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« August 2021 | Main | October 2021 »

September 30, 2021

TrackNotes: Sick And Sadistic

In response to this, I wrote this ⬇⬇⬇. I'm tired of this namby-pamby shit!

* * * * *

Besides rewriting press releases, which is what Bloodhorse does, where were Bloodhorse and the Daily Racing Form when Churchill Downs Incorporated once again raped American horse racing?

As for the Chicago Bears, they can go to hell. Or, Arlington Heights. Same thing.

I have been writing about Arlington Park for years. The only other publication with any outrage is the Paulick Report. Churchill Downs Inc. is a typical, sick representation of all that is wrong with America and Corporate America. They are a vindictive, sadistic organization. They should be required to give up the name "Churchill Downs" and find something else.

Look at the pictures of Arlington. And these soulless corporate animals are going to tear it down? $197 million. Chump change, I guess, if you love Arlington Heights for something more than the tract-house, cheap condos near the train tracks, nondescript suburb it is.

But pubs like Bloodhorse and DRF don't give a good goddamn. When Marcus Hersh was kicked out minutes after the "Mister D" he didn't write a peep about it, or the Form wouldn't print it. The Sun-Times and Tribune stopped covering horse racing at least 15 years ago. That's the huge reason I do, hereabouts.

CDI has been abusing and persecuting the fans at Arlington for 20 years. They couldn't, didn't, maintain the track and horses died, right in front of me. Then they had not only taken themselves off the dirt, they install PolyTrack. Dick Duchossois is the most overrated racing person on earth. He's so bad, he makes me doubt Marylou Whitney, but I think now she was the real deal. Dickie has been playing that fire for 36 years, the last time the Bears won. They gouged the people coming through the gates and treated them like wallets . . . CDI can got to hell and the Derby is the most farcical race on Earth.

Here's only the last entry in what I've had to say. Look up the rest. It's a huge iceberg.

Tom Chambers
The Beachwood Reporter
Chicago

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:40 PM | Permalink

September 27, 2021

Recall! Schaumburg's DiGiorno Crispy Pan Crust Pizza

Nestle USA Inc. of Schaumburg is recalling almost 14 tons of frozen DiGiorno Crispy Pan Crust pepperoni pizza because of misbranding and undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Sunday. The product contains textured soy protein, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

The frozen pepperoni pizza product carton may actually contain frozen three-meat pizza, which contains textured soy protein. The pizza products were produced on June 30, 2021. The best-buy date is March of 2022.

"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers. 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," according to the recall announcement.

Consumers view the labels here and use the following information to determine whether they have the recalled pizza in their homes.

Screen Shot 2021-09-27 at 10.59.42 AM.png

26-oz. carton containing "DIGIORNO PEPPERONI CRISPY PAN CRUST" with lot code 1181510721 and "Best Buy" date of MAR2022 on the label.

Screen Shot 2021-09-27 at 10.59.52 AM.png

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 1682A" printed inside the USDA mark of inspection. Establishment 1682A is Nation Pizza Products Limited, which is owned by Nestle USA, Inc. These items were shipped to retail locations and distribution centers nationwide.

The problem was discovered after the firm received a consumer complaint that a three-meat pizza was in a carton labeled as pepperoni pizza.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse allergic reactions related to consumption of the pizza. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

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 lists will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Lauren Rubbo, Manager of External Communications at Nestle USA, at lauren.rubbo@us.nestle.com. Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Bonita Cleveland, Consumer Services Manager at Nestle USA, at 800-681-1676 or bonita.cleveland@us.nestle.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 10:42 AM | Permalink

How It Started

If it's a presidential term, the days, weeks and years can seem interminable. Conversely, a high school career tends to fly by in a flash. If a college kid has the means and the desire, he or she can stretch out the tenure for another year or more.

Four years. For aficionados of a ballclub that launches into a rebuild, the early years move at a snail's pace, and if not properly conceived along with good fortune, a successful ending never materializes. Not so for the newly crowned AL Central Division champion White Sox. The process, while not totally linear, has a distinct pattern. Ninety-five losses four years ago followed by 100 and 89 the next two seasons before earning a wild card playoff berth a year ago.

And now, according to plan, the division flag can be flown for the first time in 13 years.

At the risk of reminding us of the struggle and ineptitude of that initial rebuilding year, our memories also are refreshed by the promise of the future. Looking back on this weekly White Sox Report, we must start at the beginning.

So Long Chris Sale, December 7, 2016: So we say adieu to one of the greatest pitchers in Sox history. No more K Zone. No more nasty sliders and a devastating change-up. Gone is the Cy Young watch. No more bickering with the front office. No more national exposure over destroyed uniforms.

SI: Sox Suck, April 3, 2017: Sports Illustrated has rated the Sox the worst team in the American League. The magazine says their final record will be 65-97. Vegas odds put the Sox at 500-1 to win the World Series. General manager Rick Hahn procured a treasure trove of youngsters for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. They'll pay dividends but just not now. The rival scout's assessment in SI says, "I think [the Sox] will be better in 2018, but it's probably the following season when they really establish these guys."

Not Irrelevant, April 17, 2017: From a fan's observation, compared to the low-key Robin Ventura, Renteria appears to be more engaged with his players. The sample size is small, but at least the White Sox at this point are not irrelevant. Let the rebuild continue.

Anderson's April, May 1, 2017: Let's begin with shortstop Tim Anderson, a gifted young man who runs like an Olympic sprinter, exudes confidence and desire, and will hit a lot better than his present .204 batting average once he stops flailing at breaking balls outside the strike zone. In 98 games last season after being called up from Charlotte, Anderson was charged with 14 errors. Obviously he'll pass that number by mid-May unless Renteria, a former infielder, and coach Joe McEwing can fix him. Winning teams rarely have shortstops who can't catch the ball.

Signing Robert, May 22, 2017: [T]he Sox made headlines over the weekend by agreeing to terms with another in a long line of Cubans, 19-year-old Luis Robert, who, because the rules are changing, is the last of the free agent athletes from the island that big league clubs can sign for huge bonuses. Apparently Robert's deal is in the neighborhood of $27 million. Robert, projected as a centerfielder, also is a product of the nation's National Serie league. Last season he hit .393 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He's received rave notices from scouts who have watched him recently in workouts in the Dominican Republic. The Robert signing and the eventual arrival of Moncada at 35th and Shields give us Sox fans lots to look forward to. Or at least we hope so. Most of the talk focuses not on "if" the Sox will call up Moncada, but "when."

Rickey's Boys Don't Quit, May 29, 2017: Renteria has been an elixir for this club, bringing a sorely-needed fresh approach where players actually run out ground balls and continue playing hard regardless of the score.

Awaiting Moncada, June 12, 2017: In addition, the poster boy of prospects, Charlotte second baseman Yoan Moncada, has struggled since the media hype of last month. After being disabled for ten days with a sore thumb, Moncada has just nine hits in 59 at-bats for a .153 mark since his return. His average has dropped to .278 from .331. Chances are we won't see Moncada or any of the other future White Sox on the South Side until rosters expand in September. While Moncada is hitting .278 in Charlotte, current second baseman Yolmer Sanchez is hitting .302 and making most of the plays in the field. Too bad Moncada doesn't play the outfield where the big team needs a lot of help.

This Is Your Brain On White Sox, July 10, 2017: This season's edition of the White Sox carries a "never quit" tag, but the bottom line is that they've come up short far more often because of a lack of talent and young players who are still developing. Heading into this week's All-Star Game break, Rickey Renteria's outfit occupies last place in the Central Division of the American League with a 38-49 record.

Meet 2020, July 17, 2017: Have your pencils and scorecards ready for today's 2020 starting lineup. Let's glance into the future by looking at a hypothetical cast of White Sox and how they're performing today. In centerfield, we have Luis Robert. Playing in the Dominican Summer League, the soon-to-be 20-year-old Cuban prospect, who signed in May with the Sox for an astounding $26 million, is slashing .255/.479/.872. MLB Pipeline says, "[Robert] pairs electrifying bat speed that should translate into considerable power with well above-average speed." In left field is Eloy Jimenez, the newest member of the organization, being the centerpiece of the Jose Quintana trade. Says FanGraphs, " . . . he's going to have elite power in his mid-20s and there's solid feel for contact here, too." Jose Abreu at first base will be 33 in 2020 and should be the elder statesman of the ballclub. He not only has earned the respect of the Latin players, but everyone in the clubhouse recognizes his work ethic and team-first character. At second base Yoan Moncada. He's 22, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds who is "a switch-hitter with tremendous bat speed," according to MLB Pipeline. Perhaps the most intriguing is Michael Kopech, 21, who was part of the Chris Sale deal with Boston. The kid is a fireballer whose fastball frequently has been clocked north of the century mark. At Double-A Birmingham this season, he's whiffed 106 batters in 84-plus innings while giving up just 60 hits. Lucas Giolito, who came over from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton swap, appeared in six big league games last season without much success. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old's credentials are noteworthy - "When he's on, Giolito shows stuff that most pitchers can only dream of," says MLB Pipeline - even though he's struggled a bit this season at Triple-A Charlotte where he's 3-8 with a 5.00 ERA.

This Is What Progress Looks Like, July 24, 2017: [T]he arrival last Wednesday of Yoan Moncada, an imposing, athletic presence, represents the franchise's future. [W]e'll cringe not at all if Melky Cabrera is dealt away in the next few days. We'll hardly notice if Anthony Swarzak or Dan Jennings can't be found in the bullpen. Say goodbye to James Shields? No problem because the seed has been planted that five to 10 years from now, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and a couple of others will take their place year after year.

Keeping Moncada Company, July 31, 2017: It's been 11 games now, and the kid has just four hits. He's hitting .111. Of 36 official at-bats, he's trudged back to the dugout 15 times having struck out. Yoan Moncada was brought here to hit, and so far that hasn't happened. However, history, along with his immense talent, dictates that it's just a matter of time. He got a standing ovation when he first strode to the plate a couple of weeks ago. When he drew a walk in that first at-bat, Sox faithful went slightly nuts. That's how dismal things have become.

Keep 'Em Down On The Farm, August 14, 2017: Watching the White Sox, the American League's worst team, sweep the league's top ballclub, the Houston Astros, in three games last week was a welcome antidote for the losses that have been piling up in near-record fashion. Houston invaded with a 71-40 record, while Rickey Renteria's outfit crawled along at 41-68.

An Ugly, Reachable Goal, August 28, 2017: Goal-setting wasn't supposed to be part of this rebuilding season. Rickey Renteria's vague notion of playing "clean" baseball is about as close to a stated goal as anything we've heard, but judging from all of the unclean games we've witnessed, Rickey's fellows have fallen short of their skipper's objective. Winning ugly would be a welcome respite because losing ugly is exactly that. [W]e have the emergence of Lucas Giolito, the centerpiece of the Adam Eaton trade with the Nationals last winter. Giolito made his White Sox debut last week in two games, a 4-1 loss to the Twins on Tuesday before a strong effort Sunday against Detroit for his first major league victory in which he posted seven shutout innings on a yield of three hits, three walks, and four strikeouts.

Colon & The Kids, September 4, 2017: Joining Giolito on the mound last week for the White Sox were young prospects Carlos Rodon, Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez. The foursome accounted for 19 innings pitched, allowing just 11 hits, six walks and 23 strikeouts. Their combined ERA was 2.84, and Fulmer got his first major league win on Saturday in a rain-delayed 5-4 win over the Rays.

Streaks, September 11, 2017: It was a record-setting week for the White Sox. Holy Cow! Hey Hey! You can put it on the board, yes! Let's hope a couple of years from now we're celebrating for much different reasons, like a division championship or a pennant winner. At the present time we'll have to be diverted by the role the Sox played last week in helping the Cleveland Indians to four victories in their current 18-game winning streak. For less than tongue-in-cheek plaudits, how about Jose Abreu hitting for the cycle last Saturday, just the sixth player in White Sox history to do so? Not since 2000, when Jose Valentin did it, had a Sox hitter recorded a cycle, and Abreu accomplished it the hard way, waiting until his final at-bat in the eighth inning to leg out a triple to the alley in right center.

He's A Believer, September 25, 2017: Moncada lined a shot over the centerfield wall Friday night with a man on, which turned out to be the game-winner. He still strikes out too often, but this kid is everything he's cracked up to be. Anderson has a 15-game hitting streak in which he's batting .415. He still leads everyone with 26 errors, but he's made just one in September. Reynaldo Lopez pitched into the seventh inning last Friday, his fifth straight start of at least six innings. Lucas Giolito kept up his eye-opening, late-season showing on Sunday by limiting the Royals to a lone run on Cain's solo homer in seven innings of work. He yielded just five hits, and, like Lopez, he didn't issue a base on balls. Young pitchers simply aren't supposed to do that. I am finding out that this edition of the White Sox are young, capable, athletic and energetic. Forget that they're 29 games below .500. In September the ledger reads 11-12, which might not be noteworthy until you consider that in the previous four months the team posted a 39-70 mark.

How It's Going, September 27, 2021: The rear view mirror tells us just how far this franchise has come. Meanwhile, winning is in its infancy regardless of how the team performs this postseason. Robert is under contract through 2028; Moncada's deal runs out in 2025; Jimenez is signed through 2026; Giolito 2023; and Anderson through 2024. The rebuild has run its course. A new chapter has arrived, and it figures to be the first of many.

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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 8:56 AM | Permalink

September 26, 2021

Reminder: Haunted Houses In Illinois Need Permits

Haunted house season is returning to Illinois with all its spooky sounds, creepy corridors and shrieks of surprise. But the doors don't open without a permit to operate.

"We know people across the state are excited to visit their favorite haunted house again, and we're going to make sure that night out is safe," said Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) Director Michael Kleinik.

IDOL, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and local agencies all play roles in making sure dozens of haunted houses that open their creaky doors in Illinois this time of year follow rules to ensure the safety of visitors.

"Fire and life safety are the top priority of the OSFM. While people enjoy being scared at haunted houses, they need to be able to safely escape in case of an emergency to avoid a real nightmarish scenario," said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.

In IDOL's case, the inspections fall under the Department of Labor's Amusement Ride and Attraction Safety Division. Halloween is another busy season for IDOL's inspectors, following in the footsteps of the summer fair season.

All haunted houses in Illinois are required to be inspected, prior to operation, though haunted houses operated by not-for-profit religious, educational or charitable organizations can apply for an exemption from IDOL inspection. They still, however, must be inspected by local authorities and/or the State Fire Marshal's office.

In addition to checking the safety of the physical facility, the rules also require a criminal background check and sex offender registry check for all non-volunteer operators and a written substance abuse policy that includes random drug testing.

Visitors to a haunted house must also adhere to the state's indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status. It's also recommended that people or groups maintain as much distancing as possible from others.

If you determine no permit was issued for a haunted house you visited or need to report an accident or unsafe conditions, you should call the Department of Labor during business hours at 217-782-9347 or after hours at 217-299-5512. You can also submit a complaint online at the department's website Illinois Department of Labor.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 PM | Permalink

September 25, 2021

TrackNotes: Burning Down The House

Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Alan Henry said it best.

Citing its extermination of Hollywood Park and Calder Race Course, Henry said the demise of Arlington International Race Course "would be another bloody stain on the hands of [Churchill Downs Inc.]."

CDI CEO William Carstanjen started as a lawyer. He later became an in-house counsel in two different divisions of General Electric. He has also had stints with the old Tropical Park in Miami, United Tote Co. and Churchill Downs Simulcast Productions LLC. He was heavily involved with the acquisition by CDI of betting platforms YouBet.com and AmericaTab.

Carstanjen made $10.5 million in compensation in 2020: $1.4 million in salary, a $2 million-plus bonus and more than $7 million in stock. He owns more than 500,000 shares of CDI stock for a 1.4% share of the company, worth $115 million.

Carstanjen is a corporate animal. And I don't mean that as just what kind of corporate person he is - that would be a compliment to him. He is also an animal. A cat catches mice? It's what they do. A CEO salts earth, destroys all in his wake and cares nothing of the impact on real people, except his boardroom buddies and "the stockholders?" It's what they do. His sole interest is in the stock price. High revenues, low expenses: horse racing is a conflict of interest for him unless he gets the take on both ends. They supposedly teach bedside manner to doctors. They teach destruction to future CEOs, who have the luxury of hiding behind those articles of incorporation.

You'll get a guaranteed Pick 6 that Carstanjen will be in line for a major bonus once this Arlington Park deal goes down.

CDI's interests in American horse racing tracks include a basic monopoly in Kentucky except Keeneland and Kentucky Downs. It recently bought Turfway Park and also owns Ellis Park. It also owns Fair Grounds in New Orleans and a group of harness tracks in Kentucky and elsewhere. It killed racing at Calder and replaced it with Jai Alai simply to keep its casino license there. Its advance deposit wagering wing, TwinSpires.com, is a major player.

In all of these instances, you can bet CDI has a bully arrangement with these state authorities to vacuum cash from both the racing and casino facilities. Why run legitimate racing when you can simply take bets electronically and hoodwink politicians into unbalanced gaming agreements? That was the rub at Arlington. Illinois state authorities demanded both taxes and redirection of some casino profits to track operations and purses. CDI, in a tantrum, said "No!"

One of the most galling things about this whole deal is that a predatory corporation from the godforsaken, parasitic Commonwealth of Kentucky, Colonel, is tearing down a landmark in my state! A landmark that is still infinitely better than the bloated Churchill Downs itself. Plenty of roadkill stew for everyone!

CDI and the Duchossois family itself, have not gone out nicely.

What was once known as Million Day was a final indignity as the old Arlington Million was cut down to $600,000 and renamed after Duchossois as the "Mister D." The Secretariat Stakes, named after, yes, one of,the biggest stars ever to run here, was named after Dickie D's. late son Bruce.

Immediately after the running of the Mr. D, cryptkeeper Tony Petrillo, AP president and Titanic supervisor, went on a rage and booted all of the three or four media personnel who were there out of the press box. And the photographers on the ground. From the entire track. Forever.

Well. Arlington barely warranted coverage anyway, and the Tribune and Sun-Times abandoned coverage a long time ago. That's one reason TrackNotes was even created. Arlington only drew perfunctory attention on Million Day because winners of the big three became eligible for Breeders' Cup turf races.

HEY! Snicker, laugh, HA HA. Remember 2002 when Arlington hosted the Breeders' Cup? And one of the biggest betting scandals in racing history happened with the Pick Six Fix? Tee hee.

I'm really tired of this Arlington Park quicksand in TrackNotes. But there are a few more points.

Ray Paulick, in his Paulick Report, who apparently got his education at Arlington and other Chicago-area tracks, summed up the neglect by CDI and people like Petrillo in the track's final days, years and decades. It's worth a read.

Prominent is how horsemen in both Illinois and Florida stood by CDI to get gaming approved, only to be betrayed by the corporation.

Since CDI has owned the track, horsemen have been hounded by the Lords of Louisville. After years and years of low-priced or free stall space, Arlington began charging trainers and owners for barn space, when Arlington didn't give a damn and margins were already so tight, it was a burden. Horsemen were also required to agree to run their animals only at Arlington, and at regular intervals, for the duration of the meet, requiring permission to ship to another track! What if they got a buzz horse starting to win by a furlong in every race? Telling me he can't try prestigious company?

The Daily Herald's Jim O'Donnell, takes a long, readable stroll down memory lane and let's see if you can find a theme.

Alright, I'll tell you. TrackNotes has printed most of O'Donnell's stuff here over the years, but he got paid to be out there. I never did.

You see The Pizza Man, an Illinois-bred(!) who was a real pixie on the turf from 2012 to 2016, winning the 2015 Million in a thrilling race. The 'Man got a lot of pub that year on the Breeders' Cup telecast and we had hope.

But that was six years ago, a giraffe cloudburst in the middle of many years of drought. Look at the timetable, and Arlington's best days were decades, multiple generations ago. Certainly before the days Duchossois owned the track. Just sayin'.

I'm surprised I haven't heard from any readers, even including two I absolutely know of, "Why do you pretend you even give a shit? You haven't been out there for at least 10 years!"

Unlike Wrigley, where you can get something decent to eat before or after the game (the food's always been good at Comiskey) or used to get half-priced peanuts from the weather-beaten bald guy on the sports corner, you don't walk into a race track to just watch the races. Or I don't.

My days at the track always went 12 hours, getting there early enough to sneak in free, catch the end of the workouts and handicap the whole card. As I've said, the races were more and more unbettable, with short fields. The food kept getting worse and worse with an emphasis on contempt and neglect for the "guests." Even the food in the Million Room was half-assed. The blasting music between races, more marketing than music, gave me headaches. The train schedules didn't sync. The first time I went out there, I hit a $400 exacta. That was the last profit I ever made at Arlington.

I kept getting more and more aggravated with the product, even as the racing palace itself never failed to drop my jaw. Warm day, nice breeze, the city skyline through the distant atmospheric heat drifts.

But the Arlington racing was not much better than Mountaineer or Parx, where a horse loses and they ship them off to the slaughterhouse.

Saturday's card, it's last card, was filled, typically, with cheap claiming races, $12,500 the tops, most more like $5,000 or $8,000, with a $20,000 allowance optional claimer defaulted to the "feature." Fox32 morning news reported Friday the place was sold out. A check of the track feed and between races they played a whiny country song "Nothing Lasts Forever," then "So Long Farewell" from The Sound of Music. It went on and fucking on! Really, you sadistic assholes?

There is good news. The Illinois Racing Board announced Hawthorne Race Course's 2022 racing dates. But not without some consternation.

Hawthorne will run 76 Thoroughbred racing dates next year, from April 2-June 25 and from September 23 through December 31. That's down from the 120 total Thoroughbred dates between the two tracks this year. The interim dates will be filled by 75 harness racing dates.

For Thoroughbred fans, that means the buggies will get a big piece of the pie.

Construction of a harness facility and casino in the south suburbs seems a priority now, as the Illinois Gaming Commission has identified. While they're at it, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the gambling bosses MUST see to it that Churchill Downs DOES NOT get a casino license in either Waukegan or Chicago. As I'm sure CDI's bribery barrel has already been tapped.

I truly have lost sleep over the image of a wrecking ball tearing into the place. If it was a Mountaineer or old Suffolk; I could see it.

But this is the finest sporting venue of any kind in the world, wrecked by savage, amoral aficionados' greed and destruction.

Instead of the wrecking ball or TNT, they should buy 100,000 petroleum pots and start the place on fire, like Burning Man.

Then roll up Richard Duchossios, if he lives that long - if not, put a video of it in his casket - and his obnoxious silver-spooned spawn on the backstretch and make them watch it burn. AGAIN.

To the goddamned ground.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 PM | Permalink

September 24, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #375: Overreaction Everyday

No longer just for Mondays. Including: Fields of Screams; Slouching Toward The Playoffs; The Right Side Of The Rivalry; Developing October; On Wisconsin; Vaxhawks; October Sky; Thorns On Fire; Hail Hawthorne; COVID Drives Online Betting; and Where The Robert Taylor Homes Once Stood: The Women's Chicago Fall Tennis Classic.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #375: Overreaction Everyday

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SHOW NOTES

* 375.

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4:54: Slouching Toward The Playoffs.

* Rosenthal, The Athletic: The White Sox's Late-Season Fade.

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32:36: The Right Side Of The Rivalry.

* Janes, Washington Post: The St. Louis Cardinals, With A Crafty Rotation And History Of Devil Magic, Are Red Hot.

* Goldstein, FanGraphs: The Keys To The Cardinals' Resurgence.

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32:22: Developing October.

* Cards Are Wild.

* Jays, Rays & A's!

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40:55: Fields of Screams.

* Jahns, The Athletic: The Bears' Bulldog: Inside The Rise Of Sean Desai, NFL's First Indian-American Coordinator.

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54:23: On Wisconsin.

*

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1:00:03: Vaxhawks.

*

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1:01:51: October Sky.

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1:03:48: Thorns On Fire.

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1:04:04: Fire Score Twice.

* Yet, worse teams exist.

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1:04:29: Hail Hawthorne.

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1:05:10: COVID Drives Online Betting.

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1:05:35: Where The Robert Taylor Homes Once Stood: The Women's Chicago Fall Tennis Classic.

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STOPPAGE: 7:29

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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 1:21 PM | Permalink

September 23, 2021

Where The Robert Taylor Homes Once Stood: The Women's Chicago Fall Tennis Classic

The Women's Chicago Fall Tennis Classic (a WTA 500-level tournament) kicks off Monday and runs through October 3rd in Washington Park on Chicago's South Side, a first-ever for a tournament of this caliber.

Produced by Chicago's own, Kamau Murray, this is one of the first Black-produced stops on the WTA tour, at one of the largest minority-owned tennis facilities in the country, XS Tennis Village, a $16.9 million Black owned-and-operated facility. Murray opened up the non-profit tennis facility in Washington Park on Chicago's South Side where the Robert Taylor Homes once stood.

Murray, now a commentator for the Tennis Channel, became only the third African-American coach to coach a player through a Grand Slam victory in 2017 when his player, Sloane Stephens, won the US Open.

The FAMU graduate has successfully reintroduced the sport to the city of Chicago through the Chicago Tennis Festival. The festival, which kicked off last month, featured tennis's newest rising star, Emma Raducanu, who just won the 2021 US Open, in the finals. Sseven-time Grand Slam winner and four-time Olympic medalist Venus Williams, alongside Olympic medalists Elina Svitolina and Marketa Vondrousova, were in his second tournament, the Chicago Women's Open. Now, Murray is closing out the festival with the Chicago Fall Classic, featuring the top players in women's tennis, which is sure to produce some explosive tennis in a community that usually doesn't have access to a sporting event of this magnitude.

After playing in the Chicago Women's Open, Venus Williams shared on Instagram, "I had such a beautiful time playing @chicagotennisfestival. It was truly the best crowd I have EVER played in front of. Truly so warm and welcoming, I've never felt such genuine love and support before from a crowd . . . Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I will cherish this memory FOREVER. Truly!"

Williams told The TRiiBE: "I'd like to see more tennis in Chicago. The appetite is here for it!"

I would love to secure your interest in interviewing some of tennis' top players on the WTA Tour that will be playing in the Chicago Fall Classic about the tournament, and how they feel about playing in Chicago for the first time at a minority-owned facility that is creating access to tennis for children in underserved communities.

Kamau Murray and the following players will be available for interviews via Zoom on Sunday and Monday:

* Sloane Stephens (United States): Stephens broke into the top 50 rankings when she was only 19 years old and has since won six WTA titles, including the 2017 US Open, her first Grand Slam victory. Stephens has been an advocate for mental health, talking about her own struggles and encouraging others to speak up and seek help. She also founded the Sloane Stephens Foundation to provide educational opportunities and encourage healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and physical fitness to children across the country.

* Madison Keys (United States): Born in Rock Island, Keys is returning to the state where her love of tennis began. Keys turned pro at age 14, and since then has competed on the top stages in the world, winning five WTA 500-level tournaments, reaching the final of the 2017 US Open, and becoming a 2016 Olympian. Her charity, Kindness Wins, promotes kindness initiatives on and off sports fields.

* Elina Svitolina (Ukraine): Ranked No. 4 in the world, Svitolina first picked up a tennis racquet when she was 5 years old. She has won 13 WTA singles titles, including three WTA 1000-level tournaments, namely the Dubai Tennis Championships, the Italian Open, and the Canadian Open and WTA Finals. She teaches children about tennis and hard work through her charity, the Elina Svitolina Foundation, which creates opportunities through scholarships, after-school programs, camps, and other special events. She was the winner of the Chicago Women's Open this summer and the bronze medalist at the Tokyo Games.

* Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic): Kvitová is currently the top-ranked left-handed player on the WTA tour and her 28 singles titles, which include two Wimbledon championships, are further proof she is a force to be reckoned with. Among other wins, she took home a bronze medal from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Another left-handed tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, was Kvitová's inspiration growing up, as her father (who also served as her first coach) showed her videos of Navratilova's matches. Kvitová is self-described as friendly and happy, loves comedy movies, and enjoys basketball and volleyball.

* Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain): At 6 feet tall, Muguruza has dominated in both the singles and doubles play, winning eight singles titles and five doubles titles since her 2012 professional debut. She has won both the French Open and Wimbledon and played in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. Born in Venezuela, she began playing tennis with her older brothers when she was 3 years old and began her training in Spain when her family moved there a few years later. She is an ambassador for the international NGO Room to Read, which promotes literacy for young women and girls around the world.

* Kim Clijsters (Belgium): Clijsters boasts four Grand Slam titles, three of which came at the US Open; uniquely held the World No.1 ranking for both singles and doubles play in 2003; and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. After a seven-year retirement, Clijsters returned to tennis in 2020 and is playing her first tournament of 2021 here in Chicago. Clijsters comes from an athletic family, with her mother being an artistic gymnast, her father a football defender, and her sister also a tennis player. Clijsters is an ambassador for SOS Children's Villages and founded a nonprofit to fund training for junior level tennis players, Ten4Kim, and is married to basketball coach Brian Lynch with whom she shares three children.

* Bianca Andreescu (Canada): Ranked No.7 in the world after the 2020 season, Andreescu also claims Canadian history as the highest-ranked Canadian in the Women's Tennis Association and as the first Canadian to win a singles Grand Slam title (2019 US Open and one of the youngest winners of Indian Wells, earlier that year). She also has a strong fan base in Romania, her parents' native country and where she got her tennis start. One of her biggest fans, her dog Coco, can often be spotted at her matches. Andreescu believes in regular mental exercise, as well as physical, and she practices creative visualization meditation daily, which she credits for her ability to maintain focus.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:19 AM | Permalink

10 Facts About Pretrial Electronic Monitoring In Cook County

The Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts and the Chicago Council of Lawyers have released a report that catalogs 10 data-based facts about the Cook County Sheriff's Electronic Monitoring (EM) Program to help the public understand the breadth of this program, who exactly is affected, and to make a determination as to whether it is worth the millions of dollars taxpayers spend each year to maintain it.

The report is a comprehensive analysis of public data from the Cook County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) obtained through public sources, such as the CCSO's website, and through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts. Our analysis examines who is confined, why they are confined, for how long, and whether they are rearrested while on electronic monitoring. Full documentation and code used to generate the analysis in this report can be found here.

The Cook County Sheriff's EM Program is growing, with people being surveilled longer than ever although most people do not violate pretrial conditions put in place by a judge. Our major findings show, among other things:

* The number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail or on electronic monitoring has risen 23% since April 2020.

* Over 1,000 people have been on EM in Cook County for a year or more; 78% have been detained for over 3 months.

* Over 74% of the people on electronic monitoring (and in jail) are Black.

* Today, 83% of the people on EM in Cook County had to pay a money bond to leave jail.

* On average, 67% of people spend over two days in jail before getting out on electronic monitoring, threatening their jobs, school, family lives, and more.

* Data suggests that electronic monitoring has no meaningful effect on the likelihood of re-arrests or appearances in court.

The Cook County Sheriff's Electronic Monitoring Program appears to perpetuate racial disparities in the criminal legal system and destabilize communities without a return for public safety.

"In 2021, the budget appropriation for the Sheriff's Community Corrections Department was $19,542,855 - even though data shows that people on electronic monitoring have the same very low chance of being rearrested while released pretrial as those who are released without electronic monitoring," says Sarah Staudt, senior policy analyst and staff attorney for the Appleseed Center and Council of Lawyers. "It's time we re-evaluate the way Cook County uses pretrial surveillance."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2021

Online Gambling Market Study 2021-2026: Football Betting Holds Prominent Share, North America Remains Fastest Growing Region

DUBLIN - The Online Gambling Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021-2026) report has been added to Research And Markets' offering.

The world's online gambling market is expected to register a CAGR of 11.94% during the forecast period, 2021-2026.

The COVID-19 pandemic positively impacted the market, as consumers turned more toward the online platform to bridge their financial, social, and psychological crisis during lockdowns. One of the research studies conducted by the Lund University in Sweden found that due to restrictions in sports events due to lockdowns, consumers have surged their interest in online gambling platforms.

Online betting is expected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. Artificial intelligence, chatbots and machine learning have taken over the market.

The rise in the number of the female population in casinos and the convenience of the cashless mode of payment during gaming are likely to boost the online gambling market during the forecast period.

Online gambling companies are likely to expand their sport betting options after sports betting was legalized in the United States by the Supreme Court in 2018, which is further supporting the market's growth. However, stringent regulations related to online gambling are expected to hinder the market growth rate.

Football Betting Holds Prominent Share

The online betting segment is predominantly applied in the sports category, especially in soccer events such as the FIFA World Cup and European Championships. Many of the online sports betting companies are sponsoring different teams as a part of their marketing initiatives and strategic expansions.

For instance, the Bwin brand, a pioneering online sports brand across Continental Europe, attained global recognition through high-profile sponsorships with football clubs such as Real Madrid and AC Milan. Additionally, companies are focusing on developing innovative platforms to cater to various customer requirements and achieve a competitive advantage in a highly competitive market.

North America Remains Fastest Growing Region

The current legislative framework for online betting in the United States allows only bookmakers licensed in Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to operate legally, as these are the three states where online betting is regulated.

Pennsylvania is the fourth and biggest state to legalize and regulate online gambling. The new law allows for online casinos, online poker, sports betting and more. New Jersey is currently the largest market for regulated online gambling in the United States. There are a number of sportsbooks, and online sports betting apps live in the state.

Canada is largely an unregulated country in terms of online gaming. At the same time, Mexico is reviewing its gambling laws with the aim to regulate the online gambling sector to bring it in line with the rest of the nation's gambling industry. Therefore, the increasing regularization of online gambling in the North American countries and their respective states is expected to drive the market further.

Competitive Landscape

The market for online gambling is highly competitive, and companies operating in this market do not have a dominant position, as most of the European companies operate in the domestic market and establish monopolies in the respective countries.

The market is dominated by key players like Bet365, Entain (PLC), The Stars Group, Flutter Entertainment PLC, and Kindred Group PLC. Many online gambling companies rely on third-party providers, such as Playtech, for software solutions. However, some companies choose to backward integrate with the technology providers.

Key Topics Covered

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Study Deliverables and Study Assumptions
1.2 Scope of the Study

2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

4 MARKET DYNAMICS

4.1 Market Drivers
4.2 Market Restraints
4.3 Porter's Five Forces Analysis
4.3.1 Threat of New Entrants
4.3.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers
4.3.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers
4.3.4 Threat of Substitute Products
4.3.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry

5 MARKET SEGMENTATION

5.1 By Game Type
5.1.1 Sports Betting
5.1.1.1 Football
5.1.1.2 Horse Racing
5.1.1.3 e-Sports
5.1.1.4 Other Sports
5.1.2 Casino
5.1.2.1 Live Casino
5.1.2.2 Baccarat
5.1.2.3 Blackjack
5.1.2.4 Poker
5.1.2.5 Slots
5.1.2.6 Others Casino Games
5.1.3 Lottery
5.1.4 Bingo
5.2 By End-user
5.2.1 Desktop
5.2.2 Mobile
5.3 By Geography
5.3.1 North America
5.3.2 Europe
5.3.3 Asia-Pacific
5.3.4 Rest of the World

6 COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

6.1 Market Share Analysis
6.2 Strategies Adopted by Players
6.3 Most Active Companies
6.4 Company Profiles
6.4.1 Betsson AB
6.4.2 888 Holdings PLC
6.4.3 The Stars Group Inc.
6.4.4 The Kindered Group
6.4.5 Entain PLC
6.4.6 William Hill PLC
6.4.7 Bet365
6.4.8 LeoVegas AB
6.4.9 Flutter Entertainment PLC
6.4.10 Vera&John

7 MARKET OPPORTUNITIES AND FUTURE TRENDS

8 IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE MARKET

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Previously in markets:
* Global Chewing Gum Market On Fire.

* Global Chainsaw Market On Fire.

* Automatic Labeling Machine Market On Fire.

* Tube Packaging Market Worth $9.3 Billion By 2021.

* Luxury Vinyl Tiles Flooring Market Worth $31.4 Billion By 2024.

* Global Condom Market On Fire.

* Global Sexual Lubricant Market On Fire.

* Industrial Lubricants Market Booming.

* Global Electric Guitar Growth.

* Early Impacts Of COVID-19 On The Pet Food Packaging Market.

* Global Music Recording Industry Trajectory & Analytics 2020-2025.

* The Global Premature Ejaculation Market Is Exploding Quickly.

* Pressure Sensitive Adhesives Market On Fire.

* Global TV Market Spikes With Pandemic.

* The Robust Undercurrent Of The Sports Flooring Market.

* Data Historian Market Heating Up.

* Fantasy Sports Market To Pass $2 Billion In Revenue By 2026.

* Stock Music Market On Fire.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:39 PM | Permalink

September 21, 2021

Mayberry Redux: A Reality That Never Was

We assume you're all psyched for this week's Mayberry Days, the annual festival celebrating the wildly popular, tepidly reviewed, deeply disingenuous Eisenhower-era TV show about small-town life during America's "simpler times," when "neighbors were neighbors" as long as they were white and nobody locked their doors.

For those of you less ancient than the rest of us, Mayberry was the mythical home of The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 to1968 but evidently still lingers in the wistful minds of those who best enjoy "being around their own people," who tend not to include black, poor, gay, trans, Jewish, Muslim or any other garden-variety "others."

The genial Griffith played the genial sheriff Andy Taylor, a widower who lived with his genial Aunt Bee and was raising his genial son Opie in a genial small town in North Carolina modeled on Griffith's real hometown of Mt. Airy.

With no crime in those halcyon days, the sheriff refused to wear a gun, so he and the other townspeople - goofy deputy Barney Fife, goofier mechanic Gomer Pyle, etc. - spent most of their time dealing with issues like bullies, speeders, pickles and inept barbers while basking in "the general good, old-fashioned welcoming spirit," even as the Vietnam War, civil rights violence and nuclear tensions swirled around them in the real but pointedly distant world.

Rest assured: Over 50 years after the show was canceled, though Mt. Airy continues to keep grim reality at bay, at least during this week's Mayberry Days.

Billed as "a festival for the whole family," it offers solace for fans who "long for the days when life was simple and the sheriff didn't carry a gun."

Thousands of visitors come to "enjoy a bottle of pop while playing checkers," relax to music by bands "playing the same songs that Andy grew up with," and visit local landmarks like The Andy Griffith Museum, Old-Time Music Heritage Hall and Siamese Twins Exhibit.

Celebrating an enticing, albeit imaginary place "where everything seems right," one former child actor on the show notes, "This is a place my wife and I can walk down Main Street, sit on a bench, eat ice cream, without a care in the world."

The festival's lure of facile nostalgia for fans who find themselves in a troubled, multi-colored, inequitable, deeply divided world is so pervasive it has a name - The Mayberry Effect - and a documentary.

"They feel good about themselves, being around their own people," says its director. "It helps them walk into the future knowing they have people who feel just like them, even if it's about the weirdest thing."

Predictably, that "conservative feedback loop" gets more and more delusional as bleak, raucous reality intrudes, which it lately has a habit of doing.

Today's Mt. Airy, whose monument "In Memory of the Confederate Soldiers of Surry County" was erected next to the courthouse in 2000, still faithfully reflects the white supremacy of "forever Confederate counties" in a state with a violently racist past.

Proving they haven't moved far from a former mayor's 2017 remark that seeing a Black kid "with pants at their knees" makes him worried "what kind of affect will that person have on society" - other town pols resigned but he was re-elected - the county's all-white, all-male commissioners voted earlier this year to make "grassroots change" by removing 12 Coca-Cola vending machines from county offices to protest the company's stated opposition to Georgia's new voter suppression laws.

In their 3-2 vote, local pols blasted "this counter-culture wokeism, left-leaning liberal Marxism" and angrily charged, "Coca-Cola needs to pay the price," which apparently the 37 workers at the county's Coke bottling plant did. At a later meeting, after one resident noted anyone blocking economic development in a place with an average income of $37,000 is "a moron," they reversed their vote.

Still, most of the commissioners opposed the board chair's signing onto a county NAACP statement that acknowledged systemic racism and vowed to do better, even after a study found that 94% of the state's Black teens had - shocker - experienced racism.

Meanwhile, the county has seen opioid overdoses soar 40% in the last year and statewide COVID cases and deaths spike dramatically, with growing numbers of kids on ventilators.

With just 43% of Surry County residents vaccinated, some are hearkening back to Mayberry, following the popular mantra that there's an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for everything: See the episode where Sheriff Andy gets farmer Rafe to take the tetanus shot!

The only problem, notes CBS's Ted Koppel: The show "captured a reality that never was." In honor of this week's nostalgia jubilee, Koppel went to Mt. Airy to see why each year thousands of people fondly revisit a fictional town representing the fictional "simplicity" of fictional good ol' days.

He finds the town "isn't doing a whole lot to undermine the illusion," and those who come for "good wholesome fun" to escape "our godless society" find just what they're looking for in a make-believe world of dazzling cognitive dissonance. Gently and genially, he tries to burst the bubble, but they are having none of it. He talks to Black residents happy to have returned to family there; one smilingly recalls the time in the 1970s when she was politely served a sandwich but told she had to eat it outside. He asks a busload of tourists how many feel the last election was fair; one hand goes up. The rest earnestly argue the Capitol riot was by leftist troublemakers, BLM is burning cities every day, the former guy is the best - "I love that man!" - and the press really is the enemy of the people. Not least, says one stranger to irony, for the mean way they portray Southerners as "a bunch of dumb idiots."

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Previously by Abby Zimet:

* When John Prine Gets To Heaven.

* The Taste Of Subservience.

* When You Win, You're English. When You Lose, You're Black.

* We Are The Least Trustworthy People On The Planet.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

Private Equity Destroyed My Job

Not long ago, I was a saleswoman and manager at Art Van Furniture, a furniture retailer that was an institution in metro Detroit for over half a century.

It was more than a job. My co-workers were my family, and we were all proud to work for our company. Thanks to our hard work, Art Van had grown from a family-owned business with one location to the top performing furniture retailer in our state.

But all that changed in 2017, when the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners bought the company out. Soon, the company I knew and loved began to vanish right in front of my eyes. Where we saw a strong company we were proud to work for, they saw something they could strip for parts.

By 2020, my job had become one of the over half a million retail jobs that have been destroyed by private equity big shots.

Here's what happened.

Almost immediately after it bought the company, TH Lee used Art Van's golden name to borrow massive amounts of money and saddle the company with debt. TH Lee also sold off Art Van's real estate, then forced Art Van to pay rent on the same property it once owned.

My colleagues and I noticed bills weren't being paid and shipments started getting delayed. Restocking merchandise used to take three to four weeks, but it suddenly started taking three to four months.

Then Art Van stopped doing business with our usual vendors. Instead, cheaper products once sold at outlet locations went into our main stores. Sure enough, customers started noticing that quality was falling even though the prices were rising.

We were the best-trained retail staff in the industry and we did our best to make it work. But TH Lee cut back on staffing and replaced Art Van's top-notch leadership with Ron Biore, who was rated one of the worst CEOs in America just two years before being hired.

Everything TH Lee did was setting up Art Van for failure. In just three years, they drove the top furniture retailer in Michigan into bankruptcy.

TH Lee's initial severance offer was to give us $400 under the condition that we would not speak poorly of them to the media - they even said we should be grateful, because they didn't actually have to give us anything.

They then cut off our health insurance before the company even officially closed. Co-workers of mine had to cancel surgeries, and several of us couldn't get our prescriptions filled.

I wish I could say that Art Van was an exception, but private equity's track record in retail has been absolutely horrible. Thousands of retail workers across the country have been through what we faced, according to a study by United for Respect, an organization I now work with, and Americans for Financial Reform, a Wall Street watchdog.

Through all this, TH Lee didn't pay any price. That has to change.

In Michigan, there's a bill to mandate severance payments when companies are driven to bankruptcy, so that workers have some financial stability after losing their jobs. We also need Congress to pass the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, a bill that would make private equity executives personally liable for the decisions they make and limit their use of debt to acquire companies.

My colleagues and I went through hell. Greedy executives should never have the power to drive thriving companies into bankruptcy just so they can make a profit. I can't fix what happened to Art Van, but I can use my voice to make sure these abusive business practices do not victimize others.

Elected leaders must take action to prevent future private equity abuses.

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See also: Bankruptcy Claimed Their Jobs, And Now They're Out For Payback.

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Previously: Private Equity Comes For Janesville.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

September 20, 2021

Grateful Gambling

The sign resided at the oldest ballpark in the country, Birmingham's Rickwood Field, built in 1910 and the former home both of the Birmingham Black Barons and the (white) Barons. Perhaps it was a vestige of the Black Sox scandal, but the message pretty much resonated in major and minor league stadiums throughout the country for decades. So much for ancient history.

rickwoodfieldbetting.jpg

Over the weekend, the Sun-Times reported on the employment of John R. Daley by the White Sox as a lobbyist to promote legislation that will permit a sportsbooks at The Grate, home of the playoff-bound ballclub on the South Side.

The name resonates in a city run by the Daleys for 43 of the 55 years between 1955 and 2011. This Daley is the nephew of Richie and grandson of Old Man Daley. Naturally.

The paper reports that 11th Ward (home of the White Sox) Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson is "supportive . . . of sports betting at stadiums and arenas." The same Patrick Daley Thompson who has been indicted for failure to pay back a $219,000 loan from a now-defunct bank although he allegedly deducted the interest on his income tax returns. If true, what a bad boy.

Before the end of the article, another indicted alderman, Ed Burke (14th), also is mentioned, but only tangentially as far as gambling in Chicago's sports venues is concerned.

All of this appears to be a done deal - the Ricketts' on the North Side already have an architect's rendering of what their two-story sportsbooks will look like at the corner of Sheffield and Addison. According to the Sun-Times, the owners of the Cubs are doing their own lobbying, although John Daley is representing Jerry Reinsdorf and the Wirtz family for betting at the United Center. More from the S-T: "A White Sox spokesman says: 'John is well-respected in his field . . . '" And what field is that?

Of course, the surest bet is that in the next five years all the aspiring wiseguys will be able to wager at pari-mutuel windows in our city's major sports venues. Ironically, the one place where this has been true for almost 100 years, Arlington Park, will have been reduced to rubble.

Historically, when newspaper articles reported on sports gambling, often the subject focused on bookmakers, both mob-connected and smaller, independent entrepreneurs, who got busted for taking bets. Often a "front" was mentioned as a way for the bookie to disguise his real business. I'd call that working two jobs, an admirable trait.

More often than not, the lone crime was accepting wagers. No bank fraud, bribery, tax evasion, or worse. Perhaps those old fellas' biggest mistake was timing. The practice now has become acceptable and legal, like smoking (or eating) pot.

Confounding the reporting is that the Sun-Times says a gambling license from the Illinois Gaming Board costs $10 million along with an annual fee of $5 million. Or what White Sox players Lance Lynn and Cesar Hernandez, respectively, are making this season.

However, the ordinance in front of the Chicago City Council stipulates just $50,000 upfront and then $25,000 annually. I think the Sox could afford that.

All of which reminds us once again that the games and the fan experience continue to witness rapid change. Simply look at last week's performance by the White Sox.

On any given day, manager Tony La Russa won't use all of his team's top six players - Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, José Abreu, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez and Yasmani Grandal - at the same time.

Last week, they lost a three-game home series to the Angels before winning two-of-three against the Rangers on the road. All six of La Russa's stalwarts played together twice - on Tuesday in a 9-3 win and again on Friday when the Sox blanked the Rangers 8-0. That's a combined 17-3 for those of you keeping score at home. With at least one of the top six sitting, the club lost three-of-four.

We must conclude from La Russa's lineups that he's willing to surrender home-field advantage to the Astros in the division series rather than risk injury to any of his stars the last month of the season. Perhaps that's sound reasoning. Perhaps not. Both the Sox at 49-27 and Houston (47-28) play their best baseball in their home parks.

The Astros presently lead the Sox by three games. If the clubs have identical records at season's end, Houston owns the tie-breaker, a 5-2 head-to-head advantage over the local crew. Houston's remaining schedule includes seven games against also-rans Arizona and the Angels before meeting the A's and Rays the final week.

Meanwhile, the Sox will play the Tigers six games, starting this evening with three in Detroit. Later this week La Russa's squad will have a five-game series in Cleveland. Sometime during that stretch, the South Siders will clinch the AL Central Division title.

Since July 1, the Sox lead has never been less than five games in front of their closest pursuer. When they do clinch, I can do without the Champagne shower, goggles and plastic sheeting covering the lockers. For three months this ending has rarely been in doubt. This is simply a first step for a team far superior to its division brethren.

What might make La Russa's lineup-shuffling strategy more palatable would be a minimum of mental errors by the guys on the field. In Thursday's 9-3 loss to the Angels, the Sox trailed 2-0 in the fourth inning when Anderson bobbled a potential double-play ball with two men on and no one out. Andreson still had a force at second except Hernandez made no move to cover the bag. Anderson was charged with an error, Lopez fell apart, and before the inning ended, the Sox trailed 7-0. High school kids get benched for losing focus in that kind of situation, but Hernandez finished the game.

On Sunday, Gavin Sheets stood on second base with one out when Romy Gonzalez hit a comebacker to the pitcher. For some unfathomable reason, Sheets took off for third and was an easy out. I get it. He's a rookie who's prone to mistakes. But c'mon, this is basic stuff. Make mental mistakes of this nature in a close post-season series, and the boys could be taking an early vacation.

Also Sunday, Moncada grounded into a first-inning double play, running maybe 75 percent in trying to beat the throw. Remember "Rickey's Boys Don't Quit?" No, I don't either.

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone have pointed out more than a few times that La Russa no doubt has told his charges to pace themselves. Don't run hard on routine ground balls. Pick your spots. Sounds like the NBA where resting star players is common and "load management" has become part of the vocabulary.

At the same time, fans pay more for tickets than ever before and cable fees are through the roof. Yet the expectation to see the best players on the field or for an athlete to run as fast as possible for 30 yards is often unmet.

But don't fret or complain because in the near future we'll be able to wager to our heart's content right at the old ballpark regardless of who's on the field or how fast they run. There are those of us who don't think that's an even trade.

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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 10:23 AM | Permalink

September 17, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #374: Bears Blown Up, Sir

Bengals better, too. Including: Matt Renteria; Ex-Bear Factor; The Waiting Is The White Sox's Hardest Part; Cubs Coulda Been; Blackhawks Burying Bodies; College Football Wasteland; Sky Out Of The Mystic; Thorns In Red Stars' Pride; and We Didn't Start The Chicago Fire.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #374: Bears Blown Up, Sir

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SHOW NOTES

* 374.

* The Ringer: Introducing The Full Go With Jason Goff.

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2:51: Matt Renteria.

Separated at birth . . .

Screen Shot 2021-09-17 at 12.57.01 PM.pngRickey Renteria

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Screen Shot 2021-09-17 at 12.57.01 PM.pngMatt Nagy

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28:24: Ex-Bear Factor.

* Winner: Kyle Fuller.

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34:23: The Waiting Is The White Sox's Hardest Part.

* We shuffle the lineup.

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39:10: Cubs Coulda Been.

* Go Cards.

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46:39: Blackhawks Burying Bodies.

* Pope: Departures Of Jay Blunk, Pete Hassen Headline Another Blackhawks Front Office Shakeup.

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55:51: College Football Wasteland.

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57:30: Sky Out Of The Mystic.

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57:56: Thorns In Red Stars' Pride.

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59:16: We Didn't Start The Chicago Fire.

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STOPPAGE: 3:40

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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 12:52 PM | Permalink

September 16, 2021

OIG: CPD Cannot Meet Constitutional Duty

The Public Safety section of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its June 2020 review of the Chicago Police Department's (CPD) management and production of records. Based on responses from CPD, OIG concludes that the Department has undertaken almost no corrective actions in response to OIG's recommendations. As a result, CPD's ability to meaningfully ensure that it is fulfilling all of its legal and constitutional obligations remains seriously impaired.

In its 2020 evaluation, OIG found that CPD lacked the means to determine what records may exist in CPD's possession for any case, incident, or individual, and that it was therefore impossible for CPD to ensure that it had identified and produced all relevant records when required to do so in the context of criminal or civil litigation. OIG further determined that CPD's practices for searching for records were inconsistent across and within units, that it did not systematically track requests for records and responses to those requests, and that the Department's policies on the legal review of information to be produced for privacy and public safety concerns lacked clarity.

OIG made various recommendations to improve CPD's management and production of records. Specifically, we recommended that CPD charge a single unit with responsibility for creating and implementing policies, procedures, and training around records management; audit and evaluate its records management and production; improve transparency with stakeholders in the criminal justice and civil litigation systems; develop better a mechanism to search its information systems; and develop and implement a comprehensive, automated records management system. CPD agreed with some of OIG's recommendations; however, in June 2021, OIG inquired about the status of corrective actions and, based on CPD's response, determined that CPD has implemented very few measures.

CPD has developed better search functions within its information systems and has converted some paper files into electronic formats, but has elsewhere fallen significantly short of meeting OIG's recommendations. Specifically, CPD has not undertaken a comprehensive staffing and resource analysis to determine how to meaningfully meet records production obligations; has not designated a single unit responsible for policies, procedures, and training; has not developed policies, procedures, and trainings to ensure the effective identification and production of records across all CPD units; and has not developed a comprehensive records management system that allows for the automation of all CPD records. This lack of progress poses an ongoing, inadequately mitigated risk that the Department is failing to meet its fundamental obligations.

"Over a year ago, we noted that CPD's failure to identify and produce records in its possession put due process and the fairness of criminal and civil litigation at stake, and that the potential consequences of this failure were tremendous for litigants and for the City," said Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg. "We find now that very little has been done to improve the circumstances which led to those conclusions. While CPD has made some adjustments, it remains unable to ensure that it is identifying and producing all relevant records in its possession when obligated to do so. In the interests of meeting its legal and constitutional mandates, minimizing risk to the City, and improving public trust and confidence in the transparency and competence of the Department, OIG urges CPD to meet its commitments to improvement."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

September 13, 2021

Recall! SAS Beef & Chicken Empanada

SAS Foods Enterprises, an Elk Grove Village establishment, is recalling approximately 3,768 pounds of beef and chicken empanada products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection and bearing a label with a false USDA mark of inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Monday.

The frozen, fully cooked beef and chicken empanada items were produced on various dates from Jan. 1, 2020 through Sept. 11, 2021. The following products are subject to recall:

* 1-lb. zip-lock bags or clear, plastic containers with "SAS Food EMPANADAS DE POLLO CHICKEN PATTIES."

* 1-lb. zip-lock bags or clear, plastic containers with "SAS Food EMPANADAS DE CARNE BEEF PATTIES."

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 38548" inside the USDA mark of inspection; however, the recalling company has no affiliation with Establishment 38548. These items were shipped to retail consignees in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The problem was discovered after FSIS received an anonymous tip and initiated an investigation.

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 frozen and in consumers' freezers. 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 Stella Londono, Administration, SAS Foods Enterprises Inc. at sasfoodinc@hotmail.com or at (847) 275-1690.

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 5:57 PM | Permalink

Against Ramp Meters

The following is an excerpt from chapter six of Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town, the latest book in the Strong Towns series. It has been slightly modified for this space.

Ramp meters are those mini-traffic signals that queue vehicles as they enter the highway. Wikipedia explains their rationale succinctly: "Ramp meters are installed to restrict the total flow entering the freeway, temporarily storing it on the ramps, a process called 'access rate reduction.' In this way, the traffic flow does not exceed the freeway's capacity. Another rationale for installing ramp meters is the argument that they prevent congestion and break up 'platoons' of cars."

There is nearly total consensus among transportation professionals that ramp meters are a positive innovation. Even critics cede that ramp meters allow more efficient use of roadways. With ramp meters, more cars travel through the same lanes in less time. Ramp meters cut overall travel time, improve safety, and make efficient use of highway capacity.

Getting more out of existing transportation investments without needing to build any additional capacity is a level of genius that would make any engineer proud. Sadly, the professional consensus on the benefits of ramp meters is wrong. Understanding why will help us move beyond the fiction of models to an approach not dependent on traffic projections.

In 2000, I was going to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, living in the exurbs of Minneapolis and commuting to the university each day. My commute was about 50 minutes. I never hit a ramp meter on my way because I lived too far out, but there as I drove by were the lines of cars queued up in the on-ramps, kindly allowing me and the rest of the traffic to flow past.

During my first semester, the State of Minnesota did a little experiment regarding ramp meters. Again, Wikipedia accurately describes it:

In 2000, a $650,000 experiment was mandated by the Minnesota state legislature in response to citizen complaints and the efforts of state Sen. Dick Day. The study involved shutting off all 433 ramp meters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for eight weeks to test their effectiveness. The study was conducted by Cambridge Systematics and concluded that when the ramp meters were turned off freeway volume decreased by 9%, travel times increased by 22%, freeway speeds dropped by 7% and crashes increased by 26%."

These results sound terrible and, in fact, the experiment is frequently cited as proving the validity of ramp meters. As an alternative, consider my experience as a participant in this experiment. Before the experiment began, nearly all of my classmates had apocalyptic fears about their commutes. They were mostly young and lived near the campus in the heart of Minneapolis. In class, they expressed their anticipation that their 20- to 30-minute commutes would take significantly longer without the meters. The opposite happened; without being forced to sit at ramp meters, they all reported much quicker commutes.

My experience was the opposite. The experiment was eight weeks of hell. My 50-minute commute suddenly increased to two-and-a-half hours. I sat in congestion for endless stretches, and it is quite simple to understand why. Before anyone from a first-ring suburb could enter the city, everyone living in the urban core needed to get to where they were going. Since they were uninhibited by metering, they owned the freeways. Once they reached their destination and parked their cars, the freeways opened enough so that those from the first-ring suburbs could enter the city. The rest of us waited for them to clear out. Then the second ring could enter. Then the third ring. Finally, after everyone closer in had arrived at their destinations, those of us who lived in the exurbs could make our way into the city center.

What shutting off the ramp meters did was effectively meter the highway itself. Instead of the city resident having to wait on a ramp for me to drive by, now I - the exurban dweller - had to wait for them.

With ramp meters, traffic volume is up, speeds are increased, and level of service is improved. The values transportation professionals care most about all trend in the right direction, but that leaves out a key part of the story. What ramp meters also increase is vehicle miles traveled. The engineer's approach of making better use of highway capacity through ramp meters simply allows people to migrate to farther reaches of the system. Once again, the dynamic nature of traffic is not considered.

Whatever cost savings there are in getting more efficient use out of the existing roadway is more than offset by the miles of new lanes demanded in the second ring, third ring, and throughout the exurbs, not to mention the ramps, signals and other improvements that go along with them. Measuring the results of metering at the meter using the metrics that reflect their values, engineers miss the overall impact that their efforts have on the transportation system. While congratulating themselves for saving millions, they are literally inducing billions in new demand in other places.

Building more capacity is a fruitless endeavor. Reconfiguring our systems to make them more efficient in the limited dimensions that engineers find important is doing real damage to our cities, our families, and our economy. The only way to deal with congestion is to allow congestion to drive demand for local alternatives to auto trips. The only long-term way to address traffic congestion is to build alternative destinations locally. Shorter trips, or trips made by walking and biking, retain vehicles near their source and free up arterial capacity for others.

In this, congestion is an ally driving investment.

The Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:31 PM | Permalink

Can Making Music Remake The Mind?

Music education advocates have been fighting back against school budget cuts by claiming that that learning music makes kids better at learning other things.

Numerous studies have found that students who play an instrument tend to do better in school across a wide range of subjects, but not everyone agrees that music instruction is the reason they do better. It's not clear whether music training sharpens the learning mind or if smarter and self-motivated kids are more likely to start (and stick with) music training in the first place - the classic causation versus correlation conundrum.

In a September 2021 book Of Sound Mind (MIT Press), Northwestern auditory neuroscientist Nina Kraus makes the case that budding musicians enjoy real brain gains that help them achieve beyond the school orchestra.

The book covers a broad sweep of Kraus's decades-long investigation into the hearing brain at her Brainvolts lab at Northwestern University, including two longitudinal studies of students in real world music classes who showed improved language and reading skills that tracked with changes in their brain functioning compared to control group students.

OfSoundMind.jpg

While much of Kraus's focus is on reading and language skills, she says learning to play an instrument provides a workout for the whole brain.

"The hearing brain is vast," she said. "It engages your sensory, cognitive, motor, and reward systems so it affects how you understand, how you think, how you move and how information from all your senses comes together. That's all involved in making sense of sound, and music is the jackpot."

Her team's first study followed a few dozen second-graders from lower-income families in Los Angeles who were new to playing music and were signed up for extracurricular instrumental lessons through the nonprofit Harmony Project. Because the program was oversubscribed, about half the kids were waitlisted for the first year of the two-year study and became the control group.

At the study's outset, the two groups were equivalent in IQ, reading proficiency, and tests of hearing and sound processing (such as recalling and repeating a series of consonant and vowel sounds). But kids who spent two years learning instruments gained significant advantages in reading and sound processing scores, compared to control-group peers no matter what instruments they played.

The benefits also registered in the brains of kids who learned music for two years. Scalp electrodes tapping mid-brain signals showed they differentiated between the sounds "ga" and "ba" with more speed and fidelity.

According to Kraus, this measure of the brain's ability to follow changes in pitch and timing is key "for learning to read and communicating through language," including the ability to follow speech in noise, a crucial skill for learning any subject in crowded classrooms.

The Brainvolts team also found advantages for music learners - in both verbal tests and brain measures - in a second study that followed high-school students in Chicago public schools for three years. In this study, the students who didn't learn instruments were enrolled in three years of Junior Reserve Officer Training (JROTC) programs, forming what's known as an "active control group" to further distinguish the effects of music training compared to any other activity requiring the development of self-discipline, focused attention, and determination.

Other research into musical training's impact on non-music skills continues to yield mixed results. And studies that attempt to corral these findings and weigh their varying results, known as meta-analyses, come to disparate conclusions about whether the evidence largely supports broader cognitive benefits from learning an instrument, along with frequent tussles over the analysis done by other researchers.

Kraus contends that meta-analyses work well for drug studies but she questions their robustness for testing musical interventions that vary so widely - from the instruments and intensity of practice to the length of the study and the measured outcomes.

As Kraus wrote in a 2020 American Scientist commentary, "One can't condense music instruction into pill form. We were never enthusiastic about relying on simulacra of music instruction, such as two weeks of basic recorder training in a lab."

She stands by her own lab's approach, which combines lab work with well-controlled longitudinal studies that test both behavioral and brain responses to musical training.

"People always want a yes or no answer," she said. "[But] it depends on context and how you interpret the data. It's really about looking at the converging evidence, and from my point of view as a biologist, the converging evidence is extremely strong."

This post was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:33 PM | Permalink

In Park

Bless their hearts, these wonderful White Sox. Before addressing the athletes on the field, let's first focus attention on our hosts, the folks who run operations at Guaranteed Rate Field, or, as it is commonly known here at the Beachwood, The Grate.

My wife and I managed to witness two of last weekend's closely fought games against the Red Sox - the 4-3 nail-biter on Friday night and Sunday's tension-filled 2-1 triumph on Leury García's unexpected, but more than welcome, walkoff four-bagger.

We've probably been to 20 games this season, which might be one reason why my inbox on Saturday morning included a survey sent by the White Sox querying me about my fan experience on Friday. My Saturday mornings are extremely busy with box scores to be scrutinized, a check of the injury list to see which Sox players will be sidelined for the next 10 days, and a perusal of the usual litany of slings and arrows aimed at Tony La Russa on social media. However, I took 10 minutes out of my frenzied morning to fill out the survey.

The first question asked for the year I was born. How rude. I suspect I'm in the top 5 percent of oldest Sox fans. Oh, maybe it's 2 percent.

With time to reflect on the opening question, a tinge of paranoia has developed. The computer or, heaven forbid, the human who analyzes these questionnaires, might immediately conclude: 1) ignore this guy since he won't be around much longer so his opinions matter not in the least, 2) these fossils always think things were better in the good old days, and 3) it's his grandchildren we're trying to attract.

So it was no surprise that the survey's next items asked who accompanied me at the game. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to note that I organized a special outing of 100 of my closest friends and family, ranging in age from 3 to 80. Credibility might have been immediate. But an old guy going to the game with his spouse just ain't very exciting.

From there the survey continued in chronological order. How did I get to the game? How long did it take? What about parking? How efficient was security as we entered The Grate where "Your phone is your ticket?" (I pause here to let the nausea subside.)

How did I like my seats? What about the concessions? Was that $10.25 Modelo a good value? (That's my question.) How much time did I spend waiting in line for concessions? How long did it take to exit The Grate? Would I attend a future game?

Let's revert back to parking for a moment. For years, and until recently, when we drove to the games, we parked in Lot C, entering from 33rd Street just north and a bit west of The Grate. In the infrequent occurrence of a large crowd, we arrived early. Never were we turned away.

This season that scenario has changed. For that Friday night 17-13 fiasco against the Cubs a couple of weeks ago, Lot C and all others closest to The Grate were open only to drivers with a parking coupon. The following Tuesday against the Pirates - announced attendance 19,221 - every parking area was open to all comers.

For that Tuesday game upon entering and paying the $25 fee - more value! - I asked the attendant how to get a spot when The Grate was sold out. "Go online and get a parking coupon," he said.

So that's what I attempted to do last Friday. However, after searching the Sox website for 15 minutes, I finally found information that no more parking coupons will be available for the rest of the 2021 season. Where did they go?

Fishermen are foolish to disclose the best spots for catching fish, but I will buck that trend by revealing that we found places on 31st Street just west of Wentworth. (My wife just called me an a-hole for divulging our secret.) Using the Park Chicago app and extending the time from our seats during the game, our cost was $9.48 up to 10 p.m., the hour when parking becomes free. Granted, we had to walk a half-mile to the ballpark, but that's what old people do. We walk.

My pal Pat's company has season tickets - parking included - for the Sox, but he rarely goes unless the Red Sox, his team of choice, provide the opposition. Two of his buddies even came into town for Friday's game. Since we left home shortly after 5 p.m., we arrived at our seats in a timely fashion, even after eating at the Chisox Grill. On Saturday morning Pat messaged me, "We left downtown at about 5:45. We did not finally park in Lot A until they sent us around the stadium once, then back over to State Street and up 33rd Street. Took our seats in the bottom of the 3rd."

Years ago Sox management advertised that Comiskey Park's lots had room for 20,000 cars. You won't see that promo anytime soon. Parking has become a disaster on the South Side.

A number of questions covered concessions. None asked about vendors who have begun to appear in small numbers compared to pre-pandemic seasons. I still have acquaintances from almost 40 years ago walking the aisles hawking exclusively beer. Soft drinks, hot dogs, ice cream, souvenirs and other fare are available only on the concourses, hence lines tend to be long.

The absence of vendors for most of the season, according to a former colleague, was the unavailability of those handheld gizmos for credit cards. The Grate is a cashless facility. Historically ballpark vendors dealt in cash. Apparently no one in operations or concessions thought to purchase the little computers in a timely manner, and we know how slowly supply chains are moving because of the pandemic. Foresight helps.

Credit card purchases also have made tipping close to mandatory at The Grate and other stadiums. Before sales are completed, both at concession stands and by vendors in the seats, fans have a choice of pressing buttons for tips ranging from 0 to 20 percent. Of course, there is a choice, but most people opt to give some kind of tip to avoid the stigma of being cheap. Besides, few fans go to a ballgame expecting to save a few bucks. They're in a spending mode.

One vendor on Friday night, a chipper 60-year-old guy who has the energy of someone 20 years younger, passed beer down the rows in exchange for fans' credit cards. Holding up the little computer, he shouted, "What about the tip? Twenty percent?" Most often he got a head nod. If not, "Okay, 15 percent, 10 percent?" At no time did the computer leave his possession.

These folks have suffered as much or more than anyone the past couple of years. Those who vend full-time basically lost their jobs along with millions of other workers. Judging by the scarcity of vendors at The Grate, many men and women have left the profession. So if that $10.25 Modelo had another two dollars tacked on for a tip, so be it.

My strategy targets drinking a beer or two before the first pitch so that trips to the men's room don't run the risk of missing a Luis Robert double or a José Abreu RBI. In addition, fans are asked to mask up on the concourses and bathrooms. Forget it. The vast majority are bare-faced.

Meanwhile, the action on the field at The Grate also has changed in the sense that this is a very good team compared to the rebuild just a few seasons ago. The Sox have an opportunity to clinch the Central Division title this week as their magic number is nine. Two sub-.500 teams will provide the competition for three-game series', beginning with the Angels at home followed by a weekend set at Texas.

The Sox closest "pursuer," Cleveland, has lost eight of its last 10 games. In a three-game sweep at home against the Brewers over the weekend, the Indians not only were no-hit on Saturday but experienced one stretch, beginning Friday and ending Sunday, when they went a collective 0-for-46. The Tribe was outscored 24-4 in the three games. If that's not waving a white flag, I don't know what is.

At this point, the White Sox are playing for the second seed, which would give them home-field advantage against the Houston Astros in a five-game series beginning October 7. This morning the Sox trail the Astros by a game-and-a-half.

Much has been emphasized about the Sox's poor record against teams above .500. However, after taking two of three against Boston, they are 15-10 at The Grate against winning clubs versus 10-19 on the road. La Russa appears more interested in resting his regulars than in catching and passing Houston, and there is no indication that this pattern won't continue. The Sox lost four straight in Houston in June and then beat the Astros two of three at The Grate in July. The Astros' 28-23 record since the All-Star break is better than the Sox's 28-26, but neither team has overwhelmed the competition.

Tim Anderson is scheduled to return to the lineup for Tuesday's game, although García has filled in admirably, playing solid defense at shortstop while hitting in clutch situations as he did Sunday. The Sox are 7-5 in TA's absence.

One has to wonder whether Garcia will see action at second base before the season ends. Since coming over from Cleveland in a trade deadline deal, Cesar Hernandez has slashed .211/.289/.571 with three homers and eight RBI. In the same time frame, García's slash is .293/.355/.794 with a couple of home runs and 10 RBI. Hernandez won a Gold Glove in 2020, but, as mentioned, Leury also is a legitimate defender.

In the pitching department, La Russa also could have an interesting choice to make. Craig Kimbrel gave up game-tying runs both Saturday and Sunday, the first coming in the eighth inning and the second in a ninth-inning save situation.

Meanwhile, Michael Kopech entered Saturday's eventual 9-8 loss in the fifth inning. Before exiting in the top of the seventh, Kopech had faced eight batters against the formidable Red Sox, retiring seven of them - he walked one - and striking out five. The Red Sox were helpless against the young fireballer. Might Kopech be a reasonable set-up man for closer Liam Hendriks? La Russa doesn't figure to make that move, but having Kopech in any situation seems like a luxury few other managers enjoy.

Between now and the end of the season, the Sox have three days off, and then another three before the beginning of the division series. Barring further adversity, the fellows should be healthy and ready to face Houston whether it be at home or in Texas.

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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 10:17 AM | Permalink

September 10, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #373: Bears Bummer Begins

Let's face it, this team is going nowhere - and not even fast. Plus: Waiting On The White Sox; Fake Cubs; Lauri's Leap; Bielosa; Wading In; Red Stars Dashing; USMNT Qualifies; Fire Doesn't; Teenage Riot; and Ongoing Arlington Awfulness.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #373: Bears Bummer Begins

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SHOW NOTES

* 373.

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33:29: Waiting On The White Sox.

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43:51: Fake Cubs.

* Frank Schwindel, 29, was drafted by the Royals in the 18th round of the 2013 draft out of St. John's University in Queens. There's nothing in his career that would have suggested the kind of success he's having this season.

* Ian Happ, 27, was drafted by the Cubs in the 1st round (9th pick) of the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati.

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51:53: Lauri's Leap.

* Right Down Euclid: 'I Feel Like It's Pretty Free Here.'

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1:00:07: Bielosa.

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1:01:20: Wading In.

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1:01:38: Red Stars Dashing.

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1:02:12: USMNT Qualifies, Fire Doesn't.

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1:03:43: Teenage Riot.

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1:04:53: Ongoing Arlington Awfulness.

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STOPPAGE: 8:17

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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 12:51 PM | Permalink

September 7, 2021

When Does Life Begin? There's More Than One Religious View

The most restrictive abortion law in the country went into effect on Sept. 1 after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal. In Texas, abortions are now illegal as early as six weeks into a pregnancy - before many women and girls know they are pregnant.

To date, 13 other states have passed laws establishing this six-week limit, but they face court challenges for state interference in women's constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.

Texas got around that problem by forbidding state officials from enforcing it. Instead, the state authorized private citizens to sue anyone who helps these women - family members, rape crisis counselors, medical professionals - and promises at least $10,000 plus attorneys' fees if they win. Opponents have dubbed it the "sue thy neighbor" law.

These so-called heartbeat bills outlaw abortion after an embryo's cardiac activity can be detected - generally around six weeks - although many doctors argue that the idea of a heartbeat at this stage is misleading since the embryo does not yet have a developed heart.

In addition, these laws generally refer to the fetus as an "unborn human individual." These are strategic choices designed to muster support for the idea of fetal personhood, but they also reveal assumptions about human life beginning at conception that are based on particular Christian teachings.

Not all Christians agree, and diverse religious traditions have a great deal to say about this question that gets lost in the polarized "pro-life" or "pro-choice" debate. As an advocate of reproductive justice, I have taken a side. Yet as a scholar of Jewish Studies, I appreciate how rabbinic sources grapple with the complexity of the issue and offer multiple perspectives.

What Jewish Texts Say

Traditional Jewish practice is based on careful reading of biblical and rabbinic teachings. The process yields "halakha," generally translated as "Jewish law" but deriving from the Hebrew root for walking a path.

Even though many Jews do not feel bound by halakha, the value it attaches to ongoing study and reasoned argument fundamentally shapes Jewish thought.

The majority of foundational Jewish texts assert that a fetus does not attain the status of personhood until birth.

Although the Hebrew Bible does not mention abortion, it does talk about miscarriage in Exodus 21:22-25. It imagines the case of men fighting, injuring a pregnant woman in the process. If she miscarries but suffers no additional injury, the penalty is a fine.

Since the death of a person would be murder or manslaughter, and carry a different penalty, most rabbinic sources deduce from these verses that a fetus has a different status.

An early, authoritative rabbinic work, the Mishnah, discusses the question of a woman in distress during labor. If her life is at risk, the fetus must be destroyed to save her. Once its head starts to emerge from the birth canal, however, it becomes a human life, or nefesh. At that point, according to Jewish law, one must try to save both mother and child. It prohibits setting aside one life for the sake of another.

Although this passage reinforces the idea that a fetus is not yet a human life, some Orthodox authorities allow abortion only when the mother's life is at risk.

Other Jewish scholars point to a different Mishnah passage that imagines a case of a pregnant woman sentenced to death. The execution would not be delayed unless she has already gone into labor.

In the Talmud, an extensive collection of teachings building on the Mishnah, the rabbis suggest that the ruling is obvious because the fetus is part of her body. It also records an opinion that the fetus should be aborted before the sentence is carried out so that the woman does not suffer further shame - establishing the needs of the woman as a factor in considering abortion.

Making Space For Divergent Opinions

These teachings represent only a small fraction of Jewish interpretations. To discover "what Judaism says" about abortion, the standard approach is to study a variety of contrasting texts that explore diverse perspectives.

Over the centuries, rabbis have addressed cases related to potentially deformed fetuses, pregnancy as the result of rape or adultery, and other heart-wrenching decisions that women and families have faced.

In contemporary Jewish debate there are stringent opinions adopting the attitude that abortion is homicide - thus permissible only to save the mother's life. And there are lenient interpretations broadly expanding justifications based on a women's well-being.

Yet the former usually cite contrary opinions, or even refer a questioner to inquire elsewhere. The latter still emphasize Judaism's profound reverence for life.

According to a 2017 Pew survey, 83% of American Jews believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. All the non-Orthodox movements have statements supporting reproductive rights, and even ultra-Orthodox leaders have resisted anti-abortion measures that do not allow religious exceptions.

This broad support, I argue, reveals the Jewish commitment to the separation of religion and state in the U.S., and a reluctance to legislate moral questions for everyone when there is much room for debate.

There is more than one religious view on abortion.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 19, 2019.

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Rachel Mikva, is an associate professor of Jewish Studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:07 AM | Permalink

Longhorns' "Eyes Of Texas" Now Subject Of Civil Rights Complaint

The Texas chapter of the NAACP, along with the civil rights organization's University of Texas at Austin chapter and a group of anonymous students, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights alleging UT-Austin is creating a "hostile environment" for Black students by continuing to play the "The Eyes of Texas" alma mater song at university events.

The complaint, filed Friday morning, alleges that Black students have been denied full benefits of Longhorn student life because the song is an official part of the university, "despite its racially offensive origin, context and meaning."

The song premiered at a minstrel show in the early 1900s where students likely wore blackface. Despite pushback, university officials have said they are going to keep the song as their alma mater, concluding in a report issued earlier this year that the song "had no racist intent."

The complaint, provided to The Texas Tribune by the filers, says the university has failed to respond to racial harassment against Black students and others who oppose the song, violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and argues the university's decision to create a separate marching band for students who do not want to play "The Eyes of Texas" violates equal protections afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment.

This past spring, the UT-Austin Butler School of Music announced the creation of a new band in which students would not be required to play the song after members of the Longhorn Band refused to play it last fall due to its history and origins. Students in the Longhorn band are required to play the song.

This latest move by the local NAACP chapters came one day before the start of the football season. The Longhorn Band plays the song, and those games have been where much of the controversy surrounding the song played out. A little over a year ago, a group of UT football players called for the school to discontinue using the song. The debate touched many parts of the university community, from athletics and academics to fundraising and student organizations. On Saturday, the band played the song and players stayed on the field for the postgame singalong tradition without a major issue. Football coach Steve Sarkisian said in January that "'The Eyes of Texas' is our school song. We're going to sing that song. We're going to sing that proudly."

But the complaint signals the continued desire among some students and alumni beyond the football stadium to push administrators to discontinue using the song as UT-Austin's alma mater, despite the university's insistence that it will remain. Last month, a group of students protested the song at an event welcoming new students to campus for the fall semester. Some students also staged a walkout at graduation last spring when the song played.

Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP, said the groups initially tried to work with university leaders to get them to do away with the song, but were unsuccessful. They decided to file the complaint because students said the campus climate surrounding the song had gotten increasingly tense throughout the spring semester. Al-Nasser Lawal, a UT-Austin senior and president of the UT-Austin chapter of the NAACP, said Black student groups also met with administrators to discuss their concerns with the song without success.

"As Black students, we kind of feel as if it's not like our voices are heard," Lawal said in an interview. "The main objective of the administration and the campus is just to appease their wealthy donors so that they can continue to get that funding, and that they don't really have our best interests at heart."

They argue the song is unavoidable as it is sung after sporting events, at graduation and from the UT Tower bells every evening.

Bledsoe said students involved chose to remain anonymous because they feared retaliation by the university.

The complaint targets UT-Austin as well as some unnamed university alumni, arguing that while alumni do not receive federal funding, "actions of certain University alumni may be attributable to the University because the University has a duty to protect students and provide them a safe and non-threatening and non-discriminatory educational environment."

It also quotes five anonymous students who shared various experiences where they felt ostracized or mistreated due to their opposition to the song.

Leaders of the NAACP chapters said they felt the decision to create two bands was the most egregious example of discrimination, harkening back to the 1950 Sweatt vs. Painter case in which the state created a separate law school for Black students instead of granting a Black applicant, Heman Sweatt, admission into UT Law. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled against UT-Austin because of the differences between the law school for white students, which had more professors, a larger law library and better facilities than the law school created for Black students.

Bledsoe said he believes the new band will not be awarded the same benefits as the long-standing Longhorn Band, which has a rich history and active alumni support base.

The complaint also argues UT-Austin created a hostile environment for campus tour guides who called for the university to remove a plaque with the song lyrics from the university welcome center. The students went on strike after the university said they understood if students didn't want to continue to serve as guides based on their feelings about the school song.

UT-Austin announced last month it will remove the lyrics, but the complaint argues the university did nothing to address the financial and emotional harm students endured from that situation.

UT-Austin president Jay Hartzell said last summer the song would stay after a group of football players demanded its removal in the wake of George Floyd's murder. The president commissioned a group to study the song's history. The group's report concluded that the song debuted in a racist setting, but had no racist intent. It also could not find a direct link that showed Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee inspired the phrase "The Eyes of Texas are upon you," as previously stated by those who opposed the song.

Soon after, a professor at UT-Austin, Alberto Martinez, released his own report on the song's history that contradicted some of the university's conclusions. The complaint filed Friday accuses the university committee of not fully exploring the song's history, pointing to Martinez's report as evidence.

UT-Austin has stood by its own report.

Disclosure: University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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This post originally appeared at The Texas Tribune, a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy.

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See also: The Damning History Behind UT's 'The Eyes of Texas' Song by Texas Monthly.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2021

Counting The Minutes

For some inexplicable reason, that song from Rent keeps repeating itself inside my head. You know, the one about 525,600 minutes in a year. "Seasons of Love" for the uninformed.

I do like the song and wish I could just leave it at that until the lyrics and tune run their course and abandon my consciousness, going back to wherever they came from. However, the fortunes of our favorite South Side team have interfered.

With 28 days left in this 2021 regular season, even with a 9½-game bulge in the American League's Central Division, the White Sox have more question marks than certainties. I suspect I'm not alone wishing that this lovely September will pass by quickly so that we can find out the answers.

All of which is unfortunate since the hot, humid summer temperatures are yielding to cooler days and nights; the leaves have begun to show splashes of their autumn splendor; kids are back in school albeit with layers of safety protocols; and any criticism the Sox might endure already has been lessened by the negative attention aimed at the Bears, who figure to be stomped by the Rams on Sunday. In the recent past - excluding last season - the Sox were a mere footnote in September.

However, success and a stable of young, talented athletes have changed the scene at 35th and Shields.

While the Sox have been plagued by injuries this season, until the last couple of weeks, their strong starting rotation has been healthy and, for the most part, effective. Not any longer.

Lucas Giolito went down last Tuesday with a hamstring strain thanks to fielding a swinging bunt in the fourth inning of an eventual 4-2 victory over the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates. He joined Lance Lynn on the injured list, and Carlos Rodón made it a threesome over the weekend. His left shoulder continues to say, "I'm tired." At least that's the team's explanation for his fragility.

Of course, that's 60 percent of a starting corps that has recorded a 3.58 ERA this season, good for fifth in all of baseball.

Then there's Dallas Keuchel who, by his own admission, has been simply awful the past couple months. After lasting just one batter into the fourth inning last Friday in Kansas City, Keuchel's ERA soared to 5.22. Take his numbers of out the starting mix, and the others have a sparkling 3.20 mark.

Despite being the loser on Sunday, Dylan Cease now becomes the ace since availability has bubbled to the surface. He threw a first-inning fastball to Salvy Perez off the outside corner on Sunday that wound up in the fountains in right centerfield at Kauffman Field. It was a three-run shot, which was all the Royals needed in their 6-0 win, giving Kansas City 10 wins in the 19-game season series against the White Sox. Overall, Cease pitched admirably in his five innings of work.

Meanwhile, manager Tony La Russa continued his scheme of resting his regulars so that the bottom five of his Sunday batting order - Leury García, Brian Goodwin, Gavin Sheets, Danny Mendick,and Seby Zavala - have a composite slashline of .234/.312/.641 with 25 home runs and 128 RBIs.

Each of those guys has made important contributions during the season, but taken altogether, this is not the kind of lineup typical of a ballclub with championship aspirations. Red-hot Yasmani Grandal sat on the bench next to Tim Anderson, who is on the IR. "He's not hurt, only sore," has become the party line for TA's absence. Sore or hurt doesn't matter. Anderson needs to be on the field if this team hopes to make a deep run next month.

Strange as it may sound, Reynaldo Lopez could wind up salvaging the starting pitching, or at least making up for Keuchel's demise.

Consider this: Lopez started eight games a season ago, posting a 6.49 ERA on the heels of his 2019 campaign when he was 10-15 with a 5.38 mark. Vying for the fifth starting spot at spring training, Reynaldo pitched nine innings, allowing 11 earned runs as opponents hit .348 against him. He wasn't much better after being assigned to Triple-A Charlotte where he toiled for 39 innings, allowing 53 hits and a WHIP of 1.897. His ERA was 7.62.

In a shocker, that performance "earned" Lopez a trip to The Grate in mid-July. Now, after 15 appearances, five as a starter, Lopez has also pitched the same number of innings as he did at Charlotte, 39. However, he's given up just 20 hits while posting a 2.08 ERA. His WHIP is an eye-opening 0.718.

Like everyone else, the umpires have been checking Reynaldo's attire and body for sticky stuff. They've discovered nothing suspicious. I assume Lopez is eligible for random drug tests like all players. Perhaps he's confused Triple-A with the major leagues. Anyone who could have predicted Lopez's transformation might also take a stab at the stock market.

If all the aches and pains were to subside in the next four weeks without any new maladies surfacing, La Russa could lead his charges into the post-season with a certain degree of optimism. He won't be resting his best players, and Lynn, Giolito, Cease and Rodón will get the starting nods.

At the same time, a September surge could garner home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the Sox, who trail the Astros by a half-game for the second seed. The local crew has the league's best record at home at 46-24 and is 33-34 on the road.

The team's mediocre record against opponents with .500 or better ledgers has been pointed out rather frequently since the Sox are 29-33 against the good clubs and a whopping 50-25 versus the also-rans.

This week should offer a glimpse of where the Sox stand since they visit Oakland, a team above .500 and a post-season contender, for three games starting Tuesday. Thus, they'll be tested in their two most challenging categories against 1) a winning team, and 2) on the road.

Adding to the impending obstacle is the announced starters of Keuchel and Lopez on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and our old friend TBD on Tuesday, which probably will morph into minor leaguer Jimmy Lambert.

Then it's back home to The Grate to face Boston this weekend. The Red Sox have a three-game lead over surprising Seattle for a wild-card spot, so the visitors won't require any additional motivation.

We can be excused if we're anxious and eager to see how all this shakes out over the season's final 25 games in 28 days. Or 40,320 minutes if you're counting.

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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 11:28 AM | Permalink

September 5, 2021

Add A Letter . . .

In the spirit of this meme genre . . .

. . . we added a letter to make bands better. Or worse.

* Selectric Flag

* Fleetwood iMac

* AMC5

* The Guess Whom

* Aphex Twink

* BM-52s

* Stray Scats

* Tinea Turner

* MTV on the Radio

* Alice bin Chains

* Oreo Speedwagon

* The Black-Eyed Pleas

* XO

* Sexy Pistols

* Asian

* Pinky Floyd

* Brush

* Adam & the Pants

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

Your COVID Game Plan: Are Stadiums Safe?

The college football season is kicking into high gear, the National Football League season starts Sept. 9, and the baseball pennant races are heating up. For the first time since 2019, nearly all stadiums will be fully open to fans.

In the so-called Before Times, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder inside a stadium with tens of thousands of boisterous spectators - after a few hours of pregame tailgating - was a highlight of many fans' autumn. But with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths soaring from the delta variant, many fans are wondering if that is a wise idea.

KHN talked to seven health experts to get their takes.

1. Is it safe to go to a packed stadium even if you are vaccinated?

Six out of the seven public health experts that KHN spoke to from big football states were adamant in their response: No way. Not now.

"I am a die-hard sports fan," said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa. "But I would not go to these events right now."

Salemi said that with COVID cases at their highest level since late January - with the seven-day average case count rising to just over 149,000 as of last Monday - and hospitals filling up around the country, there is too much risk even for people who have been fully vaccinated.

While outdoor events are less likely to lead to infection because the air circulation is greater, sitting within just a few feet of 10 or 20 screaming fans watching football, baseball, soccer or an auto race at a stadium reduces that safety margin, he said.

Vaccines greatly lower your risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID, but the dominance of the more transmissible delta variant is leading to increasing numbers of breakthrough infections, some of which do cause uncomfortable symptoms. Getting infected also increases the likelihood of passing the infection to unvaccinated people, who could become seriously ill.

Even some vaccinated fans - especially those who are older and frail or people with chronic medical conditions - should also realize they face higher risk from an infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not specifically have guidance about sporting events, but it recommends that anyone attending large gatherings in areas with high numbers of COVID cases should "consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact" with others who are not fully vaccinated.

"A packed football stadium now is not a good idea,'' said Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, a professor of medicine and public health sciences at the University of Miami's medical school. "When there's a lot of shouting and yelling'' without masks, "it means they're spraying the virus.''

Football stadiums, which are generally among the largest sporting venues in this country, are typically packed with fans cheering and high-fiving, making it impossible to physically distance from people who may be unvaccinated. Equally difficult is remaining apart from the unvaccinated in crowded concourses and restrooms.

Dr. Robert Siegel, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, said that while the risk of dying or ending up in intensive care from COVID after being vaccinated is "vanishingly small," he would prefer to even avoid a milder case so he doesn't have to worry about long-term consequences of the disease. "It's not worth it to me, but if football is your life, you may have a different calculus," he said.

2. What can I do to reduce my risk at the game?

The first line of defense is being fully vaccinated. If unvaccinated, don't go to the game, all seven experts strongly recommended.

Some colleges such as LSU are requiring fans to be vaccinated or to show a negative COVID test to attend a game - and many players on teams are vaccinated to reduce their risk and stay in the game. But many stadiums will have no such restriction on fans.

Wear a mask except when eating or drinking.

Mask mandates vary by venue for both the NFL and college teams. Even if others around you are not wearing one, your mask will give you a level of protection from inhaling the virus.

"It's best if all parties are wearing a mask, but wearing a mask is better than not wearing a mask," said Dr. Nasia Safdar, a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Dr. Dale Bratzler, Oklahoma University's chief COVID officer, said he would not tell vaccinated people to avoid going to football games. He does strongly advise, however, that fans consider double-masking.

If you want to protect others, consider taking a home COVID test the day of the game. If the test results come back positive, or if you feel any symptoms, even a runny nose, mild headache, or cough, don't go to a game, Safdar said.

And the experts said to pay attention to the level of COVID cases in any city to which you are traveling. The incidence could be high, and that should factor into your decision about attending a game.

3. What about tailgating for hours with friends before the game?

Most of the experts agreed tailgating with a few friends outdoors is a less risky part of the football game experience. But that's only if you know the people you are eating and drinking with are vaccinated.

"It's also that party atmosphere, where people are generally not in a position to wear a mask and you are standing close to people," Safdar said. "It's still a risk."

4. Millions of people have been attending baseball games, soccer games and other sports events all summer - without many outbreaks. Why worry now about football games?

There have been rare reports of outbreaks from major league baseball stadiums, which often pack in 40,000 fans. But that could be changing, too, because the more highly transmissible delta variant has been widespread only since July. Also, the experts said, it's difficult to track how many fans get sick because the incubation period can last a week or more. People may not connect their illness to the game, especially if they assume outdoor activities are safe.

"Delta changed the entire equation of how we looked at the risk," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. "I do think there will be transmission'' in stadiums.

Health experts point to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month that has been linked to more than 100 infections.

5. Can I still get together with other vaccinated friends and family?

Even with the delta variant raging, health experts say people who are fully immunized can safely meet without masks with those they know are fully vaccinated.

"If you know with certainty that someone is vaccinated, you can safely get together for dinner and other activities," said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, a specialist in infectious diseases at Ohio Health, a large, multihospital system based in Columbus.

And the risk of spread can be minimized at events such as an outdoor wedding if organizers include requirements for vaccinations, wearing masks and physical distancing for vulnerable attendees, experts say.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #372: Lyin' Ryan Pace Pumped

It's neat! Plus: This Is The Way It Ends For The White Sox; Jedhunting; Illinois Husks Corn; Markannen Moved; Sky News; Red Stars At Night; and Fire Wire.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #372: Lyin' Ryan Pace Pumped

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SHOW NOTES

* 372.

* How NILs are like gay marriage, etc.

8:14: 'There's Some Strange Things About This Team That We Don't Understand.'

* Ryan Pace super excited about in-shape out-of-shape Jason Peters.

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38:04: The Way It Ends For The White Sox.

* Kevin Goldstein's latest FanGraphs chat.

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46:21: Jedhunting.

* ICYMI: Kevin Goldstein's latest FanGraphs chat.

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54:44: Illinois Husks Corn.

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59:38: Markannen Moved.

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1:01:27: Sky News.

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1:02:16: Red Stars At Night.

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1:02:25: Fire Wire.

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STOPPAGE: 3:52

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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 1:01 PM | Permalink

September 2, 2021

Making The World Safe For Dictatorship

Earlier this year, the staff of Rwanda's minister of justice accidentally sent Al Jazeera journalists a video recording that included the minister's preparation sessions with a public relations firm for an upcoming interview. The interview was about the Rwandan government's involvement in a scheme to lure exile Paul Rusesabagina to Rwanda so that he could be arrested and tried.

Rusesabagina helped save hundreds of Rwandans during the genocide by sheltering them in a hotel, a story that was made into the movie Hotel Rwanda. He later became a vocal and sometimes controversial critic from abroad of Paul Kagame's government. He now faces trial on terrorism charges.


Paul Rusesabagina's arrest shows there's no space for critical voices in Rwanda

The video shows consultants from Chelgate, a UK "reputation and relationship management" firm, prepping the minister to evade questions about Rwanda's involvement in Rusesabagina's capture.

This episode nicely illustrates the multiple ways that authoritarian states - countries where the leadership maintains power by non-democratic means - manage their image abroad. There's plenty of scholarly debate about what "counts" as authoritarianism and about different subtypes of authoritarian states. But controlling domestic institutions to preclude genuine political competition and pluralism is a hallmark of the modern authoritarian strategy.

As I argue in my new book Making the World Safe for Dictatorship, a good image abroad affords many advantages to authoritarian leaders. It makes achieving foreign policy goals easier and helps marginalize foreign critics. It also makes it tougher for exiles and domestic activists to work together and solidifies the government's legitimacy domestically.

The book draws on a range of data. I examined filings by public relations firms, gathered data on cases of transnational repression, did fieldwork and interviews, watched authoritarian propaganda, and more.

Although the book is global in scope, I also take a closer look at China, Rwanda and North Korea in case study chapters. These cases were chosen to illustrate how things play out given different regime types, capabilities, regional contexts and ambitions. Understanding authoritarian image management is important. It helps explain our global information environment and the behavior of authoritarian states in it.

Managing Their Image

To manage their image abroad, authoritarian states try to advance a favorable narrative about themselves. They do things like hire public relations firms to produce positive content, disseminate propaganda themselves and cultivate friendly foreigners who can speak on their behalf.

But they also try to silence, obscure, or discredit criticisms of their rule.

They try to "spin" negative news stories, sow discord or paranoia in activist communities abroad, and repress or even kill their exiled critics.

Back to Rwanda. During his decades in power, Kagame has systematically undermined opposition, manipulated elections and repressed critics at home and abroad. He also amended the Constitution so he can rule until 2034.

Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 2.56.48 PM.pngRwanda president Paul Kagame/Florian Wieser, EPA-EFE

In 2020, the Sweden-based Varieties of Democracy Institute ranked Rwanda 150th out of 179 countries in the world on its index of liberal democracy. In other words, clearly authoritarian.

Kagame's ruling political party - the Rwandan Patriotic Front - pays a lot of attention to its image abroad. Rwanda is an avid consumer of public relations services from firms based in Europe and the U.S. For example, the same year that Kagame won over 95% of the vote in the heavily manipulated 2003 election, Rwanda's embassy in the U.S. contracted American PR firms to boost the image of the country and its leader.

As Kagame consolidated power domestically, it was apparently important to be seen positively in the U.S., a major aid donor.

Managing Critics

But authoritarian image management goes beyond promoting a positive picture. It also involves silencing or marginalizing critics abroad.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front is hyper-sensitive to criticism. It's so touchy that what foreign academics write garners attention. Responses are sometimes published in party-loyal newspapers or other platforms. According to filings with the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2013 the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs contracted an American academic who has been a visiting professor at DePaul since 2013 to "establish a publishing record" in popular and academic venues about the Rwandan diaspora. The scholarly impact appears to have been negligible, but years later the same academic did appear as a government witness at Rusesabagina's trial.

Even more consequentially, its agents have been involved in extraterritorial repression, including assassination plots which target critics abroad.

As shown with Rusesabagina's case, the state wants to avoid the reputational damage that comes with transnational repression. It probably also wants to signal to potentially troublesome exiles that nobody is out of reach.

Authoritarian Tactics

Rwanda is not the only state to use these tactics. Indeed, my book is about authoritarian states in general.

Using publicly available filings with the U.S. Department of Justice, I counted 33 authoritarian states that collectively paid PR and public affairs firms hundreds of millions of dollars in 2018 and 2019 to manipulate their image. This is only in the U.S., only self-reported, and only overt. The scope is much wider than these numbers suggest.

9780197520130.jpg

I also gathered data on authoritarian states targeting their exiles for repression between 1991 and 2019. Again, using only publicly available sources, my team and I were able to find 1,117 instances in which states repressed their critical citizens abroad. These ranged from verbal threats to outright assassination. Uzbekistan, China, North Korea, Turkey and Russia stand out as frequent violators.

Nor is it just today's dictatorships that try to influence their international information environment. South Africa's apartheid regime went to extraordinary lengths to manipulate its image abroad. Ferdinand Marcos retained high-powered Washington, D.C. public relations and lobbying firms and attempted to influence academic scholarship in the U.S. about the Philippines. China under Mao Zedong helped perpetuate a global cult of personality despite the millions of deaths due to the Chairman's policies.

Authoritarian states don't just sit back and let foreigners define them. They actively try to manipulate their image and silence critics. The next time you see an interview with a representative of a dictatorship, ask yourself what the preparation session with PR consultants looked like and what information the regime wants to obscure.

Alexander Dukalskis is an associate professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:39 PM | Permalink

Nine Illinois Preservation Projects Honored

Outstanding preservation efforts in the Illinois communities of Aledo, Chicago, Nauvoo, Paris, Towanda and Waukegan are the recipients of the 2021 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards.

The nine award-winning preservation projects and people who made them possible will be honored at an in-person & virtual ceremony the evening of October 22 at the historic Davis Theater in Chicago.

"Our 2021 award-winning projects are models for what preservation can and should be: the creative, inclusive and sustainable reuse of our built environment promoting local job creation and community-driven economic development," said Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. "The courageous and visionary people behind these innovative projects deserve recognition for transforming places to serve as equitable housing, accessible art and education centers, and lively gathering spaces that bring awareness to Illinois' diverse history."

2021 Award Winners

Mercer County Carnegie Library, Aledo: Award for Adaptive Reuse

Former Aledo residents Crista and William J. Albertson transformed the historic library building in the National Register-listed Downtown Aledo Historic District into a co-working facility for the in-demand services of technology education, recruiting and employment. The project serves as a model for future economic development projects in the rural community.

Epiphany Center for the Arts, Chicago: Award for Adaptive Reuse

Developers and husband and wife team David Chase & Kimberly Rachal reused an 1885 Episcopal church to open an arts center for visual, performing and culinary arts, saving the historic building in the process and creating an active and accessible community space on Chicago's West Side.

Pullman Artspace Lofts, Chicago: Award for Rehabilitation

Two historic structures and one new construction building in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood have been combined to create 38 work/live apartment units that serve veterans, low-income artists and individuals with supported services. The project, made possible through a dynamic partnership between Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Pullman Arts and Pullman Artspace Lofts, included an extensive community engagement process and signals the revitalization of the historic industrial community on Chicago's Far South Side.

Chicago Union Station, Chicago: Award for Restoration

Ten years in the making, this large-scale project spearheaded by Amtrak and Goettsch Partners restored the architecturally significant, 96-year-old landmark's Great Hall, massive vaulted skylight and other areas to its original integrity and beauty, while enhancing the station's functionality through engineering innovations and new materials.

West Pullman School Senior Community, Chicago: Award for Adaptive Reuse

A three-building school complex, built in 1894, 1900 and 1923, in Chicago's historic Pullman neighborhood has been creatively reused as affordable senior housing. The project, led by developer Scott Henry of Celadon Holdings, LLC and UrbanWorks, has successfully preserved the historic buildings that have continuously served as an important anchor in one of the nation's first planned industrial communities.

Nauvoo Historic Residences, Nauvoo: Award for Restoration

Four residences have been restored & rebuilt to reflect their original mid-1800s character in the religiously significant city of Nauvoo, home to the nationally-recognized cultural center for scholarship on the traditions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. New exhibits at the residences educate visitors on the history of pioneer life in Illinois and of the unique role historic Nauvoo played in the settlement of a community seeking religious freedom in this picturesque corner of Illinois.

Tiger Senior Apartments, Paris: Award for Adaptive Reuse

The 100-year-old former Paris High School was rehabilitated and converted into low-income senior housing named after the school's former mascot. The City of Paris, dedicated to saving this beloved and significant local landmark, partnered with the nonprofit Laborer's Home Development Corp. to make this project possible. Today, nearly half of the residents in the 42-unit apartment building are former Paris High School students.

Duncan Manor, Towanda: Award for Stewardship

Through passion and creativity, David and Randi Howell have restored the 1866 Italianate farmhouse on old Route 66 near Towanda, once listed on Landmarks Illinois' Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The couple revived the formerly inhabitable local landmark, creating a popular and iconic destination for tours, concerts, weddings and other community events.

Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, Waukegan: Award for Adaptive Reuse

Architecture firm JGMA led the innovative project to transform a vacant former Kmart store, long seen as a disposable building ready for the landfill, into a vibrant campus for Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, which provides education opportunities and professional mentoring to minority families living below poverty level. The project symbolizes an expanded definition of preservation where no building is overlooked for its reuse potential and where inclusion, equity and environmental sustainability are prioritized.

Awards Ceremony Event Details
The 2021 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards Ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 22, at the Davis Theater, 4614 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. The awards ceremony will also be available as a virtual presentation to reach Landmarks Illinois' broad base of constituents across Illinois.

The Davis Theater, built in 1918 and located in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood, is the longest continually operating theater in the city. The owners of the historic theater received a 2018 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation for their preservation efforts at the more than 100-year-old community landmark.

In addition to celebrating the award-winners, the event will feature a special tribute to honor the memory and creative spirit of the late Richard H. Driehaus, Landmarks Illinois' longtime partner in preservation. The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation has generously underwritten Landmarks Illinois' annual preservation awards program for the past 27 years. One of the 2021 selected winners will receive the Richard H. Driehaus Legacy Award for Innovation, which will be announced at the award ceremony.

The Landmarks Illinois 2021 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards Celebration is open to the public. Tickets are $50 for Landmarks Illinois members and $65 for non-members. Register for the in-person or virtual presentation by visiting our website or by contacting Tiffanie Williams, Director of Corporate Giving and Events at: events@landmarks.org.

More About The Awards Program
Since 1994, the annual Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards has honored individuals, projects and programs in Illinois whose work demonstrates a commitment to excellence in preservation. A jury of preservation professionals from across Illinois selected the 2021 winners based on the project's positive impact in the community, how it inspires others to save places as well as degree to which the project aligns with Landmarks Illinois' mission, values and guiding principles.

About Landmarks Illinois
We are People Saving Places for People. Landmarks Illinois, now celebrating its 50th Anniversary, is a membership-based nonprofit organization serving the people of Illinois. We inspire and empower stakeholders to save places that matter to them by providing free guidance, practical and financial resources and access to strategic partnerships.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 PM | Permalink

Chicago's "BB Cues" Win Ladies 8-Ball Championship

Five Chicago residents are $11,000 richer after a recent visit to Sin City. But their good fortune didn't happen in the casino.

The team "BB Cues" won the 2020-2021 APA Ladies 8-Ball Pool Championship last month in Las Vegas.

BB Cues were one of only 354 teams nationwide to qualify for the American Poolplayers Association's (APA) Ladies 8-Ball Championship held at the Westgate Las Vegas.

Image 9-2-21 at 1.08 PM.jpg

The BB Cues took home $11,000 and ultimate bragging rights upon returning home to their local poolroom. Team members include: Yuvia Roman, Christine Degrange, Adina Fried, Alison Lewis and Teresa Jimmerson.

The teammates are members of the local APA League in Chicago where they play pool regularly.

The Ladies 8-Ball Championship, held Aug. 8 - 12, was part of the APA's Poolplayer Championships, which featured 16 divisions of competition, nearly 10,000 total players and more than $1.2 Million in prize money.

The APA, based in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., sanctions the world's largest amateur pool league, known as the APA Pool League throughout the United States, and as the Canadian Pool League in Canada.

Nearly 250,000 members compete in weekly 8-Ball and 9‑Ball League play. The APA is generally recognized as the Governing Body of Amateur Pool, having established the official rules, championships, formats and handicap systems for the sport of amateur billiards.

The APA produces four major tournaments - the APA World Pool Championships, the APA Poolplayer Championships, the APA Junior Championships and the U.S. Amateur Championship - that, together, pay out nearly $2 Million in cash and prizes annually!

The APA and its championships are sponsored by Aramith, Action Cues, PoolDawg and Valley-Dynamo.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:01 PM | Permalink

After 25 Years, There's A Reason MSNBC Can't Look Back

On July 12, a photo of Rachel Maddow was posted to the "Community" tab of MSNBC's YouTube account. The accompanying text read:

To mark MSNBC's 25th anniversary, MSNBC Daily will feature 25 days of forward-looking essays on important issues from MSNBC anchors, hosts and correspondents. Today, Rachel Maddow writes about the future of election integrity.

Unlike Democracy Now!, which also just celebrated 25 years, or Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which just reached 35 years, MSNBC isn't commemorating with any looks back to its founding, or to its history as an outlet for journalism.

This choice might be because for much of their history, MSNBC wasn't branded as the liberal answer to Fox News. It was instead the ratings-seeking, superfluous product of two mega-corporations endeavoring to expand their respective news businesses. To do a full retrospective of the network, one would have to include its record of platforming conservatives, silencing antiwar voices and being early adopters of round-the-clock scandal coverage.

Early Experiments
When General Electric-owned NBC and Microsoft (providing the MS) joined forces in 1996 to create a news network, MSNBC hadn't quite pinned down its plan for ratings success. In addition to simulcasting the radio host Don Imus, known for his homophobic, racist and sexist remarks, MSNBC was seeking to cultivate a younger, tech-savvy audience with programming that exploited a nascent World Wide Web.

The Site, hosted by Soledad O'Brien and featuring a purple-haired, animated "AI" named Dev Null, was one of the first original programs. This failed to bring in an audience, and was cancelled in 1997. The channel would soon abandon its tech-focused strategy for more sensational fodder.

Monica Lewinsky On MSNBC
MSNBC's fixation on Monica Lewinsky helped solidify the saturation coverage model for cable news.

It started getting warmer in 1998. Once the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, revolving around Bill Clinton lying about having a sexual relationship with a former White House intern, MSNBC saturated its programming with the story. The Big Show, hosted by Keith Olbermann, was to become White House in Crisis. (FAIR founder Jeff Cohen suggested it instead be renamed News Media in Heat for its sex obsession.)

Olbermann eventually apologized to Bill Clinton for contributing to what John Carman of the San Francisco Chronicle referred to as "MSNBC's virtually nonstop cacophony of presidential and congressional shame."

This saturation coverage model - perhaps pioneered by CNN during the O.J. Simpson case in 1994 - would become the rule for cable news: pick a story of sensation (usually at the expense of substance) and drill it into the ground 24/7, with no angle too stupid to be explored and repeated. The fact that this approach might condition millions of viewers to see trivial things as important, while downplaying or completely ignoring more meaningful topics, would be of little consequence to the company.

After stepping down as FAIR's executive director, Cohen worked for a time as a producer at MSNBC, and later (in his book Cable News Confidential) described his first day at the network's Secaucus, New Jersey, headquarters:

I ventured through the building's central corridor, where ten framed posters celebrated the highlights of MSNBC's early history. The first one I saw: "The Funeral of Princess Diana, September 6, 1997." Then: "Death of JFK Jr." On the opposite wall, I saw "Columbine Shootings, Live Coverage" and "Elián González, Live Coverage" and "The Concorde Crash." . . . If these were MSNBC's highlights, what were its lowlights?

Moving Toward A Lineup
In 1999, a show called Equal Time sought to bring a little balance to the Clinton coverage. It was co-anchored by Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor, who was to be a pro-Clinton voice on the new program. Who was the other co-host? Iran-Contra operative Oliver North. Also added to their 1999 lineup was Watch It! With Laura Ingraham; it was MSNBC that gave the former Clarence Thomas clerk her first cable platform.

It was around that time that MSNBC began to develop its permanent lineup. Chris Matthews joined in 1999, Mika Brzezinski in 2000 and Joe Scarborough in 2003.

Not all of its hires were so enduring. Alan Keyes, who ran three times to be the Republican presidential nominee, and would eventually go on to sue Barack Obama to provide proof he was born in the U.S., was the host of Alan Keyes Is Making Sense. It was short-lived.

Then there was Michael Savage, who was offered a platform - The Savage Nation - that he would quickly lose for making viciously homophobic remarks of the sort he was notorious for before MSNBC gave him a show.

There was also an entire show devoted to crime news, an overrepresented genre with a formula that drowns out examination of other pressing social ailments. That was called The Abrams Report, hosted by Dan Abrams. The show would end when Abrams became general manager of MSNBC.

Abrams had failed upwards into the GM position after embarrassingly embracing lies in support of the Iraq invasion - declaring that "within the past few weeks, Iraq may have sold or given a chemical weapon, possibly nerve gas, to Islamic extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda" and sourcing this claim to "knowledgeable officials speaking without permission who describe it as a credible report, but not backed up by definitive evidence."

Casualty Of The Iraq War
Another host destined for cancellation was Phil Donahue. Except in Donahue's case, cancellation wouldn't be the result of saying something bigoted or manifestly false on air, or not being able to maintain ratings - his were the highest on the network. For Donahue, it would come from being an inconvenient antiwar voice in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

When Donahue was brought on in 2002, MSNBC was excited for the ratings that he was expected to bring. However, the network quickly began to worry that Donahue would be a "dif­ficult public face for NBC in a time of war" - especially considering that NBC was owned by General Electric (which, among other things, was a weapons manufacturer).

Apparently to compensate for his position, Donahue was told to "balance" every antiwar guest with two pro-war guests. Except in the case of filmmaker activist Michael Moore, for whom three pro-war voices would be required. Donahue was canceled soon before the invasion of Iraq; its lead-in show, Countdown: Iraq, hosted by Keith Olbermann, was expanded to fill the time slot.

This stance on Iraq could be felt permeating the network all the way down to its lower thirds. In March 2003, George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum that either he and his sons leave Iraq within 48 hours or face war. MSNBC ran a countdown clock at the bottom of the screen. This, of course, added to the lie that war was not a choice, but a consequence of a defiant Saddam.

As the war progressed, perhaps to make Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews seem liberal by comparison, MSNBC hired Tucker Carlson. He held a prime-time spot from 2005 until 2008, during which time it was in the channel's interest to build his brand and make him as well-known as possible. Doubtless they bear some culpability for Carlson's ascendancy.

MSNBC-Tucker-Carlson.png

Leftish - But Not Too Left
It wasn't until 2008 is when MSNBC became the network we think of today, with the hiring of Air America host Rachel Maddow to head a new show in prime-time. This would complement Olbermann, whose ratings had almost doubled since 2006 "when he started delivering 'special comments' criticizing the Bush administration." Countdown With Keith Olbermann would air at 8 p.m. and replay at 10 p.m., because the repeat garnered sufficient ratings to justify the redundancy.

This began an era when it was possible to find people like Amy Goodman or Jeremy Scahill on one of MSNBC's panel shows. Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell, for all their faults, were far cries from the days of Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

However, the new hosts' leftism seldom extended beyond standard mainstream discourse, particularly when it came to U.S. foreign policy. "I'm a national security liberal, which I tell people because it's meant to sound absurd," Maddow told the New York Times. "I'm all about counterterrorism. I'm all about the GI Bill."

In 2009, when the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted by a military coup, the coverage was characteristically scant. Maddow framed the coup as more of a curiosity than a crisis. While some of her coverage focused on the Republicans who planned trips to Honduras in order to support the coup government, other of her segments poked fun at Zelaya's attempts to re-enter the country. The fact that the Honduran military opened fire on supporters of Zelaya awaiting his return at the airport, killing a teenage boy, was not part of Maddow's look at the lighter side of overthrowing an elected government.

When the U.S. was set to initiate war with Libya in 2011, as opposed to reporting critically on the burgeoning conflict, MSNBC served partly as a cover to the Obama administration. "Maddow observed that Obama, like Bush, was invading a Middle Eastern nation," Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher wrote in Truthout:

But by initiating the attack without so much as a press conference to the American people, she argued, he was avoiding the "chest thumping" of previous administrations in an effort to "change the narrative" of U.S. foreign policy.

Also in 2011, Olbermann was fired despite healthy ratings; denials were issued that this had anything to do with the purchase of MSNBC and NBC by the cable giant Comcast. The Atlantic speculated that Olbermann might have been ousted for arguing after a mass shooting in Tucson that former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin needed to be "repudiated" for "amplifying violence."

Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks was given the 6 p.m. slot that same year. His ratings were good. However, sometime after being told to tone it down and invite on more Republicans, it became clear that despite his ratings haul, there was no upward mobility for his brand of vigorous criticism. He soon left MSNBC.

Trump Obsession
Ed Schultz was also part of the progressive wave that came to characterize the network post-2008, on air from 2009 to 2015. His end came when he was about to cover Bernie Sanders' 2015 presidential primary launch. At the launch event, Schultz was contacted by network president Phil Griffin, who told him to pack up and leave. The network was not interested in covering the Sanders campaign launch. Schultz was gone from the network soon after.

While MSNBC failed to give equal time to progressive candidates, it found inordinate bandwidth to devote to presidential candidate Donald Trump, contributing to the $2 billion in "earned media" Trump received during his 2016 campaign. During the 2016 election cycle, MSNBC mentioned him more than all other presidential candidates, Republican or Democratic, combined.

An episode in May 2016 typified MSNBC's obsession with Trump, while also displaying how truly similar they are to the other cable news networks. While Hillary Clinton was giving a talk to union workers in Las Vegas, MSNBC (as well as Fox News and CNN) chose instead to air footage of an empty podium where Trump was scheduled to speak.

Stanford Cable News Analyzer: Obama vs. Trump
After the 2016 election, Trump continued to dominate MSNBC; the Stanford Cable News Analyzer indicates that the network gave President Trump roughly two-and-a-half times as much screentime from 2017-20 as it gave Barack Obama from 2013-16. As CJR noted in 2020, "The network that consistently gives Trump the most airtime is not Fox News, but MSNBC."

And this attention paid to Trump was highly selective, with vast amounts of news hours devoted to connections he may have had with Russia. "Between Election Day [2016] and April 19, 2019 . . . MSNBC devoted 32 percent of all coverage" to the "Trump/Russia collusion scandal," CJR reported.

This obsessive focus invariably crowded out countless other stories that may have been more important to voters, but with less utility to the network as drivers of views and watch-hours. The passage of Trump's massive tax cut for the wealthy, for example, was virtually eclipsed by MSNBC's exhaustive examination of the minutiae of the Mueller report and the "Russia Dossier."

A large portion of MSNBC's existence is characterized by a lust for ratings, endless coverage of trivialities and a craven echoing of officialdom. It may occasionally have a good take, segment or even host, but it will always be operating in service to profit - and corporate power.

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Previously:

* Reminder: MSNBC Helped Lie Us Into War.

* MSNBC Is Worse Than Fox.

* MSNBC Is Worse Than RT.

* MSNBC In 'Full-Blown Freakout' Over Bernie Sanders.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

The Tax Foundation's Mythical Taxpayers

The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank founded in 1937 by business executives to "monitor the tax and spending policies of government agencies," is once again ringing the alarm bell about tax proposals that impact only the wealthiest among us.

President Biden's tax proposals, the Tax Foundation charges, add up to a 61.1 percent tax on "high-earning" taxpayers.

In reality, no actual taxpayers are going to face anything close to a 61 percent tax if the Biden proposals become law. The Tax Foundation, to reach that 61 percent figure, has had to add together two separate taxes on two different and totally mythical taxpayers.

The Tax Foundation's "analysis" combines the income tax for a mythical unmarried taxpayer who dies holding $100 million of wealth, a fortune that consists entirely of one asset for which the taxpayer paid zero, and the estate tax owed by that mythical taxpayer's estate.

The Tax Foundation analysts, interestingly, didn't also include in their tax-rate computations the sales tax the mythical taxpayer's heirs would pay on the purchases they made with their inherited fortune. Or the property tax they might pay if the taxpayer's mythical zero purchase price asset was real estate.

But let's put the Tax Foundation's logic here aside and focus on its mythical taxpayer. All of us who study tax policy use hypothetical taxpayers as examples to illustrate the reality faced by actual people. Nothing wrong with that. The problem for the Tax Foundation analysts: No real people are going to pay the 61 percent tax rate the Tax Foundation finds so alarming. So the Tax Foundation had to invent some.

Let's start with the Tax Foundation's core example of an unmarried individual with a $100 million net worth. Only about two out of every 10,000 American households have wealth at the $100 million level. And married couples head the overwhelming majority of these households.

To be fair, the Tax Foundation's analysts could have concocted an even higher Biden tax rate by choosing as an example a mythical billionaire who paid zero for her assets. That would have driven the Tax Foundation's total claimed tax rate even higher, to 65 percent. Of course, her heirs would have been left with $350 million. Kind of hard to find that alarming, as compared to the heirs of the lowly centi-millionaire forced to make do with a mere $39 million inheritance.

But even those rare individuals who accumulate $100 million or $1 billion of wealth have paid something for the assets they hold. That reality inconveniently reduces the gains that the Tax Foundation's mythical taxpayer could have avoided tax on during that taxpayer's lifetime and the resulting income tax that this mythical individual would be required to pay under President Biden's tax proposal. The Tax Foundation explains its zero-cost assumption as a simplification. That "simplification" has absolutely no basis in reality. Yet the Tax Foundation lets this assumption drive the calculations that lead to its 61.1 percent tax rate.

To grasp just how concocted the Tax Foundation's 61-percent tax stat happens to be, consider what this "tax" would be for an ultra-wealthy household that does exist, albeit quite rarely: a married couple with wealth of $50 million. That couple would be wealthier than 999 out of every 1,000 American households. Now suppose that fully half the wealth of that couple - $25 million - comes in the form of previously untaxed gains, a reasonable assumption. The total income and estate tax bill under the Biden plan for this ultra-wealthy couple? About $16.3 million, or 32.6 percent of the couple's wealth. Their heirs would inherit, after tax, over $33 million.

The total income and estate tax paid by this ultra-wealthy couple and its estate, by the way, would be no more under the Biden plan than the tax paid by a similarly situated couple who sold their appreciated assets prior to death.

So should we consider a 32.6 percent total income and estate tax rate on a couple comfortably in America's top 0.1 percent, a couple that has avoided income tax for decades on $25 million of gains, be something to be alarmed about?

Hardly.

Bob Lord, a veteran tax lawyer and former congressional candidate, practices and blogs in Phoenix, Arizona. He is also an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow. This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Previously in tax scammage:

* McDonald's Breaks Promise To Raise Wages.

* Last Year, Amazon Paid No Federal Income Taxes. Now, It's Trying To Kill A Local Tax That Aims To Help the Homeless.

* Trump Vowed To Punish Companies That Moved Jobs Overseas. Is Congress Rewarding Them?

* After Long Career Bailing Out Big Banks, Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Now Runs Predatory Firm That Exploits The Poor For Profit.

* Jeff Bezos Just Became The Richest Person Ever. Amazon Workers Just Marked #PrimeDay With Strikes Against Low Pay And Brutal Conditions.

* A Sweet New Century For America's Most Privileged.

* With Nation Transfixed By Kavanaugh Monstrosity, House GOP Votes To Give Rich Another $3 Trillion In Tax Cuts.

* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

* GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 Of America's Largest Corporations A $236 Billion Tax Cut.

* Triumph Of The Oligarchs.

* Amazon Short-List Proves Something "Deeply Wrong" With America's Race-To-The-Bottom Economy.

* Apple's $38 Billion Tax Payment Less Than Half Of $79 Billion They Owe.

* U.S. Surpasses Cayman Islands To Become Second-Largest Tax Haven On Earth.

* Less Than Year After GOP Tax Scam, Six Biggest Banks Already Raked In $9 Billion In Extra Profits.

* After Budget Cuts, The IRS's Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing "Collapse."

* $6.5 Billion: A Low-Ball Estimate Of The Walton Family's Haul After 16 Years Of Bush, Obama And Trump Tax Giveaways.

* Illinois Could Recover $1.3 Billion Lost To Corporate Tax Loopholes.

* Whatever You Paid To Watch Netflix Last Month Was More Than It Paid In Income Taxes All Last Year: $0.

* Number Of U.S. Corporations Paying 'Not A Dime' In Federal Taxes Doubled In 2018.

* It's Getting Worse: The IRS Now Audits Poor Americans At About The Same Rate As The Top 1%.

* IRS: Sorry, But It's Just Easier And Cheaper To Audit The Poor.

* Corporate America's Tax Breaks Have Left Society More Vulnerable To Pandemic.

* Another Tax Loophole That's Making The Rich Even Richer.

* The Billionaire Playbook: How Sports Owners Use Their Teams To Avoid Millions In Taxes.

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Previously in The Paradise Papers:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

* Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database.

* The Paradise Papers: The View From Africa And Asia.

* The Paradise Papers: The End Of Elusion For PokerStars.

* The Paradise Papers: An Odd Call From The Bermuda Government.

* The Paradise Papers: Nevis Is An Offshore Haven Of Opportunity

* The Paradise Papers: The Long Twilight Struggle Against Offshore Secrecy.

* The Paradise Papers: A Fair Tax System Will Be Lost Without Public Pressure.

* Item: Today In The Paradise Papers: Through Death Threats And Scare Tactics, Honduran Reporter 'Perseveres.'

* The Paradise Papers: Journalists Flee Venezuela To Publish Investigation.

* Last Stop: Chicago.

* The Paradise Papers: 'Africa's Satellite' Avoided Millions Using A Very African Tax Scheme.

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Previously in The Panama Papers:

* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

* The Laundromat.

'A widow (Meryl Streep) investigates an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of Panama City law partners (Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas) exploiting the world's financial system. Steven Soderbergh directs.'

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Previously in carried interest, aka The Billionaire's Loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

* Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

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BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - All The Styles.


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