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Members of the National Guard patrol the area outside of the U.S. Capitol on the third day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Jose Luis Magana

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Did Dems Win Any New Votes To Convict Trump?

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and not even my dog, Princess Leia, wants to go outside in the snow right now. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. Did impeachment managers sway any Republicans?

House impeachment managers wrapped up their case against former President Donald Trump after spending much of the day focusing on how many rioters said — in video clips, court documents and media interviews — that they believed they were acting on the president’s orders.

“We were invited here,” screamed one insurrectionist in a clip played today before senators.

Impeachment managers also warned there would be consequences should Trump run for president again.

“I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. “I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.”

Tomorrow, Trump’s lawyers will make their presentation. [NPR]

At least 17 Republicans would need to join Democrats in convicting Trump. The Washington Post created this guide on where senators stand. So far, 37 Republicans oppose a conviction while 12 say they are open to the idea. [WaPo]

2. White House has secured 200 million additional vaccine doses

President Joe Biden will announce that his administration has signed a deal for the additional doses, according to The Washington Post. Last month, Biden signaled he was looking to secure 100 millions doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million from Moderna.

Biden is expected to announce the deal this afternoon as he tours the National Institutes of Health. [WaPo]

Earlier today, Dr. Anthony Fauci sounded optimistic about the nation’s vaccination efforts, saying that it could be “open season” for vaccines as soon as April. He also predicted that a majority of people in the U.S. could be vaccinated by late summer. [Chicago Tribune]

In a separate interview with ProPublica, Fauci said vaccines for children as young as first graders could be authorized by September. [ProPublica]

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that Trump was sicker with COVID-19 last fall than previously disclosed. At one point, officials thought he would need to be put on a ventilator. [NYT]

In Illinois, officials today reported the first local case of a virus variant that first emerged in South Africa. Scientists say that variant is more contagious and may be more resistant to vaccines. [Chicago Tribune]

In Britain, the head of the nation’s genomic surveillance program says a highly contagious virus variant first discovered in the U.K. is on course to “sweep the world.” [BBC]

And in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that virus variants could “destroy any success” in containing the coronavirus. [NPR]

3. The U.S. saw another week of high jobless claims, but economists begin to see glimmers of hope

The Labor Department today reported that 793,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week.

That’s an extremely high number of claims, but it’s also a decrease from the previous week’s 812,000. And it comes as the number of coronavirus cases fall throughout the country.

Gus Faucher, a chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, told CNBC that while the labor market remains fragile, hiring could pick up steam in the spring as more people receive vaccines. [CNBC]

Julia Pollak, a labor economist with ZipRecruiter, told The New York Times that she’s seeing an increase in online job postings. There are 11.3 million job postings on ZipRecruiter, close to the 11.4 million before the pandemic hit, she says. [NYT]

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the real U.S. unemployment rate is closer to 10% instead of 6.3%.

“We are still very far from a strong labor market whose benefits are broadly shared,” Powell said this week. [NBC News]

4. New Illinois House speaker previously favored locking in ComEd’s controversial formula for rate hikes

Before he became House speaker this year, state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch favored a long-term extension of ComEd’s soon-to-expire and highly lucrative ratemaking template, reports WBEZ’s Dave McKinney. Those rates were created in a 2011 bill that federal prosecutors have tied to ComEd’s long-running Springfield bribery scheme.

A spokesman for the speaker insisted that locking in ComEd’s manner of setting electricity rates isn’t a priority for him at the moment. But those assurances aren’t calming concerns from consumer advocacy groups who say the formula rates have cost residential and business consumers nearly $5 billion since 2012.

“I think the perception — and we don’t know if it’s the reality — is that it seems like it’s business as usual between ComEd and the Illinois General Assembly, and hopefully that’s not the case,” said Robert Gallo, state director for Illinois AARP. [WBEZ]

5. Chicago Police Department strips pay for police union president

John Catanzara, the controversial Fraternal Order of Police president representing Chicago’s rank and file officers, was stripped of pay for 30 days ahead of a hearing later this month that could result in him being fired from the Chicago Police Department.

Police Superintendent David Brown has already recommended that Catanzara be booted from the force for a long list of violations, including filing a false police report against former top cop Eddie Johnson and posting incendiary comments on social media.

In a Facebook post from 2017, Catanzara wrote of Muslims: “Savages they all deserve a bullet,” according to the Chicago Police Board.

The board, which decides disciplinary action against officers, is expected to begin hearing the case against Catanzara on Feb. 23. Catanzara says he can still remain as union president if he were fired from the Police Department. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Northwestern University is reconsidering a contract with Uline. It comes after WBEZ reported the company’s CEO contributed more than $4 million to a group tied to a Jan. 6 rally before the deadly Capitol attack. [Daily Northwestern]
  • A former Chicago police officer accused of attacking his colleagues will join the Chicago Fire Department next week. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Leaders of the Lincoln Project, a conservative anti-Trump group, were warned last year about sexual harassment complaints against a co-founder, The Associated Press reports. [AP]
  • Action star Gina Carano was fired from The Mandalorian after comparing the current political climate to Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

This week’s Curious City reminds me of Better Call Saul. A listener wrote into the show asking why there are so many billboards for lawyers along Interstates 90 and 94 in south suburban Chicago and across the Indiana border.

So the Curious City team hit the road and counted 98 billboards representing 24 different law firms in that area. What’s the deal? Attorneys and advertising experts said it involves everything from the effectiveness of billboard ads to the types of clients these lawyers are trying to reach. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

What is something you miss about going to school or college?

Joe Stroming writes:

“I studied architecture at UIUC. In our design studio classes, we would have projects that required a lot of time to execute. Almost everyone would be in the studio for an all nighter before the project was due. The silliness that would ensue and the camaraderie that was enjoyed cannot be repeated in the working world.”

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your responses might be shared here this week.

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