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

Obama to Republicans: Can we just move on?

President Obama highlighted numerous parts of his agenda during his State of the Union Address. AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace reports, the tough part will be turning words into action. (Feb. 13)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to try to push past the fiscal battles that plagued his first term - and still threaten his second - as he laid out an agenda he hopes will shape his legacy.

Obama's overarching message was that other things matter beside the Republicans' seemingly all-consuming drive for deficit cutting, embodied in a looming showdown just three weeks away over automatic across-the-board spending cuts.

Those other things, he told Congress, include some traditionally liberal causes, like raising the federal minimum wage and pursuing climate initiatives, and some that have gained bipartisan support, such as immigration reform and curbing gun violence.

"Most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda," Obama said. "But let's be clear: deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan."

But with Washington so deeply divided, Obama's speech appeared unlikely to go far in helping the Democratic president and his Republican opponents find common ground to ease the ideological gridlock. He offered no tangible new concessions of his own.

Still, Obama's sense of urgency and frustration was almost palpable. He alternately scolded and cajoled lawmakers while expanding on his vision for a more activist government so loathed by conservatives, the same theme he struck in his second inauguration address on January 21.

"The American people don't expect government to solve every problem. They don't expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation's interests before party," he said, pressing Republicans to resolve budget and fiscal differences without drama.

Obama - whose first-term promise to become a transformational, post-partisan president failed to materialize in part because of struggles over the deficit - knows the clock is ticking.

The consensus among Washington insiders is that he has a limited window, possibly as little as a year and a half, to take advantage of the Republicans' post-election disarray and push through his congressional priorities before being reduced to lame-duck status.


Just three weeks after staking out a decidedly liberal philosophy at his inauguration, Obama used his State of the Union address to start fleshing out and prioritizing his goals for the rest of his presidency.

He made clear that job creation and bolstering the middle class would top the list, but he also gave due attention to immigration reform and gun control, which have moved to the forefront at the start of his second term.

Obama's renewed emphasis on pocketbook issues that dominated the 2012 campaign appears to reflect the view that advancing other legacy-shaping initiatives could hinge on how he fares with unfinished economic business from his first four years.

Many of the economic plans he presented in his State of the Union address were familiar to listeners as proposals that Republicans have blocked before, including new investment in modernizing infrastructure, boosting manufacturing, creating construction jobs and helping to ease homeowners' mortgage woes.

There is ample reason to doubt that these ideas - even in repackaged form - will gain much traction in a still-divided Congress where Republicans control the House of Representatives and will oppose almost any new spending Obama proposes.

But the biggest red flags for Republicans may be Obama's call for a hike in the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, a traditional liberal idea, and his demand that Congress pursue a "market-based solution" to climate change - with a warning that if lawmakers do not act soon, "I will."

Obama's call for a nationwide program to expand pre-school education for the low-income families - another progressive cause - is also expected to run into Republican opposition.

There is little doubt the president is aware that many of these proposals, especially those with spending attached, may be dead-on-arrival in Congress.

But he may be counting on being able to accuse Republicans of obstructionism in the 2014 midterm elections - as he did with some success in the 2012 campaign - as his Democrats seek to win back the House.

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Woman dead after fall from SUV on Bishop Ford

The SUV believed to have been involved crashed minutes later as state troopers tried to pull it over, police said.

The SUV believed to have been involved crashed minutes later as state troopers tried to pull it over, police said.
(WGN-TV / February 12, 2013)

Police are investigating the death of a woman who fell from an SUV that kept on traveling down the Bishop Ford Expressway this morning, eluding officers for five miles until it crashed on an exit ramp at 127th Street in Alsip, authorities said.

The driver was taken into custody, and police said they were investigating whether Jennifer Mitchell, 27, was pushed from the SUV around 154th Street in Dolton shortly before 1 a.m., officials said.

Mitchell was struck by a semi as she lay on the road, according to Master Sgt. Jason LoCoco said. The truck driver stopped and was not taken into custody. A second vehicle may have also struck the woman, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Minutes later, a state trooper spotted the SUV on the Tri-State Tollway near159th Street, Master Sgt. Greg Minx said. The trooper signaled for the driver to pull over but he refused, according to police.  The trooper followed the SUV until it crashed on an exit ramp by 127th Street, some five miles away.

The driver, a 28-year-old man, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn but his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, LaCoco said.

The driver was taken into police custody but has not been charged.

Authorities shut all southbound lanes of the Bishop Ford from 147th Street to 159th Street for several hours as they investigated the incident. The lanes have since been reopened.

Twitter: @AdamSege

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Pope Benedict to resign at month's end, cites deteriorating strength

ROME -- Pope Benedict surprised the world on Monday by saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to cope with the demands of his ministry, becoming the first pontiff to step down since the Middle Ages and leaving his aides "incredulous".

The 85-year-old German-born Pope, hailed as a hero by conservative Catholics and viewed with suspicion by liberals, said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months.

A Vatican spokesman said the Pope had not resigned because of "difficulties in the papacy" and the decision had been a surprise, indicating that even his closest aides were unaware that he was about to quit. The Pope does not fear schism in the Church after his resignation, the spokesman said.

Cardinal Francis George returned to Chicago from a committee meeting in Rome Sunday, spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said. She said he was just as surprised as she was and would release a statement later today.

The Pope's leadership of 1.2 billion Catholics has been beset by a child sexual abuse crisis that tarnished the Church, one address in which he upset Muslims and a scandal over the leaking of his private papers by his personal butler.

In a statement, the pope said in order to govern "...both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

"For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter."

Before he was elected Pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was known by such critical epithets as "God's rottweiler" because of his stern stand on theological issues.

But after several years into his new job he showed that he not only did not bite but barely even barked.

In recent months, the Pope has looked increasingly frail in public sometimes being helped to walk by those around him.

A Vatican spokesman said the pontiff would step down from 1 p.m. CST on Feb. 28, leaving the office vacant until a successor was chosen to Benedict who succeeded John Paul, one of history's most popular pontiffs.


A spokesman for the German government said he was "moved" by the news while Israel's chief rabbi praised Benedict's inter-faith outreach and wished him good health.

Elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 when he was 78 -- 20 years older than John Paul was when he was elected -- he ruled over a slower-paced, more cerebral and less impulsive Vatican.

But while conservatives cheered him for trying to reaffirm traditional Catholic identity, his critics accused him of turning back the clock on reforms by nearly half a century and hurting dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.

Under the German's meek demeanor lay a steely intellect ready to dissect theological works for their dogmatic purity and debate fiercely against dissenters.

After appearing uncomfortable in the limelight at the start, he began feeling at home with his new job and showed that he intended to be Pope in his way.

Despite great reverence for his charismatic, globe-trotting predecessor -- whom he put on the fast track to sainthood and whom he beatified in 2011 -- aides said he was determined not to change his quiet manner to imitate John Paul's style.

A quiet, professorial type who relaxed by playing the piano, he managed to show the world the gentle side of the man who was the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer for nearly a quarter of a century.

The first German pope for some 1,000 years and the second non-Italian in a row, he traveled regularly, making about four foreign trips a year, but never managed to draw the oceanic crowds of his predecessor.


The child abuse scandals hounded most of his papacy. He ordered an official inquiry into abuse in Ireland, which led to the resignation of several bishops.

Scandal from a source much closer to home hit in 2012 when the pontiff's butler, responsible for dressing him and bringing him meals, was found to be the source of leaked documents alleging corruption in the Vatican's business dealings, causing an international furor.

He confronted his own country's past when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Calling himself "a son of Germany", he prayed and asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims, most of them Jews, died there during World War Two.

Ratzinger served in the Hitler Youth during World War Two when membership was compulsory. He was never a member of the Nazi party and his family opposed Adolf Hitler's regime.

But his trip to Germany also prompted the first major crisis of his pontificate. In a university lecture he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying Islam had only brought evil to the world and that it was spread by the sword.

After protests that included attacks on churches in the Middle East and the killing of a nun in Somalia, the Pope later said he regretted any misunderstanding the speech caused.

In a move that was widely seen as conciliatory, in late 2006 he made a historic trip to predominantly Muslim Turkey and prayed in Istanbul's Blue Mosque with a Turkish Mufti.

But months later, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met the Pope and said wounds between Christians and Muslims were still "very deep" as a result of the Regensburg speech.


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21-year-old Chicago woman killed in Tri-State crash

Photo: Scene of crash

Photo: Scene of crash
(February 10, 2013)

A Chicago woman died after she was thrown from a car in an accident along the Tri-State Tollway in Glenview, authorities said.

Danielle M. Pisterzi, 21, of the 5700 block of North Nina Avenue, died about an hour after the crash near Willow Road, according to Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Brian McKinney.

Two cars collided around 10:45 p.m., McKinney said. Pisterzi was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 11:52 p.m.

No one else was taken to the hospital, McKinney said.

The southbound lanes of the tollway was closed for hours as police investigated, but by 4 a.m. all four southbound lanes had been reopened.

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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Blizzard kills 1, leaves hundreds of thousands without power

New York—

A blizzard pummeled the Northeastern United States, killing at least one person, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and disrupting thousands of flights, media and officials said.

Forecasters warned of more heavy winds and snowfalls on Saturday, particularly near Boston, where up to 30 inches was expected in some areas, as well as in New York, Connecticut and Maine.

Snowfall reached 34 inches in New Haven, Conn. Snow was still falling at 6 a.m.

In the first death blamed on the blizzard, one man in his seventies was killed when a driver lost control of her car and hit him in Poughkeepsie, New York, media reported.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts lost power and automatically shut down during the storm late on Friday, but there was no threat to the public, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Winds reached 35 to 40 miles per hour (56 to 64 km per hour) by Friday afternoon and forecasters expected gusts up to 60 mph overnight.

The storm prompted the governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine to declare states of emergency.

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

By Friday night some commuter trains that run between New York City and Westchester County, Long Island and Connecticut had already been suspended. Amtrak suspended railroad service between New York, Boston and points north on Friday afternoon.

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

"People need to take this storm seriously," said Malloy, Connecticut's governor. "Please stay home once the weather gets bad except in the case of real emergency."

More than 160,000 lost power in Massachusetts, almost 200,000 in Rhode Island and 34,000 in Connecticut, according to local utilities.

The storm wasn't bad news for everyone.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested people relax at home - cook or watch a movie. Bloomberg said he planned on catching up on his sleep.

As she stocked up at a Brooklyn grocery store, 28-year-old Jackie Chevallier said that after two years without much snow, she was looking forward to waking up to a sea of white.

"I'd like to go sledding," she said.

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

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

(Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Andrew Heavens)

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Blizzard takes aim at East Coast after moving through Midwest

BOSTON -- The Northeastern United States braced on Friday morning for a possibly record-setting blizzard bearing down on the region, which forecasters warned could drop up to 2-1/2 feet of snow and bring travel to a halt.

Blizzard warnings were in effect from New Jersey through southern Maine, with Boston expected to bear the heaviest blow from the massive storm. The day was expected to begin with light snow, with winds picking up and snow getting much heavier by afternoon.

Officials urged residents to stay home, rather than risk getting stuck in deep drifts or whiteout conditions.

Boston and many surrounding communities said their schools would be closed on Friday, and city and state officials told nonessential city workers to stay home and urged businesses to allow workers to work from home or on shortened schedules.

"Accumulation is expected to be swift, heavy and dangerous," Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told reporters. "I am ordering all non-essential state workers to work from home tomorrow. I am strongly urging private employers to take the same precautions."

Officials across the region echoed his recommendations, urging residents to prepare for possible power outages and consider checking on elderly or disabled neighbors who might need help.

New York City officials said they had 1,800 Sanitation Department trucks ready to respond to the storm.

The National Weather Service said Boston could get 18 to 24 inches or more of snow on Friday and Saturday, its first heavy snowfall in two years. Winds could gust as high as 60 to 75 miles per hour (95 to 120 km per hour) as the day progresses.

If more than 18.2 inches of snow falls in Boston, it will rank among the city's 10 largest snowfalls. Boston's record snowfall, 27.6 inches, came in 2003.

Cities from Hartford, Connecticut, to Portland, Maine, expected to see at least a foot of snow.

More than 2,200 flights had already been canceled by airlines for Friday, according to the website, with the largest number of cancellations at airports in Newark, New York, Chicago and Boston.

Nearly 500 flights were canceled for Saturday, according to the flight-tracking site.

Boston's Logan International Airport warned that once the storm kicked up, all flights would likely be grounded for 24 hours.

United Continental Holdings Inc, JetBlue Airways Corp and Delta Air Lines Inc all reported extensive cancellations.


For some in the Boston area, the forecast brought to mind memories of the blizzard of 1978, which dropped 27.1 inches, the second-largest snowfall recorded in the city's history. That storm started out gently and intensified during the day, leaving many motorists stranded during their evening commutes.

Dozens of deaths were reported in the region after that storm, many as a result of people touching downed electric lines.

Officials warned that a combination of heavy snow and high winds made for a high risk of extensive power outages across the region. That posed the risk of some residents losing heat at a time when temperatures would dip to 20 Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius).

Shelves at many stores were picked clean of food and storm-related supplies such as shovels and salt as area residents scrambled to prepare.

Some big employers said they were considering officials' pleas to allow their workers to stay home.

State Street Corp, one of Boston's largest employers in the financial sector, was considering allowing employees to work from home on Friday, said spokeswoman Anne McNally.


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Rush-hour rain could turn to snow tonight

The chance for freezing rain this morning is slim - but even if it happens it won't last beyond 9 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

"By then it should be warm enough that there shouldn't be a threat of additional freezing rain," said Andrew Krein, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "It will be warming up so ... mostly rain all day."

Some snow fell overnight - a half inch in some parts of the city and more up toward Waukegan - but today should just be soggy, not icy.

Chicago fanned out 199 plow trucks across the city, which are "salting the city's main streets as needed as a storm system moves across the area," according to the streets department.

"We're hovering around 32 degrees but warmer air is not too far away, and it won't be long before it moves in," Krein said.

Today's high is expected to be about 37 degrees and a half inch of rain could fall between now and tonight.

The rain may turn into a messy mix of snow and rain between 6 and 9 p.m. tonight, Krein said. Overnight lows could be in the upper 20s.
Twitter: @chicagobreaking

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3 dead in West Side crash

A man and two women died in a crash on the city's West Side, authorities said.

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

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

Three people had been riding in the SUV and all were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead there, police said. They were the only occupants in the SUV.

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

The SUV was eastbound on 31st Street when it hit a curb, then a light pole, and ended up on its roof, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said.

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

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

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

The three were identified as: Phillip Barnes, of the 1500 block of Ludington Circle in Romeoville, Yvonne Tobias of the 400 block of South Homan Avenue in Chicago, and Leantwana Rosebur of the 4900 block of South Gladys Avenue in Chicago.

Barnes, 46, was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m. Tobias, 57, was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m. Roseburr, 40, was pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m.

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

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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Fire-spitting actor seriously hurt at Lyric Opera dress rehearsal

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

An actor playing a fire-breathing stilt walker was critically burned when flames flared up on his face during a dress rehearsal at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“He blew one or two fireballs, and then it looked like he had spilled it (propellant) on his chin or his chest or something,” said Tribune photographer Jason Wambsgans, who was at the rehearsal late Monday afternoon. “It kind of consumed him, and he was staggering across the stage and then fell off his stilts on the opposite side of the stage.”

The actor, Wesley Daniel, 24, was taken in serious-to-critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital suffering burns to his throat and second-degree burns to his face, fire officials said.

Initially, it was thought Daniel was not suffering breathing problems, but he apparently was and the actor was transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in critical condition, officials said.

Wambsgans said he arrived at the rehearsal at the beginning of the third act to take pictures for an upcoming Tribune review of the opera “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.”

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

When it appeared that Daniel, on stilts, was ready to put some sort of propellant in his mouth to shoot fireballs, Wambsgans said he started snapping and captured the flames flaring up on Daniel.

Wambsgans said he saw people in the wings of the stage spraying Daniel with fire extinguishers. “Half of the extras were transfixed by that,” Wambsgans said.

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

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

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

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

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Beyonce puts Super Bowl ring on halftime; Hudson, Keys flawless

Beyonce looked like she stepped off from the recent air-brushed perfection of her GQ magazine cover, danced like a junior Tina Turner and generally owned her 12 minutes on a worldwide stage Sunday like few Super Bowl performers ever have.

But there were a few nagging questions: Was she live or was she canned? Or perhaps more to the point: Did it matter?

Beyonce’s performance had the lip-sync police out in force. The pop star fessed up to singing with a backing tape at the presidential inauguration a few weeks ago, but that should come as no surprise. Canned performances have been business as usual at Super Bowl-sized events for decades. For most performers, the question isn’t whether to use a backing tape, but whether to sing into an open microphone while the tape serves as a kind of aural safety net.

Sound engineers note that the entire performance has to be set up in six minutes at halftime, with no guarantees that the singer will be able to hear herself or that there will be technical glitches that compromise the performance. Most artists are in it strictly to look and sound good anyway. They don’t view it as a “performance” so much as a way to promote product to more than 100 million TV viewers; in Beyonce’s case, it was a free ad for her recent reunion and greatest hits album with Destiny’s Child.

And, wow, guess what? There she was with her Destiny Child companions Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams! Williams coyly said there was nothing to the reunion rumors a few years ago, citing her commitment to appear in a touring version of the Broadway play “Fela!,” but miraculously she found a way to clear her schedule just in time.

The leather-clad trio looked like a walking, strutting advertisement for a dominatrix-boutique franchise. But Rowland and Williams came off as Beyonce’s backing band, dutifully singing harmonies on one of the singer’s biggest solo singles, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Her Destiny’s Child accomplices were part of a huge ensemble of dancers and musicians that appeared to consist entirely of women.

Otherwise, it was the high-heeled Beyonce stomping her imprint on libidos everywhere: the silhouetted opening countoff into “Crazy in Love,” topped with a firecracker-spewing guitar solo; the Jamaican dancehall flavor of “Baby Boy”; the closing, signature ballad “Halo.” On the latter, the close-up TV images suggested that the singer was indeed belting it out, at least semi-“live.” But by then the verdict was already in: Beyonce affirmed that she’s the reigning all-purpose multimedia celebrity of our era, and she knows how to entertain.

The musical prelude to the game was relatively low-key in comparison. Marvin Gaye gave one of the longest and most celebrated versions of the National Anthem at a sporting event ever in 1983 at the NBA All-Star Game. But at 2:40, Alicia Keys went six seconds longer than Gaye in her interpretation before Sunday's kickoff.

Seated at a white grand piano, Keys offered a blues and jazz-tinged version of the technically demanding song. Like Gaye, she made the song seem fragile, even poignant, the intimacy undercutting any threat of the showboating that sank Christina Aguilera’s interpretation two years ago. There are many ways to perform the anthem – Kelly Clarkson belted out a concise, fat-free version in 1:34 at last year’s Super Bowl. But Keys certainly delivered one of the best of recent vintage.

Its tone was appropriate given what preceded it: Jennifer Hudson’s “America the Beautiful.” The singer gave a dignified reading, but the focus was deservedly on her smiling choir: 26 white-shirted, beribboned students from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the scene of a mass murder last year that claimed 26 lives. Hudson herself has been a victim of gun violence; her performance of the National Anthem at the 2009 Super Bowl came only months after her mother, brother and nephew were killled in their Englewood home in Chicago.

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More 911 calls won't get in-person response starting Sunday

The Chicago Police Department hopes to free up the equivalent of 44 officers a day by no longer dispatching cops for certain crimes, like burglaries and car thefts in which the offender is no longer at the scene and no one is in immediate danger.

Police confirmed the change, which takes effect Sunday. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told aldermen last year he was considering a move in that direction.

The change is not related to plans by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and McCarthy to shift what they indicated was as many as 200 officers from administrative duties to beats so more officers can be assigned to teams that saturate crime hotspots, city spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

The 911 dispatch changes and redeployment of officers come in the wake of the city’s most deadly January since 2002. A total of 42 people were murdered in Chicago last month, including 15-year-old band majorette Hadiya Pendleton, an innocent victim whose South Side slaying drew national attention.

Crimes that will no longer result in the dispatch of an officer to the crime scene include vehicle theft, theft, garage burglaries, criminal damage to property, the passing of bad checks, lewd or obscene phone calls, threatening phone calls that don’t pose an immediate danger and animal bites, McCaffrey said.

Officers will be dispatched if a suspect is still at the scene or is expected to return immediately, the victim is not considered safe or needs medical attention, an officer could make an immediate arrest or an officer is needed for an immediate investigation, McCaffrey added.

When no officer is sent to the crime scene, a report will be taken by phone by cops assigned to light duty. Last year, 74,000 reports were taken that way. The new rules are expected to more than double that number.

It’s hoped that the changes will free up the equivalent of 44 officers each day to respond to more serious crimes and work at crime prevention, McCaffrey said.

Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st, said he thought the change will be good, “especially if it results in a quicker response time to more serious crimes when they are happening in real time.”

Brookins said he often hears from residents who complain that response is tardy or even non-existent when they call 911 to report drug sales, fights or burglaries in progress. He said he also hopes that it results in more officers on visible patrol, which he said serves as a deterrent to crime.

During budget hearings last year, McCarthy said dispatch changes needed to be made, saying officers in Chicago responded to half of 911 calls, compared to about 30 percent in most other jurisdictions.

“I’m not joking when I tell you that we’ve handled calls that say my children are fighting over the remote control,” McCarthy told aldermen. “My daughter does not want to go to school, my son does not want to eat his mashed potatoes.

“Those are the types of calls for service quite frankly where I don’t know why we would tie up a police officer when that officer can be on patrol doing something affirmative, preventing something from happening.”

Police officers contacted by the Tribune concur that not having to respond to every call could help cops on the street respond to more serious crimes. "It's almost like you increase your manpower when you reduce the number of calls," one police supervisor said.

But he gave an example of one potential drawback, in the case of a garage burglary, saying there could be a delay in the investigation if a detective doesn’t immediately canvass the area.

Still, said one rank-and-file officer, by not responding to all the less-serious crimes, cops on the street will be able to become more "proactive," instead of running around the district and bouncing from call to call.

"It's really a drain on resources to go to every nonsense call like the dog's barking or the music's too loud," the officer said.

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Shootings leave 1 dead, 3 hurt

A bike lies abandoned in the snow near the spot where a 22-year-old man was found fatally shot Friday night.

A bike lies abandoned in the snow near the spot where a 22-year-old man was found fatally shot Friday night.
(Adam Sege, Chicago Tribune)

Three shootings since Friday night have left a 21-year-old man dead and three people hurt, Chicago police said.

The fatal shooting happened about 8:30 p.m., Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Ron Gaines said.

Officers found the man in a hallway of a three-story apartment building in the 3900 block of North Central Avenue, in the Northwest Side's Portage Park neighborhood.

Paramedics rushed the man to Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:58 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The medical examiner's office identified him as Manuel Hernandez and listed his address as the same one where the shooting happened.

Later, as snow coated Central Avenue and several squad cars parked near the scene, police searched for evidence and photographed a bike lying by an entrance on the building's north side.

It appeared the man had collapsed shortly after being shot near where the bike was found, police said.

Police have launched a homicide investigation in the shooting.

In a separate shooting, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old were wounded about 11:30 p.m. near the intersection of South California Avenue and West 52nd Street.

Someone opened fire from an alley as the two walked home from a party, striking the 19-year-old in the back and the 20-year-old in the side, Gaines said.

Both people were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where they were listed in good condition Gaines said.

The shooting happened in the Gage Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

A female was also shot in the foot just before 5 a.m. near the intersection of West 16th Street and South Kedvale Avenue, police said.

Twitter: @AdamSege

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Woman shot to death on Lake Shore Drive ramp

Photo: Scene of Lake Shore Drive homicide

Photo: Scene of Lake Shore Drive homicide
(February 1, 2013)

A woman was shot to death inside a van on the southbound ramp from Lake Shore Drive to interstates 94 and 55, according to authorities.

The woman, the driver of a white van, sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene, police said. The van crashed into a concrete wall after the shooting. 

A second woman in the van, a passenger, wasn't injured and is being questioned by police. She's not considered a suspect, police said. 

Illinois State Police, now handling the investigation, learned of the shooting about 4:20 a.m. from Chicago police, who happened upon the crash. 

Police have closed access to both interstates from southbound Lake Shore Drive. Flares laid out to keep vehicles off the ramp were quickly extinguished by biting winds.

Check back for more information.
Twitter: @peternickeas 

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6 wounded in overnight shootings

Two men were shot in the South Austin neighborhood on the West Side late Wednesday, police said, and four others were wounded across the city.

The 19-year-old and 37-year-old in Austin were in a car in the 5000 block of West Madison Street when someone approached on foot and started shooting, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said.

The pair drove to a “residence” in the 1500 block of North Long Avenue and police were called, Alfaro said. The older man was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County with multiple gunshot wounds and the younger man, shot in the leg, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center.

Nobody is in custody and Area North detectives are investigating.

Also on the West Side, a man in his 30s was shot and found in the 1200 block of South Racine Avenue, outside the ABLA-Roberts Brooks Homes housing complex in the University Village / Little Italy neighborhood. It's not clear if he was shot there - police responded to a single call of a person shot and found the man shot in the leg about 2:45 a.m. 

On the Northwest Side about 10:45 p.m., a 56-year-old man was shot in the head in what police first believed to be an attempted suicide. He was shot in the 1800 block of North Natchez Avenue in the Galewood neighborhood, police said. Detectives later determined that someone had shot the man, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said. He's at Loyola hospital, Greer said. 

A 23-year-old man was shot in the leg and groin in the 3400 block of West Walnut Street just before 8 p.m. in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. He was on a porch when three men, one with a gun, approached and told him and one other person not to move. 

They moved, and one of the three shot the 23-year-old, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and he’s in good condition.

About an hour later, a 43-year-old man was shot by another person inside a silver car in the 8500 block of South Hermitage Avenue in the Gresham neighborhood. He’s in stable condition at Little Company of Mary Hospital.

pnickeas@tribune.comTwitter: @peternickeas

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George Ryan arrives at West Side halfway house

Former Gov. George Ryan arrived at a West Side halfway house this morning after being released from a federal prison in Indiana.

Wearing a gray suit, white shirt and maroon tie, Ryan was surrounded by TV cameras as he walked across the street and entered the four-story red brick building at Ashland Avenue and Monroe Street shortly before 7 a.m.

Ryan smiled tightly as he refused to answer questions from reporters. Former Gov. Jim Thompson accompanied Ryan into the house.

Ryan completed more than 5 years of a a 6 1/2-year prison sentence in Terre Haute, Ind. for a corruption conviction. 

Ryan entered prison on Nov. 7, 2007. His wife of more than 50 years, Lura Lynn, died of cancer in June 2011.

Ryan's conviction for fraud, racketeering and other charges was the culmination of the federal Operation Safe Road investigation that exposed rampant bribery in state driver's license facilities while he was secretary of state as well as misdeeds as governor.

After a six-month trial, a federal jury convicted Ryan in 2006 of steering millions of dollars in state business to lobbyists and friends in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits to Ryan and his family.

The conviction overshadowed Ryan's long career in government.

The Kankakee native rose from speaker of the Illinois House to win statewide election as lieutenant governor, secretary of state and then one term as governor. His actions as governor included placing a moratorium on the death penalty and emptying death row, moves that won him international acclaim.

Twitter: @chicagobreaking

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Woman badly hurt after jumping from window to escape fire

West Side fire

Fire crews at the scene of a West Side fire early this morning where four people were injured.
(WGN-TV / January 29, 2013)

A woman jumped from a window and three other people were injured in a fire that broke out in the South Austin neighborhood Tuesday morning, authorities said.

"When they got here, there was one woman who jumped from second floor," said District Deputy Chief Don Hroma on the scene.

The 30-year-old woman was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious to critical condition, according to the Fire Department. Three other people, two teen-aged girls and a man, were taken to hospitals in fair to serious condition.

The fire started around 4 a.m. in the 1000 block of North Leamington Avenue, officials said. Firefighters encountered heavy smoke in the front and heavy fire on the back porches, Hroma said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but Hroma said the building did not have gas service. Seven children and two adults were displaced, Hroma said.

The fire also spread to a neighboring building, but no one there was expected to be displaced.
Twitter: @chicagobreaking

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

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

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

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

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

Both women died at the hospital.

Rasheeda Akhter, 77, was pronounced dead at 11:14 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. The second victim, 18-year-old Zanib Ahmed, died at 9 p.m., according to the medical examiner's office.

Back at the building, fire officials checked the carbon monoxide levels but found no indication of a leak, Ahlheim said.

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

Officials checked carbon monoxide levels again, and while the meter readings in residential units did not indicate a leak, officials found a positive reading for a low level of carbon monoxide near a boiler in the basement, Ahlheim said.

Police suspect the deaths were caused by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but no official determination will be made until autopsy results are reported, Police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said.

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

Twitter: @AdamSege

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Bronzeville fire critically injures 1

Fire trucks on the scene of a fire in the 4200 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue.

Fire trucks on the scene of a fire in the 4200 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue.
(Adam Sege, Chicago Tribune / January 27, 2013)

An early-morning fire in the Bronzeville neighborhood sent a male to the hospital in critical condition, authorities said.

The blaze broke out about 12:15 a.m. in a high-rise building in the 4200 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue, fire officials said.

Fire officials enacted an EMS Plan 1, which automatically sends at least five ambulances to the scene, but firefighters managed to quickly put out the blaze before it spread beyond a single room, said James Mungovan, the Deputy District Chief for District 5 with the Chicago Fire Department.

The injured male was taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in critical condition, officials said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation as of early Sunday.

Twitter: ChicagoBreaking

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3 dead, 2 wounded in pair of early morning shootings

Photo: Three men were shot outside of a diner in the Bridgeport neighborhood

Photo: Three men were shot outside of a diner in the Bridgeport neighborhood
(Peter Nickeas / January 26, 2013)

Two shootings on the South and West sides left three people dead and two wounded at 2:15 and 4 a.m. Saturday morning. 

Three men were shot outside of a diner at the corner of Wallace Street and Pershing Road in the Bridgeport neighborhood about 4 a.m. Saturday. Two men died at the scene. 

At the north end of the 1100 block of South Mozart Street in the Lawndale neighborhood, two people were shot. One also died there, police said. That happened about 2:15 a.m. 

Check back for more information.

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Snow expected to fall through morning rush hour

Snow started falling about 4:45 a.m. near O'Hare International Airport, jeopardizing a 335-day streak of calendar days without snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Falling snow had failed to reach the ground overnight, blocked by a shield of dry air that ensures the flakes evaporate before hitting the ground.

“It’s been snowing very hard above the ground all night and there’s been really dry air so it evaporates before it hits the ground,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Gino Izzi said.

About a half hour into the storm, Illinois State Police in Chicago reported "slick conditions" and had already responded to six fender benders. The number of accidents reached 12, including a 9-car-crash on the Kennedy Expressway, after 6 a.m.

It's unclear if any of the crashes resulted in injuries, and Illinois State Police aren't responding to crashes where no one is injured and the car or truck is still drivable.

The snow should fall through the morning rush hour, though not much more than an inch – if that – is expected.

“We’re not looking for much to accumulate – up to an inch at worst, with high (temperatures) in the mid to upper 20s,” Izzi said. “Something like this wouldn’t be newsworthy if it wasn’t for the fact it hasn’t snowed all year.”

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed almost 200 of its 284 plow trucks to clear streets of snow and apply salt to the roads.

"We’re going to be monitoring the weather but at this point we’re looking at snow fall at least through the rush hour," said Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.

An inch of snow today would end the 335-day streak but failing that, it would likely extend into next week, Izzi said.

"We don’t have much of a chance of snow for the next five or six days," Izzi said. "If we miss today – today’s our one shot until we get to the middle or end of next week."

Check back for more information.
Twitter: @peternickeas

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