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News in Brief: November 21, 2021

This week’s news stories from SAIC, Chicago, the United States, and the world.

By News

A wide-mouthed character tilts its head back and gobbles up a variety of news briefs and debris. Illustration by Jade Sheng.

Illustration by Jade Sheng.

SAIC inFLUences students to get a shot

Even in the midst of COVID-19, influenza lurks. Debbie Martin, Dean of Student Life at SAIC, recommends all students receive a flu vaccine. Shots will be available at the Student Leadership Suite in the Neiman Center during three windows in the first week of December: 

  • Monday, December 6: 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 8: 8:00–11:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, December 9: 12:00–3:00 p.m.

College students across the country are already feeling the effects of the flu season. According to Inside Higher Ed, last week the University of Michigan “identified 313 influenza cases, which reflected a 37 percent test positivity rate.”

According to Sarah Van Orman, chief health officer at University of Southern California Student Health, college students often skip the flu vaccine. To mitigate a potentially severe flu season, after last year’s record lows, the University of Notre Dame announced at the end of September that flu shots would be mandatory for all students. 

If the provided opportunities for a shot at the Neiman Center conflict with schedules, SAIC students can schedule an appointment by calling 312.499.4288.

Chicago reacts to Rittenhouse verdict

On Friday, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all five counts of homicide and reckless endangerment. In response, peaceful protesters in Chicago gathered in the loop with signs like “Workers United to Smash Fascism” and “Reject Racist Vigilante Terror.”

News outlets on the right champion the verdict as a victory for the second amendment. Meanwhile, outlets on the left believe the verdict promises more violence from vigilantes at protests moving forward. Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Thursday that “Illinois State Police are prepared for any potential unrest after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict,” according to Fox32 of Chicago. This statement now carries an ominous tone of deterrence to newly emboldened, armed citizens. 

In a statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said: “We must respect the jury’s decision. However, no one should ever take the law into their own hands, or attempt to make themselves the judge, jury, and executioner.”

Illinois public school latest to go to battle over “Gender Queer”

The arrival of the graphic novel “Gender Queer: A Memoir” to the shelves of Downers Grove High School in Illinois continues a controversy sparked this autumn at public schools across the country. Parents are asking for the removal of this memoir about coming out as nonbinary. Supporters of “Gender Queer” argue that cries for censorship come from homophobia, and removal of the book would lessen representation on the shelves.

Heterosexually explicit material is available in the school library in books such as “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Nevertheless, at a school board meeting on Monday, attendees arrived holding signs that read “No Porn,” even though discussion of the book was not on the meeting agenda. According to WBEZ News, “the district has received two formal objections and an independent process will determine if the book will remain.” 

Elizabeth Holmes takes the stand

On Friday, Elizabeth Holmes took the stand in the months-long federal case regarding alleged corporate fraud conducted by her company, Theranos. Prosecutors see the conviction of Holmes as essential to sending the message that Silicon Valley companies must play by same rules of transparency and truth as everyone else when eliciting investments.

The disgraced multibillion-dollar biotech startup was founded in 2003 by Holmes, a nineteen year old Stanford undergrad. The idea was simple enough, to make cheap and convenient blood tests. Theranos became synonymous with deception when, in 2015, Stanford professor John Ioannidis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that Theranos lacked peer-reviewed research to back its claims. Then the Wall Street Journal wrote a story about it. Things unwound from there. 

The trial has thus far suggested that Holmes misrepresented financial projections to investors and ignored Theranos’s lab directors “who repeatedly warned Holmes that the blood-testing technology was wildly unreliable.” Cross-examination of Holmes begins Monday. 

Peng Shuai, Chinese tennis star, re-emerges after two weeks of silence.

As this column previously reported, Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player, accused a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official of sexual harassment. In the ten days following the accusation, she was not seen or heard from, causing international tennis stars to voice their concerns. 

On Sunday, a clip was published by a state media outlet showing Peng as a guest at the opening ceremony of a teenage tennis match final. While the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is happy to see Peng, the video evidence is insufficient proof of her safety. WTA chief Steve Simon said, “It remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference.”

An email purportedly written by Peng was released on Friday that backed down from the sexual harassment accusations. Many doubt the legitimacy of this missive.

Michaela (MFAW 2023) is the News Editor at F Newsmagazine. Hopefully she is drawing a tree.

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