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Updated: 1 hour 59 min ago

We Went to IKEA

2 hours 57 min ago
My daughter needed a mattress, so we went to IKEA. Neither of us had been to an IKEA before.

We took I-90 from her apartment in Irving Park to Schaumburg. It was a long drive, riddled with construction. We got off at the Arlington Heights exit, missed a turn on Algonquin, recalibrated. After two days of intense city driving and a summer of negotiating the highways of Toronto and Montreal, the turf-covered, man-made slopes of a suburban landscape presented a different set of rules, and I found it difficult to adjust.

The Schaumberg IKEA is visible from the highway, but there's no easy way to get there. It's on McConnor Parkway, a long, curving slash between verdant lawns that surround hotels, chain restaurants and office buildings. It's a destination store. People staying nearby can take a fancy trolley to go shopping there.

The parking lot is huge. Two shirtless guys were playing Frisbee golf in one of the outermost areas. We drove beyond them for another tenth of a mile, found a spot, and joined the throngs heading for the entrance.

Cavernous and sunlit, the lobby may not be what the first-time visitor expects. It features signage, seating and plants; bathrooms; an escalator and a greeter to herd you up it. There are no products for sale or on display, just a little stand that holds tri-fold maps of the facility, along with free souvenirs: little IKEA pencils and ribbon-y plastic tape measures.

The escalator lifted us from the soaring, white calm of the entrance into the visual overload of the second floor, where thousands of well-designed things are displayed in ways that made us want to own all of them. We found ourselves exactly where we wanted to be, in the bedroom section.

At my urging, EJ repeatedly flung herself down on the mattresses we were most likely to purchase. Plastic sheeting covered the lower third of each floor sample's surface, so she didn't have to remove her Doc Martens.

Unable to make a decision at the time, we went to lunch on the third floor, where there was another herder. "Just point to the picture of what you want," he said, motioning us forward. I pointed to a Southwestern chicken wrap, my daughter pointed to marinated salmon. Both were good, and we paid less than $14 for entrées and beverages. "If there was a place like this in my neighborhood, I'd go there all the time," said EJ.

After lunch we did a quick tour of furniture, cabinetry, textiles, cooking equipment and dishes. Everything was beautiful, nicely priced and familiar. I was tempted, but I'm entering the downsizing phase of my life. I don't need to buy the same 12-oz. glasses that were in the cupboards of the break room at my former place of employment, even if they're lovely, cost two bucks each, and remind me of simpler times.

We returned, decisive, to the mattress department and talked to a woman in an orange IKEA shirt. My issue was portability: would we, a college student and a sexagenarian, be able to haul a full-sized coil mattress up the back stairs of a third-floor walk-up? She looked me up and down and nodded. "It's rolled," she said. "You can handle it." She directed us to Aisle 31 on Level One.

The lower level of IKEA has the same lighting and aura of limitlessness as the storage facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, combined with the DIY accessibility of the lumber department at Home Depot. We found the mattress, put it on a cart, and went to checkout, where, it being an ordinary Monday afternoon in mid-August, there were long lines. Parents (like me) were outfitting their college kids; families were making IKEA a stop on their vacation itineraries. Shelving on both sides offered a range of impulse buys, from popsicle-making sets (99¢) to doormats ($6.99). My impulse buy? Three blue IKEA bags of reinforced plastic, 58¢ each. They are huge and strong. I considered putting my daughter in one and hoisting her out to the parking lot on my shoulder, but I knew I needed to conserve my strength for lugging the mattress. (I also remembered that she is 20 years old.)

When you exit IKEA, you have two options: carry your purchases to your car, or bring your car to a loading dock. As we steered our cart outside, we heard a loud crash. It sounded like a number of heavy, unassembled cabinets with glass fronts had landed on top of a dozen fragile, reasonably priced wedding gifts. Naturally, because we share behavioral genes with poultry and sheep, we peered around the corner of the building to see what had happened.

A woman had lost control of her car on the approach to the loading dock. Fender, grill and headlights were smashed and in fragments on the pavement; radiator fluid, engine oil and gasoline were gushing next to the foundations of the IKEA building; a boy, eight or nine years old, who'd probably been told to wait there with a cart of merchandise while his mother went to get the vehicle, was screaming.

I do not like being near fossil fuels and flammable chemicals that are directly under a hot, possibly sparking engine, so EJ and I tried pushing our cart through the wheelchair-accessible gate to the parking lot. A teenager in an orange vest stopped us. "No carts outside of the loading dock," he said.

My daughter stayed with her new mattress, sufficiently around the corner of the building so that if there were an explosion at the scene of the accident, she would most likely survive and have a good story to tell, while I sprinted across the parking lot to our distant car. I thought I heard sirens on the way, but I was wrong.

This, according to EJ, is the conversation she overheard while I was getting our vehicle.

Teenaged IKEA employee #1 (the guy who'd prevented us from taking the cart into the parking lot): This is bad.
Teenaged IKEA employee #2: Yeah.
Teenaged IKEA employee #1: Should we call Security?
Teenaged IKEA employee #2: Yeah.
Teenaged IKEA employee #1, talking to Security person (recently teenaged): Hey.
Security person: Maybe we should get some fire extinguishers or something?

By this point, I was inexpertly backing into the loading dock, so my daughter didn't hear what came next. The boy had stopped screaming, but other customers, nervous about the whole situation and needing to relax, were lighting cigarettes as the gasoline fumes drifted around them.

I had come to IKEA expecting to have a European experience. It was, instead, an affirmation of so much of what we take for granted as Americans: low prices, lots of choices, great customer service, an automobile-dependent economy, and mindless indulgence in the face of potential safety hazards.

We shoved the mattress into the car and drove away. Forty-five minutes later we were wrestling it up the steps to EJ's apartment, a task that wasn't nearly as bad as we had imagined. Or maybe we were stronger than we realized.

She cut the last of the plastic wrapping from the long, cushy, tube. The mattress uncoiled, almost knocking her over. We put it on top of her futon, slumped ourselves down on it, and had a good cry, about so many more things than I can explain here.

Illinois Women Arrested After Meth Lab Found In Church

3 hours 23 min ago
It may not be one of the Ten Commandments, but it kind of goes without saying that thou shalt not cook meth in a house of worship.

But two women were accused of cooking meth inside a rural southern Illinois church on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

Judith Hemken, 53, and Tiffany Burton, 26, were arrested near Hillsboro after a Waveland Hillsboro Presbyterian Church member "noticed activity" in the building on a Tuesday night when it was supposed to be empty, Montgomery County Undersheriff Rick Robbins told the The State Journal-Register. The church member reportedly spotted one woman outside the church and another in its basement, with what appeared to be parts of a meth lab.

The women fled in a car, but were pulled over by police. Officers found a clandestine lab in the church basement and had to extinguish a small fire that started due to the lithium and moisture from a sink drain, the Journal-News reports.

Meth labs have cropped up in other unusual locations, like retirement communities, Walmart and a golf course porta-potty. Robbins told the State Journal-Register he'd never seen a meth cooked in a church before, but he had seen a meth lab at a cemetery.

Neither woman was affiliated with Waveland, Robbins said. Since the alleged lab was inside a church, the women could face enhanced sentences of up to 40 years in prison.

5 Reasons Why Black Lives Matter

4 hours 3 min ago
Stacia L. Brown wears a lot of hats. The Baltimore-based single mother of a 4-year-old serves as Colorlines’ Community Engagement Fellow, teaches writing at a local college, runs Beyond Baby Mamas and Bellow, and still finds the time and energy to write—beautifully. Over the past couple of weeks, sparked by the police killing of Michael Brown, she has been writing essays about the slain teen, police brutality, parenting and black vulnerability. Brown posted what became a five-essay series on her personal website, stacialbrown.com.

Here, we share excerpts with you:

As the election grows nearer, education makes its way into the Illinois governor's race

4 hours 40 min ago
Illinois education funding has become one of the main battlefields in the race for governor between Gov. Pat Quinn and challenger Bruce Rauner.

Here's the company line from each campaign:

From the Quinn campaign: Bruce Rauner's tax plan will gut education funding by cutting the state income tax from 5 percent to 3 percent. If Rauner becomes governor, K-12 education funding will be 60 percent lower statewide than under Quinn's plan. Here are the specifics of who would lose what:

From the Rauner campaign: "The truth is Pat Quinn raised taxes by 67% and still gutted education spending by $500 million. Unlike Pat Quinn whose education cuts led to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes, Bruce will make education a top priority and fully fund our schools.."

That statement is a variation on a similar response the campaign has issued throughout the summer as Vallas has warned of education cuts at campaign stops around the state.

Whose version of the education funding scenario should you believe?

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

Quinn and Rauner made their voices heard Thursday, with each of them publishing an essay in the Daily Herald, outlining their economic plans and explaining why each thought the other's plan was inferior.

Each candidates also tries to discredit his opponent. (Rauner: "Unlike Pat Quinn, I'll actually live in Springfield...And unlike Pat Quinn, I'm not running just to keep my job; I'm running to make sure you can always find one." Quinn: "For all of his millions of dollars he's poured into the campaign, he hasn't bought a dime's worth of good ideas.")

Chicago Police Commander Relieved Of Duties After Allegedly Sticking Gun In Suspect's Mouth

6 hours 5 min ago
A department-lauded Chicago police veteran has been stripped of his authority and charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for allegedly sticking his gun into the mouth of a suspect.

Commander Glenn Evans, who oversaw the city's West Side Harrison District and has frequently been praised by Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, appeared in court Thursday to face the charges, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The alleged incident happened in January 2013, when Evans and other officers saw a man named Rickey J. Williams holding a handgun in the street and gave chase, according to the Sun-Times. When they restrained and arrested Williams in a vacant home nearby, Evans allegedly put the barrel of his gun into Williams' mouth. Police did not recover a handgun during the incident, and Williams' misdemeanor reckless conduct charge was ultimately dropped.

Prosecutors also alleged in court that, although there was no indication in police accounts of the incident that Williams had resisted arrest, Evens threatened to kill him and pushed a Taser against Williams' groin, according to CBS Chicago.

WBEZ reported that the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates claims of excessive force against CPD officers, recommended that Evans be relieved of his police powers and referred his case to the State's Attorney's office after a lab test of material taken from Evans' weapon matched Williams' DNA profile.

McCarthy as recently as Monday defended Evans. But in response to the charges being filed Wednesday, he said in a statement that "the alleged actions, if true, are unacceptable to both the residents we serve and to the men and women of this department." McCarthy emphasized the department would cooperate with Evans' prosecutors, according to the Chicago Tribune.

WBEZ reports Evans was the subject of more excessive-force complaints between 1988 and 2008 than any other officer included in a recent report released by the Chicago Police Department, with at least 45 citizen complaints on file over the 20-year period. Only two of those complaints led to disciplinary action, according to the Sun-Times.

The charges against Evans come at a difficult time for the Chicago Police Department, which has faced community protests of its use of force on the heels of two police-involved fatal shootings over the weekend.

After appearing in court, Evans was released on his own recognizance.

Privileged White Guys On Fox News Agree: There's No Such Thing As White Privilege

8 hours 26 min ago
Some of the most prominent hosts on Fox News are pretty sure the term "white privilege" refers to a mythical concept, like Bigfoot, Santa Claus or (if you're Fox News) climate change.

Sure, other people say white privilege exists, claiming to have witnessed it and even providing clear-cut examples of this reality, but these wealthy, white, conservative males know better. They refuse to believe that the color of one's skin has any bearing on their life experiences or successes. Character, work ethic and a strong family dynamic are the determining factors in everyone's life, they insist, and the amount of melanin one possesses can't overshadow them.

The Fox News hosts are correct that these characteristics are incredibly important, and that many people won't succeed without them, no matter their race or accompanying privilege. But to admit this isn't to deny the distinct benefits that accompany whiteness in nearly every facet of society, from employment to health care. Nor is it denying that the "check your privilege" movement can have its excesses, just like anything else.

On Fox News, however, legitimate debate about white privilege and the way we see it today is largely replaced by something less nuanced: complete denial.

Bill O'Reilly

O'Reilly just doesn't believe in white privilege:


(Screenshot via Buzzfeed)

Following a debate with fellow host Megyn Kelly -- who earlier this week offered him a variety of statistics demonstrating the massive inequality between black and white Americans in terms of opportunity, unemployment, poverty, the criminal justice system, quality of education, economic mobility and treatment by law enforcement -- O'Reilly returned the next day to again reject white privilege, without anyone to counter him this time.

In his segment, O'Reilly "white-splained" how it was that "African-Americans have a much harder time succeeding in our society than whites do," even when, according to him, engrained racial privilege doesn't exist. It's the fault of black America and its leaders, O'Reilly said.

“Instead of preaching a cultural revolution, the leadership provides excuses for failure. The race hustlers blame white privilege, an unfair society, a terrible country," he said. "So the message is, it’s not your fault if you abandon your children, if you become a substance abuser, if you are a criminal. No, it’s not your fault; it’s society’s fault. That is the big lie that is keeping some African-Americans from reaching their full potential. Until personal responsibility and a cultural change takes place, millions of African-Americans will struggle.”

New York Times columnist Charles Blow responded to this and O'Reilly's other claims in an article on Thursday, charging that the Fox News host's "underlying logic is that blacks are possessed of some form of racial pathology or self-destructive racial impulses, that personal responsibility and systemic inequity are separate issues and not intersecting ones."

Watch O'Reilly's entire segment here.

Sean Hannity


(Photo via Associated Press)

Hannity appeared completely oblivious to the concept of white privilege earlier this month while explaining how he conducts himself during interactions with police. He seemed to suggest that if everyone acted like him, they would necessarily receive the same treatment, regardless of their skin color.

"When a cop pulls me over, I put my hands outside of the car. If I’m carrying a weapon, which I’m licensed to carry in New York, the first thing I tell the police officer is, ‘Officer, I want you to know I have a legal firearm in the car,’" he said. "First thing I say to the officer. He’ll ask, ‘Where is it?’ I’ll say, ‘It’s in my holster.’ And he says, ‘Alright, just keep your hands outside.’ That’s usually the protocol. And then ‘Can I have your license and registration, please? Move slowly.’ And I often would even step out of the car, lift my shirt up so he can see where the gun is. ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘No, sir,’ writes me a ticket.’ Thank you, sir,’ and that’s it. You battle the issue in court."

Reaching for your waist after telling a police officer you're armed is a terrible idea no matter your race, but doing so while black is likely more dangerous. All in all, however, Hannity's casual and simplistic explanation of his dealings with law enforcement demonstrates a complete ignorance of the differing ways in which white people and people of color are often treated by cops. Reports across the country regularly report racial bias in traffic stops, searches and arrests (especially for drugs).

Many activists claim there are additional biases evident in use of force and police killings, though these are harder to measure due to insufficient data and tracking of these encounters, which lead to less accountability for cops.

Listen to Hannity's entire segment here, via Mediaite.

Tucker Carlson



In May, Carlson brought on a guest to back up his contention that it's "racist" to claim that white people experience a distinct privilege. His guest was Kurt Schlichter, who at the time had recently written a column boiling down the concept of white privilege to “me being better than you.”

“All of us have worked, all of us have achieved something,” Schlichter claimed, arguing that he had become a partner at a law firm due to his hard work, not his skin color. “That is how we measure character, that’s how we measure what the value of a person is, not some arbitrary category imposed by some ponytailed grad students who have taken too many gender study seminars.”

In their interview, Carlson and Schlichter both appear to misunderstand the concept of white privilege. White people are not expected to feel guilty about their privilege or apologize for it, nor are they expected to credit it as the sole or even most important factor in one's personal successes. But it's outrageous to pretend that race (or class, gender, sexual orientation, etc., for that matter) doesn't play a factor in every person's experience, and that society doesn't offer particular privilege to those who more closely resemble the nation's mostly white power-brokers. Apparently, these Fox News anchors have no problem playing make believe.

Watch the whole segment here, via Raw Story.

Who Is Renting and Who Is Buying in Illinois?

8 hours 46 min ago
Buying a house is a huge lifetime commitment, and the decision is often fraught with questions upon questions and one pro/con list after another. How can you really know what the best choice is? Who are the people who choose to buy and who are the people who choose to rent?

According to Forbes, in March, buying was 38 percent cheaper than renting nationally, and as much as 66 percent cheaper in Detroit, but as little as 5 percent in Honolulu. The New York Times has an application to show the specifics of buying vs renting based on particular circumstances.

After so much research, sometimes you just need to know what other people in your circumstances facing the same question did. Get a peek into other people's decisions by seeing the median incomes of those who chose to buy versus those who chose to rent compared to the median income in general in10 biggest cities in Illinois, from Area Vibes and the percent of people living in their own homes versus the percent of people living in rented homes, based on U.S. Census Bureau data according to Home Facts.

For comparison, the median household income in Illinois according to Area Vibes is $57,848, the median household income of homeowners is $66,093 and the median household income for renters is $36,332. Nationally, the median household income is $52,328, the median household income for homeowners is $63,664 and the median household income for renters is $35,685.

In every one of Illinois 15 biggest cities, median household income of people who owned homes was higher than the median household income for the city in general, which was in turn higher than the median household income for people who chose to rent, even though renting is actually more expensive than buying in the long run, according to Forbes. Accumulating the cash for a down payment, however, would generally be more expensive than renting.

Chicago realtor Emily Sachs Wong, owner and broker of Emily Sachs Wong, Inc. within @Properties, said there are several factors to consider whether to buy or rent. Ask yourself: Do you have the time to put into maintenance of a house? Do you plan on staying in a house long enough to build equity? She said even if buying a house might be a bit more expensive, it can be better to own as an investment and to customize a home. But it all comes down to money in the end:

"If they have a down payment is the number one decision maker," she said.

Based on these numbers, is your household income closer to those who buy or rent in your area? Does that match with what you have chosen to do for your living arrangements?

Renting vs buying information in five of Illinois' biggest cities:

Cicero

Owner-occupied housing units: 48.4 percent

Renter-occupied housing units: 51.6 percent

Median household income: $43,799

Median household income of homeowners: $55,106

Median household income of renters: $34,254

Waukegan

Owner-occupied housing units: 49.9 percent

Renter-occupied housing units: 50.1 percent

Median household income: $47,987

Median household income of homeowners: $67,117

Median household income of renters: $35,914

Elgin

Owner-occupied housing units: 65.7 percent

Renter-occupied housing units: 34.3 percent

Median household income: $57,216

Median household income of homeowners: $73,049

Median household income of renters: $40,818

Peoria

Owner-occupied housing units: 90.3 percent

Renter-occupied housing units: 54.9 percent

Median household income: $45,863

Median household income of homeowners: $60,312

Median household income of renters: $25,104

Springfield

Owner-occupied housing units: 63.9 percent

Renter-occupied housing units: 36.1 percent

Median household income: $47,209

Median household income of homeowners: $61,259

Median household income of renters: $30,174

See how many people are renting vs buying for Illinois' five biggest cities, including Rockford and Chicago, at Reboot Illinois.




NEXT ARTICLE: Checking the state of housing in Illinois' biggest counties
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My Family Has Been Racially Profiled Everywhere from Harvard to Our Own Home

8 hours 52 min ago
What happened to Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri has resonated across the country with African Americans because all of us feel that it could have easily happened to any of us.

Every black person has their own story of racial profiling, especially black men. Any white person, not just police, engages in racial profiling when they suspect, avoid, follow, report or challenge a black person simply because of their race and their own idea of where black people "belong."

My own family is more typical than exceptional. I was about ten years old, and my family was living in a newly integrated part of Los Angeles in the 1960's. We had been on a family outing to the more exclusively white area of the San Fernando Valley. When returning at the end of the day, my father noticed a police car had begun following us. The police car followed us fully ten miles back to our neighborhood and didn't stop until my father pulled into the driveway of our own home.

As we exited the car, the officer got out to question my father. I remember hearing the officer ask my father, "Where do you live?" Insulted and incredulous, my father responded, "I'm standing in front of my home." After inspecting his driver license, the officer left. But he left my father standing there, embarrassed as a grown man, humiliated in front of his family, and reminded once more that in spite of his college education, middle class home and tidy children, he was no more than a criminal suspect in the eyes of America.



"The officer left my father standing there, embarrassed as a grown man, humiliated in front of his family."


I had my own initiation freshman year at Harvard College. I had just left a matinee movie in Harvard Square and crossed the street into Harvard Yard to rendezvous with friends in Grays Hall (one of the Yard dorms). Suddenly, I noticed a strange sight, a Cambridge police car, with blue lights flashing, driving in the Yard! One of the things a freshman learns upon arriving at school is the unique legal boundaries that envelop most colleges in the United States: all campus buildings and students are policed by the University Police, non-students and the surrounding community is policed by the City of Cambridge Police. As I approached my destination, I surmised that a serious crime must have occurred in Grays Hall for the police to be violating that boundary.



But suddenly I heard the screeching halt of the tires and the metallic disembarkation of the officers and noticed, as they crouched behind their opened car doors, that they had their hands poised above their gun holsters. Now my heart began to race and a fog of disorientation dissolved into the bracing reality that I was the emergency. It was a cold winter day and I had my hands deep in the pockets of my overcoat. The officers barked out their orders for me to, "Take your hands out of your pockets, SLOWLY." As they cautiously approached me I could see the gathering crowd on the steps of Grays Hall watching nervously as the episode unfolded.



"My heart began to race and a fog of disorientation dissolved into the bracing reality that I was the emergency."


The officers demanded my identification. Fortunately, I was carrying my college ID card and was able to prove that I belonged on campus. As they relaxed and began to return to their cars, I had demands of my own. "Why did you stop me?" Dismissively, they tossed a "You fit the description" over their shoulder. There had been a report of an assault by a black man in a white coat in the subway station at Harvard Square. Yes, I fit the description. I was a black man.



This experience has stayed with me my entire life. It is a virtual rite of passage for every black boy. White boys lose their virginity, Jewish boys get bar mitvah'ed, and black boys have their first police stop. Now, I was a man.



"I fit the description. I was a black man."


This constant feeling of being under suspicion, under surveillance and perceived as a danger, is hard to shake. It first resulted in a rather comical experience that I had just a few months later. I was walking in the neighborhood where the campus and the community are indistinguishable. But I was apparently in front of a school-owned building because this incident involved the Harvard University Police. I was walking down a narrow side street about a block outside the Yard when I saw several Harvard Police cars with lights flashing and sirens sounding arriving from both directions.



Panic stricken and totally convinced they were coming for me, I froze; heart pounding out of my head, waiting for the first bullet to strike, when at least a dozen officers got out of their cars, ran towards me and then without a word, ran right past me and into the house behind me. I continued my journey but I would still not trust that next time they would be coming for me.



It is a testimony to the persistence of racial profiling that 35 years later (2009), on a street not far from that one, black Harvard professor (and close friend of President Barack Obama), Henry "Skip" Gates, would be arrested by Cambridge police officers for breaking and entering his own house. A white neighbor saw a suspicious black man forcing his way into a house. The police believed the white neighbor but disbelieved the professor who was in custody at the police department before he had the opportunity to prove that he belonged (in that house).



My next experience was also in a college community. A white female classmate and I were going to lunch, and I was driving. Before we could reach our destination, a city cop pulled us over. He didn't ask for my driver license or registration. He asked her, "Are you alright?" While I was stunned and dumbfounded, she figured it out before I did. He saw a black man driving a white woman and deemed she needed saving.



Finally, my son has had it harder that I had it. He has had so many experiences that he doesn't bother to tell me about them all. But this one was a gem. He and a friend were returning from a club late one night and got into a cab for a ride home. A few blocks away from the club, a police car pulled the cab over. Their first thought was that the cab driver had committed some traffic infraction. But instead of asking the driver for his license, the officers ordered my son and his friend to get out of the back seat and stand on the side walk.



"'Riding a taxi while black' had now been added to the catalogue of '_______while black' crimes."



Suddenly, they realized that the police weren't stopping the driver but the two of them. What was their crime? Apparently, "riding a taxi while black" had now been added to the catalogue of "_______while black" crimes. No charges, just a harassing "catch and release" action that is the most common outcome of these encounters.

The presumption of guilt and danger that is at the heart of racial profiling lays heavy upon every black person living in America. It changes our relationship with the world. We are constantly on guard against a charge, a confrontation, a challenge. Racial profiling does long-term damage to the self-image, self-esteem and ego of the African American.

Governor Quinn Has Baghdad Bob Moment During Fracking Protest

9 hours 15 min ago
Governor Pat Quinn had his Baghdad Bob moment during an anti-fracking protest at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

For those who may have forgotten (or are too young to remember) Baghdad Bob became famous as the perpetually positive Iraqi foreign minister who insisted everything was calm in his country, even while American gunfire and rolling tanks could be seen in the background.

Pat Quinn had his own Baghdad Bob moment during the Illinois State Fair when a reporter asked if the Democratic base is behind his campaign. He awkwardly smiled and claimed "we have everybody with us," while a protest in the background forced him to speak up as they shouted, "Governor Quinn come on down, anti-frackers are in town!"

Quinn's support for fracking continues to be a problem with environmental voters, particularly downstate, as it undermines his claim to "stand with the people, not the powerful."







(Photos by Jeff Lucas)


Illinois People's Action lead the rally in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel with a 15 foot tall Quinn puppet and 100 people representing twelve grassroots groups from across Illinois. After telling Quinn to "come on down" and getting no response, the crowd left peacefully without incident.

In addition to the rally, grassroots groups from southern, central, and northern Illinois distributed information to the public and held visibility actions during Governor's Day and Republican Day at the State Fair. At least one anti-fracking banner was seen passing overhead on the skyrim ride. Banners held over I-55 won approving honks from truckers.




The Illinois Department of Natural Resource's cozy relationship with the industries they regulate is symbolized by a model oil rig on display in "Conservation World" at the fairgrounds. Conservation World is the agency's area to promote enjoyment of the outdoors... along with oil, coal and gas extraction.

Citizens made an addition to the oil well display with a banner that reads, "Green Jobs Not Dangerous Fracking." Downstate residents want jobs that help create a healthy economy, not dangerous jobs from a here-today, gone-tomorrow industry that leaves poisoned communities and damaged infrastructure in its wake.




Condoms stapled with the message, "The only safe fracking is abstinence" were found at several events around the fair, including the fundraiser for a main sponsor of the fracking law, Senator Mike Frerichs.




Later that the day, during the Democratic lunch at the fairgounds, Quinn was handed a letter from community members faced with frack sand mining near Starved Rock State Park. Besides destroying natural areas near one of Illinois' most popular state parks, the mines threaten area residents with exposure to crystalline silica, which is identified with causing severe health impacts including silicosis and lung cancer. The group is asking Quinn to establish a moratorium on frack sand mining until air monitoring equipment is installed and the state creates an ambient air standard for silica to protect area residents. Quinn has yet to respond.







(Photos by Jeff Lucas


The Governor's campaign remains silent about the fracking law he once bragged about passing. Citizens at the State Fair made it clear that ignoring the issue won't make us go away.

Quinn talks like someone who should be opposed to fracking. He calls climate change the great challenge of our time. He admits, "A region's economic and environmental strength is based on the availability of clean water." But Quinn's attempt to launch fracking contradicts everything he claims to stand for.

The industry has already abandoned Quinn. The Illinois Manufacturers Association, which lobbied heavily for the state fracking law, endorsed his opponent, Bruce Rauner. Oil company executives are holding Rauner fundraisers. They used Quinn to get some Democratic legislators and the Sierra Club on board with passing a regulatory law. Now they're tossing him aside.




That leaves one sensible option. He still has a chance to win back his environmental base by making his policies match his promises. The updated fracking rules expected this week may be an improvement over the disastrous first draft. Quinn will portray any minor upgrade as a victory for the environment. But two things are clear a year after the General Assembly rushed passage of the fracking law with less than an hour of public debate.

First, the law is fundamentally flawed with dangerous loopholes. Proposed regulations can only be as strong as the law allows which means they will be inadequate. Even the editors of the Southern Illinoisan newspaper reversed their enthusiastic support for fracking to urge caution, in part because a volume limit loophole in the law could mean widespread fracking that's barely regulated and barely taxed.

Second, new studies keep piling up which show fracking can't be made reliably safe by regulation. Oil & gas polluters argue they should be allowed to continue fracking while we wait for more studies confirming health impacts like birth defects, infertility and cancer. Many residents in potentially impacted communities are uninterested in being subjected to what is essentially a public science experiment.

Quinn's support for fracking is bad policy and bad politics. It's a mistake he should reverse before election day if he wants to be taken seriously as an environmental Governor.

This Is What Everyone Talks About At America's Favorite Music Festivals

12 hours 49 min ago
Diving into the conversation surrounding the 2013-2014 music festival season, Eventbrite teamed up with social media research company Mashwork to put together a thorough examination of what it is that attendees have been buzzing about during the time period.

Analyzing 20 million social media conversations, it was discovered that 89 percent of the chatter occurred before (54 percent) and after (29 percent) the event (the remaining 17 percent occurring during the actual festival). Digging deeper, it was revealed that the lineup in totality (as opposed to specific artists) and the general/specific festival experience were the two main conversation drivers.



A surprising find was the significant number of posts (roughly five million, or 25 percent) by those who were not attending the festival, but participating through live streams. Also noted was the lack of branded hashtags, only 19 percent of the conversations from the top 10 most talked about festivals containing such a hashtag.



Eventbrite even ranked the most buzzed about music fests:

1. South by Southwest (Music)
2. iHeartRadio
3. TomorrowWorld
4. Lollapalooza
5. Coachella
6. Sun City
7. Mysteryland
8. Pitchfork
9. Electric Daisy Carnival
10. Bonnaroo
11. Electric Zoo
12. Warped Tour
13. Gathering of the Juggalos
14. Buku Music + Art Project
15. HARD Summer
16. Burning Man
17. Hangout
18. Forecastle
19. Governors Ball
20. Ultra
21. Spring Awakening
22. SunFest
23. Moogfest
24. Gulf Coast Jam
25. Brooklyn Hip Hop

To read much more about the details of the research, head over to Eventbrite's page and download the PDF.

7 Reasons Why I'm Not Celebrating This Labor Day

13 hours 19 min ago
You know how some people get a case of the blues around the winter holidays? Well, I feel that way around Labor Day.

I jokingly tell people that I suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when it comes to my job. I have one now, but for two years during the recession, I didn't. I was laid off in 2009 from the newspaper where I worked for almost two decades and then spent two years freelancing until I was hired by The Huffington Post in 2011. While by most standards, I did pretty well for myself for those two years freelancing -- no one in my family went hungry, was without health insurance, or became homeless. But don't kid yourself: The experience left scars.

Here's what being laid off taught me and why I think many mid-lifers may still not be celebrating this Labor Day:

Job security is just a myth.
When I entered the work force, you had a job for life. Sure, you made moves to advance your career but that was generally accomplished by staying within the same company. When people retired at 65, the company threw big parties for them and gave them gold watches to thank them for their 40+ years of service. Loyalty to your company was a given and the company rewarded that loyalty with annual raises, end-of-year-bonuses and even turkeys at Thanksgiving. One of the tasks of the personnel office was to send flowers to your wife in the hospital after she gave birth.

That all ended in the years leading up to the recession. As companies focused more on the bottom line, they began to refer to workers as "assets" and when times got tough, they looked at which "assets" to cut. "Do more with less," "Get rid of the fat," and "leaner and meaner" were the propaganda slogans that sent chills down workers' spines.

Older workers quickly read the writing on the wall: Those with higher salaries were led into the gas chambers first while corporate lawyers dangled "don't sue us if you hope to get a dime in severance" agreements in front of our stunned faces.

We signed. All of us did. I still question how this coerced agreement signed under duress was legal and not protested. Why didn't the ACLU jump in to protect workers from the slaughter? But everyone who could have done something about it instead turned deaf, dumb, and blind.

And the result is that what we are now left with a workplace culture riddled with insecurity and restlessness. When people are afraid of losing their jobs, they strive to be compliant, not creative. Toeing the line has replaced pushing the envelope. And company loyalty went the way of the Thanksgiving turkey -- killed, roasted, and gobbled up while CEOs belched all the way to the bank.

Older workers stay out-of-work the longest.
This has been long-documented, but we can regurgitate it here for the millennial disbelievers.

According to AARP's analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, workers age 55 and up remain unemployed for 45.6 weeks, compared with 34.7 weeks for workers younger than 55.

Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser with AARP's Public Policy Institute, notes that recent research says many of these unemployed people "will never become re-employed."

While we can safely claim that all generations were hurt by the recession, only one group has the least amount of time to mitigate the recession's financial impact -- and that group is older workers. If you lost your job in the mid-2000's, you likely also lost your nest egg. And you can't actually rebuild it unless you find a job, which isn't happening for many. Time is running out.

Age discrimination is real.
Certain stereotypes exist about older workers -- we can't keep up technologically, we will spend all day reminiscing about the good old days, we don't fit in to the current office culture.

These stereotypes are at the root of the discrimination. I'd also throw in the fact that employers want to hire the cheapest workers possible, and that's less experienced folks.

But even the Washington Post is guilty of age discrimination. In an ad seeking a social media manager, the paper said it was looking for someone with the "ability to explain to those twice your age what Reddit or Snapchat or Whisper or Fark is." I can explain those things to you and I'm 64. And then there was the Seattle Star, which ran an ad saying it was seeking someone "young." The publisher was unapologetic when it was suggested that this was discrimination against older people. "So sue me. Sheesh," he said. Can you imagine the outrage if he had written "white" for "young?"

Older unemployed workers have gone underground, and in doing so, have become invisible.
Older workers are the infrastructure of the so-called gig economy. They jump from one freelance and/or part-time job to the next. They work under contracts that don't pay them when they get sick or offer them health insurance. Vacations? They are on their own.

Having been part of this group for two years, I salute these people. They are a creative lot who have figured out how to stay afloat, if only barely. They get their teeth using Groupon coupons, they shop at thrift stores for their kids' back-to-school clothes, and they make quilts to sell on Etsy to keep the lights turned on. Some have taken in rent-paying roommates to help cover the mortgage. They barter and exchange services; some times in a pinch, they ask for money. But somehow, each month, they find a way.

What's truly unfortunate is that we've stopped counting them as unemployed. If they don't collect unemployment benefits, they don't exist -- even though we all know dozens of people in this situation. This is why "unemployment" stats for older workers are lower than the national numbers.

Just don't kid yourself: There will come a day when each and every one of these workers will no longer be able to exist on this tightrope. They are already calling it the silver tsunami and it's headed toward taxpayers.

"Get retrained" is easier said than done.
No one is arguing that today's jobs require a different skills set than jobs of old. But have you seen a lot of retraining programs underway in your city? Me neither. Community colleges have borne the brunt of older workers trying to learn new tricks.

My standard advice to every out-of-work mid-lifer is this: Go into healthcare. With the population aging and the need for health services growing, it would seem like a natural place to be.

The question no one has a good answer for is: What do you live on while you are busy getting retrained? It's not like we can push the pause button on our living expenses while we figure things out. And forget government help. The government has offered very little in the way of retraining programs, let alone figured out how to help people stay afloat while they are being retrained.

Which leaves the old turning our hobbies into businesses. While many midlifers try their hand at entrepreneurial ventures, the wash-out rate is high. Entrepreneur magazine reports that first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18 percent chance of succeeding in taking their companies public. Bottom line: Just because you like to cook, it doesn't mean you should open a restaurant.

Experience is worth less, if not altogether worthless.
I remember when I was looking for my first job and every place I applied wanted someone with experience. We've come a full 180 on this. Experience -- probably because it comes with a higher price tag -- is less desirable a qualification. Experience won't get you far in today's jobs market.

The big news this year is that Google, AT&T, and MetLife and about 250 other employers signed a pledge to "recognize the value of experienced workers." I'm still left stammering that these major employers needed a pledge to actually do this.

Older workers tend to bomb interviews.
This, of course, assumes you even get an interview. But ask anyone over 50 who has had one what it's like and the stories all start to sound the same. "The guy asked me a question and then just kept texting away while I was answering." "I wore a great 'interview' outfit and he wore jeans; it was awkward." "It was like we were speaking different languages."

Times have changed in the personnel office. Not only aren't they sending anyone flowers in the hospital, they are also checking out your digital footprint -- googling you, reading your LinkedIn profile, checking what you posted on social media sites. The guy may be texting while you are speaking, but just remember that older workers aren't the only ones who have taken a beating in the past decade: Manners may have too.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Scientific Proof That You Need A Vacation Right Now

13 hours 28 min ago
It's a fact now that most American workers aren't taking any vacations. Last week we reported that about 40 percent of Americans don't plan on using all of their paid time off this year. And you're probably one of them. You hoard up your precious vacation days and keep saying you'll use them, but something gets in the way. Maybe it's your workload, or, maybe, like others, you're totally scared that you're going to lose your job. The most common reason why people weren't taking vacation was because they possess what researchers call a "martyr" complex, in which they believe that no one else can do their job as well as they can. Yet more than 20 percent of people who don't take vacations say they skip out because they are afraid they feel they are easily replaceable.

Whichever is the case, we're here to tell you to please, please take a vacation. We know you're afraid. But after you read these reasons why taking a vacation will do amazing things for your wellbeing and your mind, you may reconsider. And more importantly: Taking a vacation could make you even better at your job. Yes, it's true. Read on, and start booking your next flight or planning a staycation.

Your body is literally telling you to take a break. But you keep ignoring it.



Giving employees significant time to take a break will help them be renewed and come back to work even stronger, says Tony Schwartz, the chief executive officer of The Energy Project, in an op-ed in The New York Times. His company offers employees four weeks of vacation starting in their first year. He does this because he believes that "the importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology." He credits a study done by researchers at Florida State University in which they looked at the performance of elite athletes, musicians and chess players, and found that the best performers practiced in intervals of 90 minutes. They often took breaks between sessions and hardly ever worked more than four and half hours a day. That's how you properly recover.


Because when your brain is completely relaxed, it’s still working on improving the skills you have learned.



This all goes back to the science of sleep. Many studies have shown that when the brain is relaxed, it focuses itself on boring but essential tasks, like etching in and memorizing the new skills you may have learned at the office during the week before. So, if you're struggling to keep up with the new software your company just introduced, right now might be the best time to take a vacation. Let your brain take some time to process the new information, and you might return in tip-top shape!


It's been proven that allowing your brain to day-dream allows you to better solve problems and be more creative.



Your brain operates on two levels: One side is task-focused and the other side is focused on letting your mind wander and daydream. As you can imagine, a hard worker like you is pretty much always in the task-focused mode, overworking your brian to stay engaged on something you must finish for work, all the while taking in an overload of information (a 2011 study claims everyday we process 174 newspapers' worth of info!).

As we mentioned above, taking a break is good for your brain. Because you have got to let your brain daydream. Daniel J. Levitin, the director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University and the author of "The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload," told the New York Times that giving our brains time to wind down and think about nothing at all can provide "our moments of greatest creativity and insight."


Fact: The more (shorter) vacations you take, the happier you'll be.



As far as vacations go, the more the merrier. A study done at Erasmus University in Rotterdam found that among about 1,500 Dutch adults in which 974 of them took a vacation, those who took time off were happier than those who did not, mostly because they were excited in anticipation for their vacation. They also showed signs of slightly increased happiness for two weeks after they returned from vacation. So, the trick for success, says the study's leader, Jeroen Nawijn, seems to be taking two or more short breaks spread out in the year rather than one massive vacation. Spread out that happiness!


In fact, you should try to take a vacation day every single week (if you can).



Some researchers have argued that instead of offering employees a couple of long vacations every year, they should start providing employees with the option of taking a vacation every single week. A Harvard Business School study tracked employees for four years at a consulting group. Every year, the bosses insisted the employees take consistent time off. Those who took the time off committed to taking a break from work one day of the workweek, usually consisting of one full day off or a one night of uninterrupted personal time. After only five months, those who took the regular breaks from work reported being happier with their jobs and much prouder of the work they did at their job.


Your performance review this year could be higher if you just go take your vacation.



All that happiness could pay off for you in major ways. An internal study done by the Ernst & Young accounting firm found that for each additional 10 hours that an employee took for vacation, his or her performance review was 8 percent higher the next year. Who knew that some rest and relaxation could get your your next raise?


Bosses who take vacations return to work as more focused business leaders.



A survey by job recruiters at Korn/Ferry International discovered that 84 percent of over 250 executives have canceled a vacation due to pressures at work. That's shocking. If you're the head honcho, don't think it's impossible for you take a vacation. We know it's hard to break yourself away from your work, but you make the rules, after all, and it's proven that you'll be better and enforcing those rules if you give yourself a little break.

Jennifer Deal, a researcher at the Center for Creative Leadership who has examined the way executives deal with taking vacations, told The Wall Street Journal that when bosses take time off they come back more creative and able to think about the long run future of the company better. If they don't take a break, she says it's extremely difficult for them to "see outside of the immediate whirlwind."


Immersing yourself in new cultures and cuisines will give you a whole new array of ideas you can bring back to work.



Think of your vacation as a very relaxing and stress-free way to get some more work done. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine concludes that multicultural experiences help foster creativity and help generate ideas. However, this shouldn't be working abroad. The study emphasizes that the experience will only promote creativity when the situation doesn't call for "firm answers or existential concerns."


You might even get paid for taking time off.



If you're still afraid, consider this: Some companies are paying their employees to get out of the office or they are removing restrictions to how much vacation time they can take off. The Wall Street Journal reports that FullContact, an advertising firm in Boston, began enticing its employees with a $7,500 incentive a year to help fund a nonworking vacation. Also, there's no limit on how long their vacation can be. And HubSpot, a marketing software company in Cambridge, Mass., has ordered a two week paid vacation minimum for its employees. Now that's a great work-life balance.

4 Reasons Not to Use Your Debit Card at a Bar

14 hours 30 min ago
You've watched enough Tarantino to know you should only bring a knife to a gunfight if you're Uma Thurman. Bringing a debit card to a bar is like the proverbial knife at a gunfight: a shoot-ready script for getting killed by the bill.

Bar = party, but you don't want to run up debt and wreck your credit, so you make a conscious effort to use a debit card. For most of us, cash and debit cards are pretty synonymous. Maybe your phone case doubles as a wallet. Even a modest amount of cash is bulky for today's skinny jeans pockets, and if it falls out it's gone for good. Want a free drink from that tattoo-sleeved bartender? It's not going to happen if you hand him or her sweat-damp legal tender that's been stored in your sock.

But if you think you're protected from losing cash by using a debit card, perhaps you need to rethink your definition of protection. Debit cards get scammed the same as credit cards, but that's where the similarity ends.

A credit card is borrowed money, so when a fraudster runs up a big bill, other than dealing with a few hassles, the financial hit isn't as immediate as it would be with your bank account - especially if you report it ASAP. Yeah, you have to call the bank and get a new card (don't forget to notify other creditors that your billing information has changed), but you're only liable for up to $50 associated with whatever fraudulent use occurs, and most companies have adopted a zero liability policy. With debit cards, the story's a little different: Fail to report fraudulent activity on your debit card (or cash disappearing from your bank account) within 48 hours and you're liable for up to $50, but miss it entirely during a 60-day period, and you could be on the hook for $500 (or maybe the entire missing amount).

If your debit card gets hit, there goes much, if not all, of your available cash. Say goodbye to your decaf double cap.

While banks are typically required to get your money back to you within 10 days of a fraudulent attack on your bank account, and some companies like Visa and Mastercard have a policy of getting it back to you in five days, that's not going to do you much good if you're not accustomed to carrying large amounts of cash and someone empties out your checking account. Landlords won't understand. Grocery stores don't care. No Powerball tickets for you. So the best course of action here is to leave the debit card in your wallet.

Not convinced? Here are some more reasons to leave that debit card out of your adventures in bar-land:

1. A Dishonest Bartender

That bartender may not be working at a bar to pay for seminary training. In fact, he or she, or the bar back, may be a criminal. If you open a tab, your debit card (aka your checking account) will be out of your purse or wallet -- and in their custody -- for hours. It will reside by the cash register where there are pens and paper and plenty of time for some mean-spirited thief to write down your card information in preparation for a late-night shopping spree.

2. ATM Fees

Even if you decide to forgo the use of your debit card to open a tab at the bar, you may decide to use the ATM machine conveniently located in that dark corner of the bar. I suggest you do this early in the evening when you will be more likely to notice the $3-$4 convenience fee. Get some cash at your bank before you go, and save that money for a can of PBR.

3. Skimmers

Another reason to forgo those bar ATMs is the dreaded skimmer -- a magnetic strip reader that criminals use to record your card information. You often won't see a skimmer device even in the light of day (if the fraudsters know what they're doing), but you definitely aren't going to see anything is amiss in a dark bar. Repeat after me: "I am going to a bank."

4. No Points

In today's swipe fee-limited environment, almost no debit cards offer rewards anymore, and the few that do have plans that are nowhere near as robust as the ones associated with most credit cards. Credit can be the same as cash, as long as you think of it as an advance on a payment to be made at the end of the month -- and a possible flight somewhere warm this winter.

Losing your line of credit or your available funds to a fraudster can set off a nightmarish chain reaction in your finances -- the sooner you can resolve the problem, the better. One of your best lines of defense upfront, whether it's your debit card or credit card, is checking your statements -- daily. If giving your statements a quick once-over every day sounds like too big of a commitment, consider the fact that trying to undo the damage from a criminal is way more tedious.

Your credit standing is also at risk -- from maxed-out limits, to missing payments because your bank account is empty -- so that's all the more reason to keep an eagle eye on things. Checking your credit reports for signs of fraud -- like accounts that don't belong to you -- and monitoring your credit scores for big, unexpected changes, also need to be a regular part of your routine. You're entitled to your credit reports for free every year, and you can monitor your credit scores every month for free through Credit.com.

Explosion At BP's Largest Oil Refinery In The U.S. Rattles Indiana

Wed, 2014-08-27 23:02

WHITING, Ind. (AP) — An explosion at BP oil refinery in northwestern Indiana along Lake Michigan rattled nearby homes and sparked a fire that was later extinguished, but it didn't cause any major injuries or halt production at the facility, a company official said Thursday.


The explosion Wednesday night at the Whiting refinery, which is just east of Chicago, was caused by "an operational incident" on a processing unit, BP America spokesman Scott Dean said. It happened about 9 p.m. and was extinguished by the plant's fire department within a couple of hours.


One employee was taken to a hospital as a precaution, but was later released, Dean said. Refinery operations were "minimally" affected by the fire, he said.


Dean said the cause of the explosion was under investigation and that he didn't immediately know whether it caused any chemical releases from the refinery that has a residential neighborhood running along its western border.


Dan Goldblatt, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said Thursday that he didn't know if any air quality problems had been reported because of the explosion.


A Whiting Fire Department spokesman said the blast could be heard clearly several blocks from the plant. However, when fire commanders called plant officials to see whether assistance was needed, they were told only to stand by.


The explosion follows a malfunction at the refinery in March that the company said spilled up to 1,600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan. Crews spent several days cleaning up oil along the shoreline.


The refinery covers about 1,400 acres along the lake's shoreline.


BP completed work in late 2013 on a $4.2 billion expansion and upgrade of the refinery that will make it a top processor of heavy crude oil extracted from Canada's tar sand deposits.


Wednesday's explosion came on the anniversary of a 1955 blast at the refinery that threw debris onto nearby neighborhoods, killing a 3-year-old boy as he slept and causing fires that burned for eight days, according to the Whiting Public Library's website.

Mayor Emanuel's Love for JRW's Team, Not Neighborhoods

Wed, 2014-08-27 16:42


(Photo by nathans226, Courtesy of Creative Commons)



Like Chicagoans across the city, Rahm Emanuel loves the plucky and gritty youngsters from the Jackie Robinson West Little League team.

He tweeted repeatedly about them.

The city hosted a watch party on the Far South Side, during which he and the hundreds of others there hung on every pitch.

And today (Wednesday), he's giving them a parade to celebrate their historic game that ended with their being America's champions.

In a statement about the parade, Emanuel said the following:

The excitement surrounding these remarkable young people has been palpable in every neighborhood of Chicago, and their spirit, positive attitude and success on the field illustrate why they are the pride of the City. Win or lose, these 13 boys are their coaches are the true champions of Chicago and we look forward to welcoming them home with the fanfare they deserve on Wednesday.

During their run, commentators across the country noted that the team, which is composed entirely of African-American players, hails from the city's South and Southwest Sides.

The players live in communities like Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Morgan Park, Chatham and Washington Heights.

Many of these neighborhoods have not received the same love from Emanuel that he has heaped on the young players, whose heart, skill and tenacity he has rightly praised.

Take Englewood.

I pulled seven years' worth of homicide data compiled meticulously by friend and former colleague Tracy Swartz of RedEye to see how it and the city's other communities had fared during Emanuel's 39 months as mayor as compared with the same amount of time during his predecessor Richard M. Daley's tenure.

Not so well, as it turned out.

The neighborhood has had 79 murders under Emanuel, as compared with 58 during Daley's final 39 months.

That's the second-highest total in the city, and a 36-percent increase under our current leader.

In Washington Heights, murders have gone up from 21 under to Daley to 25 under Emanuel, a 16-percent jump.

By contrast, the total number of murders throughout Chicago was nearly identical under Emanuel and Daley.

That means that those neighborhoods have fared worse under the JRW-loving Emanuel than under Chicago's longest-serving mayor.

After the parade, the young players from the team, like young people throughout the city, will need to go back to school.

Of course, there are fewer of them in their communities.

That's because the mayor closed 49 schools in 2012 in the largest schools closing in American history. Some of the zip codes where the youngsters live were among the hardest hit by both the actual shuttering of the school and the buildup to that final decision.

The latter is an important point.

I was working for Hoy Chicago in the spring of 2012, the time when the school board, which serves under Emanuel, was deciding the schools' fates.

I visited parents from the William Penn Elementary School in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

The strain of the potential closure on the parents, educators and students was evident. In the end, Penn was spared, but the emotional toll it had taken was real.

In a couple of years, when they are old enough, the players from Jackie Robinson West can apply to go to high school at the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School.

The school is likely to be named after our 44th president, who has deep ties to the city's South Side.

Of course, if they are able to gain admission, something that's happened less and less for black and Latino students during Emanuel's tenure, they will have to travel to the North Side.

That's because Emanuel has proposed that the new school be located near the area left vacant since the Cabrini-Green housing development was closed during Daley's time as mayor.

Actions like these and others have caused many in the very neighborhoods that helped propel Emanuel to victory in 2011 to question how much he cares about them and their communities.

I asked Emanuel about this last year during a 10-minute interview he granted Hoy Chicago.



As you can see, he responded by laughing and by talking about his actions during the teachers' strike that shot Chicago Teachers Union head Karen Lewis to national prominence.

"I know what we have to do," he said.

Others are not so sure.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote recently about the "anyone but Rahm" vibe that is building in Chicago, and Lewis has all but declared her intention to take on the incumbent.

If it materializes, the contest will be an interesting one.

Lewis and Emanuel's distaste for each other, at least in the past, has been well-chronicled.

The mayor once swore at Lewis, while she has called him a liar and a bully.

Also interesting to watch will be whether Emanuel treats his potential opponent the same way during his reelection campaign as he has treated many of the neighborhoods that have produced the young baseball players who stole the nation's heart and whom the mayor so openly admires.

5 Traditionally Male Jobs You Didn't Know Women Pioneered

Wed, 2014-08-27 16:00
Today, women make up nearly half of America's workforce, and counting. But even as women achieve new levels of success at work, some fields remain heavily male-dominated. Many of these occupations are seen as stereotypically "masculine" work, yet some of the gentleman's club-type jobs we see today had early female influence.

These five occupations actually have long, often-forgotten histories of women helping to pioneer their early days:

1. The first computer programmer ever was a woman.



Today's tech world is notoriously male-dominated, with women holding less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering and math jobs nationally. And yet, the gentlemen of Silicon Valley owe a lot to the 19th-century founder of scientific computing: Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, or "Ada Lovelace."



Lovelace collaborated with Charles Babbage, the so-called "Father of Computers," and wrote the world's first computer coding algorithm. Byron wasn't the only foremother of computer science, though. During World War II, six women mathematicians, nicknamed the “human computers,” did most of the programming for one of the world's first all-electronic computers. Women remained prominent in computer programming throughout the '40s and '50s, but their numbers decreased as the industry adopted a number of recruiting techniques that favored men in the late 1960s.


2. For most of human history, women brewed those ever-so-manly barrels of beer.



Today, women make up less than one percent of workers are employed in beer manufacturing. But evidence from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics suggests that women were originally responsible for brewing beer, which was considered a feminine, domestic task for centuries.



Throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, women were masters of brewing, and many of these so-called "ale-wives" or "brewsters" used their talents to earn pocket money. With the industrialization of the 17th century, beer became a large-scale factory business, and those factory jobs were given to men.


3. From 1916 to 1923, American women had more power in the world of moviemaking than in any other domestic industry.



For decades, women have been completely outnumbered in nearly every aspect of the film industry. Yet, in the early days of silent film, moviemaking was one of the most female-friendly fields. Indeed, hundreds of women worked as writers, directors, producers and editors in the early-20th century, and many of their stories were only recently uncovered by Harvard professor Jane Gaines.



Gaines determined that, from 1916 to 1923, women actually held more power in the film industry than in any other industry in the United States. (Unfortunately, 90 percent of American films made before 1929 were not properly preserved, so much of their work cannot be enjoyed today.) In fact, in 1923, more independent studios were owned by women than by men, a phenomena that Playboy dubbed the "her own company epidemic." Then, as the industry became centralized, a few powerful, male-owned companies took hold, and women were pushed out of most of the available jobs. Meanwhile, several authors of important important early film history books ignored women's films and achievements, and many of these influential women were nearly forgotten.


4. Women were the original drummers.



Today, percussion instruments are typically seen as "masculine" -- associated with military marching bands or rambunctious rock stars. Yet, ancient artifacts and paintings reveal that ancient women were the original drummers.





According to Layne Redmond, author of When The Drummers Were Women, the first-known drummer in history was Lipushiau, a Mesopotamian priestess. Drums carried connotations of birth and fertility and were sacred to women. Women played drums during religious rituals for about 3,000 years of human history. That all changed when the Christian church banned women from singing or playing instruments. Public performance of music increasingly became the turf of men.


5. While the medical field excluded women doctors for hundreds of years, women were some of early mankind's most prominent healers.



Many women were highly-respected medical experts in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. Throughout Europe's early history, nuns frequently worked as healers, and some, like Hildegard of Bingen, wrote influential records of their cures and treatments they used, often in the fields of gynecology and child-birthing practices.



Then, in the late Middle Ages, the church decreed that all doctors must obtain a university education. At the time, women were banned from attending university, and thus could not practice medicine legally. Those who practiced medicine were frequently prosecuted for witchcraft. After that, the medical establishment often ignored women's contributions or attributed their achievements to men. For example, historians wrongly assumed that Trotula, a renowned 11th-century female professor of medicine, and author of a classic book on medicine, was a man -- simply because they couldn't believe a woman had written such an influential medical book.

Even when women faced social and educational barriers to enter the medical field, they continued to heal those who could not afford doctors. In recent decades, women have made incredible progress in the medical field, though sexism still lingers.

Athletes Take a Stand for Mike Brown

Wed, 2014-08-27 15:57

I cannot tell you how many TV and radio shows in the last couple of months have invited me to come on to criticize current athletes for not speaking out on crucial issues that affect our society as a whole.



They tried to get me to publicly bad-mouth Dwight Howard after he deleted a "Free Palestine" Tweet from his account.



They tried to get me to disparage all current athletes and label them all as cowards during the whole Donald Sterling madness, which prompted me to write this article on the Huffington Post.



These critiques of athletes are not new. They have been articulated for years, in barbershops, bars, social media, various articles and blogs, by the everyday fan to the most celebrated scholars. But many still are misguided and inaccurate.



The recent fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has hit all of us, including athletes. When a national tragedy occurs such as the case of Brown -- the young black unarmed teen who was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson -- it affects everyone, especially those who have kids. Mike Brown was shot a total of six times -- twice in the head and four times in the arms -- a preliminary, private autopsy revealed.



Many question how someone could be struck in the middle of their right palm unless their hands were up? In addition, why would a police officer shoot someone in the top of the head... and then leave him lying dead in the street for hours? Some view the shooting as a public execution.



This is a parent's worst nightmare. Couple this with the apparent mishandling of the situation by the St. Louis Police Department. As I write this, a whole two weeks after Brown was killed, Officer Wilson has gone into hiding. His social media accounts have been deactivated. Wilson hasn't been charged with anything, but put on paid administrative leave in an undisclosed location.



This has resulted in two weeks of unrest; police clash with demonstrators in what resembles a war zone in a foreign country; bully tactics by the St. Louis Police Department demonize the victim and attempt to justify the shooting with the release of an unrelated video in order to attack Brown's character.



People are searching for answers. An entire community hasn't had the chance to breathe following the Eric Garner choking incident by the NYPD. Many are still healing from the death of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and countless others. USA Today released statistics showing that a white police officer kills a black person nearly two times a week in the United States.



Many black parents are forced to have "The Talk" with their kids at a much younger age than anticipated; how they will be viewed in society, how to react to the police when you are stopped (not if but when); how they will be treated if they commit a crime vs. if someone else commits a crime; how the world is simply not always a fair place.



As President Barack Obama addressed the nation for the third time on the tragedy of Mike Brown's death, the violence that has occurred and the overall issues that need to be addressed -- which include excessive police force and the people's right to assemble peacefully -- he condemned those breaking the law, reassured them that he understood their frustrations, ensured that he was doing everything he could to bring about justice, and spoke to the overall issue: "In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear."



This tragedy did not fail to hit home for many athletes as well. For some reason, people seem to think that the problems and issues of society don't have the same effect on athletes. People seem to think that there is an imaginary bubble that we all live in that protects us from any harm. That simply is not the case. Countless athletes -- and entertainers, rappers, professionals, activists, authors, journalists -- stand in solidarity with Brown and the people of Ferguson, Mo.



A group of players from the Washington Football Team (and, yes, I referred to them by that name for a specific reason -- out of respect to Native American people), in a show of solidarity before their preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, came through the tunnel with their hands up, referencing that Mike Brown reportedly had his hands raised in surrender when he was killed. Safety Brandon Meriweather said that the team's defensive backs decided to do this together as a group.



"We just wanted everybody to know that we supported Michael and acknowledge what happened in Ferguson. It was all our idea, something we decided to do as a group just to show our support," Merriweather told USA Today Sports.





Safety Ryan Clark said: "Brown could have been any of us. That could have been any one of our brothers or cousins... When you get an opportunity to make a statement and be more than a football player, it's good."



Earlier this week, wide receiver Pierre Garcon posted a photo on Instagram of he and over a dozen other players from the Washington Football Team also with their hands up in the submission pose. He included the hashtags #handsUpDontShoot We are all #MikeBrown.



#Ferguson http://t.co/uEYd0wWJtb

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 14, 2014


Kobe Bryant tweeted a link to an ABC news story about racial tensions in Ferguson.



Allen Iverson Tweeted this with an Instagram link of himself wearing a T shirt that said Mike Brown.





The people who criticize an athlete "tweeting" support as being meaningless don't understand the power of social media. Kobe Bryant has 5.5 million followers. Allen Iverson has 780,000-plus followers on Twitter. With just a stroke of a button, they can send out a message to millions of people who are hanging on their every word. That's power.



I asked two of my former teammates with the Washington Wizards, Larry Hughes and Jahidi White -- both of whom are from St. Louis -- how they feel.



Larry Hughes:



I feel our community's frustration. Even as a successful young black male there is an uneasiness in the presence of law enforcement. Growing up in this country, I know at anytime the situation can turn negative.

Jahidi White:



There is still this disconnect between young African-Americans and law enforcement that hasn't changed. There's this distrust between us and those who have sworn to "PROTECT and SERVE US. The prevailing sentiment from law enforcement is that every individual that fits in our demographic should be viewed as dangerous and unlawful rather than the citizens that we are first and foremost. Most of the time we are not afforded the same kind of due process that is guaranteed to all under the constitution. The innocent until proven guilty clause very rarely applies to us. I feared for my life just like I know that Mike Brown feared for his staring down the barrel of the gun of the people who are sworn to keep us safe.



How can it be said that this is the land of opportunity for all when this perception that our lives are less valuable then those of other races exists? This may sound a little extreme but we are left with no other alternative when these INCIDENTS keep occurring and the perpetrators very rarely face justice.



I have a radio show on Washington DC's WPFW FM 89.3 with political and sportswriter Dave Zirin called The Collision, "Where Sports And Politics Collide." We had Syracuse legend Derrick Coleman and Kentucky Wildcat legend Derek Anderson on to discuss the Mike Brown situation.



Derrick Coleman:



They try to character assassinate our children and show them in a whole different light to make it justifiable and say this is why he got shot. Over some cigarillos? The police officer didn't even know anything about that.



We who live in Black Communities across America understand the situation with the police. We have never looked at them to protect and serve. It's just in recent years it's been brought to the forefront through social media.



We have to change the landscape of what is going on in Urban America and until that happens we are going to continue to have outbursts like we're having with our youth and the police department.



Derek Anderson:



All these policeman can easily use a taser. If you're quick enough to pull a gun you can use a taser. You don't have to shoot anybody. If you and me are having a confrontation and you're bigger than me and I pull out a taser I can eliminate the situation. You won't die. I can easily eliminate any threat of you hurting me. The police can do that -- they choose to not do that and they are getting the backlash for it and it's going to continue to get worse. Something is going on bigger than what we are seeing. We just have to pay attention to it.



A tragedy such as this doesn't escape athletes. Contemporary black athletes are capable of carrying on the tradition of their brave brothers and sisters before them who led their teams to victory on the field and led the way in challenging racial disunity and injustice in the world outside the athletic arena (all while potentially facing the petty and insipid criticism of reactionary media).



Unfortunately, that criticism has come from all quarters, including sympathetic ones in television and in print. The New York Times columnist and author William C. Rhoden argued in his book, Forty Million Dollar Slaves, that contemporary athletes fail to speak out or otherwise act on issues of importance to their communities.



He wrote:



Now that they occupy a position where they can be more than symbols of achievement, where they can actually serve their communities in vital and tangible ways, while also addressing the power imbalance within their own from a position of greater strength, they seem most at a loss, lacking purpose and drive....The Black Athlete has abdicated their responsibility to the community with treasonous vigor.



Let me first say that I enjoyed Rhoden's book and found it to be a very informative history of the black athlete in America. It touched on the unfortunate paths and states of mind that have overtaken the realities of some black athletes of today. I agree with his position that "making the evolution to be a completely free man is realizing that racism is more virulent and determined than ever before." In fact, I think the book is a must-read for all athletes -- if only to serve as an example of what not to become.



That being said, I respectfully disagree with the overall notion that the black athlete today is simply "lost," as Rhoden labels us in his book.



He said that athletes are isolated and alienated from their "native networks," and are "increasingly cloistered into new networks as they become corporatized entities... excised from their communities as they fulfill their professional responsibilities and disconnected from the networks of people, in many cases predominately African-American, who once comprised their 'community' (p. 177). This leads to a general ignorance of the issues impacting a vast majority of African-Americans across the country."



This couldn't be further from the truth. And painting the entire, illustrious roster of current black athletes with this broad brush of ridicule, one that leaves no room for exceptions, is just wrong. If he had said "some" black athletes of today, I wouldn't have had an objection. But to say "the contemporary tribe," as he calls us, "with access to unprecedented wealth is lost," is completely inaccurate.



The book's subtitle, The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, indicates that Rhoden is fully convinced that the modern-day black athlete's willingness to advocate for social and economic justice for all black people has diminished since the 1960s -- and perhaps disappeared, and that there currently exists a "vacuum of leadership" that has led to black athletes becoming a "lost tribe."



There is a common myth about black athletes and social activism. It is that our disconnection from the black community and the retaliation black athletes face from reactionary sports media has fractured the "common cause" that once united all black athletes when they stood for causes for social justice. Many contemporary sports writers and analysts agree with Rhoden's assertion that after centuries of black athletes who faced the most dire consequences -- loss of livelihood and death threats -- we have now entered a period where an unspoken code encourages contemporary black athletes to avoid "rocking the boat" lest they risk losing their lucrative sponsorships and opportunity to compete professionally.



For black professional athletes who do remain connected to the black community in significant ways, Rhoden focuses on the harsh reprisal that they are likely to face at the hands of a largely white, reactionary sports media (p. 209). Also at the root of the problem for contemporary athletes, Rhoden outlines, is the threat that engaging in causes and issues that management might consider politically unsavory would consequently lead to the loss of earnings potential.



However, as seen with Garcon, the entire Washington Football team's secondary, this prediction did not prove true. They didn't receive any ridicule from the team for injecting themselves into a national tragedy and using the company logo to do so.



Now for the brave Twitter trolls who hide behind their keyboards, that's another story. Unfortunately, the same people who are quick to criticize athletes for not using their various positions as platforms to speak out on various current issues will be the same ones to bombard them with vicious attacks when they do. Some fans simply do not respect the opinions of athletes and view them as simple entertainment. Some want them to simply be seen and not heard -- to simply shut up and play. However, not everyone is affected by those "brave" social media trolls who lurk in the corners of blog comment sections and Twitter.



Again, I have tremendous respect for Rhoden and I feel that Forty Million Dollar Slaves should be required reading for every athlete beginning in high school. It gives us a history in knowing the tremendous sacrifices that were made for us. It gives us an account of the athletes that have come before us to lay the foundation so that we can have the opportunities we have today.



The decisions made by Garcon, Merriweather and the entire secondary of the Washington Football team to publicly stand in solidarity, the passionate statements made by Missouri natives and former Washington Wizards White and Hughes, and by Coleman and Anderson should not be dismissed as singular and nominal. These are not the actions of a group that is, "isolated and alienated from their native networks" or someone possessing an "ignorance of the issues impacting a vast majority of African-Americans across the country."



Rhoden and those who criticize black athletes for a lack of social consciousness should recognize, with the same vigor and thorough analysis, the efforts of contemporary black athletes who improve their communities and stand up for what they believe.



This post first appeared on NBA.com.

Steve Carell And Stephen Colbert Perform 'The Obvious Song' Together At Second City In 1993

Wed, 2014-08-27 14:35
Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert are funny on their own, but put them together and they're truly sublime. (This should come as a surprise to exactly zero people.) Here's further proof that these two are an incredible comedic powerhouse. In 1993, they were both part of a revue called "Take Me Out to the Balkans" on the stage of Second City.

Check out Carrell and Colbert performing "The Obvious Song," along with castmates Paul Dinello and David Razowsky.

[h/t Splitsider]

33 Days to More Well-Being: A Special Offer for HuffPost Readers

Wed, 2014-08-27 13:59
Wherever I go around the world, I see the same hunger to live our lives with more meaning and purpose and less unnecessary stress and burnout. This is the goal of a new online course being offered by the University of Santa Monica, which I'm delighted we have arranged to offer free for HuffPost readers. Entitled "33 Days of Awakening Through Loyalty to Your Soul," the class is designed to teach us how to nurture a sense of well-being, joy, purpose and fulfillment. Of course, there are going to be challenges along the way, but as the course's founders, Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick, show, there are ways in which many of these challenging moments can in fact strengthen and reaffirm our sense of purpose and well-being instead of taking us off-course.

Each day brings a new lesson with a different theme, along with a new skill or habit. One of my favorites is "Perception Checking" -- a way of managing to slow down a conversation so we can truly and meaningfully engage with another person rather than staying on the surface, half-distracted (or at least ready to be) by anything that moves, or beeps, or tweets. Another is practicing responsibility in choosing our commitments. This is one that really resonates with me, since I often have problems with how much I add to my to-do list. My habit of saying yes to too many things led me, when I turned 40, to do something of a "life audit," during which I realized how many projects I had half-committed to in my head -- such as learning German and becoming a good skier and learning to cook. (It's true: I can't cook. I sadly missed that gene from my Greek mother.) Most remained unfinished, and many were not even started. Yet these countless incomplete projects drained my energy and diffused my attention. It was very liberating to realize that I could "complete" a project by simply dropping it -- by just eliminating it from my to-do list.

On the flipside, I also learned how satisfying it is -- magical, even -- when we set our intentions on the goal of implementing a new habit for a certain period of time. We all aspire to have a richer experience in our day-to-day lives, but all too often we save what we really want for a later day -- a day that, too often, never comes. So the tools offered in the course that can help us commit to what we really want right now can be transforming.

The University of Santa Monica course also has its own version of what I describe as the need to evict the obnoxious roommate in our heads, that critical voice most of us know so well that puts us down and amplifies our insecurities and doubts. Even our worst enemies don't talk about us the way we talk to ourselves. "Negative thoughts," the course teaches, "are a way of leaking your precious life energy." And by teaching us to deal with such thoughts, the course helps us evict that obnoxious roommate.

Nothing is more powerful in making this happen than creating a daily practice and reinforcing new habits. And what I love about "33 Days of Awakening" is that it's specifically designed to help us cultivate these habits so that we can view ourselves and the world with more awareness and more gratitude.

Each day's email has a theme: clarifying our intentions, accepting what we cannot change, putting our thoughts in writing to help us forgive ourselves and others, writing out a gratitude list, dropping grudges and -- my favorite -- realizing that the way we deal with the issue is the issue. Each day of the course guides us to set an intention based on that day's lesson, supported with meditations, videos, podcasts and other resources that help us go deeper on the day's theme. Ron and Mary, who have been dear friends of mine for many years, usher us through the course with their distinctive humor, fleshing out principles with stories from their own lives and from the lives of past students. Their message goes straight to the core of our collective hunger for meaning and purpose. Simple practices can be profound. When we incorporate these daily practices and techniques into our lives, it becomes possible to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. Information about the course, which begins Sept. 8, is here.

For How He Lived: Remembering James Foley

Wed, 2014-08-27 13:43


Before James Foley died at the hands of the Islamic State, he was a well-known war correspondent who felt a duty to cover the front line. Over his career he had been held in captivity, released to his family only to return of his own accord to the battlegrounds of the Middle East. He had seen a friend gunned down before his eyes, and touched countless lives with the stories he told. But before all of that, he was a teacher returning to school, and just beginning to see journalism as the new direction his life needed.

Jim Foley started his journalism career in the winter of 2007, getting his first taste of Medill's graduate program with Stephan Garnett and Noah Isackson's Journalism Methods course. He began in the dead of winter.

"We like to call it 'boot camp,'" said Garnett. "It's where they learn the basics of journalism, and then actually put it into practice in the second half of the class." Garnett didn't aim to soften the class for his students, instead striving to convey to them the perils and hardships of the profession as best he could.

"I tell them that this class is going to be a test of how well they're gonna function as journalists," he said. "And I use an analogy, I say that basically I'm gonna grab you by the scruff of your neck and throw you in that lake out there, and see if you can swim to the other side of it. And some of you will swim, and some of you will sink."

The course's daily newsroom model pushed students to first come up with stories, then to write them quickly and efficiently. To get to know Chicago, every student chose a neighborhood to cover throughout the quarter. 

"For us, we all kind of go into different tracks, and take courses and electives differently," said Peter Holderness, Foley's classmate that first quarter. "Because then what we have in common is we all start in this methods course. So while there might be a hundred people in the cohort, the twelve or fifteen people that you spend that first quarter with are really your introduction to the professional world of reporting, and those are the people that you're gonna stay in touch with the most."

Rachel Zahorsky, another classmate who quickly went on to become friends with Foley, called the class "nerve-wracking."

"Medill's a really good school," she explained. "You paid a lot of money to be there, and this is it. College is over. You want to make a career as a journalist."

With strenuous assignments and the ever-looming "Medill F," sometimes that could seem a daunting challenge.

"You're learning a whole new trade, and a whole new skill, and there's so much uncertainty," she said. "And finally, you're also very excited to be there, because you're gonna spend the whole year, you know, living your dream. I mean, training to be a journalist. What could be more awesome than that?"

"I'm not trying to scare them," said Garnett, "although later on some tell me they were terrified. But what I basically do is I just give them the reality of this profession. I tell them that you must realize that journalists can sometimes get hurt, or killed on the job, that when something terrible happens and everybody is running away from it, the journalists are running to it."
"Jim came up to me after that class and shook my hand and said, 'I think I'm really gonna enjoy this class.'"

According to Jim

James Foley was a tall man, easily clearing six feet. 

"I remember the first thing I thought was, 'What a damn good-looking guy," said Garnett. "Very handsome, but he wasn't impressed with it. Which I found impressive." Garnett said that his appreciation of Foley's character and professionalism only grew throughout the class, as Foley pitched idea after idea for stories to cover in Chicago. 

Foley's classmates shared that appreciation.

"He just never had the attitude that he was so much better, or that he was so great, or that he was this hotshot reporter," said Zahorsky. "He just did his job, and he did it really well."

But more than that, Foley's classmates remembered him as someone who cared, a quiet and calming presence in the sometimes-frantic newsroom. Some of it likely came simply from age.

"I was just in my 30's," recalled Holderness, "and so was Jim, which made us both a little bit older than some of the other students there. And so we both had already done some things in our life, and went to journalism a little bit later."

Before attending Medill, Foley studied history at Marquette University in Milwaukee. After college, he moved on to a career in teaching. 

"He taught inmates at Cook County Jail," recalled Garnett, referring to the Cook County Sheriff's Office program where Foley taught language arts. "I mean, I teach at Medill. I teach some of the brightest, sharpest, classiest people out there. I can't imagine what it's like to teach at Cook County Jail. But Jim did it."

Foley also taught in Phoenix with Teach for America, and in college he volunteered at a local school in Milwaukee. Eventually, his writing and a strong desire for social justice led him to Medill, where he hoped to tell the stories of those who couldn't on their own. 

"He had a passion for creative writing," recalled Jeremy Gantz, a friend of Foley since their first quarter in Garnett's class. That fall, he and Foley and two other classmates would live together in Washington, D.C., during their quarter spent studying in the nation's capital. 

"He was really into hip-hop," said Gantz, "like socially conscious hip-hop. I remember him, when we were living in DC, he would write raps. He had notebooks, that was something I really remembered about him. He would scrawl down ideas." 

Foley's friends described him as thoughtful, engaged with the world around him, and constantly seeking a way to change the things he thought were wrong. He chose to both live and report in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood during his first quarter at Medill, a place where others in his position might have felt ill at ease. 

"This was a man who championed the underdog," recalled Garnett. "For instance, one of the stories that he did, along with a partner in Journalism Methods, was a story about a playground that was proposed to be built right next door to a factory that had a list of serious EPA violations." Garnett said that the parents who lived nearby were upset and worried for their children, but lacked the influence and social standing to make a difference.

"Jim and his partner went in and did that story. They talked to the EPA and found out what those violations were, and talked to the parents, and they even got into the plant and talked to the plant manager." 

It was hard to miss Foley's sense of social justice, and he wasn't afraid of letting people know what he thought.

"He actually started castigating the manager of this plant, and telling him, you know, 'Do you realize that what you're doing is putting the people in this community at risk?'" Garnett said that it was most likely unprofessional, but didn't seem to care. 

"That was Jim. He spoke his mind. He felt that this was wrong, and he was gonna let this guy know it. Even if it jeopardized this interview. That's just the way he was, you know, he was fearless. Both in what he did and in what he said."

Foley's thoughts began to turn to war-related reporting after a class he took in Washington, D.C., on covering conflicts.

Intro to Conflict

"I think it was probably our favorite class in D.C., because it was such a close-up look," said Gantz, recalling the course's special, insider feel. "We heard directly from a number of national security professionals, and people who cover the military for a living, people who really know how it works. I know we both felt really lucky to have that."

"We actually took this conflict zone training class, sort of a simulation and experience on a former farm in Virginia." Gantz said he saw the wheels start to turn in Foley's head, and knew that his friend was thinking about making a career out of what they had learned there.

Not long after receiving his degree, Foley embedded with the U.S. Army, where he worked to bring stories from the front lines back to the audience he knew in America. 

"He would send me, occasionally, things that he'd done," said Garnett, "and I mean, the guy was in his flak jacket and his helmet, and he was right there with the troops dodging bullets. And I would comment on how dangerous this was, and he said 'Yeah, well that's where the story is.'"

Many of Foley's classmates also continued to follow his work, after graduation. 

"I really stayed more in touch with him when he embedded with soldiers and when he started blogging," said Holderness, who now works at the Chicago Sun-Times. Rachel Zahorsky also closely followed Foley's career, remembering the impression that he made on her during the program. 

"Any time he posted something to his blog, or any time there was something about him in the news, I definitely always read it, followed up on it, cared about what was going on in a different way," she said. "And I think most of our classmates did as well."

"You just always want to cheer on someone you think is doing something amazing," she said.
In April of 2011, Foley was captured and imprisoned for 44 days by Libyan forces. After his release he returned to the United States, where he spoke on Medill's campus and started to reconnect with friends and family, but he always felt a pull to return to the wars.

"He faced this dilemma," remembered Gantz. "He was offered this job, an editing job, by GlobalPost, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to take it. And I very emphatically told him that he should take the job. He should not go back abroad, he needs to sort of process everything that had happened, get some distance, be with his family. And not rush back abroad into Libya."

His friends believed that much of his desire to return stemmed from the death of Anton Hammerl, the South African photographer who died reporting alongside Foley in Libya. But they also suspected that Foley's reporting overseas had touched on something fundamental to who he was, and kindled a passion that would never burn out in captivity.

"So when he was offered the job, you know, there must be a part of him that was like 'You know it's so hard to get a real staff job. It's safe. I should really take this.' But then," Gantz said, "there was a part of him that didn't want to do that. And I told him what I thought, and he did take the job. But he didn't have it for that long." One of the last times that Foley's friends would see him was at Gantz' wedding. 

"Jeremy had a lovely gathering in Maine, and I think we kind of didn't expect that Jim would make it. We all knew that he was a little bit shell-shocked. But Jim showed up, looking a little bit out of his element, but overjoyed to be around friends and family."

To many, however, it was evident from the start that Foley simply had to go back to Libya.
"I was worried," said Garnett. "And I told him the last time I saw him that I was worried. I remember his response. 'I'll try real hard to spare you a heart attack.'" In his talk at Medill, Foley described his experience while embedded with the Army, and his decision to leave the protection of his U.S. base.

"Do I really know the Iraqi people?" he wondered. "Do I really know an Afghan? Well, I know an Afghan who's a translator for the U.S. Army, feeding questions that I'm asking to a local Afghan." Like that very first class in Medill, Foley just had to know who the real people were.

"So the idea of the Libyan revolution is journalists literally embedding with rebels. And that's essentially what we did." Even after his capture and release, he still felt the urge to return.

"There was no doubt, no hesitation," said Zahorsky. "That was his job. He truly believed in telling those stories, and making people care. He connected with people, and cared about people, but he also made others care too." Foley was calm, grounded, but also a restless participant in what he considered important to the world.

"He was not going to be satisfied, I think, staying behind a desk and helping to edit copy while other people were reporting," said Holderness. "I think he returned, and just was never able to settle in to a life that wasn't life or death all the time. He knew that people were experiencing that, and he knew that we weren't getting that story, as an American audience, and I think that he felt compelled."

Holderness reflected that it was one of the great ironies of the media world, that it needs reporters like Foley now more than ever, yet the number of outlets with the resources to protect and pay them grows smaller all the time. 

"So Jim is one of those intrepid souls who sent himself out into the world and those dangerous places where he thought that important things were happening," he said. "I will always remember him as someone who made easy connections with people, big smiles, and a goofy laugh. A wild passion for the world that you could sense within his eyes and sort of feel with his enthusiasm. When Jim went for it, he went all the way. And I think that's a reasonable way to remember him."

This post was originally featured on NUChronicle.com

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