Medovi Kukesy – Honey Cookies

Cooking with Anatole, The Chicago Times

April 24, 2021

Today mon ami, we bake one of the Czech favorites: Medovi Kukesy or honey cookies.  This recette  comes from Old Czech Recipes for Today’s Kitchen published by the Clarkson Woman’s Club.

Gather the following ingredients and be sure, mon ami, to choose only the best quality:

2 cup sugar

1 cup shortening

2 eggs

1 cup honey

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup hot coffee

1 cup raisins

2 teaspoon vanilla

3 teaspoon soda

6 – 7 cup flour

For the best results follow these directions:

  • Cream sugar and shortening.
  • Add eggs, honey, hot coffee, raisins, and vanilla.
  • Add the flour with baking powder, and soda last.
  • Drop with teaspoon on greased pan and bake, or form into balls and bake in moderate oven 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Anatole’s Critique:

Incroyable! Anatole found biscuit savoureux, perhaps replace shortening with beurre.  Hélas magnifique, mon ami! Anatole dit au revoir.

FEDERAL COURT RULING REGARDING PANHANDLING

Village of Oak Brook, Illinois

January 20, 2021

The Police Department has received repeated complaints over the last six months due to the increase in panhandlers on street corners soliciting money in our community.

While I understand the concerns of our residents and visitors, and agree with many of them, the Police Department has been put in an unfortunate position of not having the authority to enforce the laws as they are pertaining to panhandling currently on the books. A law suit was filed in Federal court by the ACLU on behalf of two homeless persons stating that their rights to free speech were being infringed upon by the enforcement of these panhandling laws by the police.

The States Attorney as well as municipal liability carriers gave direction months ago for the police to refrain from enforcement while the case wound its way through the courts. That has led to a proliferation of these activities throughout the metropolitan area. On January 14, 2021 A federal judge has permanently banned Illinois’ panhandling law from being enforced on the basis the statute violates the First Amendment. The Federal Court of the Northern District of Illinois issued an Injunction order forbidding state law or local ordinances on panhandling from being enforced.

The Oak Brook Police Department understands the frustration and the potential traffic safety hazards this may create but until a legal remedy can be resolved, the police department will not be responding to complaints about panhandlers on the roadway unless there is an articulated safety concern for the individual. Mere presence will not serve as a reason to believe there is a safety concern.

The Stipulated Preliminary Injunction Order can be found here (PDF).

The Michael Dumiak and Christopher Simmons — Memorandum Opinion and Order (Decision) can be found here (PDF).

Village of Oak Brook, Illinois

BOND SET FOR TWO CHARGED WITH DRUG INDUCED HOMICIDE

DuPage County State’s Attorney

April 22, 2021

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin and Wheaton Chief of Police William Murphy announced today that bond has been set for two individuals for their roles in an apparent fentanyl overdose of a Wheaton man, thirty-two-year-old Nicholas Donzelli. Kalvin Beulle, 31 (d.o.b. 12/9/1989) of Glendale Heights and Nicole Cassata, 23 (d.o.b. 10/31/1997) of the same address, have each been charged with one count of Drug Induced Homicide, a Class X Felony and one count of Manufacture/Delivery of a controlled Substance – Cocaine, a Class X Felony. In addition, Beulle has also been charged with one count of Manufacture/Delivery of a controlled Substance – Fentanyl/Amphetamine, a Class 2 Felony. On April 19, 2021, Judge Michael Fleming issued a $100,000 with 10% to apply arrest warrant for Beulle and a $20,000 arrest warrant for Cassata. Yesterday afternoon, Cassata posted the necessary 10%, or $2,000, at the Wheaton Police Department and was released from custody. Beulle appeared in Bond Court this morning in front of Judge Jeffrey MacKay who set bond at $100,000, in accordance with the previously issued arrest warrant.

On August 3, 2020, at approximately 11:58 p.m., Wheaton police officers responded to a residence on Rossini Court for a well-being check. Upon their arrival, officers found Donzelli deceased on the living room couch, the suspected victim of a drug overdose. Officers also found numerous drugs in the residence. Through the course of their investigation, Wheaton police identified Beulle and Cassata as the individuals who allegedly supplied Donzelli with the illegal drugs. It is alleged that on August 2, 2020, Beulle was not answering his phone so Donzelli texted Cassata to purchase drugs. It is further alleged that on August 3, 2020, Donzelli again purchased drugs from the pair. It is alleged that the drugs Donzelli purchased from the pair tested positive for fentanyl. It is further alleged that Donzelli ingested the drugs containing fentanyl and died as a result. 

“Illicit drug use continues to be a drain on society which was responsible for 112 opioid overdose deaths in DuPage County in 2020, a 17% increase from 2019. We must put an end to these senseless deaths. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful, drug that can kill a first-time user. I would like to thank the Wheaton Police Department, DuMEG and Assistant State’s Attorney Adam Frahm for their outstanding collaborative efforts which led to today’s charges.”

“Our detectives worked tirelessly to identify the suspects in this case,” Murphy said. “The defendants in this case allegedly preyed on the victim’s addictions which resulted in his tragic death. Hopefully, today’s charges will bring some closure to his family. We appreciate the assistance of State’s Attorney Berlin’s office.”

The next court date for Cassata is scheduled for May 26, 2021, for arraignment in front of Judge Jeffrey MacKay. Beulle’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 5, 2021 for arraignment in front of Judge Daniel Guerin.

Members of the public are reminded that these complaints contain only charges and are not proof of the defendants’ guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DuPage County State’s Attorney

FOSSILS OF “GIANT CLOUD RATS” DISCOVERED IN PHILIPPINE CAVES

Field Museum

April 22, 2021

Fluffy rodents twice the size of a gray squirrel survived for tens of thousands of years, and then abruptly disappeared a few thousand years ago—perhaps driven to extinction by humans

Rats, by and large, aren’t terribly popular animals. But while you don’t want an infestation of common black rats living in your house, their distant cousins in the Philippines are downright cuddly. These “giant cloud rats” live in the treetops of misty mountain forests, and they fill an ecological role occupied by squirrels in the US. And, it turns out, we have new evidence that they’ve been living in the Philippines for a long time—scientists have discovered the fossils of three new species of giant cloud rats that lived alongside ancient humans.

“Our previous studies have demonstrated that the Philippines has the greatest concentration of unique species of mammals of any country, most of which are small animals, less than half a pound, that live in the tropical forest,” Larry Heaney, the Neguanee Curator of Mammals at Chicago’s Field Museum and an author of a study in the Journal of Mammalogy describing the new species. “These recently extinct fossil species not only show that biodiversity was even greater in the very recent past, but that the two that became extinct just a few thousand years ago were giants among rodents, both weighing more than two pounds. Their abrupt disappearance just a few thousand years ago leaves us to wonder if they were big enough that it might have been worthwhile to hunt and eat them.”

“We have had evidence of extinct large mammals on the Philippine island of Luzon for a long time, but there has been virtually no information about fossils of smaller-sized mammals.  The reason is probably that research had focused on open-air sites where the large fossil mammal faunas were known to have been preserved, rather than the careful sieving of cave deposits that preserve a broader size-range of vertebrates including the teeth and bones of rodents,” says Janine Ochoa, an Assistant Professor of Archaeology at the University of the Philippines – Diliman and the study’s lead author.

At the outset of the study, Ochoa was examining the fossil assemblages from caves in the Callao limestone formation, where a couple of years ago, scientists discovered the remains of an ancient species of humans, Homo luzonensis. “We were looking at the fossil assemblages associated with that hominin, and we found teeth and fragments of bone that ended up belonging to these new species of cloud rats,” says Ochoa.

The fossil fragments discovered by the excavation team  in Callao Cave aren’t the only traces of the cloud rats, though—they were able to add to them some other fossils in the collections of the National Museum of the Philippines. “Some of these fossils were actually excavated decades ago, in the 1970s and 1980s, and they were in the museum, waiting for someone to have time to do a detailed study. When we began to analyze the fossil material, we were expecting fossil records for known living species. To our surprise, we found that we were dealing with not just one but three buot, or giant cloud rat species that were previously unknown,” said Marian Reyes, a zooarcheologist at the National Museum of the Philippines, one of the study’s authors.

The researchers didn’t have a ton of material to work with, though—just fifty or so fragments. “Normally, when we’re looking at fossil assemblages, we’re dealing with thousands and thousands of fragments before you find something rare and really nice,” says Ochoa. “It’s crazy that in these fifty fragments, we found three new species that haven’t been recorded before.”

The fragments that the researchers found were mostly teeth, which are covered in a hard enamel substance that makes them hardier than bone. From just a few dozen teeth and bits of bone, though, the researchers were able to put together a picture of what these animals were like in life, thanks to, in Heaney’s words, “days and days and days staring through a microscope”

By comparing the fossils to the 18 living species of giant cloud rats, the researchers have a decent idea of what these three new fossil species would have looked like.

“The bigger ones would have looked almost like a woodchuck with a squirrel tail,” says Heaney. “Cloud rats eat plants, and they’ve got great big pot bellies that allow them to ferment the plants that they eat, kind of like cows. They have big fluffy or furry tails. They’re really quite cute.”

The newly recorded fossil species came from Callao Cave, where Homo luzonensis was discovered in 2019, and several adjacent smaller caves in Penablanca, Cagayan Province. Some specimens of all three of the new fossil rodents occurred in the same deep layer in the cave where Homo luzonensis was found, which has been dated at about 67,000 years ago.  One of the new fossil rodents is known from only two specimens from that ancient layer, but the other two are represented by specimens from that early date all the way up to about 2000 years ago or later, which means that they were resilient and persistent for at least 60,000 years. “Our records demonstrate that these giant rodents were able to survive the profound climatic changes from the Ice Age to current humid tropics that have impacted the earth over tens of millennia. The question is what might have caused their final extinction?” adds Philip Piper, a coauthor based at the Australian National University.

Two of these giant rodents apparently disappeared about two thousand years ago, or soon after.  “That seems significant, because that is roughly the same time that pottery and Neolithic stone tools first appear in the archeological record, and when dogs, domestic pigs, and probably monkeys were introduced to the Philippines, probably from Borneo.  While we can’t say for certain based on our current information, this implies that humans likely played some role in their extinction,” says Armand Mijares, Professor in the Archaeological Studies Program at the University of the Philippines –  Diliman, who headed the excavations of Callao Cave.

“Our discoveries suggest that future studies that look specifically for fossils of small mammals may be very productive, and may tell us a great deal about how environmental changes and human activities have impacted the really exceptionally distinctive biodiversity of the Philippines,” according to Ochoa.

And such studies may also tell us a lot specifically about the impact of human activities, perhaps specifically including over-hunting, on biodiversity, notes Heaney.  “This is something we need to understand if we are going to be effective in preventing extinction in the future.”

Field Museum

SCENIC OVERLOOK AT GREENE VALLEY OPENS FOR SEASON MAY 1

Forest Preserve District of DuPage

Great views at highest public ground in DuPage County

(April 20, 2021) — DuPage Forest Preserve District’s scenic overlook at Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville opens on weekends starting May 1, providing a bird’s-eye view of DuPage County and the Chicago skyline from 190 feet above the ground.

The overlook will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31, weather permitting, although Illinois Environmental Protection Agency activities may cause it to close without notice. The access drive is off Greene Road south of 79th Street. Visitors can park at the summit, and are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes for views of far-off vistas and migrating birds. District staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Visitors must wear facemasks that cover the nose and mouth and must practice safe social distancing, staying at least 6 feet away from other people.

Visitors with valid District permits can launch nonpowered model gliders and sailplanes from a designated area of the overlook; permits are available online 24/7 or through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 weekdays 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more down-to-earth exploration, hikers and bikers can use the 1.9-mile Hawk Trail, which circles the hill’s base and is open only during the scenic overlook operating hours.

The District periodically opens the scenic overlook for special viewings of the sunrise, sunset, or a lunar eclipse. Follow @dupageforest on Facebook for notices about these occasions.

The overlook rests on top of a closed landfill, which operated from 1974 to 1996. A gas-to-energy plant converts methane from the landfill into energy, which powers thousands of area homes. Revenue from the landfill’s former disposal operations and the gas-to-energy plants — not tax dollars — funded construction of the recreational improvements and continue to fund maintenance of the overlook.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 6.2 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, six education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Forest Preserve District of DuPage

METRA EXTENDS $10 ALL-DAY PASS THROUGH JUNE

(April 15, 2021) –

Metra has extended the availability its flexible and affordable $10 All-Day Pass  through June 30, 2021.

The All-Day Pass is good for unlimited rides on any and all Metra lines all day until 3 a.m. the next morning. For most trips, the All-Day Pass costs less than two one-way fares. The pass was introduced on June 1, 2020 and is currently used by about a third of Metra riders.

For all fare purchases, Metra riders are strongly encouraged to use the Ventra app. Using the app and the $10 All-Day Pass doesn’t simply save money – it provides an added measure of safety by reducing close interaction between Metra customers and crew members, allowing them to “Touch Less, Pay Less.”

All-Day Passes purchased in the app expire after seven days. Customers can also buy the pass with cash or credit from an agent or with cash on the train. However, if a customer boards at a station where they could have purchased the pass from an agent, the conductor will charge an extra $5 fee. Paper passes are good only for the day they are sold.

Metra reminds all riders that face coverings, covering both the mouth and nose, must be worn on board trains during the pandemic by state and federal mandates. Customers should also try to observe physical distancing guidelines; no more than one person per seat, please, unless you are part of a group traveling together. Let’s all work together to keep each other safe.

Metra