The Week in Review: Cops Fired, Christensen Avoids Death Penalty

|

Four cops fired over an alleged cover-up. A life sentence for a former U. of I. student. A war of words between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Five casino locations are unveiled. And the Cubs are red hot.

Thoughts on a Trio of Musical Theater Classics

|
The North American Tour of “Cats.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

“Cats” and “Les Miserables” have both returned to Chicago this summer, and “West Side Story” is in the throes of a renaissance. Here are some brief impressions about all three musicals as experienced in their recent incarnations.

Lightfoot Rejects Chicago Port Investment Deal

|

A deal to have a private operator invest up to $100 million to run the Illinois International Port District, also known as the Port of Chicago, appears to be dead.

Lincoln Park Zoo to Remain Free Through at Least 2050

|
Lincoln Park Zoo’s new Searle Visitor Center (Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

The 151-year-old zoo will continue to offer free admission for the next 30-plus years after agreeing to an extended contract with the city.

Jussie Smollett’s Attorneys Seeking to Reverse Special Prosecutor Ruling

|
Jussie Smollett appears at a hearing for judge assignment with his attorney Tina Glandian, left, at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Pool / Chicago Tribune)

Attorneys for the former “Empire” actor continue to proclaim their client’s innocence, and say a judge’s recent decision to allow a special prosecutor to review criminal charges against the actor is a “travesty of justice.”

Federal Report Finds Child Drownings on the Rise

|
(g. p. / Pixabay)

Pools are a popular way to beat the heat during the summer months, but a new federal report warns of the dangers they pose to children. 

Heat Wave Forecast Prompts Chicago Public Housing Checks

|
A roofer works on a new home under construction Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Houston. A heat wave is expected to send temperatures soaring close to 100 degrees through the weekend across much of the country. (AP Photo / David J. Phillip)

Public housing officials in Chicago were planning well-being checks on residents as the heat and humidity are expected to mount to dangerous levels.

Police Board Fires 4 Officers in Laquan McDonald-Related Case

|
A still image from police dashcam footage that captured the shooting of Laquan McDonald, center, on a Southwest Side street in 2014.

The Chicago Police Board on Thursday fired four police officers for allegedly covering up a white officer’s 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Wild Weather Gardening: How to Garden with Excessive Rain and Heat

|

It is possible to keep your garden alive when the weather shifts from extreme rain to extreme heat? The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Eliza Fournier has some tips for combatting common problems.

Local Acts Ric Wilson, Lala Lala Make Their Pitchfork Debuts

|

This weekend is the 14th annual Pitchfork Music Festival – a homegrown stage for adventurous music from around the world, including Chicago. We visit a pair of young local artists as they prepare for their Pitchfork debut.

Deep Frydays: Fine, We’re Doing Malort

|

Earlier this month, we took you on a tour of a distillery that produces Malort, the Chicago-born liquor that inspires devotion – and disgust. This week, we pour out a hefty helping of the stuff and stick it in the fryer.

Sterigenics Opponents Fight Proposed Deal to Reopen Plant

|
The Sterigenics medical sterilization plant in west suburban Willowbrook. (WTTW News)

A medical sterilization plant in west suburban Willowbrook that’s been shuttered since February would reopen under a proposed court order, but not if residents who leave near the facility have their way.

New Film ‘Cooked’ Revisits Chicago’s Deadly 1995 Heat Wave

|
(Pranav Bhatt / Flickr)

A new documentary from Chicago’s Kartemquin Films revisits an extreme weather event that killed more than 700 people – most of them poor and black. We discuss “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code” with producer Fenell Doremus.

Chicago Public Transit Leaders Talk Influx of State Funding

|

The CTA, Metra and Pace might be running a little more efficiently going forward. After a 10-year drought, Chicago’s public transit system is set to receive billions in state capital funding.

Why Are There So Many Fireflies in Chicago?

|
(terry priest / Flickr)

You’re not crazy. A local expert says people are seeing “substantially more flashing activity in the evening.” He tells us why there are so many of our favorite summertime bug – and why they light up.

Brendt Christensen Sentenced to Life in Prison for Yingying Zhang Killing

Jury fails to reach unanimous decision in death-penalty case

|
A memorial stone engraved with Yingying Zhang’s name in both English and Chinese on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in June 2019, two years after her disappearance. (Photo by Mark Van Moer) Inset, top: Yingying Zhang (Courtesy University of Illinois Police Department). Bottom: Brendt Christensen (Courtesy Macon County Sheriff’s Department).

A 12-person jury deliberated for more than eight hours over the course of two days in Peoria’s federal courthouse, but failed to reach a unanimous decision in the death-penalty case.