All posts by wenjingyang2017

Chicago fast-food workers continue call for a $15 minimum wage

By Wenjing Yang

Deshawn Bell, 35, is a fast food worker in Chicago. He has been working at a McDonald’s restaurant for the past ten years and struggles to make ends meet. He joined a march on May 23rd in downtown Chicago that drew 1,500 demonstrators from across the nation to call for a $15 minimum wage. The march was organized by the union-backed advocacy group ‘Fight for $15’ and was timed to send a message the day before the McDonald’s annual stockholder meeting.

McDonald’s Corp. had revenue of $24.62 billion in 2016. Every year, the company and its franchisees employ hundreds of thousands of people, but has long been a target of complaints about the wages it pays those workers.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast food giant increased its hourly wages to $1 above local minimum wage at corporate-owned restaurants in 2015.

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Victim advocates, survivors stand in silence against sexual assault

By Wenjing Yang

A silent protest in downtown Chicago attracted 170 survivors of sexual violence, their supporters and victim advocates. The lunch-hour protest was a visual demonstration of the silencing of survivors of sexual violence, the organizers said.

They wore T-shirts bearing the stories of sexual assault survivors in order to raise awareness.

“There’s usually a lot of stigma around sexual violence,” said Brendan Yukins, prevention educator at Rape Victims Advocates. “By having people standing here with shirts that tell their stories, it erases a little bit of that stigma.”

“We are doing it in such a public space,” said Megan Blomquist, director of education and training at RVA. ”This really demonstrates a public show of support for survivors.”

After an hour, they broke the silence.

Photo at top: Participants wearing handmade shirts stand silently. (Wenjing Yang/MEDILL)

Wrigleyville’s surge parking begins with Cubs home opener

By Wenjing Yang

The Chicago Cubs opened their season at home on Monday and the city of Chicago launched its surge parking experiment in Wrigleyville. Parking meter rates will double from $2 to $4 per hour starting two hours before games and events and ending at midnight. The city’s experiment with surge parking affects 1,100 spots near Wrigley Field on game days and other events at the ballpark, officials said.

Fans, local businesses and residents shared their opinions before the home opener.

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Chicago coding bootcamp trains veterans for IT

By Wenjing Yang

Conlin McManus, 23, heard about Code Platoon, a coding school in Chicago geared for veterans, two weeks before the end of his active duty as a Marine. He thought it could be “a fighting chance” for him to develop a successful civilian career.

Code Platoon, a Chicago nonprofit that puts military veterans through an immersive 14-week coding boot camp, is aimed at turning them into quality programmers.

“When coming out of the military, you don’t really know what you can do,” McManus said.

Four months before getting out, McManus applied for a job as a data center engineer, but was rejected which he demonstrated a lack of technical skills. With a dream to be a software developer, he decided to go back to school at Code Platoon this January. He is one of 12 in the class.

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Chicago celebrates 180th birthday with families and cheesecake

By Wenjing Yang

Chicago, city of the big shoulders, turned 180 years old on Saturday.

The Chicago History Museum threw a special birthday bash with free admission for Illinois residents, a 60-pound Eli’s cheesecake and a jazz trio that led the crowd in a chorus of “Happy Birthday”.

Guest speaker Vincent Romero, interim executive director of the American Indian Center of Chicago, called the museum “a wonderful place” to celebrate Chicago’s birthday.

“It’s a place of living history, and everyone here helps make that history,” Romero said. “And it’s important for people getting together, celebrating each other, and being happy with the differences that we have.”

Chicago was incorporated as a city by the State of Illinois on March 4, 1837. Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable is regarded as the first permanent resident of Chicago. The museum held an essay contest that honors DuSable. Hundreds of K-12 students in Chicago submitted essays on what they thought DuSable would do to help stop the city’s epidemic of violence.

As Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, “diversity” became the theme of the celebration.

Photo at top: A 60-pound cheesecake with Chicago’s four-star flag was served by Eli’s Cheesecake. The firm calls its product “Chicago’s most famous dessert”. Eli’s has made cheesecakes for four American presidential inaugurations including those of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. (Wenjing Yang/MEDILL)

Chicago startup Rippleshot helps banks combat fraud

By Wenjing Yang

Card transactions have gained, if not surpassed cash, in the 21st century economy. While card use can afford consumers great convenience, the risk of fraud is ever-increasing, bringing headaches to banks and merchants.

Rippleshot, a Chicago-based financial technology startup, uses algorithm-based analytics to help reduce these risks with earlier predictions of where fraud may occur. Its motto is “stopping fraud at the speed of data.”

Rippleshot from Medill Reports on Vimeo.

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U.S. Cellular reports weak subscriber growth, shares plummet

By Wenjing Yang

Shares of United States Cellular Corp. plummeted nearly 9 percent on Friday after the company reported worse-than-expected subscriber metrics in the fourth quarter and announced that it will introduce unlimited-data plans.

U.S. Cellular shares closed at $40.90, down $3.94.

The Chicago-based wireless services provider reported its net loss widened to $6 million, or 7 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, more than triple its net loss of $2 million, or 2 cents per diluted share, a year earlier, but beat analysts’ estimate of a loss of 35 cents.

Revenue rose slightly to $991 million, up 0.4 percent from $987 million, while analysts polled by Bloomberg estimated $1.03 billion.

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U.S. Cellular faces price competition, other challenges

By Wenjing Yang

United States Cellular Corp. is expected to maintain modest growth by focusing on less competitive rural markets amid Wall Street’s downbeat forecast on subscriber growth, while facing price pressure and scale disadvantage in competing with national carriers in 2017.

Analysts anticipate the Chicago-based wireless service provider will post revenue of $4.02 billion in 2017, slightly higher than their 2016 estimate. Net income is estimated to be $72.9 million, or 92 cents per diluted share, compared with the estimated $39.3 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, in 2016.

Despite a better estimate for the coming year, analysts foresee competitive pressures bearing on U.S. Cellular, the fifth largest wireless service provider in the United States.

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Gasoline drives consumer prices to biggest increase in 4 years

By Wenjing Yang

The U.S. consumer price index recorded its biggest increase in nearly four years in January, led by higher costs for gasoline and signaling that inflation may be gaining momentum.

The CPI, which measures the price changes of certain consumer goods and services purchased by households, climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent last month after gaining 0.3 percent in December. It was the largest monthly increase since February 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The CPI rose 2.5 percent in the 12 months ended January 2017, following a 2.1 percent rise in the year to December. It was the biggest annual increase since March 2012.

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Fitness sales help Brunswick beat expectations

By Wenjing Yang

Brunswick Corp., an Illinois-based leading boat, marine engine and fitness equipment maker, reported better-than-expected earnings, helped by strong growth in the fitness segment and solid domestic sales.

Net income for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 swung to $17.7 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $9.3 million, or 10 cents per diluted share, a year earlier, 2 cents above the estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Revenues surged 10 percent to $1.08 billion from $986.1 million, but fell short of analyst expectations of $1.1 billion.

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