Friday, March 24, 2017

Jason Van Dyke indicted on 16 new charges—one for each bullet that hit Laquan McDonald, and other Chicago news

Posted By today at 06.00 AM

Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke attends a hearing in his first-degree murder trial Thursday. - NANCY STONE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA AP, POOL
  • Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool
  • Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke attends a hearing in his first-degree murder trial Thursday.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, March 24, 2017.

  • Jason Van Dyke indicted on 16 new charges, one for each bullet that hit Laquan McDonald

Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke has been indicted on 16 new charges of aggravated battery in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke was charged with one count for each of the 16 shots he fired at McDonald in October 2014. He has already been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct in McDonald's death. [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Chicago lost more people in 2016 than any other metropolitan area in the U.S.

Approximately 19,570 people moved out of the Chicago metropolitan area in 2016, which was the greatest population loss of any metropolitan area in the U.S., according to the Tribune. Chicago was also the only one of the ten largest metropolitan areas to lose residents. It's the second year in a row that the area has lost more residents than it gained: 11,324 people left in 2015. Cook County also lost more residents than any county in the U.S. in 2016, and experts believe it's a regional issue: most of the cities losing residents are located in the midwest or the northeast, including Saint Louis and Pittsburgh. "There's this big regional thing going on," local demographer Rob Paral told the Tribune. "It's not about what's wrong with Chicago—if anything, it's what's wrong with the Midwest or the Northeast." [Tribune] [WBEZ]

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Remembering underground comics artists Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 05:23 PM

Skip Williamson, left, and Jay Lynch in 1973 - SUN-TIMES ARCHIVE
  • Sun-Times Archive
  • Skip Williamson, left, and Jay Lynch in 1973
Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, "two seminal figures of the underground comics movement," as the Sun-Times described them in its obit Monday, died recently, 11 days apart. Each was 72.

"Their work was genuinely subversive," Art Spiegelman, whose graphic novel Maus won a special Pulitzer citation in 1992, told the paper. "It opened up and personalized a new art form."

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Remembering Bill Paxton in Near Dark, one of his finest performances

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 04:48 PM

Bill Paxton in Near Dark
  • Bill Paxton in Near Dark

On Friday and Saturday at midnight the Music Box is showing Near Dark, Kathryn Bigelow's first solo directorial effort, on 35-millimeter. The theater had planned the screenings as a commemoration of the film's 30th anniversary, but now they double as a tribute to the actor Bill Paxton, who delivered a memorable supporting turn in the movie, and who passed away last month from complications following heart surgery. A chronically underrated player in American movies, the versatile Paxton fared well both in comedy (Weird Science, Club Dread) and drama (One False Move, A Simple Plan), bringing a likable earnestness to both genres. Paxton is probably most beloved for his roles in action and adventure movies—Aliens, Predator 2, Tombstone, Apollo 13, True Lies, and Twister—and for good reason: he's the most recognizably human element in these large-scale productions, his modesty as a performer matched by his evident enthusiasm for whatever story he's helping to tell. Even when he overacted, as in Near Dark or Club Dread, his overacting was never self-important or at odds with the material. It felt like exactly what the movie called for.

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Lots of questions about police accountability, few satisfying answers from IPRA director

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 04:11 PM

Jamie Kalven and Sharon Fairley in conversation Wednesday night - MAYA DUKMASOVA
  • Maya Dukmasova
  • Jamie Kalven and Sharon Fairley in conversation Wednesday night

The vibe at Hyde Park's Experimental Station Wednesday night was much more intimate than the typical police accountability "discussions" with city officials that have become so common since the release of the Laquan McDonald video in November 2015. Some 100 people, seated and standing, packed the event hosted by the Invisible Institute, which featured a conversation between journalist and institute founder Jamie Kalven and the head of the Independent Police Review Authority, Sharon Fairley. Fairley is now tasked with leading the metamorphosis of IPRA into a new agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA.

The two sat on a small riser just a few feet from the skeptical, expectant faces of the audience crowding around them.

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Making sense of Putin's ‘ghastly trick’

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 03:02 PM

Members of the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI director James Comey Monday during a hearing on allegations of Russian interference in November's presidential election. - AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE
  • AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
  • Members of the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI director James Comey Monday during a hearing on allegations of Russian interference in November's presidential election.
As I read the latest assortment of stories about Donald Trump and the Russians Thursday, a couple of lines from popular culture came to mind.

From The Godfather II, Tom Hagen saying to Michael Corleone: "Roth played this one beautifully." Hyman Roth, Corleone's partner in crime but also his worst enemy, had set him up to take the fall.

And from John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: "And suddenly, with the terrible clarity of a man too long deceived, Leamas understood the whole ghastly trick." The unwitting tool of British intelligence, Leamas had just undermined the East German official he thought he was defending.

The question posed by both the book and the novel is the same: What is really going on? In confronting the Russia allegations, America asks that question today.

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A mock trial at the Art Institute revisits the dicey question of who owns culture

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 02:30 PM

A verdict is reached in the Parthenon Marbles case. - NATIONAL HELLENIC MUSEUM
  • National Hellenic Museum
  • A verdict is reached in the Parthenon Marbles case.

Last week, on my way to a trial to decide what the British should do with the Parthenon Marbles they stole—er, took—from Greece, I made a short detour for a look at some treasures they stole from Benin.

The trial—a mock event about an actual, raging cultural dispute—was produced by the National Hellenic Museum, which, yes, has some skin in the game.

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If only Chicago had been as cavalier about NATO gatherings as Trump is

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 12:30 PM

Chicago police scuffle with demonstrators during the protest of the NATO summit in May 2012. - AP PHOTO/PAUL BEATY
  • AP Photo/Paul Beaty
  • Chicago police scuffle with demonstrators during the protest of the NATO summit in May 2012.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson created quite a stir when he acknowledged he was skipping an upcoming NATO meeting of foreign ministers because he had better things to do. Like meet with Putin officials in Russia.

Immediately, the national press responded with shock that the Trump administration would be so blind to optics that it would essentially choose Russia over its closest allies at the very time the FBI and Congress are looking into allegations that Trump campaign aides colluded with Putin's regime to steer the election away from Hillary Clinton.

Well, that's how the national press responded. Me? I had a more local response along the lines of—Man, where was this cavalier attitude toward NATO when we really needed it?

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Why are CBD products sold over the counter some places and tightly regulated in others?

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 12:04 PM

CBD products for sale at Bucktown shop CBD Kratom - LEE V. GAINES
  • Lee V. Gaines
  • CBD products for sale at Bucktown shop CBD Kratom

Walk into the CBD Kratom shop on the corner of Damen and Dickens in Bucktown and you'll find pill bottles, containers of balm and lotions, and small glass jars full of oil neatly arranged in tall glass display cases. They're all advertised as CBD extracts, one of the primary chemical ingredients in marijuana.

An el stop away, near the corner of Milwaukee and California, the head shop Vape Daze is full of multicolored phallic glass bongs, pipes, vaporizers, and small containers of CBD oil that retail for between $30 to $75, depending on the potency of the extract.

CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, is one of several dozen active compounds in marijuana, and the primary nonpsychoactive ingredient—meaning it doesn't get you high. And these two shops are among at least half a dozen retail stores in Chicago that carry products purporting to contain the stuff.

At first it might seem like a no-brainer for vape shops to carry CBD. But its presence alongside e-cigarettes and giant glass bongs is actually surprising: CBD extracts produced by state-licensed medical marijuana cultivators are heavily regulated by state agencies, sold only in state-licensed dispensaries, and restricted to Illinoisans with medical marijuana cards. Meanwhile, CBD extracts available for purchase by the general public appear to be produced with no regulatory oversight at all.

So what gives?

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The multidisciplinary Tesseract explores queer identity through the lens of science fiction

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 11:25 AM

Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener in Tesseract, at the MCA this weekend - COURTESY OF RASHAUN MITCHELL + SILAS RIENER + CHARLES ATLAS.
  • Courtesy of Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener + Charles Atlas.
  • Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener in Tesseract, at the MCA this weekend

Long before he started dancing, the choreographer Silas Riener preferred reading science fiction novels and dreaming of far-off realms.
"It's part of a queer identity—the 'otherness' of aliens or fantasy," Riener says, noting his penchant for sci-fi. "It attracted me because of being in the closet, growing up with people who are different or ways that the world is different."

A former member of Merce Cunningham Dance, Riener is one-third of the creative trio behind Tesseract, a two-part work based on otherworldly themes that will be performed at the MCA this weekend in conjunction with the exhibit "Merce Cunningham: Common Time." The other two-thirds: Rashaun Mitchell (also a former Cunningham dancer) and video artist Charles Atlas, who began working with the Cunningham company as a stage manager back in the mid-70s. Together, the trio bring a decidedly alien approach to movement.

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City Council expected to renew ‘sanctuary city’ status, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 03.23.17 at 06:00 AM

Undocumented immigrant Luis Gomez speaks at a press conference to support immigrants and sanctuary cities at Lurie Children's Hospital in November 2016. - SANTIAGO COVARRUBIAS/SUN-TIMES
  • Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times
  • Undocumented immigrant Luis Gomez speaks at a press conference to support immigrants and sanctuary cities at Lurie Children's Hospital in November 2016.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday, March 23, 2017.

  • City Council expected to renew "sanctuary city" status next week, ask for protections for veterans and "Dreamers"

A resolution to renew Chicago's "sanctuary city" status was approved by the City Council Human Relations Committee Wednesday, and it's expected to be voted on by the full council March 29. It's the second time that the city's status as a place where local law enforcement declines to provide information to immigration officials under most circumstances has been renewed by the City Council since President Donald Trump took office. But this resolution also requests that military veterans and immigrants who came to the U.S. as children not be deported. Around 183,000 Chicago residents are undocumented immigrants, according to estimates. [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Former museum executives propose bringing American Sports Museum to Chicago    

Two former Chicago executives want to bring an American Sports Museum to Chicago. The men behind the effort are Marc Lapides, formerly chief marketing officer at the Adler Planetarium, and Roger Germann, a former executive vice president at the Shedd Aquarium, according to the Tribune. They're hoping to build a 100,000-square-foot museum that's close to downtown and easily accessible by public transportation. A $50 million fund-raising campaign for the project is under way. "Sports is something that really connects us all," Lapides told the Tribune. "This is a museum that will welcome everybody." [Tribune]

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