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Updated: 47 min 34 sec ago

These 3 Lawsuits Are Taking the Chicago Police Department To Task For Brutality

3 hours 26 min ago
In the first trial of a Chicago police officer for a shooting death in 17 years, a judge on Monday cleared Chicago Police Detective Dante Servin of all charges related to his killing of a 22-year-old unarmed black woman, Rekia Boyd.

Servin's team did not even have to mount a defense in the trial for the off-duty 2012 shooting.

The case is one of three major police misconduct-related issues Chicago faces amid a growing national debate over police brutality, particularly in minority communities.

In October of last year, a youth activist group presented a report to the United Nations alleging that the CPD for years has gone unchecked as it commits brutality, largely against minority citizens. The current crop of trials and hearings have the potential to mark a turning point in police accountability, department transparency and justice for victims.

"It’s important for putting a spotlight on police brutality and police misconduct,” Attorney Flint Taylor of the People's Law Office in Chicago told HuffPost on Monday. Taylor's office focuses on police misconduct and civil rights cases, and had a strong hand in supporting a recent city ordinance for police torture reparations.

"It’s hopeful," Taylor added. "But we do need to make systemic changes in how we deal with justice issues if we want this to be a permanent change."

'You're Sworn To Protect Lives, Not Take Them Away'

On a warm night in 2012, Rekiya Boyd was shot in the back of the head while standing with friends in Douglas Park on the city’s West Side. Servin had been in a verbal altercation with Boyd’s group before he fired on them from his car, striking one man in the hand and fatally hitting Boyd.

"You’re sworn to protect lives. Not take them away,” Boyd’s 32-year-old brother Martinez Sutton told The Huffington Post Monday, before the verdict was read. “[The police] don’t think about the family they’re destroying in the process."

Though roughly 30 percent of Chicago’s population is black, they make up about 80 percent of police shooting victims, Reuters reports.

Boyd’s family has already been awarded a $4.5 million wrongful death settlement by the City of Chicago, but Sutton said true justice will be served when officers like Servin face the same punishment as civilians who commit the same crime.

“A person gets a million-dollar bond and 15, 20 years in jail for shooting someone. But an officer gets a slap on the wrist by serving five years and paying $7,500 in fines?” Sutton said of the maximum sentence Servin could have faced. “That’s a slap in the face to the families."

Still, he notes that what his family wants for Boyd is only justice, not revenge.

"I always tell people, ‘I don’t hate the police at all; I have family members who are police,'” Sutton said. "But if you’re going to lock up criminals who commit crimes, lock up all criminals. The only difference between police and a person on the street is a badge and the money you get paid."

Regaining Trust 'Starts With Honesty'

A police dash cam was rolling last October when cops shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was carrying a knife and allegedly trying to break into cars on the Southwest Side.

Cops said the teen refused to cooperate and drop his knife, prompting one of them to fire 16 shots.

Now the FBI and the Cook County state's attorney are investigating the shooting.

In some other cases of police-involved shootings caught on tape, like the death of South Carolina man Walter Scott, charges were swiftly brought against the shooter, due in part to the video evidence.

But in McDonald's case, the video has not been released -- not even to the city council that last week approved a a $5 million settlement to the McDonald family.

A lawyer for McDonald's family told DNAinfo Chicago the tape shows the teen walking away from police, and that deadly force was unjustified, painting a vastly different picture than the police account, which describes the teen stabbing a squad car tire and attacking the windshield.

Police say they won't release the tape, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called "central to [the] investigation" by the FBI and the state. But releasing the tape, argues University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, is the only way the CPD can hope to repair its reputation.

"Regaining the trust of the community, particularly the black community, starts with honesty," Futterman told the AP. "And hiding a potential execution is the kind of thing that destroys trust."

'Ain't A Day That Go By That I Don't Suffer'

The long shadow of torture and brutality has loomed over the CPD for more than three decades, stemming from a dark chapter in the department's history in which more than a 100 men, most of them black, were burned, shocked and suffocated into giving false confessions during the '70s and '80s at the hands of former Commander Jon Burge's "Midnight Crew."

Now, the city says it's trying to set things right by backing a $5.5 million reparations fund for those men who suffered while in Burge's custody. The fund would include a memorial and an official apology, as well as tuition and health services for victims, actions that Emanuel and several city council members support.

The city has already paid about $100 million in lawsuits and legal fees.

Burge in 2011 was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for perjury and obstruction of justice, but didn't face criminal charges for abuse. After three and a half years, Burge walked out of prison to serve out time in a halfway house in Florida. Burge was also allowed to keep his pension of roughly $54,000 a year.

Though Burge has been mum for years on the matter, the Sun-Times confirmed Friday that Burge broke his silence after the city's approval to grant reparations. In a letter to “The Conviction Project,” a blog run by police officer Martin Preib, Burge blasted the victims' attorneys as criminals, decried his treatment by media and described his critics as frauds.

"I find it hard to believe that the City's political leadership could even contemplate giving 'Reparations' to human vermin like them," Burge wrote.

Anthony Holmes spent 30 years in jail stemming from a false confession coerced by Burge's crew. The statute of limitations for damages ran out by the time he was released, but Holmes has remained among the most vocal proponents of a reparations fund.

Speaking to aldermen at city hall last week, Holmes said, according to CBS Chicago, “It ain’t a day that go by that I don’t suffer, but that’s part of the life I’ve got to live."

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

4 Charts That Sum Up What 4/20 Really Means

3 hours 28 min ago
Well, as every high school student (no pun intended, we swear) has probably reminded you, today is April 20, or "FOUR-TWENTY!!"

But, as we all grow up and mature as a nation, the unofficial marijuana holiday largely loses its luster of "craziness," if it ever truly had that to begin with.

So, here are four charts to help sum up the true meaning of 4/20 today:

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Chicago Cop Cleared Of All Charges In Shooting Death Of Unarmed Woman

4 hours 52 min ago
CHICAGO -- A Chicago Police Department detective was cleared Monday of all charges in the fatal 2012 off-duty shooting of Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old unarmed black woman.

Judge Dennis Porter found Dante Servin not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and other lesser charges, concluding prosecutors failed to prove Servin acted recklessly, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Servin's case marked the first time in more than 17 years that a Chicago police officer faced a trial over a shooting. Monday's verdict was considered "unusual" as Servin was found not guilty without even having to mount a defense, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Martinez Sutton, Boyd's older brother, told The Huffington Post on Monday before the verdict was read that his family was feeling cautiously optimistic about the direction of the trial. However, he also said family members were frustrated that Servin only faced a maximum sentence of five years if found guilty.

"In our eyes, when an officer gets taken down for murder or shooting someone, it’s like, ‘OK, here you go: You get time off with pay and you get to enjoy your family,’" Sutton said. "They don’t think about [our] family they’re destroying in the process. You can destroy more lives than one."

Servin got into a verbal altercation with Boyd's group over noise as they were standing in Douglas Park on the city's West Side in March of 2012. Prosecutors said Servin, who was off-duty at the time, fired several shots from his car as the group had its back to him. One shot hit Cross in the hand while another fatally struck Boyd in the back of the head.

Sutton lamented that the trial focused less on Boyd's death and more on whether Antonio Cross, a man in her group of friends, had pointed a gun at Servin. Prosecutors said what Servin thought was a gun was actually Cross' cell phone; no weapon was ever recovered.

Servin's defense said he only fired after Cross waved his cell phone and pointed it at Servin as if it were a gun, which prompted the detective to fear for his life.

After the verdict was read Monday afternoon, "screaming" members of Boyd's family were dragged from the court room, DNAinfo Chicago reports.

Boyd's family was previously awarded $4.5 million in a wrongful death suit against the city.

"We finally got an officer facing charges," Sutton said before the verdict was handed down, "and the world seems quiet."

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The Emerging Populist Groundswell

5 hours 6 min ago

On April 20 I gave a speech at the City Club of Chicago on the populist movement we are experiencing in our country. Despite what many Republicans claim, we are the richest country humanity has ever seen, and we are at our richest moment. Yet hardworking Americans keep coming home to "a plate full of worry." This is largely because over the last few decades the wages of the bottom 80 percent of Americans have fallen or stagnated while the super-rich rake in all the profits. We can do better, and we must. Please see the full text of my speech below.

I was born and raised in Rogers Park in Chicago. My father sold furniture, and my mother was a Chicago public school teacher and proud member of the Chicago Teachers Union for decades. My first seven years were in an apartment, and then my parents were able to buy a small three-bedroom house in West Rogers Park, right near Rogers School and a short bus ride away from Sullivan High School. We were far from rich, but I never remember my parents worrying about money.

In retirement, they were able to travel, thanks in large part to my mother's teacher pension, which also assured my dad's income after she died.

Every Sunday we would drive down Western Ave. to visit my grandparents in Humbolt Park. A couple of weeks ago, I drove past 2606 W. Walton to see their house and, more importantly, the garage, which was my favorite place, because it was the barn at the time, the home of Teddy the horse. Every morning before dawn, Teddy would pull my grandfather's wagon to the central market to pick up the heavy bags of potatoes and other vegetables that my grandpa would sell up and down the alleys of the neighborhood, schlepping those bags up and down the back stairs. All four of his children went to college: one lawyer, two teachers, one businesswoman.

On Sundays, the grown-ups would be in the kitchen, gossiping in Yiddish. My grandparents and parents were born in Russia, except my mother who was born in the New World -- Canada -- before they made their way, with the help of the Salvation Army, to America. A typical immigrant story. A typical Chicago story.

All of their children did better than they did, as was expected by just about everyone. In our case, we had a cottage in Michigan City, built in part by my dad's own hands and shared with my aunt and uncle. Even the men that worked a union job in the South Side steel mills in the '50s and '60s could afford a cabin where his wife and kids could go for the summer. Most of those are now torn down as the Indiana/Michigan lake shore becomes more tony and for the wealthier.

We were not rich, but neither were we worried. How different from today, when most families come home every night, as Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, put it, "to a full plate of worry."

Elizabeth Warren tells about her childhood, when her family of three could make it on the minimum wage. That wage has not gone up in real buying power since 1966.

But I'm not here just to reminisce about the good old days. Many may describe my childhood as so 20th century. So yesterday. So gone and gone forever. But I want to tell a different story, with a happy ending: that economic security for everyday Americans not only is possible, but unless we achieve it, all of us are in deep trouble.

Here's the most important data point. The United States of America has never been richer. We are the richest country humanity has ever seen, and its richest moment.

Between 1979 and 2014, the per-capita gross domestic product grew 77 percent, and productivity rose 75 percent. But over the last decades, the wages of the bottom 80 percent of Americans has fallen or stagnated. Just since the Great Recession of 2008, the richest 1 percent of Americans has seen 95 percent of the benefits from this growth. According to Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary, if the U.S. had the same income distribution it had in 1979, that bottom 89 percent would have $1 trillion more in income -- $11,000 per family.

Eight Americans made at least $10 billion each in 2013. Ten billion dollars is as much as almost 200,000 Americans earn in a year combined. The vast majority of those eight fortunes were realized not as a result of work but the old-fashioned way: inheritances, stock market and other investments. The best way to earn a fortune in America is to already have one.

And speaking of inheritance, last Thursday the Republican-majority House voted to eliminate the estate tax altogether. Understand that you can already pass on to your children $5.4 million, or $10.8 million as a couple. But now they wanted to do more for 5,500 estates by scrapping any tax. Doing that will cost the treasury $259 billion over 10 years. Remember, this is money passed on to the likes of Paris Hilton and her bratty brother, who did not work even one single hour to earn it. And this tax cut is part of a $1-trillion tax cut, almost all for the wealthiest, over 10 years, unpaid for, adding to the debt.

And while we are told we can't increase nutrition spending for the one in five American children who are "food-insecure" without cutting something else to pay for it -- doing otherwise would be irresponsible, of course, leaving our children with a huge debt burden -- and yet ending the estate tax is unpaid for, all adding to the deficit and debt.

But what am I saying? We didn't increase child nutrition at all, even paid for. No, the Republican-passed budget cuts the SNAP (food stamps) by $125 billion. I asked them, "Did you really come to Congress to take food out of the mouths of hungry children. Who are you?" So it's part of their plan to make hundreds of thousands of American children, our Chicago children, go hungry in order to help the Walton kids. That's just a fact.

Twenty-six profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes from 2008 to 2013, Verizon and GE among them, and they got refunds that I promise is much bigger than any of yours -- $2.9 billion for GE, an effective tax rate of negative 9 percent, only $732-million refund for Verizon on $42 billion in U.S. profits.

Apple, the nation's most profitable tech company (we love our Apple everything), dodged taxes on an estimated $74 billion in earnings over a four-year period through foreign tax shelters and loopholes.

I could go on -- so I will for a minute more. Governor Bruce Rauner reduced his Illinois tax liability by $750,000 when the rate went from 5 percent to 3.5 percent. Now he wants to cut Medicaid by $1.4 billion and eliminate adult dental and foot care, breast and cervical cancer programs, 30 percent for higher education and way more. That's what you do with a turnaround company. Bottom line matters; people don't.

Americans can't afford to retire. The National Institute on Retirement Security put out a chilling report recently: Four out of five household have less than one year's income in retirement savings. In fact, the average working-age household has only $2,500 in retirement assets, while average near-retirement households have a whopping $12,000.

So in this richest country in the world at its richest moment, government operates in a framework of scarcity -- when it comes to investments that help regular people. We're going broke, or we are broke. We can't even agree on a long-term transportation bill to fund our roads and bridges and mass transit and all the jobs they create, much less fix the huge number of schools in desperate need of repair.

In Washington, both the House and Senate Republicans passed budgets that cut investments in heath care, education, housing, and other domestic priorities by almost 40 percent -- the lowest level seen in the last 50 years.

Problem is, this is really bad. Even if you don't care about regular people, it's really bad for our economy.

Working families spend about 90 percent of their income on consumption -- buying stuff. The rich spend less than 45 percent. In 2012 alone, an estimated $1.3 trillion was sucked out of our economy because it sat in bank accounts of the richest Americans instead of being spent. If that money went to people who would spend it, it is estimated that it would create 10 million jobs.

I'm trying to stick to economics and not morality -- what's good for the American economy and not about right and wrong.

But I can't. Here's what Congressman Tom Price, Chairman of the Budget Committee said in justifying a budget that makes the worst income inequality since 1929 considerably worse:

Many of our friends here on this floor have asked about budgets being moral documents, and they are. Let me ask, Madam Chair: Where is the morality in trapping disadvantaged people in a web of welfare programs that discourage self-sufficiency and, instead, shackle them to government dependency? Where is the morality, Madam Chair, in committing retirees to a health coverage program that is going bankrupt and that can't keep its promises if its so-called protectors keep blocking reform? Where is the morality, Madam Chair, in forcing low-income people into second-rate health programs in which many can't get appointments and in which doctors are grossly under-reimbursed by the government? Where is the morality, Madam Chair, in tying college students to years of crippling debt because of a government-run loan program that drives up tuition? Where is the morality in heaping trillions of dollars of debt onto future generations to finance today's government spending because today's policymakers refuse to stop overspending?

If you agree with this definition of morality, you haven't been spending much time reading the scriptures of any religion. You also don't understand the facts about the success of Medicare and Medicaid or who really contributes to college debt by cutting Pell Grants, and how many people who need government help go to work every day for poverty wages. When pious words like "shared sacrifice," making "tough decisions," or "reform" are used, regular people better hang on to their wallets.

OK. Now comes the good-news part of my speech. There are solutions to all these problems. We can ask people who have more than they or their children or grandchildren can ever spend to pay a bit more to the common good, money that won't dent their lifestyles, money that will hardly be missed. I just happen to have bills that will do that, including H.R. 389, the Fairness in Taxation Act. Right now there are seven tax brackets up to $413,201 in taxable income, 39.6 percent for the top bracket, whether you make $413,000 or $413 million. So my bill says let's update the code and create five more brackets but still keep the rate under what it was during most of Reagan's administration: 50 percent. (It was 92 percent during Eisenhower.) So for $1 million in taxable income, the rate is 45 percent and ratchets up to 49 percent for $1 billion in income. Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at those same rates. That raises a cool $800 billion over the next decade. I have support from millionaires, by the way. More than you think.

Senator Bernie Sanders and I introduced H.R. 1790, the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act, to stop profitable corporations from sheltering income in places like the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, and end tax breaks for companies that encourage them to ship jobs overseas. Profits would be taxed wherever they are earned by American companies. This bill would raise half a trillion dollars in additional revenue.

I'm full of good ideas like these. Social Security would be solvent into the next century if we just lifted the cap on income for which one has to pay into the trust fund. Instead of stopping payment at $113,000, people like Bruce Rauner who make that much in less than five hours (he makes about $25,000 and hour) would have to pay FICA again, say, after his income exceeds $200,000 or $250,000. We would have enough not only to protect Social Security but to expand and strengthen it. Retirees are increasingly depending on all or nearly all of their retirement income coming from Social Security. The average earned benefit check is $1,300 per month -- less for women. The Tribune editorialized against even the talk of improving Social Security, chastising Elizabeth Warren by name. We are celebrating Social Security's 80th birthday this year, and celebrating that Social Security never missed a check. Sorry, Tribune, Americans of all stripes support Social Security and will work to make it even better.

Senator Durbin and I will be reintroducing a bill that rewards American companies that are paying good wages and benefits to their workers here at home. It's called the Patriotic Employer Tax Credit Act and provides a $1,200-per-U.S.-employee tax credit for companies that meet those benchmarks and grow or maintain their U.S. workforce. How can we afford it? By closing those corporate tax loopholes.

Those are the kind of "reforms" and "hard choices" and "shared sacrifice" that make sense to me.

But here's the best news of all, and the reason that I keep smiling even though it's pretty miserable in Washington these days and people are always asking me, "How can you stand it?" My answer is that, despite the way things appear right now, we are actually in a progressive, populist moment. Here's my evidence:

  • More than 80 percent of Americans believe we should raise revenue for needed investments by closing corporate loopholes and outsourcing incentives and limiting deductions for the wealthy.

  • More than 60 percent of voters want to end the lower tax rate for capital gains and dividends so that actual work is not taxed at a higher rate than investments.

  • More than 80 percent of Americans want us to increase taxes on the profits that American corporations make overseas.

  • Almost 70 percent of voters believe that we should end tax breaks to large corporations that ship jobs overseas -- and use that money to invest in jobs in America.

Also, much to the surprise of some of my colleagues, there are important things happening outside of Congress. I have participated in the Fight for 15, minimum-wage workers striking for $15 an hour and the right to have a union. I have been out on the street several times in Chicago, and also in Washington and New York. Bruce Rauner's obsessive fight against organized labor is actually helping to create a backlash. Good union jobs that afforded those South Side steel workers a decent middle -class life and a secure retirement don't have to be relics of the last century. If farm workers could organize, so can home-care workers and nursing-home workers and fast-food workers. Sí se puede -- not just a slogan.

Immigrants have inspired a new fighting spirit. A huge coalition, including most of the business community, supports comprehensive immigration reform. It will happen. Certain things have the stamp of inevitability about them, and immigration is at the top of that list -- along with marriage equality. Every generation of Americans, and Chicagoans especially, has been revitalized and enriched by a new wave of immigration. It will happen.

I'm feeling really optimistic about the 2016 elections. I think that many Americans who are struggling are tired of being used as cannon fodder by the richest and most self-interested gazillionaires and corporate interests. The problem, as Hillary Clinton puts it, that "the deck is stacked against them," is gaining traction every day.

The answer to "Why is this woman smiling?" is simple: Change is on its way, and not a minute too soon for this great country of ours.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The 33 Best Donut Shops in America

5 hours 18 min ago
By: Kevin Alexander and Liz Childers

If the donut was becoming newly hip again last year during our first compendium of the best donut shops across the country, it is a full-blown trend now, as artisanal donut shops have risen up like those magical yeasty treats all across America. And though, at times, it can start to feel like the Great Cupcake Trend of 2010, we think the donut revolution has stronger legs to stand on, because -- unlike the cupcake -- it is not an afterthought, but an essential part of your daily morning routine (right, doctors?).

To that point, we've expanded our list from 21 to 33 this year, keeping many of the strongest shops from last year, and adding an entire roster of new and deserving spots everywhere from Kentucky and Ohio, to Northern California and Virginia. If we missed your favorite, let us know in that bastion of unfettered social democracy known as the comments, but for now, it's time to make (with) the donuts.

Credit: Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Do-Rite Donuts
Chicago, IL
One of the early entrants into the great Chicago donut boom, Do-Rite's a snug downtown take-out counter that was carved out of space belonging to an Italian restaurant, and they're making the most of their modest square footage to turn out donuts that have caused the diet of many a Loop office-drone to go horribly awry (pistachio-Meyer lemon, Valrhona chocolate glazed, candied maple bacon). If that wasn't enough indulgence, their second location brought fried chicken into the mix. Can you get donuts as fried chicken sandwich buns? Yes, yes you can.

Credit: Sara Norris/Thrillist

The Donut Bar
San Diego, CA
A favorite of our San Diego editor Sara Norris and pretty much anyone who has ever eaten there, Donut Bar gets the call again thanks to that perfect mix of old-fashioned donut-making skills, and an addictive changes-by-the-day menu of new creations that will make you have donut fever dreams for weeks. Of course you can't go wrong with their hand-torched creme brulee, but lately, we've also been somewhat addicted to the glorious fruitiness of their big poppa-tart donut, and the "oh my peanut butter Oreo," which tastes like you mashed up your entire third-grade lunch, covered it in dough, and fried it. In a good way. Such a good way.

Credit: Bryan Avigne/Thrillist

Dottie's Diner
Woodbury, CT
You want some high-quality alliteration? Look no further than "Dottie's Diner, the deluxe destination for delicious donuts!" And damn if the descriptor and subject of said alliteration isn't correct. Dorothy Sperry's cake-esque creations are now famous in the state of Connecticut and beyond, and for good reason: each made-from-scratch donut is a work of high art (we ate three of the powdered sugar version when visiting), made even more impressive by the fact that the diner serves all the other meals as well, and might be just as known for their positively perfect pies. Sorry, it's addicting.

Credit: Kevin Alexander/Thrillist

Dynamo Donut + Coffee
San Francisco, CA
Since 2008, Dynamo has been making the people of that hilly city filled with impossibly expensive condos incredibly happy with Sara Spearin's confection prowess, which results in mad scientist creations like the Bitter Queen (candied ruby grapefruit base topped with a St. Germain elderflower glaze and sprinkled with Campari sugar), chocolate with a raspberry black pepper glaze, and apricot cardamom. Of course, no one will judge if you choose her original vanilla bean with the orange zest either.

Credit: Kristin Luna/Thrillist

Fox's Donut Den
Nashville, TN
If you've been to Nashville and you haven't been to Fox's, FOR SHAME! Just look for that sign showcasing a small Dutch boy wearing a cool hat and holding a donut half the size of his body in Green Hills close to the mall, and immediately go in there and get cherry turnovers and apple fritters and, yes, you can also get regular donuts too. But maybe eat that fritter first.

Credit: Flickr/jpellgen

Glam Doll Donuts
Minneapolis, MN
Teresa Fox's delicious creations are back on the list for a second year. The good people of Minnesota are lucky bastards (NOT during the winter) in that they get to experience her 100% made-from-scratch creations whenever they please. Our current favorites on the list include Bob Seger's favorite Night Moves (blackberry jam, blackberry Hennessy, and brown sugar bits), the Scream Queen (chocolate and caramelized bacon), and our longstanding crush the Chart Topper, which combines peanut butter, Sriracha, and some kind of magically addictive pixie dust.

Credit: Lee Breslouer/Thrillist

Glazed and Confused
Denver, CO
Step into some of Denver's finest coffeeshops (Kaladi, Aviano, Pablo's), and you can spot Glazed & Confuzed's donuts pretty easily; aside pastries and muffin varieties so boring even your grandma would pass on them, you'll find their donut-y take on the Girl Scout Samoa with a caramel glaze, toasted coconut, and chocolate drizzle, and the cheekily-named Guava D's Nutz with a cream cheese cake donut and a guava glaze. In mid-2014, the donut boundary pushers behind G&C opened their first standalone shop in Mile High, giving donut lovers even more variety to choose from, where they have the capacity to make crazy donuts like... umm, a Boston Cream Pie. Sometimes the classics can be good too.

Credit: Dan Gentile/Thrillist

Austin, TX
If, like Subway's Jared, you've always dreamed of eating donuts as sandwiches, you could do much worse than heading to Gourdough's, which has grown in the last couple of years from a trailer operation into a full restaurant, so you can drink real booze while taking down donuts filled with Angus beef and house pimento cheese (the Big Baller), or more traditional options like vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and vanilla wafers (the Puddin').

Credit: Jason Moore/Thrillist

Hypnotic Donuts
Dallas, TX
Dallas' desperate need for crazy donut combinations propelled Hypnotic from an operation that only existed in the back of a Ford Explorer to two locations in just four years. Go for the Evil Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, banana, and honey) to see what the fuss is about. Then maybe try the maple-iced Canadian Healthcare that's topped with a giant strip of bacon. And then just test your own healthcare with their equally famous chicken biscuits.

Credit: Chelsea Cabral/Thrillist

Leonard's Bakery
Honolulu, HI
Because Leonard's is now a two-time winner on our list, their story is worth repeating: back in 1882, two Portuguese immigrants came to Hawaii to work the sugarcane fields. Several years later, their grandson Leonard was born, and several years after that, in 1952, he started his own bakery. On a whim, his Mother suggested they make Portuguese-style malasadas -- essentially donuts with no hole, coated in sugar. Everyone loved them. And thus, a legend -- and, by now, a Hawaiian staple -- was born, and the classic still gets the nod thanks to their made-to-order, piping-hot deliciousness (shhhh, but the custard malasadas are pretty damn good too).

Credit: Faith Blackwell/Thrillist

Long's Bakery
Indianapolis, IN
It's been around forever. They only take cash. The lines on the weekend and weekdays and pretty much most of the time are long. But once you get a taste of their glazed yeast donuts, or the blueberry cake, or that apple one that I can only remember in my dreams, you won't mind the lines. And with donuts being under just barely over half a dollar, you won't mind the cash-only policy either.

Credit: Art Solomon/Thrillist

Loyless Donuts
Cowarts, AL
It's hard to describe Loyless -- not because everything has been said before, because that's certainly not the case for this Southern Alabama institution. Rather, it's almost a caricature of a bygone era: a small-town mom & pop institution where the food is far superior yet much simpler than anything made at the big-box giants. The small town is Cowarts, a town outside of Dothan; you'll find Loyless on the side of Highway 86 underneath towering pine trees. The mom & pop are Eva and Garland Loyless, and their hand-rolled, hand-cut, hand-iced donuts are made every morning. This is old-school America and, if you happen to score one of the few hundred donuts the Loylesses sell each day, typically before 7:30 a.m., you'll realize that old-school America is delicious.

Credit: Matt Meltzer/Thrillist

Mojo Donuts
Pembroke Pines, FL
Because the excuse to sing late '90s-era Will Smith isn't quite enough to justify a plane flight to South Florida, there's Mojo Donuts. It may be in a strip mall somewhere between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but just try the Key lime pie or the s'mores. Trust us.

Credit: Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

Nord's Bakery
Louisville, KY
Though we're very into their old-school website, which looks like it was created during the brazen website design year of 2002, the actual donuts at this Louisville bakery are our first love. Do yourself and everyone else in your social circles a favor and opt for the maple bacon long john and a pretzel donut, which is a Midwest specialty that tastes nothing like those things that make the cast of Seinfeld thirsty.

Credit: Zach Brooks/Thrillist

Primo's Donuts
Los Angeles, CA
Since 1956 -- which, in California years, is essentially the dawn of time -- Celia and Ralph Primo's shop on Sawtelle in West LA has been making donuts. And those donuts are delicious. So go there, and buy a mixed dozen, as long as you get at least one buttermilk, a Skippy, a butterfly, a tiger tail, a cinnamon crunch, two twists, and a glazed, and then eat them in front of a SoulCycle, as the ravenous and jealous actors and actresses stream out, and know what it is to fully be alive.

Credit: Flickr/Roni

Sweetwater's Donut Mill
Kalamazoo, MI
In the immortal battle between donuts and candy -- which we just made up -- Sweetwater's is basically Switzerland, and not just because of all that chocolate. It's a neutral zone between confections, with donuts that include a devil's food take on peanut butter cups, a nutty Snickers variant, and a dulce de leche Carmello. Meanwhile, butterscotch makes a leap from Granny's cookie jar to donut form, and the caramel apple gives the Dutch a run for their guilders. Since 1983, Sweetwater's has been converting the donut faithful to a world beyond the glazed standbys. But if glazed is your thing, well, they make a damn fine one of those, too.

There are still 17 more incredible donut shops to check out, only at!

More from Thrillist:

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Every State in the USA, Ranked by Its Food/Drink

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Stop Superbugs: (M)eating Antibiotic-Free in Chicagoland

5 hours 34 min ago

My friend Jennifer is a Supermom Against Superbugs. In 2006, her son Sam was training for football season and thought eating a chicken Caesar salad was a healthy choice. However, he became terribly sick from an antibiotic-resistant superbug and lost over 30 pounds. Sam made a full recovery, and the experience inspired Jennifer's family to take part in creating a safer food system, showcased in the film she produced with her husband, Food Patriots. Jennifer has become a national advocate to keep life-saving antibiotics effective for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than two million Americans become ill because of antibiotic-resistant infections, causing 23,000 deaths.

See the film trailer

Health experts are warning that the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production is leading to antibiotic resistance and serious public health risks. Around 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used to help healthy livestock grow faster and prevent disease in dirty, crowded factory farms--not to treat sick people. When animals are given antibiotics over time, weak bacteria die off but strong bacteria may endure and become resistant to drugs. The danger is, if people ingest the resistant bacteria through improperly cooked meat and become ill, they may not respond to antibiotic treatment.

See this video.

It's estimated only 5% of meat sold today is raised without antibiotics. However, consumers and public interest groups are pressuring livestock producers to end unnecessary treatment as a means to improve public health, the environment, animal welfare and food quality. Markets are becoming more responsive to a growing demand for alternatives. Most notably, McDonald's, America's largest food chain, made waves last month when they announced they will stop purchasing chicken raised with medically important antibiotics - a potential game changer in the poultry industry.

To learn more about this issue, I spoke with Sasha Stashwick from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) about what more we can do to address this problem. For the past few years, she has been involved in a major campaign to end
the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed - that spurred McDonald's big shift.
Here are some ways you can help stop superbugs and support meat without drugs:

Keep in mind this is not just a chicken issue
Although "antibiotic-free" is typically associated with chicken, antibiotics are also overused in beef, pork and turkey production. Chicken is low hanging fruit, since Americans eat more chicken and changing practices in this industry is easier done. While antibiotic free chicken is increasingly available, we must also push to remove unnecessary antibiotics from all livestock production.

Reward mindful markets and producers
Access to buying meat raised without antibiotics is better than ever, often at a competitive price. However, read labels carefully. The FDA acknowledges USDA Organic and No Antibiotics Administered/No Antibiotics Added accompanied by USDA Process Verified or a private certifier such as the Global Animal Partnership. Be weary of No Antibiotic Residues, Antibiotic Free, Drug Free, Natural - these labels may be meaningless.The list below includes some supermarket brands of meat raised without antibiotics. A few grocers are taking the lead in offering these products. Currently, Whole Foods sells only antibiotic-free chicken. Costco has announced they will sell only antibiotic-free chicken by 2017. Trader Joes also carries it's own All Natural and Organic lines. Better butcher shops also feature a variety of non-treated meats, including Butcher & Larder, Chop Shop, Publican Meats, Eataly, Artisanal in Wilmette and Homestead Meats in Evanston. If your grocer doesn't offer a good selection, ask them too. You can also purchase directly from local farmers through meat CSAs and farmers markets, which are listed with Local Beet/Family Farmed, Eat Wild/Illinois and Local Harvest.

Seek out eateries that are leading the way
When eating out, it's hard to distinguish how meat was raised. Often, companies that source antibiotic-free choices are quick to promote it on their menus. The list below includes 25 restaurant chains in Chicagoland that are known to offer chicken, pork and/or beef raised without antibiotics, partially derived from the Pew Charitable Trust's wider list, Top Food Companies Moving Away From Overuse of Antibiotics on Industrial Farms, March 2015.

Antibiotic-free meat can be found at the Shedd Aquarium, McCormick Place, O'Hare Airport and Midway Airport as well. Also check out eco-minded restaurants that likely source cleaner meat from local farms, including guaranteed green locations associated with the Chicago Green Restaurant Coalition and others featured here: Chicago Green Eateries and North Shore Green Eateries. You might be wondering, what about Subway, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell, Dominos, Olive Garden, Potbelly's, Portillos, PF Changs, Corner Bakery, etc. - as well as your favorite dining spots? Be sure to ask if their meat was raised with antibiotics and let them know your preferences.

Look into your kids' lunch
More and more school cafeterias are shunning antibiotic-treated meat. Since 2011, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) began serving local chicken raised without antibiotics to students in 473 schools. In 2014, CPS joined a coalition of the largest U.S. school districts, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, and adopted a standard to serve only antibiotic-free chicken to students. In total, the Urban School Food Alliance's new standard will reach over 4,500 schools and nearly 2.9 million students nationally - 400,000 students here in Chicago. Evanston/Skokie District 65 and Evanston Township High School source antibiotic-free chicken from FarmLogix as well. Hand Cut Foods currently serves only antibiotic-free proteins at Gems World Academy, Catherine Cook, Lycée Français de Chicago and (next fall) North Shore Country Day. Organic Life and Gourmet Gorilla also provide untreated meat. Tell your PTA/PTO and school board you want cleaner sources for your kids' lunches as well.

Open up to awesome vegetarian options
Meateaters can also enjoy plant-based meals, naturally sans antibiotics. Skipping meat can be tasty, healthy and more earth-friendly, requiring less land, water, and energy to produce and creating fewer greenhouse gases from farm to fork.

Keep fighting for better food policy
Due to the Food and Drug Administration's voluntary guidelines and loopholes, livestock producers are free to feed antibiotics to healthy animals. Furthermore, animal farms are not required to report drugs used to raise animals, and there's an overriding lack of transparency with consumers on how food is produced. NRDC and other public interest groups are working to clean up animal agriculture. If you want to stop the spread of superbugs, and ensure that meat is produced without antibiotics, please lend your support and sign this petition.

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Three Ex-Cops Smoke Marijuana On Camera, Give Their Real Thoughts On Prohibition

6 hours 23 min ago
Three men who identify themselves as former police officers smoke marijuana and get high on camera in a new video released in time for "420," the annual marijuana holiday.

All of the men say that they had previously smoked weed, but not for decades. And while none recalled arresting anyone for a marijuana crime during their law enforcement career, one did remember seizing "a lot of pot" from people.

According to Cut Video, the same company that brought the Internet three grandmas who smoke pot for the first time ever, the footage was shot in Washington state, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012.

As the effects of the marijuana begin to sink in, the former law enforcement officers are asked to participate in a field sobriety test, play Cards Against Humanity and chat openly about the futility of prohibition.

"I think it should be legal, I think it should be more widely available for medical reasons," one of the men says. "It's like the last piece of prohibition."

When asked by the filmmakers if the ex-cops thought marijuana to be a gateway drug, one of the men answered that he believed it could be, while another debunked his colleague's answer.

"If you look at it, everyone who is a heroin addict started off drinking milk," the ex-cop says. "I mean that's the argument about marijuana and I'm not sure that's true."

Later, he adds, "Also, it costs more to put somebody in prison [for drugs] -- not jail, but prison -- than it costs to send them to Harvard."

One of the men argues that a good reason to legalize marijuana is that it takes the guesswork out of the product a person is buying.

"I mean some of the stuff you can get on the street now, you don't know what is going to happen to you," the man says. "[With legalization], you've got a quality product and you know what it is, where it came from and what it's going to do to you."

Marijuana enthusiasts have a lot to celebrate this 4/20. Attitudes are changing rapidly on marijuana policy in the U.S. Several recent polls show that a majority of Americans across party lines continue to support legalization nationally.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in four states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and 19 states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Criminal marijuana charges have dramatically dropped in states that have ended prohibitions of the substance.

While marijuana remains banned at the federal level, a growing number of lawmakers are seeking broad reforms to federal policy surrounding the plant. They continue to introduce legislation that could significantly roll back drug war policies, signaling that the biggest 420 celebration is still to come.

Read more about the history of "Weed Day" here and have a happy and safe 420!

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Americans' Support For Marijuana Legalization Reaches All-Time High In CBS Poll

7 hours 23 min ago
A majority of Americans support the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to a new poll from CBS News -- and it's the highest percentage in support since the news organization began asking the question in 1979.

Just in time for 4/20, the annual marijuana holiday, CBS News released a poll showing 53 percent of Americans are in favor of marijuana legalization.

Although that's the highest amount of support for marijuana legalization CBS has ever polled, it isn't the highest level of support ever found. And because survey methods can vary, it's useful to look at a number of national polls to get a fuller picture of the issue.

CBS's poll echoes trends similar to those multiple recent surveys have found.

Just last week, Pew Research Center found the identical amount of support as CBS. In 2013, Gallup found 58 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana -- a 10-point surge from the year prior -- but in 2014, the organization found a sharp drop in that support, to 51 percent. A report released last month by the Democratic-affiliated Benenson Strategy Group and SKDKnickerbocker found 61 percent of Americans in favor of legalization -- some of the highest support for marijuana legalization to date. Earlier this year, General Social Survey, widely regarded as the most authoritative source when it comes to researching public opinion, found 52 percent of Americans in support of legalization.

Support for legalization is highest among younger, more left-leaning Americans, according to CBS, and while a majority of men favor legalization, women remain split on the issue.

By a large margin, Americans also believe that marijuana is safer than alcohol -- 51 percent of those surveyed said alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, while only 12 percent believe marijuana is the more high-risk drug. Americans' attitudes on the dangers of marijuana, exaggerated during the "Reefer Madness" era of drug policy, have largely declined in recent decades. A survey released last month by NBC News/The Wall Street Journal found that Americans believe that even sugar is more harmful than cannabis.

While not harmless, marijuana is dramatically less dangerous than other recreational drugs and may be, in fact, the least dangerous among the most commonly used recreational drugs, according to a study published this year in Scientific Reports.

To date, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and four states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational use. Still, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as one of the "most dangerous" drugs alongside heroin and LSD.

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Bloomberg Is Giving $42 Million To U.S. Cities To Solve Problems In Smartest Ways Possible

7 hours 42 min ago
Michael Bloomberg wants America to have smarter, problem-solving cities, and he's banking on data to make it happen.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the launch of a $42 million initiative on Monday that will help 100 mid-sized U.S. cities better utilize data to serve their communities. The What Works Cities program partners with a handful of supportive organizations -- such as Results for America and the Sunlight Foundation -- to help local governments manage and analyze data to serve residents.

The initiative -- which is now accepting applications from cities with populations between 100,000 and 1 million -- will create open data programs that boost government transparency, help cities incorporate data into policy decision-making and fund efforts that best deliver positive results for citizens, among other functions, according to a press release from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

"Technology has unleashed an explosion of new information for city halls to work with," Bloomberg wrote in a blog posted on The Huffington Post on Monday. "The possibilities for how cities can use that data to improve lives -- and improve the way services are provided to citizens -- are limitless."

As the businessman pointed out, utilizing data has helped a number of cities solve major problems. New Orleans has made its streets safer by keeping better track of abandoned properties, for example -- the city reduced blighted residences by 10,000 between September 2010 and the first half of 2013, according to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

Louisville, Kentucky, has also used data made available through advancing technology to solve problems -- the city is bettering its fight against air pollution by asking volunteers to attach GPS trackers to their asthma inhalers so officials can see where residents are having the most trouble breathing.

Technical support and guidance through What Works Cities -- launched from within Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation portfolio -- will strive to help other communities solve similar problems, according to the former mayor of New York City.

Empowering local leadership is no new feat for Bloomberg Philanthropies. The group also runs the Mayors Challenge -- an ideas competition that inspires cities to push for progress on a number of public issues with out-of-the-box strategies.

Winners of the 2014 challenge were Barcelona, Spain; Athens, Greece; Kirklees in Yorkshire, U.K.; Stockholm, Sweden; and Warsaw, Poland.

To take action on pressing poverty issues, check out the Global Citizen's widget below.

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How will the College of DuPage rebuild the public's trust?

7 hours 55 min ago
With news that federal investigators have descended upon the College of DuPage to look into the spending habits of the school and some of its officials, Adam Andrzejewski, president of For the Good of Illinois, a watchdog group, has called for the end of shady practices at the College of DuPage.

Andrzejewski writes:

Last week, voters went to the polls to start a new beginning at College of DuPage. In the nonpartisan election, three "Clean Slate" reformers were elected as new trustees. This new majority is not beholden to the establishment of either Republican or Democratic parties. Their unique political alliances span the continuum from teachers union to Tea Party. That's good for government units throughout Illinois.

Inspired by the courage and leadership of Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton, last May, our organization and the noted Edgar County Watchdogs kicked off a robust COD oversight investigation. Working hand-in-hand with Hamilton, we helped stop payment on a questionable $20 million state construction grant and exposed $100 million in hidden spending transactions. This created the environment for a freeze in property taxes and student tuition.

Read the rest of Andrzejewski's thoughts at Reboot Illinois.

In addition to spending questions surrounding College of DuPage President Robert Brueder, federal investigators might also turn up issues surrounding the school's foundation's contracting practices. 10 out of the foundation's 22 board members have worked at companies that have had contracts with the school, nine of which where non-competitive. The total more than $200 million in all. Find out why this could be a problem, and the legal questions surrounding it, at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

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What It's Like When Your Rapist Appears Under Facebook's 'People You May Know'

8 hours 34 min ago
"When my rapist showed up under the 'people you may know' tab on Facebook, it felt like the closest to a crime scene I've ever been."

That's how Kevin Kantor begins his powerful slam poem, "People You May Know." In the piece, Kantor recounts his experience of coming across his rapist's Facebook profile -- learning his assailant's middle name, seeing his baby photos, and mentally reliving the assault and its aftermath.

"No one comes running for boys who cry rape," Kantor says.

Kantor hopes that his piece will lend a voice to male survivors of sexual assault, especially those who weren't believed when they spoke about being attacked. According to RAINN, 10 percent of sexual assault victims in the U.S. identify as male.

"If nothing else, I hope people realize that the systems in place that work to shame and silence male survivors of sexual violence are the same ones that work to invalidate the voices all survivors: women, trans* people, gender non-conforming folk," Kantor told The Huffington Post. "I was asked why I, as a man, didn't 'fight back,' in a society that privileges and presupposes a dominant masculine identity. I believe one of the first steps in advocating for all survivors of sexual violence and abolishing our country's pervasive rape culture is championing the cause of gender equality."

Watch Kantor perform the full poem above.

h/t Feministing

Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

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Cubs Pitcher Jon Lester Got The Ball Stuck In His Glove, So He Tossed The Glove To First

11 hours 55 min ago
In baseball there are plays and then there are plays.

Qualifying for the latter is this move by Cubs pitcher Jon Lester on Sunday, who, after the ball got stuck in his glove, got creative and " target="_hplink">tossed the whole thing to his first baseman to get the out during the second inning.

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Equal points to Anthony Rizzo for quickly ditching his own glove so he could cradle Lester’s glove and ball with the tenderness and care it deserved.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Cubs, who fell to the Padres, 5-2.

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Chicago Prosecutor Seeks To Relax Marijuana Penalties

Sun, 2015-04-19 22:16
CHICAGO, April 19 (Reuters) - The Cook County State's Attorney in Chicago plans to change how it handles low-level drug offenses, which will include the dismissal of future misdemeanor marijuana cases, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Misdemeanor marijuana cases for possession of small amounts of the drug, which totaled 15,000 cases last year, will be dismissed for those with less than three arrests or citations, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Cook County includes the nation's third-largest city and many surrounding suburbs.

Alvarez plans to discuss the reforms at a news conference on Monday. The primary focus will be a "first of its kind" alternative prosecution program designed for repeat low-level drug offenders that will divert them out of the criminal justice system, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

A program will be designed for non-violent individuals charged with Class 4 felony possession of controlled substances and link repeat offenders with social service agencies for treatment, rather than pursuing criminal penalties, the prosecutor's office said.

Last year, Class 4 felony drug possession cases accounted for 25 percent of all felony cases in Cook County.

The proposal comes as a growing number of U.S. states have relaxed marijuana laws. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, and voters have approved the drug for recreational use in four states and Washington, D.C.

Public opinion has also shifted toward legalizing marijuana in recent years, with nearly half of Americans supporting full legalization, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.

Chicago decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2012, allowing violators to be ticketed instead of arrested if they are caught with 15 grams (.5 ounces) or less.

In supporting the ordinance, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it would free up more police officers to focus on more serious crimes. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Michael Perry)

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to show 15 grams is equal to .5 ounces, not .05 ounces.

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The Execution of Walter Scott

Sun, 2015-04-19 18:59

What needs to happen in the United States before law enforcement officials tell the truth in regards to their training and policies in the area of policing in the African American community? The Caucasian police officers did not just wake up one day and say, "I'm going to join the police force so I can kill some African American men." Walter Scott's death represents a systemic issue with the police training and screening process. Walter Scott should not have been shot and killed. Will this be a landmark case for the country, or will the police officer walk free after more is revealed about the incident?

It seems like unarmed African American males are being shot or killed every day. Walter Scott was executed for what appears to be no reason at all. While people march across the world, the killings continue. A young man was killed in Oklahoma while running without a gun.

You cannot fix a problem if you do not admit to having a problem. The biggest issue is denial and total disregard for the lives of African American males. The president will need to mandate changes in police policies across the nation. Right now, it appears that some local law enforcement agencies need to be overhauled.

Several community leaders and civil rights attorneys are taking on the issue of excessive force. The success rate, however, is very low when it comes to securing a conviction against some of the rogue officers. The majority of people in the United States already agree that the vast majority of police officers are good people. It's always a small percentage of people across the world that commits most of the heinous crimes against other people. This police matter is getting out of control and there appears to be no end in sight.

Rodney King once stated, "can't we all just get along?" during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. His message was well received after several days of looting and mass chaos. It should not take marches and looting to bring an end to this barbaric behavior. Law enforcement officials should admit to wrongdoing. How can you go from riding in a car without any known weapons to being shot down like a dog in the streets? This is exactly what happen to Walter Scott. People are tired and weary from all of the protest, demonstrations, rallies, etc. The United States is a world leader in bringing world peace, but we continue to struggle with peace within the African American community and police. If our elected leaders really worked on a serious plan, then we could make the necessary changes to ensure that innocent African American youth isn't shot down in cold blood.

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Hero Woman Catches Baseball In Beer At Cubs Game, Proceeds To Chug Beer

Sun, 2015-04-19 14:04
Every once in a while, a human comes along who rises above the rest.

One such human was at a Cubs game recently. The woman not only caught a baseball in her beer, but then immediately recognized it was her moment, raising said beer to the sky and then chugging it down.

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H/T Deadspin

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The Most Fitness-Friendly Cities in America

Sat, 2015-04-18 11:22

Photo credit: flickr

Summer is almost here and with it, many people are looking to get in better shape.

Find out now: How much house can I afford?

At SmartAsset, we're all about helping people meet their biggest goals (like retirement and homeownership). That's why we wanted to find the cities that make getting in shape easiest. These are the places with an abundance of personal trainers and fitness coaches, with plenty of yoga studios and climbing walls and lacking in the calorific temptations that can throw a great fitness plan off course.


To find the best places to get in shape we collected data on over 360 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Specifically, we looked at three separate categories of data that affect fitness.

  1. People. Are there people in this city who will help you meet your physical fitness goals? Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we calculated the ratio of fitness professionals to the total workforce. The jobs we considered included fitness trainers, recreational therapists, dietitians, dancers and sports coaches.

  2. Places. Are there businesses in this city that can help you meet your fitness goals? Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we calculated the ratio of fitness-friendly employers to the total number of employers in the city. This included fitness and recreational centers, sporting goods stores and sports and recreation instruction.

  3. Fast Food. How available are unhealthy eating options? Using U.S. Census Bureau data, we calculated the ratio of "limited-service restaurants" to total employers in the metro area. A limited service restaurant does not offer table service; instead one orders from a counter or drive-through window.

We ranked each one of the 369 metro areas in our study according to these three factors. We then scored each city based on its average ranking: A city ranked first in all three categories (highest in people and places and lowest in fast food) would score a perfect 100, while a city ranked last would score a zero.  The results, below, are the most fitness-friendly cities in America.

(Click to enlarge)

1. Boulder, Colorado

On the doorstep of the Rockies, Boulder offers the type of year-round opportunities for recreation that not only make getting in shape easy, but also fun! Throughout the spring, summer and fall, there's plenty of nearby trails and mountains to take care of all your rock climbing, hiking and trail-running needs. Come wintertime, some of the best skiing in the world is just a few hours away.

Not the outdoorsy type? Boulder still has you covered. There are 59 fitness and recreational sports centers in town, and some 630 professional fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. Add to that the high altitude, which make burning calories that much easier, and there's no doubt about it: Boulder is America's most fitness-friendly city.

Heading to college? Try SmartAsset's free student loan calculator.

2. Bellingham, Washington

Located on the Puget Sound, just west of the Cascade Mountains, Bellingham offers easy access to great kayaking, canoeing, mountain climbing, skiing and cycling. In fact, once a year, fitness-minded people from across the country gather in Washington state's Whatcom county for the annual Ski-to-Sea race and festival, a multi-leg team relay that begins on the snowy slopes of Mount Baker and ends in Bellingham Bay. Competitors ski, cycle, run, paddle and mountain-bike their way toward the finish line over the course of three to eight grueling hours.

If that sounds a little too extreme for you, Bellingham has plenty of other fitness options to keep you going. The Bellingham metro area ranked in the top 20 (out of 369) in all three of the categories we examined, and had the 8th highest ratio of fitness professionals to working population of any city in our study.

3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

As one of just three metropolitan areas east of the Mississippi to crack the top ten, the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area is easily the most fitness-friendly metro on the East Coast. Ranking second both for its proportion of fitness professionals and for its concentration of fitness facilities, Bridgeport may have fared even better if not a marginally higher number of fast food joints. It ranked 42nd overall in that category. Nonetheless, people living in the area should have plenty of opportunities to get or stay in shape in 2015.

4. Missoula, Montana

At the confluence of the Clark Fork River, the Bitterroot River and the Blackfoot River, and surrounded by multiple mountain ranges (including the Rattlesnake Mountains and the Bitterroot Mountains), Missoula provides visitors and residents alike plenty of excuses to stay active. Along with activities like mountain biking and rock-climbing, the Missoula Valley has some of the best fly-fishing in the world: the area was immortalized in the 1976 fly-fishing novella "A River Runs Through It," which later became a feature film starring Brad Pitt.

Although our study did not consider the quality of local fly-fishing opportunities, Missoula rated in the top 20 of each of the three categories we did consider. It had the 13th highest fitness-professionals ratio, and the 16th lowest concentration of fast food restaurants.

Find out now: Is it better to buy or rent?

5. Wenatchee, Washington

As the "Apple Capital of the World," the city of Wenatchee knows something about staying healthy. It's not an apple a day that keeps the doctor away in the Wenatchee Valley, however: It's the easy access to great fitness facilities! Wenatchee ranked 13th out of the 369 cities we examined for its concentration of recreational and sports-related employers. For those who love the outdoors, there are great options right in town. The trail that runs alongside the Columbia River from Wenatchee Confluence Park to Riverfront Park is perfect for walking, running and biking; and the scamper up Saddle Rock is not only great exercise but provides a beautiful view of the entire valley.

6. Bend, Oregon

One of four Pacific Northwest cities to crack the top 10, Bend is known as a haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Bend sits east of the Cascade crest, which means it receives more annual sunshine than its rainier coastal neighbors; that leaves fewer excuses to stay inside on the couch. Bend has the highest metro-area concentration of sporting goods retailers of any city in America, with an incredible 42 stores servicing a metro area of about 150,000 people.

7. Burlington, Vermont

On the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington has earned a "green" reputation. On the whole, residents in the Queen City prefer organic to processed, fresh to frozen, sustainable to wasteful, outdoors to indoors and local to anything else. Our study has done nothing to diminish that reputation. According to our research, Burlington has the 7th lowest concentration of fast-food restaurants of any metro area in America. That, combined with its easy access to two mountain ranges and one beautiful body of water, make it one of the most fitness-friendly cities in America.

8. Charlottesville, Virginia

Like several other of the country's most fitness-friendly cities, the Charlottesville metro area is home to a major university. Having a school like the University of Virginia in town means there are more jobs for fitness coaches, athletic trainers, lifeguards, dietitians, referees and other fitness professionals. While access to the university's recreational facilities is limited to students, faculty and alumni (along with direct family members of all three), there are plenty of other fitness options in the Charlottesville metro area. The area is home to 23 fitness and recreational sports centers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

9. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado

With 280 miles of paved and unpaved trails in the city of Fort Collins alone, the exercise enthusiast should have no trouble finding a place to take a walk or go for a run. But that's just within town. The Fort Collins-Loveland metro area is miles away from the Colorado Front Range, the easternmost edge of the Rockies, where there's more than enough hiking, climbing, skiing and snowboarding to keep you active year round. That may explain why the area ranked 10th out of the 369 cities we examined for its concentration of fitness facilities.

10. Corvallis, Oregon

With 15 fitness and recreation centers, 12 sporting goods stores and six businesses offering sports and recreational instruction, all to serve a metro area of just 85,000 people, Corvallis has the highest concentration of fitness facilities in the country. So if you're looking for a small community that makes living a healthy lifestyle easy, Corvallis may be the perfect place.

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'Chiraq,' Proposed Spike Lee Film Title, Draws Backlash From Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Fri, 2015-04-17 16:42
The title of Spike Lee's upcoming film, 'Chiraq', has drawn some criticism in Chicago.

The proposed project, which is reportedly set to highlight black-on-black gun violence in the city's Englewood neighborhood, has caught the attention of the city’s alderman William Burns and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Needless to say, they're not all that pleased with the film’s title, which is a popular nickname coined by local rappers who compare the city’s crime rates to an Iraqi warzone.

On Wednesday, Emanuel met with Lee at City Hall to discuss the filmmaker's plans to film in the Windy City. "We had an honest, frank conversation," Emanuel said during a press conference. "He said that while the movie is about the neighborhood of Englewood, I was clear that I was not happy about the title.” He added, “I told him also that there are very good people that live in Englewood who are raising their family and there's a lot of positive things that are happening in Englewood mainly driven by the people that make up Englewood."

Burns echoed the Mayor’s sentiments, saying the film’s title is a “slap in the face” to residents who pay their taxes and work to clean up the city’s negative image. “South Siders and West Siders already walk around with a massive chip on their shoulders,” he said during a meeting with the Illinois Film Office. “There’s a sense the media only comes to cover dead bodies and not the positive things that happen every day. And why is this guy from New York coming to do a movie about Chicago?”

While there’s no official word on Lee’s thoughts to reconsider the title, Burns seems to think the city's residents should have a say in the film’s title, given Lee’s recent $3 million film industry tax credit request.

To date, Lee has reportedly courted Kanye West, Common, Jeremy Piven and Samuel L. Jackson to star in “Chiraq,” which will be filmed for Amazon Prime.

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Illinois Tax Policies Can Be Rather Taxing

Fri, 2015-04-17 16:33
April doesn't just bring showers for May flowers. For accountants, this time of year is busier than Christmas as they help folks rush out their tax returns to the IRS.

However, the IRS isn't the only way that the government collects citizen's dollars.

In the U.S. when it comes to being taxed, not all citizens are treated equally. Midwesterners pay varying amounts for anything from cell phone calls to whiskey, all based upon what state they live in.

When comparing Illinois to its neighboring states, here are just a few examples of the different ways that some taxes stack up:

Check out Reboot Illinois to see how Illinois' cell phone taxes and sales taxes compare to its neighboring states and the rest of the country and how Illinois' taxes has changed over the last five years.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: How much did Illinois colleges make in 2014?

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ERA? Not Merely Symbolic

Fri, 2015-04-17 16:31
This may come as a surprise, but women in our country are not guaranteed equal rights under our Constitution. It's as simple as that. Just ask Supreme Court Justice,Antonin Scalia. He confirmed this fact by saying to the California Lawyer in 2011 that "Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't." Granted, other laws of our land prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, but not the document that sets out the principles of who we are as a nation. In 2014, Illinois State Senator Heather Steans (D - Chicago) pushed for the approval of a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and Illinois became the 36th state to ratify the ERA. Now is the time to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Adding the ERA to our Constitution is not a mere symbolic gesture. Telling our sisters, daughters, mothers and friends that they too are equal under the Constitution prevents them from having to rely on piecemeal legislation across state and federal governments for their protection. And the times have changed since the push in the 1970s and 1980s to amend the Constitution to add the ERA. In 1970, nearly half of the women in this country worked in the home. As of 2012, over seventy percent of women are employed outside the home. These women are supporting themselves and their families, and importantly for us all, keeping the American dream alive for our nation.

According to the ERA Coalition, enacting the ERA "will set a norm for equal pay and provide a basis for litigation and legislation to extend the same pay entitlements to men and women." I've cited these glaring statistics so many times, but they are so relevant: women, on the whole, earn just 78 cents on the dollar to comparably employed males. And women of color fare far worse: for black women, it's 64 cents on the dollar, and for Latina women, it's 54 cents on the dollar compared with their white male counterparts. And these inequities persist by impacting women's retirement income when their social security benefits are calculated. We are only hurting ourselves and our future by continuing this practice of pay inequality.

Working to add the ERA to our Constitution will also help focus our country on eliminating the scourge of violence against women. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and not only in April, but in every month, we should be keenly aware of sexual violence as a public health and social justice issue. The recent Rolling Stone debacle notwithstanding, almost each and every one of us knows another woman who has been silenced or shamed from telling her story of victimization. Passing the ERA could require states to meet "[c]onstitutional sex equality standards in the enforcement of their laws against gender violence and expand the federal power to legislate against these crimes," according to the ERA Coalition.

Lean in and lean on your legislators. This is the 21st century and our country needs to join the other eighty percent of countries worldwide that enshrine gender equality in their constitutions. Sit in. Occupy. Whatever it takes to reignite the fight for equal rights for women. Don't let the ERA continue to languish in congressional committees. Let's get this to the States for ratification. Let's get this done together. ERA now.

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Kelsey Higley's 'Manipulated' Shows What It Would Be Like If You Could Mold Your Body Like Clay

Fri, 2015-04-17 15:28
A new video shows one way to make yourself beautiful -- mold your body as though you are made of clay.

Kelsey Higley, a student of Media Art at the University of Oklahoma, created a stop-motion video featuring 126 digitally-altered photos of her body. The result is an eerie video in which Higley appears to reshape herself to fit various ideals of beauty by slimming down her waist and hips, making her breasts bigger and widening her eyes.

Higley's video is part of a larger project called "Manipulated," which includes portraits of women who have been digitally altered to reflect beauty ideals in different time periods.

"The self-portrait video loop works in conjunction with these photographs to depict my own struggle with beauty and how my perceptions change throughout a much shorter period of time," Higley wrote in her project statement.

Higley said that working on the project has helped her love her own body, and be more critical of messages she receives about what beautiful really is.

“It felt very therapeutic editing each photo as my appearance became unrecognizable and less human with every click,” Higley told HelloGiggles. “This project reminds me that these things I categorize as my flaws are what makes me human. And I love that.”

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