‘Help is here’ / ZIP in / Is your email watching you?

‘Help is here.’ That was President Biden’s tweet upon House passage of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. Some of what’s in it for you:

Stimulus checks for individuals earning less than $80,000 a year, heads of households earning less than $120,000, and married couples earning less than $160,000.
Up to $3,600 per child for millions of parents…
 … as the U.S. gets around to joining the rest of the world.
$13.2 billion for Illinois—including $1.8 billion for Chicago …
 … but Mayor Lightfoot cautions aldermen: The relief plan isn’t “a slush fund that we can use every way that we can.” (Cartoon: Keith J. Taylor.)

‘A sea change’ in U.S. policy. Historian Heather Cox Richardson: “Rather than funneling money upward in the belief that those at the top will invest in the economy … Democrats are returning to the idea that using the government to put money into the hands of ordinary Americans will rebuild the economy from the bottom up.”
Veteran journalist Charlie Madigan: “If you are a Democrat and you aren’t happy … then you can’t be happy about anything.”
A doctor, quoted in Chicago Public Square one year ago today: “People need … cash without strings attached, and they need it now.”

ZIP in. Chicago’s set aside United Center COVID-19 vaccinations for people in five ZIP codes …
 … and community-delivered shots for all adults in the Austin, Garfield Park and North Lawndale neighborhoods.
Patch columnist Mark Konkol: “If you love Mom, don’t let her ‘wait and see’” on getting a shot.
A man whose two sisters died of the coronavirus—one of them Illinois’ first pandemic casualty—tells the Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika: “I wish you never knew us.”
The Conversation: Pollen increases the risk of COVID-19—and the season’s getting longer, thanks to climate change.
A new analysis concludes the U.S. needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 57% from 2005 levels by 2030 to meet a target set by the Paris climate accords.

As kids return to school, Illinois says they can be as close as 3—not 6—feet apart.
Did the pandemic derail your travel plans last year? Are your travel vouchers close to expiring? Consumer Reports wants your story.

Biden’s big speech. The president plans to address the nation tonight, talking about what “we’ve been through as a nation this past year, but more importantly … about what comes next.”
Biden has yet to hold a formal solo news conference as president—breaking a 100-year record.
He finally has an attorney general, with Niles West graduate Merrick Garland’s bipartisan confirmation yesterday.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a new leader—the first Black man to head the organization.

Philanthropist and businessman Richard Driehaus is dead at 78 …
Longtime WXRT music director—former colleague for years to your Chicago Public Square columnist—John Farneda is dead of cancer at 59.
Cancer’s also claimed WGN-TV meteorologist Mike Hamernik.

‘The facts … are appalling.’ The ACLU welcomes the acquittal of a Des Moines Register reporter arrested as she covered a Black Lives Matter protest in May, but it calls the case “an embarrassment for Polk County and the State of Iowa.”
Media writer Tom Jones: “It doesn’t erase that police arrested her and prosecutors did everything in their power to punish her.”
Chicago police have launched a new website to gather and share information about the city’s carjacking epidemic.

This weather blows. Strong winds overnight did a number on the Chicago area.

Is your email watching you? Wired offers tips to reclaim your privacy from services that track what you open and click.*
Firefox offers three ways to put privacy first on your phone.

Asking for a friend. What songs would you recommend for a playlist to mark someone’s complete vaccination against COVID-19? You know, like this one? With luck, it’ll be something we’ll all find useful soon enough. Comment at the bottom of the page here.
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 Thanks to reader Mike Braden for some fixes on this edition.
* Full disclosure: Chicago Public Square’s email vendor, Mailchimp, tracks what you open and click—it helps make this newsletter more responsive to your interests (2007 link)—but Square never shares individuals’ information.

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