Politics/National Security

Evanston Adopts Climate Action and Resiliency Plan

Aaron Dorman
Medill Reports

Evanston  became the first Chicago-area city in almost a decade to adopt a formal climate action plan with an effective transition to renewable energy and resiliency to climate change.

The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, approved unanimously by the City Council last week, calls for the city to meet 100 percent of electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, to reduce waste by 75 percent by 2035, and to reduce vehicle miles that cars travel in town by 35 percent that same year.

The plan was the culmination of over a year’s worth of discussion and coordination between the city government and the working group of 17 local residents who had been tasked with putting the document together. Kumar Jensen, Evanston’s sustainability coordinator, helped serve as liaison between them and the municipal government.

The plan passed the Human Services Committee 5-0 the week before.

“From our residents, to our businesses, to our schools and hospitals, Evanston is united in its efforts to mitigate the far-reaching effects of climate change through bold and immediate action,” said Mayor Stephen Hagerty in a press release. “While Evanston will likely undergo many changes on the way to 2050, this plan ensures that our longstanding commitment to climate action will remain.”

Continue reading

Toriano Sanzone runs for alderman of his North Lawndale “hometown”

By Stephanie Fox
Medill Reports

Slideshow: (Stephanie Fox)

With his locks pulled back into a ponytail, and his ears and nose decorated in jewelry, Toriano Sanzone exudes his own style as a businessman and a candidate running for office to give a stronger voice to his community. Sanzone believes he could be exactly what Chicago’s 24th Ward needs in a new alderman.

“You have a lot of different people living in these neighborhoods. They’re going to require super diverse leaders,” said Sanzone, 44, owner and president of the dog training facility Wolfkeeper University. Continue reading

Solitary confinement: A human rights issue within U.S. borders

By Aqilah Allaudeen
Medill Reports

Gabriel Guzman spent three years of his 10-year prison term locked up in a small box-like cell for more than 22 hours a day. His time in solitary was broken up into stints of about four months each. Some were brought after he took part in fights but others, he said, were unwarranted.

He had next to no freedom and prison guards controlled almost every aspect of his life, he said.

“Your life becomes dictated by rules, regulations and other people controlling it,” he said. “It’s not the same in all prisons, but in Lawrence (Correctional Center in Sumner, Illinois) they handcuffed us and escorted us to the showers. We had no freedom.”

Released about three years ago after completing his sentence, Guzman, 33, now volunteers in Chicago to help other inmates. He  washes laundry and rugs for a living.

At any given time, some 61,000 prisoners are in solitary confinement in the United States. While this marks a drop from an estimated 80,000 prisoners in solitary in 2014, many experts and activists argue that solitary confinement is unnecessary as there are better and more humane alternatives.

Continue reading

What can we do to slow climate change?

By Karyn Simpson
Medill Reports

Columbia University geochemist Wallace Broecker, one of the founding fathers of climate science, laid it on the line. The two ways we know of to bring down civilization are nuclear bombs or carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the driving force of climate change, he said this fall during an interview at the Comer Conference on abrupt climate change. “It’s got the seeds of really terrible chaos on the planet and we’ve got to start to respect that.”

Within days of the conference, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautioned that even raising the global temperatures by 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) could have disastrous effects on sea level rise, extreme temperatures, rainfall and drought. And we’ve already raised temperatures 1 degree globally.

What needs to change to mitigate the accelerating threat? Scientists sharing their latest research at the 2018 conference say we need to move swiftly toward a sustainable energy system and  trap the carbon dioxide emissions from continued near-term needs for fossil fuels. Meeting the challenge offers wide-ranging opportunities for innovation and economic growth, said Penn State climatologist Richard Alley at the conference. Continue reading

U.S. green energy policy could reap results – Germany’s policy shows the promise

By Jillian Melero
Medill Reports

Tapping into wind and solar and other green energy technologies, the U.S. can produce 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, compared to 17 percent in 2017.

That’s the conclusion of a study conducted by the Department of Energy in 2012. And the transition is a necessary step to avoid increasing global warming beyond the 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) of global temperature rise that would be a tipping point for more extreme climate change. Approximately 1 degree C of global warming has occurred already with industrialization.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Puerto Rican superhero wrestles hurricanes and empowers her culture in comics

By Valerie Nikolas
Medill Reports

SAN JUAN – The typical comic book thriller culminates with a superhero fighting an evil villain. In Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s “La Borinqueña,” the title character fights not a mere villain but, rather, a hurricane.

An art director, designer, and most recently a graphic novelist, Miranda-Rodriguez created La Borinqueña, a female Afro-Boricua superhero who represents Puerto Rican culture and identity. His comics also address hurricanes and other environmental issues threatening the island.

“We live in an era where people are consumed by popular culture, and have more conversations around it than they do around the real world,” said Miranda-Rodriguez. “So I said, let me create a superhero, and use that as a vehicle to address real world issues—the problems affecting real people.”

Continue reading

Chicago activists rally in Refuse Fascism march

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Approximately 50 people gathered in Federal Plaza Saturday afternoon to rally with activist group Refuse Fascism’s Chicago chapter in protest of Trump administration policies. During “In the Name of Humanity, Trump/Pence Must Go!” the group denounced the administration and urged people to speak out against what they see as the development of fascism in America.

After the rally, protesters marched to Trump Tower and gathered across the river from the building, carrying signs with slogans such as “This Nightmare Must End.”

Refuse Fascism groups marched in other cities Saturday including Cleveland, New York and San Francisco.

Continue reading

Northwestern University students take a leap into civic engagement

By Xiaoyi Liu
Medill Reports

“I already voted, can I take a sticker?”

“Take a doughnut, take a sticker. That’s really fine, go ahead.”

It was Election Day and these were the cheerful conversations at the Northwestern University’s student center. Students visited the table set up by the university’s Center for Civic Engagement and collected  “I Voted” stickers, laptop stickers, doughnuts and other souvenirs.

Sitting at the table was Hailey Cox, a Northwestern junior studying Human Development and Psychological Services.

“I’ve definitely been a part of that engagement aspect, like just convincing people to go vote, showing people how easy it is to vote, answer any questions people have about voting,” Cox said.

Continue reading