CHICAGO — Former Chicago Ald. Daniel Solis, who turned government mole to help federal investigators build cases against Ald. Edward Burke and ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan, has been charged with a bribery count. The bare-bones, one-count criminal information alleged Solis, who abruptly retired as 25th Ward alderman in 2018 a month before his cooperation with the FBI was revealed, corruptly solicited campaign donations from an unidentified real estate developer in exchange for zoning changes in 2015, when Solis was head of the City Council Zoning Committee. Those general allegations had alr...
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The Guatemalan teenager gave the priest her name: Serenidad.
They met on Tuesday morning at a children’s hospital San Antonio, where the priest, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, had arrived to comfort one of the youngest survivors of the deadliest migrant-trafficking tragedy in modern American history.
“She smiled several times, a beautiful smile,” the archbishop recalled in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “I asked if she’d called her family, but her cellphone had been confiscated.”
The archbishop urged the girl, whom he estimated to be around 16, to contact her family once she was able. “And then I said: If you can contribute, it would be great if you can smile as much as you can, because then you can make everyone around you feel good. They will see that you are doing well.”
García-Siller said he heard the news around 7 p.m. Monday: Dozens of people had been found dead or near death inside a broiling tractor-trailer that had come to a stop near the intersection of Interstates 35 and 410 on the city’s Southwest Side. As of Friday, the toll is 53 dead, 11 injured. Four men have been detained and charged in the tragedy; two face charges that could carry the death penalty.
The archbishop said he visited survivors at four hospitals on Monday evening, including a Guatemalan woman he estimated to be around 19. (She nodded when he asked and reacted brightly when he mentioned some cities in Guatemala.)
“She could communicate only through her eyes and with her fingers, and she tried to speak but I couldn’t understand her,” he recalled.
He visited two more hospitals early Tuesday, including the one where he met Serenidad. And on Friday morning, he met with another survivor, a young man from Mexico. He noted that that he did not ask for the victims’ legal names, nor would he; undocumented migrants often use pseudonyms or false IDs.
“Most of the victims were unconscious and very seriously ill,” he said. “They were hooked up to all kinds of things. But I was able to be in each room and to be in their presence to pray and to honor them. And think of their families.”
Born in Mexico, García-Siller has led an archdiocese that covers nearly 28,000 square miles and includes an estimated 800,000 faithful; it began as a Spanish mission in 1713. In just over a month, the clergy and lay staff members of the archdiocese have grappled with two epic tragedies: the May 24 school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which took the lives of 19 students and two teachers, and now the June 27 tragedy, which took the lives of 40 male and 13 female victims, including citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
“What I wish for people is to foster a culture of life because there are so many signs of a culture of death,” he told the Tribune. “What happened was an example of a culture of death. What happened in Uvalde, that’s a sign of a culture of death.”
The gunman in Uvalde was an 18-year-old local who had tortured animals and threatened women, according to the authorities.
“We can say the man was sick, he was in crisis, but we are responsible,” the archbishop said. “We are not sowing seeds of life, of respect of human persons, fostering encounters and relationships. The drug situation, the human trafficking — those are signs and expressions of a culture of death. How do we foster a culture of life? That is all of us. I feel responsible.”
On Thursday evening, San Fernando Cathedral — the oldest standing church building in Texas, founded in 1731 — held a memorial Mass and interfaith prayer vigil organized by the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Interfaith San Antonio Alliance. Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics and Sikhs attended the interfaith service. In his homily, delivered in English and Spanish, the archbishop spoke with compassion about those fleeing poverty and violence to come to the United States.
“You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt,” he read from the Book of Exodus. “If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry.”
He continued: “Not all sins have the same degree of intrinsic evil by which God is offended, nor are their consequences equally serious. The exploitation of the poor, and in particular of migrants — who flee dramatic situations in search of opportunities and hope — is particularly grave.”
In his homily, the archbishop condemned “traders of death who consider lives as merchandise and ultimately as collateral damage,” but also society at large.
“It is not permissible for anyone in our society to remain idle and look the other way in the face of the humanitarian crisis caused by unregulated migration,” he said. “We all have a role to play in solidarity with people fleeing in search of opportunities for development.”
While stopping well short of calling for open borders, the prelate stressed the need for international cooperation and regulation. At least 100 million people worldwide have been displaced from their homes, and as the planet warms, another 500 million people might join them over the next several decades.
“Immigration is a natural phenomenon that arises from the supply and demand for labor and security,” the archbishop said. “It is like a stream of water. If it is not given a channel, it finds it naturally, but not in the right way. Migration is a natural human right. Likewise, the receiving country has the right and the duty to regulate it.”
While the United States has not enacted comprehensive reform of its immigration system since 1986, presidents and governors have made the southwest border a political battlefield — and the Texas-Mexico border in particular has become increasingly militarized under Gov. Greg Abbott’s multibillion-dollar border security push, dubbed Operation Lone Star.
On the federal level, an emergency public health order known as Title 42, enacted early in the COVID-19 pandemic, allows immigration agents to quickly expel migrants without allowing them to request asylum, though the Biden administration has sought to have it lifted. On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that the administration can lift the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy that compels asylum-seekers to wait south of the border while their cases wind their way through immigration courts. That policy, too, remains in place as the case returns to a lower court.
At the cathedral, the archbishop asked the faithful to listen to the voices of migrants and to urge politicians to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
“Politics — rightly understood — is the opposite of ideological confrontation,” he said. “It is one of the highest forms of charity. It is a path that begins by loving our closest neighbor — in order to be able to love even those we do not know."
The former leader of the free world may decline to inform his own aides before announcing a 2024 comeback bid on his Twitter-clone social media site.
"The timing of a formal announcement from Mr. Trump remains uncertain. But he recently surprised some advisers by saying he might declare his candidacy on social media without warning even his own team, and aides are scrambling to build out basic campaign infrastructure in time for an announcement as early as this month," The New York Times reported.
That is not the only schism between Trump and his aides.
"The former president’s team remains divided over whether he should even run again. Those opposed to a third White House bid have expressed concerns ranging from doubts about Mr. Trump’s remaining political potency to questions about whether he can articulate a clear rationale for running and avoid a repeat of 2020," the newspaper reported. "Others are urging Mr. Trump to take his time. Donald Trump Jr., his eldest son, has taken a more central role in Mr. Trump’s inner circle of political advisers and has told others that he wants his father to install a more expansive campaign team around him in preparation for a run."
The chaos comes against the backdrop of the investigations into Trump's attempted coup following shocking public testimony by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
"But even Trump aides who are supportive of another campaign worry that the former president’s path to a third nomination has become more difficult than he’s willing to acknowledge. Some close to Mr. Trump have grown concerned about potential legal and political consequences from the congressional hearings into the Capitol riot," the newspaper reported. "Mr. Trump signaled his concern about the potential political consequences of the testimony, reacting in real time to the hearing by posting a dozen messages on his Truth Social website attacking Ms. Hutchinson and denying her most explosive testimony."
Two days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Twitter permanently suspended Trump "due to the risk of further incitement of violence."
Trump had 88.6 million followers on Twitter on Jan. 6, 2021.
He currently has 3.4 million followers on Truth Social.
Donald Trump is once again injecting chaos and uncertainty into the Republican Party as he reportedly considers announcing a third consecutive campaign for the presidency.
"Republicans are bracing for Donald J. Trump to announce an unusually early bid for the White House, a move designed in part to shield the former president from a stream of damaging revelations emerging from investigations into his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election," The New York Times reported. "While many Republicans would welcome Mr. Trump’s entry into the race, his move would also exacerbate persistent divisions over whether the former president is the party’s best hope to win back the White House. The party is also divided over whether his candidacy would be an unnecessary distraction from midterm elections or even a direct threat to democracy."
On Wednesday, Trump announced he would be traveling to Anchorage for a campaign rally against Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
The newspaper reported Trump as "accelerated his planning in recent weeks" and "aides are scrambling to build out basic campaign infrastructure in time for an announcement as early as this month."
The period between Independence Day and Labor Day is traditionally viewed as the slowest time in politics, with many reporters on vacation while voters enjoy their summers.
"That timing would be extraordinary — presidential candidates typically announce their candidacies in the year before the election — and could have immediate implications for Republicans seeking to take control of Congress in November. Mr. Trump’s presence as an active candidate would make it easier for Democrats to turn midterm races into a referendum on the former president, who since losing in 2020 has relentlessly spread lies about the legitimacy of the election. Some Republicans fear that would distract from pocketbook issues that have given their party a strong advantage in congressional races," the newspaper reported.
Former Colorado Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams worries Trump's ongoing fixation on lying about the election he lost to Joe Biden could hurt the party.
“Republicans want to win badly in 2022, and it is dawning on many of them that relitigating the 2020 election with Trump’s daily conspiracy diatribes are sure losers,” he told The Times.
The newspaper noted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is urging an early announcement.
"Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, had urged Mr. Trump to wait until after the midterms, worried that news about his campaign could derail the party’s midterm messaging," the newspaper reported. "One R.N.C. official noted that when Mr. Trump opened a campaign, the party would stop paying his legal bills related to an investigation by the New York attorney general. Still, Ms. McDaniel has recently resigned herself to the idea that he will announce before the elections, according to people familiar with the conversations."
Meanwhile, other Republicans appear to sense weakness from Trump.
"Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told Mr. Trump last year that he wouldn’t compete against him for the presidential nomination, has continued to lay the groundwork for a 2024 bid. Mr. Pompeo has told others that he can beat Mr. Trump in the Iowa caucuses, according to people familiar with the conversations," the newspaper reported.
Read the full report.