CHICAGO — Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy will join the Democratic race for Illinois governor, campaign aides to the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy said.

“Today I am announcing my run for governor because I love Illinois,” Kennedy said in a statement. “But we have never been in worse shape. We don’t need incremental improvement. We need fundamental change in state government.”

Kennedy said it was time for “Illinois to again embrace the American Dream, the notion that we are a country and a state where anyone can make it and where unlimited opportunity is the promise of our country.”

A video the campaign posted shows images of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who plans to seek re-election next year. Kennedy doesn’t mention Rauner by name, but says that he believes “in working with others, not telling them what to do” and that “compromise is not surrender.” Rauner has been locked in a lengthy budget stalemate with Democrats who control the General Assembly.

Kennedy previously had considered bids for state office only to abandon them. But in his current effort he has worked to gear up on staff prior to an announcement.

Kennedy is the second announced Democrat to challenge Rauner’s expected re-election bid in 2018. Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar also has announced but several other Democrats also are considering including another Chicago businessman, J.B. Pritzker.

—Chicago Tribune


5 circus performers injured after fall during rehearsal

SARASOTA, Fla. — A high-wire act took a tragic turn Wednesday after several Circus Sarasota performers fell and were injured during a rehearsal.

Five performers fell from the high wire and were injured while practicing an eight-person pyramid for the circus, which is scheduled to open Friday.

Chief Micheal Regnier, of Sarasota County Emergency Services, called the incident a “tragedy.”

All those injured from the 20- to 25-foot fall were taken to local hospitals, Regnier said. Four people were trauma alerts. One additional injured person was taken to the hospital, but not as a trauma. There were no fatalities. Circus officials said they hope the performers will be back on their feet in a few months.

“Accidents do happen, as we know,” Pedro Reis, founder and CEO of The Circus Arts Conservatory, said. “Circus artists, sometimes we compare ourselves to NASCAR drivers, Formula One drivers, we push the limit.”

Nik Wallenda, who was part of the act at Circus Sarasota, was not one of the injured performers, officials confirmed Wednesday. Wallenda was on the high wire at the time of the incident but did not fall. He was expected to be an anchor in the pyramid, according to Reis.

Reis said it was not the first time the group has attempted the act and it was performed “flawlessly” in rehearsal Tuesday.

“I will tell you that the show must go on. This is not the first accident, obviously. Accidents happen,” Reis said.

Reis could not say exactly what happened, but said performers basically lost their balance. The rigging, he emphasized, did not collapse.

—The Bradenton Herald


Texas mosque fire is ruled arson

DALLAS — A reward is being offered for information about who may have started the fire that destroyed a Texas mosque last month.

The Victoria Islamic Center Mosque went up in flames on Jan. 28 causing about $500,000 worth of damage. No injuries were reported. Victoria is about 125 miles southwest of Houston.

Investigators ruled that the fire was intentionally set. No evidence exists to indicate the crime was one of bias, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials said.

The Houston division of the ATF announced a reward of up to $30,000 on Wednesday for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible.

The mosque said in a statement that it was “saddened and alarmed” that the fire was intentional.

“Despite several indications of arson, we offered prayers of hope that the cause of fire would be accident rather than intentional act,” the mosque said.

The mosque asked that whoever set the fire surrender to law enforcement.

—The Dallas Morning News


Police strike leaves 90 dead, Brazilian city in chaos

RIO DE JANEIRO — At least 90 people are reported dead in a wave of violence in the Brazilian city of Vitoria after the police force there went on strike.

The number of registered murders had risen to 90 since military police stopped patrols on Saturday, Globo reported, citing figures received from a police union.

The mood in the southeastern state of Espirito Santo remained tense on Wednesday as armed forces continued patrolling the streets for the fifth straight day.

The regional metropolitan capital of Vitoria, about 300 miles southeast of Rio de Janeiro, is at the center of the protests with the city’s streets marked by violent assaults and armed confrontations.

The fear of violence had left Vitoria without key services such as public transport, access to health clinics and public schools. Since Monday, Brazil’s central government has sent hundreds of troops to patrol the streets in a bid to restore order.

Police demands for a salary increase led to the work stoppage that has left this portion of Espirito Santo paralyzed.

Since the military police is barred from striking, family members have organized blockades in front of police headquarters to prevent vehicles from leaving the stations.

Espirito Santo governor Paulo Hartung said the stoppage was akin to “public blackmail.”

“It’s as if the liberty and rights of the citizens of Espirito Santo have been kidnapped and held for ransom,” Hartung was quoted as saying in Globo.


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