The Rundown: Two Chicago-area natives arrested in Gaza

Plus, the rebirth of a Chicago theater. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Two Chicago-area natives arrested in Gaza

Plus, the rebirth of a Chicago theater. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! It’s another sunny, spring-like day in February. But it sounds like that could all come to an end tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Israel says two brothers from the Chicago area were in ‘collaboration with Hamas.’ Attorneys in the U.S. want to see the evidence.

Brothers Borak and Hashem Alagha, 18 and 20, were arrested by Israeli soldiers a week ago as they slept in a makeshift home in Gaza with other family members, my colleague Nader Issa reports.

A spokesperson for the Israeli consulate for the American Midwest said in an email that the brothers had been “arrested for collaboration with Hamas.”

But Israeli officials declined to provide more information, including specific charges or evidence of wrongdoing against the two Palestinian American citizens, alarming human rights attorneys in the U.S.

Maria Kari, an attorney representing the Alagha family, said the “unverified claims, which have zero evidence, are nothing but a flimsy attempt by Israel to avoid accountability for unjustly and arbitrarily detaining two U.S. citizens.”

The brothers, who were born and raised in Lombard, had been cleared months ago by the U.S. State Department to be evacuated from Gaza, but American officials failed to secure their exit. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Pritzker and Preckwinkle will ask for $250 million more to help migrants

Gov. JB Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced they will seek an additional $250 million from the state and county to continue to respond to Chicago’s migrant crisis.

But missing from the announcement was a key partner — the city of Chicago, my colleague Tina Sfondeles reports.

And it comes after Pritzker, Preckwinkle and Mayor Brandon Johnson met in January and this month to discuss how to fund the crisis.

According to a source briefed on the discussions, Johnson initially agreed to ask the City Council for more funds but ultimately backed off.

Pritzker and Preckwinkle said the new funding will help maintain shelter capacity and continue wraparound and health care services. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, here’s a look at how Chicago suburbs are handling an influx of migrants. [WBEZ]

3. More babies are being born with syphilis in Chicago, a study found

Cases of babies born with syphilis in the city have more than doubled in the last two years, mirroring an alarming national trend that health experts say is almost entirely preventable, my colleague Kaitlin Washburn reports.

City health officials say cases of congenital syphilis jumped from 17 to 46 between 2020 and 2022. And throughout Illinois, cases increased from 29 to 85 during that same time period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The news comes as the U.S. faces what the CDC calls an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, with syphilis cases surging 80% from 2018 to 2022. Health experts point to a host of factors, including reduced testing and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Syphilis in adults is curable, often mild and can go undetected before treatment. But congenital syphilis can be life-threatening to infants.

“It’s a sign of the many ways in which our health system is failing people, especially the people who need our help the most,” said Dr. Kimberly Stanford, the director of HIV/STI testing for the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Lurie Children’s Hospital restores parts of its communications network after a cyberattack

Portions of Lurie Children’s Hospital’s network have been restored after the system was forced to shut down two weeks ago following a “criminal threat,” my colleague Emmanuel Camarillo reports.

But there is still no clear time frame for total restoration of the hospital’s network. Experts say it could take weeks or months for the hospital to fully recover depending on the severity of the attack, details of which have remained scant.

The prominent children’s hospital shut down its system on Jan. 31 — affecting phones, email and electronic medical records — following a cyberattack carried out by a “known criminal threat actor.”

“We did this in an effort to protect the information of our patients, workforce and organization at large,” Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, chief medical officer, said at a news conference at the hospital last week. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. A theater bought for $1 with 4 feet of water in the basement is now hosting a big Chance the Rapper show

Don’t worry, the water isn’t in the basement anymore.

The Ramova Theatre in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood had been abandoned for nearly 40 years before a group of 49 investors stepped in, spending more than $30 million to revive the venue, my colleague Courtney Kueppers writes.

And this Friday poses a big test for the 1,800-person theater — South Side native Chance the Rapper, an investor in the project, will play an all-ages show.

This week, Courtney toured the theater as crews put the final touches on the space and tended to concession stands, stage and lights.

Concertgoers will be able to see the theater’s original ticket booth, which is once again fully functional, as well as other historic pieces on display, such as old movie projectors and the original lighting control board. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Authorities say a mass shooting during Kansas City’s Super Bowl celebration appeared to stem from a dispute between several people. [AP]

  • Former President Donald Trump’s hush-money trial will begin with jury selection on March 25. [AP]

  • Abortion pills that patients got via telehealth and the mail are safe, a study found. [NPR]

  • Zendaya, Bad Bunny, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Hemsworth will co-chair this year’s Met Gala, which will be themed “Garden of Time.” [Hollywood Reporter]

Oh, and one more thing …

Today in cute animal news, you can now see a new baby otter at the Shedd Aquarium, Block Club Chicago reports.

The adorable little guy hasn’t been named yet by the aquarium, but my recommendation would be Mr. Cuddles. Or maybe something more nautical, like Captain Sweetie Pie.

Anyway, the baby otter isn’t fully grown yet, clocking in at just 20 pounds. Adult otters can weigh up to 100 pounds. [Block Club Chicago]

Tell me something good …

What are your favorite old-school Chicago diners?

Liz writes:

“I live near a classic diner called The Yellow Rose Cafe. It’s across from a huge bus depot and there are usually several CTA employees having a pre or post shift meal there. They are closed Sundays because the staff is at church. They serve classic diner fare for breakfast and lunch. And of course the place is heavily decorated with many items emblazoned with yellow roses.”

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