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Date registered: July 2, 2014

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  1. SMS names April Students of the Month — May 24, 2017
  2. Report: FBI probe moves into White House — May 20, 2017
  3. Photos: Local police pay respects to fallen officers — May 16, 2017
  4. Tourism director highlights 2016 tourism statistics during presentation — May 11, 2017
  5. Community Action scholarships available — May 6, 2017

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May 24

SMS names April Students of the Month

Sycamore Middle School has named its Students of the Month for April. The sixth-grade students are Amanda Fitzpatrick, Haroon Quddus, Cassandra Chamoun and Thomas McComb. The seventh-grade students are Natalie Pasillas, Jacob O’Donnell, Aaliyah McCormick and Garrett Harms. The eighth-grade students are Lauren Lee, Ella Johnson, Ainsley Petit and Chelsea Smith.

May 20

Report: FBI probe moves into White House

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats last week his firing of “nut job” James Comey had eased the pressure on him, even as the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation had moved into the White House, according to reports Friday that pursued the president as he began his maiden foreign trip.

White House hopes that Trump could leave scandalous allegations at home were crushed in a one-two punch of revelations that landed shortly after his departure.

A Washington Post report, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, said a senior Trump adviser is now considered a “person of interest” in the law enforcement investigation into whether Trump’s campaign associates coordinated with Russia in an effort to sway the 2016 election.

And The New York Times reported that the president had told Russian officials he felt the dismissal of his FBI director had relieved “great pressure” on him. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Late Friday, the Senate intelligence committee announced that Comey had agreed to testify at an open hearing at an undetermined date after Memorial Day.

Comey will certainly be asked about encounters that precipitated his firing, including a January dinner in which, Comey has told associates, Trump asked for his loyalty. In the Oval Office weeks later, Comey told associates, the president asked him to shut down an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey is known to produce memos documenting especially sensitive or unsettling encounters, such as after the February meeting.

Comey turned down an invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle. The White House repeated its assertion that a “thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity.”

It did not deny the Times report that Trump was critical of Comey to the Russians the day after he fired him.

The Times reported Trump noted the Russia investigation as he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak of his decision to fire Comey.

“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” the Times reported that Trump said during the May 10 meeting. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the president’s rhetoric part of his deal-making.

“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Spicer said.

“The investigation would have always continued, and obviously the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”

As for the separate report of a “person of interest” under investigation, the Post said the senior White House adviser “under scrutiny” is someone close to the president but did not name the person.

Among Trump’s senior White House advisers are several former campaign officials, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway. In March, Kushner volunteered to answer lawmakers’ questions about meetings he had with Russian officials during the transition.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not discuss information provided in classified briefings and said the House Oversight committee had already asked for documents related to Comey’s firing.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the federal investigation in an effort to re-establish independence from the White House.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress Friday he stands by a memo he wrote bluntly criticizing Comey. But he made clear it was not his intention for Trump or other White House officials to use the document to justify firing Comey, which is what they have done.

In closed-door meetings with lawmakers on Thursday and Friday, Rosenstein said he wrote the memo after Trump told him one day before the May 9 firing that he wanted to dismiss Comey. Rosenstein said that although he was personally fond of Comey, “I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader.”

The Justice Department on Friday released the text of Rosenstein’s opening remarks for the briefings on Capitol Hill.

Trump has said he plans to nominate a new FBI director soon, but there was no announcement Friday.

The appointment of Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favorable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well. But lawmakers at both congressional sessions expressed frustration that Rosenstein would say little in answer to their questions about his actions – or others’ – before Comey’s firing.

“There was considerable frustration in the room,” said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee. “This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration. I don’t think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today.”

The White House has struggled since Comey’s firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and the Justice Department’s involvement in that decision. Trump has insisted at times that the decision was his alone, but he also has pointed to the “very strong” recommendation from Rosenstein.

Rosenstein made it clear to the lawmakers that he drafted his memo only after Trump told him of his plans to dismiss the FBI director. “My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination,” he said. But he added, “I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it.”

The memo focused on Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, particularly the FBI director’s decision to divulge details to the public at various junctures during her presidential campaign against Trump. Rosenstein denounced that decision as “profoundly wrong and unfair.”

Trump has reacted furiously to the appointment of a special counsel, a prosecutor with wide authority to investigate Russia’s interference and other potential crimes uncovered. However, at a combative news conference Thursday, he fell short in trying to resolve questions about investigations into his campaign and his first four months in office.

Asked point-blank if he’d done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, Trump said no – and then added of the lingering allegations and questions: “I think it’s totally ridiculous. Everybody thinks so.”

May 16

Photos: Local police pay respects to fallen officers

Local law enforcement personnel pay their respecgts during a memorial for fallen police officers on Monday, May 15, 2017 at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore. Four Illinois police officers, including Officer James Brockmeyer of South Jacksonville Police Department, Officer Jason Gallero of Cook County Sheriffs Police, Correctional Officer Adam Scott Conrad of Marion County Sheriffs Office, and Officer Scot Fitzgerald of Chester Police Department, died in the line of duty in 2016.

May 11

Tourism director highlights 2016 tourism statistics during presentation

DeKALB – The state’s tourism director spoke Thursday at the Egyptian Theatre about how his office has managed to do more with less.

Despite little funding from the state to market its various tourism destinations, Illinois welcomed 110 million domestic visitors in 2016, one million more than previous year, Cory Jobe said.

Due to the increase, domestic travelers spent $35.1 billion in 2016, a 1.8 percent increase from 2015. That growth helped support an additional 9,600 jobs in Illinois in 2016, Jobe said.

“Tourism is big business,” Jobe said. “For every dollar we spend, it continues to generate over nine dollars in economic return.”

Jobe was wrapping up a series of presentations across the state, as part of National Travel and Tourism Week, which recognizes the positive effects of tourism on the state and wraps up Saturday.

“Tourism is an industry that continues to grow and evolve, and it continues to be an economic engine for the state, and I want to thank everyone for driving economic tourism in the state,” Jobe said.

He also complimented the Enjoy Illinois website for making leaps and bounds in promoting Illinois tourism.

In addition to statistics, Jobe highlighted the Illinois Made program, which features various artisans and small business owners around the state who help to drive tourism.

In 2016, less than $4 million was spent on marketing Illinois tourism, Jobe said, yet $15 million is projected to be spent in 13 Midwest markets and six international markets this year.

“The hope is for Illinois Made to get more of the state involved in marketing efforts,” Jobe said. “Illinois is a big state with a lot of great product, but it’s hard to capture all of that great product in a 30- to 60-second video,” Jobe said.

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said a possible opportunity to promote local tourism is collaboration between small businesses – for instance, Waterman Winery and Whiskey Acres Distilling Company holding some type of countywide sampling.

Jobe said the goal is to keep visitors in the state as long as possible, and craft spirits are often a strong passion point of travel.

“That’s an idea I think we can perhaps collaboratively put together,” Smith said.

May 06

Community Action scholarships available

The DeKalb County Community Action Department and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announce the 2017‐2019 Community Services Block Grant college scholarship program.

To be eligible to apply, the applicant must be a permanent DeKalb County resident, and be a member of a family whose gross income from the past 90 days does not exceed 125 percent of the poverty level.

Deadline for applicants is 4:30 p.m. June 23.

For complete information on eligibility and how to apply, visit www.dekalbcountycommunityaction.org or call 815‐758‐3910.

May 03

2017 Sycamore Cinco de Mayo Festival schedule

What time, where and what’s going on at the 2017 Sycamore Cinco de Mayo Festival

May 01

NIU Emojis Now Available!

Monday May 1st is known as College Decision Day for high school seniors. To welcome the Class of 2021 to NIU, the Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications rolled out NIU emoji and sticker applications. There are iMessage stickers and an

Apr 29

N. Korean missile test fails hours after UN meeting on nukes

SEOUL, South Korea – A North Korean mid-range ballistic missile apparently failed shortly after launch Saturday, South Korea and the United States said, the third test-fire flop just this month but a clear message of defiance as a U.S. supercarrier conducts drills in nearby waters.

North Korean ballistic missile tests are banned by the United Nations because they’re seen as part of the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the U.S. mainland. The latest test came as U.S. officials pivoted from a hard line to diplomacy at the U.N. in an effort to address what may be Washington’s most pressing foreign policy challenge.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter, “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” He did not answer reporters’ questions about the missile launch upon returning to the White House from a day trip to Atlanta.

North Korea didn’t immediately comment on the launch, though its state media on Saturday reiterated the country’s goal of being able to strike the continental U.S.

The timing of the North’s test was striking: Only hours earlier the U.N. Security Council held a ministerial meeting on Pyongyang’s escalating weapons program. North Korean officials boycotted the meeting, which was chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile flew for several minutes and reached a maximum height of 71 kilometers (44 miles) before it apparently failed.

It didn’t immediately provide an estimate on how far the missile flew, but a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said it was likely a medium-range KN-17 ballistic missile. It broke up a few minutes after the launch.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, speaking after a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council, said the missile is believed to have traveled about 50 kilometers (30 miles) and fallen on an inland part of North Korea.

Analysts say the KN-17 is a new Scud-type missile developed by North Korea. The North fired the same type of missile April 16, just a day after a massive military parade where it showed off its expanding missile arsenal, but U.S. officials called that launch a failure.

Some analysts say a missile the North test fired April 5, which U.S. officials identified as a Scud variant, also might have been a KN-17. U.S. officials said that missile spun out of control and crashed into the sea.

Moon Seong Mook, a South Korean analyst and former military official, says that the North would gain valuable knowledge even from failed launches as it continues to improve its technologies for missiles. The South Korean and Japanese assessments about Saturday’s launch indicate that the North fired the missile from a higher-than-normal angle to prevent it from flying too far, he said.

“They could be testing a variety of things, such as the thrust of the rocket engine or the separation of stages,” Moon said. “A failure is a failure, but that doesn’t mean the launch was meaningless.”

The two earlier launches were conducted from an eastern coastal area, but the missile Saturday was fired in the west, from an area near Pukchang, just north of the capital, Pyongyang.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced the launch as an “obvious” violation of United Nations resolutions and the latest display of North Korea’s “belligerence and recklessness.”

“We sternly warn that the North Korean government will continue to face a variety of strong punitive measures issued by the U.N. Security Council and others if it continues to reject denuclearization and play with fire in front of the world,” the ministry said.

The North routinely test-fires a variety of ballistic missiles, despite U.N. prohibitions, as part of its weapons development. While shorter-range missiles are somewhat routine, there is strong outside worry about each longer-range North Korean ballistic test.

Saturday’s launch comes at a point of particularly high tension. Trump has sent a nuclear-powered submarine and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft supercarrier to Korean waters, and North Korea this week conducted large-scale, live-fire exercises on its eastern coast. The U.S. and South Korea also started installing a missile defense system that is supposed to be partially operational within days.

On Friday, the United States and China offered starkly different strategies for addressing North Korea’s escalating nuclear threat as Tillerson demanded full enforcement of economic sanctions on Pyongyang and urged new penalties. Stepping back from suggestions of U.S. military action, he even offered aid to North Korea if it ends its nuclear weapons program.

The range of Tillerson’s suggestions, which over a span of 24 hours also included restarting negotiations, reflected America’s failure to halt North Korea’s nuclear advances despite decades of U.S.-led sanctions, military threats and stop-and-go rounds of diplomatic engagement. As the North approaches the capability to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped missile, the Trump administration feels it is running out of time.

Chairing a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Tillerson declared that “failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.”

His ideas included a ban on North Korean coal imports and preventing its overseas guest laborers, a critical source of government revenue, from sending money home. And he warned of unilateral U.S. moves against international firms conducting banned business with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, which could ensnare banks in China, the North’s primary trade partner.

Yet illustrating the international gulf over how best to tackle North Korea, several foreign ministers on the 15-member council expressed fears of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which was divided between the American-backed South and communist North even before the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended with no formal peace treaty. And while danger always has lurked, tensions have escalated dramatically as the North’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has expanded a nuclear arsenal his government says is needed to avert a U.S. invasion.

No voice at Friday’s session was more important than that of China, a conduit for 90 percent of North Korea’s commerce and a country Trump is pinning hopes on for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis. Trump, who recently hosted President Xi Jinping for a Florida summit, has sometimes praised the Chinese leader for a newfound cooperation to crack down on North Korea and sometimes threatened a go-it-alone U.S. approach if Xi fails to deliver.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would adhere to past U.N. resolutions and wants a denuclearized peninsula. But he spelled out no further punitive steps his government might consider, despite Tillerson’s assertions in an interview hours ahead of the council meeting that Beijing would impose sanctions of its own if North Korea conducts another nuclear test.

Wang put forward a familiar Chinese idea to ease tensions: North Korea suspending its nuclear and missile activities if the U.S. and South Korea stop military exercises in the region. Washington and Seoul reject the idea.

Tillerson said the U.S. does not seek regime change in North Korea, and he signaled American openness to holding direct negotiations with Pyongyang. The U.S. also could resume aid to North Korea once it “begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile technology programs,” he said. Since 1995, he added, Washington has provided more than $1.3 billion to the impoverished country.

But the prospects for any more U.S. money going there appeared bleak. Even negotiations don’t seem likely.

Tillerson said the North must take “concrete steps” to reduce its weapons threat before talks could occur. Six-nation nuclear negotiations with North Korea stalled in 2009. The Obama administration sought to resurrect them in 2012, but a deal to provide food aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze soon collapsed.

“In a nutshell, (North Korea) has already declared not to attend any type of talks which would discuss its nuclear abandonment, nuclear disbandment,” Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, told The Associated Press. His government declined to attend Friday’s council meeting.

___

AP writers Matthew Pennington and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Edith Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this story.

Apr 23

NIU football: Quarterback battle now between Graham, Santacaterina, Childers

DeKALB – At the beginning of the Northern Illinois football team’s spring season, the question was whether junior Ryan Graham or sophomore Daniel Santacaterina would be the starting quarterback.

Apr 22

NIU football: Huskie Bowl changed to shortened practice because of injuries

For the second time in four years, the Northern Illinois football team will have to greatly modify its final outing of the spring season.

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