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The Rundown: Can Chicago beat the extreme heat?

Good afternoon! Here’s a look at my level of enthusiasm as I decline work meetings this week. And here’s what you need to know today.

1. Chicago learned painful lessons from the ’95 heat wave. Is the city prepared for a warming planet?

More than 700 people died when a weeklong heat wave hit the city in July of 1995, with temperatures reaching 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since then, city officials created an emergency system for extreme heat, one that provides cooling centers and outreach to the most vulnerable residents.

Scientists say Chicago has made a lot of smart changes since the deadly ’95 heat wave. But they say one major problem still hasn’t been solved — inequality, reports The Associated Press.

Most of the deaths from the heat wave were concentrated in poor and segregated neighborhoods that did not have access to services.

“A systemic problem of a resource inequity is something that you can’t really get rid of overnight. And we still have the same issue that we had back then today,” said Noboru Nakamura, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Chicago.

“So that aspect still is a big, big, big, big unsolved problem.” [AP]

2. A former Northwestern football player details allegations of hazing and sexual abuse

Northwestern University on Friday announced football coach Pat Fitzgerald would be suspended without pay for two weeks following an independent investigation into hazing allegations.

Then on Saturday, The Daily Northwestern student newspaper published an explosive report that provided more details into the allegations, which have since raised calls for Fitzgerald’s dismissal.

A former football player said the hazing included a practice called “running,” when a player would be “restrained by a group of 8-10 upperclassmen dressed in various ‘Purge-like’ masks, who would then begin ‘dry-humping’ the victim in a dark locker room,” reports The Daily Northwestern.

“It’s done under this smoke and mirror of ‘oh, this is team bonding,’ but no, this is sexual abuse,” the player said. [Daily Northwestern]

On Saturday night, Northwestern President Michael Schill said he “may have erred” in determining Fitzgerald’s punishment.

Fitzgerald has said he was “unaware of the alleged incidents.” [Daily Northwestern]

The Daily Northwestern today reports that three former players said the football program has a “culture of enabling racism.” [Daily Northwestern]

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reports a separate investigation found a baseball coach “engaged in bullying and abusive behavior.” [Chicago Tribune]

3. The prime suspect in the 1982 Tylenol murders has died

The suspect, James Lewis, was found dead Sunday afternoon at his home in Cambridge, Mass., according to authorities, adding they do not suspect foul play.

In 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after swallowing Tylenol pills laced with cyanide, causing a nationwide panic.

A police task force questioned Lewis, an out-of-work accountant who provided a detailed account of how the killer might have operated. Lewis, who denied he was the killer, was interviewed by investigators as recently as last year.

Lewis was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1983 for sending a letter to Johnson & Johnson that demanded $1 million to “stop the killings.” He also served more than two years of a 10-year sentence for an unrelated tax-fraud charge. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Illinois struggles to provide gender-neutral IDs for nonbinary residents

State lawmakers made headlines in 2019 after passing a measure allowing nonbinary residents to mark “X” on their driver’s licenses and other IDs.

Officials said it would take time to get the gender-neutral IDs off the ground, but non-binary residents and their supporters say they’ve run out of patience, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“This is just another example of structural transphobia,” said Avi Rudnick, an attorney for the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois. “I think people just wear blinders and they don’t want to accept that there’s a lot of people out there that are moving toward a rejection of the gender binary.”

The IDs were slated to be unveiled in May, but state officials heard concerns from law enforcement officials and the health care industry. [Chicago Tribune]

5. For a day, Chicago had one of the largest dance floors in the world

About 30,000 people attended the biggest house music dance party in the world — Chicago’s Chosen Few Picnic and Festival, writes Brittany Sowacke for WBEZ.

“It’s the best dance floor in Chicago, and I’ve been to a lot of dance floors,” said Pilsen resident David Nasca as he danced.

Groups of house heads traveled from Pittsburgh and St. Louis — the St. Louis contingent wore matching tees — to Chicago’s Jackson Park for the festival. Gov. JB Pritzker also declared the day “Chosen Few DJs Day.” [WBEZ]

Desiree Taylor came to Chicago from Baltimore for the first time with eight friends who have made a tradition of traveling to house music festivals every year, reports my colleague Violet Miller.

“We could stay out here all day and all night,” Taylor said. “It’s the energy, it’s the vibe, it’s the look in everybody’s eyes. We all don’t know each other, but we look at each other’s eyes, and we know each other.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Joe Biden said it’s too early for Ukraine to join the NATO military alliance. [Politico]
  • Disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was stabbed multiple times in prison. [NPR]
  • Families with transgender children are increasingly traveling out of state for gender-affirming care. [AP]
  • First reactions to the Barbie movie are pouring in. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Oh, and one more thing …

HGTV might be making you sad and your home boring, according to a study from two professors who wanted to know how home renovation media affects homeowners.

They found that HGTV and magazines like Better Homes and Gardens influence people to decorate for the masses and not for their own happiness, reports The Washington Post.

“They’re seeing everything that’s wrong with their home and imagining when people come into their home [that] they’re also criticizing and scrutinizing and judging their home,” said Annetta Grant, an assistant professor of markets, innovation and design at Bucknell University.

“It really makes people feel quite uneasy about the decisions that they make in their home, and so they’re always kind of fearful about getting it wrong.” [Washington Post]

Tell me something good ...

I heard the cicadas last night, that telltale sign the days are numbered for the summer.

I’m not ready to say goodbye to the warm weather just yet, and I’d like to know what’s your favorite song of the summer.

A couple of mine are “Vacation” by The Go Go’s, “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s and the recent “Padam Padam” by Kylie Minogue.

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

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