Mutants rising / ‘You could feel the intimidation and fear’ / ‘Forget Trump’

Last call. Noon today (Central time) is the deadline in the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago poll. Chicago Public Square humbly requests your vote.

Mutants rising. New research suggests a faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus could become the dominant source of infection by March.
A University of Washington researcher calls it “a grim projection”—especially amid “the relaxation of social distancing.”
A viral evolution expert tells STAT: “In some parts of the world, where a lot of people have been infected and have at least some partial immunity, there might be an advantage for the virus now to reinfect people.”
The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson dismisses “hygiene theater”—including gloves and bleach: “Too many people imagine the fight against COVID-19 as a land war to be waged with sudsy hand-to-hand combat against grimy surfaces.”
Pandemic visionary sociologist Zeynep Tufekci contends that, while the short-term outlook “is certainly grim,” the long-term forecast is increasingly hopeful—because “the vaccines are proving to be home runs.”
Vaccines are especially hard to land for those without internet access.

School this week? A tentative deal between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union could put thousands of kids back in classrooms within days—but others not until March.
The union’s not so sure.
The Sun-Times breaks down what’s on the table.
Former firebrand CTU chief Karen Lewis is dead at 67.

‘You could feel the intimidation and fear.’ An insider tells media watchdog Robert Feder about a tense meeting Friday for the staff of WGN’s fledgling NewsNation cable operation—and Feder sees a “Fox shadow” in Trump White House deputy chief of staff Bill Shine’s role as NewsNation consultant.
Poynter’s Tom Jones says Fox News’ decision to cut lie-spewing host Lou Dobbs “was a stunner.”
Critic Aaron Barnhart: “The Best Late-Night TV Isn’t Nightly Anymore.” (Cartoon: Keith J. Taylor.)

‘I’m not so sure.’ Historian Heather Cox Richardson is skeptical of predictions the Senate will acquit Donald Trump after his second impeachment trial, set to begin Tuesday.

‘Forget Trump.’ Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington sees little value in impeachment proceedings: “Get laser-focused, instead, on … a worldwide viral pandemic and deep economic distress.”

Springfield stunner. A Democratic committee picked a surprise contender to replace a departing state senator.
He pledges “to be really progressive.”

And between the ads, there was a football game. Did a five-second Super Bowl spot by Reddit—one that allegedly baffled CBS and depended on viewers to rewind and pause to read five paragraphs of text—point to the future of TV advertising in the age of DVRs?
Washington Post music critic Chris Richards slams Bruce Springsteen for a Jeep ad “preaching reconciliation without reckoning” and “sticking up for a car company whose products are hastening the death of our planet.”
Environmental journalist Emily Atkin: GM’s ad … “tries to erase years of anti-climate work in 90 seconds.”
Tribune critic Britt Julious rates The Weeknd’s halftime show “an expensive nothing.”

Graham Crackers is a Chicago Public Square advertiser.
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