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Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

Springfield, State Team Up To Commemorate Obama's Capital Ties

On Feb. 12 -- Abraham Lincoln's birthday -- officials released plans to salute another President with state ties. Just days ago, on Wed., Feb. 10, President Barack Obama gave a major speech in Springfield, at the capitol, where he'd once served in the state Senate. "Thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home," he said to legislators' applause and hoots. Days later, the mayor, governor and secretary of state announced a project to salute Obama's time in the capital city. In a...
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Syrian Community Network

Illinois Issues: Refugees Seek A Haven In Troubled Times

Historically, Illinois has been a leading state in refugee resettlement, but lately it seems less welcoming to some.
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Air Force One
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

Obama In Springfield: Photo Gallery

Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

Obama In Springfield: Full Audio – Text – Video

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Illinoisans who have led
WUIS/Illinois Issues

History Series: No Love For Lincoln's Birthday

In many states, including Illinois, Abraham Lincoln's February twelfth birthday is a holiday. But it's not in others. The federal government has never declared it a national holiday, despite one man's lifelong efforts.
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Illinois Issues

flickr/ rabiem22

Illinois Issues: State Of The State — Light At The End Of The Tunnel Or Perpetual Train Wreck?

Commentary — Might we be seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it the headlamps of the ongoing train wreck that is Illinois, picking up speed? Such questions came to mind listening to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address last week.
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With its elaborate headdresses, colorful sequined gowns and statuesque dancers, Jubilee is the classic Las Vegas show. It was the last showgirl extravaganza on the Vegas Strip, and now it's closing — this coming Thursday will be the final performance.

Women go through eight to 12 costume changes in a show that packs in at least as many different routines in about 90 minutes. There's a patriotic medley, the story of Samson and Delilah, even the Titanic.

The crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Mich., is making a public health message like this one harder to get across: In most communities, the tap water is perfectly safe. And it is much healthier than sugary drinks.

That's a message that Dr. Patty Braun, a pediatrician and oral health specialist at Denver Health, spends a lot of time talking to her patients about.

T.J. Miller has played a dragon slayer in the How to Train Your Dragon movies, a man who doesn't always change his underwear in Big Hero 6 and a pothead who thinks he's a tech rock star in HBO's Silicon Valley. Now Marvel fans will know him as bartender Weasel, best friend to the titular superhero in the new, R-rated comic book movie Deadpool.

Chipotle Mexican Grill certainly is not the first company to face lawsuits and subpoenas because its food made people sick. Other companies, in fact, have faced far worse: Companies like Blue Bell, Dole and Earthbound Farms have been linked to disease outbreaks that actually killed people.

But it's difficult to think of another case in which a company's food-safety troubles provoked such schadenfreude in the food industry. The company, it seems, made a lot of enemies while marketing its "food with integrity."

Rokia Traoré's Commitment To Her Culture

5 hours ago

When we hear about Mali, it's usually about that country's civil war.

But the west African nation has long been a shining star of music and culture. It's where the annual Festival in the Desert once attracted visitors and pop stars from around the globe.

Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

On Feb. 12 -- Abraham Lincoln's birthday -- officials released plans to salute another President with state ties.

Just days ago, on Wed., Feb. 10, President Barack Obama gave a major speech in Springfield, at the capitol, where he'd once served in the state Senate.

"Thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home," he said to legislators' applause and hoots.

The U.S. and Cuba will sign a civil aviation agreement in Havana on Tuesday, re-establishing air service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

The signing formalizes the arrangement that was reached Dec. 16, stating that a certain number of flights would be allowed to fly from the U.S. to Cuba every day. As the Two-Way previously reported:

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, Bruce Rauner, Jim Langfelder
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield to address the Illinois General Assembly this week. He's renewing the central argument of his first campaign for president: that most Americans want a less bitter, less divisive form of politics. Did his message resonate with Illinois lawmakers?

Abraham Lincoln trended on Twitter this week. Wait, what? Honest Abe proved what's become a hipster creed: Everything old becomes new again.

Friday would have been the 16th president's 207th birthday — as good a time as any to bring him back with a party hat on him (like the House Republicans did):

There were also memes of Lincoln holding pizzas, stereos and cellphones. But the memes also quickly became about the presidential candidates, with the hashtag #ThingsLincolnDidntSay. Talk about putting words in someone's mouth.

The Record Company On World Cafe

13 hours ago

L.A. band The Record Company first connected over a John Lee Hooker album called Hooker N' Heat, on which the legendary boogie bluesman collaborated with Canned Heat.

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Featured

Inside A Doctor's Mind At The End Of His Life

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was preparing to wrap up his medical residency in neurosurgery when, in 2013, a CT scan revealed tumors throughout his body. He had stage 4 lung cancer.In his last two years of life, he continued caring for patients. He and his wife became parents. And Kalanithi, a gifted writer, wrote a book, When Breath Becomes Air, a reflection on being a doctor with a terminal illness.He died March 9, 2015. He was 37 years old.His widow, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, is on a book tour for When...
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Statehouse

State Week: Public Education Under More Pressure

With the state budget impasse ongoing, lack of money continues to affect Illinois colleges and universities as well as Chicago Public Schools. Chris Mooney, director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, joins the panel.
Read More
Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

On Feb. 12 -- Abraham Lincoln's birthday -- officials released plans to salute another President with state ties.

Just days ago, on Wed., Feb. 10, President Barack Obama gave a major speech in Springfield, at the capitol, where he'd once served in the state Senate.

"Thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home," he said to legislators' applause and hoots.

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, Bruce Rauner, Jim Langfelder
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield to address the Illinois General Assembly this week. He's renewing the central argument of his first campaign for president: that most Americans want a less bitter, less divisive form of politics. Did his message resonate with Illinois lawmakers?

Barack Obama outside the Old State Capitol
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

On a freezing February day in 2007, President Barack Obama announced his bid for the nation's highest office in front of the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield -- the place where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic "House Divided" speech. At the time, Obama called for hope and change.

Nine years later -- to the very day -- Obama came back to Springfield. In his last year as president, he says he believes in the "politics of hope."

The themes of Obama's speech yesterday echoed what he'd said nine years ago, back when his hair hadn't yet gone gray.

Education Desk

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Education Desk: Lawmakers Focus On School Funding Formula -- Again

Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan today announced that he will re-convene hearings on the state’s education funding formula. The state's current formula relies heavily on property taxes, creating a big disparity among schools based on their geographic location. Some districts can spend more than $32,000 per student every year, while others scrape by on a fraction of that amount.
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"I am outraged and tremendously disappointed in the behavior displayed by a group of students," says Texas A&M University President Michael Young, after a group of students from an inner-city high school were called racial slurs and told, "Go back where you came from."

In September of last year, a Flint pediatrician released stark findings about her city: The percentage of children age 5 and under with elevated levels of lead in their blood had nearly doubled since the city switched its water source a year and a half earlier.

The superintendent of Flint Community Schools, Bilal Tawwab, was listening. Even small amounts of lead can affect children's behavior and intelligence over time. With that in mind, he decided to keep the city's water out of his schools.

Before he arrived in Omaha as a doctoral student in computer science, Jason Jie Xiong says, "I didn't even know there was a state called Nebraska."

Jie Xiong, 29, who hails from a small city outside Shanghai, had landed a full scholarship at the University of Nebraska to teach and do research. He says he only knew "more famous states like California and New York."

He admits he found the program initially "by randomly checking information," but he's quick to add that he's happy there.

Arts & Culture

Corey Woodruff

St. Louis Activist Fixture On "Protests & Punk Shows"

Stephen Houldsworth is a self-described "grumpy old gay man" (though his life's work aimed at bettering society suggests that characterization should be taken with a grain or two of salt.) His one-man performance involves a collection of stories about family, AIDS, race, and mosh-pits.
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With its elaborate headdresses, colorful sequined gowns and statuesque dancers, Jubilee is the classic Las Vegas show. It was the last showgirl extravaganza on the Vegas Strip, and now it's closing — this coming Thursday will be the final performance.

Women go through eight to 12 costume changes in a show that packs in at least as many different routines in about 90 minutes. There's a patriotic medley, the story of Samson and Delilah, even the Titanic.

T.J. Miller has played a dragon slayer in the How to Train Your Dragon movies, a man who doesn't always change his underwear in Big Hero 6 and a pothead who thinks he's a tech rock star in HBO's Silicon Valley. Now Marvel fans will know him as bartender Weasel, best friend to the titular superhero in the new, R-rated comic book movie Deadpool.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Equity

Office of Rep. Andre Thapedi

Equity: Should Colleges With Large Minority Populations Be Funded Despite Impasse?

Chicago State University won’t have funds to operate by March 1 if state money is not released, officials there have said. Rep. Andre Thapedi, a Chicago Democrat, has sponsored legislation to have $25 million from the state go to predominantly minority public colleges. That would effect Chicago State University and several community colleges. Those colleges have minority enrollment of at least 75 percent. Thapedi said he sponsored the legislation because schools with large minority...
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On Feb. 10, 2015, Summer Hamad remembers sitting in her family room in Raleigh, N.C. It was late, a kind of humdrum night when the phone rang. It was her oldest daughter.

"Mom," she said, her voice cracking. "Deah's dead."

Hamad's face turned white. She had just seen Deah Barakat, a 23-year-old with an electric smile and calming presence, at a community fundraiser not too long before. She remembers pointing at him, jokingly telling her 19-year-old daughter, Marjan, that he's cute. "He's taken, Mom," she responded.

Comedy and race will meet head-on at this year's Academy Awards on Feb. 28. Amid calls to boycott the Oscars over its lack of diversity, the host is one of today's most provocative black comedians. You can just feel the audacious Chris Rock rubbing his hands together in excitement.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Illinois Economy

flickr/ Photo Monkey

Past Due: Is The Budget Impasse Affecting The Economy?

The monthly Flash Index provides a snapshot of the Illinois economy. In December, that picture showed the slowest economic growth the state has seen since March of 2013.
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WUIS

Sean Crawford talks with State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

GorlitzPhotography/flickr

State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis tells us about traditional Springfield taxis going more high tech, with a ride-hailing app for smartphones.  Is it brought on by competition from Uber?

After more than 3 decades away, the Illinois Pork Expo is returning to Springfield and the Prairie Capital Convention Center next month.  It will combine with the annual legislative lobby day at the statehouse.

And Jeff Parsons finds more legal trouble, this time in Texas.  

mrlib.org

Tim and Bill chat about the recent spate of business closings downtown & elsewhere.

Harvest Desk

Chipotle Mexican Grill certainly is not the first company to face lawsuits and subpoenas because its food made people sick. Other companies, in fact, have faced far worse: Companies like Blue Bell, Dole and Earthbound Farms have been linked to disease outbreaks that actually killed people.

But it's difficult to think of another case in which a company's food-safety troubles provoked such schadenfreude in the food industry. The company, it seems, made a lot of enemies while marketing its "food with integrity."

What The Heck Is Natural Wine? Here's A Taste

18 hours ago

If you follow the vast world of fermented grapes, you may have noticed an influx of so-called natural wines. I fell under their spell a few years ago. Apparently, I'm not alone. There's something of a natural wine cult blooming in shops, bars and restaurants around the U.S.

Deep in the heart of the arcane laws that give farmers a helping hand, there's something called "crop insurance." It's a huge program, costing taxpayers anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion each year.

It's called an insurance program, and it looks like insurance. Farmers buy policies from private companies and pay premiums (which are cheap because of government subsidies) to insure themselves against crop failures and falling prices. It's mainly used by corn, soybean, cotton and wheat farmers. Defenders of the program call it a safety net.

Health Desk

The crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Mich., is making a public health message like this one harder to get across: In most communities, the tap water is perfectly safe. And it is much healthier than sugary drinks.

That's a message that Dr. Patty Braun, a pediatrician and oral health specialist at Denver Health, spends a lot of time talking to her patients about.

Tell her how you really feel: Dr. Julie Holland is asking women to embrace their inner "moody bitches."

Let me back up.

The Manhattan-based psychiatrist has noticed a shift in her female patients. Twenty years ago, when Holland started her practice, she says, patients came to her because they were having trouble sleeping, were crying frequently or generally not feeling well — "but not really understanding what was going on with them and not really knowing what to do about it."

Penalty For Home Birth: A Chicken Or A Cow

17 hours ago

How do you solve a problem like health? That's the question experts from around the globe asked earlier this year in Salzburg, Austria, at Schloss Leopoldskron — where parts of The Sound of Music were once filmed.

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