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« January 2021 | Main | March 2021 »

February 27, 2021

Beachwood Offered International Business Award!

Dear CEO/MD,

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ACHIEVERS AWARD OFFER

Over the years, the industrial sectors of businesses have flourished and contributed to the economic development of Ghana. Few industries like your reputable institution, have made an impact in the lives of the youth, who continuously look up to your company, as an inspiration to lead in competition.

Swiss School of Business and Management, Switzerland, in partnership with MG Business Solutions has taken keen interest to award excellent performances and successes among Businesses, Entrepreneurs, and Chief Executive Officers (CEO's) in Ghana and beyond.

The Swiss School of Business and Management is pleased to inform you that the Council of the School in Switzerland, has recommended to offer you the INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ACHIEVERS AWARD.

The award is reserved for accomplished businesses and CEO's of your level and status in the profession. This event is also to honor Leaders who have excelled and distinguished themselves in their chosen fields constantly for an international recognition and acknowledgement.

Recommendation by MG Business Solutions, as a partner of the Swiss School of Business and Management, is to honor you with the INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ACHIEVER AWARD, to be issued by one of the best Business Schools in Switzerland, with faculties from top Universities, and students from over 40 countries.

This offer is as a result of the understudy taken in your industry, the positive impact you have had on the society, and the people you work with through your exemplary management and leadership skills, as a distinguished professional.

Please send an acceptance e-mail to agrant@mgbsgh.com or call the undersigned contact numbers if you need any clarification on any matter mentioned in this invitation.

Attached is more information about the awarding school with further details of the programme.

Please click this link to view our previous award ceremony: https://award.mgbsgh.com.

We look forward to your response of acknowledging receipt.

DATE: 9th April 2021

TIME: 6 p.m.

VENUE: Marriott Hotel, Airport.

Andora Grant-Odonkor
GM/HR

T: 0302932711
M: 0501677156
E: a.grant@mgbsgh.com
W: mgbsgh.com
MG Business Solution | N0.10, 2nd Close, Achimota-Mile 7

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Fee & Package

ABOUT MG BUSINESS SOLUTIONS

MG BUSINESS SOLUTIONS LIMITED (MGBS) is the preferred company in Ghana with a passion for business growth that provides Outsourcing services, with many years of experience. Our services are on Education and training of Corporate Staff, Outsourcing, Facility Management, Staff Management, and many more. Our mission as a company is to provide value to our esteemed clients through Integrity, Professionalism, and Excellent Customer Relationship.

As a company that is focused on human capital development and empowerment; our goal for the latter part of each year, is to embark more on staff Education, Corporate training and development, recognition and presentation of special awards to excellent Management and Leadership by CEO'S and Entrepreneurs who have carved a niche for themselves in their industry.

ABOUT SWISS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

SWISS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (SSBM) is an innovative International Business School with highly experienced Lecturers from some of the most prestigious Universities in the world. To provide quality education, the Swiss School uses a top-notch educational platform that is also used by Harvard and MIT to enhance the online learning experience of their students.

Please, discover and know more about the awarding Institution and their programmes by visiting their website on http://www.ssbm.ch, https://www.ssbm.ch/marketing/About_SSBM.pdf

PLATINUM PACKAGE: $2,000

1. A colourful ceremonial Sashe from the Swiss School of Business and Management for the CEO (for keeps).

2. Company profile features on Swiss business school's website.

3. 1-minute visuals display of CEO's profile on the screen projector on events day (this will run at intervals throughout the day).

4. Seat allocation at the front seats by the industry players.

5. Networking session with renowned industry players in private/business and corporate sector.

6. Platinum subscribers will have 3 slots to bring their company managers or assistants.

7. CEO from platinum subscribers will have 3 mins speech time to introduce themselves to the guests, giving them opportunities to sell their businesses by themselves.

8. An Honorary Certificate from the Swiss School of Business and Management.

9. A crystal diplomat plaque from Swiss school of business and Management, Switzerland.

10. Souvenirs from Swiss School of Business and Management & MG Business Solutions.

11. A framed picture of the nominated CEO (to be given after two weeks).

12. A Cocktail Dinner for the CEO and Staffs.

GOLD PACKAGE: $1,500

1. A colourful ceremonial Sashe from the Swiss School of Business and Management for the CEO (for keeps).

2. Company profile features on Swiss business school's website.

3. One (1) minute visual display of CEO's profile on the screen projector on events day (twice during the event).

4. Networking session with renowned industry players in private/business and corporate sector.

5. Gold subscribers will have one (1) slot to bring their company staff.

6. An Honorary Certificate from the Swiss School of Business and Management.

7. A crystal diplomat plaque from Swiss school of business and Management, Switzerland.

8. Souvenirs from Swiss School of Business and Management & MG Business Solutions.

9. A framed picture of the nominated CEO (to be given after two weeks).

10. A Cocktail Dinner for the CEO and Staff.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:40 PM | Permalink

Public Health Alert! Whole Foods Meatballs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert because Whole Foods Market, Inc., sold an undetermined amount of beef meatballs with marinara sauce that were misbranded and were produced with an undeclared allergen.

The products contain parmesan cheese made from milk, which is a known allergen, and is not declared on the product label.

FSIS is issuing this public health alert out of the utmost of caution to ensure that consumers with allergic reactions to milk are aware that these products should not be consumed. A recall was not requested because it is believed that the affected products are no longer available to be directly purchased by retail consumers.

The beef meatballs with marinara sauce products subject to the public health alert are:

24-oz. clear plastic containers of "Whole Foods Market Beef Meatballs with Marinara" with a PLU code of 39496 and sell-by dates through 2/27/21.

This product was sold in retail locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The problem was discovered when the firm notified FDA of a customer report of an adverse reaction due to consumption of the product. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers. Consumers with food allergies who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the public health alert can contact Nathan Cimbala, Global Public Relations, Whole Foods Market, Inc., at nathan.cimbala@wholefoods.com.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to MPHotline@usda.gov.

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 AM | Permalink

The Unintended Consequences Of Taming Nature

Elizabeth Kolbert lives her stories. In the course of reporting her new book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, she got hit by a leaping carp near Ottawa, Illinois ("It felt like someone had slammed me in the shin with a Wiffle-ball bat") and visited tiny endangered pupfish at Devils Hole, a small pool in a cave near Pahrump, Nevada. She got her socks wet walking across a mockup of the Lower Mississippi in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and watched corals reefs spawn at an ocean simulator in Australia.

With her lively, vivid writing, Kolbert is one of the nation's most high-profile science writers. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 book The Sixth Extinction made the disappearance of species understandable and urgent. She writes for the New Yorker, where portions of Under a White Sky first appeared. But even if some of it was familiar to me - both as a reader of the New Yorker and as a science writer who covers some of the same topics myself - I wanted to read it through, to see these pieces come together into an overarching argument.

In each of these trips, she tells of disaster - of invasive species and endangered ones, of coral bleaching, of the rapid land loss in south Louisiana. Disasters caused by us. The thought at the center of this wonderful book is that not only do we humans do a lot of damage to the planet, some of the worst damage we do occurs when we're trying to fix things. As she puts it, this is a book "about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems."

Why do we need to rebuild a sinking Louisiana? In large part because we solved the problem of seasonal flooding by penning the river between enormous levees, which meant the land-building sediment that came with those floods no longer arrived. The oil industry also cut channels into the fragile wetlands for exploration and extraction. That accelerated erosion added to the climate change that is causing sea levels to rise, much to Louisiana's detriment.

Why are people like her getting slammed by leaping Asian carp? The fish, which are out-competing other fish in American waters, were introduced as a natural way to control algae and other aquatic problems; of course, the carp have become an enormous invasive species problem of their own, and expensive technologies have been developed to keep them from reaching the Great Lakes. Those include giant multimillion-dollar projects to electrify the waters, and plans to roil the waters with bubbles and noise - together, they show how we just keep out-Rube-Goldberging ourselves.

leaping-carp.jpgLeaping carp/Ryan Hagerty, USFWS

She visits the Old River Control Structure, made infamous by John McPhee in his 1989 bestseller The Control of Nature as an attempt to tame the mighty Mississippi River. It was designed to precisely regulate the amount of water flowing from the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya and prevent the natural transition that would eventually have directed increasing amounts of the Mississippi's waters into the Atchafalaya, with its shorter, steeper path to the sea, rendering the vast ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans useless. But in 1973 the structure nearly failed, which would have been its own kind of disaster.

Kolbert asks whether our meddling has blurred the lines between the natural world and the managed one. In the Anthropocene era, when humans have fundamentally altered the planet and its environment, she asks, what does nature even mean anymore? Nature, she notes, tends to reward our hubris with hard lessons. "A lot has happened to complicate the meaning of 'control,' not to mention 'nature.'"

She describes other interventions gone horrifyingly wrong, including the introduction in the 1930s of enormous cane toads to Australia to eat grubs off of sugar cane. But, as it turns out, cane grubs "perch too high off the ground for a boulder-sized amphibian to reach. This didn't faze the toads. They found plenty else to eat and continued to produce toadlets by the truck­load." The spread of the poisonous toads has been epic, and scientists are experimenting with genetic modifications that might check their spread, or at least make them less toxic. And of course, there are those Asian carp.

under-white-sky-book-cover-resize.jpg

Kolbert compares our efforts to repair the damage we have inflicted on the planet to The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, the Dr. Seuss children's story in which the cat causes a mess - a pink ring in the bathtub - and his efforts to clean it up in escalating ways, beginning with the use of the mother's white dress to wipe up the ring, only make things worse.

We are the cat, she says. Looking at the enormous effort the government has gone through to save those dwindling species of pupfish, she observes "how much easier it is to ruin an ecological system than to run one."

This is all leading up to what could be our greatest human-produced crisis - climate change - and what could be the biggest intervention of all: solar geoengineering. Should we try to tweak the atmosphere to slightly dim the amount of solar radiation that reaches the surface of our planet, and thus slow the effects of global warming until we can get our greenhouse gas emissions under control?

She describes some of the ideas that have been floated, including spraying particles of sulfur, or calcium carbonate, or even finely milled diamonds, into the atmosphere. As she mentions, the resulting changes could also include turning the color of the sky from blue to white. You might think by now that she would deliver a full-throated cry against geoengineering. What she gives us instead is less certain, more nuanced - and more troubling.

Yes, she quotes Allison Macfarlane, a former chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who gives the idea a thumbs down over the unintended consequences. But she also quotes those who say that we may be in such a deep planetary crisis that hacking the atmosphere itself might be the least horrible option, considering where the planet is headed. Among them is a scientist who compares it to chemotherapy, which no one would go through if there were better options available. "We live in a world," he said, "where deliberately dimming the fucking sun might be less risky than not doing it."

Kolbert writes, "But to imagine that 'dimming the fucking sun' could be less dangerous than not dimming it, you have to imagine not only that the technology will work according to plan but also that it will be deployed according to plan. And that's a lot of imagining."

She's no fan of the idea, clearly. But she also suggests that the world might find its options so narrowed by inaction that it has little choice but to turn the sky white. Just don't blame her if everything goes terribly, terribly wrong. Again.

In her passing reference to The Cat in the Hat, Kolbert doesn't mention that the story ends when the cat uses Voom, a substance that magically gets rid of the ever-spreading pink mess and even shovels the snow around the house before Mother gets home.

Voom, unfortunately, is one thing we do not have.

John Schwartz writes about climate change for the New York Times. He is the author of This Is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order. This article was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #345: Ryan Pace's Place At The Table

If you don't know who the sucker is . . . Plus: Cubs Continue To Go Back In Time; Worst White Sox Trade Ever?; Bulls And Blackhawks Have A Lot In Common; Arlington's Amber Alert; Red Stars Get The Gist; and The State Of Basketball.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #345: Ryan Pace, Rounder

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SHOW NOTES

* 345.

* Rounders.

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12:01: Ryan Pace Is The Sucker At The Table.

*

*

P.S.:

+

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25:56: Cubs Continue To Go Back In Time.

* Soft tossing to Not Caratini.

P.S.:

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37:53: Worst White Sox Trade Ever?

* Coming Monday.

P.S.:

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41:52: MLB Cuts Out The Heart Of America.

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47:17: What The Bulls And Blackhawks Have In Common.

* Comeback teams of the year.

* Much tougher schedules to come.

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55:08: Arlington's Amber Alert.

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57:34: Red Stars Get The Gist.

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59:22: The State Of Basketball.

* Jesus Christ, Illinois!

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STOPPAGE: 7:51

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Arlington's Amber Alert

There's a really tired old hook about something dying from a thousand cuts.

It would be easy to beat that rug after Churchill Downs Incorporated's announcement that it has put the land underneath Arlington Park up for sale.

But this is the result of at least 21 years of torturous murder sadistically carried out by executioners Richard L. Duchossois and the muscle of a faceless corporation that thrives and cackles on doing just this kind of thing. Corporations always get away with murder of all types in America. Don't kid yourself.

This announcement is not really news. Mercenary hitman CEO William C. Carstanjen, the General Electric exile personally propped up by quality stock performance of a company that has declared it doesn't really care for horse racing - but shamelessly exploits the name - and bullshits that it ever did, basically announced it last summer, when he said the land has "a higher and better purpose." He lives in Kentucky, OK?

With everything going on and now this, my Mason-Dixon line has migrated up to 138th Street.

Don't fall for Carstanjen's lyin' lie, right out of the Trump Kitchens Lying Cookbook for Liars, that CDI will use its Arlington license to build another racetrack somewhere else in Illinois. Don't even entertain any particulars of that question, because CDI is not interested in horse racing! Also, I've confirmed with the Illinois Racing Board that Arlington's license is not "transferrable to another location." And even if someone tried to buy Arlington to keep the racing and a casino there, which CDI will never allow, licenses would need reapplication.

Because CDI has no interest in horse racing, when Illinois gaming was expanded to include more casinos and casinos at race tracks, Arlington did not even apply for its Arlington license. CDI cried foul on "taxation." While that included taxation on racing, CDI also lumped under its "taxation" umbrella the requirement that Arlington divert a portion of casino revenue back into racing purses. That's how it works at every other racino around.

It has put its everything into Rivers Casino, DesPlaines, recently announcing an expansion project there. Did it need state approval for that?

For what it's worth, the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association made a blunt, inclusive statement about CDI's announcement. Also, a spokesperson for Gov. J.B. Pritzker made a cryptic statement about the announcement: "While we are awaiting details on Churchill Downs' plans to maintain horse racing in Illinois, the administration will work with all stakeholders to develop an appropriate solution. We remain committed to ensuring a strong racing industry in our state." To some degree, the expansion of Illinois was tied into revenues for capital projects.

No matter what, I would suggest rejecting the hell out of CDI's bid for the Waukegan casino license. And I would pass emergency legislation that every dollar, including recapture, that whiffs past Arlington be devoted to purses in this final meet.

While admitting I'm about sick of writing about inevitable tragedy, there is other stinginess CDI is happy to engage in, which can be found in the archives.

But the slow and steady asphyxiation of racing at a track that has no physical equal in the world began in 2000, when Duchossois came back from a two year temper-tantrum closure and immediately sold the track, for a majority stake in the company, to CDI.

Is this a good time to point out how Duchossois has pretty much sold off those shares, at a higher price of course, but still maintains a healthy position, and has done it on the backs of the people and the game he so strongly professes to love?

If I hear one goddamned time more about how St. Dickie rose Arlington from the ashes of the catastrophic 1985 fire, my screams might be loud enough for you to get an Amber Alert on your phone. I'm tired of it!

This is our truth. The quality of racing has been dismal and insulting since that sellout. The pinkie pointers will argue that the only real racing is turf racing, like in Europe. But the fact remains that dirt racing is the name of the game in America and brings with it the superstars, top jocks, grand moments, legendary performances and: television coverage.

How intelligent has it been for Dickie D(oo) and his Don'ts to take Arlington Park off the radar of the American racing scene by concentrating on turf racing, for one damned day of the year?! And with Arlington possessing one of the finest turf courses in the world, not using it for more than half the meet until the Arlington Million is over. Duchossois and Arlington surrendered any hope of dirt prominence, even to complement the turf. So Chicago. Just give up.

In fact, there have been many years when Arlington racing wasn't even shown, even in replays, by horse racing network TVG. Arlington had to buy time on WGN to get even local coverage of the Million. It gets network coverage now because the Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat have Breeders' Cup implications. Supposedly.

It's not that The Million has been a bad race, but only two of its winners, Bricks and Mortar (2019) and Little Mike (2012) have gone on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf. Again, one more ounce of milk and honey over Duchossois running the first million-dollar race, Amber Alert and air raid sirens.

Arlington is also an outlier with its artificial PolyTrack surface on its world-class main track layout. That came about in 2007 as Arlington, either incapable or unwilling to spend the money, failed to maintain its dirt track, especially on the last turn, and horses started going down like a Napoleonic battle. I know, it happened right in my face once. As several California tracks, and the major marketer of PolyTrack, Keeneland, soon discovered, their quality of racing and hallowed traditions - the iconic Blue Grass Stakes turned into a neutered race - went down the toilet and they switched back to dirt.

Look, I know that the vast majority of the populace either doesn't have horse racing in its consciousness, except for the folderol of the Kentucky Derby, or closes its eyes believing that horseplayers are filthy denizens of the dark alleys of gambling or worse.

But take a gander at its images and you'll see it's as clean and modern as any sporting facility in the world, even meeting the high standards of architecture Chicago purports to hold for itself. It also holds many other events during the offseason.

This is absolutely equivalent to he Tribune Company (which did once) or the Ricketts family threatening and then following through on demolishing Wrigley Field. For a one-time colonic of a profit.

When I swore off of Chicago's loserville, whiny human sports in the very early 2000s, I gravitated to horse racing, which I had always enjoyed on a civilian basis. Admittedly naive, I thought partaking meant going to the track. I went quite often, but my level of aggravation rose each time. The ratio of the baby stroller crowd - a good friend of mine deadpanned "Yeah, betting $2 to Show on the favorite" - to actual racing fans and players kept growing and the dirtiest looks I ever got was from the one person holding dibs on a plastic picnic table as I rested my tired ass down for just a few moments on the other end, before social distancing was a thing. Get a goddamned life, Burb She-Devil. The last race was never coordinated with the commuter train. The mutuel odds made it impossible to win more than a few pilasters because when Biff and Mandy saw a 15-1 that should have been 15-1, they'd bet the nag down so far, the odds still went down after the race started!

I went less and less often, went more often to Hawthorne, and revisited Arlington only when my memories of the indignities went blank, only to be rekindled every time after. That's when I head-slap discovered the OTBs and spent countless Saturdays with the nicest bunch of characters I will never forget. I won't be going to Arlington this summer out of any sense of nostalgia or sadness. I don't want to even dip my toe in the fires of CDI evil.

It was clear Arlington concentrated on attendance rather than racing or the people who bet on it. Cheap parking and minimal entry fees - the idea was to churn bets through the windows - morphed into higher prices for everything, including food of diminishing quality turning out bad. The seeds of this concept might actually have been sown by one-time owner Marje Everett, who once owned Arlington Park, Hollywood Park - which CDI also murdered to sell for what became the new Rams/Chargers stadium - Chicago's old Washington Park and the late Balmoral harness palace. She was an opinionated broad who once entertained the taboo of night racing at Arlington. Her eyebrows were singed in the old Otto Kerner racetrack stock scandal. Her emphasis on attendance to build handle seemed admirable, but where racing was once the highest attended sport in America more recently than you think, it was also quixotic. That was on the cusp of simulcast betting, which is what really ruined attendance.

Chicago was once one of America's racing meccas, second to none, including the almighty Kentucky. Spinning out of the turn of Prohibition, the original Arlington opened in 1927.

Triple Crown winners: Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935) and Assault (1946) all ran in the well-pursed Arlington Classic. Citation ran his fourth race here in 1947 and returned for the Stars and Stripes nearly a year later. Whirlaway (1941) ran five of his first six races at Arlington, prepped for and ran in the Classic the summer of his Crown year, and ran the Arlington Handicap here in 1942.

Secretariat, who you would think was bushed from his Triple Crown heroics, ran in the Made-For-TV Arlington Invitational 21 days later, beating the quality My Gallant by nine and Our Native by 26. "Starting slow," he was only 1/5 off the track record then held by Damascus.

Seabiscuit made that same train trip, but was scratched as the track came up past rainforest sloppy.

Cigar ran here. John Henry, the Steel Drivin' Horse, won the first Arlington Million, so sensational, they erected a statue to a finish still debated today. Three years later, he won it again.

The Arlington Classic was once as important a race as any in America. It's alumni include Native Dancer, Nashua, Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, Ack Ack and Alydar, exclamation point for all!

Every jockey you've ever heard of rode here. Julie Krone rode Saint Ballado in 1992. Pat Day poured the foundation of his career at AP. George "The Iceman" Woolf, Shoemaker, Arcaro, Baeza, Cordero Jr., Turcotte of course. Rene Douglas should be considered the all-time king of Arlington. His career ended in a jockey's worst nightmare when his horse in the Arlington Matron in 2009 stumbled, flipped and landed on top of him. He now owns horses.

Jimmy Jones, Calumet Farm's legendary trainer, once said Arlington was the finest track he ever put a horse on.

None of this matters to a lot of people, especially Duchossois, Mr. Racing.

We can't have everything forever. After the Bidwills ruined Sportsman's Park in Cicero, the entire property is now one huge, white warehouse. Giant, and blinding in sunlight.

In all honesty, sometimes I have a hard time sleeping with the vision of a wrecking ball hitting all the nooks and crannies I once roamed in. The barren souls of empty bodies of people like Duchossois and Carstanjen and every single CDI stockholder will be quite happy, until the next market correction, I guess. They'll get their cheap-shit condos and Starbucks paying exorbitant rent and, a big maybe post-pandemic, commuters getting no true inspiration or great views from a desensitized Arlington Heights - unless they think they do. Soon just another Metra stop. Arlington Heights government doesn't seem to care. Keywords: Desensitized, tax base.

What kind of nostalgia am I supposed to have? I never saw great racing there and got the feeling they were trying to ruin it. The Marje Everetts, Gulf and Westerns. Dick Duchossois public relationed as the benevolent patriarch God of Illinois racing. Boy, that Hindenburg got popped.

And CDI slowly, tortuously ruined one of the greatest tracks in the world, which had everything going for it, including being able to get there. Forget me. These are callous, vicious people who are taking the livelihoods away from the countless people from owners and trainers to the grooms (who have families), farriers, vets, to the farmers who grow the hay.

I boycotted all wagering on 2020's Kentucky Derby and will never wager on it, or that whole weekend, ever again.

The sheer excitement of the apron and the (pre-Poly) brown track and green infield, morning-testing the tote board. Watching the tail end of the morning gallops. We liked it, but we're only fans, who feed the tote. Apparently they didn't like it, with contempt.

Carstanjen, in Undercover Boss, couldn't stand the smell of horse manure.

The stove's been stoked and I can't wait to get back out to Hawthorne. For the horses.

And I'm going to beg for a tour of the stables to catch a good whiff of what those magnificent animals put out.

That's so much sweeter than than the noxious poisons rising from the Metra Northwest Line's 13th stop.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2021

Cops' Santeria Explains Dearth Of Music Commentary On YouTube

Someone tries to livestream their encounters with the police, only to find that the police started playing music. In the case of a February 5 meeting between an activist and the Beverly Hills Police Department, the song of choice was Sublime's "Santeria." The police may not got no crystal ball, but they do seem to have an unusually strong knowledge about copyright filters.

The timing of music being played when a cop saw he was being filmed was not lost on people. It seemed likely that the goal was to trigger Instagram's overzealous copyright filter, which would shut down the stream based on the background music and not the actual content. It's not an unfamiliar tactic, and it's unfortunately one based on the reality of how copyright filters work.

Copyright filters are generally more sensitive to audio content than audiovisual content. That sensitivity causes real problems for people performing, discussing or reviewing music online. It's a problem of mechanics. It is easier for filters to find a match just on a piece of audio material compared to a full audiovisual clip. And then there is the likelihood that a filter is merely checking to see if a few seconds of a video file seems to contain a few seconds of an audio file.

It's part of why playing music is a better way of getting a videostream you don't want seen shut down. (The other part is that playing music is easier than walking around with a screen playing a Disney film in its entirety. Much fun as that would be.)

The other side of the coin is how difficult filters make it for musicians to perform music that no one owns. For example, classical musicians filming themselves playing public domain music - compositions that they have every right to play, as they are not copyrighted - attract many matches. This is because the major rightsholders or tech companies have put many examples of copyrighted performances of these songs into the system. It does not seem to matter whether the video shows a different performer playing the song - the match is made on audio alone. This drives lawful use of material offline.

Another problem is that people may have licensed the right to use a piece of music or are using a piece of free music that another work also used. And if that other work is in the filter's database, it'll make a match between the two. This results in someone who has all the rights to a piece of music being blocked or losing income. It's a big enough problem that, in the process of writing our whitepaper on YouTube's copyright filter, Content ID, we were told that people who had experienced this problem had asked for it to be included specifically.

Filters are so sensitive to music that it is very difficult to make a living discussing music online. The difficulty of getting music clips past Content ID explains the dearth of music commentators on YouTube. It is common knowledge among YouTube creators, with one saying, "This is why you don't make content about music."

Criticism, commentary and education of music are all areas that are legally protected by fair use. Using parts of a thing you are discussing to show what you mean is part of effective communication. And while the law does not make fair use of music more difficult to prove than any other kind of work, filters do.

YouTube's filter does something even more insidious than simply taking down videos, though. When it detects a match, it allows the label claiming ownership to take part or all of the money that the original creator would have made. So a video criticizing a piece of music ends up enriching the party being critiqued. As one music critic explained:

"Every single one of my videos will get flagged for something and I choose not to do anything about it, because all they're taking is the ad money. And I am okay with that, I'd rather make my videos the way they are and lose the ad money rather than try to edit around the Content ID because I have no idea how to edit around the Content ID. Even if I did know, they'd change it tomorrow. So I just made a decision not to worry about it."

This setup is also how a 10-hour white noise video ended up with five copyright claims against it. This taking-from-the-poor-and-giving-to-the-rich is a blatantly absurd result, but it's the status quo on much of YouTube.

A group, like the police, who is particularly tech-savvy could easily figure out which songs result in videos being removed rather than have the money stolen. Internet creators talk on social media about the issues they run into and from whom. Some rightsholders are infamously controlling and litigious.

Copyright should not be a fast-track to getting speech removed that you do not like. The law is meant to encourage creativity by giving artists a limited period of exclusive rights to their creations. It is not a way to make money off of criticism or a loophole to be exploited by authorities.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

Smithfield's Pork PR Scam

Smithfield is the country's largest pork producer - and one of its biggest industrial polluters. But they don't want you to think of them that way. Instead, the company likes to promote a conscientious, sustainable, family-farmer image, summed up with a simple catchphrase: "Good Food. Responsibly."

In reality, the corporate giant relies on a sprawling network of polluting factory farms and slaughterhouses, responsible for widespread pollution of our air and water. And one of Smithfield's most aggressive clean image initiatives relies on - if you can believe it - massive, leaky lagoons of pig manure.

shutterstock_1074925286-1000x675.jpgA pig manure lagoon/Shutterstock

That yawning gap between the company's carefully crafted image and its record of environmental degradation is why Food & Water Watch, joined by several other farming and environmental groups, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Smithfield's deceptive and misleading advertising.

Smithfield tells consumers that its products are "Sustainable from Farm to Fork," with marketing materials featuring sunny, bucolic farms. Smithfield insists that "Environmental stewardship is a key focus for everyone at Smithfield Foods."

The facts say otherwise.

Smithfield is the third-largest water polluter in the country. In 2019, the company was issued at least 66 notices of violations of environmental protection laws.

That's especially true in North Carolina, where earlier this year state regulators called out the company over massive spills of hog waste. The company's waste mismanagement - from spills and water contamination to the intentional spraying of manure - have led hundreds of local residents to join nuisance lawsuits, leading to tens of millions of dollars in jury awards against Smithfield.

Smithfield's pig poop problem is staggering - its facilities create an estimated 19 million tons of the stuff every year. But instead of cleaning up after itself, the company (like other factory farm corporate giants) is trying to sell the idea that their massive lagoons of pig manure aren't a pollution problem - they're actually a clean source of "renewable" energy.

Come again?

Smithfield's huge lagoons of manure release large quantities of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. These methane emissions are a result of how factory farms manage animal waste. More sustainable farming practices don't have this problem.

But instead of cleaning up their act, these giant corporations want to profit from it. The idea is that a machine called a "digester" can capture a lagoon's methane emissions, which can then be refined and rebranded as "renewable" natural gas.

For one thing, Smithfield's digester projects are essentially gas refineries. So they're also sources of dangerous air pollutants in places already overburdened with other sources of pollution. For another, the digesters are expensive and prone to explosions and spills. And the gas pipelines they'd feed often leak methane themselves.

Even if the scheme actually works, the poop problem doesn't disappear. In fact, the waste products left over after the digestion process can be even more environmentally hazardous than the original manure.

Finally, burning factory farm biogas releases harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia and sulfur dioxide into the air.

What we have, when all is said and done, is not a solution. It's a cover-up.

A profitable company like Smithfield should clean up its act. In fact, the company agreed to improve its handling of pig waste in North Carolina 20 years ago, but very little has changed. Promoting so-called biogas digesters is just another way to expand and entrench their factory farm model, which puts a squeeze on small farms and inflicts pollution on their neighbors.

Smithfield seems to think it can slap on a sustainability slogan and sell consumers a fairy tale about "renewable gas." For the sake of small family farms, local residents, and truly sustainable farming methods, we need to put a stop to this corporate charade.

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Previously in Smithfield:

* What I Watched Last Night, April 30, 2010: "One of these corporations that caught the attention of Food, Inc. was Smithfield, which runs the world's largest hog processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. The plant blows through 32,000 hogs a day and has the benefit of a seemingly bottomless supply of disposable, low-skilled immigrants - many bused in from within a 100-mile radius - to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the country for the kind of wages George Pullman would envy."

* Random Food Report: Chimps, Footlongs & China, July 9, 2013: "The impending sale of Virginia-based pork producer Smithfield Foods to Chinese meat company Shuanghui International has caught the attention of a diverse cross-section of the food industry in the U.S., from food safety experts and disturbed consumer rights groups to senators concerned with the implications of the deal . . . "

* The [Friday] Papers, April 16, 2020: "Earlier this week, Smithfield Foods shut down facilities in three different state including it's Sioux Falls, South Dakota location. The plant was shut down after 598 employees tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as an additional 135 people who are not employed by the company, but contracted the virus after they were in close contact with the workers.

"The processing facility supplies 5 percent of the nation's pork supply and the anonymous [South Side] Rose Packing Co. employee says Smithfield is one of the company's suppliers."

* Millions Of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out Of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protections, Thanks To OSHA, April 16, 2020: "In recent days, many of the largest outbreaks have been at work, highlighted by the spread of the disease to more than 600 workers at Smithfield Foods' pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota . . . "

* The [Monday] Papers, April 27, 2020: "Meat-processing giant Smithfield Foods is closing two of its facilities in Illinois, its latest moves to shut down meatpacking plants due to the coronavirus pandemic . . . "

* E-Mails Reveal Disgusting Meatpacking Shitshow Over COVID-19 Outbreaks, June 12, 2020: "In mid-March, a few weeks before a massive outbreak at its South Dakota pork plant, Smithfield Foods' chief executive Kenneth Sullivan sent a letter to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts saying he had 'grave concerns' that stay-at-home orders were causing 'hysteria.'"

* The [Thursday] Papers, July 16, 2020: "In the days before the Kane County Health Department ordered Smithfield Foods' St. Charles meat processing plant to close due to concerns about COVID-19, and before the health department confirmed an employee had died, a call came in to police . . . "

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2021

Dear Pharmacists: Stop Selling Snake Oil

A national science advocacy organization is urging pharmacists to be worthy of the trust that customers have placed in them to guide them in their health decisions by steering patients away from useless fake medicine in the form of homeopathy. The Center for Inquiry is asking the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners and its member organizations to ensure that these fraudulent products are treated as the snake oil they are.

"When they're sick, American consumers turn to their pharmacists for their training, professionalism, and their personal connection to their communities," said Nick Little, CFI vice president and general counsel. "One out of three customers suffering from an illness places themselves in the knowing hands of their pharmacist to tell them what treatment they should take. That is an incredible statement of trust in pharmacists' expertise, and it is critical that they never betray that trust by recommending phony products that, at best, have no effect of any kind whatsoever."

Homeopathy is an 18th-century pseudoscience premised on the absurd, unscientific notion that a substance that causes a particular symptom can alleviate that symptom when it is diluted to the point that it no longer exists, save for the "memory" nonsensically alleged to be retained by water molecules. It is established scientific fact that homeopathic treatments have no effect whatsoever beyond that of a placebo.

Though homeopathy does not and cannot treat any condition or symptom, it is unscrupulously marketed and sold by drug retailers such as CVS and Walmart, who pocket billions of dollars every year from deceiving their customers. In its letter to the JCPP, CFI says, "Pharmacists have an ethical and moral obligation to ensure that patients are safe, not a profit source."

Buying homeopathic products is more than a waste of money, says CFI, which tells the JCPP that by recommending homeopathy to customers, "they are directing them to an under-regulated, under-policed, potentially toxic substance for the patient, or, worse, for their child. Such behavior cannot fit within the JCPP's Pharmacists' Patient Care Process."

CFI says the solution is simple: Don't recommend homeopathy to patients, and whenever possible, inform them of what homeopathy actually is and that it simply doesn't work.

"It is critical that your members use their position wisely, and that they in no situation recommend homeopathy to their patients," writes CFI. "Pharmacists are in a unique and ever important position to ensure the health and safety of us all by ensuring these products are treated as the shams they are."

The Center for Inquiry is currently engaged in two consumer-protection lawsuits against retailers Walmart and CVS for misrepresenting homeopathy's safety and efficacy by selling homeopathic products right alongside real, evidence-based medicine on its shelves and its online store, with no distinction made between them, under signs indicating them as treatments for particular ailments.

Members organizations of the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners:

* Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP)

* American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)

* American College of Apothecaries (ACA)

* American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)

* Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)

* American Pharmacists Association (APhA)

* American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP)

* American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)

* College of Psychiatric/Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP)

* Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA)

* National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

* National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)

* National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 PM | Permalink

Vashon Jordan Jr.'s Joyful Revolution

The Chicago History Museum announced Wednesday the acquisition of 117 photographs and two copies of Chicago Protests: A Joyful Revolution, from Chicago-based visual artist and author, Vashon Jordan Jr.

His donated work was inspired by civil injustices in 2020 and the persistent demonstrations that took place across Chicago, showcasing the resilience and authenticity of Chicago and its people.

Chicago Protests: A Joyful Revolution is currently in the museum's research center and the photographs will be made available to the public on the Museum's image portal later this year. Several photos will be featured in an upcoming exhibition that highlights the tumultuous and triumphant events of 2020.

"Vashon Jordan Jr.'s work sheds light on our city's strength and resilience and aligns directly with our mission to share Chicago stories," said Charles E. Bethea, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the Chicago History Museum. "We are honored to have his poignant work in our collection and make his photographs available to the public to learn from and shape our future."

Jordan Jr. is one of just five photographers to have their own photo collection at the museum, and the only to have been born and raised in Chicago. His book, Chicago Protests: A Joyful Revolution, showcases his photos from more than 35 different demonstrations and moments in Chicago that shaped a summer of unrest in 2020. His partnership with the museum is ongoing and includes additional photo donations featuring Lori Lightfoot's inauguration in 2019 and future notable events in Chicago.

"The city of Chicago showed unmatched resilience and hope during the summer of 2020, sparked by unrest and civil injustices taking place across the country. When we look back on this time, I want young people to see themselves represented for the enormous strides we made together," said Jordan Jr. "I am excited to share my photography with the Chicago History Museum and its audiences, as it shows people of all backgrounds and identities coming together in solidarity, embarking on a joyful revolution."

Jordan, 21, is a visual artist who uses photography and videography to showcase authentic moments that reflect the people of Chicago. He enjoys engaging with youth across the city to inspire and encourage activism. Jordan Jr. received his Associate in Arts from Kennedy-King College and is currently studying at Columbia College Chicago.

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See also:

From Jordan's Instagram.

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*

*

*

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On Chicago Tonight.

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At the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago.

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Tribune.

Chicago Student Took 17,000 Photos At 37 Events Of People Fighting For Social Justice After George Floyd's Killing. Now There's a Book. 'I Want To Give You The Whole Story.'

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2021

When Algorithms Come For Journalists

Journalists - especially those without institutional newsroom support - rely on tools from major tech companies like Google and YouTube for newsgathering, production and distribution as a matter of course. As these information giants publicly wrestle with controversial content moderation decisions that dominate headlines and congressional hearings, their decisions also run the risk of stifling routine reporting. When content is removed or an algorithm tweaked behind closed doors, news organizations and journalists are often left without any sort of transparency into the process or a clear path to appeals.

In the last month, Freedom of the Press Foundation and the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker experienced this first-hand, with the temporary takedown from Google Docs of an online database we've used to track more than 2,500 tweets by former President Donald Trump attacking the media. We've used this public spreadsheet for data analysis over the years, and provided it to readers and other journalists to do their own exploration of Trump's anti-media tweets and their effect on press freedom.

Two weeks ago, the database was taken down by Google and replaced with a notice claiming an unspecified "terms of service" violation.

Neither Freedom of the Press Foundation nor Stephanie Sugars, our reporter whose personal account "owns" the document, were notified of its removal, and no recourse was offered.

"When I discovered the spreadsheet had been flagged, I was at a complete loss for how to contest the decision," Sugars said. "Even the directive from Google's 'Help' screen was useless, as it said to request a review when the document was already open. I couldn't open the document at all, and when I tried it disappeared from my [Google Drive]."

Still, we were lucky. Some of our colleagues know employees at Google, and our allies know even more. After many people made private inquiries on our behalf, the document was restored without explanation a day after we discovered it was down. Obviously, that course of action is not available to most.

We still have no idea why the Trump tweet database was taken down.

Even a temporary suspension can have serious drawbacks for reporters or outlets that are providing timely reporting or live broadcasts. Since the beginning of 2021, for example, the progressive news outlet Status Coup has seen both widespread adoption of its live-streaming footage and an increase in restrictions from YouTube, where it broadcasts. As it was covering a pro-gun rally in Virginia last month, its feed was abruptly cut for violating the service's firearms policy. Similar to allies stepping in in our Trump tweet database situation, high-profile criticism of Silicon Valley appeared to lead to the stream's restoration.

That option is not available to most. Should local journalists have to rely on higher-profile journalists to draw attention to their case?

And despite that reversal, Status Coup continues to face problems. Even though their channel was restored, Status Coup has made the editorial decision not to "go live" as it covers certain controversial events. Critical footage it shot from the Capitol Riots, which was later licensed by CNN and other networks and seen by millions of people, was taken down by YouTube, and much of it has not been restored. In the weeks since, some of the same raw footage was also removed from Google Drive, again citing unspecified Terms of Service violations, according to the outlet's co-founder Jordan Chariton.

Chariton also described the difficulty of planning reporting trips or assignments when the resulting stories are shaded with total uncertainty. "As a journalist you want to sink or swim on your judgement, what stories you choose, the way you report, building relationships with sources," he said, but Status Coup's experience thus far "shows that you can be tenacious, work seven days a week, break big stories, and Google and the rest of them could choose to bury you, choose to take your footage down."

Google's domination of search means it can have profound effects on distribution even for outlets that don't expressly rely on products like YouTube. U.S. Right to Know, a non-profit newsroom that engages in investigative journalism on public health issues, has provided Freedom of the Press Foundation with evidence of a sudden and dramatic drop-off in incoming traffic from Google search results after the search engine released a "core update" to its ranking algorithm.

U.S. Right to Know's Google referral traffic dropped off a cliff in the beginning of December, right when the algorithm change was announced. Was there some action that U.S. Right to Know took that triggered this? What can it do to rectify the situation? Its editors have no idea.

Google_Search_Console_USRTK_performance_data.original.png

U.S. Right to Know has also previously attracted strong negative attention from the subjects of its reporting - Monsanto set up an "intelligence center" to monitor and discredit the organization and other journalists. In the absence of meaningful transparency or an appeal process, it's difficult to rule out the idea that such a motivated company could possibly have played a role.

This is only one example of many over the years where an algorithm change has killed a news outlet's traffic overnight. The New York Times wrote in 2017 how legitimate left-leaning independent news outlets were getting decimated by Google's attempt to eliminate "fake news." Outlets large and small have long complained Facebook constantly wreaks havoc on their traffic - and in turn, their revenue - if they decide to de-emphasize certain subjects or news in users' newsfeeds. Newsrooms are stuck trying to read the tea leaves in vague announcements for how to respond.

To be clear, companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have their own First Amendment right to make decisions about what content they host and how they present that content. Efforts to diminish the liability protection afforded to tech platforms and websites of all stripes are misguided at best - and would unequivocally hurt the cause of free speech.

But that doesn't mean the companies that operate dominant tech platforms shaping our social information intake shouldn't be held accountable when their opaque decisions harm independent reporting and journalism.

Tech companies are so dominant that it's impossible to make or distribute news without them for many journalists. Given the importance of a strong and independent press, it's time these companies prioritize and allocate the resources that protect journalists from unexplained, random or otherwise punitive abuses of their power.

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Previously by Parker Higgins: Music Industry Screws Journalists By Forcing Video Tool Offline.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:00 PM | Permalink

MLB Cuts Out The Heart Of America

The year was 1960, the first time I attended a minor-league baseball game, featuring the Duluth Dukes hosting the Eau Claire Braves at Wade Stadium in Duluth, Minn. "The Wade," as the locals call it, is a concrete fortress whose aluminum planks in the cheap seats can be downright frosty even in summer if the wind is blowing in an unfriendly direction off Lake Superior.

Our summer camp was 30 miles away, and a field trip to see the Dukes of the Northern League more than 60 years ago was a delicious treat.

The Dukes were the Class-C affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Their light-hitting shortstop Ray Oyler was destined to play four seasons in Motown (six altogether in the majors) despite a .175 lifetime batting average. William James (Gates) Brown, recently released from prison- hence the moniker Gates - joined the Tigers three years later and was one of the American League's most feared pinch-hitters for 13 seasons. And Willie Smith, a promising young pitcher, went 10-6 with a 2.96 ERA for Duluth that season, the same Willie Smith whose Wrigley Field Opening Day 11th-inning, pinch-hit, walkoff home run for the Cubs ignited their near-miss 1969 season.

Little did we realize that Eau Claire catcher Joe Torre would go on to big league stardom prior to becoming a manager for 29 seasons that included four World Series titles with the Yankees.

However, Major League Baseball is taking a major league step to extinguish memories like mine with its announcement earlier this month of its realignment of the minor leagues. Gone are 43 lower-classification franchises whose working agreements with MLB will not be renewed. League designations also have been railroaded.

Gone are the Pacific Coast League, the International League, the American Association, The New York-Penn League, the Southern League and many other circuits long-associated with various sections of the country. Now we simply have Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A, all of which are divided into designations like East, West, Northeast, Central, and Southeast. One might think that the folks who named the New York City public schools are on retainer with MLB.

Since 1901, with the creation at the Leland Hotel in Chicago of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues - renamed Minor League Baseball or MiLB in 1999 - the rules and agreements between the big league clubs and their affiliates were negotiated and structured where compromise and teamwork were required. However, that arrangement expired in 2020 so that Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners unilaterally now make up the rules. You know, the same guys who say they've lost billions due to the pandemic, disregarding that minor league clubs in places like Billings, Mont. and Burlington, Ia. had their entire seasons cancelled.

And what did the folks in Billings and Burlington and 41 other towns that had minor league clubs in 2019 glean from the new arrangement? The news that their affiliation with Major League Baseball was hereby terminated. Their teams would not be filled with drafted players from MLB. If they want to continue, they're on their own. This makes cancel culture look like discontinuing reruns of Gunsmoke.

Much of my reaction is personal because my brother John spent a good portion of his professional life running or working for minor league franchises in Indianapolis, Cedar Rapids, Wichita, Tulsa, New Orleans, and Springfield, Ill. Like many other individuals, from general managers to hot dog vendors, his focus and energy were aimed at bringing the best possible experience to every fan who passed through the turnstiles.

When he was GM of the Midwest League's Cedar Rapids Cardinals, a St. Louis Class-A affiliate, my college roommate and I visited him for a night game and crashed at his austere apartment afterward. Arising at dawn the next day, he was dressed in sport coat and tie on his way to the ballpark. He said he needed to get there early to ice down the beer for that evening's game.

"Stay as long as you want," he said, "but whatever you do, don't open the refrigerator."

Of course, as soon as we heard his car's exhaust exit the parking lot - a new muffler would have been an improvement - we did exactly as we were instructed not to do, and we paid for it. Apparently the power company weeks before had cut off his electricity for late payment, and John never bothered to clean out the contents of the appliance even after power was restored. My sinuses just recovered last week.

But the lesson is that his full attention was directed toward running a minor-league baseball franchise while the little details of life, like paying his electric bill, were neglected. He had the means to write a check, but I suspect it never occurred to him. He made sure that the power company was compensated for the ballpark arcs, but he was much less concerned about his own living quarters.

If John were around today and still hustling tickets, concessions, advertising, promotions, and special events, and MLB said, "Thanks, but we don't need you anymore," he no doubt would be livid before figuring out ways to bring baseball entertainment to the heartland of America.

He would have been proud of Bernie Sanders, who has been tweeting and e-mailing for almost two years about the "contraction" of franchises like Cedar Rapids. The lone minor league club in Sanders' state, the Vermont Lake Monsters in Burlington, is among the 43 abandoned franchises.

In an age where a small-market team like San Diego makes a splash with a $340 million deal for Fernando Tatis, Jr., the owners claim they simply can't continue to stock the rosters of 160 minor league teams, paying many players less than minimum wage.

High school teammates of mine who played professional baseball came back to tell me about the times they experienced. My friend Mike played in the Carolina League after signing with the Pirates. Teammates included Dave Cash, Richie Hebner and Gene Clines, who had notable big league careers. Steve signed with Minnesota and played in the Northern League with the St. Cloud Rox, who were champions in 1966. He tells the story of the clubhouse celebration when one of his teammates needed medical attention after being popped in the eye by a Champagne cork.

While neither of these pals ever rose to higher classifications, their sons can tell their grandsons, "Pops played pro ball." That's a nice thing and one that will happen less in the future.

Seven states - Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona - will join Vermont as the only states without an affiliated minor league ballclub. Ten teams in those states who employ vendors, ticket-takers, ushers, clubhouse attendants, salespeople and others have been told to hit the road. At the risk of mixing apples and oranges, one might conclude that this is an instance of the eastern and urban elite disrespecting and ignoring the less-populated and rural sections of the country.

Part of the rationale advanced by MLB involves player development, whereby Manford and his cronies, among other assets, say that a minor league franchise needs to have a clubhouse with so many square feet, a facility with access to indoor batting cages and pitching mounds, and more than adequate weight room and training facilities. Interestingly, Mike Trout played at the aforementioned Cedar Rapids and also Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on his way to being the best player in baseball. Further investigation is required to see whether these locales had state-of-the-art facilities, but my guess is coaching, guidance and raw talent had more to do with his development than a fancy facility.

The lords of baseball continually tinker with the game, displaying on full view their inferiority complex, admitting that they themselves think the game is too slow and boring. They want the game to appeal to a wider range of fans, especially the younger set.

At the same time, they keep a close eye on attendance, which at the major league level has slowly diminished every year from 2015 to 2019. Meanwhile, minor league attendance in 2019, the last year the teams were active, rose 2.6 percent. So then, are we to believe that the solution to giving the game wider appeal is to basically eliminate more than 40 minor league teams? Sounds like Rahm Emanuel's solution to improve public education in Chicago by closing 50 schools. We know how that's working out.

Every season in Birmingham, Ala., the White Sox heretofore Double-A club hosts the Rickwood Classic at Birmingham's Rickwood Field, the oldest ballpark in America. The stadium easily qualifies as a baseball museum. The ads on the outfield walls are from yesteryear as is the old scoreboard with the Southern Association teams listed. There is a "Colored Section" reminding us of the days of Jim Crow. The place oozes history both exhilarating and distressing.

Rickwood.JPG

Maybe Rob Manford should round up his minions - the Reinsdorfs, Rickettses, Steinbrenners, the Guggenheim Baseball Management of the Dodgers - and have them attend the Rickwood Classic, a reminder of what baseball means to small town America. Maybe they'll have a change of heart. They'll realize that the game belongs to everyone; that families can enjoy nine innings of baseball, hot dogs, popcorn and beer for a fraction of the cost of a big league game just a 10-minute drive away. Or more likely they'd return home, check their balance sheets, and figure out additional ways to inflate the bottom line.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

February 19, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #344: QBnon

The biggest sports news in the city is the Bears not having a quarterback. When they get one, that will be the biggest news too. Plus: The White Sox Padres/Cubs/Cleveland Report; Too Soon, Cubs?; Banged-Up Bulls; Beautiful Blackhawks; and Basketball State.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #344: QBnon

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SHOW NOTES

* 344.

* How To Get Rid Of Ice Dams.

2:03: QBnon.

* How David Haugh and Dan Bernstein are both wrong about Carson Wentz.

* Ballard/Reich > Pace/Nagy.

* Coffman: 'It's all very tricky because nobody is entirely sure who is available.'

* Coffman: For Bears QB Conundrum, A Magic Solution.

25:21: The White Sox Cubs/Padres/Cleveland Report.

* Reinsdorf knew.

* Worst White Sox Trade Ever?

* Jim's craw.

* Kopech's craft.

37:14: Too Soon, Cubs?

* Arrieta vs. Darvish.

* Arrieta vs. Lester.

* HCDC: Harry Caray Death Cult.

* Bryant vs. Arenado.

" . . . looking back to the Rockies' talks with the Cubs last offseason involving a core exchange of Arenado and third baseman Kris Bryant. The clubs spoke at length, but sources said the Rockies were unwilling to take on any financial commitment beyond Bryant's remaining two years of club control, which at the time figured to be worth about $40 million in arbitration.

"The Cubs initially broached the idea of including outfielder Jason Heyward, who was owed $86 million over four years, to further defray the obligation to Arenado, who was still owed $225 million over seven. But the talks failed to progress, amounting to a what-might-have-been for the Cubs, particularly with Arenado now joining their biggest rival."

52:20: Banged-Up Bulls.

* Declaration: Lauri Markkanen is a bust.

56:40: Beautiful Blackhawks.

* Plus: Hockey Has A Gigantic-Goalie Problem, by Ken Dryden.

1:00:11: Basketball State.

* Illinois, Loyola, DePaul, Northwestern.

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STOPPAGE: 5:05

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2021

Special Olympics Dragon Unveiled

The Local Organizing Committee for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022 unveiled the global event's logo during a ceremony at the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The logo carries rich symbolism and was developed in part with a competition for designers across Russia. The visual identity is based on winner Artemy Lebedev's concept: Zilant - a mythical dragon creature and symbol of the city of Kazan - hugs a stylized tulip native to the Tatarstan region and serves as a representation of the Volga River. The depiction of Zilant hugging the logo is emblematic of friendship, hospitality, and joy.

kazanlogo.jpg

At the center of the logo, five figures fly in a circle to represent the global Special Olympics movement. Around the flying figures is the Volga, the largest river in Europe, on the banks of which Kazan stands. Mythical dragon Zilant encircles the logo as he protects and welcomes all participants and guests of the Games.

"We believe that such a colorful logo and mascot will catch the eye of any person," said Olga Slutsker, president of Special Olympics Russia. "It draws attention to the goal of Special Olympics Russia: to develop a society of inclusion, justice and equal opportunity for everyone regardless of ability."

"We are very proud that symbols of Kazan became the official mascot of the Games," said Vladimir Leonov, head of the Ministry of Sport in Tatarstan state. "Zilant is not like other dragons. He is friendly and casual, and he adds brightness, soul and variety to the Special Olympics World Winter Games."

The livestreamed event featured the logo projected onto the Kazan Kremlin during a concert with mezzo soprano singer Liza Novikova and Russian-Ukranian composer Igor Krutoy. Novikova has an intellectual disability and a YouTube channel where she has developed a fan base including many fellow professional opera singers. She regularly performs concerts in her home city Saint Petersburg. Liza performed a composition from Italian opera Ulisse about focusing on the journey instead of the destination. Krutoy is a Ukranian and Russian music composer, performer, producer, and musical promoter. He organizes the New Wave competition for young performers of popular music.

Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022 is scheduled to open on January 22, 2022, with 2,000 athletes from over 100 countries and the support of 3,000 volunteers. Kazan is regarded as the unofficial sports capital of Russia, and has the sports facilities, infrastructure, and volunteer base to hold world-class competitions.

Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners will have the opportunity to compete in seven sports at the World Winter Games Kazan 2022: alpine skiing, snowboarding, floorball, cross-country skiing, figure skating, short track speed skating and snowshoeing.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2021

For Bears QB Conundrum, A Magic Solution

First of all, congratulations to Ryan Pace for not yet having made a lopsided trade for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz or whichever other veteran signal-caller he might overpay for (with players and picks in a trade) and overpay (salary) in the current offseason.

I have a much better idea and will get to it shortly.

Does anyone really think Wentz (who was awful last year and hasn't been anything special since his 13-game starting stint in 2017 - the run that was interrupted by the season-ending injury that cleared the way for Nick Foles to lead the Eagles to glory) is the guy to get the Bears over the hump?

The only experienced, available NFL quarterback this offseason with even an above-average chance to lead a team to the Super Bowl has already been traded - soon-to-be former Lion Matthew Stafford. And say what you will about what the Rams gave up for him (and to get rid of soon-to-be former Ram QB Jared Goff's huge contract) - Tom Brady's first-year veteran quarterback feats last season for the Bucs suggest there is at least a chance the acquisition of Stafford will eventually be seen as a bargain.

The Rams will send away (when the trade is made official on March 17) a third-round pick this year, first-round picks in '22 and '23, and, of course, Goff, who you might remember took the Rams to the Super Bowl a couple years ago. Okay so that is actually a lot - it is actually going to be tough for this move to ever qualify as a bargain. But anyway . . .

The Bears missed out on Stafford (not that they were going to get him after the Lions found someone outside the division who was willing to pay their price). And they won't be trading for Deshaun Watson, for goodness sake. Remember that I said "experienced and available." Watson is simply not available to the Bears. Actually, the only possible Watson trade that even begins to make sense for the Texans was explained by former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum earlier this week and it is as simple as can be - straight up for the Cowboys' Dak Prescott.

There is no way in the universe the resource-poor Bears can put together a package better than Prescott. Neither can anyone else, really, except maybe if the Jaguars wanted to start a package with soon-to-be first pick Trevor Lawrence (he's about as can't-miss a rookie as can be but he will still be a rookie this coming season and therefore would only be the start of a deal).

But Prescott is just as much of a budding superstar as Watson is. The 25-year-old Watson is a little younger (two years) but Prescott, despite his broken and dislocated ankle injury last season, still probably projects as more durable overall.

So let's get to the point of all of this, for goodness sakes . . .

The Bears should sign longtime backup and occasionally stellar starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (he of sporadic "Fitzmagic" fame, most recently for the Dolphins) and maybe spend a little extra time evaluating quarterback options in this year's draft with an eye on grabbing a developmental QB in any round other than the first.

We don't have a whole lot of optimism about what Pace, the guy who paid Mike Glennon $18 million after all, will do this time around in the free agent quarterback market. But that doesn't mean he can't stumble into the best possible solution. Stranger things have happened!

You can sign the 38-year-old Fitzpatrick at a bargain rate, especially given the fact you would be offering him a great chance to start all season. He has been around for a long time but he hasn't taken as much punishment as many of his peers, given his having spent so much time as a backup.

Then in the draft you use that first-round pick on the best offensive lineman available who has played at least some tackle. If there is a run on such players before the 20th pick, trade down and get one in the second round and improve your overall draft inventory. Again, stranger things than Pace finding a quality tackle in the second round have happened! They have!

With Fitzpatrick and Foles good to go as the starter and backup, whichever young quarterback you draft will only play in his first year if there is a disaster (both veterans get hurt). A full year of preparation is a very good thing for a quarterback prospect for gosh sakes. Even Patrick Mahomes took advantage of one.

Then you use the savings from employing Fitzpatrick rather than someone more expensive to sign Allen Robinson to a big, fair, absolute No. 1 wide receiver deal. On second thought, this probably makes way to much sense for Pace to do it.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

U.S. States Take Aim At Protesters' Rights

Peaceful protests are protected by the United States Constitution's First Amendment as well as international human rights law. But a legislative assault aimed at eroding these protections is underway in several state legislatures.

It's nothing new. Various states have long tried to curtail the right to protest. They do so by legislating wide definitions of what constitutes an "unlawful assembly" or a "riot" as well as increasing punishments. They also allow police to use catch-all public offenses, such as trespassing, obstructing traffic, or disrupting the peace, as a pretext for ordering dispersals, using force, and making arrests. Finally, they make it easier for corporations and others to bring lawsuits against protest organizers.

While proportionate restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly, like creating buffer zones around abortion clinics to ensure access, may be necessary, the use of catch-all offenses against peaceful demonstrators or the imposition of increased penalties to deter assemblies are not.

At a time of large mobilizations across the U..S, attempts by states to deter and impose criminal penalties on peaceful protesters should be stopped.

According to the US Protest Law Tracker, created by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, there are currently 51 bills under consideration in 24 state legislatures, including as many as 10 in Oklahoma, that they warn would threaten the right to assemble peacefully.

Among the proposed laws are nine, including three in Oklahoma, that the Tracker reports would provide civil and/or criminal immunity for drivers injuring or killing protesters unlawfully disrupting traffic and one stand-your-ground bill in New Hampshire that would allow deadly force against protesters "likely" to use "any" degree of unlawful force during a riot.

Other bills would increase penalties for participating in unlawful protests, something that happens automatically in many jurisdictions once someone marches without a permit, or for committing an offense - including jaywalking or trespassing - while in an unlawful assembly.

International human rights law protects the right of peaceful assembly and requires authorities at all levels to facilitate such assemblies and avoid unnecessary or disproportionate restrictions on them. The mere act of planning or participating in a protest should not be criminalized. Authorities are also required to protect people participating in such assemblies - bills that encourage or allow violence against protesters are inconsistent with those obligations, and states should abandon them.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2021

Valpo Picked Wrong Genocides To Honor

The world of Lutheran angst and outrage is aflame this month with news that Valparaiso University's sports mascot has been expunged and excommunicated.

The forces of cultural sensitivity arrived. The Crusader had to go because it violates political correctness norms, and that makes people on both sides itch as if they have hives or shingles.

But I arrive to tell my Missouri Synod friends that they are misguided in their outrage on the merits of the case.

Missouri Synod Lutherans often are oddly and angrily wrong, and who better to lecture them on their theological errancy than Lapsed Catholics?

As the official representative of Lapsed Catholics of America, I am here to reclaim the Crusader title from Reformation thieves.

The adoption of "Crusaders" as VU's mascot in 1942 always was something of a puzzlement. VU has been wrong about this for nearly 80 years, and when you have been wrong about the same thing for 80 years, the last thing you want is some Lapsed Catholic smartass to tell you.

If you stay married to the same wrong person for 80 years, that is not a problem anything but time can fix. Like, nobody 60 years ago could have told you?

It was like an entire university completely misunderstood history - theirs and the Roman Catholic church's. Catholics all knew the Crusaders of the Middle Ages were the Roman pope's official foreign policy, designed to steal land and kill infidels. Catholics used to be big on sending mercenaries to kill infidels - even Byzantine Eastern Rite Catholics on the wrong side of the liturgical fence. Everyone needs a hobby.

By my childhood, even Indiana Catholics had stopped celebrating the Crusades just like we pretended the Inquisition didn't happen. There never were any Saint Torquemada Parishes of Perpetual Pain. We even stopped burning Jews at the stake because they wouldn't convert.

At least regular Catholics never thought Galileo was a heretic. My family thought he was swell.

As for murdering heathens, God told us to do it. As Paul Atreides of Dune says: "One cannot go against the word of God."

Crusaders were good at murder. On their way east to kill Muslims, the Crusaders even stopped in Germany long enough to invent mass murder of Jews.

VU's Lutherans were basically misinformed. If the papal Knights Templar portrayed by the mascot at sports events had encountered Missouri Synod Protestants, the "real" Crusaders would have murdered them, too. After all, it's what God would have wanted at the time.

The actual Crusaders were given the supreme papal dispensation - "007 License to Kill Infidels" - which would have included advocates of Martin Luther had any existed at the time.

The five "real" Crusades started in 1095 and ended in 1291. Martin Luther wasn't born until 200 years after the last Crusade, but it's not as if the Roman church trademarked the term.

For the 200 years spanning the real Crusades, there were no Lutherans. Heretics? Sure. But no Lutherans.

VU had become Latter Day Thieves of Someone Else's Culture. They didn't even pick a noble cultural template or the right century. Doesn't VU have a history department?

Papal forces spent the two centuries after 1291 trying to kill Muslims, and Muslims tried to take European land, too. Lots of organized murder on both sides because organized religion is very adept at genocide.

The Muslims were finally expelled from Europe (Grenada in Spain) about the same time that Columbus landed in the New World.

But those two centuries certainly were bloody, though not national/papal Crusades, because the European knights were too busy in those centuries trying to behead each other with broadswords. Anyone remember the Hundred Years' War between the French and British? No time for crusades.

The Crusades generally were the work of British and French knights, plus several religious orders that actually were devoted mostly to plunder. And killing infidels. Let's not forget that preference.

In 1942, the Lutherans who picked the VU mascot apparently forgot they were the infidels. This was like the NAACP picking a KKK Grand Wizard as their mascot.

Ever since 1931, the school had used the Uhlan as its symbol. The Uhlan was a Germanic military model, but in 1942 German light cavalry motifs were not so attractive.

So VU went from extolling pre-Nazi Germanic symbols to Pre-Reformation Catholicism.

Does not seem like Protestants had much to do with papal policy then at all. That means, at the very least, VU's mascot is cultural appropriation, like the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins.

But none of the current kerfuffle is new at VU. Senior students Danelle Carrig and Erica Kaufman tried and failed in 2000 to ditch the Crusader. They used the precise same rationale then that now has succeeded.

This time the university's president was carrying the torch. But the VU family of grads and friends remains touchy about being told what to do. Old affections die hard.

So I say this to my Lutheran brethren: Fair is fair. Invent your own murderous wars, massacres and annihilations to celebrate. There are plenty of religious genocides to celebrate.

But the Crusades? That one is Rome's property.

David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Trump's Most Amusing Pardon. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #343: LIV-i-n

Super Bowl recap. Plus: Bears QB Epiphany; Bill Pecota's Predictions; Building Blackhawks Better; Zach's Lack; and State Of Basketball.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #343: LIV-i-n

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SHOW NOTES

* 343.

* Befuddled by Boog.

3:16: Super Bowling.

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*

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20:16: Bears Still Wentzless.

* Rhodes: "No matter what they do short of Deshaun Watson or moving up in the draft, it's gonna be unsatisfying."

* Epiphany: Fitzmagic.

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30:05: Bill Pecota's Predictions.

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45:10: Building Blackhawks Better.

* Melton, Second City Hockey: Blackhawks' 6-1-3 Run Sits On A Shaky Foundation.

* Pope, Sun-Times: Bowman: Blackhawks Not 'Holding Back' Additional Info About Jonathan Toews.

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1:02:16: Zach's Lack.

* Walter, Pippen Ain't Easy: It's Raining Threes.

* Cowley: If Winning Is The Rule, Bulls May Need To Trade LaVine.

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1:07:09: State Of Basketball.

* Loyola Men: 22

* Illinois Men: 6

* Northwestern Women: 21

* DePaul Women: 22

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STOPPAGE: 13:45

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2021

Karma Finally Bites Boston

Sports karma is a bitch.

And in this year's Super Bowl, Boston fans received their second heaping helping of the last year-plus. This would be karma as it is experienced by people in their current lifetime, by the way. We are not getting into reincarnation.

First, there was baseball: Six-billionaire Red Sox owner John Henry dumped (in a lopsided trade) his team's best player, Mookie Betts, before the 2020 season and then watched as the Los Angeles Dodgers easily signed Betts to a big contract extension. Betts then led his new team to its first World Series championship in more than 30 years, causing much cursing and gnashing of teeth among Red Sox Nation.

The Red Sox could have allowed Betts to play out his contract and then bid for him on the open market. And the massive revenue team (always in the top three in Major League Baseball with the Yankees and Dodgers) could have easily topped anyone else's offer. But Henry chose not to do it. He cared more about his team's bottom line than about continuing to win championships.

During the 2019-20 off-season, the final one in which the Red Sox had contractual control of their star rightfielder, Betts had refused to sign an extension with his original team. He was motivated in part by a feeling that he had not been treated particularly well by the organization that had drafted him and developed him into a star. Remind you of a certain Cubs former MVP? Minus the injury prone last several years that have featured sharply declining offensive production, of course.

Kris Bryant is heading into his final season of club control. And if anything, he is more displeased with the organization where he grew into a star than Betts was with the Red Sox.

Bryant and Betts know what all savvy athletes know - you don't maximize your earning power unless you put yourself up for sale on the free market.

Then there was football. The NFL season ended with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers giving the defending champ Chiefs a serious thrashing in Super Bowl LV. Leading the way for the new champs was veteran quarterback Tom Brady, who recorded his seventh Super Bowl championship. He had earned his first six with the New England Patriots, of course.

This all seems to be happening in response to the fact that prior to 2020, Boston fans had enjoyed a seemingly unprecedented run of success over a 19-year stretch, with the Patriots winning six Super Bowls (2002, '04, '05, '15, '17, '19), the Red Sox winning three World Series' (2004, '07, '13), and the Celtics (2008) and Bruins (2011) each grabbing singular championships.

The Red Sox fans probably have plenty more suffering to do. After all, when the team sold Babe Ruth in 1919 it so offended the cosmic balance of the universe that it went 86 years before finally returning to the winner's circle. Henry at least received major league outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong in return for Betts. But the Red Sox also made sure to dump highly paid pitcher David Price on the Dodgers for "cash considerations," i.e. the trade was more about saving money than getting players.

Virtually all Patriots fans believe that if Brady had wanted to come back, owner Bob Kraft would have made it happen. And Brady made it clear that one thing he and his supermodel wife wanted was to say goodbye to winters. There was nothing Boston, or Chicago for that matter, could do about that. So perhaps there will be less suffering on the gridiron. And the Celtics and Bruins are both legitimate contenders (though not favorites) for championships in the spring/summer.

My guess is - having experienced a bit of suffering myself as a lifelong Chicago fan - the Red Sox fans have only begun to pay the price. Henry's actions are unforgivable in every way, shape and form.

Owners need to start to figure out that if they can't hang on to home-grown superstars, they are the problem. When they realize they probably can't sign (or at least make competitive offers to) guys like Betts or Bryant, they shouldn't trade them, they should sell their teams.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet Post-Mortem

Whelp, aside from a glaringly obvious set list and some predictably unfortunate dancing, The Weeknd defied expectations. No covers, no scantily-clad dancers, and he did the one thing Brandon explicitly predicted he wouldn't do - played tracks from the mixtapes.

He also found some clever and entertaining ways to get around the fact that half the audience was made out of cardboard.

I'll probably never understand the symbolism of the robed choir scattered amongst neon skyscrapers, but it looked cool. Who knew the inside of the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium included a mirrored gold maze? Could've done without the face jockstraps, but I did appreciate the illuminated Up With People tribute at the end. And it must be said (because it's often not the case), his vocals were flawless.

Also predictably, the Zoomers were ascendant in this year's halftime show wager. It's a split decision between Anthony's whopping six correct song choices and Tiki's 100% perfect record - she was also the only person with a correct costuming or set prediction. Honorable mention to SJ, whose extremely detailed guesses wound up sorta halfway right if you turned your head to the side and kinda squinted at them.

So congratulations to Anthony and Tiki. The halftime bet is in good hands. And congratulations to everyone on this e-mail list who was born in the 20th century - you are old.

Until next year,
nj

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Previously In Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Coverage:
* The 2009 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bracket: Bruce Springsteen Edition.

* The Who's 2010 Super Bowl Suckage.

* Let's Not Get It Started And Say We Did: The 2011 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet.

* The 2012 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bet: Madonna Edition.

* The 2013 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bet: Beyoncé Knowles Edition.

* Tweeting The 2014 Super Bowl Suckage: Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers Edition.

* The 2015 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet: Katy Perry Edition.

* The 8th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Coldplay Edition.

* The 9th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Lady Gaga Edition.

* The 10th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Justin Timberlake Edition.

* The 11th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Maroon 5 Edition.

* Postscript: The 11th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Maroon 5 Edition.

* 'I Just Couldn't Be a Sellout' | Why Rihanna Turned Down The Super Bowl Halftime Show.

* The 12th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Shakira & JLo Edition.

* The 13th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Mr. Weeknd?

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Comments/wagers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

February 6, 2021

Trump's Last Day

That was some weird shit.

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Previous Pie:
* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

* Progressive Pie.

* The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.

* Pie Commits A Hate Crime.

* Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative.

* Jonathan Pie's Idiot's Guide To The U.S. Election.

* President Trump: How & Why.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

* Happy Christmas From Jonathan Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! 2016 In Review.

* Inauguration Reporting.

* New Year: New Pie?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Strong And Unstable.

* Pie & Brand: Hate, Anger, Violence & Carrying On.

* Socialism Strikes Back!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Carnage.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Papering Over Poverty.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Queen's Speech.

* Showdown: North Korea vs. Trump.

* Time For The Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.

* Cricket vs. Brexit.

* The Real Jonathan Pie.

* A Hostile Environment.

* Jonathan Pie | Trump's America.

* Pie: Putin's America.

* Amazon And The Way Of The World.

* Horseface, Ho-Hum.

* Of Turbines, Trump And Twats.

* Breaking: Trump Still Racist.

* It Says Here.

* The Real Climate Crisis Hypocrites.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

* The Tale Of Dominic Cummings.

* Jonathan Pie's Black Lives Matter Report Brilliantly Illustrates The Point Of Jonathan Pie.

* The Myth, Mirth, Malarkey And Magic Of Glastonbury And The Arts.

* Put A Fucking Mask On.

* Build Back What?

* Let The Children Starve.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter, Wins The Post-Election Analysis.

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Previously in Pie's Lockdown:
* Jonathan Pie: Lockdown: Low-Footprint Content.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2.: Spare Bedroom Shithole.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 3: Tele-Vision.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 4: A Trump Drinking Game.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt 5: Madness Sets In.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 6: Question Time.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 7: Back To School.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:32 PM | Permalink

SUE In Denver

SUE, the most complete, best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered, is coming to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Feb. 12.

The traveling exhibition SUE: The T. rex Experience features the latest scientific discoveries about this incredible fossil. The exhibition tickles guests' senses as they explore SUE's world, touch casts of real dinosaur fossils, hear the throaty rumble of a T. rex growl, and come face to face with SUE.

suedenver.jpg

"Our community has expressed an unwavering interest in dinosaurs, and we can't wait to introduce SUE to Colorado through this exciting exhibition," Denver Museum of Nature & Science President & CEO George Sparks says. "We hope this glimpse into SUE's world inspires budding paleontologists and reignites a flame of curiosity in everyone else."

SUE's fossils are on permanent display at the Field Museum in Chicago, so the traveling exhibition gives you a chance to experience SUE through:

* An exact cast of SUE's skeleton, measuring in at 40 feet from snout to tail and 13 feet tall at the hip.

* Touchable bronze casts of SUE's bones.

* A multimedia light show that highlights the details of SUE's skeleton.

"Most of the Denver metro area is situated on top of rocks deposited during SUE's time, so not only are we excited for SUE to visit Colorado, but we also have some incredible recent discoveries closer to home that guests will get to explore as part of the exhibition," Museum Curator of Dinosaurs Joe Sertich says.

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See also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:18 PM | Permalink

Why We Love The Bee Gees

In this dreary COVID-19 winter, there are some high points - and high notes - available to people cooped up at home.

The documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, which premiered on HBO in December, explores the musical significance of the group and is interwoven with performance footage. At the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, the halftime performer will be Canada's The Weeknd.

What kind of sound do these singers share? And what on Earth do they have in common with the Monty Python comedians in sketches where they portray women?

All these artists use the falsetto voice, a specialized sound that features amazing high notes. Falsetto is associated particularly with the male voice singing in the range normally used by women and children.

Historically, perhaps most famously, beautiful high notes are often associated with opera roles originally written for a particular group of male singers known as "castrati," who were castrated. Today, opera roles originally written for castrati are sung by countertenors. These singers go beyond the higher "normal" range associated with the tenor voice while singing in falsetto.

Of course, beyond these classically-based countertenor singers, the falsetto sound is heard in innumerable beloved pop singers. While standout artists have learned to develop their voices into something quite fascinating, anyone can find a falsetto sound.

Falsetto is an extension of our normal voices that we use every day - beyond the voices we use in all those Zoom meetings of late. The word falsetto refers to a "false" voice, so-called because the voice uses only part of the vocal apparatus in our throats, rather than the full vibratory sound used in regular singing and speaking.

The normal vocal sounds we make are created by the vibrations of our vocal folds (or vocal cords). These tiny folds are controlled by an intricate system of muscles and cartilage in the throat.

The vocal folds function basically by the rate of air movement, or pressure, from the lungs. With more air pressure, the folds will vibrate more quickly and will produce a higher pitch. Less air, and the pitch will be lower. You can feel the vibrations for yourself if you say or sing "ooh," thinking of a lower pitch, while placing a hand on your throat.

But if you use only the edges of the vocal folds, without allowing the whole mechanism to vibrate, then you can achieve that high, floaty sound that is your "false" voice - your falsetto.

The falsetto sound can still be heard in various forms of classical music - a vestige of the ban on women performers in earlier centuries. The traditional English church choir includes men singing in their falsettos to provide the alto line in hymns and anthems. (The soprano line was sung by boys, not women.)

In some classical music, as in the perennial December favorite, Handel's Messiah, a countertenor will sing the alto solos - more usually sung by a woman. Canada's Daniel Taylor is one of the best countertenors in the world.

Today's opera roles sung by countertenors were originally written for the castrati who were superstars in the 17th and 18th centuries. Castration caused a physical difference in the way these voices functioned - and in the body shape and size of the castrated men - but the resultant sound was much the same as today's countertenor sound.

You can hear an attempted re-creation of the sound of a castrato, rendered by electronically fusing the voices of a female singer and a countertenor, in the 1994 movie Farinelli, a cinematic take on the great 18th-century castrato opera singer Farinelli (born Carlo Broschi).

The only aural record of a castrato is of nine recorded selections of castrato Alessandro Moreschi, believed to be the last singer of his kind.

Some scholars have explored falsetto sounds in Black popular and "soul" music, including through genre-bending musical fusion.


Read more: Prince: an icon of a new form of classical music

Falsetto is found widely in popular music styles today from from The Weeknd and Justin Timberlake. If you listened to the concert celebrating Joe Biden's presidential inauguration in the United States, you would have heard Timberlake singing "Better Days" with Ant Clemons. Timberlake's naturally high voice works seamlessly into an effective falsetto sound.

Is there a female falsetto voice? Yes! The process for making the sound is the same as in men. But because women's voices are already higher, it's harder to hear a different quality. You can hear it some singers, including Christina Aguilera.

However, the allure of the falsetto voice remains more compelling in men than in women. Perhaps it is the attraction of the natural lower male voice contrasted with the high notes - maybe we are waiting for a crack or admiring the physical effort. Or perhaps we simply enjoy the floating beauty of the sound of high notes.

Whatever the reason, male high notes and the falsetto voice remain fascinating.

Helen Pridmore is an associate professor of music at the University of Regina. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Bonus video: John Frusciante's "How Deep Is Your Love."

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

I'd say we love the male falsetto for several reasons not mentioned here: the surprise of such a voice coming from a man; the gender-bending that conveys compassion with a feminine perspective; outdoing in some ways women's voices that we love so much; and the sheer skill it seems to take to produce and maintain the voice.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

Copyright Law Just Went Awry

In all the madness that made up the last month of 2020, a number of copyright bills and proposals popped up - and some even became law before most people had any chance to review them. So now that the dust has settled a little and we have a better idea what the landscape is going to look like, it is time to answer a few frequently asked questions.

What Happened?

In December 2020, Congress was rushing to pass a massive spending bill and coronavirus relief package. This was "must-pass" legislation, in the sense that if it didn't pass there would be no money to do things like fund the government. Passing the package was further complicated by a couple of threats from President Trump to veto the bill unless certain things were in it.

In all this, two copyright bills were added to the spending package, despite them not having any place there - not least because there hadn't been robust hearings where the issues with them could be pointed out. One of the bills didn't even have text available to the public until the very last second. And they are now law.

The omnibus bill is 5,593 pages long. These new copyright laws are pretty close to smack dab in the middle, starting on page 2,539.

What Are These Laws?

They are the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 and the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act). The former makes operating certain kinds of commercial streaming services a felony. The second creates a weird "Copyright Claims Board" within the Copyright Office that can hand out $30,000 awards for claims of copyright infringement. One is not going to impact the average internet user that much. One is more dangerous.

What Is The Felony Streaming Law?

The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 only had text publicly released about two weeks before it became law, and interest in it was high. This was partially because people heard there was a felony streaming law but no details whatsoever.

It isn't a great law - we simply do not need more penalties for copyright infringement and definitely not ones that make it a felony - but the good news is it won't affect most people.

Since most people don't run such services, and the law does not affect the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, most of us won't be running afoul of this law.

What Is The Copyright Alternatives In Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act?

The CASE Act is a different story altogether. It is, at best, a huge waste of time and money. At worst, it will hover unconstitutionally like a dark cloud over everyone attempting to share anything online.

The CASE Act creates a "Copyright Claims Board" in the Copyright Office that can hear infringement claims by rightsholders seeking redress of no more than $30,000 per proceeding.

The CASE Act's proponents claim this process is voluntary, but rather than both parties agreeing to this process - aka an "opt-in" system - everyone is presumptively bound by the board's decisions unless they "opt-out." That is, you must affirmatively, in whatever manner the Copyright Office decides, say you do not want to participate in this system. You must do this every time you get a notice from this board if you don't want to be subject to its decisions. If you don't, if you ignore it in any way, you are on the hook for whatever they decide. And it's a decision they can make without you defending yourself. And it's a decision that has very limited appeal options.

For many people, opting out will be the best option as this process does not have the protections and limitations that a court case has. For example, a bad decision on fair use in court is subject to multiple levels of appeal. Under the CASE Act, decisions made by claims officers are extremely difficult to appeal. Making matters worse, the penalties the Copyright Claims Board is authorized to impose are high and will be, especially at first, unpredictable.

Okay, How Do I Opt-Out?

Sadly, we cannot tell you that yet. A lot of this is left up to the Copyright Office to determine. The Copyright Office has until December of 2021 to get this thing up and running (with an option to extend that deadline by 180 days). In that time, they have to establish regulations about opting out. We hope that the regulations and system will be simple, clear, and easy to use.

That also means that the Copyright Claims Board does not exist yet. It could come into existence at any point this year. At the latest, it will start hearing cases in mid-2022.

What Should I Do If I Get Anything Related To The CASE Act?

If you get a letter from someone threatening to take you to the Copyright Claims Board unless you pay them and you don't know what to do, get in contact with us by e-mailing info@eff.org.

One of the bigger problems with the CASE Act - and there are many - is that anyone with money or access to other resources like lawyers will know how to opt-out and will be able to decide if that is the right decision for them. Such individuals or companies are unlikely to miss a notice or forget to opt-out. Regular people, however, will be vulnerable to copyright trolls, who will profit from people unintentionally forfeiting their rights or caving to threats like we describe above.

Is That All?

Sadly not! In addition to these laws, there is also a proposed wholesale change to the online copyright ecosystem called the "Digital Copyright Act" or DCA. A draft of it was released in late December 2020, and it is very bad for anyone who uses the Internet. Worse, in many ways, than any other copyright proposal we've seen. We will continue to fight to keep these bad ideas out of the law, and we will need your help to do so.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2021

The 13th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Mr. Weeknd?

It's been a long, ugly, terrible year since I last pretended to care about the Super Bowl half-time show and somewhere in that miserable slog either the NFL or I or possibly both of us gave up. I can understand why the organizers would want to avoid the kind of big, loud spectacle we've seen in prior years. J-Lo's not going to mount a stripper poll in a half-empty stadium, after all. But with all due respect to Mr. The Weeknd, this feels like the half-time show equivalent of sweatpants on a Zoom call - no one's gonna see it, so who gives a fuck?

Anyway, I've never consciously listened to an entire Weeknd song and I'm not about to start. So I'm turning this over to the nearest 5th-grader. Take it away, Tiki:

"Okay, so, he's going to play 'Blinding Light,' 'Save Your Tears,' umm . . . 'The Hills' . . . and I guess 'Starboy,' and I think he's going to wear either a red or a black suit. He curses a lot in a lot of his songs so, like, I don't think he can play that many of them or he'll get in trouble."

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Previously In Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Coverage:
* The 2009 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bracket: Bruce Springsteen Edition.

* The Who's 2010 Super Bowl Suckage.

* Let's Not Get It Started And Say We Did: The 2011 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet.

* The 2012 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bet: Madonna Edition.

* The 2013 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bet: Beyoncé Knowles Edition.

* Tweeting The 2014 Super Bowl Suckage: Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers Edition.

* The 2015 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet: Katy Perry Edition.

* The 8th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Coldplay Edition.

* The 9th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Lady Gaga Edition.

* The 10th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Justin Timberlake Edition.

* The 11th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Maroon 5 Edition.

* Postscript: The 11th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Maroon 5 Edition.

* 'I Just Couldn't Be a Sellout' | Why Rihanna Turned Down The Super Bowl Halftime Show.

* The 12th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Shakira & JLo Edition.
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Comments/wagers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 PM | Permalink

Recall! Ready-To-Eat Dip And Salad Products From Schiller Park's Food Evolution

Food Evolution, a Schiller Park establishment, is recalling approximately 6,806 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) dip and salads products containing meat that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Friday.

The RTE dip and salad items containing meat were produced on various dates from Nov. 9, 2020, through Jan. 29, 2021 and have "USE BY" dates through Feb. 6, 2021. The following products are subject to recall:

31-oz. container containing "Taco Dip With Refried Beans, Chili, Sour Cream, Cheddar, Onions, Black Olives, Jalapenos, & Red Pepper thoughtfully handmade - fresh to you - Fresh, Fast, Gourmet."

18-oz. container containing "Taco Dip With Refried Beans, Chili, Sour Cream, Cheddar, Onions, Black Olives, Jalapenos, & Red Pepper thoughtfully handmade - fresh to you - Fresh, Fast, Gourmet."

7-oz. container containing "Tri-Colored Italian Style Rotini Pasta Salad with Salami thoughtfully handmade - fresh to you - Fresh, Fast, Gourmet."

8-oz. container containing "German Style Potato Salad with Bacon thoughtfully handmade - fresh to you - Fresh, Fast, Gourmet."

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 34309" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Illinois.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS verification tasks. FSIS personnel discovered that the establishment produced amenable product at an off-site facility without the benefit of federal inspection, then repackaged and labeled the products with the USDA mark of inspection at the federal establishment.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' refrigerators. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Art Sezgin, President of Food Evolution, at (818) 837-7600.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to MPHotline@usda.gov.

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:12 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #342: Prop Drop

Malarkey, hooey, Barrington and Bowling Brook. Including: Propping Up The Super Bowl; Quarterback Carousel; The Right Side Of The Rivalry; White Sox-Adjacent Twins Have Nice Week; They Call Him Mr. Thibs; Blackhawks Almost On Fire; Roundball Roundup, and more!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #342: Prop Drop

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SHOW NOTES

* 342.

2:15: Propping Up The Super Bowl.

* Thou shalt not prop bet if thou liveth in Illinois.

* Tom Brady's malarkey and hooey.

* Bearington and Bowling Brook.

* "No risk it, no biscuit."

* What these three coordinators who somehow aren't head-coaching candidates have in common.

23:10: Quarterback Carousel.

* How Derek Carr may become a Bear.

* Mariota, Wentz, Cousins, Bridgewater, Ryan, Garoppolo.

37:30: The Right Side Of The Rivalry.

* Absolute heist.

Meanwhile . . .

* Only six players remain from the Cubs' 2016 World Series 25-man roster.

47:25: White Sox-Adjacent Twins Have Nice Week.

* Sign Alex Colomé, Andrelton Simmons, Nelson Cruz.

53:00: They Call Him Mr. Thibs.

* "Thibodeau was well-paid but out of work from his firing by the Wolves on Jan. 6, 2019, until his hiring by the Knicks on July 30, 2020. It's clear Thibs went through some self-introspection during those 19 months and decided to go with this coaching philosophy:

"'I'm going to coach to win every night, and if that means getting league-leading minutes totals out of my best players, so be it.''

"In other words, no change . . . Thibs is riding his best, playing eight to 10 guys a night, and so far getting more wins than should be the case. As usual."

* Rhodes: For a guy with no personality, Thibs certainly captures people's imagination.

58:22: Blackhawks Almost On Fire.

* Coffman: "Those guys are hitting the ground skating."

1:03:13: Roundball Roundup.

* No. 12 Illinois men.

* No. 20 DePaul women.

* No. 22 Northwestern women.

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STOPPAGE: 12:16

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 PM | Permalink

Public Health Alert! Contaminated Beef First Found At Art's In Sandwich, Illinois

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert because raw beef product produced by Greater Omaha Packing Co., an Omaha, Neb. establishment, may be contaminated with E. coli. O157:H7. A recall was not requested because the affected product is no longer available for purchase.

FSIS is concerned that some ground beef products may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products should not consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

The raw beef item was produced by Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. on January 14, 2021, further processed into ground beef and sold by Art's Food Market located in Sandwich, Illinois. The following product is subject to the public health alert:

2-lb (approximately) trays containing raw ground beef labeled with a retail label with "PACKED" dates ranging from JAN 28 2021 through JAN 31 2021.
This item was sold by the single retail location in Sandwich, Illinois.

The problem was discovered when Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. determined that they inadvertently distributed product associated with a sample that was positive for E. coli O157:H7. The company then notified FSIS about the affected product.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years-old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume raw ground beef product that has been cooked to a temperature of 160°F. The only way to confirm that raw ground beef products are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the public health alert can contact Angel Besta, VP of Technical Resources, Omaha Packing Co. Inc. at abesta@greateromahs.com.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to MPHotline@usda.gov.

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

How The Christian Right Helped Foment Insurrection

The Jan. 6 Save America March, where then-President Donald Trump incited a crowd to attack the U.S. Capitol, opened with a prayer. Trump's longtime spiritual adviser and White House adviser, the Florida televangelist Paula White, called on God to "give us a holy boldness in this hour." Standing at the same podium where, an hour later, Trump would exhort the crowd to "fight like hell," White called the election results into question, asking God to let the people "have the assurance of a fair and a just election."

Flanked by a row of American flags, White implored God to "let every adversary against democracy, against freedom, against life, against liberty, against justice, against peace, against righteousness be overturned right now in the name of Jesus." Within hours, insurrectionists had surrounded the Capitol, beaten police, battered down barricades and doors, smashed windows and rampaged through the halls of the Capitol, breaching the Senate chamber.

In video captured by The New Yorker, men ransacked the room, rifling through senators' binders and papers, searching for evidence of what they claimed was treason. Then, standing on the rostrum where the president of the Senate presides, the group paused to pray "in Christ's holy name."

Men raised their arms in the air as millions of evangelical and charismatic parishioners do every Sunday and thanked God for allowing them "to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists, that this is our nation, not theirs." They thanked God "for allowing the United States of America to be reborn."

White evangelicals have been Trump's most dedicated, unwavering base, standing by him through the cavalcade of abuses, failures and scandals that engulfed his campaigns and his presidency - from the Access Hollywood tape to his first impeachment to his efforts to overturn the election and incite the Capitol insurrection. This fervent relationship, which has survived the events of Jan. 6, is based on far more than a transactional handshake over judicial appointments and a crackdown on abortion and LGBTQ rights. Trump's White evangelical base has come to believe that God anointed him and that Trump's placement of Christian-right ideologues in critical positions at federal agencies and in federal courts was the fulfillment of a long-sought goal of restoring the United States as a Christian nation.

Throughout Trump's presidency, his political appointees implemented policies that stripped away reproductive and LGBTQ rights and tore down the separation of church and state in the name of protecting unfettered religious freedom for conservative Christians. After Joe Biden won the presidency, Trump administration loyalists launched their own Christian organization to "stop the steal," in the ultimate act of loyalty to their divine leader.

Since even before Trump took office, his cry of "fake news" was embraced by GOP leaders and leaders on the Christian right, who reinforced their followers' fealty by seeking to sequester them from reality and training them to dismiss any criticism of Trump as a witch hunt or a hoax. At the 2019 Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, held just months after special counsel Robert Mueller released his report on the Russia investigation, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the president's critics of "Trump derangement syndrome," and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, urged the audience to disregard mainstream news and turn instead to the "most important name in news" - "you and your circle of friends." A few months later, amid Trump's first impeachment hearings, then-Rep. Mark Meadows, who would go on to become Trump's chief of staff, encouraged Christian-right activists at a luncheon at the Trump International Hotel in Washington to counteract news reports by retweeting him and other Trump loyalists in Congress. He underlined the power of this alternative information system, claiming that recent tweets from himself and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio - who would later vote to overturn the results of November's election - had received 163 million impressions, "more than the viewership of all the networks combined."

Over the course of 2020, those circles of disinformation became infested with QAnon conspiracy theories about a satanic, child-sex-trafficking "deep state," priming Trump's White evangelical shock troops for his ultimate conspiratorial lie: that the election was stolen from him and Biden's victory was the result of fraud. As Trump and his legal team fanned out across the country's courthouses and right-wing airwaves, insisting that they would prove voter fraud and reverse the results of the presidential election, Christian-right leaders and media picked up the rhetoric and ran with it. By Thanksgiving, the lie that the election had been stolen from Trump had become an article of faith.

Coverage of the Capitol insurrection has focused on such far-right instigators as the White supremacist Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, a militia group. But a reconstruction of the weeks leading up Jan. 6 shows how a Christian-right group formed to "stop the steal" worked to foment a bellicose Christian narrative in defense of Trump's coup attempt and justify a holy war against an illegitimate state.

In late November, two federal workers, Arina Grossu - who had previously worked for the Christian-right advocacy group Family Research Council - and Rob Weaver, formed a new Christian right group, the Jericho March.

The new group's goal, according to a news release announcing its launch, was to "prayerfully protest and call on government officials to cast light on voter fraud, corruption, and suppression of the will of the American people in this election." In fact, the Jericho March would help lay the groundwork for the insurrection.

The group held its first rally in the nation's capital Dec. 12, the same day other protests against the democratic process took place there. That night in Washington, the protests devolved into violence as armed members of the Proud Boys roamed the city's streets looking to fight, stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a historic Black church and set it on fire. The Jericho March rally, which had run most of the afternoon on the National Mall, featured a lineup of some the right's most incendiary figures, blending conspiracies and battle cries with appeals to Christianity. Eric Metaxas, a popular author, radio host and unrelenting promoter of the false claim that the election was fraudulent, was the emcee.

In an interview from the rally posted on the influential disinformation site The Epoch Times, Weaver compared the marchers he enlisted to the capital to the story of Joshua's army in the Bible, which encircled the city of Jericho as priests blew trumpets, causing the walls to tumble down so the army could invade.

Grossu told an interviewer that the election had been "stolen" from Trump, citing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell's baseless claims about voting irregularities. "God can reveal all the election fraud and corruption that stole the election from him," Grossu promised.

Other Jericho March speakers linked to the Trump administration pressed themes of biblical war and Christian redemption. Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators, described the walls of Jericho as a metaphor for the walls around the "deep state" and pledged, "We're going to knock those walls down." Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, who claimed to have been born again since his conviction for obstructing the Mueller investigation, told the crowd in a recorded message: "It was Jesus Christ who gave our president, Donald Trump, the courage and the compassion to save my life when I was unfairly and illegally targeted in the Mueller witch hunt . . . My faith is in Jesus Christ, and we will make America great again and we will stop the steal." These testimonies were punctuated with the blowing of shofars, traditionally Jewish ritual objects, to echo the trumpets sounding outside Jericho that summoned an invasion.

Among the speakers were leading figures in the subsequent insurrection. Weaver and Grossu, the rally's organizers, sang "God Bless America" with Ali Alexander, founder of Stop the Steal and a prominent organizer of the Jan. 6 rally. Alexander had previously attracted attention in Trump circles - he was invited to a 2019 social media summit at the White House and appeared with GOP figures such as Rep. Paul Gosar at previous Stop the Steal rallies - and has said he worked with Gosar and Republican House members Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks to plan the Jan. 6 rally. He rallied the Dec. 12 Jericho March crowd, declaring that the event "is only the beginning." He urged them to return to Washington on Jan. 20 - Inauguration Day - to "occupy D.C." According to an archived page from the Jericho March website, organizers took up the call, planning several subsequent rallies and marches, including mobilizing for Stop the Steal's "Wild Protest" on Jan. 6.

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the militia group Oath Keepers, also appeared, vowing that if Trump did not "show the world who the traitors are and then use the Insurrection Act to drop the hammer on them," then "we're going to have to do it ourselves later in a much more desperate, much more bloody war." Oath Keepers have since been arrested and charged with conspiracy for allegedly helping to coordinate movement inside the Capitol siege.

Alex Jones, the far-right conspiracist radio host and Trump booster, electrified the Jericho Marchers with his invocation of the Book of Revelation, thought to prophesy Christ's return. "Christ's crucifixion was not our defeat, it was our greatest victory," he shouted. "The state has no jurisdiction over any of us. Our relationship with God is sacred and is eternal." He vowed that Biden "will be removed, one way or another."

Grossu and Weaver, though, were more than just Trump fellow travelers. They were on the payroll of the federal government, which constrains employees from engaging in certain partisan political activities. Grossu was a consultant in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights, on a contract from Nov. 6, 2017, through Jan. 30, 2021, according to an agency spokesperson. For his part, Weaver was named an adviser in the department's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in July 2020 and served, according to the spokesperson, through Jan. 8, 2021. Earlier, in 2017, Trump had nominated Weaver to serve as director of the agency's Indian Health Service. But the nomination was withdrawn after The Wall Street Journal reported that Weaver had misrepresented his experience on his resume. Weaver leveraged his new health department role at the Jericho March, saying in the live interview that day that he worked for the federal government and claiming, without providing any details, to have "seen a lot of really hidden things that I just can't stand." The country, Weaver said in the interview, "stands on the shoulders of Jesus. He's the real government."

Weaver went on, "God told me to let the church roar." Grossu did not respond to a request for comment, and Weaver's e-mail at the Department of Health and Human Services is no longer functioning; the public relations firm that handled Jericho March media relations also did not respond to requests for comment.

Speakers at the Dec. 12 Jericho March continued to show up at protests decrying the election as fraudulent. Jones, for example, returned to Washington on Jan. 5 for a rally at Freedom Plaza, near the White House. That rally, according to the permit, was hosted by a group called the Eighty Percent Coalition, an apparent reference to a Gallup poll that showed more than 80% of Republicans did not trust the results of the election. That evening, Jones reprised his Christian nationalist bombast. Employing apocalyptic language about a coming "New World Order," he called Biden a "slave of Satan" and warned that "things are going to be rough, things are going to get bad in the future." He added that "not everybody is going to make it, but that's okay, because in the end, God will fulfill his destiny and will reward the righteous." Then he turned to the next day's events. "Tomorrow is a great day," he shouted. "We don't quietly take the election fraud, we don't quietly take the scam and believe their BS. We've seen the evidence. The system has had to desperately engage in this gambit to maintain control, but this will be their Waterloo, this will be their destruction."

The next day, Trump goaded protesters to march to the Capitol. Jones is seen in video footage of the insurrection scraped from Parler and other social media giving directions to rioters through a bullhorn. The day after the insurrection, Jones claimed the White House had asked him to lead the march to the Capitol.

The events of Jan. 6 shook the nation, but they appear to have done little to weaken Trump's White evangelical support. A Marist College/PBS/NPR poll, conducted after Jan. 6, found that 63% of White evangelicals did not trust the election results were accurate, and a similar number, 65%, did not believe Trump was to blame for the violence at the Capitol. A poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that while Trump left office with his lowest overall favorability rating since his 2016 campaign - 31% - his approval rate was twice as high among White evangelicals.

The Sunday after the insurrection, Trump spiritual adviser Paula White was back in the pulpit at City of Destiny, the church she pastors in Apopka, Florida. Trump and White have been friends since the mid-2000s, when he invited her for a meeting after he spotted the blond televangelist while channel surfing. White briefly condemned "lawlessness," but then mounted a strong defense of free speech rights and assured her congregation that "God is still at work." She recounted the story in the first Book of Samuel, in which the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant. In the biblical story, the ark is considered too holy for the apostate Philistines, "the eternal enemies of God," as White described them, to handle, and God returns it to the Israelites - evidence that, in White's view, God will restore America to its rightful inheritors, too.

Other evangelical leaders sought to deny reality, blaming the violence of that day on antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters who they falsely claimed had posed as Trump supporters. Michele Bachmann, the former Minnesota Republican congresswoman who is now a dean at Regent University, had been inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 siege. Speaking to a prayer call with other Christian-right leaders that evening, she said: "You know the kind of people that we were with. The nicest, friendliest, happiest - it was like a family reunion out there. It was incredible, it was wonderful, and then all of a sudden, this happens." Of the rioters at the Capitol, Bachmann insisted that "this wasn't the Trump crowd, this didn't look anything like the Trump crowd or the prayer warriors."

Lance Wallnau, a popular evangelical author, speaker and Trump loyalist who attended the Jan. 6 protest, echoed that same theme. "This is not your typical evangelical, I'm telling you right now," he told Metaxas on his radio program the day after the insurrection, "and they're banging on the hoods of the police and they're creating a scene, I said, 'This is the local antifa mob and this is like from the playbook 101.'"

By Jan. 8, the Jericho March had posted a statement denouncing violence and scrubbed any reference to Stop the Steal's Jan. 6 protest.

Accountability for the former president was not on the table. Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas has been close to Trump for years, as one of the first evangelical leaders to endorse his candidacy in 2016. He condemned the violence but stopped short of blaming it on Trump, telling Reveal that while he accepts the election results, Trump "has a right to believe" that it was stolen.

Another influential Trump ally, Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, sent an unmistakable signal to Republican lawmakers that their White evangelical base would not tolerate a second impeachment. In a Facebook post, Graham compared the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to Judas, whose betrayal of Jesus led to his crucifixion. "It makes you wonder," he wrote, "what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi promised for this betrayal."

Meanwhile, the Christian right is readying its troops for an escalation of the culture war: a campaign to delegitimize not only Biden's presidency, but any Democratic election victory. Bachmann, during the prayer call just hours after the insurrection, claimed that Democrats also "stole" control of the Senate when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their seats in Georgia - a development Bachmann repeatedly called a "coup."

That narrative means that Republican lawmakers can rest assured that their most loyal base will have their back as they reject Trump's second impeachment, obstruct the Democratic legislative agenda and refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Democratic president and Democratic leadership of Congress.

The movement's new jeremiad, a battle against the democratic process itself, is just getting started. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism advisory bulletin that warned of the potential costs of the false claims at the heart of that battle: "Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence."

This post was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and published in partnership with Rolling Stone. It was edited by Esther Kaplan and Matt Thompson and copy edited by Nikki Frick.

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Comments welcome.


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