Ban ban / ‘A poisonous campaign’ / Dark Mickey / How to complain

Ban ban. As of the new year, Illinois is the first state in the nation to ban the banning of library books
 … under a law that ties state funding to a written library bill of rights.
 Among hundreds of other new state laws for 2024: One guaranteeing Illinois workers up to 40 hours’ paid leave
 … another giving employees more power to hold bosses liable for gender violence in the workplace
 … one that outlaws indoor vaping
 … which a Tribune editorial says makes sense: “Nobody should be Zooming in the fast lanes of the Kennedy Expressway.”
 Here’s a full list of new Illinois laws, as trumpeted by the General Assembly’s Democratic majority.

‘A massive … Airbnb scam.’ 404 reports that a real estate “visionary” has been charged in a fraud scheme that involved nearly 100 properties across Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and at least six other states.
 A 2019 Vice investigation began when a reporter in Chicago for Riot Fest got word of a rental cancellation 10 minutes before check-in.

‘Thousands of commuters … have heard nothing.’ A Trib editorial condemns the CTA for inaction on the Yellow Line—still out of commission 48 days after a train crashed into snow-moving equipment, injuring 38 people.
 Five people were hurt yesterday afternoon when a car collided with a CTA bus, which then crashed into a West Side building.
 The Sun-Times: 2023 saw fewer shootings in Chicago, but a lot more crimes that involved guns.
‘A poisonous campaign.’
Popular Information dissects the key role senior adviser Stephen Miller’s playing in Donald Trump’s racist run to recapture the White House. (2019 cartoon: The late Keith J. Taylor.)
 Just Security’s continually updating its “Litigation Tracker: Pending Criminal and Civil Cases Against Donald Trump.”

Israel, accused. The nation’s vowing to fight South Africa’s International Court of Justice accusation of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
 Sun-Times D.C. bureau chief Lynn Sweet surveys how the Israel-Hamas war has split Illinois’ congressional Democrats.

Dark Mickey. With the earliest incarnation of Mickey Mouse newly in the public domain, production’s set to begin on a horror film based on Steamboat Willie—a tale of a sadistic mouse tormenting a group of unsuspecting ferry passengers.
 Days after the death of comedy musician Tom Smothers, Variety’s Marc Freeman—author of a 2017 oral history of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour—recounts how the Smotherses “embraced the counterculture, defeated the censors and set the stage for Saturday Night Live.”
 Here’s a still-hilarious 1963 clip of the brothers.

‘Decency, against all imaginable odds, will find a way to prevail.’ USA Today’s Rex Huppke predicts “things that are most definitely, quite probably, all-but-certainly going to happen this year.”
 Author and English professor emeritus David McGrath offers 10 resolutions for 2024—including “Disband the Electoral College.”
 Columnist Mike Gold: “The scariest event of the past year” was a Sun-Times headline.
 New Orleans journalist Joseph Cranney has rounded up “proof, from every state” of “how reporters in 2023 stood up to power brokers.”
 Neil Steinberg’s relieved the holidays are past: “Now we're home free for … gee … almost six weeks. Until the ticking bomb of Valentine’s Day.”

How to complain. The Sun-Times’ new Money section lays out Stephanie Zimmermann’s step-by-step guide to registering a consumer problem—and getting satisfaction …
 … a thing up to which your Chicago Public Square columnist has been for a veryverylong time.
 Veteran Chicago business and government reporter David Roeder’s winding down his career.

Holiday tinkering. Square’s been largely absent from your inbox the last week-and-a-half or so, but behind-the-scenes action has been plentiful:
 Lots of news and commentary appeared on the Square Facebook page (free and visible to all—even non-members of Facebook).
 The email newsletter template’s been tweaked—partly to remove that “Tweet it (X it?)” sharing option.
 We’ve cracked a longstanding glitch that required extra steps to smarten Square’s punctuation marks.

Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean we won’t keep asking. Less than two weeks left to cast your ballot for Square as Best Email Newsletter and Best Independent Website or Blog in the Reader’s Best of Chicago poll.
 Walter Fyk made this edition better.

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