Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists brings Jerry Brown into the fold but no clock change yet

By Aaron Dorman
Medill Reports

Amid the slate of world crises discussed at the annual meeting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, one note of good news: Pakistan and India are unlikely to engage each other in nuclear warfare, according to a nuclear policy expert.

But in other arenas, Bulletin editor-in-chief John Mecklin characterized our era as the most dangerous period since the early fifties—the last time the Doomsday Clock was set at two minutes to midnight, where the hands rest ominously for now. The Bulletin will announce any change to those hands in January.

“Last year was a huge year for us,” Mecklin said at the meeting in November. “With the help of Donald Trump, who said something horrifying about every 10 minutes all year long, we had a big traffic spike.”

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Standing in solidarity with Yemen, Chicagoans rally to end the U.S.-backed war

By Aqilah Allaudeen
Medill Reports

Some 70 people rallied in  Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago recently to end the war in Yemen. Chicago Area Peace Action, or CAPA, a grassroots organization that works to reduce and eliminate the danger of nuclear weapons and militarism, organized the rally.

Hassan El-Tayyab, the policy and organizing director at CAPA, emphasized the need for citizens to call Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), to urge her to co-sign a bill that would end U.S. military involvement in Yemen.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a resolution 63 – 37 to debate ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. The wide margin reflects growing discontent with U.S. involvement in the war, and the Trump administration’s handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

“Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in remarks in Geneva earlier this year.

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Pittsburgh aftermath: Evanston religious leaders consider active shooter responses

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

The thousands-year-old nightmare of anti-Semitism erupted again on Oct. 29, when 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue died in a shooting, likely the deadliest attack against Jews in U.S. history.

Illinois religious communities, like so many faith groups around the world, recoiled in response, condemning the attack and gathering at solidarity events to mourn the victims. “It was a wake-up call that this could happen in our communities,” said Andrea London, the senior rabbi at Beth Emet, a reform synagogue in Evanston.

Evanston’s interfaith group of religious leaders who routinely work together discussed active shooter responses at a recent meeting, London said. She said  religious leaders are considering  programs such as active shooter training.
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Ja’Mal Green looks to become youngest Mayor in Chicago history

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports

On Nov. 26, Ja’Mal Green made history by becoming the youngest person ever to file the 12,500 signatures required to make it on February’s Chicago mayoral ballot. Despite his age, the 23-year-old activist and entrepreneur is no stranger to voicing his opinion on anything Chicago-related. Now, he’s hoping to use that voice from behind the mayor’s desk. We caught up with the rising star on his campaign trail to find out why he’s running for office and how he got to this point.

Photo at top: Ja’Mal Green talks on the phone during his mayoral campaign. (Casey Bannon/MEDILL)

Illinois sees more gun trafficking from Indiana, crime data shows

By Ashley Hackett
Medill Reports

Gun regulations in Illinois have become more strict over the past five years, and guns used in Illinois crimes are coming increasingly from outside the state, a recent study shows.

Nearly 3,460 people were shot in Chicago in 2017, and the city saw 664 murders plus seven people killed by on-duty Chicago Police officers that year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Michael Coates, a doctoral candidate studying American politics at the University of Maryland, co-authored a 2017 study examining state gun control policies. Coates concluded that guns linked to crime scenes are “more likely to be purchased in states with less regulatory barriers when a state increases the stringency of its gun control laws,” so the supply market will shift out of state.

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Green Bay’s historic season ends with NCAA tournament loss to Wisconsin

By Kristen Keller
Medill Reports

Green Bay’s women’s volleyball team finished out their historic season by winning its first Horizon League volleyball championship and earning a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.

Although the Phoenix lost in the first round of the tournament to the Wisconsin Badgers, the team ended the season with a 20-11 overall record.

Follow the timeline and take a look at just how Green Bay made this unforgettable season a reality.

Photo at top: The Green Bay Phoenix finished a historic season with  a trip to the NCAA tournament after winning the Horizon League championship. (Kristen Keller/Medill)

Illinois farmers torn about health insurance options

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

Illinois farmers, faced with exploding health care costs, are turning away from the individual health insurance market as they seek solutions to one of several ballooning financial woes.

Association healthcare plans could provide an answer, said Christina Nourie, an Illinois Farm Bureau legislative coordinator.

Association plans allow small businesses or organizations to join together to purchase health insurance on behalf of their members just as a large employer would, she said during a talk Saturday at the IFB Annual Meeting in Chicago. But legislation would be needed to authorize such plans in Illinois and other states.
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A new wave of Islam: Masjid al-Rabia welcomes women leadership and LGBTQ acceptance in Islam

By Aqilah Allaudeen
Medill Reports

To some imams, a mosque that promotes LGBTQ-affirming beliefs is almost unfathomable. Homosexuality is shunned by many conservative Muslim communities in the United States and abroad.

Kifah Mustapha, the imam and director of The Prayer Center at Orland Park, supports the conservative view. A mosque that accepts homosexuality and actively promotes acceptance of it, is not following the Islamic faith, Mustapha said.

“Homosexuality is a major sin in Islam,” he said. “To walk around and to tell everybody your sins and to ask them to accept these sins is not okay. We will not accept someone coming in and saying that this sinful act (homosexuality) has to be a part of the mosque, it doesn’t work like that.”

But a rising trend is welcoming LGBTQ members in Muslim communities.

Mahdia Lynn, a 30-year-old bisexual transgender Muslim activist, saw the need for a safe physical space for LGBTQ Muslims to practice their faith in Chicago. She founded Masjid al-Rabia, a women-centered and LGBTQ-affirming mosque in 2016. It is the first mosque in Chicago to openly welcome LGBTQ Muslims and part of a growing movement of progressive Muslim activists who are trying to open Islam to the LGBTQ community.

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Cultural Center’s “The Nutcracker” invited all dance lovers to perform

By Xiaoyi Liu
Medill Reports

“The Nutcracker”ballet is a holiday classic that sets the tone for the season at national opera houses and school stages across the world. Through beautiful music and charming choreography, it celebrates the holidays by taking audiences on an unforgettable journey with young Clara as she travels from her home on Christmas Eve to the Land of the Sweets.

But dance lovers of all ages and abilities came to point their toes in Tchaikovsky’s ballet at the Chicago Cultural Center on Sunday. Participants learned the basic ballet positions and movements taught by members of Ballet Chicago at an optional lesson before joining in the performance of “The Nutcracker”.

“She has loved the Nutcracker story since she was a little over a year old, and she loves to dance,” said Chicagoan Julie Trent, who brought her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter to dance. “She enjoys it and I enjoy watching her. She is a free spirit, so she really likes to move and she loves music.” Continue reading

Illinois embraces indigenous legacy through ethnobotany

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

When Gina Roxas was about four years old, she was hospitalized with a diagnosis of pneumonia.

Heartbroken at being separated from her family, she ripped the IVs out of her arms, cried and refused to eat while in the hospital. Her condition deteriorated, and doctors had to restrain her.

One day, her father came to visit her and told doctors he’d see what he could do about his daughter’s illness.

“He grabbed me, wrapped me in a blanket and walked out the door,” Roxas said. “And he [carried me to] my great-grandmother’s (house) and gave me to her. And she healed me. She healed me with her prayers, with her teas and with her herbal rubs. It’s not scientifically proven that I was healed, but I’m still here, right?”
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