Have yourself a merry little Squaremas. You can give the gift of Chicago Public Square for the holidays. Or you can just get yourself a little something. And now the news:
‘Supporters tweeted disgust.’ Politico’s Shia Kapos reports (about halfway through today’s column) that a member of a progressive Chicago political group’s steering committee is under fire for mocking two police officers struck and killed by a train Monday night.
■ A police department spokesman says the sound of the train that killed the officers, who were on the trail of an armed suspect, may have been drowned out by the sound of a train they could see.
■ Metra suggests the officers didn’t follow protocol.
■ Fundraisers for the victims raised thousands of dollars in just a few hours.
■ A Tribune editorial: Blame these deaths, in part, on Chicago’s “intractable culture of shooting and killing.”
‘Burke’s political demise’? Veteran Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman says federal raids on the offices of Chicago’s longest-serving alderman, Ed Burke, may foretell the end of his career.
■ Chicago magazine’s Edward McClelland: Burke is likely “the last Irishman to represent the 14th Ward.”
■ Two candidates for mayor are giving away the money Burke donated to their campaigns.
■ Candidate Susana Mendoza vows to pump new life into 50 of the city’s underused schools.
■ Block Club Chicago: “Every Candidate In This West Side Race Might Get Knocked Off The Ballot (Once Again)—Except The Sitting Alderman.”
■ … including its ownership of three items: Two big portraits of Trump and a Tim Tebow-autographed football helmet. (Cartoon: Keith Taylor.)
■ Presidential historian Jon Meacham: Trump is “a nightmare of the founders coming true.”
■ A blind, burrowing amphibian has been named after Trump.
Strange Bedfellows Dept. The biggest U.S. criminal justice system overhaul in decades has passed the Senate with backing from the American Civil Liberties Union, the conservative Koch brothers and senators from both sides of the aisle, including Illinois’ Dick Durbin …
■ … and President Trump says he’s eager to sign it.
■ The administration’s officially banning bump-stocks—the semi-automatic weapon enhancer used by a gunman to fire on Las Vegas concertgoers, killing 58 people.
■ Sentencing for Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is on hold with a judge who’s not a fan.
Facebook’s privacy holes. The New York Times says Facebook let its partners Netflix and Spotify “read, write and delete users’ private messages.” (Clarification, Dec. 20: Will Oremus in Slate: “It is indeed an unbelievable thought that Netflix or Spotify were reading the messages people typed on Facebook … But by all indications, they were doing none of those things.”)
■ Facebook has issued a weaselly rebuttal.
■ A U.S. senator: “We need a federal privacy law.”
■ Ars Technica: “Control over the web has functionally been ceded to Google.”
‘Troll Patrol.’ A new Amnesty International study concludes a female politician or journalist is harassed on Twitter every 30 seconds.
■ For the first time, the U.S. appears on a list of countries most dangerous for journalists.
■ Ex-Fox News executives and a disgraced ex-NPR news chief* are teaming up to launch a new news website.
‘Did I mention … the party with the flamethrowers?’ The Verge’s Elizabeth Lopatto took a ride in an underground California tunnel that is a prototype for the rapid-transit project erratic inventor Elon Musk has proposed to build in Chicago.
■ See video from a demo ride.
Friday night blights. A suburban school board has voted tentatively to eliminate its football teams, cheerleaders and marching bands next year.
■ The Illinois High School Association is planning a major overhaul of football season scheduling.
Correction. Legion of Chicago Public Squarians member Mike Braden spotted a redundancy in yesterday’s Chicago Public Square: “… priests assigned to Chicago-area schools and churches in the Chicago area …”
*Who presented your Square publisher with an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2016.