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Dennis Hastert Accuser Will Seek Sealed Federal Records

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The lawyer who represents Dennis Hastert’s original accuser said she will seek sealed records from Hastert’s federal criminal conviction, in an effort to prove Hastert lied when he said he did not sexually abuse her client. 

As NBC 5 reported on Wednesday, Hastert repeatedly denied abusing the man, known in court records as James Doe, during a deposition taken for an upcoming civil case. Doe is suing Hastert, demanding $1.8 million dollars in hush money he said the former speaker promised to pay to guarantee his silence. 

Browne wanted to take Hastert’s new statements to federal prosecutors and his trial judge Thomas Durkin, in an effort to prove that he either perjured himself previously or is doing so now. As part of that effort, she said she would ask to see any sealed grand jury testimony which was offered in Hastert’s criminal case. 

“I never in a million years dreamed that he would deny the allegations, but he did,” Browne told Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer. “If he’s going to sit on the stand and deny the allegations, it could give the jury an impression that the amount of money sought here is disproportionate to what happened.” 

But Hastert’s attorney John Ellis argued that his client’s deposition should not be shared with anyone, and told the judge he had ruled against similar requests numerous times in the past. 

“These are the same arguments that we’ve had multiple times before you,” Ellis said. “What happened in the criminal case happened, and it’s over.” 

Judges are loathe to share secret proceedings and Pilmer was no exception. He denied Doe’s request, ruling that in documents ranging from his federal plea agreement to a written statement read in court, Hastert had supplied plenty of words which Browne could confront him with on the stand. 

Outside the courtroom, Browne said she still intends to file motions in federal court, seeking any information which might illuminate what Hastert actually admitted to investigators in his criminal case. 

“I think it’s safe to say that I believe he may change his story from what was in the plea agreement, and his written statement at sentencing, when he gets on the stand,” Browne told NBC 5 after court Friday. “I think that’s a possibility.” 

The civil lawsuit would provide explosive testimony if Hastert and his accuser each take the stand. Barring a last minute settlement, the case is set for trial Nov. 18.





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When we lose 29% of our birds, we are doing something terribly wrong: Chicago Sun-Times editorial

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After years of restoration work, Orland Grasslands near Orland Park has seen the return of bobolinks, Eastern meadowlarks, Henslow’s sparrows and other birds.

Bell’s vireos have even been spotted at the preserve, nesting in Cook County for the first time in 10 years.

Unfortunately, though, that blip of good news is overshadowed by a severe downturn in the well-being of bird populations across North America. A report published Thursday in the journal Science concludes that the United States and Canada today are home to 2.9 billion fewer birds than in 1970, a drastic decline of 29 percent. Even common species such as robins have experienced steep declines.

Like the dying canary in a coal mine, it’s a signal to us all: Trouble is on the horizon. Large bird populations tell us we live in a healthy environment, while their precipitous decline tells us we do not.

Birds pollinate plants, distribute seeds, eat up insects and brighten our mornings with their songs. When they are gone, says Pat Hayes, a volunteer at Orland Grasslands, “it means all the support for them is gone, too.”

To slow the decline in birds, far more needs to be done in the Chicago region and nationally — by everyone from large property owners and government to people with backyards.

Chicago, to its credit, has been a leader in this.

Chicago introduced the first “Lights Out” program in the nation, in which building owners turn off lights during migratory times to limit the number of birds killed by smacking into glass. The Chicago Park District and the Cook County Forest Preserve District have restored natural areas in places such as the Orland Grassland to provide habitat for birds, though it can take decades to fully restore an ecosystem.

Chicago also was the second city to sign the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Urban Bird Treaty,” which brings organizations together to create bird-friendly environments.

But birds in Illinois, like elsewhere in North America, continue to lose ground as rural areas replace traditional hayfields and pastures that once supported many birds with expanses of pesticide-filled monocultures of corn and soybeans that don’t have insects for birds to eat or places for them to shelter.

Climate change also is rapidly changing the landscape on which birds depend. When birds migrate through the Chicago area, they depend more and more on our parks, woods and even backyards. They are working their way back and forth from lands that sometimes have been hit hard by climate change, such as boreal forests to the north and tropical rain forests to the south.

“Chicago is a huge migratory stopover location for birds because of the geography of the Great Lakes,” said Stephanie Beilke, conservation science manager for Audubon Great Lakes. “It seems like the heart of migration of birds in the Midwest.”

The birds passing through seek out our native oaks and shrubs, homes to the tiny caterpillars and insects that we seldom notice but hungry birds feed on. Invasive plant species such as buckthorn drive out these native trees and shrubs.

What birds don’t need are pesticide-laden parks, yards and corporate campuses. Pesticides are a kind of poison for birds, and they dramatically reduce crucial insect populations. Bird species such as eastern bluebirds, red-headed woodpeckers and cedar waxwings feed their young insects.

Nationally, the National Audubon Society and other groups are fighting to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which is the summer home to many birds that we see here in the spring and fall. The Trump administration wants to open the refuge to oil and gas development.

Environmentalists also are fighting to preserve the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Trump administration wants remove the act’s provision that says companies have a responsibility for birds that die in oil pits or on power lines and other structures.

In small ways, in our everyday lives, we can do our part to help end the decline of birds.

We can take simple steps, like changing lighting, to discourage birds from flying into our windows. We can keep our cats, which love to hunt birds, indoors during migrations. We can fill our yards with native plants, eschew toxic pesticides and recycle. Birds sometimes feed on small bits of unrecycled plastic and die.

Birds have many calls. One call may warn of a predator nearby. Another may be a mating call. A third may be a staking out of territory.

Now, like the canary in the coalmine, they’re saying something else:

We are destroying their environment — and ours.


https://chicago.suntimes.com/

Even as the populations of some bird species in the Chicago region have risen in recent years, others have declined.
SOURCE: Bird Conservation Network

Send letters to letters@sun-times.com.



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SUV drives through Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, 1 in custody, minor injuries reported: police

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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) — One person is in custody after an SUV crashed into the Sears at Woodfield Mall in Schuamburg and then drove through the shopping center Friday afternoon, police said.

While there were reports of an active shooter, police said no shooting occurred and there is no evidence there was ever an active shooter situation. Schaumburg police said no major injuries have been reported, only minor injuries.

Every entrance to Woodfield Mall has been blocked off by police as of 4:30 p.m.

Social media reports about the incident emerged on Twitter around 2:30 p.m.

Robert Fakhouri works at a tea shop in the mall. He said the suspect was arrested inside of his store.

“They brought him into my store and apprehended him in the store,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s because of the space inside and they had the room, and they were able to sit him down, or what happened.”

Fakhouri described the suspect as a younger man, possibly in his 20s, and said he was quiet and did not resist police during the arrest. He said the man answered the officers’ questions with yes or no answers, and did tell officers he was alone.

WATCH: Raw video of car driving through Woodfield Mall

He said the suspect appeared coherent, and displayed no remorse or emotion. He did not offer any explanation for what he allegedly did.

Fakhouri also said it appeared the suspect was attempting to hit the kiosks in the mall.

“There were plenty of kiosks, I think two or three of them that were specifically targeted by his route,” Fakhouri said.

Witness Lateef Farooqui said he was sitting in the food court at the time of the incident. He said that since the car crashed into the mall through the Sears, it had to drive directly under the second floor food court to get to the center aisle.

“As he went past that point everybody started running, saying ‘shooter, shooter,’ or ‘bomb,’ just panic,” he said.

Farooqui said he moved toward the second floor hallway above the center aisle to see what was going on and saw the tail end of the car, shattered glass at Forever 21 and the car bumper on the floor of the mall. As he approached further he said car parts were scattered through the center aisle all the way down to where one would turn toward Macy’s.

Farooqui said he wasn’t sure if the car was targeting any store in particular.

“Yeah, it was like a pinball going right to left,” he said. “I don’t know if it was like an anger issue going after Forever 21, but that one was the most obvious one he went through. And then he backed out of there and then moved to the complete opposite side.”

Anthony Uchick was shopping with his mother at the Sears in Schaumburg’s Woodfield Mall Friday when he said a car crashed through the storefront and proceeded to drive through the shopping center. Uchick said the vehicle exited Sears near the Rainforest Café, almost striking children nearby. The car then crashed into Forever 21 before driving down toward Macy’s, where the suspect was caught, he said.

The Sears store is closed, according to a phone recording.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation at the request of local law enforcement, but said there is no known threat to public safety at this time.

An employee at Rainforest Cafe said the mall has been on lockdown.

This is a breaking news story. Check back with ABC7Chicago.com for updates.

Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.





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1 in Custody, Woodfield Mall Evacuated After Vehicle Drives Inside

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NOTE: NBC 5 is live at the scene. Watch in the player above.

One person is in custody, Schaumburg police said, after a vehicle was driven into an entrance of Woodfield Mall Friday afternoon. Minor injuries were reported, the village’s spokeswoman said, and police continue to evacuate the mall.

“At this time, there is no evidence of an active shooter situation,” police said in a statement. “Police are on scene and the mall is in the process of being evacuated. Please avoid the area if possible. The investigation is ongoing.”

“At this time, no major injuries have been reported, only minor injuries,” Village of Schaumburg Allison M. Albrecht said.

Video Shows Vehicle Driving Through Woodfield Mall

[CHI] Video Shows Vehicle Driving Through Woodfield Mall

FBI officials said they were assisting local law enforcement. There is “no known threat to public safety at this time,” the FBI said in a statement. 

A massive police presence converged on the mall just before 3 p.m. after video showed a car driving through the inside of the popular suburban Chicago shopping center. 

A video posted to social media indicated an SUV drove through the mall, causing damage as it went. Photos later showed police escorting a man in handcuffs out of the building.

Sky 5 Footage Shows Scene Outside Woodfield Mall

[CHI] Sky 5 Footage Shows Scene Outside Woodfield Mall

Sky 5 footage showed the vehicle appeared to enter the mall via the Sears store. It continued driving around inside before photos show it crashing near the Clarks.

The Schaumburg Fire Department confirmed it was responding to an incident at the mall Friday afternoon, fire officials said.

Sky 5 footage from the scene showed crowds and a heavy police presence outside. Witnesses reported the mall was on lockdown and customers were hiding in the back of stores. 

“I was walking out of Express and I saw maybe like 30 people runnin,” witness Bijal Patel said. “I saw families carrying their children. I asked, ‘What’s going on?’ Someone said, ‘Run there’s a shooter! Get out of the mall!’” 

Another witness, Brian Clark, said a security guard told her to “get out of the mall” and everything at the other end was being locked down. 

“There are armed police going around on the lower level… so they’re checking the mall to make sure everything was secure,” he told NBC 5. 

Check back for updates on this developing story. 





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