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Morning shorts

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

Constitutional Officers

* Illinois attorney general demands shutdown of Craigslist’s erotic services section


IL Congressional Delegation

* Is that a drug in your water, or are you just happy?

The symptoms above are just some of the side-effects of drugs that have been detected in our drinking water. Many of those drugs probably are expelled from human bodies in the normal way and just don’t get filtered out by sewage plants. A few may be the result of farm animals. Some people toss unwanted prescriptions into the toilet.

But before the fear can begin, we need to know what to fear, and even if we have anything to fear.

“How do you screen for it and filter it out if you don’t know what to get rid of?” says Congresswoman Melissa Bean, a Barrington Democrat. “Until we really know what’s there and what harm there is, we don’t know what the next step would be.”

A proposal sponsored by Bean and passed in the House by a 413-10 vote last week aims to push the government to study our drinking water, identify the trace amounts of drugs and chemicals in it, determine if they cause problems, and figure out what to do about it.


GA


The Crestwood Fallout Continues

* Proposed law aims to prevent another Crestwood

* Rush urges probe of tainted Crestwood well

* IEPA needs to step up to the plate


Medical Marijuana Picking Up Some Steam?

* Religious leaders back medical marijuana

* Patients deserve right to medical marijuana


Other GA Related Stories

* Howe Center fate: State panel will weigh in on disabled-care center’s future

* Forcing public schools in Illinois to measure up

Written by Jim Edgar and William M. Daley


Budget/Capital Plan

* Capital plan a long way from lead-pipe cinch

Quinn is the anti-Blago, so that means we’ll get that capital plan, right? Well, don’t fire up the asphalt machines just yet. Legislative leaders and Quinn must agree on whether Illinois can afford a massive spending plan while raising taxes to reduce an $11.6 billion budget shortfall.

“We’re continuing to work with Quinn and Cullerton to try to get something on the books. There’s no argument about the need,” he said. Finding an appropriate way to fund it “will require cooperation. We’ll use whatever mechanism that is legitimate and will get the job done. Two years ago, a lot of time was spent on gaming. Now, the gaming industry has pretty well collapsed, so I don’t think you can expect them to be participants.”

Brown said Madigan could support a plan to raise the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon, “but the governor has said he will oppose something like that. We’ll try to get a plan done. In the House we need bipartisan cooperation.” Brown said gas tax money can’t be used for nontransportation capital spending, “so we’d have to find another way to fund that.”

Madigan’s first priority is passing a budget. “Funding operation of government … is task No. 1. I’d say a capital bill, along with various government reform issues we’ve been talking about, is in the next tier.”


Economy


Pontiac Phased Out of GM Line

* Fans hurt to see General Motors phasing out Pontiac

General Motors on Monday announced plans to cut 21,000 U.S. factory jobs by next year and phase out its storied Pontiac brand — maker of the iconic Trans Am.

* Pontiac fan buys 1968 GTO … again

* Valley dealers look to life after Pontiac

* UAW leaders recommend Chrysler deal

* Editorial - Down, but not defeated


Tribune Hurting Bad, Sun-Times Outlook Surprising

* Sun-Times circulation shows ’strong results’

The Sunday Sun-Times saw its paid circulation rise by 2.8 percent, to 254,379.

Saturday’s Sun-Times average circulation grew 0.9 percent to 227,311.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported its paid circulation dropped 7.4 percent weekdays to 501,203, and fell 4.5 percent on Sundays, to 858,256.

* Trib circulation down 7.5%; Sun-Times dips slightly


Other Economic Sotires

* Workers accuse Abbott Laboratories of creating firm to slash retirement benefits

Now she’s among former Abbott employees accusing the health care products company of cheating them out of their retiree benefits in a class action lawsuit trial under way in Chicago that affects more than 8,000 former Abbott employees.

The lawsuit stems from Abbott Laboratories’ 2004 spinoff of its hospital products unit into a separate company, Hospira, which is also named in the suit.

Workers claim they’d been assured by Abbott they’d have a comparable benefits package at Hospira, but that’s not what they got.

Nauman, 53, estimates she’ll be receiving $5,000 to $6,000 a month less in pension benefits and will have to shell out at least $1,000 a month to get retiree health coverage when she retires due to improper action by Abbott and Hospira. She said she worked for Abbott 20 years before being shifted to Hospira.

* Komatsu Predicts 50% Loss

Caterpillar’s main competition, is also feeling the pinch of the recession.

Japanese manufacturer Komatsu, the world’s second–biggest construction–equipment maker, is forecasting its profits will be down over fifty percent.

Komatsu Monday reported a first quarter loss of about $360 million.

It’s the company’s first reported quarterly loss since 2002.

* Northern Trust raising $1.25B to redeem TARP shares

* Boeing can weather current storm: CEO

* ComEd to lose president, CFO

* Window Company Counts on Federal Stimulus

* Target opening store downtown – for three days

The temporary store, called Bullseye Bazaar, will open May 7 to May 9 in the former McCormick Freedom Museum at the Tribune Tower at 435 N. Michigan Ave.

The pop-up stores are aimed at generating buzz and exclusivity, much like nightclubs that move every weekend to locations known to the “in” crowd.

* I-Go car operator one of two Chicago area nonprofits to get MacArthur grant

The Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Chicago Community Loan Fund will receive $650,000 and $500,000, respectively, as winners of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. They are among eight nonprofits getting the awards, which the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will announce today.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology develops programs promoting sustainability and economic health of urban areas. Its project include the I-Go car sharing program.

* Poshard says SIU tuition increase in works

* Springfield schools face deficit in largest fund

Reserves likely to be used for $7 million gap

City Hall and The Heat gets Turned Up on Stroger

* Chicago schools exec resigning

A high-ranking Chicago Public Schools executive is expected to resign Thursday as part of a management shake-up under new Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman.

Huberman is in the process of restructuring the district’s organization and paring its administrative office in an effort to address an estimated $475 million deficit in next year’s school budget, district spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Hill Hammock, 63, the district’s chief administrative officer, sent an e-mail to his staff recently notifying them that he had tendered his resignation, Bond said. Hammock served with the district for two years.

* Art Institute: Old ordinance may force more free days at Art Institute of Chicago

Ramping up his campaign against the Art Institute of Chicago’s pending 50-percent general admission increase, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) is trying to compel the museum to increase its free hours by enforcing an ordinance that is more than 100 years old.

Burke said Monday that city lawyers believe the 1891 agreement between the Art Institute and Chicago remains valid even though the museum has long since moved to the Park District’s jurisdiction. The 1891 contract, which established that the Michigan Avenue building would be erected for the city’s use during the 1893 Columbian Exposition before being taken over by the museum, specified that the Art Institute would offer free admission on Wednesdays, Saturdays and a half-day on Sundays.

* Spokesman: Stroger administration subpoenaed

The Cook County state’s attorney has subpoenaed both the Stroger administration and the former county employee at the center of a hiring scandal.

The subpoena, delivered to the jailed ex-employee, Tony Cole, indicates the investigation is being handled by the county’s financial crimes division, part of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s special prosecutions bureau, the department that investigates public corruption.

* Todd Stroger hiring scandal targeted

Law enforcers are looking into the scandal surrounding Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s hiring of a troubled steakhouse busboy, whose brief county tenure sparked a patronage controversy that led Stroger to force the resignation of his cousin, the county’s chief financial officer.

Laura Lechowicz Felicione, a top Stroger lawyer, confirmed the county had “received subpoenas” when asked whether there had been such inquiries involving Tony Cole, the former busboy. She declined to elaborate, for fear that any further response “would impede [the] investigation.”

Other county sources said the state’s attorney’s office opened a probe, which Sally Daly, spokeswoman for State’s Atty. Anita Alvarez, would not confirm or deny.

County officials last week said the county inspector general was looking into the matter, and federal housing officials said Monday that they, too, are looking into Cole, but their inquiry touched only remotely on his county job.


Swine Flu: Just How Big of a Deal is it for IL?


First, here are some stories that are more focused upon eduactiong as to what Swine Flu is and what individuals should know to protect themselves.

* What you need to know about swine flu

Q: How easy is it to catch this virus?

A: Scientists don’t yet know if it takes fairly close or prolonged contact with someone who’s sick, or if it’s more easily spread. But in general, flu viruses spread through uncovered coughs and sneezes or - and this is important - by touching your mouth or nose with unwashed hands. Flu viruses can live on surfaces for several hours.

Q: Is swine flu treatable?

A: Yes, with the flu drugs Tamiflu or Relenza, but not with two older flu medications.

* Swine Flu Facts

The symptoms for Swine Flu are the same as the common form of flu but the Swine Influenza cannot be treated with the flu vaccine you may have received at the beginning of flu season.

“Swine flu is a respiratory disease. It can be a form of the same flu virus that pigs get and it mutates to infect humans,” said Sara Sparkman with Tazewell County Health Department.

There are treatments for the symptoms but no vaccine.

Health officials say it’s important to be aware. That way you can tray to prevent yourself from getting the Swine Flu. Cover your mouth when you cough, and wash your hands. You can use the alcohol based hand sanitizer.


Keep in mind there is no need to panic. IL state agencies, local authorities, schools, hospitals and even some businesses are taking the necessary precautions. But don’t take my word for it. Here are a plenitude of stories that lay out just how seriously IL is taking this potential danger

* Officials ‘fully expect’ swine flu

“There’s no need to panic at this point,” said Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The U.S. has declared a national health emergency amid concern about a flu virus that may be responsible for more than 1,995 illnesses and 149 deaths in Mexico. There are 40 confirmed cases in the U.S., where people complaining of harsher than normal cold symptoms tested positive for swine flu - many who recently visited Mexico.

So far, Illinois is free from swine flu. Seven people displaying symptoms were tested but turned out to be negative for the disease.

Arnold said the state is “over-prepared.”

* State officials say swine flu no cause for panic

“We must remain clam,” said Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “There is no need to panic at this point. This is something we will get through.”

Arnold urged anyone who feels sick with flu-like symptoms to stay home, use over-the-counter remedies and limit contact with other people. Additional medical treatment should be sought if the symptoms become severe. “We don’t want to have a surge on the medical system,” he said.

He also recommended frequent hand washing.

* Illinois: Don’t panic about swine flu

* Illinois Public Health Chief: We’re Ready for Swine Flu

* Swine flu: High level of vigilance, but no cases yet in Illinois

* Illinois ready for swine flu

* ‘No need to panic’: Local agencies plan for swine flu

* Swine flu update

* Central Illinoisans adjusting travel to ward off swine flu

* Local schools, hospitals, businesses make plans for swine flu

* School taking steps to fight swine flu

* Local schools have plan to deal with flu

* ISU keeping eye on swine flu, following procedures

* CAT Responds To Swine Flu Crisis

* Swine flu prompts Cat restriction on travel to Mexico


I do not take the danger or possible consequences lightly, because there is some cause for concern as Swine Flu is spreading.

* Swine flu spreads to Middle East, Asia-Pacific

* Dangerous swine flu likely in Chicago

“I think it’s entirely likely we will find cases” in Chicago and the region because of the amount of international travel through the city’s two airports, Dr. Michael Vernon of the Cook County Department of Public Health said.

* Swine flu outbreak inevitably headed to Chicago, health officials warn

Officials here say it’s only a matter of time before Illinois - and the Chicago area because of its international travel hubs - reports its own cases.

“Because we’re in this enhanced surveillance mode, we’re very likely to find it,” said Dr. Michael Vernon, the Cook County Department of Public Health’s director of communicable disease. “It’s a very worrisome situation, I must say.”

Yet, the CDC cautioned the crisis could get worse.

“I would fully expect we’ll see a broader range in severity of infection,” Besser said. “You don’t know going into an outbreak what it will look like in the end.”

* Rise in swine flu reports anticipated

* Swine Flu May Test Baxter

* O’Hare Passengers Concerned About Swine Flu

* Local Mexican community ‘a little bit worried’ about swine flu

* Disease could mean new threat to U.S. economy


Having said all of the above. I feel comfortable saying that I think the media has blown this whole thing way out of proportion and has produced a heightened and unhealthy level of fear. I am all for being prepared, but the media should make sure that in our attempt to educate the public, we do not drum up a panic. Case in point, check out these PSAs from the 1970’s Swine Flu scare that John Patterson found.

* Illinois swine flu update coming …


The truth of the matter is that there is a lot we don’t know.

* Flu and fear

We really don’t know how many swine flu cases are out there, or what the death rate is among those infected. That’s an important piece of the puzzle for researchers. A typical flu bug kills only a tiny fraction of those who are infected, around one-tenth of 1 percent. But if the flu is more deadly, it may kill 1 percent or more. It is believed that the infamous 1918 flu killed about 2.5 percent of its victims. But scientists say that even if such a virus were to sweep the country, the death rate would likely be lower because of advances in medical treatment.

We don’t know why people are dying in Mexico but not in the U.S. Moreover, the strain in Mexico appears to be killing young adults, which resembles what happened in the 1918 pandemic. That’s why researchers are so worried about this virus, which has been identified as a pig version of a human flu virus. Why would such a virus be lethal to otherwise healthy people? The theory: A virus essentially new to humans triggers a huge overreaction in healthy immune systems, creating what is called a “cytokine storm.” If that happens, the lungs can fill with fluid and you can essentially drown “from the inside out,” in the gruesomely memorable phrase of a reviewer of a 1999 book about the 1918 pandemic.

We don’t know how long this version of swine flu has been circulating. There have been a smattering of cases in Europe and the U.S., too. The same virus as the Mexico City killer? Don’t know. But because the illness is mild in many patients, it is possible it has been circulating undetected for a while and is only now being noticed because of the mysterious deaths in Mexico.


But what we do know is that Swine Flu has not proved fatal so far in the U.S. and the disease does respond well to treatment. At least on our side of the boarder. True, 40 cases without a fatality is not a large enough sample size to sound the all clear. But it does give me some optimism. We should certainly be prepared, but I think it may have gone beyond that.

* Dave Granlund Cartoon

My sentiments exactly


Other Interesting Stories

* ‘I pity the fool’: Mr. T on jury duty

* C & E Bulls fans

Then some killjoy shuts down the party with this line: “I just can’t get into the Bulls without Michael Jordan.”

Every Bulls fan knows someone who talks that way. Or a lot of someones. They’re like the Christmas-and-Easter Catholics, the ones who sleep in on Sundays unless there’s a baby Savior or a Resurrection to celebrate. They don’t know what they’re missing.

- Posted by Mike Murray        

5 Comments
  1. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 9:56 am:

    I find it very ironic that two extremely prominent pols who have developed a reputation for stringing along the electorate before backing out, Bill Daley and Jim Edgar, are now the dynamic dual of penmanship.

    How do partnerships like this develop? Who calls who first? Does the conversation start by commiserating over how tough it is to pull the trigger and leads to, say, why don’t we fix the schools?

    I give them credit for trying-it just seems to be a strange combo that begs for satirical comments.


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 10:35 am:

    The Cook County State’s Attorney appears to be investigating the Cook County Board President’s Office and has issued subpoenas.

    When’s the last time that happened?


  3. - illini fan - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 7:07 pm:

    Phineas, Daley, the one with all the contacts, probably called Edgar as he was whittling on the front porch of his log cabin. In terms of strange combos what was stranger than Clinton and Bush Sr. fundraising for Katrina? It was like My Fellow Americans. And Clinton probably called Bush knowing that he was doing some handwringing over his son’s ineptitude.


  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 8:05 pm:

    Illini, Clinton and Bush Sr. actually got together the first time for Tsunami Relief, prior to Katrina.

    If New Orleans had been in the South Pacific, and not 60 miles from the dry ground of Baton Rouge, they would have gotten relief a lot sooner. Perfect storm of local, state and federal bungling.


  5. - BBishere2 - Wednesday, Apr 29, 09 @ 7:07 am:

    Everyone in this country has ’swine flu’ - we’re all suffering from Obama’s Porkulus spending bill!!!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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