News

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neandertal_adam_ve_kad%C4%B1n_modeli,_Almanya.png

The debate over the role of Neandertals in the ancestry of modern people is the longest running controversy in human evolutionary studies and one of the oldest in science.

By the first decade of the current century, analyses of morphology, behavior, neuroanatomy, and genetics strongly supported a model indicating that Neandertals were a separate biological species from modern humans and represented our cousins but not our ancestors. Neandertal genomic data have changed this picture. 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois struggles with its prison population in part because of its political culture. For decade, policymakers enacted greater and greater penalties for lesser and lesser crimes.

Will Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has convened a new commission to reduce Illinois' prison population, have the political courage to follow through on recommendations that may well come back to bite him in future campaigns? Commission member and Loyola University criminologist David Olson joins me to talk about what it'll take.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Tuesday is the day Springfield decides who will be its new mayor. The race is between Paul Palazollo, currently the Sangamon County Auditor, and Springfield City Treasurer Jim Langfelder. Political writer for The State Journal-Register, Bernie Schoenburg, has been following city politics for over 20 years. He tells us why the candidates have been talking trash (literally) and what he thinks each could excel at, and where they could fall short.

Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the medical marijuana program, including anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

The Associated Press obtained the petitions through a Freedom of Information Act request. Names of petitioners were blacked out to protect patients' privacy. Individuals identifying themselves as veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, adding emotional pleas for help.  

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued his first two pardons since becoming governor nearly three months ago.
 
 The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports over the weekend
that the pardons by the Republican went to Neil Hebert and Michael Sullivan.
Rauner rejected 57 other clemency petitions.
 
 The 43-year-old Hebert was convicted of theft in Champaign County when he was
20. He served two years of probation. The News-Gazette says Sullivan was
convicted of burglary in Cook County in 1979.
 

flickr/dnak

State Rep. Monique Davis wants to give prisoners access to condoms.

Incarceration leads to a greater risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, so she proposed selling condoms for prisoners to buy with their own money.

"If we can decide we're going to cut the spread of AIDS in Illinois, and we're going to have all different kinds of programs to do this, then that reduces the health care costs that Illinois has to spend," Davis said.

Her proposal failed in committee.

Tammy Duckworth

Much of the focus of this week's political news centered on Washington D.C.  U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mark Kirk.   And with the upcoming retirement of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, there are questions whether Senator Dick Durbin will continue as Minority Whip after 2016.  Also, the latest on beleaguered former Congressman Aaron Schock.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel to discuss those and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

Save Abandoned Babies Foundation

Some adoption rights advocates have a problem with a proposal in the Illinois legislature. It would change the Safe Haven law, which allows parents to drop off newborns at certain locations anonymously.

A new plan by Sen. Heather Steans would help protect the parents' identity even more by creating a foundling birth certificate, which would leave off information about the parents.

Bruce Rauner at Illinois Chamber forum.
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has spent much of his first few months in office talking about labor unions. He’s shared not only policy proposals, but also his ideas about the history of the union movement. I wrote about the state of labor in the April edition of Illinois Issues magazine and decided to take a closer look at one the governor’s theories.

dougshotwellandtherighthandband.bandcamp.com/

Tune into this week's version of The Scene - where I'm joined by Scott Faingold of the Illinois Times, per usual: 

Items discussed this week include:

A new exhibit in Springfield brings together items related to the killing of President Lincoln, which happened 150 years ago this month.

The exhibit is called "A Fiendish Assassination." It includes artifacts from President Lincoln's assassination, which took place on April 14, 1865.

James Cornelius is the curator for the exhibit.

"The goal is to make people realize that it was a public event that was horrifying and yet magnetic in its power," he said.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

High holy days for a number of world religions are celebrated this time of year.  The Jewish Passover, the Buddhist Theravada New Year, the Baha’i Ridvan, and the Hindu observances of both Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.

The names of these holidays may seem foreign to many of us, but they represent significant family practices, based on centuries of beliefs and traditions.  More familiar may Easter—the highest holy day for those who practice the Christian faith—also observed this time of year, and celebrated by many Americans.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Johnny Molson & Mary Young  are fixtures in the local community theater world. They'll be heading to Michigan to perform in a competition hosted by the American Association of Community Theatre. They joined us to talk about the production they'll be competing with, called Talley's Folly, which you can also catch over the weekend at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield:

As new bio-technology and research make more and more information available to patients with cancer, they and their families often confront new and challenging decisions. Some risk factors for cancer can be inherited. Many have been linked to gene mutations. In some cases, people choose not to know if they carry any of the genes. Others choose to learn they carry a marker for cancer and must make the difficult decision of how to respond. Some increase screening, others undergo preventive surgery while they're healthy.

The 2014 Center for State Policy & Leadership Annual Report is now available.  In early April the annual convocation shared highlights from the past year of public policy practice and engagement from the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. 

Read the latest Annual Report.

UIS.EDU

Despite concerns over state funding, there is reason for optimism at the University of Illinois Springfield.  In the first part of our interview, Chancellor Susan Koch told us about planning that is underway for a likely reduction in funding.

But there's also a bright side at UIS.   The campus has all time high enrollment and many other positive changes are coming.  A new nursing program will launch this fall and ground will soon be broken on a Student Union.   

Lincoln Half Marathon

Springfield motorists traveling across town Saturday morning, April 4 should be aware of likely traffic delays between 7:30 am and 11 am.  About 2,000 participants from more than 30 states will be on Springfield roads that morning running along a 13.1 mile route that starts and finishes downtown, goes past Lincoln sites and through the Washington and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. 

The course can be viewed on an interactive map at http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=538358.

ilga.gov

Illinois' powerful House speaker is staking an early claim in what's sure to be a contentious budget battle.

Billions of dollars in cuts proposed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner already have spurred rallies at the capitol, and groups foretell of grave consequences.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he acknowledges Illinois is in a difficult budget situation, but there's one area in particular he wants to spend more on: state crime labs.

Lincoln Letters Live on Digitally

Apr 1, 2015
The Papers Of Abraham Lincoln

 

  One hundred fifty years after Abraham Lincoln’s time as president important papers from his lifetime will be digitized. A new grant is making it possible.

A project known as “The Papers of Abraham Lincoln” has collected more than 100 thousand documents written to, or by, the president.

Equality Illinois

LGBT supporters have been in an uproar since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Illinois has had a similar law on the books for years but it never raised a stir. The leader of Equality Illinois explains why.

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2015 / WUIS - Illinois Issues

This year is the 40th anniversary of Illinois Issues’ publication. The magazine has four decades of high-quality journalism to celebrate and an exciting future in multimedia ahead.

Brian Mackey
mattpenning.com / WUIS/Illinois Issues

News Analysis — Illinois continues to be pummeled with bad budget news. The General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget analysts at the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability say income tax receipts will be down $1.9 billion in the next fiscal year. That’s thanks to the tax cut that took effect January 1, lowering the individual income tax rate from 5 percent to 3.75 percent.

Legislative Checklist April 2015

Apr 1, 2015

As the spring legislative session got into swing, lawmakers proposed several bills, including limits on need-based grants for college students and a plan to create digital driver’s licenses.

 

+ Drilling Ban On Public Land

In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington elected to legalize marijuana for recreational consumption. In 2014 Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., followed suit. In Illinois, one senator seeks to accomplish something similar legislatively.

Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat, proposed Senate Bill 753, which would drastically alter the state’s Cannabis Control Act (CCA).

Undocumented Immigrants Face Long Wait For Licenses

Apr 1, 2015

This is the second full year in which Illinois has offered driving privileges to people who are in the country illegally. The Illinois secretary of state’s office and immigrant advocacy groups say the program is generally working well, with one major sticking point: application comes with a waiting time of six months.

“There is concern about the long wait for interview appointments,” says Fred Tsao, with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “We’d all like to find a way to get more people served more quickly.”

More than half of surveyed mental health patients reported that no health care providers had told them to exercise or reduce their intake of dietary fat, a recent study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported.

Among those surveyed were patients with diabetes, and 30 percent of those reported the lack of health information, even though the American Diabetes Association advises doctors to “counsel all patients with diabetes or at high risk of diabetes about physical activity and healthy dietary choices,” a news release from UIUC states.

Terminally ill patients would be allowed to try experimental treatments under legislation proposed in the General Assembly. 

National television news may overrepresent terrorists as Muslims or immigrants accused of crimes as Latino. 

Using media archives from the University of California at Los Angeles from 2008 to 2012, University of Illinois professor Travis Dixon found that breaking news on cable and national network news often disproportionately broadcast stories that portrayed terrorists as Muslim and immigrants accused of crimes as Latino, but also underrepresented African-Americans as both victims and perpetrators of crime. 

Local human service agencies, school districts and municipalities report that child poverty has become a long-term problem for their communities, says a contributor to a new assessment of children’s quality of life in Illinois.

Disease Carried By Cats Puts Muskrats, Minks At Risk

Apr 1, 2015

A cat-borne parasite appears to be on the loose in central Illinois in a greater capacity than scientists anticipated. 

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found minks and muskrats carrying an antibody for the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease commonly spread through cat feces. 

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