inspects harvested pumpkins on his farm Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 in Morton, Ill. Unlike other farmers this year, pumpkin growers have plenty to show during the nation's worst drought in decades, and the reason is pretty simple- pumpkins do well in dry weather. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

The U.S. Drought Monitor released it's latest results Wednesday and, despite storms and rain around much of the country, there is still a severe drought problem in the United States.

In fact, the Drought Monitor shows that about 60 percent of the lower 48 states are in some form of drought, with only the Northeast and a swatch along the Appalachians - and the Pacific Northwest - escaping the driest of conditions.

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Storify: Your reactions to Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation

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Battling bipolar disorder and a federal probe into his campaign accounts, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress Wednesday afternoon, submitting his letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are your reactions to the news.

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Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 20, 2012.

• In case you haven't somehow heard, the CTA won't be raising base fares but they are jacking up the cost of 1-, 3-, 7-, and 30-day passes, ensuring that they'll still manage to negatively impact the finances of as many riders as they can. The hikes come as the CTA still hasn't brought service levels back up to the pre-2010-cuts level and service disruptions - even during rush hour - remain regular occurrences. On the bright side, all Red Line train cars will continue to smell like pee so at least they didn't take that away from us. [Sun-Times]

• An awful story developing out of Maine West High where a lawsuit claims three members of the boys soccer team were sexually assaulted as part of a hazing incident. [Sun-Times]

• The state garnered $346,000 in the month of October as a result of video gambling machines. No word on if the state plans to reach into the much more lucrative market of taxing Golden Tee video games played by drunk Wrigleyville bros. [WBEZ]

• The woman accused of stalking Rev. Michael Pfleger allegedly told police that God ordered her to marry Pfleger. [Sun-Times]

• RIP, Chicago Journal and Skyline. [The Reader]

• Having already conquered the Loop, Walgreens is now heading to Wicker Park where they'll open a huge, upscale shop at the corner of Damen & North, giving people a viable food alternative for when the line at Big Star gets just too damn long. Which is all the time. Genius move, Walgreens! [Crain's]

• The loud rumble of the city's garbage truck could soon be a blissful annoyance of the past as the city plans to rollout a handful of electric garbage trucks onto streets and alleys soon. [Gapers Block]

• Jay Cutler is doing his best to calm Bears fans by telling them he'll play again next year. I don't know why he'd bother because if there's one fan base that totally doesn't overreact to anything, it's clearly the Bears' fan base. [Sun-Times]

• Sorry, Chicago-on-TV fans, but yet another Chicago-based-and-filmed show, Boss, is canceled. While the Kelsey Grammar-starring political drama is the first such cancelation of the season, you could probably win bets that Mob Doctor will soon follow suit. [Tribune]

• BRIGHT ONE: Mary Mitchell shares the inspiring story of Rihana Gunn-Wright, Englewood's Rhodes Scholar. [Sun-Times]

• FINALLY: With marijuana legalized (maybe) in a few states, it's time to buy stock in weed vending machines. [Mashable]

Storify: Your reaction to the CTA fare hike

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The CTA announced today that it is raising the price of its weekly and monthly passes under the $1.39 billion budget it unveiled Tuesday. Weekly passes will increase from $23 to $28, and 30-day passes will jump from $86 to $100. CTA riders had a predictably negative response.

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 19, 2012.

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Cargill Floor Supervisor Lucas Harrington, left, and Cargill Food Mill Supervisor Craig Miller "guard" the two turkeys at West Rockingham Ruritan Park, that are bound for the White House Monday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2012, in Rockingham County, Va. The turkeys, which were grown by Rockingham County poultry farmer Craig Miller, are expected to be pardoned by President Barack Obama Wednesday, and live out their days on George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. (AP Photo/The Daily News-Record, Nikki Fox)


• Mayor Emanuel swears there's nothing wrong and that the Gold Coast is perfectly safe after a pair of incidents - a stabbing and an accused robber allegedly trying to run over a cop - in the area this weekend. It's true that in a big city, occasionally crime will happen even in nicer parts. Still, there are a million reasons I'd never step foot in the area and it has nothing to do with crime. [Sun-Times]

• Meanwhile, the Mayor is also saying that the pension crisis could throw a big wrench into the city budget. [WBEZ]

• Ex-county commissioner Joseph Moreno is in talks for a plea deal over accepting bribes. A Chicago politician taking a bribe? No, this just can't be true. [Sun-Times]

• So Hostess may not be closing after all as a judge told both sides involved to sit down and work out over a couple of Ho-Hos. So don't go paying $5,000 for Twinkies on eBay just yet because while that's a perfectly sane thing to do anyway, it may not be necessary. [Sun-Times]

• The family of a Maine West High School student have filed a lawsuit claiming the student was sexually assaulted during a hazing incident related to making the school's soccer team. [CBS 2]

• Just a day after opening, an Evergreen Park BBQ restaurant had a car drive through its front. Now that it has that out of the way, it can move on with its grand opening when it reopens tomorrow. [NBC 5]

• Jason Campbell! Colin Kaepernick! It's Monday Night Football on ESPN! [NFL.com]

• The United Center is hoping to entice the DePaul Blue Demons with a deal that includes free rent. Other parts of the deal include free skeeball but a promise to end all parties by 2 a.m. and to take out the trash when they're done. [Crain's]

• Maryland and Rutgers are joining the Big Ten as the conference shuffling continues. Now word if the Big Ten will rebrand itself or add another division alongside Legends and Leaders called "Mediocre Pretenders." [ESPN]

• BRIGHT ONE: Neil Steinberg breaks down Garry Willis' analysis of Mitt Romney's campaign. [Sun-Times]

• FINALLY: Forget any kind of financial woes, don't mess with a city's Christmas tress. At least, that's what the city of Birmingham, Michigan found out given the outcry following the revelation the city has optioned for a cheaper, reusable 35-foot tall artificial tree. On the bright side, no sap hands! [Detroit Free Press]

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 16, 2012.

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Sun-Times Photo/Brian Jackson

Yes, yes, there's a lot happening in the world today but the focus here at home is the closing of Hostess, a union-busting power play that's been bungled from a PR perspective by the union as nearly 1,500 people in Illinois - and 18,000 nationwide - will lose their jobs. Also, no more Twinkies and people are already selling the snacks for $1,000 on Craigslist because people are dumb but know that even dumber people will buy them. The cackling you heard this afternoon was coming from the Little Debbie HQ. [Sun-Times; L.A. Mag; Storify]

Da coach's son tested positive for da opiates. [Sun-Times]

The CTA doesn't realize its service is a good enough deterrent to using it, decides to padlock and emergency exit anyway. [Chicagoist]

If you bought furniture from IKEA during the 1980's, there's a chance it was made by East German work-camp prisoners, something for which the company finally apologized today. The Proletariat was not available for comment. [Tribune]

The Drew Peterson circus continues as his attorneys have filed for a new trial claiming previous lead attorney Joel Brodsky fouled the case up. [ABC 7]

A Valparaiso, Indiana couple has been accused of being the worst people in the world. [CBS 2]

Bad news: there will be no Cutler for the Bears on Monday night. Good news: there will be no Cutler for the Bears on Monday night. [Sun-Times]

The Bulls are building something else they can put a Michael Jordan statue in front of which is a bummer because everyone knows Luc Longley deserves a staute, too. [Bulls]

Bright One: Neil Steinberg takes umbrage with Mitt Romney's sour election grapes. [Sun-Times]

Then & Now: Western Avenue. [WBEZ]

FINALLY: The Taliban has idiot emailers, too! [ABC News]

The news Friday that iconic brand Hostess is moving to liquidation, the product of a poor economy and labor unrest, reaction ran the gamut.

From fans lamenting the loss of Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, to concern for the 18,000 workers losing jobs, to, well, political theories, the internet was abuzz with the news.

Here's a look at what people had to say on the Sun-Times Facebook and Twitter pages and elsewhere online. There's also a few bonus moments of great moments in Twinkie movies history. And the answer to just what Twinkies are made of, anyway.

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 15, 2012.

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Al Podgorski/Chicago Sun-Times

• Proving it doesn't matter who's in the mayor's chair and they'll cave anyway, the Chicago City Council voted 46-3 to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed 2013 budget. Aldermen Robert Fioretti (2nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th) were the only ones who didn't give their rubber stamp to the mayor. Meanwhile, the lone "not present" vote belonged to Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) making the whole "shirking legislative duties" thing an all-in-the-family affair. [Sun-Times]

• Attorneys for victims of torture in the Jon Burge case claim Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez shouldn't be involved in reviewing these cases since she was at the office when the original cover-ups were occurring. It's shocking a Cook County political figure or official would be accused of having a conflict of interest. [WBEZ]

• Twinkies may not be around for us all to eat in the post-apocalypse after all. [ChuffPo]

• Prentice Hospital got a reprieve from the wrecking ball thanks to an order from a Cook County judge granting the building temporary landmark status. Chicago residents should expect to wake up one morning sometime in mid-January and find two giant bulldozed X's where the hospital stood just the night before. [Sun-Times]

• Mitt Romney is not bitter at all about losing the election. Nope, not all. Nuh-uh. Not one bit. [Gothamist]

• The CTA, though, backed off on presenting its budget today as a result to ongoing union negotiations. If those negotiations turn sour for CTA head Forrest Claypool, more service cuts and fare hikes could be coming because the agency hasn't otherwise found a way for riders to make their commutes even more miserable than they already are. [Sun-Times]

• First Threadless, then Obama's re-election, so what's next for one of Chicago's brightest tech minds? My money is on "weather machine." [Crain's]

• Brian Urlacher criticized the NFL for shoddy equipment but he also reiterated he'd lie to team personnel about having a concussion creating a Möbius strip of inexplicable logic. [Tribune]

• Nate SIlver says Chicago is better than New York. His wizardry will brook no argument from me. [Chicagoist]

• A retired chaplain in Glen Ellyn discovered he's now $1 million richer thanks to a two-month old lottery ticket he found cleaning his desk. I cleaned my desk today and found only a banana peel. [Daily Herald]

• FINALLY: Star Wars action figures and dominoes were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. In other news, there is a National Toy Hall of Fame. [MSN]

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 14, 2012.

• Perhaps you've heard about the latest craze sweeping an embittered nation: signing petitions to the White House requesting the allowance for states to secede because that worked so well the first time. Not surprising, the states with the most signatures are the states where NASCAR is most popular. A closer look at the White House website reveals this movement holds no merit and was started by bored, stupid people. In other words, the Internet is being the Internet. Over 5,000 people in Illinois have signed a pair of petitions for this state to secede which is still more than the average White Sox game attendance. [WHITE HOUSE; SUN-TIMES]

• The Invisibile Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. remains MIA as Congress reconvened. It's been over five months since Jackson was seen in Congress on behalf of his constituents who thought this wasn't a big deal so they re-elected him anyway. [SUN-TIMES]

• Even though Mayor Emanuel promised he would fight the private company raking in all of our quarters from those privatized parking meters that former Mayor Daley left in a flaming bag on our front porch before running off, it turns out the city joined forces with the company to defend the parking meter deal against a lawsuit. Don't question the logic because if you question the city's logic, you will find yourself spiraling down a rabbit hole that has no bottom. [THE READER]

• President Obama held his first post-election Q&A with reporters this afternoon and he was asked about the spreading Petraeus scandal as well as the fiscal cliff. But it was over a threat from Senators McCain and Graham to block a potential nomination of Susan Rice as Secretary of State that Obama got fired up, stopping just short of repeating Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man, I'm 40!" rant from a few years back. [SUN-TIMES; NY TIMES]

• A security breach on the city's election board website exposed information relating to either 1,200 people or 1.7 million people depending on who you ask. No big deal. [GAPERS BLOCK]

• The Choose Chicago tourism group is claiming this summer's push was a big success after targeting six cities and bringing in $207 million in additional revenue thanks to the campaign. Of course, if you lived in St. Louis, you'd want to escape upriver, too. [CRAIN'S]

• Peoples Gas is looking to jack up rates even more than originally planned. [WBEZ]

• I, for one, welcome our new ash borer overlords. [DAILY HERALD]

• The Texans' Tim Dobbins was fined $30,000 for his hit on Bears QB Jay Cutler that resulted in a concussion for Cutler. [SUN-TIMES]

• Don't blame me, I voted for Darko. The NBA season is two weeks old but there's already an All-Star ballot. [NBC CHICAGO]

• Stop me if you've heard this one before: Soldier Field is going to need new sod. [CBS 2]

• Bright One: Carol Marin is not impressed by Mayor Emanuel's typically flippant attitude towards the press, this time over the report that City Hall workers secretly taped reporters. [SUN-TIMES]

• AND FINALLY: If this whole "Internet" thing has you confused, Wal-Mart still has your AOL starter kits for $15. [CONSUMERIST]

The Day in Photos

APTOPIX Portugal Euro_Newm.jpgA riot policeman runs past a fire set by protestors during clashes in Lisbon during a general strike Wednesday, Nov. 14 2012. The second general strike in eight months in Portugal, where the government intends to intensify austerity measures next year, left commuters stranded as trains ground to a virtual halt and the Lisbon subway shut down. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)


Click to embiggen all photos

CORRECTION TV-Elmo Ac_Newm.jpgThis Jan. 24, 2011 photo shows "Sesame Street" muppet Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash. (AP Photo/Victoria Will, file)

The latest twist in the case is that the accuser has now recanted his claim that he had a sexual relationship with Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash while he was underage. From the New York Times:

Andreozzi & Associates, a law firm that said it represented the accuser said in a statement that "he wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship." The statement added, "He will have no further comment on the matter."

The accuser's identity has not been disclosed.

Mr. Clash said through a spokeswoman: "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further."


Clash remains on a leave of absence from Sesame Street while another puppeteer fills the role.

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention during the work day for November 13, 2012

Embattled and invisible congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is no longer a patient at the Mayo Clinic and the federal probe into misuse of campaign funds may be spreading to his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson. [SUN-TIMES]

Speaking of Jackson, Jr., if he's ousted or steps down, Sam Adam, Jr., who has famously defended both R. Kelly and former governor Rod Blagojevich, has expressed an interest in running for the seat. [SUN-TIMES]

Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell will change her not guilty plea in connection to a $53 million embezzlement charge to guilty tomorrow. [CBS 2]

A non-profit has filed a lawsuit over the strict guidelines in the city's food truck ordinance. [CHICAGOIST]

Controversial Cook County judge Susan McDunn, who claimed she was being ruined by secret lawsuits including powerful Chicago figures, has stepped down from her position. [SUN-TIMES; previously]

Those fancy-pants new CTA rail cars are debuting on the Red Line this week, just in time for no one on the South Side to be able to use them next summer. [ABC 7]

With the "fiscal cliff" looming, some Democrats have growing interest in a Romney campaign pledge as a way to raise taxes on the rich through deduction caps. [NY TIMES]

A gay marriage bill is high on Rahm Emanuel's Springfield agenda. [SUN-TIMES]

The renowned BBC finds itself mired in the middle of its largest scandal ever. [REUTERS]

Antivirus software pioneer John McAfee has been accused of murder but he tells Wired he's been framed. [GIZMODO; WIRED]

One goat, two giraffes missing in Lakeview. [WBEZ]

Porn star Jenna Jameson has to pony up almost $100,000 to a Naperville theater for pulling out of a planned appearance. [DAILY HERALD]

As if Mitt Romney needed another reason to be jealous of the Obamas, First Lady Michelle gets Downton Abbey episodes early. [POLITICO]

Bright One: Andy Ihnatko looks at the big tech FAIL the Romney campaign faced on Election Day and how the Obama campaign side-stepped the same fate. [SUN-TIMES]

And Finally: The Word of the Year is "GIF." [YAHOO NEWS]

The Day In Photos

515298971.jpg Indian Sikh devotees offer prayers as they stand in the holy sarover (water tank) at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 13, 2012, on the ocassion of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANUNARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images


Click to embiggen photos.

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This Jan. 24, 2011 photo shows "Sesame Street" muppet Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash. (AP Photo/Victoria Will, file)

The Petraeus-Broadwell affair continues to develop into a bizarre scandal, pulling more people into its orbit as the days go by.

But political sex scandals are nothing new. This one is more shocking for the high levels into the military and CIA for which it has reached. In many ways, it pales to the story of Kevin Clash.

The muppeteer is accused of having an improper relationship with an underage boy. Clash, 52, is the creator of the iconic Elmo character and is on leave from Sesame Street while the situation is investigated and Clash says he works to clear his name. For his part, Clash denies any sexual relationship with anyone under 18.

Clash's accuser claims the relationship started when he was 16 and Clash was 45. Now, gossip site TMZ has what it says is email - what is it with emails and these people? - from Clash to his accuser - sent well after the accuser was 18, according to the report:

Clash writes, "I'm sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, its driving me insane."

"I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you. I'm here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true."

"I'll have my assistant book a ticket for you to come to NY and we can talk about this in person."

Clash admits to a sexual relationship with the accuser, but says it started after he was 18.

The Sun-Times' Bill Zwecker reports that this is likely the end for Clash, if not in children's entertainment, at least at Sesame Street:

. . . sources told this column Monday it was "highly unlikely" Clash would ever return as Elmo's alter ego. "In fact, unless things suddenly move in Kevin's direction right away, and he is proven to be a victim of an ugly smear -- rather than an adult sexual predator of a minor -- he is finished in the world of children's entertainment."

Clash has not addressed the email report yet, but did release a statement when the story broke proclaiming his innocence:

"I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."

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An Armenian military scout eats a live fish during a performance devoted to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of formation of the reconnaissance troops of the Armed Forces at Qanaqer military unit in Yerevan on November 10, 2012. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINASYANKAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images


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An Armenian military scout breaks blocks using a sledge hammer during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of formation of the reconnaissance troops of the Armed Forces at Qanaqer military unit in Yerevan on November 10, 2012. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINASYANKAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images


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An Armenian military scout eats a live snake during a performance devoted to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of formation of the reconnaissance troops of the Armed Forces at Qanaqer military unit in Yerevan on November 10, 2012. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINASYANKAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images


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An Armenian military scout eats a live frog during a performance devoted to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of formation of the reconnaissance troops of the Armed Forces at Qanaqer military unit in Yerevan on November 10, 2012. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINASYANKAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Image

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Gen. David Petraeus gives a thumbs-up after presenting his wife Holly with a bouquet of roses during an Armed Forces Farewell Tribute and Retirement Ceremony in honor of Petraeus at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, in this August 31, 2011 file photo. | Getty Images

Gen. David Petraeus resigned abruptly as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Friday after President Obama accepted his request.

Here is the letter Petraeus issued to the employees of the CIA explaining his resignation was due to an extramarital affair:

HEADQUARTERS

Central Intelligence Agency

9 November 2012

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA. After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.

As I depart Langley, I want you to know that it has been the greatest of privileges to have served with you, the officers of our Nation's Silent Service, a work force that is truly exceptional in every regard. Indeed, you did extraordinary work on a host of critical missions during my time as director, and I am deeply grateful to you for that.

Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life's greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing. I will always treasure my opportunity to have done that with you and I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end.

Thank you for your extraordinary service to our country, and best wishes for continued success in the important endeavors that lie ahead for our country and our Agency.

With admiration and appreciation,

David H. Petraeus

No, this is not "news." But it's Friday, the election is over and we can all use a little break from the bustle and maybe to take in the beauty of Chicago to help get us in the weekend state of mind.

Roger Ebert posted this video to his Twitter feed Thursday evening - combining two of his loves, Twitter and film - and it got us to wondering about the person who produces as stunning a look at Chicago as you'll find.


The video was filmed and edited by Eric Hines, a local photographer out of Northwest Indiana with a penchant for time lapse photography. We had a few questions for Eric on how he chose his subject, how he shot it and what's next.

Following in his unedited chat via email on how he did what he did. Oh, and look out for the Sun-Times building at the 45 second mark:

Chicago Sun-Times reporters Lauren FitzPatrick, Stefano Esposito and Tina Sfondeles were on hand as the city laid hero firefighter Capt. Herbie Johnson to rest today.

FitzPatrick and Sfondeles covered the scene through words and images on Twitter. Click through to see their observations and a look at some of the responses and prayers offered up by Chicagoans paying respect to Capt. Johnson.

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Sesame Street/Children's Television Workshop photo

Big Bird has had a rough month.

After becoming a cause celebre after being targeted by Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate, the yellow fellow's name has been kicked around way too often as part of President Obama's successful presidential campaign - see this attack ad to get an idea in case you've been under Big Bird's nest the last few weeks.

But just as the political turmoil began to calm down, Hurricane Sandy's wrath kicked up. On Friday, Sesame Street will air an episode dedicated to the devastation wrought by the October superstorm when it hit portions of the East Coast. In it, Big Bird's nest is destroyed and the characters work through how to deal with losing a home and living with a disaster.

From the Sesame Street Tumblr blog:

On Friday, we'll be airing a very special episode of Sesame Street.

A hurricane has swept through Sesame Street and everyone is working together to clean up the neighborhood. When Big Bird checks on his home, he is heartbroken to find that the storm has destroyed his nest. Big Bird's friends and neighbors gather to show their support and let him know they can fix his home, but it will take time. While everyone on Sesame Street spends the next few days cleaning up and making repairs, Big Bird still has moments where he is sad, angry, and confused. His friends help him cope with his emotions by talking about what happened, drawing pictures together, and giving him lots of hugs. They also comfort Big Bird by offering him temporary places he can eat, sleep, and play. Big Bird remembers all the good times he had at his nest and realizes that once it is rebuilt, there are more good times and memories to come. Finally the day has come where most of the repairs to Big Bird's home are done and his nest is complete. As he is about to try it out, though, the city nest inspector says it not safe, yet, because the mud isn't dry. Big Bird is sad that he has to wait another day, but Snuffy comes to the rescue and blows the nest dry and he passes the test! Big Bird thanks everyone for being his friend and helping to rebuild his nest and his home.

You can find your local listing information here.

Big Bird, though, is not the first Streeter to attempt to help kids come to grips with the trauma and terror associated with living through a storm like Sandy. Elmo has already done his part to soothe nerves during an interview on WNYC:


To help those affected by Sandy, check out this Red Cross site.

Photos from the day in news

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Barack Obama election night headquarters at McCormick Place Lakeside Center on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

live blog test

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Sun-Times reporter Lori Rackl took United Dreamliner 787 from Houston to Chicago early Sunday morning. Here are some of the moments Lori saw during the inaugural flight of Boeing's long-delayed jet.

An early morning flight for the 787 Dreamliner - made by Chicago-based Boeing for Chicago-based United Airlines - marked a major milestone in the troubled jet's history.

Sun-Times reporter Lori Rackl was among the passengers onboard for the inaugural flight. Here are observations by her and others throughout the trip from Houston.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner's first United flight to Chicago's O'Hare

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lori Rackl was onboard for the inaugural flight of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner - the culmination of years of development and pitfalls for the mega-jet. Here are tweets and pictures from Rackl and others involved.

Storified by Chicago Sun-Times · Sun, Nov 04 2012 08:33:10

United launches Boeing Dreamliner with festive first commercial flight - Chicago Sun-TimesBY LORI RACKL Travel Writer United Continental's first Dreamliner is shown off. Updated: HOUSTON - Most flights from Houston to Chicago d...
We are getting a water canon salute as we pull into the gate @united #787 #dreamliner shot from the BIG windows http://pic.twitter.com/RXrv0FhVJeffrey Hayzlett
Just touched down in Chicago on #United's first commercial #787 flight. Unlike the Boeing Dreamliner itself, we arrived ahead of schedule.Lori Rackl
United's first passenger flight of the new @Boeing 787 Dreamliner is wheels down at O'Hare... 11 minutes ahead of schedule.Ben Bradley
Flight 1116 has landed @Fly2Ohare. It will take Capt. Starley a few minutes to taxi our 787 to Gate C20. Welcome to Chicago.United
.@United CEO Jeff Smisek greets customers during the flight. #United787 http://pic.twitter.com/8kcxpzuwJames Scott
Just landed early on the inaugural @united #787 #dreamliner flight --- was very special. Will post pics in FB fan page laterJeffrey Hayzlett
A peek inside Boeing's #787 Dreamliner. http://pic.twitter.com/tctxomuCLori Rackl
Flight 1116, our 787, has crossed into Illinois. Should be on final approach to @Fly2Ohare soon. #United787.United
It's about to cross out of Texas. MT @BenBradleyABC7 On ABC7 @united 's first 787 on the way to ChgoUnited
Flight 1116, our @BoeingAirplanes 787, has departed the gate and is taxiing for takeoff. Want to track it? Tail number is #904United
Capt. Jim Starley talks with reporters. He'll pilot the 787 to Chicago this morning.  http://twitpic.com/baa2bmUnited
Our 787 awaits its first customers at Gate E5 at @IAH.  http://twitpic.com/baa1acUnited
On-time and boarding the FIRST @united #Dreamliner flight to @fly2ohare http://pic.twitter.com/zyghA0yHHouston Bush Airport
#united breaks out special #Dreamliner cookies for its inaugural flight http://pic.twitter.com/R8l2FvcWLori Rackl
Up early at Bush Airport in Houston for #United's 1st #787 flight http://pic.twitter.com/AZAQodcyLori Rackl
Boeing Dreamliner makes U.S. debut http://dlvr.it/2Qny8XCNN International
United's first Dreamliner ready for take off Sunday - Chicago Sun-TimesFasten your seat belt, stow your tray table and adjust your seat to the upright position: After one heck of a delay, United Airlines' fir...
Boeing delivers United's first 787 Dreamliner - Chicago Sun-TimesBY DAVID ROEDER Business Reporter Updated: United Airlines said Monday it has taken delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner, the Boeing Co. ...

Family and friends gathered this morning at the Cook County Medical Examiner's office to mourn fallen firefighter Capt. Herbert Johnson who died last night from injuries sustained battling a South Side blaze. Sun-Times reporter Lauren FitzPatrick was on hand and shot the below videos.

Below: Johnson family spokesman Dan McMahon speaks on Herbert Johnson's death.


Below: Tom Ryan, President of Local 2 of the Chicago Firefighters Union, pays tribute to Johnson

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