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A video of former President Donald Trump is shown on a screen, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its final meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022.

A video of former President Donald Trump is shown on a screen, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its final meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Monday.

J. Scott Applewhite

The Rundown: The criminal referrals against Trump

Hey there! Happy Hanukkah! I hope your celebrations with friends and family provide a bright spot during this cold week. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. The Jan. 6 committee voted to refer criminal charges against Trump

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection today voted to refer four criminal charges against former President Donald Trump: insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to make a false statement, reports NPR.

The referrals will be sent to the Justice Department, which will decide whether or not to prosecute Trump.

As NPR reports, the referrals are largely symbolic, do not carry any legal weight and do not compel the Justice Department to act.

But it is the first time in American history that Congress has made such referrals against a former president. [NPR]

2. Vigils held at Benito Juarez High School as police say they have no new leads on Friday’s deadly shooting

Students at the Pilsen high school today walked out and held a nearby vigil to “support the students and families of the Benito Juarez community,” according to a flier. A second, candlelight vigil was held a few hours later.

Chicago police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect, releasing grainy surveillance images of someone dressed in all black and running from the school.

Four people were shot, two fatally, in the Friday attack shortly after classes were dismissed. Those killed were Nathan Billegas, 14, and Brandon Perez, 15.

“This attack marks the third fatal shooting this year during dismissal outside a Chicago public high school,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

“At least 37 children 15 and younger have been killed in Chicago this year,” the newspaper reports. “They are among at least 672 homicides recorded in the city this year.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Los Angeles embarks on an ambitious plan to tackle homelessness

Many Chicago residents say they are concerned about homelessness, an issue that can be seen firsthand along Lake Michigan, where encampments have grown over the years.

NPR takes a look at what’s going on in Los Angeles, where newly sworn-in Mayor Karen Bass has declared a state of emergency over homelessness.

One of her big initiatives to help the unhoused is expected to launch tomorrow, reports NPR.

This plan, called “Inside Safe,” aims to encourage the homeless to move out of tents on streets and into hotel and motel rooms. She said the plan does not include clearing out encampments.

Bass also announced an executive order last week aimed at fast-tracking affordable housing projects. [NPR]

4. So is Elon Musk going to step down at Twitter?

Elon Musk’s future at the social media platform appears to be murky.

The billionaire yesterday posted a poll on the platform, asking users if he should step down as the head of the company. Twelve hours later, 57.5% of more than 17 million respondents said “yes.”

Musk said he would follow the results of the poll and later added, “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it.”

The poll comes after two months of chaos at the social media giant after Musk bought the company for $44 billion.

Musk’s erratic and controversial decisions, such as reinstating the accounts of users banned for racist and toxic posts, has resulted in an exodus of advertisers and turned off users. [AP]

5. Titanic came out 25 years ago today

And director James Cameron is trying to put to rest the long-running “door debate.” And yes, there are spoilers ahead. I mean, come on, the movie came when the years began with “19.”

The central question in this argument is whether Jack would have lived if Rose made room for him on the door she used as a makeshift raft. Many fans, including the makers of MythBusters, say the couple could have fit on the door.

But Cameron disagrees, and he now says he has a “forensic analysis” that backs him up, and the results will be released in a National Geographic special airing in February.

“We took two stunt people who were the same body mass of Kate [Winslet] and Leo [DiCaprio] and we put sensors all over them and inside them and we put them in ice water, and we tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods, and the answer was, there was no way they both could have survived,” Cameron told The Toronto Sun. “Only one could survive.” [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • More CTA and Metra stations will become accessible to passengers with disabilities thanks to $185 million in federal funding. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Street vendors in Chicago’s Little Village say they need more protection amid a rise in thefts. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • An Arctic blast is going to send temperatures plunging this week. [AP]
  • Here’s a look at the amazing moments at the World Cup in Qatar. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would put up your artwork on the fridge? Well, we’re doing something kinda similar, only we’re blowing it up into a mural.

The Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ and Vocalo are sponsoring a contest to add a student artist to the ranks of Chicago muralists. The theme is “bringing Chicago’s voices together,” focusing on what Chicago’s diversity means to you.

Any Chicago-area student from kindergarten through high school is eligible, and you can find submission guidelines in the link. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good ...

The new year is barreling toward us. I’d like to know what brought you joy in 2022. It’s an open-ended question and could be anything.

For me, I loved running Dungeons & Dragons games for a bunch of teenagers and almost-teenagers. They had to battle an evil wizard known as the Summertime Necromancer and even had a fight with a cow made of flames known as The O’Leary Cow.

But another highlight was attending a friend’s wedding with my husband over the summer and realizing just how much better my life has been since we ourselves got hitched.

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

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