U.S. Advises Families Of Ukraine Embassy Staff To Leave

By Harold W. Reid, The Chicago Times

January 23, 2022

WASHINGTON – The US Department of State has advised family members of US Embassy staff in Ukraine to leave the county as the threat of a Russian invasion increases.  The State Department has also advised that non-essential embassy staff and private US citizens to leave Ukraine.

According to intelligence reports, Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border.  Russian intent has been a concern for NATO ever since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.  Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine.

The US Embassy in Kiev released a statement warning that “military action by Russia could come at any time and the United States government will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency.”

NATO is also bolstering its defenses in the Baltic Sea region.  The Royal Danish Navy has dispatched a frigate and F-16 fighters to Lithuania.  Spain has also sent fighter jets to Bulgaria and three Spanish Navy warships to the Black Sea to join NATO naval forces.  In addition, the Netherlands plans to send two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria.

According to the Pentagon, the Biden administration has been given range of options to support NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.  With the endorsement of the US, NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania plan to send US made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.

Federal Reserve Moves Toward Rate Hike As Inflation Rages

By Sloan T. Wilson, The Chicago Times

January 24, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve will likely begin raising interest rates in March for the first time in three years as inflation rages throughout the nation.

Many of the central bank officials support the rate hike, which some economists believe is too late to fight high inflation.  However, others believe the rate hike is too aggressive and could lead to a major recession along with uncontrollable inflation.

Investors are rattled by the Fed’s signaling to raise rates as stock markets continues to decline.  Market data has shown that the Nasdaq has lost 10% from its high, will the DOW and S&P 500 continue to tumble.

Economic data on inflation has not been kind to the Biden administration as consumer prices have skyrocketed 7%, the highest in four decades.  The Fed meeting is expected to end Wednesday, where Chairman Jerome Powell will preside over the decision he has already admitted may be to late to prevent higher inflation.

Many economists believe there will be four rate hikes this year, while investors, according to the CME Group, believe there will be five rate hikes.  In a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Chairman Powell was quoted saying “It is really time for us to move away from those emergency pandemic settings to a more normal level. It’s a long road to normal from where we are.”

Powell and the Fed will be forced to raise rates as it begins to phase out $120 billion of monthly bond purchases, which will end in March.  The purchasing of bonds was implemented to help keep interest rates low.  However, as inflation rages the Fed will have to decide to either raise rates gradually or at a rate to curb the possibility of hyperinflation.

Woman From Ford Heights Arrested In Lansing Walmart Fire

By The Chicago Times Staff

January 24, 2022

LANSING, IL – Police have arrested Heather Weeden for setting two fires inside a Walmart located in Lansing, Illinois.

Weeden, of Ford Heights, Illinois, has been charged with aggravated arson and retail theft.  In a hearing, Judge Charles S. Beach ordered Weeden held on $850,000 bail.

According to Walmart, the January 7 fires caused $4.5 million in damages not to mention revenue lost since the Walmart store’s closure for 3 weeks.

Weeden was convicted in 1998 of murder and carjacking and was released on parole in 2020.  Weeden also has previous conviction for forgery and aggravated battery of a police officer.

Highland Park: Mandate On Vaccination Papers Faces Resistance

By Ann Nguyen, The Chicago Times

January 22, 2022

HIGHLAND PARK, IL – Highland Park’s mandate on residents presenting vaccination papers to access local businesses is facing mounting resistance.

Citizens of Highland Park are planning to hold a rally on Sunday at Port Clinton Square to show support for ending the vaccine mandate, which they claim violates medical freedom and privacy.  In addition, the organizers believe the mandate is hurting the local economy as resident shop and eat in non-mandate counties.

Organizers have set the rally to begin at noon at Port Clinton Square in Highland Park.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Smothers Probe Of Botched Smokestack Implosion

By James R. Scott, The Chicago Times

January 21, 2022

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday refused to release the full investigation completed by former Chicago Inspector General William Marbeck into the botched demolition of the Crawford coal power plant smokestack in Little Village.

For those that do not live in Little Village, the demolition of the Crawford plant smokestack occurred in April of 2020 and resulted in a toxic dust cloud to settle over six residential blocks.

The inspector general’s report recommended the termination of an employee of the Chicago Department of Public Health and punishing of two other employees of the Department of Buildings responsible for overseeing the demolition.

According to a report, City officials were forewarned 200 plus days before the demolition that “dust from an event like this is almost cataclysmic.”

Lightfoot touted during her 2019 mayoral campaign that she would eliminate corruption and promote transparency in city government.  Although the City Council approved an ordinance, in July 2021, that gave the mayor’s office the authority to release inspector general reports involving deaths or felonies, Lightfoot has yet to release any reports.

According to the inspector general’s investigation, Hilco Redevelopment Partners was found to be at fault for failing to ensure the demolition would not pose a threat to public health in the Little Village area.  Furthermore, three firms involved in the demolition of the Crawford site have paid $370,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

To cover her actions, Lightfoot has instituted new rules governing demolitions of this nature that require community meetings before issuance of permits and “increased” monitoring by various city departments.

Lightfoot’s office declined to comment if all of this could have been avoiding if the city officials had heeded the warnings given to them 200 days before the scheduled demolition.  

Toyota: Land Cruiser Is Sold Out, US Frozen Out

By Jeff L. Tucker, The Chicago Times

January 21, 2022

TOYOTA, JAPAN – Toyota announced that the new Land Cruiser SUV is sold out for the next four years due to production shortages and high demand.

“We sincerely apologize for the fact that Land Cruiser has been very well received not only in Japan but also around the world, and it is expected that it will take a long time to deliver it after receiving an order.  The delivery time for ordering from now on may be about 4 years. We will do our utmost to shorten the delivery time of our customers, and we appreciate your understanding.” according to a press release.

The historic and reliable Land Cruiser has been redesigned for the current model year.  With high demand, Toyota corporate has warned Japanese dealers not to sell the vaunted SUV abroad, especially in the United States.  The current Land Cruiser model is not legally available in the United States, however the previous model is available with a sticker price of $86,740, though we know only suckers pay sticker price.

Toyota has offered the new 2022 Lexus LX 600, which shares the same drivetrain as the new Land Cruiser to US consumers for a sticker price of $88,245.