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Illinois Gov. Rautner sends dead fish to Rahm Emanuel as war of words takes weird turn

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A war of words between Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over which government is in the worst financial shape took a bizarre turn on Friday with the purchase of fish.

“I bought a gift for a special person,” the Republican governor told reporters at a Chicago market. “I bought some fish…to send some dead fish to the mayor. I think he will deeply appreciate that as only he can.”

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Early in his political career, Emanuel once sent a message to a pollster via a dead fish. In Mafia lore, a sent dead fish signifies someone is sleeping with the fishes and no longer alive.

While Rauner acknowledged his fish plan was all in fun, he continued to criticize the mayor for pushing through a city budget this week with a record property tax hike, calling the move “a massive mistake” because it was not coupled with cost-saving reforms.

Emanuel on Wednesday blasted Rauner for opposing measures he needs from the state for the new budget, including a bill to shield lower-valued residential properties from the tax hike.

“It’s a very strange economic strategy to try to hurt your economic engine to try to grow the economy,” the mayor told reporters. “Name me a governor in the other 49 states that is attacking the economic engine of their state. Is Washington state going after Seattle?”

Rauner’s pro-business reform agenda for the state has been met with opposition from Democrats who control the legislature and the two sides have yet to agree on a budget nearly five months into fiscal 2016.

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Both Illinois and Chicago have severe financial problems stemming largely from unfunded pensions for their workers. Emanuel and Rauner have been close friends and even political allies, with Emanuel appointing Rauner as chairman of the city’s tourism agency soon after he became mayor in 2011.

There was no immediate comment from Emanuel’s office concerning the coming gift of fish.

(Reporting By Karen Pierog; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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How prisoners, soldiers and Mormon missionaries make the census more complicated

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The U.S. census is the most democratic and inclusive activity we do as a country.

For demographers like myself, this once-a-decade count serves as the backbone of virtually every product that we use to understand who Americans are, how they’ve changed and what this might mean for the future. The U.S. also uses the census counts to distribute political power and allocate funding for everything from highway spending to programs like Medicare and Head Start.

But not all groups are equally likely to be counted in the census.

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National Guard joins the coronavirus response – 3 questions answered

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As a military organization divided into 50 distinct parts that can be commanded by either the president or state governors, the National Guard is perhaps the least understood branch of the U.S. armed forces.

Despite its complexity – or perhaps because of it – the National Guard is taking the lead role in the military’s response to the coronavirus outbreak crisis.

As many as 10,000 National Guard members have already been activated to help communities around the country, with many more expecting a call-up soon. People may know, from TV ads or other brief appearances in the media, that National Guard members are part-time citizen-soldiers, but not much else.

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What early Christian communities tell us about giving financial aid at a time of crises

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Sometime in the late second century A.D., Christians in the city of Rome organized a collection to send to the followers of Jesus in the city of Corinth.

Modern-day scholars don’t know what the crisis was that prompted the donation – it could have been a plague or a famine. What they do know from fragments of a letter sent by the Corinthian bishop, Dionysios, is that a large sum of money was shipped to Corinth.

As a scholar of early Christianity, I have written about this act of generosity. At a time when countries across the globe are struggling to fight the coronavirus and its economic impact, I argue modern society could learn from the actions of these early Christians.

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