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News in Brief: January 9, 2022

Five stories from this week’s news.

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.

Falling mice and rice from downtown buildings

In anticipation of winter precipitation and wind, SAIC posted signs outside its buildings warning of falling a) ice b) mice c) rice and d) dice. These are a spin on the ubiquitous signage seen on downtown sidewalks that read “Caution: Falling Ice.” 

On Wednesday, these signs were proven useful. At 875 N. Michigan Ave, formerly known as the John Hancock building, a large piece of aluminum cladding from the x-bracing fell off and landed in a planter, injuring no one. Alderperson Brian Hopkins, who represents the site of the accident, told Block Club Chicago, that this was a “freak incident,” and that the building, which was erected in 1965, is safe. Safe-ish, and in need of inspection would be a better assessment, and a spokesperson for the building owners said that such a survey would take place as soon as weather permitted.

In Chicago, there is ample precedent of buildings succumbing to entropy. Fire officials estimated that winter weather caused nearly a building a day to crumble under the weight of snow from late January to mid-February 2021, according to the Chicago Tribune. The caution signs may be a symptom of the litigious state we inhabit since pedestrians’ senses are not able to tune into the silent and deadly descent of ice. Perhaps the guidance they offer is to keep the bicycle helmet on until safely indoors, or invest in a more padded winter hat. 

Flags lowered across Illinois from January 5-7

Governor JB Pritzker ordered federal and state flags to be lowered from Wednesday to Friday in tribute to fallen officer Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic of the Bradley police department. 

While responding to a noise complaint on Dec. 29, Rittmanic, 49, was killed by Darius Sullivan, 25. The details of the encounter are gruesome and captured on body cam. The Kankakee State’s Attorney Jim Rowe is seeking the federal death penalty for Sullivan. Illinois is not a death penalty state. 

Rowe, a former Republican, was elected to the seat in 2016 by an electorate that voted 53% for Donald Trump. Rowe’s election marks the first time in fifty years that a Democrat has held that prosecutorial position. 

In January of 2021, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act. In a promotional video, Durbin noted that in the last six months of the Trump Administration, the federal government executed thirteen people, “more than the total number executed by the eleven preceeding presidents over the last seventy years.” Rittmanic was laid to rest on Friday by her wife and police colleagues from across the state.

Bobby Rush seeks new faze of public life

In 1983, Bobby Rush entered public politics as a member of the Chicago City Council with the election of Harold Washington, the city’s first Black mayor. Rush began to serve as a U.S. Representative for Illinois in 1992. This week, he announced that he will not seek reelection. Rush intends to “come home” to his community as a Baptist pastor.

Rush’s congressional district includes the South Side of Chicago, where he worked in his youth alongside Black Panthers. In an interview with the Washington Post, Rush notes that “Fred Hampton is my most favorite Chicagoan. And he was only with us for 21 years.” Hampton was killed in 1969 by law enforcement agents who raided the Black Panthers’ headquarters on the West Side of Chicago.

Throughout his tenure, Rush has advocated for the rights of Black people. When Trayvon Martin, a teenager from Florida, was killed in 2013, Rush delivered a speech to the house floor during which he removed his suit coat and put up the hood of the gray hoodie he wore underneath. As Rush donned a pair of sunglasses, and delivered his impassioned words, former Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss) banged his gavel and called for the house to observe decorum. Rush was escorted from the floor. 

The Economist reported that 25 House Democrats have stated they will not seek reelection in a midterm year that historically swings against the party in power. This leaves precious little time to make good on legislative items while Democrats have unified control of Congress and the White House.

One year since January 6th

To commemorate the Jan. 6 attack on the capital, President Biden delivered a blistering speech that called out former President Trump’s behavior on the day of the insurrection. In the Capitol on the one year anniversary, elected Republicans were largely absent and silent, with a few notable exceptions.

Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has been vocal about the descent of the Republican party into Trumpism, was present at Biden’s speech. On the other end of the Republican spectrum, Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, held a news conference to “elevate unproven conspiracy theories about the origins of the assault on the Capitol,” according to the New York Times.

The personality cult of Trump has discouraged most Republicans from opining about the events of Jan. 6th. On the one hand, reproaching Trump has the potential to reflect poorly in the polls, while affirming the insurrection tips toward treason. As a result, Republicans have largely gone mute on the topic. What does this silence and submission suggest about the trajectory of American democracy?

Elections in Hong Kong feature pre-approved candidates and a crackdown on media

On Monday, pro-Beijing lawmakers entered into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. None of the candidates on the ballot have expressed interest in preserving Hong Kong’s autonomy until the legal expiration of the “one country, two systems” in 2047, though those candidates do exist.

Throughout 2017 and 2019, as Beijing attempted to exert more power over Hong Kong through extradition and censorship laws, the island erupted in pro-democracy protests. That movement gave rise to news outlets which are now rapidly shuttering under pressure from Beijing.

On Dec. 29, Hong Kong police raided Stand News, resulting in the arrest of seven people including editors and former board members charged with sedition. With the recent election, it became unclear if Citizen News was in violation of new laws. Citizen News decided to stop publication on Jan. 4. Last summer, Apple Daily closed. Jimmy Lai, 74, Apple Daily’s owner and a democracy activist, was charged with sedition last week while serving a sentence for organizing illegal protests. 

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

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