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Police tape marks off a Chicago street as officers investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in the city’s South Side on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

Teresa Crawford/AP

The Rundown: Fatal shootouts put felony reforms into question

Good afternoon! It’s Thursday, and Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum back together for a new Jurassic Park movie? Yes please! Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Two men accused of starting deadly shootouts in Chicago won’t be charged with murder because of state felony reforms, prosecutors say

Reforms to Illinois’ felony murder law are coming under question after Cook County prosecutors twice this week cited them as the reason for not charging two men with murder, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Both cases involve men who are accused of starting separate shootouts in Chicago that resulted in someone dying.

In one of the cases, a Cook County prosecutor told a judge that the defendant would have faced first-degree murder charges in July of 2021, before reforms contained in the SAFE-T Act went into effect.

The SAFE-T Act “more narrowly defines who can be charged with first-degree murder in Illinois, requiring the person be directly responsible for the death,” the Sun-Times reports.

State Republicans are now calling for repealing the legislation, saying it is allowing people to get away with murder. But supporters say that’s not true because both men could spend more than a decade in prison if they are convicted. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Members of Chicago’s City Council want mask and vax mandates lifted by Friday

A group of 11 City Council members are asking the city’s top public health official to end mask and vaccination requirements for restaurants, bars and other businesses by the end of the week, reports Block Club Chicago.

The council members argue it would help businesses and residents celebrate the upcoming Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. But health officials say they can’t lift the requirements before the state does.

The group includes some of the more conservative voices on the council, as well as those who represent neighborhoods home to many city workers.

They are Alds. Anthony Beale (9th), Marty Quinn (13th), Ed Burke (14th), Raymond Lopez (15th), Derrick Curtis (18th), Matt O’Shea (19th), Silvana Tabares (23rd), Nicholas Sposato (38th), Samantha Nugent (39th), Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Jim Gardiner (45th).

City officials say they will end mask and vaccination requirements for most indoor places by the end of the month if COVID-19 infections continue to decline. [Block Club Chicago]

3. Federal immigration agents can no longer make traffic stops and warrantless arrests

Federal agents cannot enforce local traffic laws and arrest undocumented immigrants without a warrant, according to a settlement reached this week between the federal government and Chicago-based advocacy groups.

The settlement stems from a 2018 lawsuit filed on behalf of five undocumented immigrants detained without an arrest warrant. The lawsuit alleged that agents racially profiled undocumented immigrants driving in Latino neighborhoods or near construction sites in Chicago and the suburbs.

Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has agreed to issue nationwide policy that will restrict its agents from detaining undocumented immigrants without a warrant during traffic stops. [WBEZ]

4. Reports of a Russian doping scandal hit the Winter Olympics

Medalists in team figure skating still haven’t received their prizes at the Beijing Olympics, and officials are currently only saying a “legal issue” has delayed the ceremony.

But Russian media reports that one of the athletes for the Russian Olympic Committee failed a doping test. The athlete in question is Kamila Valieva, who made history by landing two quadruple jumps and helping the team win gold.

The reports say Valieva tested positive for a heart drug called trimetazidine, which can boost athletes’ endurance and blood efficiency. Russian media outlets report that Valieva submitted the sample in question before winning last month’s European championship. [NPR]

Meanwhile, American figure skater Nathan Chen won his first Olympic Gold medal. [NPR]

And U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim won a second straight halfpipe gold medal. [NPR]

5. The future of the Chicago Reader appears to be in jeopardy

A plan to turn Chicago’s premier alternative weekly into a nonprofit has stalled “amid a tussle over editorial control at the 50-year-old publication,” reports Crain’s Chicago Business.

The problem traces back to a controversial column published by the Chicago Reader that questioned COVID-19 vaccinations for kids. The column was written by Leonard C. Goodman, an investor and co-owner, and the Reader hired a fact-checker to review the column after readers and staff members complained, Crain’s reports.

Now, two members of the board overseeing the Reader want the publication to agree to several demands before it becomes a nonprofit, including a mission statement that “abhors censorship of any kind.”

“I am saddened that the editorial independence issues are what is at the heart of this dispute,” Reader co-publisher Tracy Baim told Crain’s. “I stand by my editors and their attempts to do their jobs without outside interference.” [Crain’s]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack discovered gaps in the official White House call logs from that day. [New York Times]
  • Inflation hit another 40-year high. [NPR]
  • Protests in Ottawa over vaccine mandates are causing automakers to close production lines. [New York Times]
  • Chicago Public Schools released its calendar for the next academic year. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

When President Donald Trump was in office, White House residence staff periodically found wads of printed paper clogging the toilet and believed the president was trying to flush pieces of paper, according to an upcoming book from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

The news comes as the National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of government records. The archive says records improperly made their way to the former president’s private Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.

Among the documents retrieved from the club were the infamous “love letters” Trump received from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Habberman reports Trump remains in contact with the leader. [Axios]

Tell me something good ...

NPR asked an interesting question this week: Which great books by Black authors should be brought to the screen? And I’d like to know what you think.

Heather Worley writes:

“I would like to see Zone One by Colson Whitehead. It’s such a great action story with a strong philosophical reflection on society. It would cost a fortune and be worth every penny!”

And Carol Hofer writes:

“As an elementary teacher, I would love to see the Dyamonde Daniel book series by Nikki Grimes on the screen — either animated or live. Even if that doesn’t happen, this series should be available to more kids — the characters are entertaining yet very real.”

What books from a Black author would you like to see turned into a movie? Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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