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The Rundown: The longest stretch of extreme cold in decades

Good afternoon! It was nice to wake up to a balmy 9 degrees this morning after the subzero temps earlier this week. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. This has been the worst stretch of extreme cold in nearly 30 years

High temperatures in the city have failed to reach 5 degrees or above for three consecutive days for the first time since February 1996, my colleague Emmanuel Camarillo reports.

The Chicago area’s longest stretch of temps below 5 degrees was a period of five days in the 1880s, said Casey Sullivan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

But it looks like the worst could be behind us. Thursday’s high temps could end up in the low 20s, and Friday’s high is expected to be near 16 degrees.

“It’s still going to be cold, but not nearly as cold as we’ve been,” Sullivan said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Mayor Johnson will not open more shelters for migrants

The Johnson administration “paused” plans to open more shelters last month due to “budget constraints,” Block Club Chicago reports, citing internal briefing documents.

The city will instead shift its strategy to focus more on “outmigration and resettlement services,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. [Block Club Chicago]

Mayor Brandon Johnson set aside about $150 million in his budget for the migrant crisis this year even though his administration expects the pace of new arrivals to pick up when the city hosts the Democratic National Convention this summer.

That amount of money is only expected to last until around June, and the Johnson administration is hoping it will receive more help from state and federal officials. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Gang members are convicted in the murder of Chicago rapper FBG Duck

A federal jury today found six reputed gang members guilty in the murder of rapper FBG Duck, who was shot several times as he shopped in the Gold Coast neighborhood during the summer of 2020.

Duck’s mother and other family members cried and hugged each other as the verdict was read, my colleague Tom Schuba reports.

Federal prosecutors said the shooting was connected to a brutal gang war between Duck’s Tookaville faction of the Gangster Disciples and the O Block set of the Black Disciples.

The yearslong conflict was stoked by disparaging rap lyrics between Duck and King Von, an O Block leader who allegedly placed a bounty on Duck before being shot to death months later. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Heather Mack gets 26 years in prison for the murder of her mother in Bali

Heather Mack was sentenced to 26 years in federal prison Wednesday for the murder of her mother during a trip to Bali nearly 10 years ago, my colleague Jon Seidel reports.

Before she was sentenced, Mack took the stand and told U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly that she was “responsible for my decisions.”

The sentence comes almost a decade after the world learned in August 2014 that the body of 62-year-old Oak Park socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack had been found stuffed inside a suitcase on the island of Bali.

What followed was a yearslong international legal drama involving an aggressive FBI investigation, civil litigation that reached from the Daley Center to Indonesia, a bizarre YouTube confession, a trial interrupted by the birth of Mack’s child and questions about whether Mack would ever face consequences for her crime in the United States. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. The company behind a botched demolition in Little Village agrees to pay a $12.25 million settlement

Residents who lived around the site of a botched implosion of a coal power plant in 2020 may be eligible for part of a $12.25 million settlement, my colleagues at the Chicago Sun-Times report.

The debacle coated the Southwest Side community in dust during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chicago’s inspector general blamed poor planning and “negligence and incompetence” from city officials for the disaster.

The company responsible for the accident, Hilco Redevelopment, demolished the former power plant to redevelop the area with a more than 1 million square foot warehouse that is now being leased to retailer Target.

Residents who own property in the area or were present at the time of the implosion may be eligible for a payout. Claims can be filed via and must be submitted by March 26. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel cannot achieve “genuine security” without a pathway to a Palestinian state. [AP]

  • The U.S. Supreme Court today heard a case that could change the way the federal government regulates everything. [AP]

  • Some overdraft fees from banks could be capped as low as $3 under a plan unveiled by the U.S. government. [Washington Post]

  • The James Webb Telescope spotted the oldest known black hole. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Illinois was the tornado capital of the U.S. last year, reporting about 120 twisters, my colleague Phyllis Cha reports. That’s also more than triple the number of tornadoes reported in 2022, when there were 39.

The tornado season, which typically runs from April through August, got off to an early and deadly start on March 31, when 37 twisters churned through the state.

Four people were killed, including a man who died when a roof collapsed at a concert venue in Belvidere, east of Rockford. On April 4, an EF-3 tornado tore through Fulton County, injuring four.

Alabama reported the second most tornadoes with 101, and Texas and Colorado tied for third with 89 tornadoes each, according to the National Weather Service. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good ...

After a warmer than usual December, winter is definitely here. Do you have any big plans this season? Any projects or hobbies to work on while we’re stuck indoors?

Kathy writes:

“I have a list of indoor projects I have been trying to work on. I have already reorganized my food storage containers, getting rid of unneeded and unmatched pieces. Still to do is tackle the linen/storage closet and maybe finally finish the challenging jigsaw puzzle I started two years ago.”

And Larry Hall writes:

“As a man of many hobbies, my newest and fairly time-consuming (pun intended) is watchmaking. I’ve taken apart several wind up watch movements to learn what makes them tick (turns out, it’s the barrel wheel, balance wheel, escape wheel and palette fork that provide the satisfying ticking sound).

“I started with a seiko NH36A and have since moved on to others. This hobby not only tests your patience, but also exposes the shakiness of your hands (possibly your aptitude as a surgeon). The certainty I’ve discovered is that a gentle but firm approach is required when working in a micro environment (and magnification).”

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

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