Blackhawks expand pool of picks, prospects as Stan Bowman swings 4 deadline tradesBen Popeon April 12, 2021 at 10:51 pm

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was busy on NHL trade deadline day Monday. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Hawks traded Mattias Janmark for second- and third-round picks, Carl Soderberg for a prospect, Madison Bowey for a pick upgrade and Matthew Highmore for Adam Gaudette.

The Blackhawks were the NHL’s busiest team on deadline day.

General manager Stan Bowman swung four trades Monday to accompany his two trades over the past few weeks, all designed to accumulate as prospects and draft picks as possible.

“We did what we set out to do,” he said. “It’s really consistent with what we’ve been trying to do going back to the offseason: we’re trying to rebuild our asset pool.”

Bowman successfully dealt both of his notable pending unrestricted free agents Monday, trading Mattias Janmark to the Golden Knights and Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche.

The Hawks received two high draft picks — a 2021 second-rounder and 2022 third-rounder — in exchange for Janmark and a 2022 fifth-rounder. The Soderberg trade netted prospect forward Ryder Rolston and minor-leaguer Josh Dickinson.

Bowman also traded twice with the Canucks, swapping bottom-six forwards Matthew Highmore and Adam Gaudette and using defenseman Madison Bowey to upgrade a 2021 fifth-round pick to the fourth round.

Adding in the two earlier trades with the Panthers — which used some depth players and cap space to acquire an intriguing prospect in Henrik Borgstrom as well as three possibly useful NHL guys — Bowman adeptly if quietly improved the Hawks’ future without giving up anything of long-term significance.

“We’re trying to build our team back up,” he said. “We’re taking steps this year by giving young players larger opportunities, and many have really run with it… [And] we’ve brought in some other young players that are not in the league, who are still in juniors or in Europe, but will be trending into the league pretty soon. We want to see how that sorts itself out.”

Breaking down trades

The Janmark trade was Bowman’s biggest and best move Monday.

Janmark had been a decent producer for the Hawks this year, scoring 19 points in 41 games, but his on-ice shot-attempt ratio was the worst on the team. He was never expected to be more than a brief visitor to Chicago.

His value seemed roughly equivalent to a third-round pick entering the day, so to receive a third-round pick and have it be not even the highest selection involved was impressive.

“Mattias has had a very good year for us, so there were a number of teams that were calling on him,” Bowman said. “Ultimately, we found the best deal with Vegas.”

Gaudette is the one asset the Hawks added Monday who fans will see this season. The Hawks view him as the superior player in the like-for-like exchange. He’s one year younger, has played 47 more NHL games and has much more offensive upside than Highmore.

The 24-year-old tallied a sizable 33 points for the Canucks last season, and his struggles this season made him an appealing buy-low candidate. The Hawks also like that he’s a right-handed center — all of their other centers besides Kirby Dach are left-handed.

“We certainly see the potential in what he brings to the table,” Bowman said. “He had a really good year last year. We’re trying to recapture some of that.”

A serious COVID-19 case disrupted his season, but he’s now healthy and should be “all systems go” upon arrival, Bowman said. He will be a restricted free agent this summer but the Hawks will likely re-sign him.

Rolston, meanwhile, is a project prospect. Drafted in the fifth round by the Avs last year, he just finished his freshman year at Notre Dame, where the Hawks saw him often while scouting existing prospect Landon Slaggert.

The son of longtime NHL forward Brian Ralston, he scored only six points in 28 games this season but has raw attributes, especially speed, that fit the NHL prototype.

“When you go to watch Notre Dame play, you’ll notice him,” Bowman said. “He’s a pretty good-sized kid who really can skate. As far as putting the whole game together…there’s more there.”

‘Strange’ NHL market

The Hawks were part of four of the mere 17 trades — the fewest since 2013 — processed around the NHL on Monday. This year’s flat salary cap and relative lack of playoff “bubble” teams reduced the urgency and activity.

Most interestingly, returns didn’t seem to match up from one trade to the next.

The Sabres moved this year’s biggest fish, Taylor Hall, to the Bruins on Sunday for the underwhelming duo of a second-round pick and Anders Bjork. Yet the Red Wings made a late splash Monday by dealing Anthony Mantha to the Capitals for a huge package that included Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik and first- and second-round picks.

“It was a little strange in the sense that some deals didn’t match others,” Bowman said. “And that’s because the teams in [contending] situations were really focused on one or two players.”

Bowman didn’t take on another team’s bad contract (beyond Connolly) for a sweetener, although that could still happen this summer. He also didn’t trade defenseman Nikita Zadorov, whose reported availability created some buzz.

In keeping Zadorov and trading away Bowey — signed in January largely for expansion draft insurance — Bowman signaled the Hawks will almost certainly leave Calvin de Haan exposed to the Seattle Kraken this summer.

And looking ahead to the summer, Bowman foresees more of this maneuvering for the future — but is pleased by the progress made over the past year.

“We have more NHL players today than we did eight months ago,” he said. “Some players that are here now might not be here as we move forward, if we can turn them into something even better or turn them into something we don’t have enough of. This process is ongoing. We’re not moving onto a different stage of our team [evolution]. But I like the direction we’re headed.”

Read More

For Your (Re)Consideration finds dramatic gems from the past with resonances for todayon April 12, 2021 at 8:00 pm

A group of unmarried women decide to encloister together on an idyllic estate inherited by their ringleader, Lady Happy. No men are allowed on the premises at any time. The women’s chambers are lush and seasonally thematic. There are fresh flowers everywhere and the wine never stops flowing. Only the choicest cuts of meat are served. Every room has the perfect selfie mirror. And again–no men allowed.

What sounds like an amalgamation of a modern-day women’s communal utopia, the campiest and most luxurious you can imagine, was actually the brainchild of Margaret Cavendish, a 17th-century author and philosopher. Which means that for more than three centuries, women have been in pursuit of pleasure unadulterated by men, however “modern” that idea might seem now.

On April 4, Ghostlight Ensemble broadcast The Convent of Pleasure, written by Cavendish and published in 1668, as the first in their new reading series, For Your (Re)Consideration, which explores the works of historically overlooked female playwrights.

Cavendish’s play is the first of what will be weekly Sunday readings broadcast through May 2, and all performances will be available for streaming on-demand through May 9. In addition to being an overlooked, female-written script, The Convent of Pleasure, as Ghostlight emphasizes, is a queer, nonbinary narrative, too; Lady Happy falls in love with a woman, a princess who arrives at the convent and who inexplicably becomes a prince at the end of the play.

“We’re gathering together as a community to tell some really important and impactful stories and celebrate the narratives of the unheard and overlooked throughout history,” says Andrew Coopman, a Seattle-based storytelling interdisciplinary artist, who directed The Convent of Pleasure for Ghostlight. “The sharing of this piece wasn’t about the performance, it was about the sharing and celebration of this narrative that had been overlooked.”

The Convent of Pleasure was never performed during Cavendish’s lifetime (she died in 1673), meaning that–even for the play’s author–the play wasn’t exactly about performance, so much as it was about the opportunity to gather together and discuss the various sexy and heady themes Cavendish explores: marriage, sexuality, power, performance, and more. It was originally written by Cavendish as a closet drama, the formatting of which translated perfectly to the Zoom platform.

“Translating Convent of Pleasure to online performance was really centered in this idea of: how do we make it campy and fun?” Coopman says. “As a closet drama, it was about a group of Margaret Cavendish’s closest friends gathering in the parlor, probably with some sherry, and reading this play together, and having a good time doing it. And so for us it was like, ‘Well, let’s just gather online and get campy and get creative and tell this story.'”

Coopman says the campy approach they took to the script allowed for more heartfelt conversations around the play’s subject matter amongst the cast. Cavendish published this play under her own name–a rarity for the time–but as much as it’s groundbreaking for both its authorship and subject matter, it is not without its problematic aspects, Coopman said.

“This beautiful romance comedy about two women falling in love is suddenly overtaken by Margaret’s husband in the fourth act for no explicit reason,” Coopman explains. Two sections of the play are denoted as “Written by My Lord Duke.”

“Maybe he was embarrassed by this love story that his wife wrote, who knows?” Coopman says. “Maybe Margaret was experiencing real questions about her gender identity. I think that’s where the idea of queer identity not being a revolutionary idea of the 1980s and the rise of the AIDS epidemic comes in. Queer humans have been here throughout history. We’ve always been here, we’ve always been queer, and it’s time for our stories to get told.”

“I’m immensely collaborative in my work,” Coopman says. “I consider myself a very collaborative director that welcomes the creativity of all the artists to the table, and [what resulted] was the manifestation of creativity and conversation about this play from 1668, centered in the goal of having fun.”

Ghostlight Ensemble member Holly Robison curated the (Re)Consideration series after initially having the idea a few years ago, which is when she first came across The Enchantment by Victoria Benedictsson, who was said to be an inspiration for the much-lauded Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, as well as August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. As a performer and burgeoning director, Robison said she was inspired to seek out more female playwrights and scripts by women that would inevitably include varied and dynamic female roles, rather than just one great female character of a man’s creation.

“In my research, I came across this description of Victoria Benedictsson as a contemporary of Ibsen and Strindberg, and [Ibsen and Strindberg] are produced consistently and constantly and over and over again,” Robison says. “I thought, ‘Why have I heard of so many productions of these plays, but I’ve never heard of this woman?'”

Robison is directing Clare Bayley’s adaptation of The Enchantment for Ghostlight on May 2.

As a whole, the (Re)Consideration series is about challenging the idea that anything outside the heteronormative, white male creative realm is in any way “revolutionary” or a product of recent culture.

“It’s not that they weren’t there, but they were either marginalized or they weren’t cultivated the way the mainstream gatekeepers cultivated [male playwrights],” Robison says. “It’s not just, ‘Well those are clearly masterpieces,’ I’m not going to argue that [male-produced] works aren’t masterpieces, but also who [else] didn’t get the cultivation? When you’re a playwright, you’re writing a play that you’re handing off to an ecosystem to create and develop, and if that doesn’t happen, your skill and your talent will not get cultivated.”

Women, people of color, and queer humans have been writing and creating since the dawn of time. And their work has always been revolutionary in its own way, even if the celebration of such is some 300 years delayed. v

Read More

They tested negative for the coronavirus but still have ‘long COVID’ symptomson April 12, 2021 at 8:51 pm

Kristin Novotny once led an active life, with regular CrossFit workouts, football in the front yard with her children and a job managing the kitchen at a middle school.

Now, the 33-year-old mother of two from De Pere, Wisconsin, has to rest after the simplest activities, even showering. Just having a conversation leaves her short of breath.

Novotny has been contending with these symptoms of a malady known as long COVID — including fatigue, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems, muscle and joint pain and neurological issues — despite having tested negative seven months ago for COVID-19.

Experts don’t know what causes long COVID or why some people have persistent symptoms while others recover in weeks or even days. They also don’t know just how long the condition — referred to formally by scientists as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC — lasts.

But people like Novotny who never tested positive for coronavirus — whether due to a lack of access to testing or a false-negative result — face difficulty getting treatment and disability benefits. Their cases aren’t always included in studies of long COVID despite their lingering symptoms. And, sometimes just as aggravating, many find that family, friends and even doctors have doubts they ever had COVID at all.

Novotny first became ill in August. She returned to work at the beginning of the school year, but her symptoms worsened. Months later, she couldn’t catch her breath at work. She went home and hasn’t been well enough to return.

“It is sad and frustrating being unable to work or play with my kids,” Novotny said. “My 9-year-old is afraid that, if I’m left alone, I will have a medical emergency, and no one will be here to help.”

Data about the frequency of false-negative COVID tests is limited. A study done at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, which focused on the time between exposure and testing, found a median false-negative rate of 20% three days after symptoms start. A small study in China, conducted early in the pandemic, found a high rate of negative tests even among people sick enough to be hospitalized. Given the dearth of long-hauler research, people dealing with lingering COVID symptoms have organized to study themselves.

Haphazard protocols for testing people in the United States, the delays and difficulties accessing tests and the poor quality of many of the tests left many people without proof they were infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nataline Lambert: “It’s great if someone can get a positive test, but many people who have COVID simply will never have one for a variety of different reasons,.”

“It’s great if someone can get a positive test, but many people who have COVID simply will never have one for a variety of different reasons,” said Natalie Lambert, an associate research professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine who is the director of research for the online COVID support group Survivor Corps.

Using computational analytics, Lambert has found that long-haulers face such a wide variety of symptoms that no single symptom is a good screening tool for whether they have COVID.

“If PCR tests are not always accurate or available at the right time, and it’s not always easy to diagnose based on someone’s initial symptoms, we really need to have a more flexible, expansive way of diagnosing for COVID based on clinical presentations,” Lambert said.

Dr. Bobbi Pritt: Can take as long as 14 days for symptoms to develop.
Dr. Bobbi Pritt: Can take as long as 14 days for symptoms to develop.
Mayo Clinic

Dr. Bobbi Pritt, chair of the division of clinical microbiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said four factors affect the accuracy of a diagnostic test:

  • When a person’s sample is collected.
  • Which part of the body it comes from.
  • The technique of the person collecting the sample.
  • Aand the test type.

“But if one of those four things isn’t correct,” Pritt said, “you could still have a false-negative result.”

Timing is one of the most nebulous elements in accurately detecting SARS-CoV-2. The body doesn’t become symptomatic immediately after exposure. It takes time for the virus to multiply. This incubation period tends to last four or five days before symptoms start for most people.

“But we’ve known that it can be as many as 14 days,” Pritt said.

Testing during that incubation period means there might not be enough detectable virus yet.

Dr. Yuka Manabe: Early testing doesn't always detect COVID even when a person is infected.
Dr. Yuka Manabe: Early testing doesn’t always detect COVID even when a person is infected.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

“Early on after infection, you may not see it because the person doesn’t have enough virus around for you to find,” said Dr. Yuka Manabe, an infectious disease expert who is a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Novotny woke up with symptoms on Aug. 14 and got a COVID test that day. Three days later — the same day her test result came back negative — she went to the hospital because of severe shortness of breath and chest pressure.

“The hospital chose not to test me due to test shortages and told me to presume positive,” Novotny said, adding that hospital staffers told her she likely tested too early and had a false negative.

As the virus leaves the body, it becomes undetectable. But patients might still have symptoms because their immune responses kicked in.

At that point, “You’re seeing more of an inflammatory phase of illness,” Manabe said.

An autoimmune response — in which the body’s defense system attacks its own healthy tissue — might be what’s behind persistent COVID symptoms, though small amounts of virus hiding in organs is another possible explanation.

Andrea Ceresa is nearing a year of long COVID and has gastrointestinal and neurological issues. When the 47-year-old from Branchburg, New Jersey, got sick last April, she had trouble getting a COVID test. Once she did, her result was negative.

Ceresa has seen so many doctors since then that she can’t keep them straight. She feels lucky to finally have found “fantastic” doctors, but she’s also seen some who didn’t believe her. One said it was all in her head. And after she waited two months to see a neurologist, she said he didn’t order any tests and told her to take vitamin B, leaving her “crying and devastated.”

“I think the negative test absolutely did that,” Ceresa said.

Among a growing number of doctors specifically treating patients with long COVID, positive test results aren’t vital. In the patient-led research, symptoms patients reported weren’t significantly different between those who tested positive and those who had negative tests.

Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez: initial test “not as important as the symptoms.”
UT Health San Antonio

Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, a rehabilitation and physical medicine doctor who leads UT Health San Antonio’s Post-COVID Recovery program in San Antonio, said about 12% of the patients she’s seen never had a positive COVID test.

“The initial test, to me, is not as important as the symptoms,” Gutierrez said.

She tells people “what’s done is done,” and, regardless of test status, “Now, we need to treat the outcome.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues.

Read More

Kanye, Kim Kardashian West agree on joint custody of kids in divorce caseon April 12, 2021 at 8:53 pm

LOS ANGELES — Kanye West agrees with Kim Kardashian West that they should have joint custody of their four children and neither of them need spousal support, according to new divorce documents.

West’s attorneys filed his response Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court to Kardashian West’s divorce filing seven weeks earlier, which began the process of ending their 6 1/2-year marriage.

West’s filing was virtually identical to Kardashian West’s original petition, agreeing that the marriage should end over irreconcilable differences, and that the two should share custody of their children: North, age 7, Saint, age 5, Chicago, age 3, and Psalm, who turns 2 next month.

And like Kardashian West’s filing, West’s asks that the court’s right to award spousal support to either person be terminated.

According to Kardashian West’s Feb. 19 petition, the two have a pre-nuptial agreement, and under it they kept their property separate throughout their marriage.

The divorce filings bring an impending end to one of the most followed celebrity unions in recent decades, between the 40-year-old reality TV superstar Kardashian West, and the 43-year-old rap and fashion mogul West.

It was the first marriage for West and the third for Kardashian West, who has not asked the court to change her name back to just Kardashian, though she may still do so during the divorce process.

Read More

Toddler shot on Lake Shore Drive making ‘slow but steady progress,’ moving extremities: doctoron April 12, 2021 at 9:07 pm

A 1-year-old boy who was shot on Lake Shore Drive last week continues to make “slow but steady progress” and has started to move his extremities, his doctor said Monday.

Kayden Swann remained on a ventilator at Lurie Children’s Hospital, but Dr. Marcelo Malakooti said his medical staff is “hopeful” that the toddler may be taken off the machine “at some point in the future.”

“The entire Pediatric Intensive Care Unit team, including nursing, social work, family services, respiratory therapists, physicians, and surgeons have provided the best care and support for Kayden and his entire family,” Malakooti said in a statement.

Though Kayden’s initial prognosis seemed grim, his health has gradually improved since the April 6 shooting. Doctors removed Kayden from a medically-induced coma Saturday.

Kayden was shot in the temple while he rode in the back seat of a car on Lake Shore Drive during an apparent road rage incident. The driver of an SUV shot at the car Kayden was traveling in while both vehicles traveled north, Cook County prosecutors said. The altercation started when the SUV tried to merge near Soldier Field and nearly struck the car Kayden was riding in, prosecutors said.

Contrary to initial police reports, there was no evidence, that Jushawn Brown — the driver in the car Kayden was in — fired his weapon or displayed it during the incident, prosecutors said.

After Kayden was shot, a bystander rushed him to Northwestern Hospital before he was transferred to Lurie.

Brown, 43, is out on bond for a felony gun charge in connection with the shooting.

Brown, of Englewood, is in relationship with Kayden’s grandmother, prosecutors said.

The driver of the SUV has not been taken into custody.

Read More

Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgunon April 12, 2021 at 9:30 pm

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death Sunday of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge.” It happened as police were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant. The shooting sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.

“I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage released at a news conference. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.

After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away, and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”

President Joe Biden urged calm on Monday, following a night where officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators. The president said he watched the body camera footage.

“We do know that the anger, pain and trauma amidst the Black community is real,” Biden said from the Oval Office. But, he added, that “does not justify violence and looting.”

Gannon said at a news conference that the officer made a mistake, and he released the body camera footage less than 24 hours after the shooting.

The footage showed three officers around a stopped car, which authorities said was pulled over because it had expired registration tags. When another officer attempts to handcuff Wright, a second officer tells Wright he’s being arrested on a warrant. That’s when the struggle begins, followed by the shooting. Then the car travels several blocks before striking another vehicle.

“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s command, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Gannon said. “This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”

A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash, authorities said. Katie Wright said that passenger was her son’s girlfriend.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said any decision on charges against the officer will be made by the Washington County attorney under an agreement adopted last year by several county prosecutors aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest. Freeman has been frequently criticized by activists in Minneapolis over his charging decisions involving deadly use of force by police.

Gannon would not name the officer or provide any other details about her, including her race, other than describing her as “very senior.” He would not say whether she would be fired following the investigation.

“I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning,” the chief said.

Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June. In that case, a statement of probable cause said police got a call about a man waving a gun who was later identified as Wright.”

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.

“All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said. During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying “Daunte, don’t run” before the call ended. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he had been shot.

People gather in protest on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minn. after the family of Daunte Wright, 20, said that he was shot by police.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole,” he said.

Wright’s family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in its $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis.

“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” Crump said in a statement. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color?”

Speaking before the unrest Sunday night, Wright’s mother urged protesters in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis, to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.

Biden referred to her comments on Monday, saying “we should listen to Daunte’s mom calling for peace and calm.” The president said he had not yet called the family but that his prayers were with them.

Shortly after the shooting, demonstrators began to gather, with some jumping atop police cars. Marchers also descended on the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers. About 20 businesses were broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center, authorities said.

To guard against more unrest, authorities accelerated security measures planned for when the Floyd case goes to the jury. The number of National Guard troops in the Minneapolis area was expected to double to more than 1,000 by Monday night.

Gov. Tim Walz announced a curfew from 7 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m. Tuesday for three counties that include Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis and the capital of St. Paul. The governor warned anyone who chooses to “exploit these tragedies” with violence “can rest assured that the largest police presence in Minnesota history” will be prepared to arrest law breakers.

At least a half-dozen businesses began boarding up their windows along Minneapolis’ Lake Street, the scene of some of the most intense violence after Floyd’s death. National Guard vehicles were deployed to a few major intersections, and a handful of soldiers in camouflage, some carrying assault-style weapons, could also be seen. Several professional sports teams in Minneapolis called off games because of safety concerns.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd’s death, continued Monday. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck. Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds. The judge in that case refused Monday to sequester the jury after a defense attorney argued that the panel could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict.


Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Tim Sullivan in Minneapolis and Jonathan Lemire in Washington contributed to this report.


Mohamed Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Read More

Police report multiple victims in Tennessee school shootingon April 12, 2021 at 9:32 pm

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Multiple people including a police officer were shot Monday at a high school in the east Tennessee city of Knoxville, authorities said, adding that the scene had been secured.

There was no immediate report on the exact number of people shot or the extent of the victims’ injuries.

The school was the subject of media reports in February after three students were shot to death over a three-week span. Those earlier shootings did not take place in the school, and administrators at the time said students felt the arts magnet school was a safe space, according to a story in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The Knoxville Police Department tweeted that authorities were at the site of the shooting at Austin-East Performing Arts Magnet High School. The online posting said a Knoxville Police Department officer was reported among the victims.

Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox County Schools, tweeted later Monday that a shooting had occurred but the building had been secured.

“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said. He added in a separate tweet that authorities were gathering information and about “this tragic situation” and that additional information would be provided later.

Police urged people to avoid the area, adding a reunification site had been set up on a baseball field behind the school for students to be reunited with family.

Details about the shooting remained sketchy and news outlets showed numerous police and emergency vehicles at the scene.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it was sending agents to the scene.

Gov. Bill Lee mentioned the shooting at a news conference but said he had little information. “I just wanted to make reference to that and ask, for those who are watching, online or otherwise, to pray for that situation and for the families and the victims that might be affected by that in our state,” he said.

Last week, the Republican governor signed off on legislation that would make Tennessee the latest state to soon allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed — without first clearing a background check and training. Lee backed the legislation over objections from law enforcement groups, who argued that the state’s existing permit system provided an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.

The law, which does not apply to long guns, will take effect July 1. The new measure also increases certain penalties. For example, theft of a firearm — now a misdemeanor that carries a 30-day sentence — will become a felony with a mandatory six month incarceration. It also makes exceptions for people with certain mental illnesses and criminal convictions.

When asked earlier this year whether recent mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado and others gave him any concern about timing, Lee has previously said the increased penalties mean that “we in fact will be strengthening laws that would help prevent gun crimes in the future.”

Read More

Silver Room owner to open Bronzeville Winery this summeron April 12, 2021 at 9:34 pm

Eric Williams, the owner of Hyde Park’s Silver Room, announced Monday that plans for a new venue may lift the spirits of South Siders — and foodies, alike.

Williams revealed plans to open Bronzeville Winery, which will be located in a new building development in the 4400 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue., he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Williams, who says the doors will open this summer, made the announcement Monday on the podcast “Randomly Selected” along with confirming the cancellation of the 2021 Silver Room Block Party and its possible move from the area for 2022.

The eatery that will specialize in comfort food.

“For me, it’s important we have a permanent, cultural space; it’s a sister restaurant concept to the Silver Room is how I can put it,” said Williams, a Bronzeville resident. “I’m excited about this neighborhood and what we can do around here, so that’s what I’ve been really focusing on also.”

Williams says the eatery space will include music, a full wine list, an on-site sommelier, and an outdoor patio seating about 70 guests.

— With the announcement Monday of the cancellation of the 2021 Silver Room Block Party — a staple on the calendar of many Black Chicagoans — Williams has shifted his focus to the eatery’s opening.

“Between the store and opening up this restaurant, I didn’t have the capacity to actually fill in this other event also,” said Williams. “And honestly, we still don’t know where things are going to be, and I know the city is trying to open things up but it is way too much uncertainty for me to say: ‘OK, things look better look now; let’s put this event together in two months.’ That’s impossible.”

Eric Williams, founder/owner of the Silver Room.
Eric Williams
Rohan Ayinde

Bronzeville Winery isn’t Williams’ first foray into the eatery space. In 2001, he started “Square One,” a Wicker Park-based restaurant, juice bar and magazine shop.

Williams says he wants South Siders to have the same amenities often seen downtown, in the West Loop and on the North Side.

“I live in Bronzeville, and we shouldn’t have to go out of our neighborhood to have quality spaces if we want to go out somewhere,” said Williams. “We need something in Bronzeville. … How can we create something now? That is what they had back in the day in some ways, and we need something today. Continuing the legacy of the history of the rich culture of Bronzeville is what I’m looking to do with this new stage.”

Read More

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate continues upward trend, could lead to stronger restrictions on businesses (LIVE UPDATES)on April 12, 2021 at 9:47 pm

The latest

Illinois’ COVID-19 positivity rate jumps to highest level since late January; 2,433 new cases

Officials on Monday announced that Illinois’ coronavirus test positivity rate has reached its highest point since late January, when a previous surge in cases was tapering off.

The seven-day positivity rate — a crucial figure for measuring the virus’ spread — jumped to 4.4% and continued an incremental upward trend that could lead officials to again place stronger restrictions on businesses. The statewide positivity rate had dipped to 2.1% on March 13.

Chicago’s numbers are even more alarming. On Monday, the Chicago Department of Public Health reported that the city’s positivity rate now sits at 5.6% — up from 5.1% just a week earlier.

Last week, CPDH spokesman Andrew Buchanan said that figure and other important metrics, including case numbers and hospital data, would factor into any decision to implement stronger mitigations and restrictions, including barring fans from baseball games.

The World Health Organization has advised governments that test positivity rates should remain at or below 5% for 14 days before reopening.

Read the full story from Tom Schuba here.


4:50 p.m. Suit against COVID-wracked nursing home can continue despite Pritzker’s immunity order

A lawsuit against a west suburban nursing home where 12 people died last year from coronavirus can go forward despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order last year granting privately owned nursing homes broad protection against being sued over COVID-19 illnesses, a federal judge has ruled.

Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center — which had 46 reported coronavirus cases last year — is being sued by the families of Rita Saunders and Lottie Smith, who contracted the virus while living there in March 2020.

Saunders, 64, was hospitalized March 23, 2020, and died about a week later.

Smith, 83, entered the hospital a day earlier and recovered. She says she suffered falls that the nursing home allowed to happen because she’d complained about conditions in the facility.

According to the lawsuit, Westchester knowingly exposed residents to employees who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The suit says nurses with symptoms of the illness were ordered to keep working, and the facility failed to provide them with personal protective equipment.

Westchester wanted a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit because the governor’s March 9, 2020, coronavirus disaster proclamation gave nursing homes immunity over negligence and didn’t create liability for “willful and wanton” misconduct.

But U.S. District Judge Manish Shah said the lawsuit can continue, quoting a Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found that “an immunity defense usually depends on the facts of the case.”

Read the full story from Frank Main here.

4:46 p.m. Luke Bryan tests positive for COVID-19, sidelined from ‘American Idol’

LOS ANGELES — Luke Bryan says he’s tested positive for COVID-19, which sidelined him from the season’s first live “American Idol” episode on ABC.

Paula Abdul, an original judge on the talent show when it aired on Fox, was announced as Bryan’s replacement for Monday’s show, joining Lionel Richie and Katy Perry on the panel.

“I’m sad to say I won’t be a part of tonight’s first live @AmericanIdol show,” Bryan tweeted earlier Monday. “I tested positive for COVID but I’m doing well and look forward to being back at it soon.”

Read the full story here.

2:23 p.m. CPS ‘firmly committed’ to reopening high schools next week despite CTU’s threat to stay remote

CTU members voted for high school teachers and staff to work remotely, starting Wednesday, if a reopening deal with Chicago Public Schools isn’t reached by then.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools officials say they are “firmly committed” to reopening high schools next week for the first time during the pandemic despite a plan by the Chicago Teachers Union to have high school teachers and staff work remotely Wednesday in an attempt to pressure the district into a reopening agreement.

The district has held “productive discussions with CTU leadership to ensure a smooth transition back for our students and staff,” and the two sides are working to reach an agreement “as soon as possible,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson and the district’s education chief, LaTanya McDade, wrote in a letter to high school families Monday.

“Over the weekend we made progress on a number of areas and have general alignment on topics including the scheduling models schools will use and safety protocols to keep students and staff safe in high school buildings,” they wrote.

“We have also agreed that high school staff will be able to work on Wednesdays, which is a remote day for all students, and we will work to support vaccinations for students when they are eligible and doses are available.”

The union’s House of Delegates, however, “told the leadership of the CTU in no uncertain terms that we’re not simply reopening schools without more progress at the bargaining table and without a return agreement in high schools,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey told reporters during a virtual news conference Monday.

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

1:42 p.m. Muslims navigate restrictions in the second pandemic Ramadan

CAIRO — For Ramadan this year, Magdy Hafez has been longing to reclaim a cherished ritual: performing the nighttime group prayers called taraweeh at the mosque once again.

Last year, the coronavirus upended the 68-year-old Egyptian’s routine of going to the mosque to perform those prayers, traditional during Islam’s holiest month. The pandemic had disrupted Islamic worship the world over, including in Egypt where mosques were closed to worshippers last Ramadan.

“I have been going to the mosque for 40 years so it was definitely a very, very, difficult thing,” he said. “But our religion orders us to protect one another.”

Still, “It’s a whole other feeling, and the spirituality in Ramadan is like nothing else.”

Egypt has since allowed most mosques to reopen for Friday communal prayers and for this Ramadan it will let them hold taraweeh, also with precautions, including shortening its duration.

Read the full story here.

12:35 p.m. US colleges divided over requiring student vaccinations

BOSTON — U.S. colleges hoping for a return to normalcy next fall are weighing how far they should go in urging students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including whether they should — or legally can — require it.

Universities including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern recently told students they must get vaccinated before returning to campus next fall. They hope to achieve herd immunity on campus, which they say would allow them to loosen spacing restrictions in classrooms and dorms.

But some colleges are leaving the decision to students, and others believe they can’t legally require vaccinations. At Virginia Tech, officials determined that they can’t because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only allowed the emergency use of the vaccines and hasn’t given them its full approval.

The question looms large as more colleges plan to shift back from remote to in-person instruction. Many schools have launched vaccination blitzes to get students immunized before they leave for the summer. At some schools, the added requirement is meant to encourage holdouts and to build confidence that students and faculty will be safe on campus.

“It takes away any ambiguity about whether individuals should be vaccinated,” said Kenneth Henderson, the chancellor of Northeastern University in Boston. “It also provides a level of confidence for the entire community that we are taking all appropriate measures.”

Read the full story here.

9:14 a.m. CTU members vote to work remotely starting Wednesday if high school reopening agreement isn’t reached

With thousands of high school students expected to return to the classroom next week for the first time in over a year, the Chicago Teachers Union is putting pressure on Chicago Public Schools to finalize a reopening agreement early this week.

CTU members Sunday voted for high school teachers and staff to work remotely, starting Wednesday, if a reopening deal with Chicago Public Schools isn’t reached by then, the union said in a statement.

CPS officials have directed 5,350 high school teachers to return to buildings Monday with or without an agreement in preparation for about 26,000 students in grades 9-12 to resume in-person learning next week.

Teachers and staff are planning to honor that request and report in-person Monday and Tuesday while CPS and CTU officials work to solidify a final high school reopening agreement, sources said. That means that staff will be present when juniors at some high schools are scheduled to take the SAT in person Tuesday.

But if a deal isn’t struck or there isn’t “adequate movement at the table” by Wednesday, high school teachers and staff will begin to work remotely, the union said.

Keep reading the story from Nader Issa and Madeline Kenney here.

8:21 a.m. After Kamala Harris visit, business jumps at Brown Sugar Bakery on Chicago’s South Side

Vice President Kamala Harris chats with the staff of Brown Sugar Bakery as she receives a piece of German Chocolate Cake on April 6.

Since Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Brown Sugar Bakery on the South Side last Tuesday to throw a spotlight on small Black female-owned businesses, in-store retail sales jumped 21% overall and online sales increased 88%, according to owner Stephanie Hart.

Harris made a brief stop outside the bakery at 328 E. 75th en route back to Midway Airport after she toured a COVID-19 vaccination center at 2260 S. Grove St., organized by the Chicago Federation of Labor.

She picked up a slice of German chocolate cake – her favorite – and the bakery staff presented her with two trays of caramel, strawberry and lemon cupcakes.

Something meaningful happened as a result of those few minutes. It resulted in a real time positive economic impact for a business that had to shut down for a few months last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read Lynn Sweet’s full story here.

New cases and vaccination numbers

Read More

Chicago Blackhawks: Grading four trades made on deadline dayVincent Pariseon April 12, 2021 at 9:20 pm

The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the most active teams in the week leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline. They made two moves with the Florida Panthers that led to them improving their depth going into the rest of the season and potentially beyond. It set the tone for what was going to come […]

Chicago Blackhawks: Grading four trades made on deadline dayDa Windy CityDa Windy City – A Chicago Sports Site – Bears, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Fighting Illini & More

Read More