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Michelle Obama is interviewed by two Hyde Park Academy High School students, Zaida Soumanou and Micaela Turner, in a surprise visit to the school on Oct. 17, 2022.

The Obama Foundation/The Obama Foundation

The Rundown: Michelle Obama’s advice

Good afternoon! I just filed out my student loan forgiveness form, but this doesn’t mean drinks will be on me. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Michelle Obama, surprising students at a Chicago high school, gives advice about the current political climate

Students at Hyde Park Academy were likely not expecting to see former first lady Michelle Obama stop by this week.

Obama, who grew up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, had a message for the students: “I was you.”

“I’m from the same neighborhood, same background, same kind of parents, same dreams and same insecurities,” Obama said. “If I can be here, there is no reason you can’t be anything you can imagine.”

But she also shared advice on the nation’s current state of politics, saying some candidates are banking on people not paying attention.

“They have an agenda that has nothing to do with you,” she said. “They are about to build a country that X’s you out of it because they don’t even know you all exist. So you guys have to be awake.” [WBEZ]

2. Biden vows to make codifying abortion rights a priority if Democrats expand their majorities in Congress

President Joe Biden today said the first bill he’d send Congress next year would be one that codifies Roe v. Wade — if Democrats expand their majorities.

That’s a big if. Democrats face an uphill battle in growing their numbers, especially in the House, where Republicans are aiming to take the speaker’s gavel.

And a poll out this week from The New York Times and Siena College found voters were more concerned about the economy than abortion rights. [NYT]

In Illinois, more than half of voters want abortion to remain legal, according to a WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times poll. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, a “covert” abortion network has emerged with “a growing army of activists is funneling pills from Mexico into states that have banned abortion,” reports The Washington Post. [WaPo]

3. Pritzker holds a 22-point lead over Bailey in the governor’s race, a new poll finds

Gov. JB Pritzker leads GOP nominee Darren Bailey 49.7% to 27.7% in the Nov. 8 election for governor, according to a new poll from the Illinois Broadcasters Association and Research America, Inc.

The news comes after a WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times poll showed Pritzker with a 15-point lead over Bailey — 49% to 34%.

But Bailey’s campaign told NBC 5 that internal polls show the Republican nominee is just two points behind Pritzker.

“It coincides with the national environment getting better for Republicans,” Mark Harris, a strategist for Bailey, told NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern.

The Pritzker campaign said Bailey’s poll is “junk.” [NBC 5]

4. Ghost buses and trains still haunt Chicago despite a promised fix

Hello, boils and ghouls! Gather around for a spooky tale of a bus that never arrives. I call it: “The Ghost Bus To Nowhere — Fast!”

Sorry, every time I see a new story about ghost buses and trains, I immediately think of Tales from the Crypt.

The Chicago Transit Authority still faces criticism of unreliable service two months after it announced a “Meeting the Moment” plan, raising questions over whether the transit agency will, um, meet the moment, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The fact is, the amount of ghost trains and complaints of ghost buses have remained the same since that plan was announced,” said Micah Fiedler, an organizer for a group of fed up riders, Commuters Take Action.

Fiedler said about 2,500 complaints about buses have been reported to the group since CTA’s plan was released. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Concerned about another COVID wave during the holidays? Here’s some advice on how to plan.

Many health experts say another surge of COVID-19 could hit the U.S. this winter, as the number of Americans rolling up their sleeves for an updated vaccine remains pretty low.

The New York Times compiled some practical advice for people who plan on traveling this holiday season and want to avoid getting ill.

Getting a booster of the new vaccine — reformulated to better provide protection against omicron variants — is a good first step. Another piece of advice is to “plan around the highest-risk member of your family.” [New York Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Seventy-one percent of voters said democracy was at risk, but only 7% said it was the most important issue for the nation, according to a new poll. [New York Times]
  • Some GOP officials want to narrow who counts as Black in voting maps. [NPR]
  • More than 184,000 people applied for Cook County’s basic income pilot program. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Acclaimed artist and poet Fatimah Asghar talks about why Chicago is their “chosen home.” [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

I don’t know if this happens to you, but every time I go outside in the summer, I feel like mosquitos are directly targeting me.

Some people may be “mosquito magnets” because of the way they smell, according to a new study.

Researchers “found that people who are most attractive to mosquitoes produce a lot of certain chemicals on their skin that are tied to smell,” The Associated Press reports. “And bad news for mosquito magnets: The bloodsuckers stay loyal to their favorites over time.” [AP]

Tell me something good ...

The weather is getting colder. What are some of your favorite treats to help you mentally cope as we plow through winter?

Linda B. writes:

“I roasted a chicken Sunday, stuffed and smothered with herbs, on a bed of root vegetables. The hot oven warmed the place, and the fragrance was almost as good as the taste.”

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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