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America's Last Coal-Fired Ship Finally Stops Dumping Coal Ash Into Lake Michigan

13 hours 11 min ago
The 2014 season for Lake Michigan's only coal-powered passenger and car ferry comes to a close Sunday, signaling the end of the controversial practice of dumping coal ash into the Great Lake. When the vessel resumes operations in 2015, it will no longer release the waste material into those waters.

The SS Badger, the last coal-fired steamship still operating in the United States, began service in 1953. From May to October, it ferries riders between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Until recently, it also dumped about 500 tons of coal ash per season into Lake Michigan. To put that into perspective, all other Great Lakes freighters combined discharge just 89 tons of coal, limestone and iron waste annually.

But as part of a 2013 Environmental Protection Agency consent decree, the ship reduced its ash output last year and, beginning in the 2015 season, will keep its ash out of the lake. A spokeswoman for Lake Michigan Carferry, which operates the Badger, told The Huffington Post that an ash retention system will be installed over the winter, and that the boat's next season will proceed as usual.

Lake Michigan Carferry last winter dropped $1.5 million to install a combustion control system on the ship. The pricey upgrade allows ash to be stored on board by reducing both the amount and temperature of the ash produced, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In an agreement with the EPA last year, Lake Michigan Carferry consented to reducing its coal consumption and cutting ash discharges by 15 percent this year. Prior to the agreement, however, the company lobbied to avoid EPA regulation entirely and pushed to get the ship designated as a National Historic Landmark, according to the Chicago Tribune. Shortly before the Badger's last permit expired in 2012, several congressmen attempted to pass legislation giving it a lifetime permit.

Many locals see the Badger as a historic treasure and a vital piece of the local economy. (The ship provides 200 jobs and brings a combined $35 million to the two port cities it connects.) Some were altogether opposed to new regulations for the ship; others favored compelling the Badger to stop dumping ash, as long as the EPA allowed Lake Michigan Carferry time to comply.

But detractors have long been concerned about the potential harm of coal ash, which contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

“The SS Badger, the filthiest ship on the Great Lakes, has been given two more years to dump hundreds of tons of dangerous coal ash into Lake Michigan," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in a statement when the EPA consent decree was lodged in 2013. "The millions of people who live, work and play in and around this beautiful lake should be outraged that this filthy ship will continue to operate."

As part of the EPA agreement, Lake Michigan Carferry was ordered to pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury standards. According to the Tribune, 2012 testing showed mercury concentrations in the Badger's coal ash reached 200 parts per trillion, while the federal standard is just 1.3 parts per trillion.

11 Foods That Double As Cleaning Products

15 hours 41 min ago
Ketchup is delicious, sure, but did you know that it's also effective at polishing copper? Yea, bet you find it a little less appetizing now. But ketchup isn't the only condiment or food that has dual purposes. In fact, many of the things you eat all the time have uses other than just keeping you satiated.

Here are 11 foods that do double-duty as cleaning products. You should always remember these, if for no other reason than they will save you money.

1. Banana peels can polish silver

Don't throw away that banana peel just yet. If your prized silverware collection is starting to get a bit tarnished, just rub the inside of a banana peel along the tarnished parts on your silver and it will help them look as good as new.

2. Cucumber peels can remove marks on walls and tables

According to Saudia Davis, the founder and CEO of Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning, cucumbers are extremely versatile cleaning products. The peels can remove marks on countertops and walls; and if you want a non-foggy bathroom mirror when you get out of the shower, just rub cucumber peel on it before you start the water.

3. Use ketchup to brighten up your copper pots and pans

All you've got to do is dab some of ketchup on a cloth on whatever copper item you have that needs some polishing, and let it sit for five to thirty minutes. The acids in the condiment will remove the tarnish.

4. A raw onion will clean your dirty grill grates

The folks over at The Kitchn report that if you run half of a raw onion against your grill grates with the cut side down, it will work to remove all the grease and leftover grit on the grill. Your best option is to heat up your grill first to help burn off any attached food or grime, then add the onion to the end of a large fork and go at it.

5. Use walnuts to remove scratches on wood furniture

Here's how it works: You peel the walnut from its shell and rub the nut part along the scratch. Then, run your finger over the scratch to help penetrate the oils. Let it sit for five minutes. Finally, use a soft cloth to buffer the area, and voila! Hopefully you now have a scratch-free piece of wood.

6. Your regular table salt will help remove a red wine stain

Next time someone accidentally spills their glass of red on your brand new white couch, immediately grab the table salt in the kitchen. Ingrid Johnson, Professor and Assistant Chairperson of Textile Development and Marketing at Fashion Institute Of Technology (FIT), recently told The Huffington Post that table salt is "the first and easiest thing to do" since it will absorb the wine.

7. A slice of white bread will help pick up little pieces of broken glass

The answer to picking up all those annoying little shards of glass is devastatingly simple: Grab a piece of Wonder Bread, dampen it, and dab it on all the little pieces.

8. Rice will clean your coffee grinder

This little trick, provided by Food52, works for spice grinders, as well. Take some uncooked rice and put it in your grinder. Grind it up until it becomes dust. When you remove that dust, it will also remove any coffee bean or spice fragments left in your grinder. Then you can just clean off the rest of it with a damp cloth.

9. Olive oil will remove sap

Perhaps one of your kids brushed up against some sap while playing outside and then sat on the couch, and now... well... there's sap on your couch. Grab the olive oil. Real Simple says when you dab a tablespoon of it on a cloth and rub it on the affected area, it should loosen up that sap in no time.

10. Cornmeal will remove grease stains on fabric

A pantry staple can remove that dreaded pizza stain. Just cover the stain entirely will cornmeal and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Once you vacuum the cornmeal away, the stain should be absorbed. Then all you have to do is clean the fabric as your normally would.

11. Use Coca-Cola to clean your toilet bowl

The acids in Coca-Cola will help remove any toilet bowl stains, apparently. So, grab a can and pour the whole thing into your toilet. Let the soda sit in there and do its magic for an hour. Then scrub the bowl and flush. Your toilet should be sparkling clean after.

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These Eerie Photos Of Abandoned Places Are So Much More Than 'Ruin Porn'

Fri, 2014-10-24 16:27
People love looking at photos of abandoned buildings. The more opulent a structure once was -- and the more dilapidated it currently is -- the better. But why the fascination with this so-called "ruin porn"?

Chicago-based photographer Eric Holubow's new book, Abandoned: America's Vanishing Landscapes, released this summer, focuses on the product of his explorations inside abandoned properties. Holubow believes there is "a degree of fatalism" in his work, as well as a reminder that buildings aren't immortal. There's a "shared fate" between a building and the individuals who built it, he says. Like a car crash or a house fire, the viewer can't look away for fear that they may miss a rare opportunity to stare Death right in the eye.

Holubow also believes these images symbolize a loss of faith in powerful American institutions -- government and capitalism come to mind. Thus, photos of the disarray left behind by a shuttered school or the ruins of a once-glamorous celebrity hot spot take on deeper meanings.

(Story continues below photos.)

The Hyatt House-Chicago (aka The Purple Hotel) in Lincolnwood, Illinois, was a thing of grandeur when it opened in 1961. In 1983, the still-unsolved execution of a known mobster took place there. It closed for good in 2007 and was demolished in 2013.

The Larimer School in the East End of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was built in 1896 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

First opened as a vaudeville house named the Liberty Theater in 1918, the Paramount Theater in Youngstown, Ohio, was closed in 1976 and fell into despair. It was demolished in 2013 after multiple failed attempts to revive it.

Holubow's work can be risky. Though he says he typically makes an effort to receive permission to shoot the spaces he enters, it's often difficult to get in contact with the buildings' owners, much less obtain authorization. Instead, he has to find a hole or window -- or other existing opening -- to enter through, sometimes encountering squatters living inside, or scrappers gutting the place. Other times, he's been chased by police or security figures "of both the human and canine varieties."

But the thrill, he says, is ultimately worth it. He hopes his work will bring attention to the storied past of significant abandoned spaces and prompt reflection on "what is being lost." While he admits some of the places he photographs are beyond saving, he insists it's not too late for others.

"I believe that photography, art or pretty much any content for that matter has the power to transform human behavior," he told The Huffington Post. "That is why I show my images and reveal their stories -- with the hope that they motivate people to take virtuous actions."

View more photos from Holubow's book:

The warped gymnasium floor of the original Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1853, it was St. Louis' first co-ed high school.

The reactor core at the Hartsville Nuclear Power Plant in Hartsville, Tennessee. It was commissioned by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1970s to help satisfy the growing energy needs of the region. Construction ceased when the plant’s proposed electrical distribution area did not increase as rapidly as forecast. Its last reactors were canceled in 1984.

The nine-story English Gothic-style City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana, was completed in 1925 at a cost of more than $1 million, with over half the contributions coming from the U.S. Steel Corporation. When Gary's population started to decline in the 1960s, its struggle to survive began.

The Sattler Theatre in Buffalo, New York, opened in 1914 as a 928-seat theater constructed in the Beaux Arts style. After it closed as a movie house, it was used by several religious congregations until it was abandoned in 1996.

The Schlitz Brewhouse at the Schlitz Industrial Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was built in 1890 and was shuttered in 1982.

Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago opened in 1881. By the 1990s, much of the massive hospital had fallen into disrepair. In 2008, the entire complex was closed, and it has since been razed.

The chapel within the James Clemens Junior mansion (the Clemens House) in St. Louis, Missouri. Built in 1858, it was used as a homeless shelter as recently as 2000 but stands boarded up today.

The turbine hall of the Richmond Power Plant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the biggest open rooms ever designed and once housed the world’s largest Westinghouse turbo-generators. The plant closed in 1985 and was featured as the prison site in the film "Twelve Monkeys."

Congressional Candidate Mike Bost Makes Dog-Killing Joke

Fri, 2014-10-24 15:52
The Illinois congressional candidate who once killed a beagle that bit his daughter is not happy the story resurfaced after all these years, but he was willing to crack a joke about it in an interview.

State Rep. Mike Bost (R), who has been dubbed "Mad Mike" by Democrats who want to stop him from unseating Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Ill.), has become famous for his angry rants on the state House floor that have gone viral on YouTube.

But he acquired a new layer of infamy after HuffPost reported on his 1986 shooting of a 10-year-old beagle named Rusty. The dog bit Bost's 4-year-old daughter in the face while she was chasing it, according to court records. She needed 24 stitches. Unsatisfied with officials' response, Bost got his gun, went to the pen where Rusty was locked up, and shot the dog, scaring neighbors, according to records.

Bost admitted to being unhappy about the shooting story to a Politico reporter, saying, “It brings back memories I don’t really like. No one wants to go kill an animal.”

But then, when his own labradoodle ran in front of his car, with Politico's Alex Isenstadt in the passenger seat, he dropped a one-liner:

“What if I killed a second dog in front of a reporter?” he joked darkly as Betty scampered up the steps to his house.

Bost also explained his philosophy about anger, and perhaps inadvertently explained why he was willing to take the law into his own hands and execute a dog.

“There’s nothing wrong with being angry,” Bost told Politico. “The question is, is that anger being directed at things to cure the problem?"

Bost also said Rusty's owner -- the cousin of Bost's wife -- continues to salute him with a single finger when he sees him in the neighborhood.

Notre Dame Receiver Justin Brent Gets Cozy With Porn Star Lisa Ann

Fri, 2014-10-24 12:24
A freshman receiver at Notre Dame has caught our attention -- off the field.

Pictures of Justin Brent getting cozy with 42-year-old porn star Lisa Ann are making the rounds on the Internet. One photo appears to show them in bed.

While images from Lisa Ann's Instagram of the two at a Knicks' preseason game Wednesday are pretty tame ...

@nyknicks game with @justinbrent #nyc

A photo posted by thereallisaannxxx (@thereallisaannxxx) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:49pm PDT

... one publlished by Deadspin that apparently shows them cuddling in the sack will fuel lots more speculation about their relationship.

PHOTO: Notre Dame WR takes a cute selfie in bed with legendary porn star Lisa Ann

— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 24, 2014

Brent, from Speedway, Indiana, has not caught a pass this season for the Fighting Irish, who play Navy on Saturday.

Notre Dame reps didn't immediately respond for comment, but Lisa Ann, whose credits include "MILF Revolution" and "Who's Nailin' Palin," seemed to have plenty to say:

The irony here is successful, older men have had beautiful young women on their arms in the past... Now it is MY turn to mix it up!

— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) October 24, 2014

I am very entertained today by the incredible amount of commentary about my date to the @nyknicks Game Last Night..

— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) October 24, 2014

I am a women NOT held back by my age, lucky for me, because the writers seem to make me out to be a dinosaur. 42 is NOT old, It is amazing!

— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) October 24, 2014

Illinois Libertarian candidates share their platforms

Fri, 2014-10-24 11:51
During the 2014 statewide elections, the eyes of most Illinoisans have been trained on the Republican and Democratic candidates for various state offices. But third-party candidates, members of the Libertarian Party, will also be included on Illinoisans' ballots Nov. 4. Some of the candidates shared their hopes for governing with Reboot Illinois.

From Libertarian candidate for attorney general Ben Koyl:

The Libertarian Party and libertarians also believe that we have a right to have physical autonomy from everyone else including agents of the government. This means among other things, that the government cannot throw you in jail for failing to pay income taxes; that violent crimes are prohibited; that no one has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do in the privacy of your own bedroom; no one has a right to tell you what you can or cannot consume while in the privacy of your own home; no one has the right to spy on you while you are in the privacy of your own home without a Constitutionally valid warrant. The Libertarian Party has been for gay marriage for decades. We are consistently anti-war, regardless of who is President. The list goes on and on, but suffice it say that the Libertarian Party does not pay lip service to these principles. If elected, I will implement these principles to their fullest extent to the Office of the Attorney General.

From Libertarian candidate for secretary of state Chris Michel:

I am saddened by the state of the state we live in. We have a balanced budget amendment but can't pay our bills. Elected officials continue to raise taxes and regulate our freedom away. I cannot sit idle and watch this happen. It seems the only way to fight back is to run for office and represent the liberty we are due....There needs to be serious talk about cutting the size of the government or the number of governing bodies. The Secretary of State office could disband the Secretary of States Police and could decentralize the library grant program. There's no reason for the continued growth of our government.

From Libertarian candidate for comptroller Julie Fox:

Unlike my opponents I am not a career politician nor am I beholden to either of the two major political parties. My opponents have no incentive to expose wasteful spending in the state that was brought about by members of their own parties. As a Libertarian I have every incentive to expose pork barrel spending and other blatant misuse of taxpayer funds. As a CPA with accounting experience in both the public and private sectors, I have the knowledge and expertise to read through the numbers games played in our state in order to do just that.

From Libertarian candidate for treasurer Matthew Skopek:

When it comes to who one should choose to become our Illinois State Treasurer and why, for which I would be honored to be chosen for, I ask the citizens of Illinois for a close inspection of their candidates. I ask that voters take a very close look at our character and beliefs and to determine if they live by them daily and regularly acted on. For the last 5 years, I have volunteered my time to my community, while maintaining a full time job, currently as an accountant, to serve my town and state. For this election, I have used primarily my own income to invest in my efforts to campaign for the state of Illinois. I have faith that we, as a society, can have certainty that the best and most constitutionally principled candidate will be chosen for Illinois State Treasurer. An elected official, much like an accountant, must be transparent to maintain the integrity of the position entrusted with them.

See the rest of these candidates' cases for why Illinoisans should vote for them at Reboot Illinois.

6 Ads That Actually Celebrate Women

Fri, 2014-10-24 11:15
"Femvertising" is here, and it's probably here to stay.

Ads catering to women and girls, citing feminism and female empowerment, and highlighting sexist double standards, seem to be everywhere these days. And they may be improving companies' bottom lines.

Studies show that women respond positively to these ads -- 52 percent of respondents in an October 2014 survey from SheKnows said they had purchased a product because they "liked how the marketer and its ads presented women."

However, some companies have been accused of walking the walk, but not talking the talk. Pantene's ads decry gender standards -- but is buying shampoo going to make any difference to how women are treated at work? Dove has a long-held commitment to "Real Beauty," but digitally alters models in their advertisements. It's worth evaluating these ads with a critical eye, even as we celebrate the empowering messages they are spreading.

Here are six of the best "femvertising" ads from companies that actually support women and girls:

1. "First Moon Party," Hello Flo.

Frank discussions about menstruation and women's bodies? A commitment to teaching girls that periods are nothing to be ashamed of? Providing women and girls with an awesome period-product delivery service? We're in.

2. "I Will What I Want," Under Armor.

Celebrating fierce female athletes who overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams can hardly be a bad thing.

3. "Inspire Her Mind," Verizon.

High-speed Internet isn't inherently going to empower women, but Verizon's partnership with MAKERS aims to get more women into STEM fields. And there's no harm in reminding people not to focus solely on little girls' looks when speaking to them.

4. "Like A Girl," Always.

Children aren't born believing doing things "like a girl" is a bad thing -- and this ad proves it.

5. "You're Not A Princess," Mercy Academy.

Yes, a Kentucky private school's ad campaign is up there as one of our favorites. Their ads stress that girls should be educated and independent, rather than waiting around for a prince or a fairytale life -- a lesson we can all get behind.

6. #GirlsCan, Covergirl.

While a cosmetics company promoting women's self-esteem may seem disingenuous, there's nothing wrong with wearing makeup. Those who do might as well buy these products from a company that pledged to donate $5 million over five years to organizations that help women “break barriers and blaze trails.”

Here's hoping that advertisers continue to push for women's empowerment -- and mean it.

5 Illinois Counties That Go to Bed the Earliest

Fri, 2014-10-24 10:44
Hey, Illinoisans--turn off the lights and put down your phones. You're not getting enough sleep!

Jawbone, the creators of a fitness-tracking bracelet, tracked the bedtimes of 1 million of the bracelet's wearers across the U.S. by county. According to the maps, most Illinoisans are going to be bed between 11 p.m. and 11:40 p.m. every night and getting between 6.75 and 7.25 hours of sleep every night.

Illinoisans generally have bedtimes that fall in the middle of when most of the rest of the country goes to sleep. The state as a whole does not go to sleep particularly late or early. In general, people on the East Coast tended to go to bed later, and people on the West Coast tended to go bed earlier.

There is some variation on the bedtime patterns from coast to coast. Jawbone explained that this is because sunlight, not just what time the clock says, has a direct effect on our circadian rhythms. People on the western edges of any given time zone tend to go to bed later than their counterparts on the eastern edge of the same time zones.

From Jawbone:

In this map, it's also clear how our sleep can be shaped by daylight. On the westerns extremes of time zones, people tend to go to bed later, and on the eastern edges they go to bed earlier (for example, look at the Central Time Zone). The starkest difference can be seen on the Kentucky/Tennessee borders between Eastern Time and Central Time, splitting the states in half (pictured above). The average difference in bedtime across the time zone border is 16 min (excluding Hamilton County, TN, since it contains Chattanooga), and some places it's as high as 30 minutes. But why?

Imagine two people in Kentucky, very close to each other but on opposites sides of the time zone border. If they both go to bed 4 hours after the sun goes down, their clocks will say that the person in Eastern Time went to bed one hour later than the person in Central Time.

Now let's look at the Central Time Zone. It's 6pm, and the sun has gone down in the middle of Kentucky. It's also 6pm in western Kansas, almost 1000 miles away, but the sun will not go down for another hour. So people go to bed later in the western edge of the timezone than the eastern edge.

So, Illinois' position as both on the eastern-to-middle end of the Central Time Zone and its location in the Midwest means that Illinoisans generally go to bed a moderate time.

Illinois had a smaller spread of bedtimes across the state than some other states did. According to Jawbone, most people in Illinois go to sleep within a 36-minute window. But in Nevada, for example many people may go to sleep as early as 10:55 or as late as 11:49. Many states in the southwest, however, have bedtime spreads less than 20 minutes for the whole state.

According to Jawbone, people who live in New York City (specifically, Kings County in Brooklyn) go to bed the latest, at 12:07 a.m. According to the map, three counties in New Mexico and Arizona go to sleep the earliest, at 10:35.

Here are the counties that go to bed earliest in Illinois:

1. Shelby 10:57

2. Moultrie 10:57

3. Douglas 11:01

4. DeWitt 11:01

5. Macon 11:02

Check out which counties in Illinois go to bed the latest at Reboot Illinois. The answers might surprise you. Plus, see how Chicagoans sleep patterns changed over the course of a whole year.

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The 10 Best Dive Bars in America

Fri, 2014-10-24 10:01
By: Andy Kryza and Liz Childers

Sometimes, you go to a bar for a fancy cocktail. Sometimes, you go for a rare beer paired with some gastropub innovation. And sometimes -- most times -- you go to drink in a dark, windowless room, where the drinks are stiffer than a 2x4, beers are as yellow as a Frank Zappa snowcone, and conversations are limited to grunts and threats over sitting on "Dave's stool".

For Thrillist's second-annual list of America's best dive bars, we surveyed co-workers, travelers, readers, and several stool-hoarding Daves to find the best no-frills bars in the country. Granted, there are divier bars out there, but these are the ones we recommend spending time in, rather than ones we'd dare you to slam a tallboy in before running for your life. Yes, we know we missed some spots. Let us know in the comments where we should nab our next well whiskey. In the meantime, consider us your personal Ben Kenobi: you won't find more wonderful hives of scum and villainy this side of Tatooine.

More: The 43 Worst People You See In Every Bar

Credit: Kevin Alexander

Alpine Inn -- Portola Valley, CA

First of all, it's called Zott's because it used to be Rossotti's, and everyone just calls it that, okay? Second, it looks like an old-timey saloon from the movie Tombstone, and allegedly was a roadhouse back in the 1800s along the Old Spanish Trail. Third, you need to go here on a sunny day (luckily, most days in Portola Valley are sunny), walk past all the old video games and the scarred, carved-up tables, order a beer and their cheeseburger on a sub roll, and then sit in their glorious beer garden in the back, among the bikers, Stanford kids, and Peninsula locals. And then you need to stay there for a long, long while.

Credit: Crystal Kryza

Back Porch and B&B Bar -- Spearfish, SD

"I know you! You slept with my sister," a shot-slurping woman declared on my first visit to the Back Porch. That seemed unlikely, since I was 20 and with my Grandma the last time I visited this Black Hills town. But then again, a lot of wonderfully salacious things can happen at this wondrous joint housed in a historic old bank building on the college town's Rockwellian Main Street. Bikers en route to Sturgis and locals congregate on the dance floor or look down on the revelry from the balcony as SoDak bands and touring acts rage away. On quieter nights, you can knock back gigantic shots and beers with the regulars who seemingly never leave, served up by staff that straddle the fine line between surly and charming and never let your glass go empty. Which leads to the inevitable question: "Where's that chick's sister?" Probably on the dance floor... two Fireballs, please!

Credit: Flickr/Paul Narvaez

Burt's Tiki Lounge -- Albuquerque, NM

Burt's has a dark, moody vibe, which operates in stark contrast to the sunwashed vast expanse of the nearby New Mexican desert. Add to that a serious bric-a-brac fetish -- with surfboards, oars, and other tropical junk covering the walls -- live rock, and tropical drinks, and you've got yourself a bizarre oasis. It's like stepping into a TGI Fridays that married a dive bar in Oahu, then wandered off into the desert to raise their weird kids. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Burt's is fantastic.

Credit: Flickr/Wayne Hsieh

Clermont Lounge -- Atlanta, GA

The institution pulls a double hit as a neighborhood dive located in the basement of a former flophouse and as a strip club with such a reputation that tourists flock to its single stage to see 65-year-old dancers take the poles or watch a younger girl light her nipples on fire. You can also catch live bands, but that's only when the strippers aren't choosing their dance songs on the jukebox. The upstairs hotel is in redevelopment as a boutique luxury space, but we can only hope that PBRs will still cost you $2 each, and you can drink those cans while watching Blondie -- the most famous stripper -- crush empty ones between her, uh, cans.

Credit: Laura Hayes

Dan's Cafe -- Washington DC

If you look up "no frills" in the dictionary, you will likely not find it, because it is two different words. But that doesn't stop it from being a damn accurate description for Dan's Cafe, from the name to the decor to the famous sign that's peeling paint as I type. But the glory that is Dan's comes from their heavy hand on the liquor. Seldom do you need to go past two drinks at this place before you are set for the night. So while you have that dictionary open, you may want to re-look for Dan's under "best damn deal". You won't find it in there either, but you get what I'm saying.

Credit: Dan Gentile

Dry Creek -- Austin, TX

From the diary of Thrillist sage David Blend: "I spent four years of college trying to get Sarah Ransom to like me. I wasn't alone. The woman who spent almost 50 years running Dry Creek -- a one-pool-table fixture on Mt. Bonnell with a rickety upper deck that miraculously supported the aimlessness of generations of college slackers and regulars alike -- well, she didn't like anyone, which is why every single piece of press about her (including her obituary) identifies her as 'the meanest bartender in Austin'. My senior year, I finally broke through when I noticed a photo of FM 696 she'd tacked to the wall and told her it was one of the most perfect stretches of road in Texas. She agreed, the first words she'd ever spoken to me besides her infamous warnings of 'Bring down your bottles!' and 'No gambling!'. I think she might have smiled as well, but I can't say for sure. Sarah passed in 2009, but Dry Creek's still there, the beer's still cheap and cold, and the dogs out front still look like they might be feral. They won't really bite you though. At a dive bar, just because you don't act nice doesn't mean you're not welcoming."

Credit: Karin McKenna

Duck Island -- Cleveland, OH

It's a late, snowy night in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, and we're approaching the ground level of the old house -- formerly a speakeasy -- that Duck Island calls home. A familiar sound -- Humpty bragging about a Burger King bathroom -- greets us. A DJ is spinning in the tiny den, accompanied by an older woman slamming a set of bongos between drinks of her incendiary whiskey & Coke. This place was once trouble, home to bikers and metalheads. It's since turned into the city's most friendly dive, with retro-futuristic furniture, deep-red walls, and a bar serving a mix of fizzy yellow beer, a surprisingly well-curated selection of micros, and cocktails ranging from standard to complex... unified by their extreme generosity of spirits. Speaking of generous spirits, everyone -- young and old -- in the crowded bar was offered a solo on the bongos. And hugs were doled out freely. This place feels like home, and it would even if it wasn't actually in a house. Peace and Humptiness will do that to people.

Credit: Sean Cooley

Happy Village -- Chicago, IL

Parked on a nondescript residential corner like so many quintessential Chicago taverns, Happy Village nails many of the expected dive bar essentials. Darkness? Check. The feeling that you might be drinking in someone's basement? Check. Visits from a dude selling tamales out of a cooler? Well, maybe that's just a Chicago dive staple... but, still, check. Separating Happy Village, however, is a side room devoted entirely to a pair of coveted ping-pong tables (don't try to play beer pong in here, these are for real feats of athleticism). But the crown jewel is the beer garden out back, with its tent and fountain and cheap plastic furniture all adding up to the feeling that you're attending an eighth-grade graduation party with a bunch of people who took WAYYY too long to finish eighth grade.

Credit: Suzi Pratt

Linda's Tavern -- Seattle, WA

Before she opened Seattle's King's Hardware, The Bait Shop, and Tallulah's, prolific booze-slinger Linda Derschang's first (and eponymous) drinking destination started serving suds & spirits to the musicians/cool kids of Capitol Hill over 20 years ago, all under the watch of a beautiful taxidermy buffalo hung in a rough-hewn, wood-heavy space that's hosted everyone from political candidates to Kurt Cobain, who was seen entering the bar a day before his death. To this day, they say it still smells like Teen Spirit. And by Teen Spirit, we mean whiskey.

Credit: Lindsey McClave

Magnolia Bar & Grill -- Louisville, KY

Don't be mistaken: there's absolutely no grill inside the Mag Bar -- but you're not there for the food anyway. The dimly-lit dive has the requisite pool tables, a pinball machine, and a loaded punk-heavy jukebox. Plus, one of the most disgusting bathrooms you'll ever consider -- and then reconsider -- stepping into. Don't touch the pole on the dance floor. Do show up for the Wednesday dance party that manages to combine dive standards with EDM music and college girls dancing on tables. It all somehow works. As long as the rickety tables hold up.

Head over to to check 11 more of the best, no-frills, dive bars in the country!

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The DEA Once Turned A 14-Year-Old Into A Drug Kingpin. Welcome To The War On Drugs

Fri, 2014-10-24 09:47
This is the second part of a two-part series. Read part one here.

Americans spent approximately $100 billion a year on illegal drugs between 2000 and 2010, according to a 2012 report published by the RAND corporation. Part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's job, alongside several other law enforcement agencies, is to make that process more difficult at home, where harsh federal drug laws have ensured that such transactions are conducted -- until recently, in some states -- entirely on the black market. The DEA also works to cut off imported illicit drugs at the source, which means mounting operations around the world to tackle a global drug trade that generates $322 billion annually, according to UN estimates.

It's a gargantuan task. Critics of the war on drugs say it's an impossible one. Over 40 years, the U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion in the fight. Thousands of people on both sides of the battle have lost their lives. In the end, it's led only to cheaper, higher quality drugs at home and abroad, and by most accounts, little change in the number of people using them. While the momentum may finally be shifting away from an enforcement-first national drug policy and toward prevention and treatment, aggressive enforcement of the nation's drug laws doesn't appear to be going anywhere just yet.

Until the nation drastically rethinks its approach on drugs, the DEA will continue to play an integral part in the war against them, and that sometimes means resorting to controversial tactics. Below, find out how domestic spying, broken promises and a 14-year-old from Detroit have all played a part in that seemingly endless struggle.

The DEA has been spying on U.S. citizens with a surveillance program more expansive than the NSA's.

Just months after Edward Snowden unmasked the National Security Agency's massive domestic spying program, The New York Times broke news of the Hemisphere Project, which pairs experts from telecommunications giant AT&T with federal and local anti-drug officials, including DEA agents. It gives law enforcement officials access to "every call that passes through an AT&T switch -- not just those made by AT&T customers -- and includes calls dating back 26 years," according to the Times report. That's around 4 billion call records every day, each logged with information on the location of callers. The official government slideshow describing the program suggested it had been helpful in tracking drug dealers who frequently change phones, or use disposable "burner" phones.

The White House attempted to allay privacy concerns about the Hemisphere Project last year, noting that AT&T stores the collected data, unlike in the NSA's program, in which data is turned over to the government. Federal officials can quickly access the records, however, often within an hour of a subpoena.

The ACLU criticized the apparent secrecy of the program, which had been in existence for six years before being revealed by the Times in 2013. The organization suggested that blanket surveillance and close federal involvement could represent a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

"Hemisphere is deeply troubling, not only because the government is amassing detailed, comprehensive information about people who've done nothing wrong, but also because the government has deliberately kept Hemisphere secret, even from criminal defendants who've been subjected to the program," wrote ACLU attorney Linda Lye.

And the DEA instructs agents not to tell the truth about sources of key intelligence.

A Reuters report, also from 2013, detailed how the DEA's Special Operations Division, or SOD, teaches agents to cover up vital tips that come from the department. A DEA document obtained by Reuters shows that federal agents are trained in "parallel construction," in which essential intelligence obtained SOD wiretaps, informants or other surveillance methods can be concealed by crediting it to another source.

An unnamed former federal agent who received tips from the SOD gave an example of how the process worked: "You'd be told only, 'Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it," the agent said.

If an arrest was made, agents were instructed to hide the fact that the initial tip had come from SOD, and instead use "normal investigative techniques to recreate the information." This process is sometimes used to hide case details from prosecutors and judges, as well as defense attorneys. Several lawyers told Reuters that the practice could jeopardize a defendant's constitutional right to fair trial and cover up evidence that might otherwise be inadmissible.

DEA officials defended the technique, however, calling it a common law enforcement tool that allows the SOD to crack high-profile cases.

The DEA has confidential informants who have made it a lifetime career.

Confidential informants -- sometimes referred to as "snitches" -- are crucial assets in the DEA's war on drugs. In 2005, the agency told the Justice Department it has around 4,000 of these sources actively working for it at any given time. Many of these informants are recruited after being caught for drug crimes themselves, and are offered a chance to work for the DEA as a way to earn a reduced sentence. Others have made a full-time profession out of informing, a controversial practice in itself, as some critics suggest it encourages longtime informants to go after and potentially entrap low-level dealers rather than higher profile targets.

Informants can make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars helping the government prosecute and convict drug dealers, with payment often contingent on how much money is seized in an eventual bust. That's how Andrew Chambers Jr. once made a name for himself as "the highest-paid snitch in DEA history," with a 16-year career as a federal informant between 1984 and 2000, during which time he reportedly netted as much as $4 million in government money, nearly half of it from the DEA. A report earlier this year in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found that Chambers was only one of the agency's million-dollar informants.

Chambers, seen in a YouTube video from the Speakers Agency.

The "highest-paid snitch in DEA history" was also found to have lied repeatedly in testimony. Despite his reputation, he recently resumed work with the DEA.

Chambers' work with the DEA halted in 2000, after a review of testimony revealed he'd committed perjury in at least 16 cases, when he lied on the witness stand about his credentials. Agents who'd worked closely with Chambers during the time, however -- including Michele Leonhart, who became DEA administrator in 2010 -- spoke highly of him despite the criticism that made him a national story. Around the time of Leonhart's confirmation, the DEA reactivated Chambers as an informant.

While his current role with the DEA is unclear, legal professionals have expressed concerns beyond Chambers' record of perjury. Defense attorneys told the Arizona Republic that he regularly failed to record introductory meetings, which left open the possibility that he was entrapping suspects and compromising cases.

Shortly after news broke that Chambers had resumed working with the DEA, a case in which he served as the primary informant fell apart and federal prosecutors asked for the charges to be dismissed.

Confidential informants are given so much free rein that one top DEA source actually had his own sub-network of informants.

While the DEA has released information about the general size of the program and the basic guidelines under which it operates, less is known about exactly how -- and to what extent -- the agency controls its informants.

The perils of this ambiguity were exposed in 2004, when it was revealed that a star DEA informant was actually paying his own sub-informants to help him set up drug deals. In one case, in which this arrangement wasn't initially revealed to defense attorneys, a sub-informant made a number of calls to a defendant who would later be facing charges for trafficking methamphetamines. The calls weren't recorded, however, which opened up the possibility that the alleged meth trafficker had actually been pressured to go through with the deal that led to his arrest. A judge determined that this raised the possibility of entrapment and ordered federal prosecutors to release a full list of the cases in which the informant and sub-informant had collaborated. When the government refused, the judge threw out the indictment and freed the defendant, writing that the DEA had tried to "shield itself from accountability by hiring someone outside of law enforcement who is free to violate citizens' rights."

In a ruling explaining her decision, the judge also blasted the DEA, suggesting it was "highly unlikely" that it was unaware of the informant's sub-contractors. In an earlier case, the informant had testified that he'd never told his DEA handlers about his network, and that they'd never asked.

The DEA allows informants to break the law, but have no records as to how often it happens.

Federal agencies came under fire in 2012 in the wake of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal for not adequately tracking instances in which they authorize informants to commit crimes in the line of government duty. In the case of Fast and Furious, gun dealers working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sold 2,000 weapons to Mexican cartels, but failed to have them traced. In response to a USA Today report, both the ATF and DEA claimed they were "in compliance" with rules determining when they could advise their informants to break the law.

Both agencies also acknowledged that they didn't track how frequently they granted such permission.

Some congressional representatives have called for more accountability among federal agencies with regard to informants. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) sponsored an unsuccessful bill in 2013 that would have required federal agencies to report to lawmakers whenever an informant commits a serious crime, with or without authorization.

One of America's most notorious terrorists once served as a DEA informant.

In 2013, David Coleman Headley, an American of Pakistani descent, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for plotting the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which killed at least 164 people and wounded hundreds more. Government officials with knowledge of Headley's past spoke of a man who had grown increasingly radicalized in the years leading up to the attack, but subsequent reporting also followed up on his work as a confidential informant for the DEA between 1997 and 2005, according to sources.

The DEA, which sent Headley on a number of trips to gather intelligence on heroin traffickers in Pakistan, has denied that he was working officially with the agency as late as 2005, or at any time when he was receiving training at militant camps in the region.

An Indian soldier takes cover as the Taj Mahal hotel burns during gun battle between Indian military and militants in Mumbai, India. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Another informant allegedly shot and killed a man who confronted him for molesting his child.

Sometimes informants get caught doing unauthorized dirty deeds while on the agency's payroll. In Albuquerque, the DEA is facing a lawsuit claiming it was negligent in supervising an informant who allegedly shot and killed another man earlier this year. The informant has been charged in the man's death, as well as with criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and a host of other charges. The victim had allegedly confronted the informant over the sexual assault of his son when he was shot. The suit is seeking $50 million in damages, alleging that the informant had prior felony convictions and a history of violence and should not have been recruited by the DEA.

The DEA strung one informant along for 20 years with the promise of citizenship. She still hasn't received it.

When Norma was just 19 years old, she became a confidential informant for the DEA. She told her story to Yolanda Gonzalez Gomez as part of a partnership between New America Media and HuffPost Voces. Norma explained how desperation and the promise of citizenship led her to sign up for a commitment she knew little about. Over the course of 20 years, Norma says she repeatedly put her life on the line for the DEA, and in return, she got paid, although she said agents sometimes refused to give her the money she was owed. Citizenship, however, never came, and now Norma fears she'll be deported and sent back to Mexico, where she hasn't lived since she was 5 years old. She also said she believes her life would be in danger there as a result of her work for the DEA.

Norma is an alias -- she asked that her real name be withheld -- but immigration attorney Jodi Goodwin knows stories like hers are not uncommon. "Federal government agencies use and abuse undocumented confidential informants for years, trample their rights with impunity, promise them permanent residency and never deliver on it," she told Gomez. "And they know they don't have to deliver on it. But they keep pressuring them with that promise so they will keep cooperating."

The DEA has also been accused of using other exploitative means to recruit assets.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, a New Mexico man and former DEA informant alleged that the agency had recruited him by targeting his history of substance abuse. An attorney representing 38-year-old Aaron Romero claimed that her client had recently beaten a crack cocaine addiction in 2011, when a DEA-sponsored informant offered him the opportunity to sell drugs -- provided to him by the U.S. government -- and to feed the agency information on other drug dealers. His payment, Romero's attorney alleged, came in the form of crack for personal use. Romero relapsed, his attorney said, and was eventually arrested on federal counts of distributing crack cocaine near a school, charges that were ultimately dropped after he spent a number of months in jail.

The DEA once turned a teenager into a drug kingpin so he could act as an informant.

In the 1980s, federal agents with the DEA and FBI plucked 14-year-old Richard Wershe from his Detroit high school and began crafting a new identity for him as a drug kingpin. Over the next few years, the teenage Wershe would live a double life, one as the legend who'd later be known as White Boy Rick, one of the most notorious drug lords in city, and the other as a valuable informant for the DEA and other law enforcement agencies.

"I was just a kid when the agents pulled me out of high school in the ninth grade and had me out to 3 in the morning every night," Wershe told The Fix in 2013. "They gave me a fake ID when I was 15 that said I was 21 so I could travel to Vegas and to Miami to do drug deals."

With intelligence provided by Wershe, authorities were able to make a series of high-profile arrests, disrupting Detroit's rampant drug trade and the police corruption that had grown alongside it.

But in 1988, then 17 and no longer an informant, Wershe was pulled over and busted for work in the same drug business as the one to which the DEA had introduced him. The 17 pounds of cocaine found in his car resulted in a life sentence. He's the only convict still behind bars in Michigan to receive a life sentence as a minor under the state's now-repealed "650-lifer" law. Many of the targets whom Wershe helped put in jail have long since been released.

The DEA did treat one informant very nicely, giving him nearly $900,000 for information it could have gotten for free.

The Associated Press reported in August that the DEA had paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years as an informant to pass confidential information about passenger reservations. But as the AP reported, Amtrak police are already part of an anti-drug task force that includes the DEA, and would have given the agency that information free of charge.

For more on the sketchiest things the DEA has done, read part one of this series.

Chefs Kornick, Izard, Gand and Restaurateurs Levy and Stefani Inducted Into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame

Fri, 2014-10-24 09:39
On October 16, chefs Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat and Little Goat (Chef of the Year), Gale Gand of Spritz Burger (Pastry Chef of the Year), Michael Kornick of MK, Ada Street and DMK Burger Bar among others (Legendary Chef), and restaurateurs Phil Stefani of 437 Rush among others (Industry Leader) and Larry Levy of Levy Restaurants (Industry Legend) were inducted into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame for 2014.

The celebratory event took place at Castle nightclub with over 25 restaurants and chefs in attendance offering food samples to the large crowd. Before the festivities started in full, I interviewed Izard, Gand, Stefani and Kornick, a previous guest chef on The Dinner Party. However, due to the crowds and music, we had to conduct the interviews on the first floor, through and behind the kitchen in the back dry storage area! A first for me...and them!

In short interviews with four of the five inductees (Levy was out of town and wasn't in attendance), we discussed how the Chicago culinary scene has developed over the years, where it is going and how it compares to other international cities around the globe, as well as advice for young chefs and a few regrets.

Enjoy this candid and off-the-cuff podcast below with four of Chicago's most influential chefs and restaurateurs highlighting the fact that we live in one of the most important and creative culinary cities in the world.

12 Reasons Why Writer Jamaica Kincaid Is A Total Badass

Fri, 2014-10-24 08:03
Jamaica Kincaid is simply not one to mince words.

When she speaks, the revered 65-year-old Antiguan-American novelist does so deliberately -- and she's not afraid to interrupt a question when she sees it fit.

Kincaid, who got her start at the New Yorker during the magazine's William Shawn era in the '70s, has produced work that has earned her an enviable list of awards, including an American Book Award for her latest novel, 2013's See Now Then.

One gets the impression Kincaid is afraid of nothing -- something that comes across in her writing, as well. Her work, at times, has been criticized for being "angry," a criticism she's rightfully dismissed as invalid, saying her work is only labeled that because she is black and a woman.

Based on an interview with The Huffington Post, here are just some of the many qualities that make Kincaid -- and her work -- so incredible.

She's humble. Very humble.
When asked about her writing process, Kincaid said it changes with every book: "I don't really have a standard. I'm not really a professional anything, a professional teacher or a professional writer. I suppose I'm a professional breather of oxygen."

She doesn't like taking life too seriously.
"I've never thought of myself as having a profession because then I'd have to take life really seriously," she said. "I hate taking life seriously, because there's time enough for seriousness. What is death if not serious, and that seems to last forever."

She saves her nice side for students.
When Henry Louis Gates Jr. asked Kincaid to teach at Harvard, where she's taught since 1992, she said had "never really thought of doing it before" and didn't feel particularly drawn to it.

However, she says she enjoys it: "It forces me to be kind and to be in a very present state of mind. Writing requires its opposite -- it requires no kindness or consideration of others. It forces me to be a nice person."

She has no need for Twitter, Facebook or any other social media.
"I plan to never know how to use these things. Life is too short."

She can always get down with a good ol' literary classic.
Kincaid said Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is the last book she read. "I read every sentence twice because I couldn't believe how beautiful it was," she said. "I read it when I was young, but it's still so fresh and wonderful. I still like books with pages."

She doesn't hesitate to address her haters.
"I wish people would just say, 'I'm too stupid to understand this book' and maybe just leave things alone. People tend to blame a writer for writing something they're too stupid to understand."

(Story continues below)

Kincaid in Rome, Italy, in 2010.

She doesn't appreciate being pigeonholed -- and will let you know it.
When asked what about her writing is most frequently misunderstood, Kincaid said she's grown tired of her work being viewed through the prism of race, something she has little interest in. "I'm almost never thinking of race in particular since I have no real respect for race and don't particularly understand it or care about it," she said.

Still, she doesn't hesitate to speak frankly about race in America.
When asked about the New York Times' controversy concerning TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes being depicted as an "angry black woman," as well as the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Kincaid called present-day racism mystifying.

"I think when we look at black people, we just lose our senses. We still can't believe we're here, that they're here. There are black people in America and, God, they're kind of smart! It's still a surprise," she said. "It's like everyone lived in a dream when they were voting for Obama. Who did they think they were voting for? He's a black guy!"

She's more than OK with changing her mind.
Kincaid resigned from the New Yorker, where her career took wind, in 1996 due, in part, to the magazine becoming more celebrity-oriented. But she says has absolutely no problem with Hollywood A-Listers like Tom Hanks writing in the magazine today.

"It's possible that Tom Hanks is a great writer. There's a possibility that we all will be great writers," she said.

And though Kincaid has previously been critical of civil rights leaders like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, she says now "nothing about Jesse Jackson frustrates me. I leave Jesse Jackson alone. I wish we had more Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons and less of that idiot Rick Scott from North Carolina or wherever, or Ben Carson."

In her opinion, there is such a thing as a dumb question.
Kincaid also said she's grown weary about being asked the specific degree to which her semi-autobiographical fiction is autobiographical.

"We live in a world in which everyone is very interested in your private life and I don't really have a private life," she said. "But I suppose I object to the idea that I can't reflect on something without it being my life as a scandal, as opposed to my life as a thinking person. The questions about whether [my work] is autobiographical are annoying for sure."

She's got a searing sense of humor.
When asked about what she's working on, Kincaid said: "Oh the usual: a book with very long sentences, and only two or three people on the face of Earth who speak English will like it."

She doesn't care about the noise.
"I know what I'm trying to do: I'm trying to write a book and trying to write an original book. Those are the things that concern me. I'm always trying to write an original sentence or trying to figure out why I can't grow blue poppies in Vermont or how to keep a woodchuck out of my garden or something like that."

Jamaica Kincaid will appear at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival on Oct. 25.

8 Super Weird Things You Didn't Know About Halloween

Fri, 2014-10-24 07:29
This weird Halloween trivia isn't boo-gus.

Halloween is a time for candy, costumes and the Charlie Brown cartoon special, but how did it become this way? Why are children and teens encouraged to run around the neighborhood threatening tricks? Jack-o'-lanterns are a pretty strange concept, but historically, strangers giving you candy was supposed to be a bad thing.

You may already think that Halloween is a pretty bizarre holiday: What other celebration could inspire both a Sexy Olaf costume and spooky drones? That said, sexy snowmen can't hold a candle to Halloween's truly bizarre origins (even if that's just because a snowman would melt if it held a candle). Chances are you really have no idea just how weird Halloween truly is, so here are eight facts to fix that...

1. Originally, you had to dance for your "treat."

Most experts trace trick-or-treating to the European practice of "mumming," or "guysing," in which costume-wearing participants would go door-to-door performing choreographed dances, songs and plays in exchange for treats. According to Elizabeth Pleck's "Celebrating The Family," the tradition cropped up in America, where it would often take place on Thanksgiving.

In some early versions of trick-or-treating, men paraded door-to-door, and boys often followed, begging for coins. Most of these early trick-or-treaters were poor and actually needed the money, but wealthy children also joined in the fun. Door-to-door "begging" was mostly stopped in the 1930s, but re-emerged later in the century to distract kids from pulling Halloween pranks.

2. Halloween is more Irish than St. Patrick's Day.

Halloween's origins come from a Celtic festival for the dead called "Samhain." Celts believed the ghosts of the dead roamed Earth on this holiday, so people would dress in costumes and leave "treats" out on their front doors to appease the roaming spirits. Granted, the Celts were not solely based in Ireland when these customs started taking shape around the first century B.C., but as will be talked about more in a later section, the Irish Celts were the ones who invented the jack-o'-lantern. This Halloween prototype was eventually disrupted and adapted by Christian missionaries into celebrations closer to what we celebrate today, including partly by the not-Irish St. Patrick, whose work was later mostly recognized by Americans.

"St. Patrick's Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans," said Philip Freeman, a classics professor at Luther College in Iowa. According to National Geographic, the holiday was only a "minor religious holiday" until the 1970s in Ireland. So it's not all that Irish. And for what it's worth, St. Patrick probably wasn't Irish himself, his color was a type of blue, not green, and that story about banishing snakes is actually just a metaphor for his triumph over Irish paganism. The type of paganism that invented Halloween.

3. If you'd been around for the earliest Halloween celebrations, you might have worn animal skins and heads.

According to ancient Roman records, tribes located in today's Germany and France traditionally wore costumes of animal heads and skins to connect to spirits of the dead. This tradition continued into modern day celebrations of Samhain, the Celtic holiday that inspired Halloween in America. On this day, merry-makers often dressed as evil spirits simply by blackening their faces. The leader of the Samhain parades wore a white sheet and carried a wooden horse head or a decorated horse skull (a modern Welsh version of this costume is shown above). Young people also celebrated by cross-dressing.

Image: WikiCommons

4. Jack-o'-lanterns were once made out of turnips, beets and potatoes -- not pumpkins.

The jack-o'-lantern comes from an old Irish tale about a man named Stingy Jack. According to folklore, Stingy Jack was out getting sloshed with the Devil when Jack convinced his drinking partner to turn himself into a coin to pay for the drinks without spending money. Jack then put the Devil, shaped like a coin, into his pocket, which also contained a silver cross that kept the Devil from transforming back. Jack promised to free the Devil as long as the Devil wouldn't bother him for a year, and if he died, the Devil could never claim his soul. Jack tricked the Devil again later, getting him to pick a piece of fruit out of a tree and then carving a cross into the bark when the Devil was in the branches. This trick bought Jack another 10 years of devil-free living.

When Jack finally died, God decided he wasn't fit for heaven, but the Devil had promised never to claim his soul for hell. So Jack was sent off to roam Earth with only a burning coal for light. He put the coal into a turnip as a lantern, and Stingy Jack became "Jack of the Lantern" or "Jack o' Lantern." Based on this myth, the Irish carved scary faces into turnips, beets and potatoes to scare away Stingy Jack or any other spirits of the night.

Images: WikiCommons

5. Halloween used to be a great day to find your soulmate.

In some parts of Ireland, people celebrated Halloween by playing romantic fortune-telling games, according to Nicholas Rogers' "Halloween: From Pagan Ritual To Party Night." These games allegedly predicted who they'd marry, and when. Since Halloween, like Valentine's Day, was one of the main celebrations of the year where young people could mingle with the opposite sex, it was also considered a good day to scope out a sweetheart. In America, young people, particularly girls, continued the old Irish tradition. Games, like bobbing for apples, tried to predict future romances, according to the "Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America."

6. In a few American towns, Halloween was originally referred to as "Cabbage Night."

This came from a Scottish fortune-telling game, where girls used cabbage stumps to predict information about their future husbands. In the early Framingham, Massachusetts, teens skipped the fortune-telling and simply went around throwing cabbage at their neighbors' houses, according to Framingham Legends & Lore. This was no isolated tradition: In late 19th century America, country boys reportedly rejoiced in throwing cabbage, corn and assorted rotten vegetables, according to "Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure."

7. Some animal shelters won't allow the adoption of black cats around Halloween for fear they'll be sacrificed.

It's unclear whether black cats are actually sacrificed around Halloween, but various animal shelters refuse to let people adopt these cats in the lead-up to the holiday. Lynda Garibaldi, director of The Cats' Cradle in Morganton, North Carolina, told The Huffington Post that the shelter "does not adopt out black cats during the month of October ... because of superstition and the concern that the wrong people (who might harm them) might adopt them."

This type of ban is starting to wane, however. When reached for comment, Emily Weiss, vice president of Shelter Research and Development at the ASPCA, said, "Years ago, this used to be pretty common -- that shelters would not adopt out cats during Halloween for fear of something horrible happening to the cats, but we don't hear too much anymore. And many, many shelters are actually [holding] a special black cat promotion around the holiday."

ASPCA provided this list of a few of the black cat adoption promotions that have been tied to the holiday. As Weiss put it, "Most people who go to shelters to adopt a pet are not going to adopt a pet to sacrifice into ritual."

8. Studies have shown that Halloween actually makes kids act more evil.

As io9 points out, putting costume-wearing kids into groups and introducing a clear object of desire, such as candy, has been shown to lead to "deindividuation." This psychological term explains what happens when a group of maturing young minds begins to care less about the consequences of their individual actions, leading them to do things that they might not do alone.

One study in particular found that unsupervised costumed children in groups were far more likely to steal candy and money than both non-costumed kids and children not in a group. Another similar study found that masked children were significantly more likely to take more Halloween candy than they were supposed to if they believed there was no adult supervision.

All photos are from Getty Images, unless otherwise noted.

ReThink Review: <i>Dear White People</i> -- Lessons for Republicans and the "Post-Racial" Generation

Fri, 2014-10-24 03:53
A lot of people interested in race issues (including myself) have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Dear White People, a film about a group of black students at a mostly white university that was funded through Indiegogo and eventually made it to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where its writer/director Justin Simien won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. With Dear White People currently earning a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and spreading to theaters nationwide this week, the film has palpable momentum as issues like white privilege, cultural appropriation, and the systemic racism and discrimination illuminated by Michael Brown's killing in Ferguson, Missouri are getting more attention than ever. But even with its seemingly perfect cultural timing, is Dear White People as relevant and hype worthy as it seems? Watch the trailer for Dear White People below.

The film takes place at the fictional Winchester University, an Ivy-League-type school whose small population of black students has been roiled by new housing rules that have effectively eliminated the school's only traditionally black residence hall, Armstrong Parker House. That issue gets a jolt when Samantha White, a black film student (Tessa Thompson), unexpectedly becomes head of Armstrong Parker, deposing golden boy Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) who also happens to be the son of Winchester's dean of students (Dennis Haysbert). Sam, an artist at heart with a rebel soul, shares her outspoken views on racism and cultural identity on her radio show "Dear White People," informing the white student body why racism is flourishing and why many of the ways white people attempt to prove their lack of racism fall flat.

Sam is secretly dating a white teacher's assistant in her film class (Justin Dobies), but she used to date Troy, who's having his own problems with his white girlfriend (Brittany Curran) who happens to be the daughter of Winchester's president (Peter Syvertsen) who's jerk of a son (Kyle Gallner) runs the school's National Lampoon-like comedy magazine Pastiche, which Troy would love to join. Also vying for a place on Pastiche is Colondrea "Coco" Connors, a black student (Teyonah Parris) who believes the best way for her to move up in the world is by assimilating, though she's willing to be more controversial if it earns her more YouTube subscribers and a role on a reality show casting on the campus. Meanwhile, the more militant Reggie (Marque Richardson) has a crush on Sam and seems to be a more socially and culturally acceptable match for her. Bearing witness to all of this is Lionel (Tyler James Williams), a gay nerd (though he hates the categorizations) who doesn't feel comfortable in any of Winchester's social groups, though he seems to find a home with the school newspaper, whose editors feel that Lionel's blackness will give him extra insight, access, and permission to write about the race issues brought out by Sam's election.

If that seems like an awful lot of characters and subplots, it should, and my main problem with Dear White People is that it tries to do way too much with too many characters, like Simien felt that this may be his only chance to make a feature film so he had to jam everything he'd ever wanted to say about racism and racial campus politics into this one film. This leads to a movie that's constantly jumping from issue to issue, character to character, and subplot to subplot, providing a lot of breadth without much depth. The acting is mostly good with dialogue that's a little too earnest and on-the-nose. And as someone who's done some stand up comedy, I was personally offended by the fact that all of the people involved in or aspiring to join Pastiche are the film's most humorless characters, though the film is consistently seasoned with clever humor.

Dear White People may suffer for its many ambitions, but I'm certainly glad it has them and am even more glad that this film exists at all. That's because Dear White People is the first film to really address race in the post-Obama era head on, where even influential black people like Pharrell, Raven Symone, and Donald Glover (in what's called the "New Black" movement) have declared that racism against blacks is no longer relevant, seemingly agreeing with white Republicans who go further to claim that even invoking the subject of racism amounts to race-baiting unless it's talking about how straight white people are the only REAL victims of discrimination in America today. And I understand how a lot of young people may honestly feel that racism is a relic of the past that America just needs to get over, especially since so many of their pop culture heroes, and even the nation's first family, are black.

But that idealistic, or perhaps ignorant, mindset doesn't seem to have an answer to things like Ferguson, Republicans' blatant efforts to disenfranchise black voters, how black people are discriminated against in the workplace, or the large, small, and inadvertent indignations that so many black people continue to face every day just because they're black. And Dear White People is quick to point out that sometimes these indignations come from within the black community itself, as characters sometimes struggle with their own blackness, worrying if they're seen as too black, not black enough, or can be comfortable carving out their own spaces somewhere in between.

Dear White People is sure to become both a cult hit and a staple on college campuses across the country, and I'm glad for it since the movie ultimately ends with more questions than answers. And with an issue as multi-faceted as racism, that is as it should be -- if there really were easy answers, we'd all agree on them and quietly and unanimously abolish racism forever. But there aren't, especially as a large percentage of Americans refuse to even acknowledge that racism and its role in America's history have any effect on how Americans live today. But one thing Dear White People is crystal clear on is that racism exists, and that we're nowhere near the post-racial America so many wish us to be.

As my girlfriend and I were leaving the screening of Dear White People, an older black woman who was reviewing the film stopped us to ask what we thought of it. Because what struck her most about Dear White People is how most of the issues that were brought up in the film are the same ones she faced as she fought for black people's civil rights over 50 years ago. And that's a message that Republicans and the so-called post-racial generation need to get through their heads. Just because you don't see racism or don't want to see it doesn't mean it's not there. As Bergen Evans said, and quoted in the movie Magnolia, "We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us." Or perhaps more appropriately regarding racism in America, we can look to William Faulkner who said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

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A Trend in European Cities: The Anti-Cafe

Fri, 2014-10-24 02:31
Image by Ziferblat

There's an interesting trend emerging in some cities in Europe, called Anti-Cafe. For those unfamiliar with it, it might conjure up a great deal of questions as to what it is. When I asked around if people knew about it I got back answers like "A place where there's no coffee allowed," or "Somewhere you can only work, but not drink or eat, like a museum" or even "A hipster name for take-out coffee, you can't stay and hang out like you would in a cafe." It was a small-scale 'questionnaire' if you will, which helped me realize that A: Some people have the wildest connotations with Hipsters, and B: An Anti-Cafe is quite an unknown concept for some.

Image by Ziferblat

Here's what it actually is: at an Anti-Cafe you do not pay for the things you consume like drinks or snacks, but actually for the time you've spent there. When I revealed this to some of my 'subjects', I saw some wide-eyed looks of people expecting visitors to pay through the nose to spend an hour in such a place (one guessed it had to be around € 10 per hour, no faith that one!). Well, no worries, pioneer Ivan Meeting in Moscow assures visitors they can't spend more than 540 RUB a day (about € 10) at his locations in Moscow. His chain of Anti-Cafes is called Ziferblat (Clock Face) and can be found around the world in cities like Saint-Petersburg, Ljubljana, London, Kiev and soon also in New York.

Besides the Ziferblat chain, there are some similar places in Europe. Spotted by Locals has 57 city blogs where a team of locals (Spotters) blog about their favorite places. Two of our Spotters, Dmitri Korobtsov (Tallinn) and Ivan Marra (Rome) have listed an anti-cafe as one of their favorite spots. There's 'The Flat' in Tallinn which we also visited when we were there and we loved it. It was so communal and social, a great place to meet the locals. Ivan's favorite in Rome is AntiCafè Roma. What's unique about that last one, is you can bring your own snacks but you also have unlimited access to their bar which serves hot and cold drinks, snacks and sweets.

Image by Ziferblat

This concept is perfect for folks looking for a quiet place to work as most locations also have printers and scanners and such. You're allowed to bring your own snacks and drinks and sometimes you can attend (or organise) some great events, exhibitions, readings and parties. So one could say it's an Anti-Cafe because it's MORE than a cafe. It's a social and cultural epicentre.

The Women's Vote: Ebola or Equal Pay?

Thu, 2014-10-23 23:20
Ebola panic is sweeping the nation, with schools closing and people barricading themselves at home, even if they're thousands of miles away from one of the three individuals who have contracted virus on U.S. soil. Politicians, always eager to take advantage of voters' fears, are jumping on the bandwagon hoping it will pay off at the ballot box.

Republican Senate candidates Thom Tillis (NC) and David Perdue (GA) blame President Obama -- and by reflection their Democratic opponents -- for the crisis in Africa. In Minnesota Republican Mike McFadden has revamped his stump speech to capitalize on Ebola fears here at home in his bid to unseat democrat Al Franken.

Voters, especially women, aren't buying the baloney. According to Gallup equal pay is the number one concern for women, followed closely by equal opportunity. Women are still making only 77 cents on the dollar when compared to men for full time year round work.

Women know that when you get paid what you're worth, you can buy the necessities for your family. When you have equal opportunity, you can take pride in your job and give the employer your best. When you get paid what you're worth, you can stay off public assistance and contribute more to charity and your community.

But many politicians don't want women to get paid what they're worth. They'd rather dodge the conversation by hyping extremely unlikely events like a U.S. Ebola "epidemic" and hoping you won't notice their records when it comes to women. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would not mandate what employers pay, but would prohibit them from firing workers for discussing pay, has languished in Congress for over 20 years. The last time it came up in the Senate in September, Republicans wouldn't even let debate go forward, much less allow a vote.

Ebola-hawking candidates are trying for a bait and switch, but my bet's on women. Voting for someone who plays on Ebola fears while denying female workers a chance at equal pay is a fool's game -- and female voters are not fools. Unless they're health care workers actually treating an Ebola patient, the chances of a U.S. citizen contracting the virus are virtually non-existent. On the other hand, the chances of a woman in the U.S. workforce making less than a man beside her doing the same work are close to 99 in 100.

And the chances of a Republican-controlled Senate voting for equal pay in the next two years? Approximately zero.

Listen to the 2 minute radio commentary here:

Marijuana Industry Could Be Worth $35 Billion In 2020, If All States And Feds Legalize It

Thu, 2014-10-23 18:13
If all 50 states legalized marijuana and the federal government ended prohibition of the plant, the marijuana industry in the United States would be worth $35 billion just six years from now.

That's according to a new report from GreenWave Advisors, a research and advisory firm that serves the emerging marijuana industry in the U.S., which found that if all 50 states and the federal government legalized cannabis, combined sales for both medical and retail marijuana could balloon to $35 billion a year by 2020.

If the federal government doesn't end prohibition and the trajectory of state legalization continues on its current path, with more, but not all, states legalizing marijuana in some form, the industry in 2020 would still be worth $21 billion, GreenWave projects.

In its $21 billion 2020 model, GreenWave predicts 12 states plus the District of Columbia to have legalized recreational marijuana (besides Colorado and Washington, which legalized it in 2012). Those states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to data GreenWave provided to The Huffington Post from the full report. By that same year, the model assumes, 37 states will have legalized medical marijuana. To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use.

"Our road map for the progression of states to legalize is very detailed –- our assumptions are largely predicated on whether a particular state has legislation in progress," Matt Karnes, founder and managing partner of GreenWave as well as author of the report, told HuffPost. "We assume that once legalization occurs, it will take a little over a year to implement a program and have product available for sale. So for example, for Florida, we expect the ballot measure to pass [this year] yet our sales forecast starts in year 2016. We think the time frame will lessen as new states to legalize will benefit from best practices."

As Karnes noted, some of these states are already considering legalization this November -- voters in Oregon, Alaska and D.C. are considering measures to legalize recreational marijuana, while Florida voters will weigh in on medical marijuana legalization.

GreenWave isn't the first group to suggest the federal government may end its decadeslong prohibition of marijuana. One congressman has even predicted that before the end of the decade, the federal government will legalize weed. And as outlandish as it may sound, it's already possible to observe significant shifts in federal policy toward pot.

The federal government allowed Colorado's and Washington's historic marijuana laws to take effect last year. President Barack Obama signed the 2014 farm bill, which legalized industrial hemp production for research purposes in the states that permit it, and the first hemp crops in U.S. soil in decades are already growing. And in May, the U.S. House passed measures attempting to limit Drug Enforcement Administration crackdowns on medical marijuana shops when they're legal in a state.

The GreenWave report also projects a substantial shift in the marijuana marketplace -- the merging of the medical and recreational markets in states that have both.

"In the state of Colorado, we are beginning to see the sales impact -- i.e., cannibalization of medical marijuana sales by the adult-use market -- when the two markets co-exist," Karnes said. "We expect a similar dynamic to unfold in those states that will implement a dual marijuana market."

Beginning in July, recreational marijuana sales in Colorado began to outpace medical for the first time, according to state Department of Revenue data.

Karnes writes in the executive summary that just what the marijuana industry will look like in 2020 will largely depend on how the industry is regulated and how it is taxed by that time.

"Since 'chronic pain' is the most common ailment among medical marijuana users, it is likely that recreational users can already purchase marijuana without great difficulty in states where medicinal use is legal," the report reads. "Accordingly, it can be argued that a merged market already exists in medical marijuana states. Less currently popular, but arguably providing more economic stimulus, would be a regulatory regime providing for only adult recreational use."

Darren Vann, Man Accused Of Killing 7 Women, Puts Spotlight On Abandoned Buildings

Thu, 2014-10-23 17:48
GARY, Ind. (AP) — The two-bedroom home in Gary's Bungalow Heights area went up in the Roaring '20s, when the Indiana steel town was thriving and filled with prosperous subdivisions. By the time Anith Jones' body was found in its basement Saturday, the building was one of thousands of dilapidated, abandoned houses serving as havens for crime in cities like Detroit and Chicago that have battled neighborhoods in decline.

Police say Darren Vann, a 43-year-old former Marine, has confessed to killing Jones and six other women. All but one of the victims were found in abandoned homes in Gary, including two whose bodies were placed in a vacant dwelling next door to where Jones was found. Vann, a convicted sex offender, is charged in the strangulation deaths of the 35-year-old Jones, whose body was found beneath a pile of tires and teddy bears, and 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, who was found in a Hammond motel. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday in those cases, and authorities say more charges are expected once more causes of death and identities are determined.

Officials say the estimated 10,000 abandoned dwellings in Gary serve as magnets for drug dealers, squatters and others seeking cover for criminal acts. It's unclear how long the victims' bodies went unnoticed in the deteriorating, weed-encircled homes. At least one woman, Teaira Batey, was reported missing in late January, and investigators say some of the unidentified remains are badly decomposed.

Cpl. Gabrielle King, a spokeswoman for Gary police, said the vacant structures "serve as a free-for-all."

"You may be able to get away with different types of crimes, for a season anyway, because it's abandoned, it's not being cared for — anything can happen there," she said.

Abandoned buildings make it harder for a community to spot criminal activity on the streets, because the residents who once provided police with tips or discouraged criminal activity with their very presence are gone, said Patricia Fron, author of a study that found about 2,600 crimes were committed in the more than 15,000 vacant or abandoned buildings in Chicago in 2012.

At least one-fifth of Gary's homes are abandoned, and a survey that is now 75 percent complete has found about 8,000 vacant homes so far, said Joe Van Dyk, director of Gary's Department of Redevelopment. That tally could jump as crews survey areas with high vacancy levels, he said.

In Chicago, investigators have been checking vacant buildings in the city's south suburbs as they track Vann's movements in the hours after Hardy's body was discovered.

Eliminating blight — and cutting the crime associated with abandoned buildings — has been a focus in Detroit. The city, which has more than 40,000 vacant houses, has made demolishing them a part of its rehabilitation strategy as it goes through bankruptcy. Crews are razing about 200 each week, and Detroit has stepped up lawsuits against owners of abandoned properties.

City officials say vacant houses often are used in drug deals and pose threats to children walking to and from school. In the early 1990s, a man used vacant buildings in Detroit and Highland Park, Michigan, to kill and leave the bodies of his victims. Benjamin Atkins was convicted in 1994 of strangling 11 women — primarily prostitutes.

For Gary residents, the blighted areas are depressing reminders of how far the city has fallen from its heyday. More than 100,000 people have left, and the city's poverty rate hovers around 40 percent. The home where Jones' body was found is slated for a tax sale to pay nearly $8,000 in back taxes, according to township records.

Van Dyk said the city has received about $10 million in the past year to demolish vacant buildings and hopes to have about 150 razed by year's end, and up to 500 more leveled next year.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson rejected suggestions that the number of abandoned buildings contributed to the slayings.

"This was a crime that was concealed," she said. "When you talk about the size of the city, when you talk about the concealment that was done — that could have been done with 500 abandoned homes, or 1,000 or 10,000."


Callahan reported from Indianapolis. Associated Press writers Corey Williams in Detroit and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.

Illinois Needs Positive Action, Not Negative Ads

Thu, 2014-10-23 17:41
The head of the Small Business Advocacy Council of Illinois has had it with the barrage of negative ads TV viewers are enduring this election season.

Small business owners and all Illinoisans want vision, not vicious attacks.

From Richardson:

This election cycle, the small business community is looking for candidates and politicians to set forth a coherent, substantive plan to improve the economic environment in Illinois. Instead, the state's electorate has been bombarded with negative advertising that is juvenile, irritating and pathetic.

ABC's Charles Thomas reports that Governor Quinn and Bruce Rauner have spent between $15-20 million on predominately negative TV ads since last March. The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity reports that Illinois has seen a roughly 30 percent increase in the money spent to air TV ads compared to the elections four years ago. Illinois politicians, and their opponents, have spent more than $26.4 million to air an estimated 34,589 television ads between January 1, 2013 and September 8th of this year. As reported by the Northwestern Herald, this staggering number does not include the costs of producing the ads, the money spent on local cable TV or for radio and Internet ads.

See how Richardson says these negative ads can affect the good of the sate at Reboot Illinois.

No matter who wins next month, the new governor is going to be faced with dealing with Illinois' large amount of debts. According to Bill Bergman, director of research at Truth in Accounting, Illinois' debt increased to 13 times its original amount in the 32 years between 1981 and 2013. Find out how this happened at Reboot Illinois.

Illinois Wasting Millions on Another Coal-to-Gas Pork Project

Thu, 2014-10-23 16:38
The state of Illinois is throwing millions of taxpayer dollars at another coal-to-gas plant just two years after a similar project ended in failure.

The Coal Development Fund has so far given Homeland Fuels two grants totaling $4.25 million in taxpayer dollars. The first grant was awarded in 2013 to fund a study for the proposed "Coal to Diesel Pilot Project" next to their coal supplier, which will apparently be a nearby Chris Cline-owned mine in central Illinois. The company moved addresses from Hillsboro to Litchfield before receiving a second grant for $3,500,000. There's no indication of how the plant would limit their global warming emissions or other environmental impacts.

Coal is king of corporate welfare in Illinois with a portion of the state energy tax dedicated to subsidizing the industry. The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity grant tracker shows the agency gave nearly $23 million to support coal during the 2014 fiscal year. That doesn't include additional state and local tax breaks. This happened during a state budget crisis that prompted cuts to social services and public employee pensions.

Handing out millions in taxpayer funds with few questions asked means there's little risk for companies to begin far-fetched projects that may never be completed. That was the case with a coal-to-gas plant that failed in 2012.

A coal to synthetic natural gas conversion plant proposed by Power Holdings received millions in state grants and additional subsidy legislation signed by Governor Quinn. After failing to find additional investors, the company was forced to admit the market wouldn't support their project and gave up.

Power Holdings will face no consequences or have to pay back a single dollar of the millions they wasted on a risky, unrealistic project. It's a routine result of Illinois operating a grant program with little transparency or oversight to benefit a single industry.

Despite claiming to be a leader on climate change, Governor Pat Quinn has failed to advocate cutting coal subsidies. He dramatically expanded industry welfare instead by signing two bills to exempt coal mining equipment from the state sales tax during a budget crisis. The six figures in campaign contributions Quinn has taken from Chris Cline coal companies over the years may have something to do with his reluctance to act on climate.

Downstate Illinois will prosper by creating diverse economies with green jobs. Depending on fossil fuel subsidies to provide false hope of reviving coal jobs will only send more money and better opportunities down the drain.