ComEd Defendants Plead Not Guilty in Bribery Case; House Republicans Call On Madigan to Resign

Four former Commonwealth Edison officials pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they engaged in a years-long bribery scheme that federal prosecutors allege was aimed at influencing Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

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Rural Hospitals In Illinois Face Staffing, Transfer Problems As COVID-19 Surges

As hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain at record levels, hospitals that serve small towns and rural areas in Illinois are facing unique challenges.

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Community Voices

CV- Winter Drive Edition- Nabih Elhajj

Nabih Elhajj is Executive Director of iVenturED and Lead Facilitator of Sangamon CEO. Nabih also is an adjunct instructor of entrepreneurship at The University of Illinois Springfield and serves on the NPR Illinois Advisory Board. He talks about this and more with Community Voices co-hosts Bea Bonner and Randy Eccles.

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Sharon Reynolds, the administrator for The Villas Senior Care East, gives advice to leaders at other care facilities going through outbreaks after COVID-19 hit their facility in the spring.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

'Dark Days': Looking Back At The COVID-19 Outbreak At The Villas East Senior Care

Most of the new COVID-19 cases in Sangamon County are from what public health experts call community spread, at house parties, work, restaurants or other places within the community. But that wasn’t the case at the beginning of the pandemic, when most cases were in congregate settings, such as nursing homes.

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A Pandemic Reprieve For Mountain Resorts And For Skiers

18 minutes ago

Leaders in the winter sports industry have worked to ensure that ski resorts across the country could safely open this winter. Measures such as mask mandates and social distancing are in place. A limited number of guests are allowed each day. And many resorts require guests to reserve their days on the slopes ahead of time.

With COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths at record levels, a top public health official called on religious leaders to keep their worship spaces closed, despite rising protests from some church leaders.

"The virus is having a wonderful time right now, taking advantage of circumstances where people have let their guard go down," said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. "Churches gathering in person is a source of considerable concern and has certainly been an instance where super spreading has happened and could happen again."

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Healthcare workers first, along with residents and staff of nursing homes. Those people should receive the COVID-19 vaccine before anyone else, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

The largest and most influential arts advocacy and service organization in the country has responded to sharp criticism over its lack of diversity and commitment to help arts groups lead by and for people of color. Americans For The Arts (which is also one of NPR's financial supporters) conceded that the steps they've taken towards "racial and cultural equity" "have not been enough."

AFTA serves the arts sector in a variety of ways including lobbying Congress, conducting surveys of the sector, training, panels and the like.

For all the hope being placed in a coronavirus vaccine, Pennsylvania's secretary of health delivered a sobering note of caution Thursday on how long it will take to bring the pandemic under control. A vaccine is "the light at the end of the tunnel," she said, "but there's no quick fix to COVID-19."

As the nation grapples with issues of racial injustice and social inequality, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing to remove the so-called slavery loophole from the United States Constitution.

With the adoption and ratification of the 13th Amendment 155 years ago, the practice of slavery formally ended in this country, but it did not strip away all aspects of involuntary servitude.

An analysis of COVID-19 data shows not-for-profit nursing homes in Illinois have done a better job at controlling coronavirus infections and deaths than other facilities. But when it comes to choosing one over the other, it's not so simple.  

We'll also get caught up on a political scandal that has shaken Illinois politics. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

The United Kingdom gave emergency approval this week to a COVID-19 vaccine, and plans to begin rolling it out next week. Though Russia had previously approved a vaccine, the U.K. is the first country where regulators approved a vaccine that is backed by transparent science. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider granting its regulatory approval next week.

Pfizer and BioNTech, a German firm, which developed the vaccine, say it is 95% effective based on the latest clinical trial involving 43,000 subjects.

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he has asked the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to become his chief medical adviser and said he plans to call on Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration.

President Trump on Thursday criticized Attorney General William Barr, accusing the head of the Justice Department of not thoroughly examining debunked claims of widespread voter fraud.

When asked whether he still had confidence in Barr, a Trump ally who has in the past taken what critics describe as an unusually political role in the Justice Department, the president said: "Ask me that in a number of weeks from now."

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Think Your Health Care Costs Are Covered? Beware The 'Junk' Insurance Plan

Looking back, Sam Bloechl knows that when the health insurance broker who was helping him find a plan asked whether he'd ever been diagnosed with a major illness, that should have been a red flag. Preexisting medical conditions don't matter when you buy a comprehensive individual plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. Insurers can't turn people down or charge them more based on their medical history. But Bloechl, now 31, didn't know much about health insurance back in December of...

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Arts & Life

The Prom is the latest hit Broadway musical to get a screen adaptation. Starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman and Andrew Rannells, it will be released in cinemas on Friday.

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Education Desk

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High school basketball in Illinois — along with hockey and wrestling — won't take place as scheduled as the state struggles against a resurgence of COVID-19.

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Equity & Justice

Ending cash bail doesn't lead to an increase in crime, according to a new report from researchers at Loyola University Chicago. 

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Illinois Economy

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Illinois has awarded the first round of emergency funding to small businesses to help them during the pandemic.  

Read More Illinois Economy Coverage

Statehouse

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Hospital beds across the state continue to fill with COVID-19 patients, and an investigation has been announced to look into the deadly breakout in the LaSalle Veterans' Home.  Michael Madigan says he has no intention of stepping down as House Speaker, although he may not have the votes needed to keep that position the next time the Legislature meets.

WBEZ's Dave McKinney joins the panel this week.

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Politics

President Trump is threatening to veto a bipartisan defense policy bill unless Congress adds language to hold social media sites legally liable for the way they police their platforms.

President Trump's refusal to concede has widened a rift between his supporters and mainstream media. And that has created a gold rush for some conservative businesses.

On more than one occasion, President Trump has demonstrated his willingness to use his pardon power to pluck a political ally or associate out of legal trouble.

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped former Obama aide Brian Deese as director of the National Economic Council, his top economic adviser at the White House.

Deese helped former President Barack Obama rescue the auto industry during the 2009 economic crisis and played a key role in negotiating the Paris climate accords.

But the pick raised the ire of some progressive groups even before it was made official Thursday because of Deese's work for BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager.

Ivanka Trump gave a deposition Tuesday as part of suit filed by the Washington, D.C., government over the costs of her father's 2017 inauguration.

The District is suing the Trump inaugural committee, charging it with "grossly overpaying" for event space at the Trump International Hotel as a way of funneling money to the Trump family.

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The 50 Best Albums Of 2020

At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that piled up like soil falling over our heads? Sometimes art breaks through. Better to think of the best music of 2020 as an urgent cacophony of distinct voices rather than a chorus with a single melody....

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NPR Illinois Classic - LISTEN ON 91.9-2 HD OR STREAM

Misty Copeland Celebrates Ballet's Beautiful Friendships In 'Bunheads'

In Misty Copeland's new book Bunheads , a young girl named Misty discovers her love of dance with her friends. The dancers in this studio "come from all different walks of life," Copeland says. "They have different backgrounds, different body types, different skin color, different hair color, different ethnicities." Copeland is a principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre and best-selling author. Her 2014 book Firebird won a Coretta Scott King Award. She started training in classical ballet...

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