Afternoon Edition: Feb. 24, 2020

Today’s update is a 4-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Jussie Smollett leaving the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after Monday’s hearing. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 4-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

Hope you brought your umbrella! This afternoon will see a high of 41 degrees and with rain likely starting at 5 p.m. Tonight’s predicted low is 36 degrees. And although we were graced with spring temperatures this weekend, it’s still winter: tomorrow morning, the rain will turn to heavy, wet snow — up to 6 inches is possible. The snow won’t let up until Wednesday morning, so be prepared to shovel.

Top story

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to new charges in hate-crime hoax case

This time last year, prosecutors dropped the charges facing former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in connection with the alleged hate-crime attack he was accused of fabricating. The sudden withdrawal of the 16 felony counts filed against the actor sent shockwaves across Chicago and the rest of the country.

So why was Smollett back in a Chicago courtroom today?

A new, six-count indictment was filed against Smollett two weeks ago, accusing the former “Empire” star of faking the attack. The indictment, which rebuked Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision last year to dismiss charges against Smollett, argues that it was “in the interest of justice” to again charge Smollett, given the “extensive nature” of Smollett’s false reports and the manpower police devoted to investigating his case.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to the new indictment this morning, and walked out of the courtroom without posting any cash after the judge determined he wasn’t a flight risk.

Expect the Smollett saga to continue to make headlines. The actor also faces a lawsuit in federal court, where the city of Chicago is seeking to recover the $130,000 spent investigating the case. His Los Angeles- and New York-based attorneys, Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, are also facing a defamation suit filed by the the two brothers who claim to have been hired by Smollett to fake the attack.

Andy Grimm has all the details on what happened in court today.


Chicago Public Schools officials Monday released a much-anticipated proposed calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

More news you need

  1. Chicago Public Schools officials today released a much-anticipated proposed calendar for the 2020-21 school year. Bookmark this.
  2. First-month sales of recreational marijuana generated over $10 million in tax revenues, officials said today. Here’s how the state plans to spend it.
  3. Harvey Weinstein was convicted this morning at his sexual assault trial, sealing his dizzying fall from powerful Hollywood studio boss to arch-villain of the #MeToo movement. What happened in court today.
  4. With its mixed congregation of Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists dwindling, the United Church of Hyde Park’s financial situation has grown increasingly dire. We profiled the fight to save it.
  5. You might soon be able to board CTA buses — and pay your fare — from the door in the back. A six-month pilot program starts this summer on two South Side routes: No. J14 Jeffrey Jump and No. 192 University of Chicago Hospitals Express. Learn why they’re trying this.
  6. Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101. Read her obituary.
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A bright one

Tomorrow is Paczki Day, which means it’s that time of year again when Chicagoans debate the Polish treat’s pronunciation. So you know: paczki is plural (POONCH-key) and one pastry is a paczek (POON-check).

[We’ve got a helpful video here.]

Also known as Fat Tuesday, Paczki Day marks the last day before the Lenten season begins for Christians. Because Lent is meant to be a time of fasting and prayer, many people spend the day before gorging themselves on, well, paczki.


Paczki boxed and ready to go at the Pticek & Sons Bakery on 55th & Naragansett for Paczki Day. | File

The Polish treats are similar to jelly doughnuts, but they’re *not* jelly doughnuts.Paczki dough is richer, and contains a bit of Polish vodka or other spirits. The treats are typically topped with either powdered sugar or glaze, and they’re filled with flavored cream, custard or jelly.

Now that you’re craving paczki, here’s a map of where you’ll be able to get some tomorrow. Many places will sell out quickly, so calling ahead is a good idea.

From the press box

The Blackhawks lived up to their billing as sellers at the NHL trade deadline today by shipping goalie Robin Lehner to Vegas and defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Calgary.

The NFL Scouting Combine also starts this week, which represents a critical opportunity for GM Ryan Pace and the Bears to gather information ahead of the draft. Here are four buzzing questions for Pace and Co. to answer in Indianapolis.

Spring training games are underway for the Cubs and White Sox in Arizona this afternoon, while the Bulls and Blackhawks are off until Tuesday evening. Jon Lester will make his spring debut for the Cubs tomorrow, too.

Your daily question ☕

As we say our final goodbyes to Kobe Bryant today, we want to hear your stories. How will you remember the NBA great? What’s your favorite Black Mamba memory?Reply to this email and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you how you planned taking advantage of the warmer-than-average weekend weather. Here’s what one reader said:

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