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

Sinkhole victim 'will be there forever,' brother says

SEFFNER, Fla.  Florida rescue personnel on Saturday searched for a man who disappeared into a sinkhole that swallowed his whole bedroom while he was asleep in his suburban Tampa home.

Jeff Bush, 36, who is presumed dead, was in bed when the other five members of the household who were getting ready for bed on Thursday night heard a loud crash and Jeff screaming.

The sinkhole has compromised the house next door, officials said Saturday.

Officials planned to let family members, accompanied by firefighters, into the threatened  home for about 20 minutes to gather some  belongings, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ronnie Rivera told reporters Saturday.

Bush’s body hadn’t been removed by Saturday afternoon and the ground near the home was still “very, very unsafe,” Rivera said at a televised press conference Saturday.

"At this time we did some testing and we determined that the house right next to the house that’s actually damaged is also compromised by the sinkhole,” Rivera said.

Jeff's brother, 35-year-old Jeremy Bush, jumped into the hole and furiously kept digging to find his brother.

"I really don't think they are going to be able to find him," Jeremy said on Saturday. He "will be there forever."

A small memorial of balloons and flowers for his brother had formed near the house on Saturday morning.

"I thank the Lord for not taking my daughter and the rest of my family," he said.

Jeremy himself had to be rescued from the sinkhole by the first responder to the emergency call, Douglas Duvall of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. When Duvall entered Jeff Bush's bedroom, all he saw was a widening chasm but no sign of Jeff.

"The hole took the entire bedroom," said Duvall. "You could see the bed frame, the dresser, everything was sinking," he said.

Norman Wicker, 48, the father of Jeremy's fiancée who also lived in the house, ran to get a flashlight and shovel.

"It sounded like a car ran into the back of the house," Wicker said.

Authorities have not detected any signs of life after lowering listening devices and cameras into the hole.

"There is a very large, very fluid mass underneath this house rendering the entire house and the entire lot dangerous and unsafe," Bill Bracken, the head of an engineering company assisting fire and rescue officials, told the news conference late on Friday.

"We are still trying to determine the extent and nature of what's down there so we can best determine how to approach it and how to extricate," Bracken said.

After suspending the search overnight, it resumed at daylight on Saturday, with engineering consultants trying to determine the extent of the collapse so that a perimeter boundary can be established for setting up heavy equipment for future excavation.

Several nearby homes were evacuated in case the 30-foot (9-meter) wide sinkhole got larger but officials said Friday it only appeared to be getting deeper.

Soil samples showed that the sinkhole has compromised the ground underneath a home next door, engineers said Saturday.

The residents of that house were allowed 20 minutes in their home on Saturday to gather belongings. Firefighters and residents formed an assembly line to move items out of the house into SUVs and trucks.

Rescue officials said that in addition to soil samples, they were focusing on engineering analysis, ground penetration radar and other techniques to determine the extent of the ongoing collapse. Listening devices were being used to detect any evidence of life although Bush was presumed dead.

The Bush brothers worked together as landscapers, according to Leland Wicker, 48, one of the other residents of the house.

The risk of sinkholes is common in Florida due to the state's porous geological bedrock, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. As rainwater filters down into the ground, it dissolves the rock, causing erosion that can lead to underground caverns, which cause sinkholes when they collapse.

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Florida man swallowed by sinkhole feared dead

Brother of sinkhole victim talks to reporters at the scene.


A Florida man was feared dead on Friday after a sinkhole suddenly opened up under the bedroom of his suburban Tampa home and swallowed him, police and fire officials said.

Rescuers responded to a 911 call late on Thursday after the family of Jeff Bush, 36, reported hearing a loud crash in the house and rushed to his bedroom.

"All they could see was a part of a mattress sticking out of the hole," said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Ron Rogers. "Essentially the floor of that room had opened up."

A sheriff deputy rescued Bush's brother who had jumped in the sinkhole to try find him. Three other adults and a two-year-old child were in the house at the time the sinkhole opened up.

"I feel in my heart he didn't make it," Jeremy Bush told Tampa TV station WFTS. "There were six of us in the house, five got out."

Bush said he thought he heard his brother scream for help.

"I didn't see any part of him when I went in there," he said. "I told my father-in-law to grab a shovel and I started digging. Then the cops showed up and pulled me out of the hole and told me the floor was still falling in.

Authorities have not detected any signs life after lowering listening devices and cameras into the hole and ordered the evacuation of several nearby homes out of concern the sinkhole is growing.

Bill Bracken, the head of an engineering company assisting rescuers, said the sinkhole appeared to be as wide as 30 feet and 20 feet deep.

"It started in the bedroom and it has been expanding outward and it's taking the house with it as it opens up," Bracken said.

Officials were trying to determine the exact size of the sinkhole and dropped a camera mounted on wheels into a sewer in front of the one-story, sky blue-colored house to assess whether it could collapse.

The risk of sinkholes is common in Florida due to the state's porous geological bedrock, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

As rainwater filters down into the ground, it dissolves the rock causing erosion that can lead to underground caverns, which cause sinkholes when they collapse.

Florida suffered one of its worst sinkhole accidents in 1994 when a 15-story-deep sinkhole opened up east of Tampa at phosphate mine.

It created a hole 185 feet deep and as much as 160 feet wide.

Rogers said rescue efforts were suspended on Friday because of concerns about the house's stability.

Workers planned to put up a fence around the house.

"Right now we're trying to determine what if anything we can do. This is a very difficult situation. It's beneath our feet. We can't see anything," he said.

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Mason out at Groupon, shares jump

Groupon is replacing its CEO, company co-founder Andrew Mason, with two current executives amid increasing heat about the deal site's disappointing financial performance.

In a letter to employees, Mason said he was fired, with a playful and self-deprecating addition: "If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention."

"From controversial metrics in our (IPO statement) to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves," Mason continued. "As CEO, I am accountable."

The board said it's searching for a permanent replacement. For now, Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis have been appointed to the newly created Office of the Chief Executive.

The company said its earnings expectations for the first quarter and full year outlined on Wednesday remain unchanged.

Investors appear to applaud the executive change, driving shares up in after-hours trading after a brutal regular session in which the stock lost a quarter of its value. Shares had plummeted in continuing fallout from a weaker than expected earnings report and forecast on Wednesday. The stock jumped 8 percent after hours on the news and was at $4.65, up 2.6 percent, at 3:40 p.m.

Groupon, a once-red-hot company that started in 2008 by marketing discounts on local services such as spas and restaurants to millions of online subscribers, has lost about three-quarters of its value since its IPO. Mason came under fire for not finding a quick enough solution for its problems.

The company posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $81.1 million, or 12 cents a share, missing Wall Street's expectations for a profit. Revenue for the quarter was up 30 percent, in line with analysts' views.

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White House, Republicans dig in ahead of budget talks

Speaker of the House John Boehner tells Scott Pelley in a "CBS Evening News" interview that a budget deal is now out of his hands.


Positions hardened on Wednesday between President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders over the budget crisis even as they arranged to hold last-ditch talks to prevent harsh automatic spending cuts beginning this week.

Looking resigned to the $85-billion in "sequestration" cuts starting on Friday, government agencies began reducing costs and spelling out to employees how furloughs will work.

Expectations were low that a White House meeting on Friday between Obama and congressional leaders, including Republican foes, would produce any deal to avoid the cuts.

Put into law in 2011 as part of an earlier fiscal crisis, sequestration is unloved by both parties because of the economic pain it will cause, but the politicians cannot agree how to stop it.

A deal in Congress on less drastic spending cuts, perhaps with tax increases too, is needed by Friday to halt the sequestration reductions which are split between social programs cherished by Democrats and defense spending championed by Republicans.

Obama stuck by his demand that Republicans accept tax increases in the form of eliminating tax loopholes enjoyed mostly by the wealthy as part of a balanced approach to avoiding sequestration.

"There is no alternative in the president's mind to balance," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Obama wants to end tax breaks for oil and gas companies and the lower "carried interest" tax rate enjoyed by hedge funds.

But Republicans who reluctantly agreed to raise income tax rates on the rich to avert the "fiscal cliff" crisis in December are in no mood for that.

"One thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

In one of the first concrete effects of the cuts, the administration took the unusual step of freeing several hundred detained illegal immigrants because of the cost of holding them.

Republicans described that move by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a political stunt aimed at scaring them into agreeing to end the sequestration on Obama's terms.

Carney denied the White House had ordered the release.

Friday's White House meeting will include McConnell and the other key congressional leaders: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker John Boehner, the top U.S. Republican.


But the chances of success were not high.

One congressional Republican aide criticized the White House for calling the meeting for the day the cuts were coming into effect. "Either someone needs to buy the White House a calendar, or this is just a - belated - farce. They ought to at least pretend to try."

At the unveiling of a statute for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks on Capitol Hill, Obama chatted briefly with McConnell and other congressional leaders.

Americans blame both Obama and congressional Republicans for this latest fiscal crisis, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Tuesday.

Twenty-five percent of people said Republicans in Congress were responsible for sequestration, 23 percent blamed Obama and 5 percent pointed to congressional Democrats. Thirty percent said all of them were to blame.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said sequestration was too drastic an approach for reducing the budget deficit.

"What I am advising is a more gradual approach. I'm not saying we should ignore the deficit, I am not saying we shouldn't deal with long-term fiscal issues, but I think that from the perspective of our recovery, a more gradual approach would be constructive," he told a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

Among many warnings from the Obama administration of possible damage to public services, the Air Force said its Thunderbirds exhibition flying team is expected to be grounded if sequestration happens.

The Pentagon will put most of its 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave for 22 days, slash ship and aircraft maintenance and curtail training.

But the full weight of sequestration will take place over seven months, allowing Obama and the Republicans time to work out a deal after the cuts begin this week.

White House spokesman Carney said sequestration would officially start just before midnight on Friday night if no deal were reached.

Government agencies began to tell employees how sequestration will force them to take furloughs. The Environmental Protection Agency acting head, Bob Perciasepe, told employees in an email that the agency did not know how much of its budget will be cut but it was working on an estimate of 5 percent.

"What might that mean for our employees? If the sequester order requires a 5.0% cut, the impact could be up to 13 furlough days," he said. That would likely mean four furlough days by June 1, he said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said as many as 40,000 teachers would eventually lose their jobs under the cuts. School districts heavily dependent on federal aid would have to decide as early as next week whether to lay off teachers or cut the number of school days.

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Midwest winter storm: Snow, sleet making travel hazardous

Chicago's midday full weather forecast. (WGN - Chicago)

A winter weather advisory is in effect until tonight as sleet, freezing rain and snow hit the Chicago area, making travel hazardous and grounding hundreds of flights.

The National Weather Service expects the heaviest snow to fall this afternoon. Winds gusting at 35 to 40 mph will reduce visibility and glaze roads, the weather service warned in the advisory.

"Snowfall rates in excess of an inch per hour could occur at times," it said, predicting 3 to 6 inches by Wednesday morning. "This will likely be a heavy wet snow sometimes referred to as heart attack snow."

Mike Bardou, a weather service meteorologist, said "the early part of the rush hour will be most affected."

The advisory expires at 9 p.m. in Cook, Will and DuPage counties, and at midnight in DeKalb, Kane, Lake, McHenry and several other counties in north central Illinois.

As of about 2 p.m., there were 5.5 inches in northwest suburban Bull Valley, 4 inches in northwest suburban South Elgin and Schaumburg, 3.3 inches in west suburban Winfield, 2.5 inches in north suburban Lake Bluff, 1.8 inches in north suburban Morton Grove, and 1.5 inches at Midway International Airport.

About 550 flights have been canceled at O'Hare International Airport and 160 at Midway, according to FlightStats, which gathers data from airports and airlines. There were about 600 flights delayed at O’Hare and 114 at Midway.

On the roads, spinouts have been reported on interstates 90, 94 and 55, according to the Illinois State Police.

The Illinois State Police Chicago District has instituted its emergency snow plan. In an accident where there are no injuries and the cars are driveable, the drivers should exchange information at a safe place and file accident reports with the state police within 10 days.

Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department has deployed its entire fleet of 284 plows. Drivers will plow the main roads, such as Lake Shore Drive, through the evening rush hour. As the snow begins to taper off, the plows will clear residential roads, said department spokeswoman Anne Sheahan.

Extra plows are being deployed to the 2nd congressional district to help residents get to their polling places for today's primary election, Sheahan said.

Road conditions were treacherous throughout the southwest suburbs, especially along Interstates 55 and 80 in Will County, police and fire officials said.

Several vehicles have slipped into ditches along I-55 near Plainfield, especially near U.S. Route 30, said Jon Stratton, a deputy chief with the Plainfield Fire Protection District.  "On I-55, there are vehicles everywhere in the ditch," Stratton said. "Visibility is going down and roads are getting all snow covered, so it's going to be an interesting day."

The most serious accident in the area so far today occurred when an SUV slid under a semi's trailer on the Route 30 overpass over I-55, Stratton said.

Firefighters extricated the woman who was driving the SUV, and she was taken by ambulance to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Stratton said. The woman was conscious and stable when removed from the SUV, he said.

Plainfield police have responded to several reports of crashes and vehicles that have slid into ditches, Sgt. Mike Fisher said. "It is getting slick out there, so people should give themselves extra time, slow down and drive safe," Fisher said.

Schools in the southwest suburbs have also begun changing their schedules because of the storm.

High school students in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 will be dismissed 20 minutes early today, at 1:50 p.m., to give bus drivers more time to complete their routes, according to a news release from the district.

Middle school students will be dismissed as soon as buses arrive at those schools after completing their high school routes. Elementary school students will be dismissed as close to their usual time as possible, according to the district.

All after-school activities in the district have also been canceled, including sports practices and games and Plainfield Park District programs that are usually held in the school district's buildings.

In Romeoville and Bolingbrook, most students in Valley View School District 365U already had today off because of staff meetings. But the district announced early this afternoon that it is ending the meetings early and closing all schools and its administration center because of the weather.

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Woman freed after conviction in son's death tossed

Nicole Harris, who has been locked up since the 2005 death of her son, walked out of an Illinois prison today after an appeals court threw out her murder conviction.

Harris emerged from Dwight Correctional Center in front of a gathering of news crews after being reunited with her other son.

"I'm just overwhelmed and I'm thankful that's it's going to be over and I just want to be home with my son," Harris told the assembled media.

"I'm just ready to get on with my life and hold my son."

The Chicago woman was 23 when a jury found her guilty of killing her 4-year-old son Jaquari in their Northwest Side apartment following her confession to authorities. But Harris has long maintained that her confession was false and the result of threats and manipulation by police.

She said today that she was able to make it through the past seven years knowing that "I'm innocent and the truth will come out."

"It was like at some point I just knew this isn't it, that this was not my final destination."

In a 90-page ruling last October that vacated her conviction, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said there were "many reasons" to question her confession.

The appeal judges also ruled that Diante, then 5, should have been allowed to testify.

Now 14, Diante was the first person to meet Harris when she was released into an outer room of the prison at about 11:30 a.m. today.  Diante walked in bearing a balloon that read, "It's your Day" and a teddy bear. Harris threw her arms around him, wept softly and kissed him.

When asked later what it was like to see her son at that time, she said, "There are no words."

At exactly noon, a prison official told Harris she was "free to go." She clutched hands with a close friend and walked out of the prison. She had been told to get her things together around 8:30 a.m. this morning, she told the media, and said that, at that time, "I was beyond anxious."

Jaquari had been found dead with an elastic bedsheet cord wrapped around his neck. Diante had told authorities that he was alone with Jaquari when he saw him wrap the cord around his neck while playing.

Prosecutors, who argued that Diante also said he was asleep when Jaquari died, accused Harris of strangling Jaquari with the cord because she was angry he would not stop crying.

Harris' release, which the state argued against, is not the end of legal battle. The state has appealed the October ruling, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. In addition, Cook County prosecutors could still move to retry her. A representative from the state's attorney's office said no decision on a retrial has been made.

For now, Harris said, "I just want to enjoy life."

"I'm just glad to be free. I'm just glad to be free."

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Live updates: Jimmie Johnson wins Daytona 500

Former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis talks about his son before the start of the Daytona 500. Lewis was the honorary starter for Sunday's race.

DAYTONA BEACH – Jimmie Johnson won the 55th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second followed by Mark Martin third.

"I really couldn't have done much without the help of Mark Martin," said Earnhardt. "We just didn't have enough to get a run on Jimmie."

Danica Patrick finished in eighth place, which was the highest finish by a female driver. 


Denny Hamlin took over the lead in the race and led for awhile.

The fifth caution of the day came out on Lap 172 after Jeff Burton’s No. 31 Chevrolet  hit the wall  and destroyed the front right side of his car, sending him to the garage.  During the yellow, Scott Speed took the top spot for a couple of laps before being forced to pit.

That opened the door for Brad Keselowski to take the top spot going into the restart on Lap 181. Michael Waltrip moved into second with Jimmie Johnson third. Marcos Ambrose made a big move up to fourth.

Patrick moved into third after Waltrip and Johnson dropped back into the pack.

Keselowski and Johnson battled in the front of the pack.

The sixth caution of the day came out on Lap 191 for debris on the racetrack in Turn 2.

The race restarted with six laps to go and Johnson held on to win the race. 


Matt Kenseth continued to lead the race.

On Lap 129, about a half dozen cars made their way into a green flag pit stop including Patrick. The stop reshuffled some of the running order as Hamlin and Clint Bowyer moved into second and third, respectfully behind Kenseth.

The fourth caution of the day came out after Brad Keslowski’s No. 2 Ford lost control of his car in Turn 3 and dropped down to the apron sending several other drivers into a nine-car pile-up which included Trevor Bayne, Carl Edwards, David Ragan and David Gilliland. The wreck also sent Austin Dillon and John Wise to the garage.

That left 26 cars on the lead lap at the restart of the race with 54 laps to go.

However, Kenseth’s day took a turn on Lap 149 when his No. 20 Toyota showed signs of smoke on the front, left side. It forced him to head to pit road and opened the door for Hamlin to grab the lead.

Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch was forced to head to pit road on the following lap. 


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Te'o tackles questions about 'embarrassing' hoax

INDIANAPOLIS –  Manti Te’o sounded like a man ready to move on with his life.

The former Notre Dame linebacker, who claimed to be a victim of a bizarre hoax involving an Internet-created girlfriend, fielded questions from a media horde Saturday at the NFL scouting combine and said he is beyond the personal embarrassment caused by the incident. But Te’o said he is still disappointed in himself for the harm he caused his family.

"The incident, I said all I needed to say about that," Te’o said. "How I’m handing it going forward, it’s doing what I’m doing right now: Focusing on the moment and focusing on football and the combine.

"Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. So, just trying to enjoy the moment.’’

Te'o said he was surprised by the intensity of the interest in the hoax, calling the reaction "overwhelming" at times and said it was "definitely embarrassing."

Te’o was asked what teams are asking him about the incident.

"Just tell me the facts," he said. "They want to hear it from me. Just tell them basically what happened."

Te’o said the toughest part about the incident was seeing his family name essentially dragged in the mud. He got a call from his sister at one point saying his family back in Hawaii had to sneak into the house because of the media hovering in the yard.

"To know that my family was in this situation because of the actions that I committed was definitely the hardest part,’’ he said.

He was asked about not being forthcoming about the hoax from the start.

"It was a just whirlwind of stuff for me,’’ he said. "For me, you’re a 22-year-old – a 21-year-old at that time – and just trying to get your thoughts right, everything is just kind of chaos for a little bit. So you let the chaos die down and wait until everybody’s ready to listen.

"The way that we did it I felt worked best for me. I’m just very grateful for those who helped me get through that time because I think it went over as smoothly as it could.’’

More importantly, Te'o needs to show NFL teams how his poor performance against Alabama in the BCS national title game was just as much of an illusion.

"That's all on me," Te'o said of the Alabama game. "Alabama had a great game plan."

Te'o said he has received no indication from NFL teams that the incident will affect his draft status. He also said he didn't think it would affect how he is treated by future teammates.

Te’o said he met with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers in Indianapolis and still was scheduled to meet with 18 more teams. He hopes to answer some doubts about his performance against Alabama in the national title game when the linebackers start their workouts on Monday.

Te’o said he would not pursue any legal action against hoaxer Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who admitted on national television falling for Te’o during their long-distance relationship.

"That’s the worst thing you can do,’’ he said. "Both families are going through chaos. ... If you forgive, you’ll get the majority of the blessings.’’

When the roughly 15-minute session ended, Te'o thanked the media for attending, then thanked his family and Notre Dame.

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Justice Department joins lawsuit against Armstrong

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States accused cyclist Lance Armstrong on Friday of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service by taking its sponsorship money at the same time he was doping and using performance-enhancing drugs in violation of cycling rules.

The government joined a civil suit against Armstrong, stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling in 2012 after accusations he had cheated for years. In January, he said the accusations were true in an interview with television host Oprah Winfrey.

A battle with the U.S. government over civil fraud charges threatens to sap what remains of the once-revered athlete's reputation, and hurt his wallet.

Armstrong and his teammates from Tailwind Sports wore the logo of the Postal Service during their record-breaking wins.

"This lawsuit is designed to help the Postal Service recoup the tens of millions of dollars it paid out to the Tailwind cycling team based on years of broken promises," Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for Washington, said in a statement.

The sponsorship money totaled more than $30 million, the government said.

Armstrong plans to contest the suit because the Postal Service was not actually damaged, his lawyer, Robert Luskin, said.

"The Postal Service's own studies show that the service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship - benefits totaling more than $100 million," the lawyer said in a statement.

Prosecutors have said they do not expect to charge him with a crime.

Former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis filed a sealed whistleblower suit against Armstrong in 2010. The decision by the government to join the suit triggered its unsealing.

Lawyers for Landis did not respond to requests for comment.


The government is suing under the False Claims Act, an 1863 law that encourages private individuals to file suit when they have evidence of fraud involving government money.

When the government believes a suit has merit, it may take over the litigation. The individuals, or whistleblowers, get a portion of the proceeds if the case is successful.

Since the law was revitalized in 1986, it has been used frequently against military contractors, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.

Armstrong is prepared to argue that claims over most of the sponsorship money are time-barred, a source close to his legal team said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The sponsorship agreement expired in 2004, and there is a six-year statute of limitations on recovery under a U.S. anti-fraud law, the source said.

The source raised two other arguments that could help Armstrong. First, the sponsorship contract did not contain specific language or promises related to doping.

Second, Armstrong was not in charge of Tailwind Sports, the racing team firm that signed the contract with the Postal Service and that existed before Armstrong joined it.

Luskin is among the most sought-after defense lawyers in Washington. He represented former White House adviser Karl Rove in a case about the leak of a CIA officer's name.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Howard Goller, Vicki Allen and Peter Cooney)

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Drew Peterson sentenced to 38 years

Moments after screaming in court, "I did not kill Kathleen," Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the 2004 murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio.

Peterson had faced as much as 60 years, but Judge Edward Burmila said he gave Peterson some consideration for his years as a police officer and his service in the military.

The sentence was handed down after Peterson, who did not testify at this trial, made an emotional appeal to the judge, at times appearing to choke up.

Peterson began by telling the judge, "Good day, my name is Drew Peterson. I hope I don't aggravate the situation here, but I have a lot of things to be said." Then he screamed, "I did not kill Kathleen!"

"Yes, you did," a woman said.

"Ma'am, I'd like you to leave the courtroom," Burmila said. "And Mr. Peterson, don't make any outbursts that are designed to aggravate people."

"I'm sorry, your honor. I must have been woozy," Peterson said.

Peterson said he is the victim of an unjust and invasive police investigation that ignored or lost evidence that could have shown his innocence. He accused the state police of falsifying reports.

"What they did uncover was rumors, gossip, outrageous lies, and most importantly, unreliable hearsay. Hearsay that pierced three privileges that have stood for centuries," Peterson said.

Peterson bitterly complained that the Rev. Neil Schori betrayed his promise never to repeat anything that was said by Peterson or Stacy. Schori testified at trial that Stacy confided to him that she lied to state police about Peterson's alleged slaying of Savio.

"Out of the privileged information from Neil Schori, the state police was able to create" a case, he said.

"I find it hard to believe that the state was able to take information that they obtained illegally and turn it to their benefit."

Kathleen Savio’s divorce attorney Harry Smith, who also testified at trial about a conversation he had with Stacy before she disappeared, "gave up privileged information from both Kathy and Stacy, like it was yesterday's garbage," he said. "Ultimately, it led to my conviction.

"Hearsay is a scary thing. There's no proof. Anything can be said and no0body's accountable for the truth.

"In my experience, in divorce situations everybody lies, and everybody lies under the instruction of their attorneys."

There was an incident where Kathleen exited the house...and punched Stacy in the face.

They went to trial, my 9- and 10-year-old sons were called to testify, and under oath they lied, Peterson said.

"On their next visit, I questioned them, 'why’d you guys lie?' They said Harry Smith told them to. They didn’t want their mom to go to jail,” Peterson said, growing emotional as he spoke. “I couldn't be mad at them.”

"Stacy provided me an alibi for Kathleen's death.

"Then she later said she was lying about that. Seems like Stacy was lying all the time about everything. But the state's attorney picked and chose what they wanted to believe.

"Stacy clearly had a crush Rev. Schori, which I think was a factor in this."

"There was a constant and consistently illegal activity by the state’s attorney’s, including the state’s attorney himself."

"So what did the state’s attorney do? They hire a skinny … spokesperson (Peterson family spokeswoman Pam Bosco) to go out and say anything she wants. It buffered the state’s attorney’s office from anything the court might bring.

"And when it came time for a vote from the grand jury, only a handful of people were selected. Not the entire grand jury was brought in to do the vote. Pretty much guaranteed … that I was indicted, which I was."

"There was a first investigation on this case, in which probably one of the most experienced investigators was the first one on the scene in this case, and he determined Kathleen's death was an accident.

"Dr. (Bryan) Mitchell looked at Kathy's body when it was in its freshest state. He determined her death was an accident."

So did the coroner's jury, Peterson said.

"All this was done when the evidence was freshest."

Peterson then paused and asked for some water. He resumed by talking about his service in the military and lengthy law enforcement career.

"I was probably one of the highest decorated officers in the Bolingbrook Police Department," he said.

"I always took my job seriously, I never violated the public trust," he said, his voice husky with emotions. "And I never beared false witness against anyone.”

"I loved having a job that helped people," he said. "In my private life, I ran up to six companies at one time. I employed nearly 100 people."

Until this happened, I thought I was a great guy, he said. And in moments, the media turned me into a monster, Peterson continued.

"As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to get a tattoo on my back, from shoulder to shoulder, that says, 'No good deed goes unpunished.'"

He said he loved Savio and called her a good wife and mother who did not deserved to die, but said she had an accident.

He then talked about Savio’s upbringing, calling it difficult and abusive.

"The most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen in my life was the night after our wedding, when I held Kathy and she cried because her father failed to show up and give her away on her wedding.

"At Kathy's wake, friends and family put money in cards and envelopes to help cover the cost of the funeral.

“I paid for the funeral."

"That's a lie right there," a man in court shouted.

"I paid for Kathy’s funeral at the request of her sister, who's sitting right there," Peterson said.

"I didn't think when Kathy said, 'Take care of my kids' that she meant, 'Show my kids the same neglect that you showed me all those years.'"

He then talked about his children and attacked State's Atty. James Glasglow.

"Mr. Glasgow, all aspects of my life have been destroyed. Everything from my personal life to my professional life to my social life -- all aspects have been destroyed. And I tell you this to give you greater cause for celebration, when you celebrate the fact that you perpetrated the largest railroad job in the history of this country."

Since I've been incarcerated, I've had 9 family members who have died, 6 of which were cousins, Peterson said. None of them made it past the age of 60, he said.

“And in telling you this, I'm not looking for any sympathy, but anything you sentence me to, you're sentencing me to the department of corrections to die!" Peterson said.

Peterson said he believes his constitutional rights have been violated.

"And I think the only thing left to make this case run true to form would be a cruel and unusual punishment. And I don't think anybody would care because nobody cares. I can't believe I spent 32 years defending a constitution that allowed this to happen to me. I can't believe people fought and died in wars protecting a constitution that allowed this to happen to me.”

America should be outraged, but nobody cares, he said.

"I take full responsibility for my relationship with the media," Peterson continued.

"I just wanted them away from my home because they were scaring my kids. They hounded me. I agreed to go on TV and tell my story and ask for legal help.

"Everybody from busy bodies like Nancy that ridiculous movie that played repeatedly before and during my trial.

"It pretty much guaranteed that I would not get a fair trial. It's pretty clear that the state took part in that movie because things I remember saying only to the state police appeared in that movie," Peterson said, apparently referring to a Lifetime TV movie starring Rob Lowe at Peterson.

"I'm an obnoxious man by nature, truly. And after 30 years as a police officer, as is normal with police officer, my defense mechanism is comedy. The media took that and capitalized on that, and my obnoxious nature showed through. But I want to ensure the court that at no time did I want to portray any insensitivity about Kathy's death. That was not my intention.

“I hope Mr. Glasgow looks me in the eye right now. Never forget my face! Never forget what you’ve done. 

“Originally I had some cute and funny things to say. But now in closing, it's time to be sentenced to a life of hardship and abuse in prison. I don't deserve this, I don't deserve this.

“Thank you.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Savio’s sister Anna Marie Savio-Doman told the judge that "my loss of my baby sister is beyond words. There will be no more birthday parties, backyard gatherings, holiday celebrations or other family activities to share. The laughter, hugs, guidance, advice, sense of security and those opportunities to say, ‘I love you’ are forever gone.

“One of the hardest things for me is knowing the pain and fear that Kathleen must have suffered at the time of her murder. The horror and betrayal she must have felt when she realized that someone she had trusted and loved more than anything was actually killing her. I wonder if she could feel her heart breaking when she thought about leaving her two boys forever. The helplessness she must have felt knowing she was going to die.

“I have to say it hurts a lot. I hope it gets better, but I am not confident it will get better. I still talk to her. I hope she can hear me.”

Susan Doman described her sister as a “rock” and told the court she looked up to Savio, even though Savio was younger. She also expressed her anger toward Peterson.

“He showed no remorse,” she said. “For years I watched Peterson parade on TV, radio, photo shoots, and (that) radio promotion to win a date with him. That was a big joke to him. And he loved all the attention.

“Your honor, the defendant shows no remorse to this day for the horrible crime that he did to my sister Kathleen. This senseless action is inexcusable. I am placing my trust that you will give Kathleen justice once and for all.”

The judge also read a statement from Savio’s father, but not aloud.

Peterson, 59, was convicted last fall of drowning his third wife in her bathtub. The former Bolingbrook police sergeant faces 20-60 years in prison.

In arguing for a maximum sentence, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow reminded the judge about the damage done to his young children with Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy. Prosecutors have said they believe Peterson killed Stacy and could seek charges in that case.

"Not only is their mother gone, but also their father is gone, as he sits before you," Glasgow said.

Glasgow said Peterson also should not get a break for living a law abiding life because of his attacks on his second wife, when he threatened to kill her.

"There's a recurring them here with Mr. Peterson. He’s a police officer, and there's a number of occurrences with the victims here being afraid to call the police department.

"These are obviously very dangerous situation, and in this case, led to the demise of two young women."

Peterson’s second wife, Vikki Montgomery, in 1992, woke up in the middle of the night and found him standing over her, staring at her.

"You want to terrorize a women, that's how you do it. You let her know that any time, any place, she's yours. And that's what he did."

Glasgow noted that Peterson has a letter from a women's shelter thanking him for assisting victims of domestic violence.

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Sandi Jackson joins husband in pleading guilty

Jesse Jackson Jr. pleads guilty to misusing campaign funds.

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, pleaded guilty today in what prosecutors said was a conspiracy to siphon about $750,000 in federal campaign funds for their personal use.

Jackson Jr. entered a negotiated plea of guilty this morning on one felony count of conspiracy to commit false statements, wire fraud and mail fraud. He could face years in prison when he is sentenced this summer.

Sandi Jackson pleaded guilty this afternoon to a single charge of willingly filing a false tax return, tied to the same allegations that the couple repeatedly tapped the ex-congressman’s campaign fund, used the money for personal use and then made fraudulent campaign and tax disclosures to cover up the misconduct.

Both Jacksons, wearing dark suits in court, had the opportunity to make short statements to the judge about their wrongs. But unlike her husband, Sandi Jackson merely answered the judge's questions with a string of "Yes, sirs" and eventually sniffled loudly and dabbed her face with tissue as it came time to make her plea.

"Guilty," she said in a tiny voice, choking back tears.

Jackson Jr. was present for his wife's hearing – and in fact took the seat that Sandi had used behind the defense table when he entered his own guilty plea earlier in the day. They left the courtroom holding hands.

Prosecutors say the couple enjoyed a life of luxury with campaign cash. About 3,100 personal purchases were made on campaign credit cards, totaling $582,772.58, prosecutors said.

“These expenditures included high-end electronic items, collector’s items, clothing, food and supplies for daily consumption, movie tickets, health club dues, personal travel and personal dining expenses,” the court filing states.

Jackson Jr. personally opened a bank account under the name “Jesse Jackson Jr. for Congress" in January 2006, then the following year withdrew $43,350 to buy a gold Rolex watch, according to documents filed with Jackson Jr.'s plea agreement state that.

Other expenses included more than $4,000 on a cruise and $243 at a Build-a-Bear workshop. “Records from Best Buy reveal that defendant purchased multiple flat-screen televisions, multiple Blu-Ray DVD players, numerous DVD’s for his Washington, D.C. home,” the documents state.

Prosecutors said $60,000 was spent on restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $31,700 on personal airfare; $16,000 on sports clubs and lounges; $17,000 on tobacco shops; $5,800 on alcohol; $14,500 on dry cleaning; $8,000 on grocery stores and $6,000 at drug stores.

In one of the more exotic purchases, Jackson used campaign funds in the spring of 2011 to pay a taxidermist in Montana $7,058 for two mounted elk heads to be shipped to his office in Washington. This was the beginning of an FBI sting, according to court documents.

A year after the purchase, the taxidermist was asked to buy the elk heads back or provide the names of people who might buy them or build storage containers for them. This led to an undercover FBI agent offering to pay $5,300 for the heads. The money was to be wired to Jackson’s personal bank account, the documents state.

"Sir, for years I lived in my campaign," Jackson Jr. told U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins when entering his plea. "I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes, and I used them for myself personally, to benefit me personally.  And I am acknowledging that that which the government has presented is accurate."

As he entered the courtroom this morning, Jackson Jr. gave his wife a peck on the cheek and took his seat. At one point he stepped from the defense table and shook hands with a lead FBI agent in the case, Tim Thibault, who was seated with government prosecutors.

Jackson Jr. spoke softly during the hearing and sometimes dabbed his eyes with a tissue. When asked by Wilkins how he would plead, Jackson answered: “I am guilty, your honor.”

Pressed by the judge on whether he was freely entering the plea, the former congressman acknowledged he had been under psychiatric care but said he had not been treated for addiction to alcohol or narcotics.

Asked whether he understood what was happening, he answered, "Sir, I've never been more clear in my life."

Leaving the courtroom, Jackson Jr. told a reporter, "Tell everybody back home I'm sorry I let 'em down, OK?"

At a press conference following the hearing, Jackson Jr. attorney Reid Weingarten said Jackson's health problems contributed to his crimes.

"It turns out that Jesse has serious health issues," he said. "Those health issues are directly related to his present predicament. That's not an excuse, that's just a fact."

As part of Jackson Jr.'s plea deal, the parties have agreed that sentencing guidelines call for a term of between 46 and 57 months in prison, but the sides reserved the right to argue for a sentence above or below that range for him when he is sentenced June 28.

After his release from an expected prison term, he might face three additional years of supervised release, or probation.

Also under the guideline range agreed to by Jackson Jr. and lawyers on both sides, what had been a maximum fine of $250,000 drops to one in the range of $10,000 to $100,000. In addition, he remains subject to a forfeiture of $750,000.

The judge said Jackson could be released before sentencing and ordered him to be processed by the U.S. Marshal's Service, surrender his passport and undergo drug testing while awaiting sentencing.
His attorney asked if Jackson Jr. could be allowed to travel back and forth from Chicago, saying he essentially lived in both places, and the judge agreed.

Sandi Jackson's sentencing was scheduled for July 1, a few days after her husband’s. There was dispute between government and defense lawyers about where she would fall under the federal sentencing guidelines, which the judge is not bound to follow.

On the high end, favored by the government, she would face a possible prison term of 18 to 24 months and a fine of $4,000 to $40,000. Her lawyers are pushing for 12 to 18 months and a fine of $3,000 to $30,000. The count has a maximum penalty of three years.

Guidelines are only advisory to judges. Sandi Jackson, like her husband, was given consideration for acceptance of responsibility for her crimes.

As part of her guilty plea, Sandi Jackson agreed to pay $168,500 in restitution.

Dan Webb, Sandi Jackson's attorney and a former top federal prosecutor in Chicago, told reporters following her court appearance that she had faced a "hard decision" to plead guilty rather than fight the charges against her.

"She made the decision to plead guilty today to a one-tax charge, and that's the only thing she pleaded guilty to, because that's the charge the government filed against her," Webb said.

He said the Jackson family had been through a difficult time as a result of Jackson, Jr.'s "mental and emotional issues."

"This gives her a chance now to put it behind her, to focus on her family, to focus on her two young children, and to move forward with the rest of her life," he said.

As the Jacksons arrived at federal court in Washington, D.C. this morning, neither responded to questions from reporters. The two stepped out of a black SUV, and Sandi Jackson walked ahead of her husband, carrying a satchel. Jackson Jr. looked up when reporters shouted questions but said nothing and looked down as he went into the building.

Minutes later, his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., and other family members walked through the front entrance of the courthouse, their arms linked together.

Jackson Jr., 47, was in the House of Representatives for 17 years until he resigned last November. Sandi Jackson, 49, was a Chicago alderman from 2007 until she stepped down in January. Both are Democrats.

Jackson Jr. began a mysterious medical leave of absence last June for what was eventually described as bipolar disorder. Though he did not campaign for re-election, he won another term last Nov. 6 while being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He left office two weeks later, saying he was cooperating with federal investigators.

Married for more than 20 years, the Jacksons have a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. The family has homes in Washington and on Chicago’s South Side.

Washington defense attorney Stan Brand, the former general counsel of the House of Representatives, said Tuesday that Jackson Jr.’s case involved the largest sum of money he’s seen in a case involving personal use of campaign money.

“Historically, there have been members of Congress who either inadvertently or maybe purposefully, but not to this magnitude, used campaign funds inappropriately,” he said.

Earlier this morning, Judge Wilkins disclosed that he had a past link to Jackson Jr.’s father. But both prosecutors and the Jackson defense waived any attempt to transfer the case, the judge noted in a court memorandum.

Wilkins wrote that he has no interest or bias in the case, but disclosed the following:

“In 1988, while a law student, Judge Wilkins served as a co-chair of Harvard Law School students supporting the presidential campaign of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and on October 24, 1988, Judge Wilkins introduced Rev. Jackson when he came to speak at a campus event supporting the presidential candidacy of Governor Michael Dukakis. On March 21, 1999, while an attorney, Judge Wilkins appeared as a guest on a show hosted by Rev. Jackson on the CNN network entitled ‘Both Sides with Jesse Jackson’ to discuss a civil rights lawsuit in which Judge Wilkins was a plaintiff. Judge Wilkins believes that he has spoken to Rev. Jackson only on these two occasions, and he does not believe that he has ever met or spoken to the two defendants in these cases.”

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Brodsky takes stand in Peterson hearing

Drew Peterson's former lead attorney Joel Brodsky took the witness stand this afternoon to be questioned by his former defense team nemesis Steve Greenberg.

The bizarre courtroom drama was part of a hearing on a motion filed by the defense seeking a new trial for Peterson, 59, who was convicted last fall of drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Defense attorneys allege Brodsky's work on the murder trial was flawed and therefore Peterson deserves a new trial.

Testimony on the motion has concluded for the day and is scheduled to resume Wednesday at 10 a.m. Brodsky could be called to the witness stand Wednesday by the prosecution.

Brodsky testified this afternoon that he entered into a yearlong contract with a publicist in 2007 and said he was paid money by ABC television. Brodsky's former legal partner testified this morning that Brodsky often focused on the financial benefit of representing Peterson, and a law professor testified today that Brodsky's contract with a publicity firm violated the professional code of conduct for attorneys.

Brodsky testified that he opened up a trust account for Peterson's case and deposited $10,000 from ABC television for photo and video licensing fees in 2008. In March 2008, he withdrew $10,000 for "attorney's fees."

"Did you ever get anything in writing authorizing the disbursements?" Greenberg asked, referring to the $10,000 payment.

"Oh, that payment?" Brodsky said. "I'm not sure. Maybe, maybe not."

Brodsky this month filed a libel lawsuit against Greenberg and claimed in court documents Greenberg was mentally ill. Greenberg has said Brodsky's decision to put a key witness on the stand late in the murder trial last year led to Peterson's guilty verdict. Some jurors said testimony from the witness convinced them that Peterson was guilty.

This morning, Brodsky's ex-law partner Reem Odeh testified that Brodsky had physically attacked her in the past and tried to intimidate her before she took the witness stand.

Odeh said Brodsky talked to her often about how he thought the Peterson case would benefit himself and the firm.

"On many occasions, especially when we would have our quarrels about financial matters regarding the case," Odeh said.

She also said Brodsky made a comment to her in passing outside the courtroom this morning. Odeh testified that she could not recall Brodsky's exact words but "I perceived that he was trying to intimidate me or threaten me."

She also testified that Brodsky had attacked her when she left his firm in 2010.

"There was an incident where he physically attacked me and the police had to be called," she said. "Just remembering what I had to go through is very, very upsetting."

Outside court, Odeh said she never pressed charges because she wanted to end any contact with Brodsky.

Also outside court, Brodsky said he never spoke with Odeh or threatened her before the hearing this morning and said she lied when she testified that he physically attacked her when she dissolved their partnership in 2010.

Instead, it was he who fired her after she allegedly forged his signature on affidavits, he said.

"This is a very angry person who I found out was forging affidavits," Brodsky said.

Brodsky also showed reporters copies of a disparaging text message sent from Odeh's phone and directed at him.

Odeh denied she forged affidavits when asked about it outside court. She also said the disparaging text was sent from her phone after it was stolen. She said several of the contacts in her stolen phone received disparaging messages and she later apologized to those people, including Brodsky, and explained her phone had been stolen and the messages were not sent by her.

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Burger King Twitter account hacked

Burger King has apologized for today's hacking of its Twitter account in which someone changed the feed to look like that of McDonald's, adding that it does not have confirmation of who was behind the hack.

"We apologize to our fans and followers who have been receiving erroneous tweets about other members of our industry and additional inappropriate topics," Burger King said in a statement to the Tribune this afternoon. The company worked with Twitter administrators to suspend the account after the bogus tweets were discovered, the statement said.

The hackers substituted the McDonald's logo in place of the familiar one for Burger King and sent tweets promoting the music of controversial Chicago rapper Chief Keef, some vulgar tweets and other tweets making outrageous claims about Burger King employees and practices.

Around 11 a.m. today came the first apparently fake tweet on the @BurgerKing feed, announcing, "We just got sold to McDonalds! Look for McDonalds in a hood near you."

The account sent more than a dozen tweets over the next hour, including a link to a video by Chief Keef.

"We caught one of our employees in the bathroom doing this …" read one of the tweets, accompanied with a photo of someone injecting himself with a syringe.

By 12:15 p.m., the account had been suspended. The account was still inactive at 3:15 p.m.

"We have worked directly with administrators to suspend the account until we are able to re-establish our legitimate site and authentic postings," Burger King's statement said.

But not before jokes about the hack were racing across Twitter.

"Somebody needs to tell Burgerking that 'whopper123' isn't a secure password," Twitter user @flibblesan cracked.

McDonald's took to Twitter to assure its fast-food competitor that it was not behind the hack. "We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts," McDonald's said via the actual @McDonald's account. "Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."

The McDonald's image used on the hacked @BurgerKing account was the same picture of the new Fish McBites used on the @McDonalds account.

Twitter acknowledged earlier this month that some 250,000 user passwords had been compromised, though it was not clear today if the one belonging to @BurgerKing was among them.

Twitter: @RobManker

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Hockey arrives at Soldier Field

Hockey City Classic

Fans clap and cheer after the National Anthem to start a game between Notre Dame and Miami in the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic played at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday.
(Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / February 17, 2013)

The tailgates were at full steam hours before noon. Snow covered gray slats dropped on the Soldier Field turf. And they dropped a rink in the middle of a football field.

Hockey arrived by the lake on Sunday, with four college teams taking part in the first Hockey City Classic. Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio) battled first, with Wisconsin and Minnesota set to meet in the second game of the doubleheader.

Notre Dame emerged with a 2-1 win over Miami in the first matchup, cutting the front-running RedHawks CCHA lead to three points.

It's the first hockey event at Soldier Field and, possibly, a sort of dry run to see if the building can house an NHL Winter Classic involving the Blackhawks -- who skated at the venue with wounded military veterans on Saturday -- in the future.

 As for the hockey, Notre Dame's Mario Lucia opened the scoring in the second period and then Jeff Costello added another tally early in the third period to provide a two-goal Irish bulge. Miami's Kevin Morris cut the deficit in half midway through the final frame, but the RedHawks couldn't equalize with the goalie pulled in the final minute or so.

Twitter @ChiTribHamilton

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Officials: Suspect shot by police, cop injured in Humboldt Park

A 23-year-old man was shot by police and a police officer was injured during an investigation of drug sales in the Humboldt Park neighborhood this morning, officials said.

Chicago Fire Department paramedics responded to the 3900 block of West Chicago Avenue at about 11:30 a.m., said Larry Langford, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman.

The wounded man was taken in critical condition to Mount Sinai Hospital, Langford said.

The incident began when a Chicago police vehicle with four tactical officers pulled up to the 3900 block of West Chicago Avenue to a known drug sales area, said Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Patrick Camden.

According to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli, the officers observed a "hand-to-hand exchange" of what they believed to be narcotics involving the wounded man and a group of four or five others.

After the police vehicle pulled up to the men, one of the men fled from the area to an adjacent vacant lot with an officer pursuing on foot, Camden and Mirabelli said. At that time, a squad car was called in to assist, Camden said.

As police were closing in on the suspect, the man ran into a parking lot and jumped into a van, locked the door and refused to get out, said Camden and Mirabelli.

The police vehicle was maneuvered to block the van, preventing it from leaving the lot, Mirabelli said, but the suspect was able to move it backward and forward. The suspect began to do that -- "dangerous, erratic behavior" Mirabelli called it -- moving the vehicle in the direction of an officer who was between the van and the front bumper of the squad car blocking the lot.

At that point, the officer jumped on the hood of the van to avoid getting hit as the man continued to drive, Camden said. As the van continued moving, the officer's leg got caught between the van and the grill of the police vehicle, Camden said.

At that point, the officer believed the man was going to keep driving and fired his gun three times into the van, said Camden.

After being struck by gunfire, the man stopped the van and opened the door of the van. Police found a plastic bag with 10 packets of narcotics inside, said Camden.

The suspect was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital after being shot in the upper torso with what Camden called non-life-threatening wounds.

The officer was taken to the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago with injuries to his leg and foot, Camden said. Mirabelli said the injuries to the officer, which he described as cuts and bruises, were not life-threatening.

The shooting is being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority.

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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Federal charges filed against Jesse Jackson Jr., wife

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged today with violating federal law by misusing $750,000 in campaign funds.

Jackson, 47, a Democrat from Chicago, was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements. Typically, federal prosecutors use an information to charge defendants when a plea deal has been negotiated.

Jackson faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and other penalties, according to federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., where the charges were filed.

His wife, Sandi Jackson, was charged in an information with one count of filing false tax returns. She faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000 and other penalties. Her attorneys released a statement saying she has "reached an agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office to plead guilty to one count of tax fraud."

Jesse Jackson is accused of diverting $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

Federal authorities allege that Jesse Jackson used campaign funds to purchase a $43,350 men’s gold-plated Rolex watch, $5,150 worth of fur capes and parkas, and $9,588 in children’s furniture. The purchases were made between 2007 and 2009, according to the criminal information, which authorities noted is not evidence of guilt.

Other expenditures listed by prosecutors include $10,105 on Bruce Lee memorabilia, $11,130 on Martin Luther King memorabilila and $22,700 on Michael Jackson items, including $4,600 for a "Michael Jackson fedora."

The government also alleged that Jesse Jackson made false statements to the House of Representatives because he did not report approximately $28,500 in loans and gifts he received.

Sandi Jackson is accused of filing incorrect joint tax returns with her husband for calendar years 2006 through 2011, reporting income “substantially less than the amount of income she and her husband received in each of the calendar years,” with a substantial additional tax due.

Jackson stepped down from the House of Representatives on Nov. 21, citing both his poor health and an ongoing federal probe of his activities. In a statement then, he said he was doing his best to cooperate with federal investigators and to accept responsibility for his “mistakes.”

In a statement today, Jackson said:

“Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties. Still I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made. To that end I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my family, my friends and all of my supporters for my errors in judgment and while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for the things that I did right.”

Sandi Jackson's attorneys released a statement saying she "has accepted responsibility for her conduct, is deeply sorry for her actions, and looks forward to putting this matter behind her and her family. She is thankful for the support of her family and friends during this very difficult time."

Jackson's father, the Rev.  Jesse Jackson Sr., said he wanted to attend President Barack Obama's speech Friday at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago but traveled to Washington, D.C., instead, to be with family members while they waited for the federal charges to come down.
"This has been a difficult and painful ordeal for our family," the civil rights leader said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he would "leave it up to the courts system" to determine his son's fate.

"We express our love for him as a family," he said.

Jackson Jr.’s political fortunes sank beginning late in 2008, when he sought unsuccessfully to have Gov. Rod Blagojevich appoint him to the Senate seat that came open with the election of then-Sen. Barack Obama to the White House.

Jackson Jr. or an emissary reportedly offered to raise up to $6 million in campaign cash for Blagojevich, who now is in federal prison for crimes including trying to sell the Senate seat. Jackson Jr. was never charged in the case, which became the subject of an ethics probe in the House.

Last June, Jackson Jr. began a mysterious leave of absence for what originally was called “exhaustion” but later emerged as bipolar disorder. He spent months in treatment and won re-election Nov. 6 despite never returning to service in the House or staging a single campaign appearance.

A campaign to replace him is being conducted now in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of the South Side and south suburbs.

Jackson Jr. was first elected to Congress in 1995. Sandi Jackson was a Chicago alderman until she resigned her post last month. They have two children.

Sandi Jackson’s firm, J. Donatella & Associates, has been paid at least $452,500 from her husband’s campaign committee since 2002, Federal Election Commission reports show.

The former congressman’s campaign committee reported $105,703 in cash on hand on last Nov. 26, FEC reports show. Leading up to the last election, it reported $1 million in contributions and $1.06 million in operating expenditures, reports show.

Once considered a potential candidate for mayor of Chicago, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years because of the Blagojevich scandal and also because of news reports in 2010 that a suburban Chicago businessman told federal investigators he twice paid to fly a woman — a hostess from a Washington, D.C. bar — to Chicago at Jackson’s request.

In the wake of the reports, Jackson Jr. issued a statement calling the woman a “social acquaintance” and describing the matter as a  “private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago.”

Jackson Jr. subsequently told the Tribune editorial board he had apologized to "my absolute best friend, my wife."

Still, he also acknowledged he asked longtime supporter Raghuveer Nayak to pay to fly the woman from Washington to Chicago. House ethics rules prohibit members from soliciting gifts of personal benefit. Jackson said Nayak’s purchase was "a friendly gesture" by "a close and dear friend of mine, one who knows members of my family, has worked with members of my family, has been a friend of our family's for a number of years."

The woman's travel was "not a personal benefit to me, I don’t believe, under the House rules. A benefit to the person for whom he bought the ticket. He didn't buy tickets for me. Did I direct him? I did."

Tribune reporters Kim Geiger, Rick Pearson and Patrick Svitek contributed.

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Stricken cruise ship reported awash in raw sewage nears port

MOBILE, Alabama—

More than 4,200 people trapped aboard the crippled cruise ship Carnival Triumph, having endured days of overflowing toilets, should return to land when tugboats haul the vessel into Mobile, Alabama late on Thursday.

The 893-foot vessel has been without propulsion and running on emergency generator power since Sunday, when an engine room fire left it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico.

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

Carnival Corp spokesman Vance Gulliksen in Miami said the Triumph was expected to arrive in Mobile at between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. CST on Thursday night.

"This is going to be a long day," Terry Thornton, a senior Carnival Cruise Lines vice president, told reporters at the port in Mobile.

He said the ship, which he described as "in excellent shape" after additional provisions were laid in on Wednesday, was near the sea buoy at the entrance to Mobile Bay late on Thursday morning. Getting from the buoy into port normally takes about three hours, Thornton said.

"There is no way we could actually speed up the process to get the ship alongside sooner," he said. "We're making every effort we can to get the ship alongside here in Mobile as quickly as possible."

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

Earlier in the week, some passengers reported on the poor conditions on the Triumph when they contacted relatives and media before their cellphone batteries died.

They said people were getting sick and passengers had been told to use plastic "biohazard" bags as makeshift toilets.


Carnival Cruise Lines President and Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said in a statement late on Wednesday that the company had decided to add further payment of $500 per person to help compensate passengers for "very challenging circumstances" aboard the ship.

"We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure," Cahill said.

Mary Poret, who spoke to her 12-year-old daughter aboard the Triumph on Monday, rejected Cahill's apology out of hand in comments to CNN on Thursday, as she waited anxiously in Mobile with a friend for the Triumph's arrival.

"Seeing urine and feces sloshing in the halls, sleeping on the floor, nothing to eat, people fighting over food, $500? What's the emotional cost? You can't put money on that," Poret said.

The troubles on the Carnival Triumph occurred a little more than a year after 32 people were killed when the Costa Concordia, a luxury cruise ship operated by Carnival Corp's Costa Cruises brand, was grounded on rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in Italy.

Carnival Corp Chairman and CEO Micky Arison faced criticism in January last year for failing to travel to Italy and take personal charge of the Costa Concordia crisis, which unleashed numerous lawsuits against his company.

The cruise ship mogul has taken a low-key approach to the Triumph situation as well, even as it grabbed a growing share of the U.S. media spotlight. His only known public appearance since Sunday was courtside on Tuesday at a game played by his championship Miami Heat basketball team.

Carnival Corp shares were down $0.12 at $37.34 in early afternoon trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares closed down 4 percent at $37.46 on Wednesday after the company said voyage disruptions and repair costs related to Carnival Triumph could shave up to 10 cents per share off its second-half earnings.

Carnival said it had initially planned to tow the Triumph into Progreso in Mexico, the closest port to its location early on Sunday when the engine room fire occurred. But the ship drifted about 90 nautical miles north, due to strong currents, before the towing got under way, and that left it stranded roughly midway between Progreso and Mobile.

(Writing and additional reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Cubs' plan for more night games in 2013 could be in trouble

The Chicago Cubs' push for more night games in the upcoming season could be in jeopardy, as Ald. Tom Tunney said he would not introduce legislation at today's City Council meeting.

The team has asked Tunney, whose 44th ward encompasses Wrigley Field, to ease limits on night games, late Friday afternoon games, concerts and other non-game events that are part of a neighborhood protection ordinance. The Cubs want more flexibility in scheduling games and events to increase revenues as the owners of the team seek to embark on a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field.

The Cubs currently schedule 27 night games and can add up to three more for national television purposes. The exact number of new night games the club seeks is unclear, but the team is eager to have more night games as soon as the upcoming season. The timetable depends on getting city approval as soon as possible so that Major League Baseball can adjust the 2013 schedule, which already has been unveiled.

The team had asked Tunney to introduce a measure amending the neighborhood protection ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting. But the alderman wants the Cubs to address parking, traffic and security issues in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.

The lack of a proposal today suggests Tunney is in no rush to give the Cubs what they want. Additional night games are just one of the changes the Cubs seek that are tied to Wrigley renovations. The team also wants the city to lift landmark restrictions on the stadium to allow for more advertising and change zoning around Wrigley to allow for pre-game street festivals.

Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Tunney said they wanted one comprehensive deal to rehab Wrigley and would not proceed first with just an ordinance to add more night games.

“It’s all of one piece,” the mayor said. “We’re going to do this comprehensively.”

He also suggested that a Major League Baseball deadline for scheduling night games provides pressure to seal a deal.

“The individual parties know there’s a deadline, because there is an actual one for them,” Emanuel said.

“But I will say one word to the parties,” he added. “There’s an agreement to be had. It’s right there. All you need is a little leadership and a little will. It’s right there at the table.”

A spokesman for the Ricketts family, the Cubs’ owners, said negotiations on several issues continue.

“Everybody has a sense of urgency,” said spokesman Dennis Culloton. “The team is still hoping to get things resolved by Opening Day at the latest.”

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Fugitive ex-cop in gun battle with authorities, source says

Fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner allegedly shot and wounded at least two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies during a shootout with authorities in the Big Bear area Tuesday afternoon, sources said.

Dozens of law enforcement officers were racing to the last reported scene of a gun battle near the 7 Oaks cabin area near Big Bear.

“There are deputies everywhere on the ground and on foot," said Cindy Bachman, a San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman.

The shooting occurred after Dorner burglarized a home, tied up a couple and stole a white pickup truck, sources said. San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller confirmed deputies responded to a vehicle theft about 12:22 p.m., and the resident who reported the theft said the suspect matched Dorner's desciprtion. 

The U.S. Forest Service confirms there was an exchange of gunfire between officers on foot and the suspect, in the Santa Ana River drainage, north of State Highway 38 and south of Big Bear Valley. At least one officer of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was involved, said John Miller, San Bernardino National Forest spokesman. He is not believed to be injured.

Dorner's status was not immediately known as the gunfight continued.

Officers have crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner's possible whereabouts — including efforts in Tijuana, Mexico, San Diego County and Big Bear — and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and Point Loma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The federal documents also provide new details on Dorner's alleged attack against officers early Thursday in Riverside County.

The first shooting was in Corona after an eyewitness reported a person matching Dorner's description at a gas station, telling an LAPD officer "who was detailed to the area to protect one of the officials whom Dorner had threatened," according to the court records.

"When the officer drove by the gas station, the suspect exited his vehicle and fired an assault rifle at the officer, hitting the officer's vehicle," according to the court records.

The LAPD later said the officer received a grazing wound. 

About 30 minutes later, Dorner opened fire on Riverside police officers "who were in the area searching for Dorner," the documents said. On that detail, the account conflicts with a statement provided to the media by Riverside police officials, who said the officers were stopped at a red light and were not looking for Dorner.

Riverside Officer Michael Crain, 34, a married father of two who served two tours in Kuwait as a rifleman in the Marines, was killed in the attack. His partner remains hospitalized, Police Chief Sergio Diaz said, and it was unclear if he would be able to return to active duty.

Dorner was charged Monday with one count of murder, with special-circumstance allegations in the killing of a peace officer and the discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, in connection with Crain's death. He faces three additional charges of attempted murder.

Riverside Dist. Atty. Paul Zellerbach said because of the special-circumstance allegations, Dorner could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

--Andrew Blankstein, Richard Winton, Kate Mather, Matt Stevens, Joel Rubin and Julie Cart.

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