WBEZ | capsule http://www.wbez.org/tags/capsule Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Investigation timeline: Do urban archaeologists ever take a look inside construction sites? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/investigation-timeline-do-urban-archaeologists-ever-take-look-inside <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6793_8185623554_6cbbbafb31_b-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="750" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0An_OJm0YASWadE5zdE9SWFlXeTNoczlxYkFqODVxYVE&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=750" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time, on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above. &nbsp;</p><p>This round&#39;s winner is Linda Rudy from Chicago&#39;s Old Town neighborhood. Her question is:&nbsp;&quot;Do urban archaeologists ever take a look when streets are torn up for pipes, repairs, foundations?&quot; WBEZ midday producer Susie An will be diggin&#39; deep with this story, perhaps literally.&nbsp;</p><p>Got any leads? Comment below!</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Dec 2012 16:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/investigation-timeline-do-urban-archaeologists-ever-take-look-inside Daley’s nephew charged with involuntary manslaughter http://www.wbez.org/news/daley%E2%80%99s-nephew-charged-involuntary-manslaughter-104168 <p><p>A grand jury indicted Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s nephew Monday for his alleged role in the 2004 death of David Koschman. The 21-year-old victim was injured in a fight outside a bar on Rush Street and died in the hospital 11 days later.</p><p>Richard J. Vanecko, who is the the son of former Mayor Daley&rsquo;s sister, was charged with involuntary manslaughter Monday after a 6-month investigation. He allegedly punched Koschman in the face and departed the scene in a cab. The investigation, conducted by Cook County special prosecutor Dan Webb, also includes an inquiry into how the case was initially&nbsp;handled and why no charges were filed.</p><p>Nanci Koschman, David Koschman&rsquo;s mother, said the police detective she spoke to in 2004 blamed the incident on her son.</p><p>&ldquo;When that detective came in and said it&rsquo;s all your son&rsquo;s fault, it&rsquo;s all his responsibility, that&rsquo;s like a knife through a mother&rsquo;s heart,&rdquo; she said, tearing up repeatedly in a press conference Monday. &ldquo;He told me I&rsquo;d be impressed by the names of the people that were involved with the case, and that if I tried to sue, they would keep me tied up in court for years.&rdquo;</p><p>Koschman said when she realized there would be no investigation, she threw up her hands.</p><p>&ldquo;My dad used to have a saying to my sister and me, you can&rsquo;t fight City Hall. I never really thought that I was gonna go anywhere,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But in April of this year, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin appointed Webb to the case.</p><p>&ldquo;Now at least I see that with a lot of good people behind you, good things can happen,&rdquo; said Koschman. She was accompanied by Locke Bowman, legal director of the Solange and Roderick Macarthur Justice Center at Northwestern Law School, and two attorneys from the People&rsquo;s Law Office.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons Mr. Bowman and myself got involved in this case was because of the, to put it kindly, the irregularities in this investigation over an eight-year period,&rdquo; said Flint Taylor, partner at the People&rsquo;s Law Office.</p><p>&ldquo;The failures to properly investigate and to indict eight years ago speak volumes about the inadequacies of that investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>Mr. Vanecko&rsquo;s arraignment is set for December 10.</p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 17:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/daley%E2%80%99s-nephew-charged-involuntary-manslaughter-104168 The great maple leaf mystery http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/great-maple-leaf-mystery-104161 <p><p>As WBEZ special investigations editor, Cate Cahan has doggedly pursued some of Illinois&#39; most <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/reporters-finally-get-look-inside-illinois-prisons-104129">intractable issues</a>. But earlier this week Cahan ran up against a real head-scratcher that hit close to home. Literally &ndash; the case in question began under a tree in her backyard.</p><p>And so Cahan arrived at the office on Monday with what she thought might be a telling piece of evidence: a seemingly once-beautiful maple leaf covered in pitch-black spots the size of quarters.</p><p>&ldquo;It looks like it got burned,&rdquo; said one WBEZ reporter. &ldquo;It looks sick,&rdquo; said another.</p><p>It was a disturbing sight, indeed.</p><p>Between <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121" target="_blank">low water levels</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/what-does-drought-do-ranch-full-grass-fed-cattle-101629" target="_blank">extreme drought</a>, and the fact that it reached nearly 70 degrees on December 3, it wasn&rsquo;t a stretch to imagine that some environmental funny business might be behind the splotchy-leaf dragnet of 2012. Plus, Cahan recently experienced the loss of most of her garden to what she described as an oozing, yellow mold. So there was reason to be worried.</p><p>It turns out the coal-colored stain on our city&rsquo;s autumnal gem is a) harmless, and b) not all that unusual.</p><p>The black spots on maple leaves, aptly named tar spots, are evidence of the fungus known as&nbsp;<em>rhytisma.</em></p><p>&ldquo;It looks awful, and it makes people concerned,&rdquo; said Sharon Yiesla, plant clinic assistant at the <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/" target="_blank">Morton Arboretum</a>. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s more of a cosmetic problem than a health problem. It makes the leaves look ugly.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6778_007-scr.JPG" style="height: 150px; width: 200px; float: right;" title="Maple leaf with tar spots (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>She did say tar spots have been showing up more frequently in the region in the last few years, but did not recommend any treatment for the fungus. The best thing to do is thoroughly rake up and dispose of the afflicted leaves, Yiesla said. Otherwise, the fungal spores that stick around all winter may float up onto the fresh leaves come spring.</p><p>The emerald ash borer, on the other hand, &ldquo;that&rsquo;s a more serious problem,&rdquo; Yiesla said. Ash borers have devastated the ash population in Michigan, and they&rsquo;ve been digging away at Illinois ashes since 2006. The larvae of the ash borer get under the bark of ash trees and gnaw away at it, slowly cutting off ash trees from their water supply at the roots. In just two or three years, your ash can be grass.</p><p>Yiesla said ash borers can be stopped if you catch them early &ndash; but catching them isn&rsquo;t easy. They make a small hole the shape of a capital D in the trees bark, but other than that, they&rsquo;re invisible. A weak-looking ash, loss of leaves, or a sudden influx of hungry woodpeckers (who dig under the bark to eat the borers) can all be telltale signs.</p><p>Salt damage from ice melters used on roads and sidewalks is another concern this season.</p><p>&ldquo;As cars are going by, you&rsquo;ll get it spraying up onto the needles of an evergreen, and it can do physical damage to the needles,&rdquo; Yiesla explained. &ldquo;But then it also gets into the soil, and can do some harm at the root level.&rdquo;</p><p>The salt in the ground makes it harder for trees to absorb water.</p><p>Water absorption is particularly pressing given this summer&rsquo;s drought, which will likely affect next year&rsquo;s plant growth.</p><p>&ldquo;We might see reduced growth, reduced flowering, and weaker plants,&rdquo; Yiesla said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not getting much additional rain this fall, and who knows what snow will come this winter.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, maple leaves with black spots are the least of her worries.</p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 12:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/great-maple-leaf-mystery-104161 Bigger not necessarily better for Big Bird’s ancestors http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/bigger-not-necessarily-better-big-bird%E2%80%99s-ancestors-104149 <p><p>For most of us, Big Bird is about as big as it gets when it comes to our feathered friends.</p><p>But for Peter Makovicky of the Field Museum, Big Bird is small stuff.</p><p>Makovicky is the Curator of Dinosaurs and Chair of the Department of Geology at Chicago&#39;s <a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/" target="_blank">Field Museum of Natural History</a>. He&rsquo;s spent the last few years researching giant bird-like dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period, called theropods. You might know them from Jurassic Park or elementary school coloring books. T-Rex and the infamous velociraptor are both theropods. And in case you missed the memo, scientists now believe <a href="http://phys.org/news/2012-10-canadian-fossils-feathered-dinosaurs-north.html" target="_blank">theropods had feathers</a>. (<a href="http://www.jurassicparkiv.org/" target="_blank">Jurassic Park IV</a>, anyone?)</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6773_Khan-scr.jpg" style="height: 234px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Skeleton of the small oviraptor Khan from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. The short, deep skull bears a parrot like beak. (Field Museum)" />A couple years ago Makovicky and Lindsay Zanno of North Carolina State University did a study showing that <a href="http://phys.org/news/2010-12-meat-eating-dinosaurs-carnivorous.html" target="_blank">many theropods are actually vegetarians</a>. So much for the <a href="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lh4x81XKTF1qaekpeo1_500.jpg" target="_blank">cruel velociraptor stereotype</a>.</p><p>The pair&rsquo;s latest research focuses on the evolutionary patterns of those fearsome herbivores.</p><p>&ldquo;The research that [we] did was to use dinosaurs to investigate the bigger evolutionary question of how animals become herbivorous,&rdquo; said Makovicky. Scientists had hypothesized that as species&rsquo; evolved to become plant-eaters, their body mass would also grow.</p><p>Big vegetarians not ringing a bell? Step away from <a href="http://www.peta2.com/blog/americas-next-top-vegetarian-model/" target="_blank">America&rsquo;s next top vegetarian model</a> and instead imagine an elephant, or a brachiosaurus, or a snuffaluffagus (not totally real, but <a href="http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/File:BirdandSnuffy.jpg#file" target="_blank">still a relevant example</a>). The broad theory about evolutionary mass and herbivory says that the bigger some herbivores get, the easier it is to take in all those leafy greens.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a lot harder to digest plants than meat,&rdquo; Makovicky explained. &ldquo;You have to intake the plants, and they have to sit in your gut for a long time and ferment for you to get as many calories out of them as from meat. For them to sit in a gut for a longer time, you essentially get a longer and larger gastrointestinal tract.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/005/cache/giraffe_549_600x450.jpg" target="_blank">Precisely</a>.</p><p>But Makovicky&rsquo;s and Zanno&rsquo;s study, published Wednesday in the <a href="http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1751/20122526.abstract" target="_blank"><em>Proceedings of the Royal Society B</em></a>, shows the vegetarians in the bunch did not consistently evolve to get bigger. Or, as the article title states, there is &ldquo;No evidence for directional evolution of body mass in herbivorous theropod dinosaurs.&rdquo;&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6775_PeteInField-scr.jpg" style="height: 313px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="Peter Makovicky digging for dinosaur fossils. (Field Museum)" /></p><p>To find out that such evidence didn&rsquo;t exist, Makovicky and Zanno broke down the evolutionary trees of three different theropods who shifted to plant-based diets during the same time span, about 125 million to 65 million years ago. Evolutionary trees, or phlogenetic trees, are graphs that show the relationships scientists infer between evolving species over a period of time.</p><p>When Makovicky and Zanno analyzed the trees of their chosen theropods, they found that some of the bird-like giants got bigger, others smaller over different periods.</p><p><strong>Chickens of the Cretaceous</strong></p><p>The theropods Makovicky and Zanno studied were no slouches in the looks department. Makovicky called them &ldquo;oddballs.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t look anything like your traditional view of a dinosaur,&rdquo; he said. The egg-thieves (oviraptorosaurs) are often depicted sitting on nests. They had a beak with a sliding jaw joint and a parrot-like head, sometimes with a bulge on top.</p><p>The scythe-lizards (therizinosaurs) were toothless, with a small head atop a long neck and squat body. Unlike the massive flamingos you might be picturing, though, they had thick limbs. And the ostrich-mimics (ornithomimosaurs) have a name that speaks for itself. Think of them as the giant chickens of the Cretaceous age.</p><p>All of these lizardly curios had feathers and are thought to be close relatives of current-day birds, and they lived in China, Mongolia, and what is now western North America.</p><p>Makovicky and Zanno conducted three tests based on the three theropod species, which they selected because all became herbivores during the Cretaceous period.</p><p>The first test showed that overall, the dinos in question got bigger over time. That was was scientists expected, a tendency that would be called &ldquo;directional evolution of body mass.&rdquo;</p><p>But when Zanno and Makovicky did a second test in which they broke down the evolutionary trees of each species and studied the branches of the trees, some of the branches got bigger while others got smaller at different times. That made it seem far less likely that any overall growth was consistently linked to the transition to herbivory.</p><p><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2310676873_e8168d5610%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 373px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="A rendering of a therizinosaur from the early Cretaceous (Flickr/Cryptonaut)" />In their third test, they focused on two theropod lineages that occurred over the same period and in a similar location. That allowed the researchers to observe that the changes in size over time track each other, meaning that when one of the species got smaller, so did the other. The logical conclusion from this observation was that some environmental factor experienced by both species was more important than diet in determining the evolutionary direction of their sizes.</p><p><strong>Bigger is not always better. But why?</strong></p><p>What would make a recent convert to vegetarianism benefit from shrinking?</p><p>Makovicky and Zanno&rsquo;s research can&rsquo;t say for sure. Competition with other dinosaurs could be a factor. For herbivores living around a slew of other herbivore species, there could be advantages to focusing on a specialized dietary niche that larger feathered friends couldn&rsquo;t access. Makovicky also said smaller animals tend to reach maturity and reproduce at earlier ages. When the creatures ended up in environments with less abundant resources, evolving to smaller sizes could have been a way to stabilize the population.</p><p>The simultaneous changes in multiple species from one environment could also result from the nature of the geologic record.</p><p>&ldquo;You might have [geologic] environments that preferentially preserve small things,&rdquo; said Makovicky. The ups and downs in size could reflect shifts in what was mostly likely to be preserved, rather than in the actual sizes of the creatures.</p><p>The layman&rsquo;s take-away from Makovicky and Zanno&rsquo;s research is probably still the Big Bird bottom line: these theropods were huge, and they tended to get ginormous.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s definitely capacity to grow very large as a herbivore, almost as large as a T-Rex,&rdquo; said Makovicky. &rdquo;In some of these environments these animals would have been bigger than any of the carnivores around. But the fact that they are herbivorous alone doesn&rsquo;t explain their body size evolution.&rdquo;</p><p>Some of the biggest specimens were found right at the end of the Cretaceous, which was the era of big dinosaurs in general: &ldquo;Everything got bigger,&rdquo; Makovicky said.</p><p>The environment for everyone - right up until that pesky extinction problem made the news - seems to have turned body mass into an asset. The reason for that grand trend is one of the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/dinosaurs-not-that-big-scientists" target="_blank">big questions dino experts are still struggling to answer</a>.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/bigger-not-necessarily-better-big-bird%E2%80%99s-ancestors-104149 Lawmakers shy away from calling for Rep. Ford to resign http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-shy-away-calling-rep-ford-resign-104141 <p><p>Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Illinois are holding off on calling for the resignation of indicted State Rep. LaShawn Ford.</p><p>Federal prosecutors indicted Ford for bank fraud <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/state-rep-lashawn-ford-indicted-bank-fraud-charges-104118">Thursday</a>, accusing the Chicago Democrat of lying about how he would use a line of credit.</p><p>In their indictment, federal prosecutors said the 40-year-old politician took a $500,000 line of credit with the now-failed ShoreBank to purchase and rehab some properties, but instead used the money to pay off expenses from his 2006 campaign.</p><p>Ford allegedly used the money for payments to a casino in Hammond, Ind., credit cards, car loans and mortgages he held at the bank. Prosecutors also allege Ford falsely inflated his personal income in obtaining the line of credit.</p><p>Ford is the second state representative to face federal charges this year.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/derrick-smiths-attorney-compares-him-jesus-thinks-feds-might-be-targeting-jesse-white-103749">Derrick Smith</a>, who maintains his innocence, was arrested earlier for allegedly taking a bribe and kicked out of the House.</p><p>&quot;I see them as two very, very different issues,&quot; said Republican State Rep.&nbsp;Jim Sacia, who helped lead the charge to oust Smith because the alleged bribe had to do with his official duties as a representative.</p><p>But Sacia said Ford&rsquo;s accusations do not involve his official office responsibilities, so he&rsquo;s not calling for his resignation.</p><p>House Republican Leader Tom Cross made the same distinction between the separate charges facing Ford and Smith.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s just too early at this point to make a recommendation on House action based on information in the indictment and public statements from the U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office,&rdquo; Cross said in a statement.</p><p>Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn also wouldn&rsquo;t say whether Ford should resign.</p><p>&quot;That&rsquo;s up to him,&quot; Quinn said. &quot;He has to follow his conscience.&quot;</p><p>Ford said Thursday evening that he&rsquo;s innocent.</p><p>In a statement sent to constituents, Ford said&nbsp;he&rsquo;s introducing a resolution asking his colleagues to remain neutral and allow him to continue representing Chicago&rsquo;s West Side in Springfield.</p></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 14:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-shy-away-calling-rep-ford-resign-104141 Photo of the day: November 30, 2012 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/photo-day/2012-11/photo-day-november-30-2012-104139 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mambol/8231417322/in/pool-32855810@N00/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="395" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/POTD_SmokeyWater.jpg" title="Smokey Water (Flickr/Jobet Palmaira)" width="620" /></a></div></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 10:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/photo-day/2012-11/photo-day-november-30-2012-104139 Illinois drinking water supplier deals with low river http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-drinking-water-supplier-deals-low-river-104134 <p><p>EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; The utility that supplies drinking water to more than 250,000 residents in southwestern Illinois is taking emergency measures due to the low level of the Mississippi River.</p><p>The Belleville News-Democrat <a href="http://bit.ly/Uw7gBt" target="_blank">reports</a> that officials with Illinois American Water say the measures are needed so that the water supply doesn&#39;t dry up for communities in Madison and St. Clair counties.</p><p>Spokeswoman Karen Cotton says Illinois American Water is investing about $400,000 at the East St. Louis water treatment plant. She says that will allow access to water at a much deeper level of the Mississippi River than the utility&#39;s usual intakes can reach.</p><p>Cotton says company officials believe the move will keep water flowing to customers even if the drought-stricken Mississippi River drops to record-setting low water levels.</p></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 10:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-drinking-water-supplier-deals-low-river-104134 Reporters finally get a look inside Illinois prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/reporters-finally-get-look-inside-illinois-prisons-104129 <p><p>Reporters visited Vienna Correctional Center Friday, a prison in Southern Illinois that Gov. Pat Quinn <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/quinns-half-measures-prison-openness-103540">had fought</a> to keep off limits.</p><p>And the prison has done some sprucing ahead of the visit. There has been lots of painting going on over the last few weeks. Workers were still painting a light pole outside the administration building just one hour before reporters are scheduled to arrive for a tour of the facility.</p><p>WBEZ spent much of the past year requesting a visit to Vienna, a minimum security prison where overcrowding has led to hundreds of prisoners being housed in large rooms crowded with bunks.</p><p>The building also has broken windows that have been simply boarded up in winter leaving inmates no view of the outside. Quinn kept reporters out citing simply safety and security.</p><p>With pro bono attorneys from Jenner and Block WBEZ threatened to sue Quinn and the Department of Corrections.</p><p>The department then announced it would give tours to reporters on three designated media days, and the first of those tours is today. Reporters, however, are not allowed to bring in microphones or cameras to document the conditions so the public still won&rsquo;t see what&rsquo;s happening first hand.</p><p>The Department of Corrections says reporters will be allowed notebooks and so-called &ldquo;flex-pens,&rdquo; and says that&rsquo;s more than the general public is allowed to bring in.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 21:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/reporters-finally-get-look-inside-illinois-prisons-104129 Chicago artists help deck the halls at the White House http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-artists-help-deck-halls-white-house-104127 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/whitehouseart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago artist and designer David Lee Csicsko is known for the whimsical mosaic characters greeting riders at the Belmont &quot;L&quot; station.</p><p>For the White House this year, he designed stained-glass medallions that look like wreaths for the East Corridor and 10-foot-tall white wooden trees for the East Garden.</p><p>A stained-glass rose he designed hangs in the window of the State Dining Room. While decorating the room, staff members took down a famous painting to avoid scratching it.</p><p>&ldquo;So all of the sudden I looked over at the back of the Lincoln portrait, and this rose I had designed was shining brightly on the back of the Lincoln portrait,&quot; Csicsko said. &quot;It was just this incredible connection to artistry and history. It was very, very special.&rdquo;</p><p>Csicsko got the chance to tell First Lady Michelle Obama about all of his designs at the farewell reception.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my friends shouted out that we were from Chicago and I had done the windows,&quot; chuckled Csicsko. &quot;She said she was very excited to show the President and her daughters all of the work on the house.&quot;</p><p>Paper artist Jami Darwin Chiang said seeing her work go from her studio in Chicago to the White House was an amazing experience. Chiang and other artists helped decorate the famed Blue Room Christmas tree with their designs. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You meet so many people that are from all different parts of the country that literally join forces to transform the White House in five days,&rdquo; Chiang said.</p><p>Cscisko said seeing everyday people working together in rooms where heads of state normally convene was an enlightening experience.</p><p>&ldquo;It just really felt like this was the people&rsquo;s house,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 16:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-artists-help-deck-halls-white-house-104127 Low water in Lake Michigan could cause problems for the shipping industry http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3818_The Cuyahoga River Today7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local ports could run into problems if water levels in Lake Michigan keep going down. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake is 28 inches below the long term average &ndash; and still falling.</p><p>For each inch the lake decreases, cargo ships are forced to lighten their loads. The tonnage left behind ranges between 50 and 300 tons per inch, depending on the type of freight.</p><p>&ldquo;Hopefully we&rsquo;ll see them rise before they go down much lower. Each drop is a concern to everyone in the industry,&rdquo; said Tony Ianello, Executive Director of the Illinois Port District. He said lake levels are always fluctuating, but even normal fluctuations affect shipping costs. Ianello said suppliers pay in extra trips to amount to the same total shipping numbers; down the chain, the price tag could hit consumers. Most shipping in and out of Chicago&#39;s ports is for commodities like grains, many of which are directly linked to the cost of food.</p><p>Precipitation in the Michigan-Huron region in November was nearly 70 percent below the monthly average, and the Army Corps projects Lake Michigan could fall to record lows in the coming months.</p><p>&ldquo;Long term loss of water levels is no good for coastal habitats, but it&rsquo;s also no good for people who like to recreate, swim, and use our Great Lakes shorelines,&rdquo; said Joel Brammeier, President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. But Brammeier said no one knows for sure whether the lakes are undergoing a long term loss, or a fluctuation.</p><p>A <a href="http://cdm15025.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p267501ccp2/id/3405/rec/8" target="_blank">2009 study</a> of the loss of water in the Great Lakes links the long term decline to human manipulation of the St. Clair River, and to changes in climatic factors including temperature and precipitation. The St. Clair River, which connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair near Detroit, has been <a href="http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/1985/19850006.pdf" target="_blank">dredged periodically since the mid-1800s</a>; some researchers say this accounts for over a foot of permanent loss in Lakes Michigan and Huron.</p><p>The two lakes hit their record low in 1964, and peaked again in 1986. Even following 2012&rsquo;s scorching summer, the lake hasn&rsquo;t gone below1964 levels. But the Army Corps projects that by December 30, the water will go down another three inches.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Mississippi River could be facing a complete shutdown of cargo shipping through the passage between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois. Last week the Army Corps&rsquo; Missouri River Basin division began limiting the flow of water through a dam in South Dakota in order to preserve water in that northern region; the Missouri is a key tributary to the Mississippi at St. Louis. Because water levels were already low, the reduced input means 180 miles of the Mississippi could become impassable for barges by mid-December. Immediate solutions to the impending crisis for the river shipping industry are not clear.</p><p>The short-term solution for Lake Michigan is precipitation. If the region has another warm, dry winter, the great lake could keep disappearing before our eyes.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 15:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121