Carjacking incidents raise concerns in Chicago, suburbs; 5 carjackings reported in Wicker Park over weekend, police say

There have been at least a dozen carjackings reported in the city and suburbs since Friday, shining a light on the growing problem in the city.

Chicago police said they are working around the clock to keep up with the large spike in carjackings as investigators try to find the offenders before they do it again.

“Many times we have individuals – whether it’s a juvenile or an adult – that run up, they are masked due to the pandemic and have a hoodie that covers everything but the whites of their eyes, they stick a gun in their face and take their car,” said CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.

“Immediately two men got out of a tan SUV, one of them came running up to me, and I remember saying, ‘please do not hurt me.’ Begging for my life,” said carjacking victim Kelly Milan. “He just kept saying, ‘where are your keys – where are your keys?'”

Milan is now one of hundreds of carjacking victims, as reported incidents pop up across the city. It’s a scenario that is becoming all too common in the city of Chicago.

“It all happened so fast,” she said.

Milan said she was carjacked on Friday morning. She said she had just pulled up in front of a Hyde Park elementary school when three men surrounded her car, stole her keys, then took off.

“It is happening everywhere,” Milan added. “It does not matter where you are or what neighborhood you are in. It is happening.”

Erin Grobel’s story is similar, except this time it was in the Wicker Park area. She said she was carjacked on Saturday afternoon by an armed teenager.

“[A] car pulls up really quickly behind me and two teenagers came out and I was trying to lock the door and start the car all at the same time,” she recalled.

Within seconds, the crew was gone and so was Grobel’s car.

“It is playing out in my head that it could have been so much worse,” she said.

Chicago police confirm at least five carjackings were reported in the city’s Wicker Park neighborhood over the weekend.

In the first incident, police said a 32-year-old woman was sitting in the driver’s seat of a car in the 1200-block of N. Milwaukee when two suspects approached and physically removed her from the vehicle around 1:25 p.m. Saturday. Around 7 p.m. Saturday, a 50-year-old male rideshare driver said he was carjacked by two men who implied they had a weapon in the 1400-block of N. Leavitt around 7 p.m. Around two hours later, a 40-year-old male rideshare driver said he was carjacked by two men he believed were his passengers who flagged him down in the 1100-block of North Winchester. Another rideshare driver, a 29-year-old male, told police he too was flagged down by two men he believed to be his passengers around 10:35 p.m. in the 2100-block of West Charleston. Police said the men got into the backseat of the vehicle, then showed the driver a weapon and began making threats. Police said another male rideshare driver was targeted by two men who flagged him down in the 1700-block of W. Le Moyne just before 4 a.m. A 41-year-old woman told police she was working delivery when two armed carjackers attempted to steal her vehicle in the 1200-block of W. Columbia around 7:25 p.m. Sunday, but she was able to scare them off.

“Now with this huge uptick in carjackings, it appears that many of them are just taking the cars, using them for 24 hours, and then dumping the cars and moving to another carjacking,” Deenihan said.

43rd Ward Ald. Michele Smith is now pushing for more to be done. She’s hosting an online forum with police so people can learn more about the brazen attacks.

“This is not random, it is organized,” Ald. Smith said. “There are groups involved in this and this is what we need information about.”

Smith announced the forum on Saturday. Moments later, she said there were two more carjackings in her ward, which includes Lincoln Park and some of the Gold Coast.

“Now 10 carjackings in my ward since December,” Ald. Smith said.

So, where are the offenders taking the stolen cars? Chicago police said the criminals, who are usually teens, use them as getaway cars to commit more crimes.

“But there are vehicles being carjacked and are subsequently being used in shootings, or additional robberies,” Deenihan said. “And then lastly, it is not a higher percentage, but there are certain cars, higher-end cars, that they are taking the cars and selling them retagged in different states and overseas.”

Ald. Smith said her forum will be hosted on Feb. 2 and she plans to include the state’s attorney’s office in the conversation.

Weekend carjackings reported in western suburbs

The trend is also growing out in the suburbs. Just in the last 48 hours, there have been carjackings reported in Naperville, Aurora and an attempted carjacking in Elmhurst.

Just in the last 48 hours, there have been carjackings reported in Naperville, Aurora and an attempted carjacking in Elmhurst.

The Aurora attack left a woman in critical condition after police say she was shot as the offenders stole her car in the parking lot of this Wendy’s.

Investigators said the offenders are tied to at least one other carjacking this weekend.

Aurora police are still working to track down the victim’s car and those who were involved.

Police are asking for the public’s help locating the vehicle stolen from Aurora. It is described as a red 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe with Illinois license place AE89203.

Man found living in Chicago’s O’Hare airport for three months ‘due to fear of Covid 19

Man found living in Chicago airport for three months 'due to fear of Covid'  | Coronavirus | The Guardian

A man has been living in a secure section of Chicago’s international airport for three months, apparently telling police he was too afraid of coronavirus to return home to Los Angeles, according to multiple reports.

The 36-year-old man, Californian Aditya Singh, was arrested this weekend and charged with criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport, a felony, and theft, a misdemeanour, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Prosecutors said on Sunday that, according to police, the man arrived on a flight from Los Angeles to O’Hare international airport on 19 October. Nearly three months later, on Saturday afternoon, Singh was approached by two United Airlines employees who asked to see identification. Singh allegedly showed them an airport ID badge that had been reported missing by its owner, an airport operations manager, on 26 October.

Man found 'living in Chicago airport for three months' | CNN Travel

Assistant state attorney Kathleen Hagerty told Cook County judge Susana Ortiz that other passengers had been giving food to Singh, who does not have a criminal background. Hagerty said Singh had found the badge in the airport and was “scared to go home due to Covid”.

Ortiz reportedly told the court: “You’re telling me that an unauthorised, non-employee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O’Hare airport terminal from 10 October, 2020, to 16 January, 2021, and was not detected? I want to understand you correctly.”

After finding Singh, the United Airlines employees called 911. Police took him into custody on Saturday morning.

Singh has a master’s degree in hospitality, is unemployed and lives with roommates in Orange, Los Angeles, according to assistant public defender Courtney Smallwood.

“The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred,” said Ortiz. “Being in a secured part of the airport under a fake ID badge allegedly, based upon the need for airports to be absolutely secure so that people feel safe to travel, I do find those alleged actions do make him a danger to the community.”

Singh’s bail was set at $1,000. Should he be able to post bail, he is barred from entering the airport.

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) said in a statement: “CDA has no higher priority than the safety and security of our airports, which is maintained by a coordinated and multilayered law enforcement network.

“While this incident remains under investigation, we have been able to determine that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the traveling public. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on a thorough investigation of this matter.”

Samuel L. Jackson Expelled Back In The 60s from Morehouse for Holding MLK Sr. Hostage

In 1969, actor Samuel L Jackson was expelled from historically black Morehouse College for locking board members in a building for two days in protest of the school’s curriculum and governance. Included in this group of people who were held hostage was Martin Luther King Jr.’s very own father, Martin Luther King Sr.

In 1966, during the height of the civil rights movement, Jackson enrolled at the historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr. In 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Kings body was brought to Atlanta to lie in state at Spelman College, the historically black woman’s school adjacent to Morehouse. Jackson attended King’s funeral as one of the ushers and then flew to Memphis to join an equal rights protest march that radicalized him and changed the way he thought. “I was angry about the assassination, but I wasn’t shocked by it. I knew that change was going to take something different — not sit-ins, not peaceful coexistence,” he stated in an interview with Parade about his reactions to King’s death.

In 1969, as mentioned before, he and a group of radical Morehouse students held the college’s board of trustees hostage, demanding that changes be made in the curriculum of the school and stating that they wanted more blacks on the governing board of the institution. Morehouse eventually gave in and agreed to change but Jackson was expelled for his actions.

That summer he became connected with people in the Black Power movement including Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and others.

“I was in that radical faction,” Jackson told Parade. “We were buying guns, getting ready for armed struggle. ‘All of a sudden,’ he said proudly, ‘I felt I had a voice. I was somebody. I could make a difference. ‘But then one day,’ he added quietly, ‘my mom showed up and put me on a plane to L.A. She said, ‘Do not come back to Atlanta.’ The FBI had been to the house and told her that if I didn’t get out of Atlanta, there was a good possibility I’d be dead within a year. She freaked out.’”

Jackson was one tough dude even before all his movies.

23 die in Norway after receiving COVID vaccine. 13 were at least 80yrs old.

Norway: 23 people die within days of getting first Covid-19 vaccine dose |  Hindustan Times
Pfizer vaccination reports 23 deaths in Norway.

 Health officials are looking more closely into the deaths of nearly two dozen people after receiving their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Norway.

A total 23 people died within days of receiving their first dose, the Norwegian Medicines Agency announced in a statement.

Of those deaths, 13 were nursing home patients who were at least 80-years-old and were apparently related to the side effects of the vaccinations, according to health officials.

Dr. Sigurd Hortemo, chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said in the press release that common side effects like fever and nausea “may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients.”

Norway reports deaths of 23 elderly soon after receiving Pfizer vaccine,  launches probe - Coronavirus Outbreak News

The Norwegian Medicines Agency says it cannot rule out side effects of the vaccine contributing to serious course and fatal outcome in patients with serve underlying disease.

As a result, the COVID-19 vaccination guide has been updated with more detailed advice on vaccinating the elderly.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency and the National Institute of Public Health will assess all reports of suspected reactions.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses separated by 21 days. It must be stored in an ultra-cold freezer, thermal shipping container, or refrigerator.

Amid a vaccine rollout that has offered real hope for some countries, the global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million Friday.

All told, over 35 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, according to the University of Oxford.

U.S. appeals court lets Arkansas curb abortion surgeries during the pandemic

U.S. appeals court lets Arkansas curb abortion surgeries during ...

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday allowed Arkansas to enforce a ban on most surgical abortions a part of a state directive aimed at postponing medical procedures not deemed urgent during the coronavirus outbreak.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Missouri, lifted a federal judge’s order that had allowed the procedure to continue to be performed. The appeals court ruling does not affect abortions induced through medication in the early stage of pregnancy, which is still allowed.

The ruling comes two days after another federal appeals court allowed Texas to enforce curbs on abortions via medication as part of that state’s response to the pandemic.

Arkansas and Texas are among a handful of conservative states that have pursued limits on abortion during the crisis, saying they want to ensure that medical resources, including protective equipment, are available to help healthcare facilities cope with people with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

The 8th Circuit said that the lower court judge “usurped the functions of the state government by second-guessing the state’s policy choices in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Georgia residents are struggling between a desire to return to work and fear of coronavirus resurgence

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Rebecca Hardin is tired of stay-at-home restrictions that weeks ago shut down the Atlanta hair salon where she works, but she wondered if an order by the state’s governor allowing some businesses to reopen this week was a little premature.

Hardin, a 47-year-old hairdresser who also manages Salon Red in Atlanta’s Candler Park neighborhood, said she needs to get back to work as soon as possible. Even so, she worried that the state was risking a fresh surge of coronavirus infections and loss of life.

“I want to get back to work, but I’m worried it’s too soon,” she said. “Friday seems awfully early when we’re facing a deadly disease that has no cure or vaccine.”

Hardin was one of a handful of Atlantans who spoke with Reuters after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s order allowing salons, gyms, bowling alleys, barbershops, tattoo parlors and other businesses to reopen as of Friday. Next week, dine-in restaurants and movie theaters will be able to reopen as well.

Despite criticism from public health experts and many local officials, Kemp has described the limited reopening as a measured approach that balances the need to get the state’s economy back in gear with the need to assure public safety.

Hardin said it was still uncertain whether Salon Red would reopen on Friday.

“What if I catch it and don’t know I have it and give it to my 8-year-old, or my own parents, let alone my clients,” Hardin said. “I don’t know if it’s worth it to just open up now. It’s just hair.”

Several restaurant owners have told Reuters that they would not reopen Monday, even if it means losing money to the competition.

Brian Maloof, whose family has owned the popular Manuel’s Tavern just east of midtown Atlanta for more than 60 years, will stay closed even to take-out until there is widespread testing available to the public and the number of cases declines.

“I’m losing money every day and I’m worried about my staff, but it can’t be safe yet,” said Maloof, 62. “I have 49 employees and I worry about each one of them, but I don’t want to put them or my customers at risk.”

Sex toy sales take off amid Colombia’s coronavirus quarantine

Sex toy sales take off amid Colombia's coronavirus quarantine ...

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Gerson Monje holds up his cellphone to proudly show off his online sex shop. A red banner reading “sold out!” is plastered across half of the products.

While most Colombian businesses suffer during a five-week lockdown meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, one online industry has seen an explosion in sales in the usually conservative country: sex toys are flying off virtual shelves.

“Sales started going up on day four of the quarantine,” said Monje, who is still able to have products delivered to customers amid the national lockdown. “We’ve seen a rise of 50%.”

“People are at home and have more time on their hands. They’re with their partners or alone and need fun in their daily activities when it comes to being intimate,” Monje said.

Reuters spoke to six online sex shops in Colombia and all said they have seen a swell in sales since the quarantine began. Colombians are meant to remain at home until Apr. 27, except for outings to buy food and medicine and visits to banks, among other exceptions.

Sex toys could help people keep their spirits up during long isolation, psychologist Dr. Carolina Guzman said and might lead to an easing of sexual mores.

“Colombia has a very conservative idea around sexuality and communication surrounding it,” she said. “It’s a good time for people to allow themselves to work on their curiosity and to understand that buying and using these products is a great thing.”

Other countries have seen a similar phenomenon. Sales of sex toys in Denmark have more than doubled, while British lingerie chain Ann Summers said sex toy sales were up 27% in the last week of March.

Inside the Sex Sense sex shop in Bogota, manager Adriana Marin watched Pope Francis give a Good Friday Mass on her computer as she sprayed boxes of products with disinfectant.

Her online shop sales have taken off even though her storefront is closed and there is stiff competition. There are about 30 other sex shops in her neighborhood alone.

At the Bali Sex Store in Medellin, sales are up 140%.

Products with mobile phone applications that allow separated partners to control toys for one another are particularly popular, said Katty Gonzalez, the store’s marketing director.

“Before people didn’t have time because of so many things going on in their daily lives and I think that because of what’s happening at the moment, it’s giving them the opportunity to explore different things,” she said.

Indonesia locks up people for breaking virus quarantine rules.

SRAGEN, Indonesia – Fed up with people breaking virus quarantine rules, one Indonesian politician has decided to scare rulebreakers straight by locking them in a “haunted house.”

Sragen regency head Kusdinar Untung Yuni Sukowati says she issued the unusual edict this week to deal with an influx of people to the area after lockdowns in the capital Jakarta and other major cities.

Some newcomers, however, weren’t respecting orders that they isolate themselves for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the region on Indonesia’s densely populated Java island.

So Sukowati instructed communities to repurpose abandoned houses that were feared to be haunted — tapping widespread beliefs in the supernatural, which play a key role in Indonesian folklore.

Five people have been tossed into Sragen’s spooky jails so far.

“If there’s an empty and haunted house in the village, put people in there and lock them up,” Sukowati told AFP Tuesday when asked about the rule.

Officials in Sepat village chose a long-abandoned house and outfitted it with beds placed at a distance and separated by curtains.

So far, the village has locked up 3 recently-arrived residents who are being forced to spend the remainder of their 2-week quarantine in the spooky abode.

Among them was Heri Susanto, who said his punishment hadn’t brought him face to face with any ghosts — so far.

“But whatever happens, happens,” said Susanto, who came from neighboring Sumatra island.

“I know this is for everyone’s safety. Lesson learned.”

Chipotle Paying Record $25 Million Fine Over Tainted Food, Norovirus Outbreaks

Chipotle Agrees to Record $25 Million Fine Over Tainted Food ...

Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay a $25 million fine to resolve criminal charges accusing the fast-food chain of sickening more than 1,100 customers between 2015 and 2018.

The Justice Department announced the agreement Tuesday, noting it’s the largest fine ever for a food safety case.

As part of the three-year deferred prosecution deal, the company has also agreed to comply with an improved food safety program.

Chipotle was charged with two counts of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for producing products that led to several food-borne illness outbreaks, prosecutors said.

“This settlement represents an acknowledgment of how seriously Chipotle takes food safety every day and is an opportunity to definitively turn the page on past events and focus on serving our customer’s real food made with real ingredients that they can enjoy with confidence,” Chipotle Chairman and CEO Brian Niccol said in a statement.

According to the agreement, Chipotle admits to at least five foodborne illness outbreaks over the three-year period in Los Angeles, Boston, Virginia, and Ohio in which workers failed to comply with food safety protocols.

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said hundreds of customers fell ill because Chipotle failed to ensure employees knew and complied with safety protocols. Tuesday’s “steep penalty” should not only result in greater protections, he added, but remind others in the industry to “review and improve their own health and safety practices.

More than 230 people became sick at a Simi Valley, Calif., location in 2015 because the restaurant failed to pass along information about an ill employee. More than 140 customers became sick at a Boston location following a norovirus outbreak.

“This case highlights why it is important for restaurants and members of the foodservice industry to ensure that managers and employees consistently follow food-safety policies,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt.

Lightfoot says she’s expecting Illinois’ stay-at-home order to extend into June

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order could extend into June, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on a conference call with reporters.

Lightfoot was asked during a teleconference call with reporters whether a June 30 deadline for an ordinance giving her extended powers signals anything about when the city expects stay-at-home orders and restrictions to be lifted.

The mayor said no, just that it’s a date where the city may have a better view of the future.

But, she said, the state’s current April 30th end to the stay-at-home order is not viable anymore. Lightfoot reiterated her previous prediction that the order could go into May, then added that it could go into June.