Chicago crime increases as Kim Foxx under fire for being soft on crime

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Chicago crime frustrations mount against State’s Attorney Kim Foxx as ‘mass exodus’ continues: source
  • More than 235 people have resigned from Kim Foxx’s office since July 2021
  • “Basically, the prosecutor is the one who’s carrying the ball on behalf of the victim of a crime,” the former criminal court judge explained. “And [Foxx] is de-emphasizing the treatment of victims by handing out ridiculous sentences.”
  • Violent crime — including burglary, robbery, theft and motor vehicle theft — is also up 37%
  • Critics have voiced concern over the 2023 Illinois Safe-T Act, set to take effect Jan. 1, which aims to eliminate cash bail and detain criminals only if “the defendant poses a specific, real and present threat to a person, or has a high likelihood of willful flight,” and implement police reform measures.

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More violence rocks Chicago, New Beginnings Pastor says it’s because there’s no economic vitality

Matthew 5:10 ““Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Gun violence in Chicago’s South Side driven by poverty, pastor says
  • Chicago has seen 334 murder in 2022, while crime complaints are up 34% compared to 2021
  • Violence is a fruit of something, not a root of something,” New Beginnings Church Pastor TJ Grooms said. “The root is that there is no economic vitality.”
  • “People are struggling financially,” Grooms continued. “And when you struggle financially, when you are living in an area that does not have what it needs to, not just survive, but to thrive, people begin to do things such as shoot, steal, rob, murder, kill.”

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Chicago reels from more shootings over the weekend

Romans 12:17-21 “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Important Takeaways:

  • 19 Shot, One Killed, During Weekend in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago
  • Breitbart News reported that 17 people were shot, three of them fatally, during the weekend of March 25-27, 2022, in Lightfoot’s Chicago.
  • Twenty-two were shot, four fatally, during the weekend of March 18-20, 2022.
  • WTTW notes Chicago witnessed 178 shootings in March 2022 and a total of 37 homicides.

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Major cities see spike in crime

Mark 13:12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Carjackings soar by up to 510% in major US cities: Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans are all experiencing ‘disturbing’ spikes in crime
  • Critics are blaming a rise in violent car takeovers on lax punishment for offenders, and Covid-era changes in driving habits
  • Last November, Chicago’s top cop revealed that an 11-year-old boy is believed to have committed several of the vehicular hijackings
  • In Chicago, 1,849 carjackings were reported last year – a 510 per cent increase from the 303 vehicular hijackings in 2014, according to city data.
  • Meantime, New York City has seen carjacking rising by more than 350 per cent in the past three years, to 510 in 2021.
  • Philadelphia, which reported 750 carjackings last year, a 34 per cent year-over-year increase
  • The numbers are also moving in the wrong direction in New Orleans, which saw its most marked jump when cases hit 278 in 2020, a 104 per cent increase from 2019, NOLA.com reported.

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Thunderstorms batter Chicago area, leave thousands in the dark

(Reuters) -Severe thunderstorms tore through the Chicago area on Sunday night after the National Weather Service said a “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” had touched down in a western suburb of the city, causing damage.

Chicago-area utility Commonwealth Edison’s (ComEd) website showed that more than 22,000 customers were without power as the thunderstorms swept through the region, near Lake Michigan in the north of the U.S. state of Illinois.

The tornado touched down near Route 53/75th Street in Woodridge, DuPage County, around 11 p.m. ET on Sunday. About a dozen homes were damaged, and four people were rushed to area hospitals with minor injuries, CBS Chicago reported.

A CBS Chicago reporter tweeted that six people were injured in total and some residents were evacuated to nearby shelters. The news outlet added that there were no fires, but there were lots of gas breaches.

Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said that anyone who was displaced from their homes could go to Ranchview Elementary School, which was designated as a place of shelter, according to CBS Chicago.

The website of ComEd, a unit of Exelon Corp, showed about 12,000 customers were without power in DuPage County alone while about 8,000 customers were in the dark in Cook County, which includes Chicago.

“The severe threat has diminished/ended for most of the Chicago metro area. Severe T-storm Watch remains in effect for a bit longer for Will, Kankakee, Ford, Iroquois, and northwest Indiana counties,” NWS Chicago said on TwitterQ.

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Heinrich)

Ford outlines further production cuts due to global chip shortage

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co on Wednesday outlined another series of plant shutdowns due to the global semiconductor chip shortage, with five facilities in the United States and one in Turkey affected.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker did not outline how many vehicles would be lost in the latest actions, and reiterated it intends to provide an update of the financial impact of the chip shortage at its quarterly earnings on April 28.

The firm this month announced production cuts at plants in Chicago, Flat Rock, Michigan, and Kansas City, as well as implementing a reduced schedule at its Ohio Assembly Plant, the latest in a string of chip-related curtailments.

Ford said in March it expected the semiconductor shortage to cost between $1 billion and $2.5 billion.

The company said in addition to the chip shortage, other factors driving the shutdowns included the previously reported fire at Renesas Electronics Corp’s chip-making factory in Japan, and prior severe winter storms in Texas.

Industry officials have previously said the shortage would be worse in the second quarter than in the first.

It was not clear if supplies would recover in the third quarter and whether automakers could make up all the lost production later this year.

Many North American automakers cancelled chip orders after plants were shut for two months during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, while demand surged from the consumer electronics industry as people worked from home and played video games.

That has now left carmakers competing for chips.

Semiconductors are used extensively in cars, including to monitor engine performance, manage steering or automatic windows, and in sensors used in parking and entertainment systems.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Chris Reese and Jan Harvey)

Chicago school district cancels some in-person classes as labor dispute flares

By Brendan O’Brien

CHICAGO (Reuters) – In-person classes in Chicago for pre-kindergarten and special education students were canceled again on Thursday as a labor dispute between teachers and school officials over the district’s COVID-19 safety plan remained unresolved.

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), representing 28,000 public school educators, has been locked in negotiations with Chicago Public Schools for months over a plan to gradually reopen schools for in-person learning, including pandemic-related safety protocols.

With the nation’s third-largest school district aiming to reopen in-person classes for some elementary and middle students on Monday, the two sides have yet to come to an agreement. Rank and file members voted last week 71% in favor of staying remote and not going back into their schools until their demands are met.

Elementary and middle school teachers were due to report in person on Wednesday to prepare for Monday’s reopening, but only about a third of them showed up, the district said. It was uncertain how many reported to classrooms on Thursday.

“I am protesting the inequitable and unfair treatment of teachers, staff and scholars by CPS,” said Dwayne Reed, a fourth and firth grade teacher on the city’s South Side, who has not been in his classroom this week.

Earlier, CTU had warned that teachers will be ready to picket if the district disciplined any of those who failed to report to work on Wednesday.

In all, about 67,000 elementary and middle school students remain on the list to take at least some of their classes in-person, down from 77,000 who initially signed up for the option, according to CPS.

Similar labor disputes have unfolded across the country, pitting teacher unions against district officials over conditions for reopening, almost a year after the virus shut down schools for 50 million students nationwide.

The teachers’ union in Chicago says classrooms lack proper ventilation and that the district has failed to provide cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment. The district says ventilation meets industry standards for classroom learning and that it would provide schools with adequate PPE.

The union has urged school and city officials to move quickly to vaccinate teachers. Inoculations are expected to begin in mid-February.

The district said on Wednesday in its latest proposal that it has offered to make accommodations for those teachers who have family members with medical conditions, and that it has expanded testing and prioritized vaccines for staff working in the hard-hit areas of the city.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Chicagoans told to stay home, Detroit moves school online as COVID-19 cases surge

By Brendan O’Brien and Maria Caspani

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago issued a stay-at-home advisory and Detroit stopped in-person schooling on Thursday to staunch the coronavirus outbreak as more than a dozen states reported a doubling of new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

Officials in the Midwestern cities along with New York, California, Iowa and other states were re-imposing this week restrictions that had been eased in recent months. The moves were driven by surging infection rates and concern that the onset of winter, when people are more likely to gather indoors, will worsen the trends.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday issued a 30-day advisory calling upon residents to stay at home and have no visitors, even during Thanksgiving festivities. The third- largest city in the United States could see 1,000 more COVID-19 deaths by the end of 2020 if residents do not change behaviors to stop the spread of the virus, Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot set a 10-person limit on gatherings, including indoor and outdoor events, and said travelers from out of the state needed to quarantine for 14 days or submit a negative coronavirus test.

“None of us can keep maintaining the status quo in the face of this very stark reality,” the mayor told reporters, noting the average number of cases have gone from 500 to 1,900 per day over the last month and the city’s positivity rate shot up to 15% from 5%.

Illinois has emerged as the pandemic’s new epicenter in the region as well as across the country. In the past two weeks, the state reported about 130,000 cases, the highest in the country and more than hard-hit Texas and California.

A Reuters tally showed coronavirus cases more than doubling in 13 states in the past two weeks.

In Michigan, the Detroit public school system – the state’s largest – said on Thursday it would suspend of in-person education until Jan. 11, with the infection rate in the city rising rapidly. The district will hold all classes online starting Monday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that the country’s largest school system was preparing for a possible shutdown but closure might still be averted.

“We’re not there yet, and let’s pray we don’t get there,” de Blasio told reporters. De Blasio has said schools will close if the percentage of city residents testing positive, now at a seven-day average of 2.6%, surpasses 3%.

Total COVID-19 cases across the United States hit an all-time daily high for a second day in a row on Wednesday at 142,279 and crossed the 100,000 mark for an eighth consecutive day, Reuters data showed.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus surged to at least 64,939 by late Wednesday, the highest ever for a single day during the pandemic, increasing by more than 41% in the past two weeks. The death toll rose by 1,464 to a total of 241,809.

Vaccine developers have offered some good news this week, with Pfizer and BioNTech trumpeting successful early data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

Health experts are hopeful that a vaccine might become available in the coming months for the most vulnerable populations and for healthcare providers.

But with a more lengthy timeline for the general public, many are urging strict adherence to well-known virus mitigation measures like wearing a face covering, washing hands and maintaining a safe social distance.

“We hope that by the time you get into the second quarter, end of April, early May, May-June – somewhere around that time, the ordinary citizen should be able to get it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. health official, told the ABC “Good Morning America” program on Thursday.

“What we need to do is what we’ve been talking about for some time now but really doubling down on it.”

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York and Anurag Maan in Bengaluru and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman)

Chicago mayor loosens COVID-related capacity restrictions for businesses including bars, restaurants

(Reuters) – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday loosened COVID-19-related capacity restrictions for businesses such as bars, restaurants and health clubs, a move that will go into effect later this week.

The new guidelines, which will take effect on Thursday, will increase indoor capacity to 40% for certain businesses, reopen bars for indoor service and increase maximum group sizes for fitness classes and after-school programming, a statement from the mayor’s office said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Government health experts warn U.S. cities of ‘trouble ahead’

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House health experts are warning of an uptick in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in U.S. cities including Boston, Chicago and Washington, urging local leaders to maintain health safety measures to avoid a surge.

“This is a predictor of trouble ahead,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday.

Fauci was asked on CNN about comments made by his White House coronavirus task force colleague, Dr. Deborah Birx, identifying new areas of concern in major cities, even as authorities see encouraging signs across the South.

Baltimore and Atlanta remain at a “very high level,” as well as Kansas City, Portland, Omaha and California’s Central Valley, Birx told state and local officials in a telephone call Wednesday. A recording of the call was obtained by the journalism nonprofit Center for Public Integrity.

White House data shows small increases in the percentage of positive COVID-10 tests in Chicago, Boston and Detroit and those places need to “get on top of it”, Birx said.

Even in cities and states where most people are doing things right, Fauci said, a segment of people not wearing masks or following social distancing remains vulnerable to infection and can keep the virus smoldering in U.S. communities.

“Unless everybody pulls together, and gets the level way down over baseline, we’re going to continue to see these kind of increases that Dr. Birx was talking about in several of those cities,” Fauci said.

White House coronavirus experts have in recent days sent regular warnings to cities and states not to relax anti-coronavirus measures too much before the virus is under sufficient control.

On average, 1,000 people are dying each day nationwide from COVID-19. The U.S. death toll is now over 157,000, with 4.8 million known cases.

President Donald Trump, in contrast, has played down the staying power of the virus, saying on Wednesday “it will go away like things go away” as he urged U.S. schools to reopen on time for face-to-face lessons.

Trump also said children are “almost immune” from COVID-19, prompting Facebook Inc on Wednesday to take down a post by the Republican president containing a Fox News video clip in which he made the statement. Facebook said it violated its rules against sharing misinformation about the virus.

Chicago’s mayor said on Wednesday that school would be online-only in September, after the teachers’ union and many parents in the city objected to a plan to allow students the option of attending class twice a week in pods of 15.

Chicago is the third-largest school district in the United States behind New York and Los Angeles, with 350,000 students.

Los Angeles has already announced that students will be kept home, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he expects to have children attend classes part of the time.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Philippa Fletcher)