April 2013 Archives

From The Associated Press

A civilian cargo plane owned by an American company crashed at Bagram Air Field, north of the Afghan capital, soon after takeoff on Monday, killing all seven people aboard, the U.S.-led military coalition said.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for downing the Boeing 747-400, but NATO said in a statement to The Associated Press that the Taliban "claims are false." The coalition says the cause of the crash was being investigated by emergency crews that rushed to the site, but there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area at the time.

Capt. Luca Carniel, a coalition spokesman, said the aircraft crashed from a low altitude right after takeoff.

The plane -- owned by National Airlines, an Orlando, Florida-based subsidiary of National Air Cargo -- was carrying vehicles and other cargo, according to National Air Cargo Vice President Shirley Kaufman. She said those killed were four pilots, two mechanics and a load master, who was responsible for making sure that the weight and balance of the cargo is appropriate.

Five of the seven fatalities were from Michigan, said Kaufman.

"We are not yet releasing the identities of the colleagues we lost out of respect for their families who need a little more time to reach other loved ones," she said in an email to the AP.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the crash, she said.

National Airlines was based until recently at Michigan's Willow Run Airport, west of Detroit in Wayne County's Van Buren Township. It carries cargo both commercially and for the military, Kaufman said. She said it employs about 225 people.

The police Bomb and Arson Unit is investigating a suspicious package on the Magnificent Mile on Tuesday morning.

Police received a call of a suspicious package in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue about 9:20 a.m., police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada said.

Buildings on the block were being evacuated and traffic was being diverted, according to unconfirmed dispatch reports.

UPDATE: 10:55 a.m.
A report in the Chicago Tribune indicated that traffic had been halted in both directions on the Michigan Avenue bridge. The Michigan Avenue bridge was closed Monday afternoon while police investigated a suspicious package but was later reopened.

CTA Red and Brown line trains are experiencing "significant" delays Tuesday morning.

95th-bound Red Line and Roosevelt-bound Brown Line trains are moving with delays due to "congestion in the subway," according to a CTA alert.

As of 9 a.m., riders are advised to alllow extra travel time while workers restore normal service.

Sun-Times News Wire

MORE: Well Street Bridge construction shuts down Brown Line service to Loop

Thumbnail image for CTA-CST-060512_4_27010253.JPGThe CTA has launched a site specifically to deal with the pending upheaval known as the Red Line reconstruction project.

The Red Line Trip Planner is aimed at helping commuters figure out their way around the 5-month track overhaul project slated to begin May 19. The project amounts to a gut rehab for everything from Chinatown-Cermak to 95th-Dan Ryan:

From just north of the Cermak-Chinatown station to the 95th Street station, crews will replace everything in the track bed: ties, rail, third rail, ballast (the stone material that holds the ties in place) and drainage systems. Some stations will also receive improvements ranging from new canopies, paint and lighting upgrades to new benches and bike racks. Additionally, the stations at Garfield, 63rd and 87th will get new elevators, making all stations on the South Side Red Line accessible.

The CTA is promising expanded shuttle bus and Green Line service to accomodate South Side commuters, though travel times and routes are still expected to cause delays and the need for more planning on route choices.

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MORE: Race the Red Line - Sun-Times reporters time trip


View Another shooting near Obama home in a larger map

One man was killed and another wounded when gunfire erupted inside a Hyde Park apartment building early Tuesday.

The two men were standing in a hallway of an apartment building in the 5200 block of South Harper Street about 12:15 a.m. when a gunman approached and opened fire, police said.

Henry Atkins, 39, died from a gunshot wound to the chest, authorities said. Atkins, who lived nearby in the1400 block of East 52nd Street, was later taken to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, where he was pronounced dead at 4:40 a.m.

The second man, who is 22, was shot in the hand, police said. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment, police said. His condition was not known. They were two of four people shot Monday night.

Police said they have yet to establish a motive for the shooting.

No one was in custody Tuesday morning as Area Central detectives investigated.

The early morning shooting was the second murder to rock the area in recent days. Roughly one week before and less than a mile away, 15-year-old Cornelius "Cornbread" German was shot to death in the 5000 block of South Evans Avenue.

The Chicago home of President Barack Obama, in the 5000 block of South Greenwood Avenue, stands about a half-mile from both murder scenes.

Reporting from Sun-Times Media Wire

MORE: Homicide Watch Chicago

UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: The Michigan Avenue bridge has been reopened. Police News Affairs Michael Sullivan could not say what the package turned out to be.


EARLIER:


Emergency crews are responding to the downtown area after a suspicious package was reported on the Riverwalk on Monday.

The suspicious package was reported about noon on the Riverwalk beneath the Michigan Avenue bridge, police News Affairs Michael Sullivan said.

No further details were immediately available.

Reporting from Sun-Times Media Wire


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Michael Jordan and Yvette Prieto arrive at the 12th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino on April 5, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational)

People.com reports that Michael Jordan has finally tied the knot with Yvette Prieto after applying for a marriage license in March.

Jordan, 50, and Prieto, 35, were married in Palm Beach, Fla., at the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Radaronline reports that about 2,000 guests attended the service - with singer Usher performing - and 1,500 attended a reception at the Bears Club, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in jupiter where Jordan has built a 38,000-square-foot home.

A source told People:

"They've been planning for months and months," says a source of the nuptials. "He wanted to give Yvette everything she's ever wanted."

Jordan and Prieto were engaged in 2011 and had dated since 2008 since meeting in a Miami club. Michael Jordan divorced his first wife, Juanita, in 2006 after 17 years of marriage and three children.

Multiple media outlets are reporting a shooting down-state in tiny Manchester, Illinois, population of about 300 and 85 miles north of St. Louis. Reports say five killed with one injured and that a suspect is in custody. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports a suspect is in custody. Several school districts have cancelled classes as a result of the shootings, which were first reported around 4:45 am.

Update (9:03 am): Mayor Ronald Drake told the Post-Dispatch he didn't know the victims or the alleged shooter but that "They lived in federal housing."

Update (9:07 am): KMOV in St. Louis is reporting that all five victims were in the same family.

More on the situation as it develops.

Many Chicagoans remain up in arms over Rachel Shteir's New York Times book review of three Chicago books that actually did very little reviewing and a whole lot of complaining about Chicago. Lots of smart folks have broken down the misguided, poorly written screed, including our Neil Steinberg - who Shtier allegedly "reviewed" in her article - and Carol Marin.

But Shteir, who teaches theater at DePaul, had refused to comment on the controversy, aside from one short Q & A with Chicago magazine until last night because the best way to defend your argument that an entire city is a hellhole is to completely cut one's self off from any criticism. But last night when she sat down for an interview with Chicago Tonight and came off exactly like you thought she would. Whatever. Haters gonna hate but it doesn't mean we have to take them seriously.

From NASA on the Solar Dynamics Observatory project:

In the three years since it first provided images of the sun in the spring of 2010, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has had virtually unbroken coverage of the sun's rise toward solar maximum, the peak of solar activity in its regular 11-year cycle. This video shows those three years of the sun at a pace of two images per day.

You can find more on the science and observations in the long-term project here.

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This is a composite of 25 images taken from April 16, 2012, to April 15, 2013. | NASA photo

Or, if you prefer, here's the same video set to dub step:

Andrew Kitzenberg lives on a usually quiet street in a usually quiet town - Watertown, Mass.

But early in the overnight hours last Friday, Kitzenberg's quiet world exploded outside his window. His street - right outside his home - is where the gun battle that would put the Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev against myriad local and federal law enforcement officials.

Kitzenberg, previously best known for his clever iPhone case and a wearable USB drive, tweeted and photographed as bullets flew and bombs exploded. He's now released his photos from the firefight and ensuing investigation and has blogged about the experience and the aftermath . . . with a caveat:

The Daily Beast has compiled a storify of Kitzenberg's images, with timestamps:

Associated Press Twitter account hacked, stocks briefly drop

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Stand down. An Associated Press tweet about explosions at the White House was the work of a hacker. AP writer Sam Hananel was quick to alert followers to the hack:

The Associated Press quickly issued their official statement at 1:12 p.m.:


Editors,

The (at)AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible.

The AP

Twitter almost immediately suspended the account - much quicker than when Burger King and several other major brands were hacked earlier this year.

Despite the quick reaction, the fake tweet was enough to cause the stock market to briefly drop. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 150 points after the fake Twitter posting, then quickly recovered.

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

For the first time ever, DuPage County is allowing live video from the courtroom for the trial of Johnny Borizov, accused in the March 2010 triple murder of Jeffrey Kramer, his wife, Lori, and their 20-year-old son, Michael in Darien, IL. Watch the trial unfold above.


View teen shot 4 blocks from Obama home in a larger map

A 15-year-old boy was found shot to death in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood Monday night -- less than four blocks the home of President Barack Obama.

Cornelius German was found lying in the backyard of a home in the 5000 block of South Evans Avenue with a gunshot wound in his back about 9:40 p.m., authorities said.

Complete report.

The Mile between Obama's home and where Hadiya Pendleton died.

The Illinois Press Photographers Association has named its Photographer of the Year winners for 2012. Sun-Times Media journalist Brian Powers came in second for his work - Scott Strazzante of the Chicago Tribune was awarded first place. Andrew Nelles was recognized as Sports Photographer of the year.

Here's a look at some of Powers' work, in addition to other winners from the Sun-Times publications.

You can view all of the winners at the Illinois Press Photographers Association site.

BRIAN POWERS Photographer of the Year runner up

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Photographer of the Year entree and third place image in Best of Photography Sports Portrait

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Best of Photography Sports Portrait, honorable mention


News Picture Story First Place Brian Powers - Sun-Times Media - Images by IPPA
Best of Photography News Picture Story, first place

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As the dust has settled from a frantic, havoc- and violence-fueled week in Boston, it's easy to go back with 20/20 hindsight and nitpick about what the media got wrong, as it always is after an event like this. But this time in particular, there are multiple lessons so glaring, mistakes so blatant, they will change the way we consume breaking news in the future. My colleague, Sun-Times TV critic Lori Rackl, already took an excellent look at the way CNN came unraveled and failed compared to their 24-7 news cycle counterparts. But my focus is on the way certain events in Boston unfolded online in real-time and left national television coverage in the dust.

With all hell breaking loose in Boston and Watertown, Mass., late Thursday night, the go-to news source wasn't MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News. In a watershed moment - for good and for ill - the center of the news universe was the Internet -- specifically, Twitter. Tens of thousands of users were glued to the stream of the Boston Police Department's scanner and local news live streams featuring reporters on the scene of a gunfight between police and the marathon bombing suspects. Shouts came from over the scanner, officers reporting shots fired and explosives being hurled at them. 

As eyewitness accounts and corroborating video would later prove, it was a harrowing, horrifying scene. And it played out over Twitter, in real time, with transcriptions and photos being circulated in a whirlwind -- a gripping drama.

And where was TV? The national networks were nowhere near the latest events. Even as Twitter and local television affiliates were already on top of the developments, CNN was replaying news shows from earlier in the night. It would take well over 45 minutes for CNN to cut in to events and even then, they broadcast updates from their International desk and simply broadcast a local affiliate's broadcast (something the network would have benefited from had they done this more throughout the week). And let it be said the local affiliates were the stars of this week with their thorough updates that walked that line between fast and accurate far better than the national networks.

David Ortiz - an f-bomb 'from the heart' is Boston Strong

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When Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz took the field at Fenway Park on Saturday in Boston, he came out to thank the cops, public officials and the city for staying "Boston Strong" in a particularly Bostonian way. Would this fly in equally hardscrabble Chicago?

Here's what Twitter had to say about the incident:

In this video, released by the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can be seen lying in the boat in a Watertown, Mass., yard that he was eventually captured in.

The view shows with heat vision Tsarnaev, the bright white spot in the boat.

More photos from the scene.

Boston celebrates the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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A gathering of people including the media gather around a police officer as he leaves the scene after the arrest of a suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown. Shortly after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston took to the streets to celebrate.

Here are their photos.

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A Redditor posted this image from the Boston Marathon edited to show what appears to be 8-year-old victim Martin Richard standing near suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and what looks like his discarded backpack.

Here's Martin Richard:

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Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still at large as of posting:

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Seconds after the Boston Marathon bombs exploded, David Green pulled out his smartphone and took the photo of the chaos developing a couple hundred yards in front of him -- the smoke, the people running in panic. It wasn't until Thursday that Green realized what he had - a picture of suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, distinctive in his backward white baseball cap, walking away from the scene:

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(Associated Press)

Here's a close-up of that image:

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What it looked like from inside the lockdown

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Teresa Gorman, the digital news trainer at NPR in Boston, created this Storify of images from people stuck in their homes during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon suspects.


View Manhunt coverage area in a larger map

Law enforcement in and around Boston are asking the public to stay home and indoors in the shaded areas around Boston on Friday morning.

Boston's police commissioner says all of Boston must stay in their homes as the search for the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings continues.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis made the announcement Friday morning, after a long night of violence that left the other suspect dead.

The suspects were identified to The Associated Press as coming from the Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency stemming from separatist wars.

A law enforcement intelligence bulletin obtained by the AP identified the surviving suspect as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass.

The two men are suspected of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer on campus in Cambridge late Thursday, then stealing a car at gunpoint and later releasing its driver unharmed.

The suspects' clashes with police began only a few hours after the FBI released photos and videos of the two young men, who were seen carrying backpacks as they mingled among revelers at Monday's Boston Marathon. The bombings on Monday killed three people and wounded more than 180 others, and authorities revealed the images to enlist the public's help finding the suspects.

Associated Press contributing

Pitched gun battle, explosives in Watertown manhunt

Storified by Craig Newman· Thu, Apr 18 2013 22:33:24

This is what's going down in Watertown right now - PHOTO: pic.twitter.com/zcNkRJmqwMJared Keller
Live video following reports of gunfight, explosives in Watertown, Massachusetts - @WCVB bit.ly/15dmd1yBreaking News
Boston police scanner: 1-2 officers shot. Hand grenades tossed in car chase after car jacking. Automatic gunfire and explosives. Watertown.Anonymous
BREAKING PHOTO: CNN affiliate WHDH showing this picture of guy on the ground in Watertown, Mass pic.twitter.com/P2yziVOCvLNewsBreaker
「俺の家の外で銃撃戦」とマサチューセッツの人がツイート。 RT @AKitz Shoot out outside my room in Watertown. 62 Laurel st. #mit #boston #shooting pic.twitter.com/JhzGm3kbFYdeepthroat
BREAKING PHOTO: Site of the bomb explosion on laurel st. in Watertown Mass, bomb detectors are out - @akitz #mit pic.twitter.com/F3qxki0W7jNewsBreaker
Police order cellphones down following reports of explosive devices, shootout in Watertown. Listen live: slnm.us/8W5QKU4Salon.com
Homeland Security has arrived on scene in Watertown, MA according to WCVB reporter.Al Boe
Insane. RT @katiezez: In Watertown. Cop just said, "If you want to live, get off your cell phone."Erik Malinowski
Shoot out outside my room in Watertown. 62 Laurel st. #mit #boston #shooting pic.twitter.com/Lvk7rtx1gVAndrew Kitzenberg
Here's the scene in Watertown. We hear a loudspeaker saying "put your hands above your head" pic.twitter.com/7AGriadgPfJess Bidgood
Follow the NYT's @JessBidgood who is near the scene of police activity in Watertown, Mass., outside Boston.The New York Times
Soldiers walking around perimeter established on Mt. Auburn St Watertown #necn pic.twitter.com/Lht23xzFvjJosh Brogadir
Dozens of police rushed to area of Watertown, Mass., about 2 miles from Cambridge. Reports that explosives were involved.CNN Breaking News
RT @joshbNECN: Mt Auburn and Irma in Watertown. Have never before seen this show of force #necn pic.twitter.com/lCDwM9IrlnBuzzFeed News
@megturney this is what they say/ listening to the scanner "@universalhub: Police proceding as if Watertown suspects are Marathon suspects"Allison McKinney
#watertown ==>RT @kathrynswartz Image of suspect on ground pic.twitter.com/vVr2r1QLvXMichelle Malkin
Reports of gunfight,explosives near Watertown,Massachusettscomputingwarren
Police Officer killed on MIT campus in Watertown, MA (April 19 2013) SUV Stolen, Explosions AND MOREthegam3report2

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This afternoon, the FBI has released the above images of the two persons of interest in the Boston Marathon bombing.

More photos below the jump.

The past week of rain, including Wednesday night's downpour, has dumped 3 to six inches above normal levels for this time of year throughout the metro area. Hardest hit have been areas to the southwest and west of the city. Use this map to compare rain amounts in the past 7 days with the normal amount for the same period of time and to see where flooding has been reported at river measurement locations:

Above is video of Kevin Curtis, the Mississippi man charged with sending ricin-tainted letters to a U.S. Senator and President Obama. He also does a mean Elvis. Not as mean as Blago, but still pretty nice because in a week of surreal, horrible news, what else would make sense?

A look at the Chicago area flooding from Chicago Sun-Times reporters and photographers:

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Inmates bag sand to help with flood preparation in Lake County. | Lake County Sheriff

According to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff:

On April 17, 2013 nine jail inmates filled sandbags for over six hours.

Lake County Emergency Management Agency requested volunteers to assist in a sandbag filling operation.

Community Based Corrections Center Inmates were eligible to volunteer. These inmates are nonviolent offenders who typically spend their days seeking employment, working outside of the jail, and/or attending treatment programs.

Convicted sex offenders are not eligible to participate.

It has been a common practice of the Lake County Sheriff's Office Corrections Division to allow inmates to assist in emergency preparedness and other community assistance. Next week inmates are scheduled to clean up litter in a Lake County community.

UPDATE (11:50pm): Casualty reports remain sketchy, though dozens are known to be injured.

UPDATE (10:35pm): KWTX is reporting EMS sources as saying at least 60 to 70 people are dead at this point.

Texas fertilizer plant explosion photos

A collection of images shared on social media of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX.

Storified by Craig Newman· Wed, Apr 17 2013 20:48:41

Stopped in to get gas on my drive back from Austin to Dallas and a huge blast rocked the entire foundation of this place! A little scary...Andy Bartee
Another shot of the explosion. Never felt anything like that. @breakingnewsAndy Bartee
For @ahhnaw #Waco #SheMocksMyPain <3Nikki Danielle Ortiz
Waco Fertilizer explosion! #waco #texasBryan Cody
BREAKING PHOTO: Plume of smoke after reported explosion at fertilizer plant explosion near Waco, TX (@passantino) pic.twitter.com/mPWFNmD2rhNewsBreaker
Home burns after blast at fertilizer plant near Waco, Tex. via Waco Herald Tribune. bit.ly/100ZU7n yfrog.com/mmlp9fapJim Roberts
Aerial view of devastating blast damage in West, TX. #Waco pic.twitter.com/rPg8vSWYT7 via @briancurtisnbc5 .Anonymous
This pic IS from the #Waco fertilizer plant explosion courtesy of @DFWscanner pic.twitter.com/oRQRo8yKQDBrian Bledsoe
@ActionPage1 BREAKING: One of the fires burning after a major explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco pic.twitter.com/IZQC1RVcxrjorge Costa...
Apparently this is a .gif of the fertilizer plant explosion near Waco. twitpic.com/ck3sq6Holy shit.hia Nick
Image from Chopper 5 of evacuation center with lots of emergency vehicles #westexplosion bit.ly/11jbv4w pic.twitter.com/1fjOXBDfoGNBC DFW
#BREAKING: Photo of homes burning in West, TX following blast at West Fertilizer plant via Chopper 5 #KXAS pic.twitter.com/ySgUBNo3FXIan Smith
Explosion At Fertilizer Plant In Waco, Texas "Raw Footage"cboro564
Waco Fertilizer Plant ExplosionWaco Fertilizer Plant ExplosionAs Always, if you need to catch up(Or just waste some time)Dumb/Funny/Insane Criminals www.mnpolic...
Photos, video: Fertilizer plant explodes in Texas, numerous injuries reported - Sun-Times NewsPhoto: Reported image of fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX twitter.com/mariahrain14/s... - Jon Passantino (@passantino) April 18, 20...

Tonight was the first home sporting event for Boston's professional teams since Monday's bombing at the marathon (the Red Sox have been in Cleveland) and Bruins fans reacted exactly like you would think Boston sports fans would react in such a situation: with volume, spirit, and passion. It's an amazing moment.

Midwest Flood Outlook

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As of Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service determined that the following areas (see below) could be prone to flooding any time between Thursday and Sunday.
The NWS defines the areas according to likelihood of a flood:

Occurring/Imminent: Significant flooding is already occurring.

Likely: Significant flooding can be expected.

Possible: Weather conditions indicate that significant flooding could occur.

CBS Boston Live Stream

An FBI press conference this afternoon will likely identify potential suspects in the Boston bombing.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m. - CNN, AP and other outlets changed course in reporting an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing Wednesday afternoon.

UPDATE: 1:10 p.m. - Multiple news outlets report that a suspect is in custody and likely will appear in federal court.

This afternoon, both the Boston Globe and CNN are citing sources as saying a suspect in Monday's Boston bombings has been caught on tape thanks to video and photos taken at the scene. During a television interview with colleague Wolf Blitzer, CNN's John King said his sources would only classify the suspect as "a dark-skinned individual." CNN also said a new press conference will be held at 4 p.m. Chicago time. CNN is saying its source credits video taken by both a TV station and from a department store with helping to ID the potential suspect.

From the Globe:

CNN says the identification of the suspect came from a video surveillance camera in Lord & Taylor, a clothing store.

Lord & Taylor was the site of the second explosion, on the other side of Exeter Street and the opposite side of Boylston Street from Marathon Sports, site of the first explosion closer to the finish line of the Marathon.


UPDATE (12:31 pm): NBC News is now taking umbrage with these reports:

UPDATE (12:38 pm): And now Boston's WCVB is saying the suspect is in custody.

UPDATE (12:43 pm): The Associated Press is now reporting the arrest of a suspect is imminent, just as WCVB has.

Via the astute minds at Gapers Block comes a fascinating discovery: raw footage filmed for a documentary on Cabrini Green in the mid 1990's. The website Media Burn has digitized and is now hosting 60 hours of raw footage shot by Ronit Bezalel and Antonio Ferrera over four years (1995-1999) that was ultimately trimmed down into the half-hour documentary Voices of Cabrini: Remaking Chicago's Public Housing. Organized by category, the videos offer a raw glimpse at life in the public housing project that was often seen as one of public housing's greatest failures.

The full, original documentary can also be viewed here.

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This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a pressure cooker that the FBI says was part of one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)

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This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a black backpack that the FBI says contained one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs that exploded in the Boston Marathon was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)

Reuters also had images of smaller components - circuit boards and this battery:

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Fox has pulled from websites a recent episode of "Family Guy" that depicts mass deaths at the Boston Marathon, and has no immediate plans to air it again. Fox spokeswoman Gaude Paez said Tuesday the episode has been removed from Fox.com and Hulu.com.

In the episode, which originally aired March 17, protagonist Peter Griffin is asked by sports announcer Bob Costas about his performance at the marathon. A flashback shows Peter mowing down runners with his car.

"I'll tell ya, Bob, I just got in my car and drove it," Griffin says. "And when there was a guy in my way, I killed him."

Later, Peter befriends a terrorist who, unbeknownst to him, is plotting to blow up a bridge. When Peter dials a cellphone the friend has given him, explosions and screams are heard. On some websites, an edited clip has been circulating that fuses the two scenes, making it seem -- incorrectly -- as if the explosion was at the marathon. Some commenters have implied that the show "predicted" the bombings, a claim decried as farce in numerous locations.

"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane took to Twitter on Tuesday to vent anger over the edited clip and offer condolences to victims of Monday's bombings at the marathon.

"The edited 'Family Guy' clip currently circulating is abhorrent," MacFarlane tweeted. "The event was a crime and a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the victims."

via Associated Press

krsytle.jpgKrystle Campbell, 29, of Arlington, Massachusetts was identified as the second death as a result of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

According to the Boston Globe:

According to her grandmother, Lillian Campbell of Somerville, Krystle had just moved to the town a short time ago. She had been living with her grandmother to help her through an illness for the past couple of years.

Krystle recently left a job as a manager at the Summer Shack for a job at another restaurant in the area. She went to watch the Marathon every year and was there with a friend this year. The friend is hospitalized with serious


Her father talked to Yahoo! News, elaborating that Krystle was watching her boyfriend, condition unknown, run in the race. He said: "My daughter was the most lovable girl. She helped everybody, and I'm just so shocked right now. We're just devastated. She was a wonderful, wonderful girl. Always willing to lend a hand."

Martin Richard, 8, was identified as the first fatality from the bombing; a third has yet to be identified.

Photo via Facebook

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As Boston reels from yesterday's horrific bombings, it's hard not to turn an eye back to the past given today's 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter From A Birmingham Jail." The letter was the first of a series of historic events that year in the Civil Rights movement. Those moments would come to include the chilling scene in May of that year in which Birmingham Police Chief Bull Connor turned police dogs and fire hoses loose on children and, in September, the bombing at the 16th Street Church that killed four young girls and injured several others. Crude bombings like that yesterday in Boston were a common occurrence in Civil Rights-era Birmingham - such that it actually earned the nickname "Bombingham."

Of course, it would be foolhardy to directly tie yesterday's events in Boston to the events of Civil Rights-era Birmingham: they're completely separate events at different times in history with different contexts. Yet the feelings of dread and fear that follow must be eerily similar, a rattled populace seeking solace for such a violent intrusion that took innocent lives for no reason.

And in King's letter from the jail 50 years ago, there are passages that, even parsed out of the original context, can still bring some solace today.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You can read the entire MLK letter here.

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Amtrak Explosive Detection K-9 officer Kenneth Wolf and his dog Teddy patrol the station tunnels at Union Station in Los Angeles, Monday, April 15, 2013. The city increased security following bomb explosions in Boston that killed two people and injured more than 80 near the crowded finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Amtrak releases statement on security measures being taken in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday:

Amtrak continues to operate normally. The Amtrak Police Department (APD) has stepped up patrols and is conducting increased sweeps of stations, trains and railroad property. APD continues to work with local, state and national law enforcement partners in staffing intelligence centers to share and collect information.

Customers should not leave their bags unattended. Any suspicious looking or unattended package, bag, container or luggage found in or near trains, stations, vehicles, or buildings should be immediately reported to APD.

Amtrak is asking train crews, station personnel and the traveling public to remain vigilant and report all suspicious activity by dialing 911 or Amtrak Police at 1-800-331-0008.

Reza's owners play the feud

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The brothers who own the three Reza's restaurants in Chicago are entangled in a bitter feud that's resulted in alleged death threats and a lawsuit. According to Crain's, Reza Toulabi, owner of the physical properties the Reza restaurants reside in, has filed a lawsuit against his brother Joseph, the owner of the restaurants, alleging Joseph made threats of arson and death towards him. The three restaurants - located at 5255 N. Clark St., 432 W. Ontario St., and 40 N. Tower Road in Oak Brook - have since been seized back by Reza, who has also accused his brother of refusing to pay the rent on the three locations.

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Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester, Mass., was killed in Monday's terror attack at the Boston Marathon. | Facebook photo

The Boston Globe is reporting that the 8-year-old killed in Monday's bomb attack at the Boston Marathon is Martin Richard of the Dorchester section of the city.

The Globe talked to community members who gathered to pay respects - and offer prayers for the family.

The grief resonated sharply in Dorchester, where locals gathered Monday night at Tavolo Restaurant in memory of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, and his mother and sister, who suffered grievous injuries. Martin's father, Bill, is a community leader in the Ashmont section of Dorchester. A third child was reportedly uninjured.

"They are beloved by this community. They contribute in many ways. That's why you see this outpouring," said City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley, who was among the mourners. "It's surreal, it's tragic, it's incomprehensible. Everyone here tonight is trying to comfort one another and be prayerful."

A candle burned on the stoop of the family's single-family home in the city's Dorchester section Tuesday, and the word "Peace" was written in chalk on the front walkway.

Neighbor Betty Delorey says Martin loved to climb the neighborhood trees, and hop the fence outside his home.

The children's father, Bill, is the director of a local community group. The boy's mother, Denise, works at the Neighborhood House Charter School, where her children attend classes.

AP contributing

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Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was running his third Boston Marathon and near the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki was covering the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon at the finish line when the world around him exploded.

In the moments after a terror attack ripped through the crowd and injured more than 100 people, Tlumacki began immediately telling the story through images. One of the first he made was of 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, a Washington State native nearing the end of the race as the first bomb exploded.

Iffrig, lying on the street as first responders rushed to his side, quickly found himself as one of the iconic images of the chaos in the moments after the Boston Marathon attack. Both Iffrig and Tlumacki, in separate accounts as a runner and a journalist, gave their stories about the moment and the day's events.

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Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Visible in the background is a fireball as the second bomb blast erupts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

Here is a list of some of the worst bombings in the U.S. dating to the 1800s, including some famous attempts that failed (via the Associated Press:

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An injured person is helped on the sidewalk near the Boston Marathon finish line following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/MetroWest Daily News, Ken McGagh) April 15, 2013: Two bombs explode in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing two people and injuring at least 120.

•Jan. 17, 2011: A backpack bomb is placed along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Wash., meant to kill and injure participants in a civil rights march, but is found and disabled before it can explode. White supremacist Kevin Harpham is convicted and sentenced to 32 years in federal prison.

Pres. Obama will address the nation at 5:10 pm, Chicago time, regarding today's explosions in Boston. Watch live video below.

How voters weighed in on Township High School District 113's referendum to issue $89 million in bonds to improve facilities at Deerfield and Highland Park high schools. The measure passed by a total of 8,156 votes to 7,414 votes.
Click on a precinct to view the vote results:


Ethiopia's Desisa, Kenya's Jeptoo win Boston Marathon

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Associated Press

BOSTON -- Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia has won the 117th edition of the Boston Marathon.

It's just his second race at the 26.2-mile distance. Desisa outsprinted two other East Africans down Boylston Street to win in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 23 seconds.

American Jason Hartmann finished fourth for the second straight year.

Rita Jeptoo won the women's race earlier Monday. It was her second victory in Boston, and her first win in a major race since taking two years off to have a baby.

Shalane Flanagan of nearby Marblehead was fourth in the women's division.

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Wil Davis, of the Gary Jet Center closes a panel on the outside of the Boeing 737-800 shortly before takeoff Friday Dec. 15, 2006. | Andy Lavalley/Post-Tribune

The Federal Aviation Administration, according to a Reuters report, has ordered an inspection on more than 1,000 Boeing 737 registered in the United States. The target of the inspection is the tail planes, which may contain a faulty part that could lead to a loss of control.

"We are issuing this AD (airworthiness directive) to prevent premature failure of the attach pins, which could cause reduced structural integrity of the horizontal stabilizer to fuselage attachment, resulting in loss of control of the airplane," the FAA said in the directive early Monday.

In the directive, the FAA said the inspection order was "prompted by reports of an incorrect procedure used to apply the wear and corrosion protective surface coating to attach pins of the horizontal stabilizer rear spar."

According to the report, first in the Wall Street Journal, 1,050 U.S. carrier aircraft are effected and it may cost up to $10.1 million across the fleet - $9,627 per aircraft. It applies to the following models:

  • 737-600
  • 737-700
  • 737-700C
  • 737-800
  • 737-900
  • 737-900ER

Boeing 737-800 crashed in Bali will be cut apart for removal

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Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un take in a basketball game in February. | AP

Dennis Rodman made a living rebounding. So it's perhaps no surprise that he's bouncing back to North Korea.

The Worm told a Miami gossip site over the weekend that he was planning on returning to North Korea to visit his new bestie Kim Jong Un in August. That's the same Kim Jong Un that's been rattling ever sabre in the country for a few weeks, goading the U.S. and various allies into, well, nobody really knows what his motives are.

Then again, maybe he just misses his buddy Rodman. It sure seems Dennis misses him. As Rodman was quoted at GossipExtra:

"I'm going back August 1. We [Rodman and Kim Jong Un] have no plans really, as far as what we're going to do over there, but we'll just hang and have some fun!"

The U.S.'s apparent unofficial ambassador to North Korea also offered some knowledge on where the country stands in history and its impact on geopolitics with the non-stop war rhetoric of late:

"The Russians were way out there, and they were acting on their threats. He (Un) just wants to be loved. He just wants to sit down and talk. That's all."

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is on his way back from a trip to the region where he spent time reassuring allies that North Korean threats would be answered according - including in Japan, which Kim Jong-Un has threatened to attack first. Tensions are particularly high today as the country celebrates the birthday of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un and the country's founder.

Rodman gained fame - the Rodman kind of fame - when he went in February to visit the North Korean tyrant and described him as "a great guy," and pushed for a basketball summit with President Obama.

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Jackie Robinson in 1947 in his first visit to Wrigley Field. | Charles Gekler~ Sun-Times files

As the movie "42" hits theaters leading into Jackie Robinson weekend - you can read Richard Roeper's 3-star review here - it's worth taking a look back at some of the moments in Robinson's remarkable career.

It's also a good time to take a look through the Sun-Times photo files for a few of his early moments in Chicago - including his first trip to Wrigley Field as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1947. But, as Whet Moser writes for 312, it was not Robinson's first trip to Chicago with professional baseball on his mind. Robinson was at least a thought for the White Sox in 1942 and, as the tale is told, would have neen in for an even worse experience than he endured making history with the Dodgers:

"It would have been really tumultuous," adds Leon Forrest, novelist and professor of African-American Studies and English at Northwestern University. "Jackie said the cities that he caught the most hell in were Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati. (His playing for the Sox) would have meant a confrontation of (black and white) South Siders.

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Chicago Cub Phil Cavaretta is thrown out on a close play at first base as Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Joe Hatten covers the bag. Jackie Robinson, shown in the background, tossed the ball. It was Robinson s first series at Wrigley Field. | Charles Gekler ~ Sun-Times files

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Jackie Robinson signs a baseball as Dodgers teammate Don Newcombe and students look on at Moseley School, 2348 S. Michigan Ave. | Photo by Bill Pauer~Sun-Times files

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From Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- At least two people were killed and about three dozen were hospitalized after a charter bus careened off a Texas highway and flipped onto its side Thursday, drawing a large emergency response as rescue crews struggled to reach victims inside, authorities said.

The Cardinal Coach Line bus was traveling just east of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Irving when it suddenly weaved across the busy highway, struck a concrete barrier and toppled over into the center median, witnesses said. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.

"We ended up swirling and weaving and then ended up on the side," passenger Daniel Risik, 73, told The Dallas Morning News. "People were screaming and hollering, a very traumatic situation to say the least."

The bus, which was carrying about 45 people, was headed to a casino in Oklahoma, officials said. Risik said most people aboard the bus weren't wearing seat belts.

"People were piled on top of each other," he said. "It was unbelievable. A lady had pinned me. Rescue got there and started pulling people out of a roof emergency hatch. People were hollering, screaming, there was blood all over the place. It was unbelievable."

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Lonny Haschel confirmed that two people were killed. About three dozen people were being treated at local hospitals, many of them suffering from fractured bones, hospital officials said.

Emergency vehicles could be seen swarming the bus as it lay in the grassy center median along the President George Bush Turnpike. Ladders were being used to pull passengers from some broken windows. Witnesses said one person appeared to be pinned by the bus which picked up passengers in Fort Worth.

A man who answered the phone at Cardinal Coach's offices in Mansfield, just south of Dallas, confirmed that one of the company's buses was involved in the Irving accident. But said he didn't have time to talk because he was trying to gather information about the crash.

Cardinal Coach has reported no crashes in the last two years that resulted in deaths or injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company operates five buses and employs seven drivers, records show.

Law enforcement officers were interviewing bus passengers and other drivers who witnessed the crash. Haschel said he had no immediate information on where the bus trip originated.

A spokeswoman for Baylor Medical Center in Irving said 13 patients arrived at the hospital following the accident. Officials at Las Colinas Medical Center in Irving confirmed another six patients were there, though details weren't immediately available on their conditions.

Another 11 patients were transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital, including the driver of the bus, and another victim was airlifted to a fourth hospital in critical condition, hospital officials said.

Public transportation buses with Dallas Area Rapid Transit were used to transport some passengers with lesser injuries.

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McDonald's customer service is under fryer. | Getty Images

A Wall Street Journal report out Thursday morning says that McDonald's, fresh off recent earnings report disappointments, is focusing on customer service as the central cause of the chain's woes.

The report says Oak Brook-based McDonald's had a recent webcast for owners claiming that 20 percent of customers were dissatisfied with the level of customer service companywide. From the Journal (paywall):

In a webcast McDonald's executives held with franchise owners last month, the company said 1 in 5 customer complaints are related to friendliness issues "and it's increasing," according to a slide from the presentation reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The webcast identified the top complaint as "rude or unprofessional employees."

One slide said that complaints about speed of service "have increased significantly over the past six months." Another mentioned that customers find service "chaotic."

"Service is broken," said a slide from part of the webcast delivered by Steve Levigne, vice president of business research for McDonald's USA.

The site customerservicescorecard.com shows reason for McDonald's to be concerned. The site, based off customer feedback, rates restaurants on various categories and criteria. On the final score, the highest of which is 200, Mcdonald's comes in at 36.85 - ranking somewhere between "terrible" and "disappointing.'

The company had been concentrating recently on new products to carry business. Despite some significant uptick thanks to a poor economy, Fish McBites don't seem to be enough to soothe a fed-up customer base.

As recently as last June, McDonald's ranked last in customer service in the fast food industry, including by a wide margin in this unscientific Sun-Times poll.

Two brothers shot at on the South Side, a man grazed by a bullet in Lakeview and a car-on-pedestrian accident in Goose Island were among the stories that happened between midnight and 6 a.m. in Chicago. Here are the details, as reported by the Sun-Times Media Wire and staff:

Repair and maintenance work will lead to street closures and detours in several places around the city this week, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Concrete repair work under a CSX Railroad viaduct in the Englewood neighborhood will close 63rd Street between Bell and Hamilton avenues on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to a CDOT release. Detour routes will be in effect.

This weekend, CTA Green Line track maintenance will also result in the closure of 63rd Street in Englewood, between Wells Street and Princeton Avenue, CDOT said. The closure will start at 10 p.m. Friday and will last until 5 a.m. Monday. Traffic will be redirected along a detour route for the duration of the closure. Access to Saint Bernard Hospital, located just south of 63rd Street, will be maintained throughout the closure via Stewart Avenue.

Near the Loop, the Chicago Avenue bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic for structural repairs from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, CDOT said. Pedestrians will still be able to cross on the south side of the bridge.

Bus, car and bicycle traffic will be rerouted in both directions via Halsted, Division and Larrabee streets, CDOT said. Trucks will be redirected along Halsted, Division and Orleans streets.

The bridge construction has been ongoing since late February, according to CDOT. The $540,000 project is expected to be complete by April 25.


View Coming road work in a larger map


The National Public Radio program "This American Life" profiled Chicago's Harper High school in a powerful two-part series in March. Today, Michelle Obama will visit the South Side school to take part in a discussion about gun violence in the city.

Listen here to both episodes. Find the full report on their site.


From the Associated Press:

The time-honored skill of typing is still helpful, but it's becoming less necessary. And that raises the question: Does typing have a future?

In high schools and community colleges where keyboarding classes have been a staple for decades, some fear the courses may go the way of cursive writing lessons in elementary schools.

Dallas typing instructor Julie Phillips says predictive keyboards on smartphones and tablet touch screens that guess which words are being typed have taken the skill out of keyboarding. She says fewer students are coming in with keyboarding knowledge.

Mobile technology analysts say keyboards likely won't disappear from computers. But mobile phone-makers say speed is important, and predictive screens decrease the time needed to type -- or thumb -- each word.

Four children were hospitalized and two adults questioned after police responded to a domestic disturbance in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side Tuesday night.

Police responded to complaints of the disturbance at a home in the 8200 block of South Ellis Avenue at about 9 p.m., according to police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer. There, police found three girls and a boy between 6 months and 4 years of age -- two of whom had visible bruising on their bodies.

The two bruised children were taken to Comer Children's Hospital in "stable" condition, Greer said. The other children showed no signs of bruising but were taken to the hospital for examination.

The children's mother, and a man who is the father of one of the children, were questioned by Area South detectives, though no charges were filed as of early Wednesday morning, Greer said.

Police said The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was notified of the incident, but an agency official was not immediately available for comment.

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A damaged semi is seen on I-80 near Houbolt Rd. following an overnight crash Wednesday, April 10, 2013 in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Matthew Grotto

UPDATE: As of about 9:30 a.m., the westbound lanes of I-80 at Houbolt Road remained closed for crash investigation and cleanup, according to a Joliet District Illinois State Police trooper, though the trooper said the road was expected to be reopened to traffic "momentarily."

UPDATE: Illinois State Police expect the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 to reopen to traffic about 9 a.m.


View Larger Map

JOLIET - Two semi-trucks collided on Interstate 80 early Wednesday, killing one of the drivers and closing the expressway to westbound traffic in Joliet, state police said.

The two tractor-trailers were traveling near Houbolt Road when they collided about 3:42 a.m., said Illinois State Police Sgt. R.A. Caves.

One of the truck drivers was killed in the collision, the other was unharmed, state police said.

Motorists were redirected along a detour route while the westbound lanes were closed for a crash investigation, state police said.

The detour directed motorists along U.S. Route 6, to I-55, which reconnects with I-80 several miles to the north.

Caves said I-80 may not be reopened until about 7 a.m.

No one had been cited for the crash as of 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Reporting by Sun-Times Media Wire

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Relatives of Holocaust victims lay flowers next to the names of concentration camps during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Monday, April 8, 2013. Israel came to a standstill for two mournful minutes Monday as sirens pierced the air in an annual ritual to remember the 6 million Jews systematically murdered by German Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust in World War II. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A 41-year-old Chicago man died Monday night while aboard a plane bound for O'Hare Airport, authorities said.

Christopher Allen, of the 3500 block of West Jackson Boulevard, was taken to Resurrection Medical Center after he was found unresponsive aboard the the Spirit Airlines flight, which landed about 10:50 p.m., authorities said.

He was pronounced dead at 11:39 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Authorities said Allen died at some point during the flight, though police could offer few other details. His cause of death has not been determined.

A death investigation was underway, police said.

Reporting via Sun-Times Media Wire

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The Al's Beef combo - sausage and beef sandwich - will soon be clogging arteries and warming hearts on the West Coast. | Sun-Times file

It's about time the outside world finally realized what makes Chicago great and steals the secret ingredient - the beef sandwich.

Al's Beef, a Chicago institution for 75 years, is heading west - to San Jose, specifically. The San Jose Mercury News reports that a horde of Midwesterners has been clamoring for hot beef sandwiches for a while and Al's is finally succumbing to pressure:

The first California location will open in meat-loving San Jose on Monday, April 15, with plans for a major Southern California expansion next.

The secret recipe for what's often called one of the nation's top sandwiches was concocted in 1938 by Al Ferreri and his sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Chris Pacelli Sr. The shops stayed in the family until 1999, when longtime customer Dave Howey (not to worry; he's half-Italian) bought Al's to preserve this regional specialty.

"When you eat it here, it's going to be just like eating in Chicago," owner Dave Howey says. "The bread is crucial, or the sandwich will dissolve."

The rest of Al's roasted and encased meat specialties will be making the trip as well. So much for that California healthy cuisine thing. But Chicago gets Lagunitas Beer, so it's at least a fair trade. Though, really, you can't have one without the other.

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Thievery is never the right option. But in this case, it may be a case of justifiable spreadicide.

Thieves in the central German town of Bad Hersfeld made off with 5.5 tons of Nutella from a parked trailer late Sunday night. The sticky-fingered crooks' booty is worth about $20,710, though no word on whether that's an accurate street value.

Germans news reports say that this is not the first mass food theft in the area. Thieves also walked off with "several tons" of Red Bull from the same spot and a truckload of coffee in the same town.

From The Local:

Seven pallets loaded with jars of Nutella were stolen from a truck trailer parked in a disused railway station in Niederaula north of Fulda in central Germany some time between Friday afternoon and Sunday night.

When asked whether someone might be stealing the ingredients for an enormous breakfast, Hessian police spokesman Manfred Knoch told The Local: "That's what it looks like."

Of course, this is hardly the first time people have been driven to steal Nutella. College students in New York were making off with/eating at least 100 lbs. a day.

AP, UPI contributing

Caribou Coffee closing Illinois stores

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Caribou Coffee is shuttering many of their Illinois stores.

The popular coffee chain is closing 80 of their locations across the country. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the majority of its 66 Illinois locations will shutter -- some of which may be converted into Peet's Coffee & Tea shops.

More information as it becomes available.

UPDATE 4/09/13 9:46 a.m.:

Mike Tattersfield, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee released the following statement:

"Over the past few months, we at Caribou have revisited our business strategy, including closely evaluating our performance by market to make decisions that best position us for long-term growth. With that, we will be closing 80 underperforming stores on April 14th, and an additional 88 coffeehouses across Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois and Eastern Wisconsin will be converted to Peet's Coffee & Tea locations over the next 12 to 18 months. Going forward, Caribou Coffee will be made up of 468 locations across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Western Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Denver, and ten international markets. While the decisions we've made have been difficult for our team in Minneapolis, as well as our team members across the country and our guests and fans everywhere, we are working to make this transition as seamless as possible for the Caribou community. We look forward to continuing to deliver extraordinary experiences to our guests and fans, and thank everyone for their passion and commitment to Caribou.

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AP Photo/dpa,Jochen Lurbke

Vladimir Putin was among a group of European dignitaries visiting the opening of the Hannover Fair today in Hannover, Germany when several protesters stormed one of the booths. Among the protesters was a topless woman who, despite whatever she might have said, earned Putin's approval as the silly photo displays above.

ebert_wbc_apr8.jpgUPDATE: According to Sun-Times reporter Stefano Esposito, there was no sign of the WBC protest as of 9:25 am. Maybe the rain scared them off...

Original post: Westboro Baptist Church, the hole of dark evil that no one should ever stare directly into, is scheduled to picket outside the funeral of legendary Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert this morning. As reported yesterday by DNA Info, the controversial "church" is scheduled to picket outside of Holy Name Cathedral this morning from 9:15 to 10 am. Ebert took plenty of shots at the "church" via his Twitter account but also acknowledged the group's right to free speech. That didn't stop Fred Phelps & Co. from calling Ebert a "fag enabler" in their press release on the event. Not that that's a surprise from the pile of human detritus that is Westboro. Still, given the sense of humor Roger (and many of his fans) had, the presence of the "church" will matter little as friends, family, and fans gather to remember the legend.

AP Photo/Evan Agostini

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In this Jan. 12, 2011 file photo, Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic Roger Ebert works in his office at the WTTW-TV studios in Chicago. | AP

Andy Ihnatko is a columnist covering technology for the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Grid.

But for years he has also been fortunate enough to call Roger Ebert a friend. Sharing a love of classic films and, increasingly, technology, the two became close.

On Sunday, Ihnatko and several dozen of those closest to the Eberts gathered to remember their friend. Here are some of Ihnatko's thoughts on the day, the full telling of which can be found on his blog:

Yesterday, about a hundred or more of Roger's friends and family gathered in a small chapel for a private service. His wife, Chaz, didn't eulogize Roger. She testified, in many senses of that word. She paced around the wood-paneled room like the trial attorney she once was, speaking with resolution and without notes. And she spoke of her love for Roger the way that a deeply religious person speaks of their love for God.

"This is the day The Lord has made," Chaz began. Many in the room were able to complete the verse from the 118th Psalm: "Let us rejoice and be glad in it." She said that she felt that and said it every morning when she woke up next to Roger. "He was a humble man who walked with kings. And he was my prince."

I learned more about Roger's final days. He was hospitalized and on painkillers, but his mind was at its usual full luminosity. There was a curious difference in his final days, she said. Roger, of course, communicated largely through handwritten notes. During the last week, he started to initial and date them. Chaz wishes she'd saved them. Roger went through countless sheets of note paper throughout the day and nobody had any idea that he'd be gone.

Roger did get in one last joke. His family asked him if, after he died, he could send some sort of sign that there was life beyond the grave. They were kidding around. Roger was an agnostic, not an atheist, but he was a skeptic at heart and didn't go in for that kind of theatrical nonsense.

So they were surprised when he agreed, earnestly and seriously. "Well, what will the sign be?" they asked. "When the first female black president is elected," he responded.

Andy has more on his memories and thoughts about Ebert here and here.

Live-blog of Roger Ebert's funeral

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Funeral services for legendary Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert will be held Monday at Holy Name Cathedral.

The 10 a.m. service at 730 N. State Street will be open to friends and fans, although seating will be limited.

Click through for photos, video, and more from the funeral.

Twitter Toasts Roger Ebert

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Police were still on the scene at the State Street bridge Sunday morning for a man threatening to jump into the Chicago River. The action caused an emergency reroute in the Shamrock Shuffle.

According to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada, the race was re-routed so the bridge is no longer part of the race route with runners using Grand Avenue crossing at Wabash instead of State Street.

The man was safely removed from the bridge about 8:30 a.m., Estrada said.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement about the attack in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, that killed 25-year-old Chicagoan Anne Smedinghoff:

"Our State Department family is grieving over the loss of one of our own, an exceptional young Foreign Service Officer, killed today in an IED attack in Zabul province, along with service members, a Department of Defense civilian, and Afghan civilians. Four other State Department colleagues suffered injuries, one critically.

"Our American officials and their Afghan colleagues were on their way to donate books to students in a school in Qalat, the province's capital, when they were struck by this despicable attack.

"Just last week in Kabul, I met our fallen officer when she was selected to support me during my visit to Afghanistan. She was everything a Foreign Service Officer should be: smart, capable, eager to serve, and deeply committed to our country and the difference she was making for the Afghan people. She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future.

"We also honor the U.S. troops and Department of Defense civilian who lost their lives, and the Afghan civilians who were killed today as they worked to improve the nation they love.

"I spoke this morning with our fallen Foreign Service Officer's mother and father and offered what little comfort I can for their immeasurable loss. As a father of two daughters, I can't imagine what her family is feeling today, or her friends and colleagues."

The full State Department statement is available here.

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Anne Smedinghoff | via her Twitter page

The world lost a truly beautiful soul today. Our daughter, Anne, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, died in the service of her country as she was traveling with a group to deliver books to a local school in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan. She joined the Foreign Service three years ago right out of college and there was no better place for her. Anne absolutely loved the work she was doing. Her first assignment was in Caracas, Venezuela. She then volunteered for an assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, which she began in July, 2012. Working as a public diplomacy officer, she particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war. We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world. She was such a wonderful woman--strong, intelligent, independent, and loving. Annie, you left us too soon; we love you and we're going to miss you so much.

Tom & Mary Beth Smedinghoff

UPDATE: Fenwick High School community honors Anne.

Family and neighbors remember Anne Smedinghoff: "We are so proud, but also very sad."

Read the State Department's statement from Sec. John Kerry.

The CPS is holding more hearings on proposed closings throughout the month of April. Find them embedded below.

CPS Closure hearings, April 2013

More Memories of Roger

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Jessica Koscielniak ~ Sun-Times

In the hours since legendary critic and journalist Roger Ebert passed away, the tributes have come pouring out from all corners of the world, both journalism and otherwise. We've already collected thoughts and memories from several film luminaries and colleagues. We heard from his fellow Sun-Timers. And we heard from writer Will Leitch, who is following in Ebert's footsteps towards a tremendous career. Now, here are even more thoughts and memories from critics, friends, and other colleagues of Roger's.

We'll do our best to keep this updated throughout the day.

Full coverage from Roger's college paper, The University of Illinois' Daily Illini

"When Roger held court in the middle of the features department, all other work stopped. He'd start out talking to one or two friends and soon an impromptu audience would assemble to hear him tell stories, share the latest joke he'd heard (he always laughed the loudest at his own punch lines), or deliver a wicked impersonation of Irv Kupcinet."
- Robert Feder of Time Out Chicago (and formerly an Ebert colleague at the Sun-Times)


"He has a way of speaking straight to the reader that's simple and emotional. It's no doubt why I connected with him as a kid. His writing style was welcoming and warm, and it assumed you were smart enough to appreciate the sorts of movies he was praising. He made you feel smart, even if you were just a kid. Critics forget this so easily--we're trying so hard to sound so cultured and so cool that we get too wrapped up in impressing our reader when we should be having a conversation with him or her. As a college student, I was snide about Ebert's accessibility, considering it a weakness. As always, he was far wiser than me."
- Tim Grierson, film critic (writing for Paste)


"It wasn't just that he inspired people by soldiering on through illness and disability (though that was certainly the case). It was that Ebert somehow seemed more powerful and prolific in this late incarnation than he had before, his already formidable life force ever more focused on the urgent, everyday task of writing and joking and arguing about the things that really matter in life."
- Dana Stevens, writer for Slate


"But here's the thing about Roger Ebert: He was more than willing to talk, and he treated his fellow critics with sweetness and generosity, as one of us. In the minutes before a screening would start, Ebert would hold court from the back row, regaling everyone with everything from opinions on issues of the day to a fusillade of dirty jokes. Before his voice was silenced, he was one unbelievably great talker and an even better laugher--nearly to the point where, if he loved a comedy, everyone else in Chicago would love a comedy, too, just because his laugh was so damnably infectious."
- Scott Tobias, film editor of The A.V. Club

More after the jump.

Photos: Memorials for Roger Ebert

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Memorials for Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert are popping up around the country following his death.

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People walk past flowers placed before the Star for Roger Ebert on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. | Getty

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A man dressed as Captain America walks past flowers placed before the Star for Roger Ebert on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. | Getty

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Flowers left by a visitor sit by the bronze plaque set in the sidewalk in front of Roger Ebert's boyhood home in Urbana, Illinois. | AP

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Flowers are place beside the photograph of the late Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert at the Gene Siskel Film Center. | Jessica Koscielniak ~ Sun-Times

At the end of tonight's episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart's "Moment of Zen" was a clip of Stewart reading a clip of Ebert's Death To Smoochy review out loud to Roger during an interview. It was a hilarious moment for both men and a great display of Roger's sense of humor.

Below, find the interview in its entirety.

Oh, and read that half-star Death To Smoochy review here.

Will Leitch on Ebert

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AX083_56A8_9.JPGWill Leitch, writer extraordinaire, film reviewer, and all-around Ebert fan, was kind enough to share these thoughts with us today on Roger's passing.

All the personal knowledge I have of Roger came from when I was a younger, brasher man, incapable of accepting the kindness he never failed to show me. (After I had been cruel and unfair to him, he forgave me, even though he didn't have to and probably shouldn't have.) So I know him much less than everyone else in these pages. But I have read every word he has ever written -- and pretty sure I've found almost everything, even the old Esquire and Playboy stories that aren't online -- so of course I feel like I understand him in the way he would have wanted to have been understood. Roger wrote the way we all want to think, the way we all wish we WERE: Open-hearted, open-minded and with open arms. He was funny, he was mean, he was wistful, he was moving, he was everything ... his writing felt like LIFE. Writing about Roger in death feels like a cheat, a confession of inferiority: The only person I want to read about Roger's death is Roger.


What makes Leitch's comments all the more emotional is his own dealings with Ebert that he outlined in great detail in a fantastic essay he wrote for Deadspin in 2010, detailing how he once lashed out at his idol, Roger's reaction, and, well, it's worth a read to get the whole story.

...if you wonder to yourself, "They're making him into some sort of saint. Is he really that nice of a guy?" ... just know that, yes, he really is that nice of a guy. But more than that, he's a wonderful, soulful writer who is better, and more devoted, than just about anyone in the game. He's been my personal hero for 25 years, but he belongs to the world now. I'm just honored to have gotten to know him as briefly as I did, whether or not I deserved it, whether or not I was mature enough to handle it. Ebert's a national treasure. I couldn't be more ecstatic that so many people finally realize it. He did it the right way all along: He did it by writing, and being, resolutely, himself.


(photo by John H White/Chicago Sun-Times)

Roger Ebert: A Timeline

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View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

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Bridges along the Chicago River, including the Wells Street, seen here in May of 2012, will soon be on the rise again to allow sailboats to head back to Lake Michigan. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Starting this weekend, the 27 bridges along the Chicago River will start to open to allow for boat traffic to return to Lake Michigan for the spring and summer season. Bridges will not be in use, however, as the second phase of the Wells Street bridge rehab takes place April 26 to May 5.

From the Chicago Department of Transportation release:

The lifting of the movable bridges over the Chicago River for recreational boat traffic resumes this weekend, running until the end of June.

Each year, in the spring and fall, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) raises the movable bridges along the Main and South Branches of the Chicago River to accommodate recreational boats traveling to and from their storage yards.

"The lifting of Chicago's iconic movable river bridges is a local rite of spring, marking the beginning of the boating season," said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. "The City coordinates with local boat storage yards each year to create a schedule that accommodates boats while creating the least amount of impact on downtown street traffic."

During these "boat runs," the bridges are raised sequentially, typically one at a time. Each bridge lift takes an average of 8-12 minutes. This spring, 27 bridges will be lifted in order from Ashland Avenue Bridge on the South Branch to Lake Shore Drive.

The Spring 2013 bridge lift schedule is as follows:

  • • Saturday, April 6th at 8 a.m.
  • • Saturday, April 20th at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, April 24th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, May 8th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, May 11th at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, May 15th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, May 18th at 8 a.m.
  • • Sunday, May 19th at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, May 22nd at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, May 29th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, June 1st at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, June 5th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, June 8th at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, June 12th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, June 15th at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, June 19th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, June 22nd at 8 a.m.
  • • Wednesday, June 26th at 9:30 a.m.
  • • Saturday, June 29th at 8 a.m.

In the meantime, prepare for river traffic jams the next few weekends as scenes like this play out in the rush to get spring started:

Chicago Sun-Times education reporter Lauren FitzPatrick was on hand for the Chicago Public School Board meeting on Tuesday. For the first time since school closings were announced, public comments were taken.

FitzPatrick livetweeted the meeting as part of the coverage:

Roger Ebert was named to Chicago Magazine's list of Chicagoans of the Year for 2011. In this video, he discusses his life and career and the accomplishments that led to the honor.

Ebert announced via his blog late Tuesday night that he has been diagnosed again with cancer as he celebrates the 46th anniversary of his tenure as the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Long-awaited meeting between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mayor Richard J. Daley took place in the City Hall Thursday, March 24, 1966. Others include the Most Rev. John P. Cody (left), archbishop of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Chicago; and (flanking Dr. King) Bishop Joseph Gomez of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Albert Raby, convener of the Co-ordinating Council of Community Organizations. Next to Raby is the Rev. Shelvin Hall. // Chicago Sun-Times Library File Photo


Tomorrow, April 4, is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. While there have been countless memorials, and are sure to be more, it's always interesting to look back at the time King spent in Chicago fighting school segregation and open-housing issues. Fighting backlash from whites and a City Hall that offered mostly lip service in its motivations to compromise with him, King's tenure in Chicago was tumultuous and something so complex and important, I don't trust myself to be able to fully relate its importance. But others have done a far better job than I could: Whet Moser at Chicago Magazine and WTTW have excellent takes on King's time in our city that are well worth seeking out for more on the man.

As for me, I'll simply share more videos and photos from the Sun-Times archives highlighting King's time in the city.


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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a July, 1966 photo by John Tweedle, photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times when Dr. King gave a speech at Soldier Field.
More photos after the jump.

uofclogo.jpgIt's spring time which means it's that time of year when high school seniors are finalizing their collegiate plans, sweating out wait lists and picking which university they'll attend. But if aspiring college students want to attend the University of Chicago, they may as well apply to Ivy League schools, too, because the acceptance rates are about the same. According to numbers released by Time Magazine, the percent of applicants to the U of C that are admitted is competitive, if not smaller, than most Ivy League schools. While, unsurprisingly, Harvard (5.8 percent) and Yale (6.72 percent), are the most difficult to get into, the University of Chicago joins the ranks of the elite with an 8.8 percent acceptance rate, smaller than Cornell (15.2 percent), Penn (12.1 percent), and Brown (9.2 percent).

Of course, the percentage levels are a little bit deceiving since the percentage of admissions is based on applications and the U of C continued a trend of a growing number of applicants by receiving a record 30,369 applications, admitting roughly 2,670. But even so, that number of total students admitted each year continues to decrease, down from an estimated 3450 five years ago.

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Getting a cell signal in underground Red and Blue Line stations could soon get easier if planned CTA work goes through. | Sun-Times file

Chicago Transit Authority officials want to make it easier for travelers to use their cellphones in its underground subway tunnels.

The agency said Wednesday that it's researching how to improve its network so passengers can get "continuous, reliable wireless service" in the more than 11 miles of underground tunnels and stations.

Two of the transit system's train lines -- the Red Line and the Blue Line -- have partial underground operations.
The CTA already owns and leases its subway cellular network to six major wireless providers. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the wireless access is important, especially between the city's downtown and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, so travelers can move around the city efficiently and productively.

A press release quotes CTA President Forrest Claypool:

"CTA is committed to making critical technology investments on our transit system. By taking steps to begin the process of modernizing our wireless capabilities, we are better serving our customers, including customers traveling between downtown and O'Hare International Airport as well as providing more reliable service for CTA personnel and emergency responders."

CTA plans cellular service upgrades

AP contributing

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One of David Guttenfelder's Instagram images of North Korea.

David Guttenfelder, the Associated Press chief photographer in Asia, made a quiet splash a month ago when he began posting Instagram photos in real time from his iPhone inside North Korea.

The extremely secretive company has had little Internet service and even less willingness to allow anyone, particularly foreigners, to report non-vetted information. With the opening of an Associated Press bureau in North Korea in 2012, that dynamic changed just a bit. And while the flow of information is nowhere near open, there are more glimpses coming out of the country.

Glimpses like the reporting Guttenfelder did in March, enabled in part because of Pyongyang's decision to open up 3G wireless service - for foreigners only:

This past week marked my 20th trip to North Korea. It started in 2000 when I accompanied then-US Secretary of State Madelline Albright's visit to meet the late leader Kim Jong Il. During that trip, we were told not to take photos from the bus we traveled in and my hotel window was covered with a black plastic sheet.

So, fast forward to this past week when North Korea's mobile phone service provider, Koryolink, announced that foreigners visiting North Korea will be allowed to bring in their phones and can connect to the internet on the DPRK's 3G network.

CTA Spring Service Changes

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With a change in the month comes a change in CTA service on many bus routes and the "L" Blue Line, as highlighted by the Tribune's Jon Hilkevitch Monday.
Use this map to see where service is increasing or decreasing on some routes. See the full list of service changes here.

Top 'April Fools' pranks of 2013

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Google Nose
It's the new 'scent'sation in search. Good one, Google. If you use Google today for any of your searches, you may notice a new tab on their landing page for 'Nose.' When you click through, the site promises search results you can smell. There's also a list of recently 'sniffed' searches including a wet dog, horse manure, or a spring morning. No thanks, I'd rather not smell 'Rahm Emanuel.'

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Scope Bacon Mouthwash
Although the company hasn't said "April Fool's" yet - this has to be a joke. I mean, right? Scope launched a major campaign last week with promoted tweets, Facebook posts, and this website.

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YouTube shutting down
The joke's on us! This whole time, YouTube was nothing but a contest. In the YouTube Spotlight section today, they announce that they think they've received enough videos now to pick a winner and so the site is shutting down. Who is one of the judges? Why, Antoine Dodson, of course. The winner will be announced in 10 years when the site will relaunch featuring only videos by the winner.

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American Eagle Skinny Skinny Jeans
Lame one, American Eagle. The clothing company launched their 'Skinny Skinny' campaign last week with a YouTube video of models wearing painted-on pants. Calling it the new 'Skinny Skinny' jean, their website displayed cans of paint in two different shades of blue for the low, low price of $49.99.

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White House video
Even the White House tried to get in on the action. The White House Twitter account sent out this message Monday morning:



Needless to say, the video did not actually show President Obama. Instead the clip featured Robbie Novak, who plays "Kid President" in a series of popular YouTube videos.

Have you seen any other pranks worthy of this list? Let us know!

UPDATED: 12:11 p.m.

Metra's Rock Island Line trains have resumed their normal schedules Monday morning after a train struck and killed a pedestrian in New Lenox, officials said.

The inbound No. 402 train, which left Joliet at 5 a.m., struck a pedestrian near Townline Road in New Lenox about 5:45 a.m., according to Metra.

Inbound and outbound trains had been experiencing delays of up to 70 minutes but were back to normal, according to the Metra website.


UPDATED: 10:10 a.m.

Commuters are experiencing up to 60-minute delays on the Metra Rock Island Line Monday morning after a train struck and killed a pedestrian in New Lenox, officials said.

The inbound No. 402 train, which left Joliet at 5 a.m., struck a pedestrian about 5:45 a.m. near Townline Road in New Lenox, according to Metra.

Inbound trains Nos. 412, 414, 416, 506 and 616 were experiencing up to 70-minute delays, according to the Metra website. Outbound No. 503 as running 30 minutes behind schedule.


By Brian Slodysko
In-bound travel on Metra's Rock Island Line was halted Monday morning after a train struck a pedestrian in New Lenox, a Metra official said.

The inbound No. 402 train, which left Joliet at 5 a.m., struck a pedestrian near Townline Road in New Lenox about 5:45 a.m., Metra spokesman Tom Miller said.

Miller said riders can expect delays of up to an hour, though he added that crews should be opening one set of tracks to allow some trains through. From the Metra site:

Inbound and outbound train movement remains halted near Mokena due to a pedestrian incident involving train #402. The expected duration of this delays is 50 to 70 minutes. Metra crews and the local authorities are diligently working to restore train service. Rock Island passengers may wish to utilize the Heritage Corridor or Southwest Service this morning until service is restored. Metra will update this site as information becomes available.

The condition of the pedestrian was not known Monday morning.



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