Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Stricken cruise ship docks in Alabama

MOBILE, Alabama—

Reeking of raw sewage, a crippled cruise ship carrying more than 4,200 people docked at a port in Mobile, Alabama, on Thursday as passengers waved towels and flashlights to greet the end of a voyage some described as hellish.

Tugboats pulled the Carnival Triumph into port in a drama that played out live on U.S. cable news stations, creating another public relations nightmare for cruise giant Carnival Corp. Last year, its Costa Concordia luxury ship grounded off the coast of Italy, with 32 people killed.

Passengers lined the decks and cheered as the ship reached the dock.

Over the last four days, passengers described an overpowering stench on parts of the ship after an engine room fire knocked out power and plumbing across most of the 893-foot vessel and left it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship, which went into service in 1999, was on a four-day cruise and on its way back from a stop in Cozumel, Mexico.

After the mishap, toilets and drainpipes overflowed, soaking many cabins and interior passages in sewage and turning the vessel into what some have described as a giant Petri dish.

"The thing I'm looking forward to most is having a working toilet and not having to breathe in the smell of fecal matter," said Jacob Combs, an Austin, Texas-based sales executive with a healthcare and hospice company.

Combs, 30, who said he had been traveling with friends and family on the Triumph, had nothing but praise for its crew members, saying they had gone through "hell" cleaning up after some of the passengers on the sea cruise.

"Just imagine the filth," Combs told Reuters. "People were doing crazy things and going to the bathroom in sinks and showers. It was inhuman. The stewards would go in and clean it all up. They were constantly cleaning," he said.

Terry Thornton, a Carnival Cruise Lines senior vice president, told reporters in Mobile that additional provisions were laid in on Wednesday and the ship was now "in excellent shape."

Passenger Donna Gutzman said those aboard the ship were treated to steak and lobster for lunch on Thursday afternoon.

"Our basic needs are being met. For the most part, they are making us happy," Gutzman told CNN.

A senior Carnival official said it could take up to five hours to remove all the passengers from the ship, which has only one functioning elevator.

Carnival said it would greet the passengers with warm food, blankets and cell phones.

Once off the ship, many passengers still had a lengthy journey ahead. More than 100 buses were lined up waiting to drive some passengers the 490 miles back to Galveston, Texas, while other passengers had elected to stay overnight in hotels in Mobile before flying home, Carnival said.

Operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, the flagship brand of Carnival Corp, the ship left Galveston a week ago carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew. It was supposed to return there on Monday.

A Coast Guard cutter escorted the Triumph on its long voyage into port since Monday, and a Coast Guard helicopter ferried about 3,000 pounds of equipment including a generator to the stricken ship late on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, some passengers reported on the poor conditions on the Triumph when they contacted relatives and media before their cell phone batteries died. They said people were getting sick and passengers had been told to use plastic "biohazard" bags as makeshift toilets.

Smoke from the engine fire was so thick that passengers on the lower decks in the rear of the ship had to be permanently evacuated and slept the rest of the voyage on the decks under sheets, passengers said.


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Injured Bulls star Rose says 'leg still isn't feeling right'

Derrick Rose spoke after Wednesday's Bulls loss in Boston.

BOSTON — Derrick Rose doesn't know if he will return to play on his surgically-repaired left knee this season, but he does know this:

"It's really on me to make that decision when I'm going to play again," Rose said late Wednesday. "That's cool that they left it up to me."

Speaking casually and comfortably after the Bulls' 71-69 loss to the Celtics that sends them into the All-Star break eight games above .500, Rose emphasized the communication about his return is collaborative but said he feels no urgency to return until he is mentally and physically ready.

  • Related

  • Photo gallery: Derrick Rose in action

    Photo gallery: Derrick Rose in action

  • Bulls' offense AWOL in 71-69 setback

    Bulls' offense AWOL in 71-69 setback

  • Box score: Celtics 71, Bulls 69

    Box score: Celtics 71, Bulls 69

  • Bulls' Paxson takes Rose remarks in stride

    Bulls' Paxson takes Rose remarks in stride

  • Maps

  • TD Garden, Boston Bruins, 100 Legends Way #200, Boston, MA 02114, USA

  • United Center, 1901 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

"I'm feeling good," he said. "But if it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I don't mind missing this year.

"I would love to (return). That's why I approach my rehab and workouts so hard. I'm trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything lingering on, it's no point.

"My leg still isn't feeling right. Mentally, I still feel I'm fine. Every week, I'm trying to do something different —stay on my rehab, lift a little more, squat a little more. I'm taking it very serious."

The team said Rose should begin 5-on-5 full-court scrimmaging after the break. Rose said he still can't dunk off stride and has yet to take a hit on his knee during his half-court sessions against teammates.

"I'm not afraid of that," he said. "I know that's going to happen. That's the way I play. I'm not scared of taking a hit at all."

Rose also said suggestions he will become more of a grounded facilitator and jump shooter are overstated.

"I'm working on my shot, but you're not going to label me as a shooter," he said. "My game is always going to be driving."

Rose said he has suffered no setbacks and consistently pushes himself during rehabilitation. He estimated he has put on 10 pounds of muscle.

"I'm feeling pretty good, man," he said. "I'm slowly getting back in the mix. The other day, we played three-on-three and one-on-one. I felt good out there. I'm not trying to rush myself still. I'm still trying to be patient."

Rose is impressed that the Bulls have fared well in his absence.

"It's great, man, knowing that they're winning games," he said. "It seems like they're fighting for me so I don't have anything but respect for how hard they've been working."

The Bulls have maintained a conservative stance regarding Rose's return throughout. The only official timeline they have given is the 8- to 12-month range following his May 12 surgery. Following that, there is a chance Rose sits until 2013-14.

Luol Deng, who endured pressure to return in 2009 when he had a stress fracture in his right tibia, said Rose is doing the right thing.

"We have to let him decide," Deng said. "He knows his body better than anybody. Everybody wants to see him back. You have to look at where we are as a team, how he's feeling. As someone who has been through injuries, I feel like you have to make a decision for yourself and how you feel and not so much on how everybody is pressuring you."

Rose said he feels no pressure.

"It's exciting that all my hard work is going to pay off one day," Rose said. "I just don't know when."

Twitter @kcjhoop

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Dorner manhunt: Confusion over whether body was found

Raw footage of Christopher Dorner's cabin engulfed in flames. It is unclear who set it. There are also reports of ammo exploding inside.

There were conflicting reports tonight about whether a body was located inside the burned-out cabin Tuesday night where Christopher Jordan Dorner was believed to have kept law enforcement authorities at bay.

Several sources told The Times and many other news organizations that a body was located in the rubble. But LAPD officials just said that the cabin is still too hot to search and no body has been found.

Another update is expected within the next hour from law enforcement officers near the scene, and officials said they might have an update clarifying the confusion.

As authorities moved into the cabin earlier Tuesday, they heard a single gunshot.

According to a law enforcement source, police had broken down windows, fired tear gas into the cabin and blasted over a loud speaker urging Dorner to surrender. When they got no response, police deployed a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin "one by one, like peeling an onion," a law enforcement official said.

By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard. 

As darkness descended on the mountainside, Dorner's body had not been found, authorities said. Police were planning to focus their search in the basement area, the source said.

Earlier Tuesday, a tall plume of smoke was rising as flames consumed the wood-paneled cabin. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel had swooped down on the site near Big Bear after the gun battles between Dorner and officers that broke out in the snow-covered mountains where the fugitive had been eluding a massive manhunt since his truck was found burning in the area late last week.

Law enforcement personnel in military-style gear and armed with high-powered weapons took up positions in the heavily forested area as the tense standoff progressed. 

One San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy died of his wounds after he and another deputy were wounded in an exchange of gunfire outside the cabin in which hundreds of rounds were fired, sources told The Times. The deputy was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.

The afternoon gun battle was part of a quickly changing situation that began after Dorner allegedly broke into a home, tied up a couple and held them hostage. He then stole a silver pickup truck, sources said.

Then Dorner was allegedly spotted by a state Fish and Wildlife officer in the pickup truck, sources said. A vehicle-to-vehicle shootout ensued. The officer's vehicle was peppered with multiple rounds, according to authorities.

Dorner crashed his vehicle and took refuge in a nearby cabin, sources said. One deputy was hit as Dorner fired out of the cabin and a second deputy was injured when Dorner exited the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again in an apparent attempt to flee. Dorner was driven back inside the cabin, the sources said.

During the unprecedented manhunt, officers had crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner's possible whereabouts -- including efforts in Tijuana, San Diego County and Big Bear -- and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and the Point Loma area of San Diego.

Statewide alerts were issued in California and Nevada, and border authorities were alerted. The Transportation Security Administration also had issued an alert urging pilots and other aircraft operators to keep an eye out for Dorner.

The search turned to Big Bear last week after Dorner's burning truck was found on a local forest road.

At the search's height, more than 200 officers scoured the mountain, conducting cabin-by-cabin checks. It was scaled back Sunday -- about 30 officers were out in the field Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.

Dorner allegedly threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police in a lengthy manifesto that authorities say he posted on Facebook. The posting named dozens of potential targets, including police officers, whom Dorner allegedly threatened to attack, according to authorities.

Records state that the manifesto was discovered by authorities last Wednesday, three days after the slaying of an Irvine couple: Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.

Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.

 -- Robert Lopez and Andrew Blankstein


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Slain teen's dad: 'The healing can start' after 2 charged with murder

Two reputed gang members were out for revenge from a previous shooting when they opened fire on a group of students in a South Side park last month, killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in a heartbreaking case that has brought national attention to Chicago's rampant gun violence, police said.

Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were each charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in the Jan. 29 attack that also left two teens wounded.

Ward confessed to police that he and Williams mistook a Pendleton companion for rivals who had shot and wounded Williams last July, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference Monday night at the Area Central police headquarters.

Ward told police that he and Williams got out of their car, crept up on the group and opened fire in Harsh Park, McCarthy said. Williams then drove them from the scene, he said.

"The offenders had it all wrong. They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang. Instead it was a group of upstanding, determined kids who, like Hadiya, were repulsed by the gang lifestyle," said McCarthy, flanked by two dozen detectives and gang investigators who worked the case.

Detectives arrested the two Saturday night as the suspects were on their way to a suburban strip club to celebrate a friend's birthday, McCarthy said. Pendleton had been buried only hours earlier in a funeral attended by first lady Michelle Obama.

"I don't even know what to say about that," McCarthy said. "They were going out to celebrate at a strip club."

Williams did not confess and police have not recovered a weapon, McCarthy said. Both are due in bond court Tuesday.

Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, said Monday night that news of the charges marked the first time since his daughter's slaying that he had a "legitimate" smile on his face.

"I'm ecstatic that they found the two guys," he told the Tribune during a brief telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he and wife Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton will attend the State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of President Barack Obama. "(I'm) thanking God that these two guys are off the streets, so that this doesn't happen to another innocent person."

Danetria Hutson, 15, a classmate who held Hadiya in her arms after she was shot, said she and others who witnessed the shooting have had nightmares.

"A lot of us were actually paranoid because the guys were still out there," Hutson said in a telephone interview. "They knew where we went to school."

McCarthy said that two days before the killing, police had stopped Ward in his Nissan Sentra as part of a routine gang investigation. That information wound up being the starting point for detectives when witnesses in the shooting described seeing a similar car driving away from the shooting scene, he said.

Through surveillance and interviews — including several fruitful interviews with parolees in the neighborhood — detectives were able to home in on Ward and Williams, McCarthy said. On Saturday night, the decision was made to stop the two if they were spotted. Police watched as they departed in a caravan of cars headed to the strip club in Harvey. They were stopped near 67th Street and South King Drive and taken in for questioning.

McCarthy said Williams was shot July 11 at 39th Street and South Lake Park Avenue, and an arrest was made. But that gunman was let go after Williams refused to cooperate, McCarthy said.

McCarthy also noted that at the time of Hadiya's slaying, Ward was on probation for a weapons conviction. McCarthy said weak Illinois gun laws allowed Ward to avoid jail time because of the absence of mandatory minimum sentences.

"This incident did not have to occur," McCarthy said. "And if mandatory minimums existed in the state of Illinois, Michael Ward would not have been on the street to commit this heinous act."

In announcing the charges, McCarthy praised the "meticulous" detective work that led to the arrests, but he also expressed frustration that despite a $40,000 reward for information in the shooting, no one who had knowledge of the crime came forward.

"While we received a lot of tips in this particular case and the community really stepped up and tried to help us, I'm sad to point out that we did not get our target audience to step up," the superintendent said.

Hadiya was fatally shot about a mile north of the president's Kenwood neighborhood home a little more than a week after the King College Prep honor student performed with her school band near Washington during inauguration festivities.

Hadiya's death occurred during the deadliest January in Chicago since 2002. It also came on the heels of a homicide total last year that was the highest since 2008 and the second highest since 2003.

The first lady's attendance at Hadiya's funeral pushed Chicago further into the spotlight of a debate over gun violence that has polarized Congress and led the president to take his plans for gun control on the road to garner more public support. The president is scheduled to appear in Chicago on Friday to talk about violence.

In the days after Hadiya's death, clergy and community leaders raised the $40,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the teen's killer or killers.

The victim's father acknowledged that true closure will come if Ward and Williams are convicted of the crimes. But the charges, he said, are a good start.

"Right now, I can say to you that the healing can start," Pendleton said.

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Blackhawks continue roll with win over Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When the Blackhawks left on their 12-day, six-game trip, they didn't have a loss in regulation. After completing the arduous journey, they still don't.

The Hawks concluded their season-long odyssey as the only team in the NHL without a regulation defeat after they stymied the Predators 3-0 behind goaltender Corey Crawford on Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Hawks completed their most difficult travel portion of the season with a 4-0-2 record after reeling off their fourth consecutive win and stand at 10-0-2 on the season. They also upped their record away from home to 8-0-2.

Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored and Crawford made 17 saves to record the Hawks' first regular-season shutout since he did it March 23, 2011. Crawford also had one April 21, 2011 in the playoffs against the Canucks.

"It feels good to finally get (a shutout)," said Crawford, who earned the sixth of his career. "Our guys played a great game overall. That was just a solid, solid road win for us. It seems like we just didn't make any mistakes out there."

A seven-game homestand now awaits the Hawks as they set their sights on the NHL record of 16 games to start a season with at least one point, set by the Ducks in 2006 when they raced to a 12-0-4 mark.

"This team has worked really hard," Crawford said. "(But) we're not just working hard, we're playing a really skilled game. When we get chances, we make the best of it. Everyone's playing well right now."

Added Duncan Keith, who had an assist on Toews' goal in the second period to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead and essentially put the game out of reach from the offensively challenged Predators: "We've done a good job of just staying in the moment. We want to carry that momentum back home."

Kruger put the Hawks on the board when Predators defenseman Roman Josi kicked the puck right to the stick of the center and Kruger rifled a low shot that sailed past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne to the stick side. The score at the 6-minute, 14-second mark of the second period was the first even-strength goal allowed by Rinne in 316:40, dating back to Jan. 28.

Just 1:06 later, Toews made it 2-0 when a rising shot by Keith hit the captain and popped up and over Rinne.

In the third, Kane scored on a shot reminiscent of the one he unleashed for the winning goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The winger sent a low rocket from a wide angle to the left of Rinne and it slid past the goalie to extend Kane's goal-scoring streak to five games.

"It was a great trip from start to finish," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "(Sunday night) I was really pleased with the way we started and finished the game. Everybody contributed and it was nice to see Crawford get the shutout and end it on a very positive note."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

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DCFS: Credible evidence of abuse at Maine West

The state’s child welfare agency has ruled that two staff members at Maine West High School abused and neglected children, a revelation that appears to be linked to a soccer team hazing scandal at the Des Plaines school involving allegations of beating and sodomy.

An Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigation concluded on January 30 that there were “indicated” reports of abuse and neglect against both staff members, according to spokesman Dave Clarkin. An “indicated” report means that the agency uncovered credible evidence that abuse took place.
Clarkin declined to comment on whether the targets of the investigation were boys and girls varsity coach Michael Divincenzo and freshman boys coach Emilio Rodriguez.

Both men, who have denied knowledge of hazing and could not be reached for comment Saturday, have been suspended and face being fired in the wake of the scandal that was revealed in November.

Officials at Maine Township High School District 207 have also disciplined 10 students and did not renew the contracts of three other Maine West High coaches who were not full-time staff members.

The hazing accusations surfaced when the parents of a 14-year-old boy sued the school in November.

The lawsuit alleged that soccer coaches and school officials allowed a culture of hazing that led to the boy being sodomized and beaten by teammates on Sept. 27. The lawsuit also alleged that similar incidents took place as far back as 2007.

School officials, who are also investigating the claims, later alleged that varsity soccer players also grabbed the genitals of other players and dunked their heads in a hot tub during a training camp in 2012.
Clarkin, the DCFS spokesman, said three allegations of abuse were subtantiated against one staff member. Those records will be kept on file for 50 years, Clarkin said, which is procedure for instances of death or sexual penetration.

Seven allegations of neglect against the same staff member were substantiated, while four allegations of neglect against the second staff member were substantiated, Clarkin said.

Several other allegations against both staff members were deemed unfounded, he said.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has said it is also investigating the allegations.

District spokesman David Beery said Saturday that officials had received a written memo from DCFS indicating they had completed an investigation, but the memo was “minimal” in information. He declined to comment specifically on the DCFS findings.

“From the initial onset of this, when we first received reports in September, we notified DCFS right away, and have been cooperating with their investigation all along,” Beery said.

Tribune reporter Jonathan Bullington contributed.

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Blizzard wallops Northeast, thousands without power

A blizzard slammed into the northeastern United States on Friday, snarling traffic, disrupting thousands of flights and prompting five governors to declare states of emergency in the face of a fearsome snowstorm.

Forecasters warned that about 2 feet of snow would blanket most of the Boston area with some spots getting as much as 30 inches. New York was due to get about a foot in some areas, while heavy snowfall was also expected in Connecticut and Maine.

Winds were blowing at 35 to 40 miles per hour (56 to 64 km per hour) by Friday afternoon and forecasters expected gusts up to 60 mph as the evening wore on.

Driving conditions were treacherous. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick took the rare step of announcing a ban on most car travel starting Friday afternoon, while Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy closed the state's highways to all but emergency vehicles.

As the evening wore on and the snow piled up, mass transit was also affected.

In New York City, transit officials said "suspensions in service remain a strong possibility," and Metro-North Railroad suspended some of its commuter rail service at 10 p.m.

The Long Island Rail Road partially suspended service on its Montauk branch.

The blizzard left about 10,000 customers along the East Coast without power, and some 3,500 flights were canceled.

"We're seeing heavier snow overspread the region from south to north," said Lance Franck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "As the snow picks up in intensity, we're expecting it to fall at a rate of upwards of two to three inches per hour."

Early Friday evening, officials warned that the storm was just ramping up to full strength, and that heavy snow and high winds would continue through midday on Saturday. The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine declared states of emergency and urged people to stay indoors.

In many cases, authorities ordered non-essential government workers to stay home, urged private employers to do the same, told people to prepare for power outages and encouraged them to check on elderly or disabled neighbors.

People appeared to take the warnings seriously. Traffic on streets and ridership on public transportation was significantly lighter than usual on Friday.

"This is a very large and powerful storm, however we are encouraged by the numbers of people who stayed home today," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested the storm created an opportunity to relax and catch up on sleep.

Even so, the storm caused a few accidents, including a 19-vehicle pile-up outside Portland, Maine, that sent one person to the hospital.

In addition to Friday's cancellations, more than 1,200 flights scheduled for Saturday were scratched, according to the website

The storm also posed a risk of flooding at high tide to areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy last October.

"Many of the same communities that were inundated by Hurricane Sandy's tidal surge just about 100 days ago are likely to see some moderate coastal flooding this evening," said Bloomberg.

Brick Township in New Jersey had crews out building up sand dunes and berms ahead of a forecast storm surge, said Mayor Stephen Acropolis.

Travel became more difficult as the day progressed.

Amtrak suspended railroad service between New York, Boston and points north on Friday afternoon.

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Hawks nail Torres, and then drill Coyotes 6-2

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jamal Mayers punched Raffi Torres in the face and then Patrick Kane punched the rest of the Coyotes in the gut.

It didn't take long for the Blackhawks to get their reprisal on Torres and not much longer to get the last laugh, too, as they drilled the Coyotes 6-2 on Thursday night at Arena.

  • Related

  • Kane no longer playing with mouth guard

    Kane no longer playing with mouth guard

  • Box score: Blackhawks 6, Coyotes 2

    Box score: Blackhawks 6, Coyotes 2

  • Video: Hossa on facing Torres, Coyotes

    Video: Hossa on facing Torres, Coyotes

  • Maps

  • Arena, Westgate City Center, Glendale, AZ 85305, USA

  • United Center, 1901 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

In Torres' first appearance against the Hawks since his 21-game suspension for an illegal hit that seriously injured Marian Hossa during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs ended, Mayers confronted the Coyotes veteran just 2 minutes, 35 seconds into the game.

Hossa watched from the bench as the two dropped the gloves and threw flurries of punches during the spirited bout. With that out of the way, it was time for Kane and Co. to get to work.

Kane had two goals and an assist — all in the first period — Jonathan Toews, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg each had a goal and an assist and Dave Bolland also scored as the Hawks remained unbeaten in regulation to improve to 9-0-2.

Patrick Sharp added three assists and Ray Emery earned the victory in goal to help the Hawks move to 3-0-2 on their season-long, six-game trip. Martin Hanzal scored for the Coyotes and Mike Smith, who was yanked in the second period, suffered the loss in goal.

The Hawks reeled off four consecutive goals in the first period as Stalberg started things off with a one-timer past Smith after a fine pass from Andrew Shaw. Kane scored the first of his goals with the Hawks holding a five-on-three advantage. Toews located the puck during a goal-mouth scramble and poked it to Kane.

Kane then worked more magic, spinning deep in Coyotes zone and hitting Bolland with a pass the center knocked in. Another five-on-three advantage resulted in another Kane goal as Sharp's cross-ice pass found the winger, who then buried it.

Hanzal momentarily stopped the bleeding for the Coyotes with a power-play goal, but Toews made a highlight-reel move, dancing right around defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and besting Smith. But Bickell then scored from the slot for a 6-1 lead after two periods.

Torres scoredd a meaningless goal with 1:25 left in the third.

Mayers' fight with Torres quickly answered the question of how the Hawks would respond — if at all — to the Hossa matter. With a 48-game season, taking penalties or risking suspension or injury could prove costly.

"It's such a competitive league, not only with the parity but the shortened season makes it even that much more of an issue," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said before the game. "Points are at premium and you don't want to do anything (that might) put even one point in jeopardy."

Twitter @ChrisKuc

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Postal unions angry, customers unfazed about Saturday cut

Chicago Tribune reporter Rob Manker gathers some reactions to the recent news that the U.S. Postal Service plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August. (Posted on: Feb. 6, 2013.)

The U.S. Postal Service's plan to end Saturday first-class delivery in August angered unions that stand to lose jobs and faces an uncertain fate in Congress.

But the decision, which the Postal Service says will save $2 billion a year, barely fazed a number of people interviewed at Chicago-area post offices.

"No one really sends letters anymore," said David Braunschweig, 63, who was at the Arlington Heights post office to mail a gift. "Putting away mail (both Saturday and Sunday), it won't kill anyone."

Hammered by competition that includes the Internet, the Postal Service lost nearly $16 billion last year and said doing away with first-class mail on Saturdays is essential to its recovery plan.

"It's an important part of our return to profitability and financial stability," Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe said at a news conference Wednesday in Washington. "Our financial condition is urgent."

The agency will continue delivering packages and filling post office boxes six days a week, and all offices that already were operating on Saturdays will continue to do so. Package volume is one bright spot for the Postal Service. It's up 14 percent since 2010, which officials attribute to the growth of online commerce.

The end of Saturday delivery would be the biggest change to mail service since the end of twice-daily delivery in the 1950s. Overall mail volume dropped by more than 25 percent from 2006 to 2011, which could explain the shrugs from several Chicago-area postal customers.

"I was accustomed to getting mail on Saturdays, but we will get accustomed to not getting it as well," Rich Klimczak, 74, said outside the Tinley Park post office. "The only thing I would not like to see is (postal workers) losing their jobs."

The move, which would take effect Aug. 5, aims to reduce the postal workforce by at least 20,000 more employees through reassignment and attrition. It would also significantly reduce overtime payments.

Local union officials estimated that 10,000 postal workers will have their workweek reduced because of the move. On Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers called for Donahoe's resignation.

"USPS executives cannot save the Postal Service by tearing it apart," Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said in a statement. "These across-the-board cutbacks will weaken the nation's mail system and put it on a path to privatization."

The National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, which has about 1,500 members in the Chicago suburbs, said the elimination of Saturday service puts the Postal Service in a "death spiral."

Although the Postal Service no longer receives taxpayer money, it remains subject to oversight by Congress, which since 1983 has repeatedly passed measures requiring six-day delivery. Donahoe's announcement appeared to be an effort to force action in Congress after comprehensive postal reform legislation stalled last year.

While many members of Congress insist they would have to approve the cutback, Donahoe told reporters that the agency believes it can move forward unilaterally. The current mandate for six-day delivery is part of a government funding measure that expires in late March.

"There's plenty of time in there so if there is some disagreement" with lawmakers, "we can get that resolved," he said.

The divide among lawmakers on the issue does not break cleanly along party lines. Lawmakers who represent rural areas, who tend to be Republicans, generally have opposed service cutbacks. So have those with strong backing from postal labor unions, mostly Democrats.

Last year, the Senate approved a bill that would have allowed the Postal Service to end Saturday delivery after a two-year period to evaluate the potential effects. Similar legislation in the House never came up for a vote.

The Obama administration had included a proposal for five-day mail delivery in its 2013 budget plan. White House officials, however, had said they supported that change only in concert with other reforms. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that officials had not yet studied the latest plan.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the new chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressed concern that the Postal Service's unilateral announcement could complicate his plans for overall reform.

However, he added, "It's hard to condemn the postmaster general for moving aggressively to do what he believes he can and must do to keep the lights on."

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3 critically injured in West Side crash

Western Avenue crash

Officials examine a Jeep Cherokee that crashed and left three critically injured near 31st Street and Western Avenue.
(Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune / February 5, 2013)

Three people were critically injured in a crash on the city's West Side, authorities said.

Firefighters were called to the accident near 31st Street and Western Avenue about 8:30 p.m., according to the department's media office.

Fire officials cut three people out of a red Jeep Ford Cherokee after the car lost control and somehow ended up on it's top just west of Western Avenue on 31st Street, police  said.

Three people had been riding in the car and all were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, police said.

Just before 10 p.m., the radio in the car -- which was flipped on its top -- could still be heard faintly from a distance.

It was a one car rollover and no other vehicles were involved, police said.

"Some of the damage is from the fire department," police said of the doors, which had been cut to free the car's occupants. "But they flipped the car themselves.

Investigators from the department's Major Accidents Investigations Unit arrived at the scene Thursday night to investigate what had happened.

Three people were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, one in "extremely critical" condition, two in critical condtion, according to the fire department.

An auto rolled over, at some point hitting a city light pole, seriously injuring three people, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala.

Video from the scene showed a red Jeep flipped over, with its roof crushed, and a person wrapped in black on a stretcher being taken into an ambulance.

The Police Major Accident Investigation unit referred calls to News Affairs.

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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Fire-spitting actor seriously hurt at Lyric Opera dress rehearsal

A 24-year-old performer was burned on-stage Monday during a Lyric Opera House dress rehearsal.

A dress rehearsal at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was interrupted Monday when a performer was critically injured during a fire stunt.

The Chicago Fire Department was called to the Lyric, 20 N. Wacker Drive, around 4:50 p.m. to treat actor Wesley Daniel, 24.

Daniel was initially in serious-to-critical condition when taken to Northwestern, after suffering burns to his throat and second-degree burns to his face while “spitting fire,” the Fire Department's media office said.

A Tribune photographer, Jason Wambsgans, was at the rehearsal, arriving at the beginning of the third act to take pictures for an upcoming Tribune review of the opera “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.”

The first scene of the third act took about an hour. It was in the second scene when Wambsgans pulled out a long-angle lens to take pictures of the busy stage full of extras, in this case, circus performers.

Daniel was one of them.

When it appeared that Daniel, on stilts, was ready to put some sort of propellant in his mouth to shoot fireballs, Wambsgans started snapping photos.

“He blew one or two fireballs, and then it looked like he had spilled it on his chin or his chest or something,” Wambsgans said. “It kind of consumed him, and he was staggering across the stage and then fell off his stilts on the opposite side of the stage.”

Wambsgans said he saw people in the wings of the stage spraying Daniel with fire extinguishers.

“Half of the extras were transfixed by that,” Wambsgans said.

It took about 15 more seconds before the rest of the extras stopped singing and acting, realizing what had happened, he said.

After a 30-minute break, a visibly distressed crew was back rehearsing, Wambsgans said. But the rehearsal was cut short, ending about 6 p.m.

Initially, it was thought Daniel was not suffering breathing problems, but he was, according to the Fire Department, and he was transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in critical condition.

Daniel was believed to have suffered injuries including blistering on his face, a spokeswoman for the Lyric said in an email. He was wearing a flame-proof costume and mask. The dress rehearsal was interrupted, but it later resumed and was in the last act of “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” by about 5:30 p.m.

Daniel was performing a stunt that had been approved by the Fire Department, according to the Lyric.

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Ravens stave off 49ers' rally to win Super Bowl 34-31

NEW ORLEANS — Baltimore was almost done in Sunday by a reign delay.

With the Ravens routing the 49ers through two-plus quarters, a 34-minute power outage cast the Superdome in dusky darkness and put Super Bowl XLVII on hold.

When the lights came back on, the 49ers came alive — but it wasn't quite enough.

The Ravens, who saw their 22-point lead dwindle to two, barely hung on and came away with a 34-31 victory, becoming the first franchise to beat the 49ers in a Super Bowl.

"It's never pretty, it's never perfect, but it is us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh, who was coaching against younger brother Jim, said beating his brother "was the hardest thing I ever experienced."

Said John: "I told him I loved him. He told me, 'Congratulations.'"

The Ravens finally finished the job after being the NFL's only team to make the playoffs each of the last five years.

Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, and Jacoby Jones scored on a 56-yard reception and a record-tying, 108-yard kickoff return, as the Ravens hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in their history.

The Ravens led 28-6 when the lights came back on, but the 49ers were energized, going on a 23-3 run capped by a touchdown on a 15-yard run by Colin Kaepernick — the longest scoring run by a quarterback in Super Bowl history — that trimmed the deficit to 31-29. Kaepernick's two-point conversion pass was incomplete.

The Ravens stemmed the bleeding in the fourth quarter, widening the edge with a field goal, and keeping the 49ers out of the end zone on their final drive. The pivotal play came on fourth-and-goal at the 5 with 1 minute, 50 seconds to play.

Kaepernick, with his team trailing by five, tried to hit Michael Crabtree in the right corner of the end zone, but the ball fell incomplete. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh complained angrily that Crabtree had been held by cornerback Jimmy Smith. Despite a lot of contact, there was no flag.

The Ravens took over on downs and eventually took a safety by having punter Sam Koch hold on to the ball as long as possible, then step out of the end zone.

Before the power problems, the Ravens were playing lights-out football. They led at halftime 21-6 and Jones scored on the opening kickoff of the second half. Anquan Boldin caught a touchdown pass on the Ravens' opening possession, his fourth of the postseason, matching his regular-season total. It was an 18-yarder floated to him over the middle as he split a pair of defenders.

Down 7-0, the 49ers drove deep into Ravens territory, but linebacker Paul Kruger sacked Kaepernick on third down and David Akers kicked a 36-yard field goal.

The Ravens would widen their lead in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns.

Dennis Pitta caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to give the Ravens a 14-3 lead, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive that started after a fumble by LaMichael James.

On the first play of the 49ers' next possession, Kaepernick badly overthrew his target and tossed the ball directly into the arms of Ed Reed. It was the first interception by a 49ers quarterback in Super Bowl history, and it gave the Ravens exceptional field position at the San Francisco 38. It was the ninth postseason interception of Reed's career, tying an NFL record.

After a failed fake field goal and a 49ers punt, the Ravens struck again. Jones scored a wild 56-yard touchdown.

He got behind cornerback Chris Culliver, turned around, and caught a bomb as he was falling backward at the 8. Untouched, Jones popped to his feet, spun away from a tackle, then beat Culliver again by outrunning him to the end zone.

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Mike the gas man at large after gas garb scheme

Riverside police say an arrest this week derailed a sophisticated scheme of stealing gasoline by overriding the pump counter and filling 5-gallon jugs.

The investigation began Jan. 20 when a Riverside officer pulled into a 7-Eleven at 26th Street and Harlem Avenue, then saw a man hurriedly leave the store with a gasoline nozzle still in his vehicle, tearing off the hose as he drove away.

The officer reviewed video surveillance, at first to get a license plate number but discovering what appeared to be an involved ruse to steal fuel, according to a news release from the Riverside police.

The video showed one person pulling up to a pump and removing its housing, then disabling the electronic device that measures the amount of gasoline delivered and tally of dollars owed.

That person then drove off, and a second person pulled up to the overridden pump and began to fill the SUV's tank and 11 5-gallon professional grade water fountain bottles in the back, police said. The second person appeared to panic and fled when the officer drove into the lot, tearing off the pump's hose.

Suspecting a sophisticated scheme, Riverside police didn't immediately chase after the SUV but were able to track the license plate and discover that the registered owner was already due in court on a previous charge of retail theft of motor vehicle fuel.

On Friday, Riverside police attended Bridgeview Court and arrested Darius Williams, 35, of the 400 block of Irvine in Hillside, and according to officials he gave a full confession detailing the scheme.

The second suspect, a man known to Williams only as "Mike the gas man," was the brains behind disabling the pump counters, Williams said, and also took part in selling stolen gasoline from the water bottles at $10 for 5 gallons.

Police searched the SUV owned by Williams and found 10 5-gallon water bottles, a hose and pump used for siphoning gasoline, and other materials used for transporting fuel, police said.

For the Riverside incident, Williams -- who told police he also stayed on the 11700 block of South State Street in Chicago -- was charged with retail theft of motor vehicle fuel and criminal damage to property, police said, both misdemeanors because he had fled the scene after only taking about $73 worth of gas.

"The defendant in this case gave a full statement that he and another individual known as 'Mike the gas man' conceived this plan to steal gasoline and then sell it on the West Side of Chicago," Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said in the release.

"This is an example of excellent work done by the original responding officer as well as the follow-up investigation by detectives," Weitzel said. "They looked beyond the simple theft complaint and were able to build a case."

"Mike the gas man" remained at large Saturday night, police said.
Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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Dart on releasing murder convict: 'We let people down, no mistake'

A convicted murderer from Indiana is on the loose because of some bad paperwork in Cook County. (WGN - Chicago)

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart took responsibility today for mistakenly letting a man serving 60 years in Indiana for murder walk out of County Jail after a local charge against him was dismissed.

“We let people down, no mistake about it,” Dart said in an interview at sheriff’s offices in Maywood. “Our office did not operate the way it should have, clearly.”

Dart said Steven Robbins remains at large but that authorities are pursuing some promising leads about his whereabouts.

The FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and Cook County Crimestoppers have raised $12,000 as a reward for information leading to Robbins’ capture, he said.

Dart said his office is still looking at where and how the system broke down to allow Robbins’ mistaken release from the jail,  but he said that officials at the  jail had no paperwork showing he was serving time in an Indiana prison for murder.

Like other indigent people, Robbins was outfitted with clothing from Goodwill – a long-sleeve brown shirt and brown pants – before being released out the front entrance, Dart said. He also likely was given bus fare.

Dart said the sheriff’s office uses an archaic system – entirely paper-driven – in handling the movement of an average of about 1,500 inmates every day. Some are entering the jail after their arrest and others are being bused to courthouses around the county for court appearances.

The sheriff said the warrant for Robbins’ arrest should have been quashed by prosecutors when armed violence charges were dismissed against him in 2007. In addition, he said prosecutors signed off on the sheriff’s office traveling to Indiana to pick up Robbins at the prison in Michigan City and bring him back on the outstanding warrant.

“We were able to get an extradition warrant on a case that didn’t exist,” Dart said. “That’s the first problem.”

Earlier, documents reviewed by the Tribune showed that paperwork filled out by Cook County sheriff’s officers this week made it clear that Robbins was serving a 60-year sentence for murder in Indiana and was to be returned to authorities there after being brought to Chicago to dispose of an old case against him.

“Please be advised that this subject is in our custody under the temporary custody provision of the interstate agreement on detainers,” a sheriff’s order accompanying Robbins’ paperwork read. The order noted Robbins’ murder conviction and 60-year sentence and then stated he “must be returned to the custody of Indiana DOC.”

In addition, Judge Rickey Jones, assigned to the Leighton Criminal Court Building, ordered the Illinois case dismissed on Wednesday and wrote on paperwork that Robbins was to be released for “this case only,” the records show.
Yet Robbins was allowed to walk free out of the Cook County Jail Wednesday evening after his court appearance. Authorities today were reviewing the paperwork in Robbins’ file to see how the mistake was made and who was responsible, sources told the Tribune.

Also under investigation was why Robbins – whose 1992 charges of armed violence and drug possession had been dismissed by prosecutors nearly six years ago – was even brought to Chicago in the first place.

Robbins spent the night in the Cook County Jail on Tuesday to attend a court date Wednesday on a warrant issued when he skipped bail in his 1992 case, Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff’s office, said on Thursday.

Cook County authorities picked up Robbins on Tuesday at a prison in Michigan City, Ind., explaining he needed to answer to pending charges in Chicago, said Doug Garrison, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Corrections. The requisite paperwork spelled out the terms of his release and return, Garrison said.

“It sounds almost too simple to say, but when someone comes and picks up a prisoner, they acknowledge they will bring him back,” Garrison said. “There are certain things they have to provide us, they do their business with him and then they give him back.  Obviously in this case, for whatever reason, they didn’t give him back.”

One document in the Indiana prison paperwork was stamped “do not release this offender from court before contacting” Indiana authorities, Garrison said.

Garrison said Cook County authorities had contacted Indiana prison officials to review who had contact with Robbins in the prison and the identities of any visitors since his incarceration in 2004.

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First food truck gets Chicago license

More than six months after the Chicago City Council legalized cooking onboard food trucks, the city on Thursday issued its first license for it to Dan Salls, owner of The Salsa Truck.

An ecstatic Salls said that he passed his health and fire inspection on Wednesday and finished his paperwork on Thursday afternoon. By Tuesday, he hopes to be searing meat, grilling quesadillas and warming tortillas on board his truck to serve with his salsas to hungry Chicagoans.

Salls, a former financial adviser who quit his job to go into the salsa business, said he will likely serve his first hot meal at the 600 W. Chicago Ave. food-truck stand Tuesday. He has publicly invited Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be his first customer.

“I think it would be a great press opportunity for him to finally get the monkey off of everyone’s back,” Salls said of the long contentious process that has finally led to the first cooking license called an MFP (for mobile food preparer).

For more than two years, food-truck activists had been lobbying the city to allow onboard cooking, as opposed to restricting food offerings to those that had been pre-cooked and packaged. Proposals were stalled for more than a year at the committee level until Emanuel presented his own version of a modified ordinance last summer, which passed in late July.

“This is just the beginning, but we’re excited to see our first MFP hit the streets,” said Rosemary Krimbel, who leads the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. “We want potential food truck owners to know that we are here to help, including newly offered truck consultations with the fire and health departments to ease the licensing process. We want to see more food trucks serving Chicago.”

Although Salls says he is thrilled to be the first licensed onboard cooking operator, he acknowledges that his truck is not the “classic West Coast type food truck.” By that he means, he did not need to outfit his truck to conform to what some feel is the city’s overly strict code on gas lines and exhaust hoods.

He will simply use an electric grill to heat his tacos, quesadillas and carnitas onboard, making rules on gas lines and hoods irrelevant to his inspection.

Next month, Salls hopes to open a bricks and mortar restaurant called The Garage which can also serve as a commissary for servicing other cooking trucks.
Twitter: @monicaeng

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George Ryan returns home to finish sentence under house arrest

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was let out of a federal prison in Indiana in the dead of night early Wednesday and checked briefly into a Chicago halfway house before he was released — in a surprise decision — to his home to finish out his 61/2-year sentence on home confinement.

The quick turn of events allowed Ryan, who turns 79 next month, to elude a horde of media gathered at the prison in Terre Haute, Ind., and then slip from the halfway house on the Near West Side undetected several hours later.

By 10:30 a.m., Ryan had an emotional reunion with 17 of his children and grandchildren at his longtime Kankakee home, according to his attorney, former Gov. Jim Thompson. Later in the day, Ryan's daughter, Jeanette, smiled as she left through a rear entrance. "We are very happy he's home," she said.

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  • Maps

  • 4700 Bureau Road North, Terre Haute, IN 47802, USA

  • 912 South Greenwood Avenue, Kankakee, IL 60901, USA

  • 105 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60607, USA

Home confinement for Ryan means he won't have to face weeks or months at the Salvation Army halfway house where many of the state's other disgraced politicians have had to take up residence.

The move struck some as one more backroom deal cut by a longtime political insider, but Thompson and U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials denied that Ryan received special treatment.

Thompson said he was surprised by the accommodation and that he didn't know it was being planned for Ryan until Wednesday morning.

"It's not something I asked for, it's not something he (Ryan) asked for, so it is in no way preferential treatment," Thompson said.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington declined to say how many inmates like Ryan go directly to home confinement in the final months of their sentences, but the agency's website made it clear that the ordinary route would be to go first to a halfway house.

The Bureau of Prisons won't discuss specific inmates, but spokesman Chris Burke said officials decide each inmate's placement on an individual basis after assessing everything from financial stability and family ties to any emotional or medical issues such as drug or alcohol addiction.

As for the overnight departure, Burke said prisons officials consider the disruption to the prison as well as inmate safety.

"These issues are considered with any inmate — that he get safely from point A to point B," Burke said.

At least one other well-known defendant, convicted insurance broker Michael Segal, 69, was allowed last year to skip the halfway house.

Court records in Segal's case revealed that officials at the prison in Oxford, Wis., where he was held, recommended he be released directly to home confinement because he "has few re-entry needs."

Several veteran attorneys who spoke to the Tribune on Wednesday said that at his age, Ryan doesn't need help transitioning back to life on the outside either. Among the classes offered at the halfway house are how to write a check and what to wear on a job interview.

"For someone like George Ryan, who's (almost) 79 years old, he's not a person who needs to find a job or needs help transitioning," attorney Marc Martin said. "He's essentially retired."

The attorneys also said the Salvation Army's halfway house has limited resources and that inmates of Ryan's age and stable background make good candidates for home release to alleviate crowding there.

"I do not know the Bureau of Prisons to ever make deals with anyone, I don't care who they are or who their lawyer is," said attorney Jeffrey Steinback.

Yet that doesn't always explain why other older high-profile inmates — including William Hanhardt, a former Chicago police chief of detectives in his 80s — recently had to serve time at the halfway house. However, former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, 75, who also spent time in the halfway house, was mandated to serve time there in a judge's sentencing order.

While Ryan will awaken Thursday at his Kankakee home, he clearly will be under more restrictions than when he left for prison more than five years ago.

He can't leave without permission. He can't enjoy a drink. He will be subject to overnight calls from prison officials. He will have to submit to random tests for drugs and alcohol. Though he is out of prison, Ryan is still a federal inmate.

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Moseley Braun's brother among dozens seeking 7th Ward seat

Among the dozens of Southeast Side residents in the running to replace Sandi Jackson on the City Council is the brother of former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the woman who ran against Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011.

Emanuel's office released late Monday the names of 53 applicants for alderman of the 7th Ward. Some are familiar from recent unsuccessful attempts to get elected to the seat.

Others, like Joseph Moseley, are running for office for the first time. But Moseley, a retired Chicago police sergeant who has lived in the ward for about 30 years, noted that he has been around politics "most of my life" thanks in part to his older sister.

Moseley said some think it unlikely that Emanuel would pick the sibling of the woman who challenged him for mayor. "I've had some calls from people saying 'You haven't got a chance,' " he said.

But with his background as a homicide detective, Moseley, 56, said he hopes the mayor will appreciate his perspective on the violence plaguing parts of the city. "It's the issue right now, that and the foreclosure problem," Moseley said.

Lionell Martin and Gregory Mitchell, who lost the aldermanic race to Jackson in 2011, are also seeking the appointment.

Retired city worker Lorse Sizer said she applied because she knows the ward better than any of the other applicants, and has a better plan to bring small businesses back to the area. But Sizer shared with other aldermanic hopefuls a low opinion of the job Jackson did.

"Sandi Jackson didn't work with anybody. It was all about ego," Sizer said.

Jackson stepped down this month as controversy continued to swirl around her husband, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who faces a federal ethics investigation.

Emanuel responded to his first opportunity to appoint an alderman by asking any interested ward resident to apply for the job online. He has said he wants to find somebody with a history of "community involvement and engagement" to fill the seat.

Asked about what role Sandi Jackson might play in the selection process, Emanuel said she was welcome to submit the names of applicants online like anyone else.

In all, the city received 65 applications, but the mayor's office said 12 were scratched because the applicants don't live in the ward, which includes parts of the South Shore, South Chicago, Calumet Heights and Jeffery Manor neighborhoods.

Emanuel has named a five-person panel to vet the applicants and present him with a list of "three or more" finalists in time for him to choose the new alderman before the next City Council meeting Feb. 13. The mayor has committed to choosing from the finalists selected by the panel, according to mayoral spokesman Tom Alexander.

Jason Bertrand, whose father, Joseph Bertrand, was once 7th Ward alderman and was the first African-American elected to citywide office as treasurer, said he applied for the seat because his father impressed upon him the importance of giving back through public service.

Bertrand, 52, a business consultant, said he had a 20-minute phone interview Tuesday evening with members of the mayor's panel. He declined to get into specifics of the interview.

The pool of aldermanic hopefuls is perhaps more wide-open because of the recent troubles for the local political organizations.

Cook County Commissioner and former 7th Ward Ald. William Beavers is under federal indictment. Sandi Jackson unseated his daughter, Darcel Beavers, in 2007. With federal investigators probing Jesse Jackson Jr.'s campaign finances and William Beavers fighting charges he used campaign funds for personal expenses and failed to pay income taxes on a portion, sources have said Emanuel is reluctant to select someone affiliated with either of the families that have dominated politics in the ward for years.

Twitter @_johnbyrne

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Butler's 19 points lead Bulls over Bobcats

To Jimmy Butler, it's simple.

Whether he's averaging 45.2 minutes in the five games he started for Luol Deng or playing 31 minutes, 14 seconds in reserve of Deng and others, as he did during Monday's 93-85 victory over the Bobcats, his role remains the same.

"Rebound, guard and make some open shots," Butler said. "Starting gave me a lot more confidence. But I'm still able to do those things (off the bench)."

Indeed, Butler stole the show, backing up his promise with a career-high 19 points and six rebounds, playing at shooting guard alongside Deng for a long second-quarter stretch and most of the final 5:28.

"Jimmy's a big part of the team," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Lu has been huge for us. We know we have flexibility. You do what's best for the team."

Deng returned after missing five games with an injured right hamstring and finished with 12 points in just over 31 minutes as the Bulls avenged their New Year's Eve home loss to the Bobcats.

"I felt great," Deng said. "I hadn't gone full speed like that, so I was a little worried about the change of speed and direction. So I'm happy I was able not to have any setbacks. It felt a little tight, but it didn't feel like how it felt when I first did it."

Thibodeau admitted he didn't want to overextend Deng's minutes in his first game while casually plugging him for defensive player of the year.

"There may not be a better defender in the league," Thibodeau said.

At least against the speedy, perimeter-driven Bobcats, minutes dropped for Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton. Thibodeau even used the combination of Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson for a brief third-quarter stretch.

"They went real small," Thibodeau said. "I liked (Butler's) quickness out there defensively."

The Bulls pulled away late in the third after the Bobcats tied it at 55-55 with 3:36 remaining. Joakim Noah, huge again with a double-double, seven assists and five blocks in nearly 45 minutes, scored on a three-point play. Robinson, who contributed 15 points off the bench, fueled a 13-0 run with two 3-pointers as the Bobcats failed to score for 4:24.

With 13 points and 18 rebounds, Noah became the first Bull to grab 15 or more rebounds in four straight games since Dennis Rodman in March 1998.

Robinson poured it on in the fourth, scoring eight points as the Bulls pushed their lead to 14. But old friend Ben Gordon found his range in the final period as well, scoring 10 of his 18 points as the Bobcats trimmed the lead to six late.

That's when Carlos Boozer powered home a left-handed dunk over Bismack Biyombo off a feed from Robinson with 1:24 left to jazz the sellout crowd of 21,308.

"As long as we play the type of basketball we know we're capable of, we can beat any team," Butler said. "We can also lose to any team if we don't."

Twitter @kcjhoop

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2 dead after apparent carbon monoxide leak in W. Rogers Park

Two women are dead and another was hospitalized after an apparent carbon monoxide leak in a West Rogers Park building, officials said.

Paramedics were first called about 10:30 a.m. to the building, which is in the 2500 block of West North Shore Avenue, to transport one woman to the hospital, Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Meg Ahlheim said.

The woman was taken in cardiac arrest to Swedish Covenant Hospital, Ahlheim said.

Fire officials at the scene called for a second ambulance, and a second woman was taken to Swedish Covenant as well, Ahlheim said.

Once paramedics became aware of the second victim, fire officials checked the building's carbon monoxide levels but found no indication of a leak, Ahlheim said.

Paramedics were called back to the scene, however, about 3:45 p.m., for another woman found unresponsive. The woman was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston in critical condition, Ahlheim said.

Officials checked carbon monoxide level again, and while the meter readings in residential units showed no exposure, officials found a positive reading for a low level of carbon monoxide near a boiler in the basement, Ahlheim said.

The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed Sunday evening that it had been notified of two fatalities from the building.

A spokeswoman for Peoples Gas, Jennifer Block, confirmed that representatives from the company were called to the building to assist police and fire officials. She referred further questions to the police and fire departments.

The Chicago Police Department's Office of News Affairs had not been notified about the situation as of 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

Twitter: @AdamSege

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Soccer coach suspended in Maine West hazing case

Another soccer coach linked to hazing allegations on athletic teams at Maine West High School has been suspended without pay by the district while officials pursue his dismissal.

Maine Township High School District 207 officials reached that decision on freshman boys soccer coach Emilio Rodriguez at a special board meeting Thursday night, a month after reaching the same decision on the employment of head varsity soccer coach Michael Divincenzo.

“The board believes Mr. Rodriguez violated District 207 Board of Education policy and professional expectations by failing to adequately prevent, recognize, report and punish student hazing,” board president Sean Sullivan said in a statement read at the meeting.

Both men were originally placed on paid leave and reassigned from teaching duties this fall when allegations of hazing surfaced in early October on the Des Plaines school’s soccer and baseball teams.

Those allegations are the subject of a lawsuit filed on behalf of four alleged hazing victims on the soccer team and against the district, both coaches and Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan.

Rodriguez, a tenured applied arts and technology teacher, has 17 days to request a hearing on his dismissal through the Illinois State Board of Education, officials said.

Through an attorney, Divincenzo recently requested an appeal hearing with the state board. The appeal process could take up to one year, officials said.

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment on Thursday night. But Des Plaines police reports show he and Divincenzo previously denied any knowledge of team hazing or initiation rituals.

District officials also fulfilled early promises made shortly after the hazing allegations surfaced by approving the hiring of former assistant U.S. attorney Sergio Acosta to lead the district’s independent investigation into hazing allegations, and California-based consultant Community Matters to lead focus groups studying bullying and hazing prevention techniques.

Last week, district officials confirmed the receipt of grand jury subpoenas in the Cook County state’s attorney’s ongoing investigation. Officials reiterated their commitment to “cooperate fully with all agencies conducting their own investigations, including the Cook County State’s Attorney, Des Plaines Police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

One subpoena, dated Dec. 6 and obtained by the Tribune, directs Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan to produce “personnel files, disciplinary records, reports, memorandums, summaries, interviews, investigations, notes, statements or other such writings or recordings for Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, and any and all other employees associated with coaching student athletes from 2007 to the present time.”

In another Dec. 6 subpoena, Superintendent Ken Wallace is directed to produce “any written materials describing or explaining” school, student athlete, coach or teacher conduct codes or rules, “or rules or any other similar such writings including but not limited to the topics of hazing, sexual misconduct or physical misconduct in any manner associated with Maine West High School.”

Wallace, Haugan, Maine East Principal Michael Pressler and Maine South Principal Shawn Messmer also received subpoenas dated Dec. 7. Those subpoenas, which were partially redacted, seek “any and all letters, emails, reports, memorandums, call logs, writings, recordings, or other such material regarding” redacted information, “including any such documents from within the school records or school file for” redacted information.

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