The Rundown: Remembering Chicago’s “Walking Man”

Plus, a major breakthrough in clean energy. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Remembering Chicago’s “Walking Man”

Plus, a major breakthrough in clean energy. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon. It looks like we could see rain and the dreaded combo of rain and snow this week. Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Chicago’s ‘Walking Man’ dies several months after being set on fire

Joseph Kromelis, a beloved homeless man known for walking the streets of the city’s downtown area, died yesterday afternoon, months after he was set on fire as he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kromelis suffered third-degree burns over 65% of his body, doctors said. He was not expected to recover, but he was discharged from Stroger Hospital months later, the Sun-Times reports.

The man charged with setting Kromelis on fire, Joseph Guardia, said he wanted to burn trash and did not know Kromelis was sleeping under a blanket. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Kromelis’s death comes amid a contentious debate over how to improve services for homeless Chicagoans.

Self-proclaimed progressives are pushing a plan to increase the city’s real estate transfer tax on the sales of property worth $1 million or more to better fund these services. But that plan would either need to be approved in a voter referendum or by state lawmakers.

To get a sense of how much money this plan could generate, the tax hike could add $26,500 on the sale of a $1 million property, according to an analysis from the Civic Federation, a local fiscal watchdog. [Civic Federation]

2. Scientists made a major breakthrough in the ‘holy grail’ of clean energy

The U.S. Department of Energy tomorrow is expected to announce that a team of scientists in California has successfully produced a fusion reaction that resulted in a net energy gain, reports CNN.

The news marks a major accomplishment in the decadeslong goal of finding an unlimited source of cheap, carbon-free energy.

The science of nuclear fusion smashes two atoms together at extraordinarily high speeds. But a big challenge for scientists is creating a fusion reaction that generates more energy than is consumed.

Scientists say the next step is figuring out how to turn this reaction into electricity that can be used on a large scale. [CNN]

3. The prosecution of an accused cop killer raises questions about Kim Foxx’s conviction integrity chief

A Cook County attorney who serves as a watchdog in State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office faces allegations she hid a “mountain of evidence” in the murder of a Chicago police officer, reports WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell.

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Adduci oversees the Conviction Integrity Unit, which reviews past cases to ensure the office’s tremendous power had been employed justly.

But Adduci finds herself in “the middle of a courthouse storm over allegedly hidden exculpatory evidence in three of her own prosecutions — all stemming from the 2011 murder of Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis,” Mitchell writes.

“The case embroils not only Adduci, a career prosecutor in the office, but also State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, a self-styled progressive who put Adduci at the conviction-integrity helm instead of bringing in an outsider.” [WBEZ]

4. Enthusiasm for the Democratic Party appears to be waning among young voters

And that could be consequential for the 2024 presidential election, reports the Associated Press.

In last month’s midterm elections, 53% of voters under the age of 30 supported Democratic House candidates compared to 41% for Republicans, according to a national survey.

That’s down from 2020, when “such voters supported President Joe Biden over his predecessor, Donald Trump, 61% to 36%,” the AP reports. And in the 2018 midterms, 64% backed Democrats with 34% supporting the GOP.

Still, Democrats thwarted expectations of a sweeping “red wave” last month.

But “the trend line for younger voters may be an early indicator of the Democrats’ challenge to maintain the coalition of Black people, women, college-educated voters, city dwellers and suburbanites that has buoyed the party in the years since Trump won the White House,” the AP reports. [AP]

5. A lion at the Lincoln Park Zoo could give birth to a cub — or cubs — next month

It’s really hard for me to not enjoy these kinds of stories: A 4-year-old African lioness named Zari is pregnant at the Lincoln Park Zoo, reports Block Club Chicago.

“This is a very exciting time for the lion pride at the zoo but also for the entire zoo population,” said Mike Murray, the zoo’s curator of mammals and animal behavioral husbandry, in a statement. “A birth represents preservation of a species that has faced many challenges in the wild.”

African lions face a high risk of extinction in the wild, according to conservationists. Zari and her paramour, Jabari, had a male cub earlier this year, Block Club reports.

The zoo will post updates about Zari’s pregnancy on social media with the hashtag #LionWatch. [Block Club Chicago]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Public health officials are urging indoor masking in major cities as the “tripledemic” rages. [NPR]
  • Four more candidates with the Chicago chapter of Democratic Socialists of America are hoping to be elected to the City Council. [Chicago magazine]
  • Will white voters stick with Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the upcoming election? [Chicago Tribune]
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once is among the big nominees in the 2023 Golden Globe Awards. [AP]

Oh, and one more thing …

I’m still processing last night’s Season 2 finale of The White Lotus. Have you seen it? If not, no worries. I won’t spoil anything. Just don’t click the link.

In an interview with People magazine, White Lotus creator Mike White talked about the big reveal (aka whose death was foreshadowed in the first episode). But more intriguing, White signals what may be in store for Season 3. [People]

Tell me something good …

It feels like the holidays are speeding toward us. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? (If you’re looking for ideas, WBEZ created this guide to nontraditional holiday things to do this year.)

My parents throw a holiday party each December (with a pause during the pandemic) that includes Santa arriving with gifts for the kids. My dad used to disguise himself as the man of the hour until my nephew, then around 5 or 6 years old, started to get wise and began interrogating my dad about why he was briefly absent from the party.

Thanks for all the responses this week. I’m sorry I couldn’t share them all, but it was nice hearing from you.