Debate prep / Spit spat / Robocall assault

Debate prep. Intelligencer runs down what you need to know about tonight’s and tomorrow’s Democratic presidential faceoffs—which begin at 8 p.m. Chicago time.

The New York Times: Watch for “plenty of intriguing storylines.”
CNN: Here are the candidates’ goals.
Slate’s guide to the debate underdogs.
President Trump: “It’s a very unexciting group of people.”
After the debates, at least five of the candidates are headed to Chicago.
Vox: Where the candidates stand on the climate crisis.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan to overhaul federal elections includes a provision to make Election Day a holiday.

‘Trump is responsible.’ Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke blames the president for the deaths of a Salvadoran refugee father and his less-than-2-year-old daughter whose bodies were found along the Rio Grande—a shocking photo of which conveys the life-and-death nature of the American border crisis.
CNN’s Brian Stelter: “I know it is tempting to look away. I have been trying.” (Cartoon: Keith J. Taylor.)
The Washington Post: “Health officials say they’re out of room for the influx of unaccompanied migrant kids.”
Overcoming a liberal revolt, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has won House passage of legislation that gives the Trump administration more money—supposedly to address humanitarian needs at the border.
Reportedly replacing the newly-resigned departing chief of Customs and Border Protection: An even harder-liner.
Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg on border atrocities: “This isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. We are NOT better than this. We have NEVER been better than this. We are exactly this, and always have been.”

Spit spat. President Trump’s son Eric claims an employee of a Chicago lounge spit on him yesterday …
 … but he’s not pressing charges …
 … and he still likes Chicago.

The new voice of lies. The president’s latest replacement press secretary is Stephanie Grisham, who has been the first lady’s communications director …
 … and who, like her predecessor, has a history of telling falsehoods …
 … and who in 2016, yanked the credentials of reporters who’d criticized her Republican bosses.
Speaking of lies, National Rifle Association spokesdemon Dana Loesch is out of a job.
Two more deputies have been fired after an investigation into the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school. is a Square advertiser.
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Pot’s next frontiers. Now that Gov. Pritzker has signed Illinois’ marijuana legalization law, the Sun-Times says, you can expect lawmakers to begin tweaking the law on things like home delivery.
One Illinois: The new legislation’s authors say it was no accident the plan wasn’t crafted by men.
San Francisco—corporate home of e-cigarette maker Juul Labs—has become the first major U.S. city to ban e-cigarettes’ sale and distribution.

‘My hair caught on fire.’ Retired state appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien tells Tribune columnist John Kass what drove her to seek a special prosecutor to figure out what prompted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to drop the investigation of actor Jussie Smollett’s evidently false claim of a racist, homophobic attack.
Chicago police report an off-duty officer driving by an elementary school was shot early this morning.
Mayor Lightfoot says a much-protested plan to build a new police academy on Chicago’s West Side (May 2018 link) probably needs to be even bigger than planned.
A Chicago Park District employee scam: Setting up tax-exempt Sam’s Club memberships to buy personal stuff.

Robocall assault. Illinois and other states are teaming up with the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on telephonic abuse.
How to report unwanted calls.
For the second time, the National Security Agency has been caught improperly collecting Americans’ call records …
 …in documents pried loose by the American Civil Liberties Union.

‘A legend among Chicago TV journalists.’ Russ Ewing, a reporter to whom more than 100 suspects surrendered, is dead at 95.
Media critic Robert Feder recalls Ewing’s philosophy about dealing with fugitives and hostage-takers: “If it works, you’re a hero. If not, you’re dead.”

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