Illinois Public Media News



WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 12, 2012

UI Professor’s Comments Prompt Firing by Conservative Magazine

A professor emeritus of the University of Illinois has been removed as an online contributor by the conservative National Review magazine for comments he made about white nationalism.

Robert Weissberg taught political science on the U of I's Urbana campus from 1975 until 2002, and now lives in New York. He spoke last month at a conference in Tennessee hosted by American Renaissance, a magazine known for white supremacist and anti-immigrant views. Weissberg agrees the conference was controversial, but also argued in his speech that white nationalism is a dead end.

"What I suggested as an alternative, just so you know, was that people who want that kind of existence should move to areas that are largely white," Weissberg said.

A former head of political science at the U of I says Weissberg's 'disappointing' comments are from an embittered man who wasn't engaged in his work, and left the campus on poor terms. Peter Nardulli, who now heads the U of I's Cline Center for Democracy, says Weissberg spent much of his time running a retail store in Champaign. He suggests university trustees strip him of emeritus status, calling it his only claim to credibiilty.

"That would be my basis for dissociate himself from the university," Nardulli said. "I mean, emeritus status does not bring with it anything but a title, but when your title is affiliated with a particular institution, that institution should have something to say about it."

But policies from the U of I Provost's office for granting emeritus status do not include language for removing that title.

Weissberg says the National Review is 'going out of its way to enforce a Stalinist ideology' and notes other publications still publish him on line, including American Thinker and Family Security Matters.

Categories: Education, Race/Ethnicity

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

Study: Race Gap in Breast Cancer Deaths in Many Cities

African-American women with breast cancer in Chicago are more likely to die of their disease than white women.

Now a new study by Chicago researchers finds that the disparity is a widespread problem in major cities. A team from the Sinai Urban Health Institute calculated the race gap in breast cancer mortality for the nation's 25 biggest cities, and found that more than half of them have a significant disparity.

"In the United States the number of deaths that occur each year because of the disparity, not because of [just] breast cancer, is 1,700," said Steven Whitman, director of the Institute. "That's about five a day."

Chicago was among the worst cities, with black women in the city 61 percent more likely to die than white women. Memphis had the largest disparity, and three other cities fared worse than Chicago: Denver, Houston and Los Angeles. All of the data are based on the years 2005-2007.

The study authors have connections with the Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force, whose research indicates that societal factors - "racism," as Whitman bluntly put it - are mainly responsible for the disparity. Task force members say unequal access to screening mammograms is largely to blame, and point out that Illinois' program providing screening to low-income women is nearly broke. Other public health researchers note that genetics likely plays a significant role in the race gap as well.

The study was funded by the Avon Foundation and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

Categories: Health, Race/Ethnicity, Science

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 22, 2011

Latino Group Joins Lawsuit Against Indiana Immigration Law

La Union Benefica Mexican has been around for decades in Northwest Indiana.

The group promotes Mexican culture and traditions throughout the year with events and gatherings, but the UBM is taking a more serious tone by joining a federal lawsuit against Indiana's anti-illegal immigration law, S.B. 590.

Although adopted last spring by the Indiana General Assembly, certain provisions of law have yet to take effect since a federal judge's injunction kicked in last summer.

Still, Antonio Barreda, head of the UBM, said the bill discriminates against Latinos, not just those who may be in the United States illegally.

"The law itself could violate not only immigrants but American citizens such as I and many others," Barreda said. "It also gives businesses the opportunity to become even more discriminatory by not hiring Hispanics."

Barreda said UBM is join in its lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis.

In a written statement, MALDEF said the bill "poses severe and immediate threats to the United States Constitution and to the livelihood of anyone who 'looks' to local authorities like an undocumented immigrant."

"This challenge is necessary to send a message to anti-immigrant groups that their efforts to pass Arizona-style legislation in the Midwest are not welcome and will be resisted," Alonzo Rivas, MALDEF Midwest Regional Counsel said in a statement.

The Republican-controlled Indiana State House pushed the immigration legislation, although many Indiana Democrats supported the measure which drew harsh criticism and protest by those opposed to it.

Several more controversial aspects were nixed from the bill, such as giving an Indiana state trooper the right to pull over anyone who appeared to be an undocumented immigrant.

But other provisions, primarily against businesses who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants, remain in the law.

The bill is already being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Indiana is seeking to delay hearings on all challenges to the bill until the U.S. Supreme Court decides Arizona's own tough immigration law.

"We will be seeking a stay in this case in addition to the previous case while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to Arizona's immigration statute," Zoeller said in a statement. "Indiana will join with other states in seeking a ruling from the Supreme Court that will provide some guidance to states on immigration since Congress has thus far failed to enact or enforce federal immigration policies."

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court announced plans to hear the case challenging Arizona's immigration law this spring.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 15, 2011

Court Upholds Democratic-Drawn Congressional Map

A federal court has upheld a new congressional map drawn by Illinois Democrats.

The map preserves existing Democratic-leaning districts and creates new ones. It also forces several Republican incumbents to run against each other in primaries.

Republicans had sued to overturn the map, claiming that Democrats drew only one Hispanic district when more were needed because of population growth. A panel of three judges, including two Indiana Republicans, disagreed on Thursday.

In their ruling, the judges said that they agreed that the crafting of the adopted map was a "blatant political move to increase the number of Democratic congressional seats'' but that it wasn't illegal.

The map was drawn by Democrats who control the legislature and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

The new congressional map was drawn with no input from Illinois Republicans. It forces most GOP congressmen in the state into unfamiliar territory or races against each other.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 14, 2011

Khan’s Purchase of Jaguars Approved by NFL Owners

Khan's Purchase of Jaguars Approved by NFL Owners

University of Illinois graduate and Urbana businessman Shahid Khan is now officially the owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 18, 2011

Champaign Co. Board Backs Naming Courthouse After Former State’s Attorney

The Champaign County Board has passed a resolution to name Urbana's federal courthouse after the county's first African-American elected official.

James Burgess was selected as state's attorney in 1972.

The 19-to-8 vote means a resolution with Burgess' name will be passed on to U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and Urbana Congressman Tim Johnson with hopes of gaining their approval. Burgess' son, Steve Burgess, told the board last night he's already talked with two of those three.

"I am waiting for a decision from Senator Durbin whether or not - not to say it's going to happen, but at least make a decision whether he thinks this is the right thing to by introducing a bill," he said. "He may ultimately decide that it's not, and I'm okay with that. But I think I'm at least entitled to having a decision from them, yes or no."

Burgess' effort to place his late father's name on the courthouse has lasted more than a year. Democrat Tom Betz said he knew and admired Burgess, but says the method for placing any name on a building is flawed.

"I have slowly but surely reached the conclusion that it's such a divisive process that we would be wise not to actually name some of these buildings," he said. "Call it what it is - it's the United States District Court for this district. Just as it's the Champaign County Courthouse. I don't think it needs to bear any name other than that at this point."

Burgess, who died in 1997, was a Democrat. But Betz and four other Democrats voted against the measure: Geraldo Rosales, Lloyd Carter, Ralph Langenheim, and Pattsi Petrie. Republicans Diane Michaels, Ron Bensyl, and Steve Moser also opposed it.

Democrat Chris Alix suggested the idea. He calls Burgess an inspirational story for not only his time as a state's attorney and US Attorney during the 70's and 80's, but as a World War II veteran with the 761st Tank Battalion.

(Photo Courtesy of Museum of the Grand Prairie, Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive)


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 28, 2011

Champaign Police Union Responds to Outcry Over Arrest

Champaign's Police union says some members of the community are rushing to judgment on this week's arrest of 18-year old Calvin Miller.

In a press release issued by the state's Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, the union mentions the events of Monday's early morning hours, when police say the teen ran red lights, ran over a curb, and his van struck the front of a house after exiting the vehicle. Miller then reportedly ran on foot, and struggled with police before the arrest. The incident has led to angry comments from local activists, including Martel Miller, the teen's father, who claims police beat the teen repeatedly.

The FOP says it's encouraging all citizens of the city, and especially elected officials, to withhold judgment until all of the facts and circumstances have been released. The union says it's 'confident they will demonstrate that use of force was appropriate and reasonable under both department policy and the law.'

Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney says officials with his department will likely address the city council on Tuesday night.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - September 27, 2011

Forum Gathers Input for New Champaign Police Chief

Community leaders and activists have started putting together a list of qualities they want in a new Champaign police chief.

Many of the ideas have already been discussed, but some of the 35 who attended a forum put together by Champaign's Community and Police Partnership (CCAPP) Monday night say they're on the same page. Words like public trust, communication, and integrity were repeated throughout the 1-hour event. City leaders and activists spent most of last night's forum in those small groups answering two questions: What are the top 5 challenges facing Champaign's next police chief, and what four skills should that person possess?

Reverend Jerome Chambers, a former Champaign County NAACP president, says he wants someone who has the people skills to generate a dialogue with the community.

"Be as transparent with them as possible, yet - in leading, have the kind of skill set that says: 'I hear you, because you are important. And how we're going to approach this is not to be stereotypical," said Chambers.

Craig Williams says the next chief shouldn't shy away from changing the ranks within the department.

"If somebody's not doing their job, or if you get so many complaints on an officer, don't be afraid to remove that officer of discipline that officer," he said. "In any organization, discipline is very necessary."

City council member Will Kyles says it's important the city set the new chief up for success, recognizing that the person won't be a savior when he first or she first takes office.

Top challenges for the successor to retiring Chief R.T. Finney were also identified. They include dealing with the increase in youth violence (ages 14-25), further healing in the wake of the 2009 police shooting of teen Kiwane Carrington, and social networking.

The recommendations of the panels will be passed on to a search committee for new chief, as well as the city manager's office. Finney will step down on January 20th.


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