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C-U ex-pat Jonathan Hettinger's article hits front page of USA Today

Former Editor-in-Chief at The Daily Illini and after thatreporter at The News-Gazette, C-U ex-pat journalist Jonathan Hettinger's work graced the front page of USA Today today. You might recognize Hettinger's byline over at Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, as he continues to do work through their publication in addition to writing about the environment for Montana Free Press.

Hettinger's piece, "Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths. The EPA has issued no warning.", was published both online and in good ole print form. Read the story, which I just linked for you in the previous sentence, and check out his tweets about it below.

Nice work, Jonathan.

Top image from Hettinger's Twitter.

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Watch out for this piece of misinformation floating around locally, says C-U COVID Vaccine Outreach

There is a lot of misinformation out there in the world, especially when it comes to COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout. It seems that there is some misinformation circulating locally from an unnamed doctor out of LeRoy, which I'm not saying is this doctor I posted about last year, but it definitely could be him. I'll leave that up for you to decide, connecting the dots and whatnot. You've made it this far, so I think you're doing great.

Champaign-Urbana COVID Vaccine Outreach made this post earlier today, pointing out how a video "produced by a local independent physician out of LeRoy questioning the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine because a patient of his produced positive antibodies for a COVID antibody based rapid test measuring the IgM antibodies" has drawn a red flag from them. Here's a link they shared as well, as well as a link to the facts about the Pfizer vaccine direct from the source.

The video is out there, and I'm not going to link to it here as to limit its spread, but let this act as a reminder that if you're curious or have questions about the efficacy of the vaccine, or antibody tests, or things of the like relating to COVID-19, you should contact Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Carle, Illinois Department of Public Health, or one of the others the outreach crew has listed in their post.

Top image from Pixabay.

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Rep. Mary Miller done got ratioed for this objectively terrible tweet

Has anyone checked in on IL-15 Rep. Mary Miller today? I wonder how she is feeling after this exchange on Twitter yesterday with someone who is objectively better at Twitter than she is, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Rep. Miller decided that she was going to chime in on the blame game Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his fellow Republicans were putting out there for why Texas is in such bad shape right now. All of this follows the winter storm that has left millions without power and water for days.

Following this AOC tweet about the New Green Deal (which hasn't even been written into any law anywhere, mind you), Rep. Miller got absolutely crushed for her retweet, which is just... incredibly bad and as AOC rightfully points out, not at all clever.

Mary, you just got ratioed, which is a pretty good look on you. As I type this SPlog, the ratio is getting even worse, so the embedded tweet will be the most up to date by comparison to the screenshot above, and it will likely continue to get more skewed as time goes on.

Also, I must point out the two periods used at the end of her tweet. Why? One period, okay, end of sentence, makes sense. Three periods makes an ellipses. But two? I can't handle this.

Oh, and we still think you should resign.

Top image from Twitter.

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Region 6, which includes Champaign County, moves to Tier 1 mitigations

Illinois Department of Public Health has announced that Region 6, which includes Champaign County and a variety of others surrounding us, will move to Tier 1 mitigations effective immediately. This means a few things, which happen to be outlined on their website with specificity here. If you're curious about Region 6's recent data, check that out here.

Here's the tweet making the announcement:

If you're curious what Tier 1 entails exactly by comparison to the other tiers, check out this tweet which lays it out clearly:

Top image from IDPH.

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Holy beef, Batman! Baldarotta’s Italian beef sammie looks so good

Located in the Lincoln Square Mall, Baldarotta's Porketta & Sicilian Sausage makes bomb sandwiches like this meaty, delicious-looking Italian beef.

On Facebook, Baldarotta's shared more details about how they make the sandwich:

THIS is how WE make Italian Beef!

Bottom round beef roasted with a variety of cherry peppers, pepperoncini, banana peppers, and San Marzano tomatoes. Then, we slice it thin and mix it back with all of those roasted veggies and au jus.

Load that beef into a 8" French roll, top it with our shredded cheese blend of mozzarella, smoked provolone, white cheddar, and asiago. Next, we toast our sandwich until the bread is toasted and our cheese is melted and slightly browned. Served with 6 oz. of au jus on the side for plenty of heavy dipping action.

MANGIA F-ING MANGIA.

Check out this review Zoe wrote last year about Baldarotta's if you're wanting to know what else looks good on the menu.

Baldarotta's Porketta & Sicilian Sausage
300 S Broadway Ave
Urbana
T-F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su noon to 3 p.m.

Top image from Baldarotta's Porketta & Sicilian Sausage's Facebook page.

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IL-15 Rep. Mary Miller on Capitol Hill: “Hitler was right on one thing”

Illinois 15th District Representative Mary Miller was sworn into Congress just three days ago following her victory against Erika Weaver in November's general election. Like many of her boot-licking pro-Trump Republican colleagues who refuse to accept the results of the 2020 Presidential Election — yet accept their own victories in the same election — she's joined her fellow sycophants by claiming the election was a fraud, and that she would object to the certification of the electoral college votes today.

So, today, she's on Capitol Hill, speaking to a group of pro-Trump folks who have gathered, wherein she decided to reference Adolf Hitler.

As you'll hear in the video below, Rep. Miller took the mic and said this (emphasis mine):

If we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”

Usually I'd say "I can't believe I have to say this", but this comes to no surprise that I have to say:

[largest, deepest sigh imaginable] No, Hitler did not do one thing right. Giving Hitler any positive credit for anything is the incorrect answer. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It brings me to think of a few things right off the bat:

  1. I'm sorry, but you couldn't think of anyone else to reference when attempting to focus on the concept that the youth is the future? Not a one? Literally choose anyone else and you have a better chance of not fucking this up.
  2. This is a frightening reality that Rep. Miller, or whomever wrote the speech she just read, decided that referencing Hilter to this group of spectators would be considered "knowing your audience".

To top it all off, here's a video of protestors storming the Capitol, and if you look, you can see a Nazi flag in the mix. Perhaps she does know her audience after all.

Top image from Mary Miller's Facebook page.

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Public Art League is merging with 40 North

The Public Art League (PAL), a non-profit in C-U that installs and promotes public art in the community, has announced they will be merging with 40 North. Per their email blast, which you can read below, PAL will now receive "financial and operational governance" from 40 North.

From the Public Art League's email:

Dear Friend of the Public Art League,

To say 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement. So many disruptions and changes to our urban lifestyle and experience!

Although the Public Art League was compelled to take a low-profile like so many others in the community, we were able to continue advancing the PAL mission with the installation of two new sculptures located in the Carle at The Fields, and, the renewal of leases for other existing sculptures.

Sadly, the strong winds of change were too much for Flamenco Revisited at Porter Family Park in Champaign. Damage to the sculpture required returning it to the artist thus ending its run in a prominent corner of southwest Champaign.

As we emerge from these turbulent times, the power of the arts to lift our spirits and spark new beginnings has never been more potent. And so it is with excitement that I announce a new partnership between 40 North and the Public Art League.

Beginning in 2021, 40 North will provide financial and operational governance for the Public Art League. I believe combining these operational synergies under 40 North’s Board of Directors will continue advancing public art in our community. This collaboration will prove true the adage that we are stronger together than when we are apart.

I am grateful for all the support you have given over these past eleven years. And I hope you are excited for the years ahead. I know that with your continued support, together, PAL and 40 North will put art on every corner!

Very truly yours,

David B. Wilcoxen, President

Public Art League

Top image of Craig Snyder's "Tip-See" by Anna Longworth.

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Chancellor Robert Jones “identified as potential pick” for Biden’s Secretary of Education

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been very busy putting together their staff as they approach inauguration on January 20th. A few C-U connects have already been announced — Reema Dodin as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs and Jonathan Coppess for the USDA transition team — and today came another potential addition.

College of Education at the University of Illinois tweeted this earlier today, mentioning that Chancellor Robert Jones and Freeman Hrabowski III (U of I alum) "have been identified as potential picks for President elect Joe Biden's new U.S. Secretary of Education." At the time of publishing, I have not found any other announcements corroberating this information, and U of I's Twitter seems void of this new as well. Here is where you can read about other potential picks via EdWeek.

Ultimately, this is some pretty potentially big news, especially in regards to Chancellor Jones (with all due respect to Hrabowski!), as he is a key figure in the community.

The best part about this whole thing? Getting to imagine life beyond the current person who holds this role at the White House: Betsy DeVos.

Top image from U of I's Twitter.

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Champaign Unit 4 Schools going full remote learning on Monday, November 16th

From the press release:

Champaign Unit 4 Schools Pivoting to Remote Learning 

Pursuant to guidance from Champaign Urbana Public Health District, Champaign Unit 4 will be moving to a full remote learning environment effective Monday, November 16th.  The last day of in-person instruction for students will be tomorrow, Friday, November 13th.  All Unit 4 students will be utilizing remote learning through the end of the semester.

Student transportation will be available for in-person instruction tomorrow, Friday, November 13th. Regular food service activities will continue as scheduled.  Student support centers will also be open tomorrow, Friday, November 13th, but will be closed beginning Monday, November 16th through the end of the semester.

In past weeks we have been diligent in maintaining our safety and operational protocols and our students, staff and families have been excellent partners in keeping our schools safe.  This return to remote learning is not due to increased cases in our schools but rather increased cases in our community.  CUPHD has repeatedly shared with us that our safety and operational protocols are strong and help keep our students safe.  At this time however, given the rapid rise in cases in our community, we need to do our part to help reduce the community spread and move students to a remote learning environment.

District staff are not restricted from being in their school buildings or offices and additional guidance will be provided to them in the coming days.

Tomorrow, students should be prepared to bring home any personal items they have brought to school.  They should take home their technology devices and chargers with them at the end of the day.  Students should leave school supplies at school so they may be sanitized and stored in their classrooms.  Building administrators will reach out to families in the coming days with additional information.  If families need additional hotspots or Internet access, they should reach out to their building administrator to ensure they have the necessary equipment.

All sports and in-person student activities will also be cancelled until further guidance is released.  This includes any IHSA Winter Sports practices which would have started on Monday, November 16th.   Athletic Directors and Coaches will be reaching out to student-athletes and families with further guidance.

Please refer to the District’s website for additional information over the coming days.

Top image from Champaign Unit 4 Schools' website.

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The Cracked Truck is moving away

The Cracked Truck is moving away from C-U. Never fear: the Green Street location will still be open serving up breakfast sammies and tots. You can catch the Cracked Truck one last time this weekend on Saturday, September 26th at the Urbana Market in the Square

Photo provided by Cracked.

Read this letter from Cracked about their announcement:

Dear Champaign-Urbana,
Ten years ago, we had a dream to bring breakfast sandwiches to the masses. We didn’t know how this little project would turn out, but with great enthusiasm, Champaign-Urbana welcomed us with open arms. From Farmers markets to Football tailgates, from welcome week to graduation weekend, you’ve been there with us. We started out as one of very few food trucks in the area. Over the years, we’ve seen the food truck scene explode in town and none of this could have been possible without the love and support from the community.

It’s with mixed emotions we announce that our last Farmers Market will be this Saturday, September 26th. The Cracked Truck will be moving to Gary, IN starting this fall where we have an opportunity to share our breakfast revolution with a new town. We’ve been working closely with the town to make this project happen over the past few months. Our ultimate goal is to bring the same food truck culture to Gary as we have seen grow in C-U. We can only hope to have the same amazing experience there as we’ve had in Champaign-Urbana.

This move does not come without careful consideration. Since March, the pandemic has struck our little company very hard. Along with most of our friends and colleagues in the food and beverage industry, we have been forced to adjust our businesses and look to other avenues to keep our doors and windows open. This has been a hard time for everyone, and we encourage you all to continue to support your local small businesses in this time. We want to fully thank the entire community for embracing us over the years and helping us grow from one little food truck to a concept that spans multiple cities. For those of you who make us a part of your Saturday morning routine at the Lincoln Square Farmers Market,
we want to assure you that our storefront on Green Street will remain open. We look forward to having another amazing ten years slinging breakfast sandwiches to the entire Champaign-Urbana community.

Thank you again for everything you have given us over the years, we are truly in debt to this community forever.

With love and gratitude,
Cracked

Check out our recent interview with owner and founder here

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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Rep. Rodney Davis tests positive for COVID-19

Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) has announced he has tested positive for COVID-19. Here's the tweet, we genuinely wish him a safe and fast recovery:

Top image from Rodney Davis' website.

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Unit 4 Schools announces distance learning through first quarter of fall semester

From the press release:

STATEMENT FROM DR. SUSAN ZOLA

"The health, wellness, and safety of our Unit 4 Community is one of our top priorities, especially now.  As we continue to receive feedback, we’ve made the difficult decision to engage in Distance Learning through the first quarter of the 2020–21 school year.

"We fully recognize that this may be distressing news for many students and families but we're here to provide support and guidance as we also learn to adapt to this new learning framework.

"During this Distance Learning period, we’ll continue to assess the state of COVID-19. By the end of September, we’ll make another decision whether to continue Distance Learning when the second quarter begins on October 19th or begin to transition to In-Person Learning.

"We understand that the next several weeks will feel overwhelming. We also must acknowledge that our most vulnerable students will need us to support equitable access to Distance Learning.  Addressing these inequities is critical, and we're committed to ensuring access for all students.

"As our re-entry plan is implemented, then develops into an everyday routine, we will face difficult challenges that require innovative problem solving and agile leadership. Through all of it, we will keep our Unit 4 community informed.  Because, above all, we’re powerfully committed to providing the guidance, knowledge, skills—and safety—for all students to succeed."

-Dr. Susan Zola, Superintendent, Champaign Unit 4 Schools

Top image by Jess Hammie.