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Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

Awake And Lonely At 5 a.m.? Just Call A Boomer

1 hour 42 min ago
Almost half (47 percent) of Baby Boomers rise before 6 a.m. and the very first thing most of them (73 percent) do is check their personal email, according to new research from AOL about people’s morning rituals.

The AOL Morning Rituals study of 1,000 participants didn't delve into why they get up so early -- 42 percent never even hit the snooze button on their alarm -- but we suspect many Boomers may just be eager to end the nightly tossing and turning that comes with aging and plagues that generation.

Millennials, on the other hand, stumble out of bed later: The study found that only 4 percent of Millennials get up before 5 a.m. and 19 percent between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. In fact, Millennials are the latest risers of all; they wake up, on average, at 6:58 a.m. compared to 6:17 a.m. for Generation X and 6:02 a.m. for Boomers.

Denise Brien, senior director of Consumer Analytics & Research at AOL, noted that one in four people (overall) looks at their smartphone before getting out of bed (for Millennials, it’s three in five). "It speaks volumes about how innately attached we are to tech," she said. "It’s the first thing we think to do after opening our eyes!”

The study also asked about morning rituals. More married people -- 46 percent -- ate breakfast regularly during the week, compared to just 41 percent of singles. Boomers feel the most informed in the morning -- 41 percent. And
compared to Millennials, Baby Boomers feel more prepared (37 percent), organized (36 percent), productive (32 percent), and mentally stimulated (26 percent). Millennials, on the other hand feel more tired (26 percent), stressed (13 percent) and lazy (14 percent) than Baby Boomers (tired 10 percent, stressed 5 percent, lazy 3 percent).

A full belly vs. a full inbox? Belly loses. While only around 40 percent of working adults make time for breakfast before heading off to work, 61 percent of full-time employees check their work email in the morning before leaving home.
There’s always time for technology.

Half of us check our social networks before heading out the door in the morning. Millennials are 20 percent more likely to do this than Generation X and 40 percent more likely to do this than Boomers. It's probably because they have so many more social media networks to check. Millennials look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat.

It wasn't just age that set apart people's morning routines. People who live in the Northeast are much more likely to stop on the way to work for coffee. People in the South are the most likely to pray or meditate in the morning (almost half of Southerners say they pray or meditate at least some days throughout the week). Those in the Northeast are the least concerned about their spiritual well-being (at least in the morning); less than one in three prays or meditates during the week. And apparently the early bird gets the workout. Only one in five of us exercises every morning, but the early risers -- those up before 6 a.m. -- are 20 percent more likely to do it than the late risers (those getting up after 8 a.m.).

<i>Class Dismissed</i>: New Indie Documentary On Home Education Receiving Amazing Audience Response

2 hours 6 min ago

A new independent film, now showing in select theaters on the West Coast and making its way to the Midwest and East Coast in November, is currently screening to sold out audiences. Class Dismissed explores the fast growing movement in the U.S. toward home education and learning outside of the traditional confines of a classroom. Produced by 3StoryFilms, the movie follows a homeschooling family from LA who decide to take their two children out of school to pursue learning in a completely different way.

I recently spoke to the film's director and co-producer Jeremy Stuart. Stuart, who produced the film with Dustin Woodard, is himself a homeschooling dad. He talked about the surprising response to the film and what he hopes audiences, viewers, and critics will take away from seeing it:

How did you arrive at the decision to create a documentary about learning outside the classroom?

As my own family began our journey into the world of home education, it became clear to me from the response we got from friends and strangers alike, that many people, despite being dissatisfied with the current educational model, felt they had no choice about their children's education. They weren't aware that they had options and if they did, they had no idea how to begin. Also at that time, there were a couple of documentaries about education that were making the rounds, Waiting for Superman, and Race to Nowhere, both of which I'd seen and both of which I'd been disappointed in for their failure to present alternatives to conventional schooling.

Why was nobody talking about alternatives? Why were people so willing to just go with convention despite it being so clearly broken?  I felt also that there was much misunderstanding in the general public about home education, so I decided to make a documentary about it to challenge their assumptions and to highlight the fact that children who learn outside the classroom can be successful.

You've sold out the last three screenings of Class Dismissed in California, including the premiere in LA. Did you expect this kind of enthusiastic response to the film?

The response to the film so far has been overwhelming and has far exceeded our expectations. We had done a few test screenings early on in the process of editing the film and had received good feedback, but I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from a larger audience. The subject of education in general can be a contentious one and opinions can be polarizing, but the film seems to have hit a nerve among homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike and we're thrilled that the conversation is happening.

What are some of the comments you've received from audience members, questions you've been asked during the post show discussions?

The comments so far have been very positive. If they are already homeschooling many people have commented about how the film offers validation and encouragement to their own journey and experiences. And there have been a number of non-homeschoolers in the audiences who have shared that after seeing the film they are inspired to make the leap. I think the film addresses and answers many of the typical questions that people have about homeschooling and the comments we've been getting seem to reflect that.

You have screenings in Portland and Washington, with a screening in the Chicago area in mid-November. What are your hopes for this film looking into the next few months?

We're going to do as many independent theater screenings as we can logistically and financially manage, but with no big distributor behind us and very limited resources (there's only two of us on the team) we're only going to be able to sustain that method for so long, which is why we have put together a Screener Pack that anyone can buy. The Screener Pack contains a DVD of the film, a guide to hosting a screening in your community, homeschool group, church or even your own home and a Homeschool Resource Guide packed full of information, links and useful resources for those who want to know more about homeschooling options.

We're encouraging people to purchase the Screener Pack, organize their own event and invite friends, relatives and neighbors, especially those who are "homeschool curious". Afterwards they can engage in conversation, answer questions, share their own experiences, and hand out information for those new to home education. The Screener Pack is available for purchase now and will ship in early November.

For those who prefer a big-screen theater experience, they can contact their local theater and arrange a screening providing they can gather enough people to make it profitable. There's nothing like seeing the film on a big screen with a group of people. Here's the link with information about these options.

Additionally we are submitting the film to festivals around the country. We've submitted to five so far and will continue to do so as they become available and if they are an appropriate venue for the film. And finally, the film will be widely available on DVD and as a digital download sometime early next year.

Your documentary features educators, activists and writers who emphasize the unlimited learning potential of education outside the classroom. Do you think that Class Dismissed will help viewers to finally realize that home schooling can be everything but isolating?

Yes, absolutely. I think the film does a good job of dispelling the myths that surround homeschooling and sheds light on various ways to make it viable as an educational and social model. I want the film to stir up dialogue around the topic of home education, persuade people to re-think their notions of what homeschooling is about and to consider other possibilities for learning outside the classroom. I envision Class Dismissed as a wake up call that education has been in crisis for a long time and it's time to confront long-standing assumptions about what it means to be educated in the 21st Century.

After watching the film, I want the audience to feel moved to do something, to find out more about the information presented in the film, and to walk away with their hearts and minds opened to the prospect of new possibilities for themselves and their families.

Here's my favorite quote from one of our recent screening attendees:

Watch out parents of America; this film gives any bullied, unchallenged, misrepresented, creative students all the information to advocate an alternative to a week where they are required to spend 40 hours in desks with an additional 20 dedicated to homework.

View the trailer for the film here:

- Christine

No One Should Have to Go Through the Bullying That I Did

2 hours 9 min ago

No one should ever experience being bullied. It's a cowardly action that unfortunately occurs all too often in our schools. According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I was one of those students being bullied. I would hear constant comments and snickers from students about my height. "Hey, you are taller than my dad and all dads! You are taller than the rest. Why are you so tall? Why aren't you normal?" Those comments bothered me, made me feel small -- made me wonder why I was different than everyone else. Why I was the one being picked on.

Then two things intervened: The game of basketball and most importantly, my older sister Lizzie, who was born without sight, without hearing and with autism and cerebral palsy. Although Lizzie and I could never talk through sight or hearing, we built our relationship through touch, smell and other sensations. Lizzie taught me so much without ever saying a word. Through her triumph over daily struggles, she taught me to be proud of my uniqueness. People will love me for my uniqueness. I should want to be different and distinct and I should even have compassion for the people who bully others -- they are always the ones who have insecurities themselves.

Lizzie gave me perspective and led me to appreciate my gifts of height, strength, determination, skill and talent, which combined with work ethic and opportunity, allowed me to pursue and thrive in a career in the WNBA. It's that success that has provided me a platform to help others. My relationship with Lizzie has inspired me to help create a more inclusive world for everyone -- a world in which no one is bullied. A world in which people who are different from each other including people with intellectual disabilities, are not only accepted for their differences, but celebrated for their uniqueness.

Because of Lizzie, I work tirelessly to promote inclusion and respect for all individuals, especially those with intellectual disabilities and use the power of basketball to inspire change. For the last two years, during my off-season, I have been hosting a basketball skills training camp for girls that include Special Olympics basketball players from the ages of 7 to 18 years old, with the goal to "Play Unified." "Playing Unified" is inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to understanding, acceptance and friendship, breaking down the barriers that exist for people with intellectual disabilities.

Last year I hosted a camp in my home state of Delaware, but this year I am able to reach even more athletes and am traveling across the country with stops in California, Virginia, Delaware, Chicago and Pennsylvania. I have also been very deliberate in making sure my camps are a "safe" and inclusive space for athletes of any race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Working with these young women has been a life-changing experience for me and I know a life-changing experience for them. These athletes are building friendships that will last a lifetime -- these women are learning skills in sport that will serve them in everything they do -- working together, listening to each other, embracing each other's differences. These women are breaking down barriers and are champions of change and real understanding.

This was perfectly illustrated at my camp this last weekend in California. Taylor, a standout player at Archbishop Mitty High School befriended a Special Olympics athlete named Sophia. Sophia had walked in the door not knowing anyone and I'm sure, was nervous about the experience. Taylor, the star who knew everyone, took it upon herself to make sure Sophia always felt included. They partnered on every drill and Taylor encouraged her throughout the day. They quickly developed a special bond and their energy became contagious. The other campers caught on fast and before long, the gym was buzzing with athletes cheering each other on.

Together, through unified play they created an atmosphere of acceptance and one where there was no fear of failure -- and no fear of being different. I walked away feeling so inspired about the impact the experience had, not just on an athlete like Sophia whose confidence has now grown, but on Taylor and her teammates. The leadership and kindness they demonstrated is what we need to make the world a better place for everyone.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Special Olympics in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month this October. To find out more about how Special Olympics is urging the world to #PlayUnified to stop bullying and support inclusion for all, please visit here. Read all posts in the series here.

This Dog Honking A Car Horn Is The Cutest Case Of Road Rage We've Ever Seen

2 hours 19 min ago
When we saw this seemingly annoyed boxer dog honking her owner's car horn back in March, we thought she was just a rare case of a perturbed puppy.

But now that we have stumbled upon yet another pooch laying on the horn, we are certain that this is what dogs do when they have absolutely no patience.

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Top-grossing Horror Movies Made in Illinois

3 hours 22 min ago
According to the Illinois film office, the state's film industry generated record-breaking revenue in 2013 of $358 million, an increase from $184 million from the previous year.

The Illinois film industry is well represented during the Halloween horror movie season. As Halloween approaches, here's a look at the highest-grossing horror movies filmed in Illinois, including how much they made at the U.S. box office, user ratings from the International Movie Database website, and filming locations within Illinois.

The majority of these movies are nothing to write home about-some are pretty awful-but there are a few classics. See if you can recall ever watching any of these freaky flicks.

Check out 7 of the top movies:

13. Munger Road (2011)

On the eve of the annual Scarecrow Festival, two St. Charles police officers search for a return killer the same night four teenagers go missing on Munger Road.

IMDb score: 4.5/10
U.S. Box Office: $266,000
Illinois filming location(s): St. Charles, Bartlett, Elburn, Geneva, Sugar Grove

12. Below (2002)

Strange happenings occur on a WW II submarine.

IMDb score: 6.2/10
U.S. Box Office: $589,000
Illinois filming location(s): Lake Michigan

11. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Based on the true life serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas.

IMDb score: 7.1/10
U.S. Box Office: $610,000
Illinois filming location(s): Northbrook, Downtown Chicago, Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago

10. Soul Survivors (2011)

A co-ed is caught between the world of the living and the dead.

IMDb score: 3.8/10
U.S. Box Office: $3.1 million
Illinois filming location(s): Chicago, Northwestern University, Uptown Theatre in Chicago

9. Poltergeist III (1988)

Carol Anne is staying with her aunt in a highrise building, and the supernatural forces that have haunted her previously follow her there.

IMDb score: 4.5/10
U.S. Box Office: $14.1 million
Illinois filming location(s): Chicago (Francis W. Parker School, John Hancock Center, Water Tower Place)

8. Child's Play 2 (1990)

Chucky's back as the doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer, butchering all who stand in his way of possessing the body of a boy.

IMDb score: 5.6/10
U.S. Box Office: $28.5 million
Illinois filming location(s): Chicago

See the 6 top-highest grossing Illinois horror movies at Reboot Illinois to round out the top 13.

Travel these 10 creepy Illinois roads... if you dare
8 abandoned Illinois sites that could creep you out
Illinois wall of shame: The state's worst designations
131 new taxes on Illinois ballots Nov. 4

Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)

3 hours 44 min ago
What do you give a guy who owns nine homes, made $60 million last year and wants to be governor of Illinois?

I decided to give him the gift of music.

After all, a guy who loves Wrangler jeans and Carhartt coats as much as Bruce Rauner does would probably enjoy blasting a good country song over the stereo in his 20-year-old van.

Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)

Some rich guys buy fancy cars
Some spend their money on old guitars
Some go in for private planes and boats

Well, I like houses -- I own nine
And I drink $6,000 wine
And I'm tryin' hard to buy your November votes

Yeah, my wristwatch cost me eighteen bucks
I wear Carhartt clothes when I hunt for ducks
And I even drive around in a beat-up van

But I'm a straight-up, blood-suckin' billionaire
Who hates payin' taxes for Medicare
And I bank in the Cayman Islands anytime I can

So, Springfield, get out the welcome mat
What this state needs is a plutocrat
A slashin', burnin', union-bustin' guy

I'll hammer and shake that capitol dome
Like it's a grandma stuck in a nursing home
Hey, grandma, it's time to say goodbye

Well, I'm mighty proud of one thing I did
Tryin' to educate my suburban kid
I had Arne Duncan lend me a helping hand

He took my call without hesitatin'
Then my kid got a spot at Walter Payton
And I gave that school 250 grand

I want charter schools in every town
where the kids are poor and black or brown
You know I've even got a school named after me

And I could have sent my own kid there
But I'm a wealthy man, and it's only fair
That her school be largely white and bourgeoisie


Now I know it's become the latest craze
But I try not to talk about marryin' gays
Social issues bring my numbers down

Same is true for reproductive rights
I don't want to pick any needless fights
I'll be a blank slate until I win that crown

I've got my own economic plan
But like HG Wells' "Invisible Man"
The details... well, they're mighty hard to see

And I do my best to avoid the stage
If they want me to talk about the minimum wage
'Cause I'd rather have those people work for free


30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It's An Epidemic

4 hours 26 min ago
The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That's nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.

Women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence with 85 percent of domestic abuse victims being women and 15 percent men. Too many women have been held captive by domestic violence -- whether through physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse or a combination of all three.

We are inundated with news stories about domestic violence , from athletes beating their significant others in public elevators or in their own homes to celebrities publicly abusing their girlfriends. This problem is not one that will go away quickly or quietly.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, discussions about intimate partner abuse its horrible repercussions should not. In an attempt to illustrate the gravity of abuse all genders (but largely women) face in the U.S., we rounded up 30 statistics on domestic violence.

Domestic violence is not a singular incident, it's an insidious problem deeply rooted in our culture -- and these numbers prove that.


The number of women murdered every day by a current or former male partner in the U.S.


The number of women who have experienced physical intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.

American Psychological Association


The number of women in the U.S. who experience physical violence by an intimate partner ever year.


The number of women murdered by men they knew in 2011. Of the 1,509 women, 926 were killed by an intimate parter and 264 of those were killed by an intimate partner during an argument.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The number of women who have been killed by men in domestic violence disputes since 2003.

1 in 4

The number of women who will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.

1 in 7

The number of men who will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.

World Health Organization


The number of days of paid work women lose every year because of the abuse perpetrated against them by current or former male partners. This loss is equivalent to over 32,000 full-time jobs.


The percentage of women in physically abusive relationships who are raped and/or assaulted during the relationship.

Domestic Violence Statistics


The number of mental health care visits due to intimate partner violence every year.


The average cost of emergency care for intimate partner violence related incidents for women. The average cost for men is $387.

American Psychological Association

2 in 5

The number of gay or bisexual men who will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.


The percentage of lesbian women who will experience domestic violence (not necessarily intimate partner violence) in their lifetimes.


The percentage of women who are stalked by a current or former male partner who are also physically abused by that partner.

Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multisite Case Control Study


The percentage of women worldwide who will experience physical and/or sexual abuse by an intimate partner during their lifetimes.


The percentage of financial abuse that occurs in all domestic violence cases. The number one reason domestic violence survivors stay or return to the abusive relationship is because the abuser controls their money supply, leaving them with no financial resources to break free.

University of Minnesota's Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community


The estimated cost of incidents of intimate partner violence perpetrated against women in the U.S. in 1995 alone.


The number of LGBT people murdered by their intimate partners in 2013. Fifty percent of them were people of color. This is the highest documented level of domestic violence homicides in the LGBT community in history.


The amount of times more likely a transgender person of color is to become a victim of intimate partner violence than a non-LGBT person.

National Coalition for the Homelessness


The amount of times more likely a woman is to be murdered in the few weeks after leaving her abusive partner than at any other time in the relationship.


The number of children exposed to domestic violence every year.


The percentage of physical assaults perpetrated against women that are reported to the police annually.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

21 Gorgeous Pumpkins You'll Want To Display Long After Halloween Is Over

4 hours 59 min ago
It's pumpkin mania up in here (and by here, we mean America). And while everyone is decorating their homes with Jack O'Lanterns and other Halloween pumpkin regalia, what about all the other pumpkins that want to shine beyond October 31st?

Pumpkins can be a beautiful accent to any home during fall and they don't have to look scary. Here are 21 Pinterest-inspired pumpkins you can make to carry you all the way through Thanksgiving.


Have something to say? Check out HuffPost Home on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.


Are you an architect, designer or blogger and would like to get your work seen on HuffPost Home? Reach out to us at with the subject line "Project submission." (All PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)

The Small Item That's Changing Rides For Cyclists Everywhere

5 hours 14 min ago
It’s been three years since a driver plowed into Megan Odett and her one-year-old son in a Washington, D.C. street, and even now, she can’t fully straighten her leg.

“They never caught the person who left me lying in the crosswalk, curled up around my son,” Odett, 35, told The Huffington Post by phone last week.

The three witnesses to the crash couldn’t agree on the driver’s license plate number, so no one was ever prosecuted. Though Odett was on foot when she was hit, she normally travels with her children on a 100-pound cargo bike. After several close calls cycling, the crosswalk crash was the final straw that prompted her to wear a GoPro camera on her rides.

“I didn’t have any faith if that were to happen to me again, the person responsible would be brought to justice and kept off the road,” said Odette, the force behind Kidical Mass D.C., a group that promotes safe family biking.

Odette is just one of many cyclists turning to a "black box:" an impact-resistant, mountable camera that records footage during a ride. The small, hi-res cameras could serve as a deterrent for motorists who may otherwise drive recklessly or harass bikers. More commonly, though, they’re a form of insurance for bikers who can provide footage for police after a crash.

In 2012, the most recent year with full data, 726 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle-involved crashes, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety administration. Even when they’re not fatal, bike crashes can become financial and legal catastrophes, said Chicago-based personal injury lawyer Brendan Kevenides, whose firm specializes in bicycle advocacy.

Such incidents add up: according to the NHTSA data, some 49,000 cyclists were injured in crashes with cars in 2012.

Kevenides told The Huffington Post that having a point-of-view camera is especially helpful in cases of hit-and-runs, since the proximity to the vehicle as well as the image and audio quality are better than that of red light and surveillance cameras. In other cases, the camera is an impartial observer that can help determine which party was at fault.

"What the driver says happened and what the cyclist says has happened can help break that tie," Kevenides said. If it’s the cyclist who’s at fault, Kevenides added that “a video a lot of times will prevent the hassle of going to trial.”

The video holds up well in court as long as a biker gets on the stand and testifies that the film clearly and accurately depicts what happened, according to Kevenides.

"[Point-of-view] cameras are invaluable for legal purposes,” he said.

The market is already reacting accordingly. In February, Australian entrepreneurs launched the Fly6, a combination rear bike light and audio/visual camera specifically designed to record drivers behind a cyclist who may rear-end, cut off or unsafely pass a biker.

Australian cyclist Paul Ludlow was able to use the Fly6 footage below to turn the tide on an investigation in which police initially believed the account of the driver who allegedly cut Ludlow off.

“[The camera] proved everything,” Ludlow told HuffPost via email. “The police then advised me that they were going to charge the driver as he had failed to give way to an oncoming vehicle.”

Kevenides said it’s a shame to put the onus on cyclists to defensively record potential violations against them, and he hopes the cameras ultimately function as deterrents.

“When drivers become more aware that people are using cameras, they’ll be more careful — if for no other reason that they’re likely to get caught,” Kevenides said.

Dina Driscoll agrees. A 30-year-old Philadelphian who bikes with her kids, she wears her camera mounted to her helmet.

“It’s the most visible to drivers,” Driscoll explained, saying it's had a positive impact for her. “I point to it sometimes if a driver is being really aggressive, [as if to say] ‘Hey, I notice you.’”

7 Reasons To Be Proud Of Being A Night Owl

5 hours 20 min ago
It's been said that early birds get the worm, but night owls also reap a whole lot of benefits just by being who they are. And it's time they got some praise.

Please don't get us wrong: We are definitely sleep advocates. And it is very important for you to make sure that you get the right amount of sleep (seven to nine hours for the average adult) every single day in order to stay healthy. This is not permission to stay up late and skimp on sleep. But if your lifestyle can allow for a later wake time, you might feel inclined to stay up a bit later, too.

While there has been a lot of praise for being a morning person (those health benefits are real and very good), there hasn't been much to tout the perks of being someone who works best at night. Behold -- an ode to those who love to burn the midnight oil.

1. Night owls might have a higher IQ.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary scientist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, found a connection between intelligence and adaptive behaviors that are "evolutionarily novel" -- meaning they deviate from what our ancestors did. He wrote that "routine nocturnal activities were probably rare in the ancestral environment and are thus evolutionarily novel." The study concluded that "More intelligent children are more likely to grow up to be nocturnal adults who go to bed late and wake up late on both weekdays and weekends."

Yet, while night owls may have a higher IQ, those who wake up in the morning may be in a better position for success. Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, asked 367 students about the time of day they felt most active. Randler found that "a higher percentage of the morning people agreed with statements that indicate proactivity."

2. They also benefit from having "night strength."

Night owls may have a physical advantage over early birds. Researchers at the University of Alberta tested the leg strength of nine morning people and nine night people and found that the early birds' strength remained consistent throughout the day, but night owls' strength peaked to higher levels at night. Olle Lagerquist, the co-author of the study, told CNN that the reason for this may be because at around 9 p.m., evening types "show increased motor cortex and spinal cord excitability."

3. People who work at night appear to be more creative.

Researchers from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan found that night people are more likely to develop original and creative solutions to problems than morning people. Marina Giampietro, the lead author of the study, hypothesizes that night owls might be more creative because staying up late "may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions.”

4. Night owls score higher on general intelligence tests.

Researchers at the University of Madrid released a study last year that looked at the sleeping patterns of 1,000 teens. The study found that night owls scored higher on inductive reasons tests, which is related to general intelligence, than their morning bird counterparts. But, the same study also found that morning birds get better grades.

5. They're in good company. After all, even the president of the United States is a night owl.

In 2009, President Obama told Newsweek that he likes to stay up late and says that even when he’s done working, he stays up even later reading.

I'm a night owl. My usual day [is]: I work out in the morning; I get to the office around 9, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; work till about 6:30 p.m.; have dinner with the family, hang out with the kids and put them to bed about 8:30 p.m. And then I'll probably read briefing papers or do paperwork or write stuff until about 11:30 p.m., and then I usually have about a half hour to read before I go to bed … about midnight, 12:30 a.m. -- sometimes a little later.

6. Night owls can remain mentally alert for more hours after waking up than early birds.

A 2009 study by the University of Liege in Belgium monitored 15 “extreme night owls” and 16 “extreme early birds” and had participants stay on their normal sleeping schedules. Researchers measured their brain activity after participants first woke up, and then once again 10.5 hours later. The study found that participants scored similarly on the first test, but that "10.5 hours after waking up, the early birds had lower activity in brain regions linked to attention and the circadian master clock, compared to night owls."

7. There's a group called "The Night Owl Society" dedicated to creative designers who stay up at night.

Von Glitschka, an illustrative designer, says he created "The Night Owl Society" after working for 12 years as a "creative hired gun" for agencies across the globe and noticing that he, and many other designers like him, work so much better at night. "I enjoy the solace and the interrupted aspect of working late at night," Glitschka wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "I know many other creatives like me, and this was an excuse to share our work online through a Facebook group and recognize each other."

The society's manifesto on Glitschka's website sums up who they are pretty aptly:

Our nocturnal tribe soars at midnight. We are the night owls -– whose pixels, presses, polygons and projects flourish best under obsidian skies.

Fellow night owls can sign up for a membership, and upon being inducted, will receive a "Night Owl Creative Pack" that includes a sketch pad, a set of keyboard characters and a membership certificate among other items. They will also get access to "The Night Owl Society" Facebook page.

All images courtesy of Getty unless otherwise indicated.

12 Of The Sketchiest Things The DEA Has Done While Waging The War On Drugs

6 hours 2 min ago
This is part one of a two-part series.

The Drug Enforcement Administration was established under the Justice Department in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. Its mission was to keep the nation off and away from drugs, which, at least according to the White House, were a moral evil and catalyst of criminal behavior. The agency was formed just two years after Nixon launched what became known as the "war on drugs." Congress and the rest of the nation remained convinced that the scourge of narcotics and drug abusers -- and perhaps particularly those who were young, poor or black -- was pounding at the gates. Over the next four decades, with most drug policy now firmly in the grips of law enforcement officials, the DEA's annual budget saw a fortyfold increase, going from a paltry $75 million to nearly $3 billion in 2014.

With more than 11,000 employees and a host of responsibilities, the agency's activity has expanded worldwide, all the while attracting scrutiny from critics of the drug war who contend that the DEA is an ineffective agency that uses controversial tools to enforce often misguided or unjust federal drug laws.

The catalog of controversies below helps explain why the public has often questioned the DEA's priorities, as well as the methods it employs to advance them. While the DEA does its best to keep many of its dealings out of the public eye -- it regularly claims secrecy is imperative to the success of its anti-drug operations -- here are some of the most sketchy, messed up things that we know it has done:

The DEA claimed Prohibition was a success.

Most historians believe the "noble experiment" of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s backfired, creating a myriad of negative unintended consequences and serving as a lesson about the hazards of governing public morals. The DEA, however, tells a different story. In 2010, the DEA and the International Association of Chiefs of Police released a report providing key arguments against drug legalization. In one passage, first highlighted by the Republic Report, the report set out to combat what it called the "myth" that "prohibition didn’t work in the 20’s and it doesn’t work now." Its main argument was that the 18th Amendment didn't go far enough to restrict the manufacturing and consumption of alcohol at the onset of Prohibition.

Citing figures that suggest there was a decline in alcohol use during that 13-year period -- statistics that are regularly contested and impossible to verify -- the document argues that Prohibition was a successful policy. The report also downplayed the secondary effects of banning alcohol, such as the precipitous rise of organized crime, at one point suggesting that those effects were increasing before the enactment of Prohibition.

A sample of the DEA's report.

Unsurprisingly, the report made no mention of the clear negative parallels between early-20th century Prohibition laws and today's laws that target drugs. In both cases, strict prohibition has taken away resources from treatment for addiction and abuse, overburdened court systems and jails, fostered corruption in law enforcement, propped up organized crime and even, some argue, created a damaging disrespect for the rule of law. In return, these incredibly costly enforcement experiments have largely failed to actually limit people's consumptive habits.

The DEA imprisoned an innocent suspect in a holding cell for five days without food or water.

In 2012, 24-year-old Daniel Chong was detained by DEA agents in San Diego after his friend's house was targeted by a drug raid. Chong was told there were no plans to charge him and that he'd be released the same day. But he wasn't released, and agents who heard or saw him over the next five days did nothing, each believing he was somebody else's responsibility. Chong was trapped in a windowless 5-by-10 enclosure without food or water, all for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he was finally discovered, he was incoherent and required medical attention. He said he'd drank his own urine to survive, and at one point attempted suicide. At some point, Chong began to carve "sorry mom" into his arm with broken glass from his eyeglasses, which he ate before being released.

Chong, seen during an interview with NBC San Diego in 2012.

The ordeal ultimately ended in a $4.1 million settlement for Chong. Shortly thereafter, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General released a report excoriating top DEA officials not only for the incident itself, but also for failing to immediately report it to their office.

A DEA agent shot himself in a classroom full of children.

Anyone who's spent too much time watching viral videos is familiar with this one:

In April 2004, DEA agent Lee Paige was giving a gun safety demonstration to a classroom full of children when he delivered this now-famous line: "I am the only one in the room professional enough, that I know of, to carry this Glock 40." Moments later, he shot himself in the foot. Rather than take the embarrassing incident in stride (or limp?), Paige eventually sued the DEA, claiming the agency had released the video footage of him. After a prolonged legal battle, he lost the suit.

DEA agents have lost their guns in weird places, including an airport bathroom.

At least Paige knew where his gun was when he shot his foot. An ABC News report in 2008 found that the DEA lost 91 weapons from 2002 to 2007, often in humiliating, or at least seemingly implausible, fashion. Guns were left in supermarkets, at bars, or on top of vehicles; they were stolen from hotel rooms and purses. One "may have fallen into trash basket at work," according to the report. Fighting the war on drugs is apparently not always very precise work.

In 2012, the lapses turned downright dangerous when one DEA agent left his loaded Glock in a crowded airport bathroom beyond the security checkpoint.

A DEA agent left important case documents lying around a suspect's house.

By now we know the DEA has had trouble keeping track of its weapons, and apparently that carelessness also can occasionally extend to physical evidence in the cases it's pursuing. According to a report in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner earlier this month, an agent accidentally left key documents about a methamphetamine case in the house of a suspect he was arresting. Later, the suspect's father (who was also a suspect in the drug raid) found the documents, which contained information about a confidential DEA informant who had helped build the case. The father angrily contacted the informant, according to reports, and the confrontation eventually led to the father's arrest as well.

While a DEA spokeswoman has since said that the agency is dedicated to its undercover source's "safety and wellbeing," it's obvious that the original agent's negligence put the informant in needless danger.

A DEA agent impersonated a woman by creating a fake Facebook profile in her name.

Earlier this month, BuzzFeed reported on the case of Sondra Arquiett, a 28-year-old New York woman who recently sued the DEA in federal court after an agent impersonated her on Facebook. The agent created an entire fake profile purporting to belong to Arquiett, using personal information and pictures taken from her cell phone following Arquiett's arrest in a cocaine case. He even posted status updates and pictures of her and her children.

The Justice Department defended the sting, through which agents reportedly hoped to extract incriminating information from friends of Arquiett who might be involved with drugs. The Facebook page was eventually taken down, and the Justice Department announced that it was reviewing the tactics. Facebook later told the DEA to stop violating its policies with this bizarre scheme.

Corrupt DEA agents made millions off the drugs they were supposed to be taking off the street.

Giving anybody access to drugs worth millions of dollars can pose problems. But when those same people have spent years familiarizing themselves with networks that know how to turn drugs into profit, there's a clear potential for abuse.

DEA corruption was particularly rampant in the late 1980s. Much of this corruption was run-of-the-mill, such as DEA agents ripping off dealers for cash and drugs, which went largely unreported. But a number of more flamboyant scandals also surfaced, damaging the reputation of the agency.

In one notorious case, DEA agents were caught stealing drugs from the agency's evidence vault. The agents gave the drugs to an informant, who sold them and sent at least $1 million in profits to the agents over five years. Later, the same agents, who reportedly spent this dirty money lavishly, also confessed to stealing bundles of cash from drug busts.

Another case from two decades ago suggests that DEA corruption hasn't always been so blatant. In an undercover money-laundering operation in the 1990s that targeted narco-traffickers in Colombia, corrupt DEA operatives were regularly skimming cash from the pool of money they were supposed to be laundering, according to former agents with knowledge of the case. The agents' actions nearly got an informant killed, according to reports. One agent was found guilty of pocketing $700,000 during the operation and sentenced to two years in jail. He was the only person prosecuted as a result of the failed sting. Bill Conroy of the Narcosphere recently reported that $20 million is still unaccounted for in the case, which remains unresolved.

The DEA has terrorized and killed innocent people.

In 2003, 14-year-old Ashley Villarreal was shot in the head by a DEA agent while driving just blocks away from her San Antonio home. Agents who had been staking out the Villarreal household mistakenly believed the person in the car with the teen was her father, whom they suspected of dealing cocaine. Two days later, Villareal died. A few days after the shooting, Villareal's father was arrested on drug conspiracy charges.

The agents never faced charges in the teen's death, even though testimony from witnesses and subsequent reports conflicted with official accounts of the incident. The details of this case are painful to read, but perhaps most upsetting is the fact that they aren't necessarily unique.

Pallbearers carry the casket of Ashley Villarreal following a funeral service. Villarreal, the daughter of a drug suspect, was shot and killed by federal agents. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Indeed, Villareal's case is an extreme example of what has become a trend of concerning incidents. As the DEA and other law enforcement agencies have ramped up their use of no-knock raids over the past 25 years, a pattern of disturbing behavior has emerged, with mistakes leading to the injuries and deaths of both civilians and law enforcement. Other times, the damage isn't physical. During a DEA raid in 2007, agents forced their way into a mobile home in California, allegedly shouting obscenities and pointing their guns at the heads of the 11- and 14-year-old girls asleep in the home. The girls were later handcuffed. A few hours later, agents realized they'd ransacked the wrong home. The family later filed a lawsuit claiming the DEA's actions constituted "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

The agency has even killed people on foreign soil.

DEA agents working with local authorities on a Honduran anti-drug mission shot and killed smuggling suspects in two separate incidents over the course of a few weeks in 2012. In both cases, officials claimed the suspects were armed and refusing to surrender, but the episodes nonetheless underscored emerging concerns about the DEA's respect for Honduran sovereignty.

Those killings came just a month after DEA agents took part in an anti-smuggling operation that led to the deaths of four innocent Hondurans, including a pregnant woman. Honduran police initially called the mission a success, but an investigation by journalists and human rights activists later revealed the truth -- the victims of the anti-drug operation that night were on a boat entirely unconnected to the supposed smuggling activity. U.S. officials defended the DEA's involvement, claiming agents didn't fire any rounds during the mission, but the incident sparked aggressive local protests calling for the DEA to leave the area.

Members of Congress later called for a further investigation into the episode and, specifically, the role DEA agents played. But the DEA declined to open an investigation. Months later, reports suggested the agency had not cooperated with local authorities investigating the incident, which led Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) to ask earlier this year: "Could U.S. agents engaged in the 'war on drugs' abroad operate without any sort of accountability?"

The DEA raided a woman's house because she'd shopped at a garden store.

In 2013, agents raided the Illinois home of Angela Kirking after a trip to a garden store led the DEA to flag her as a potential marijuana grower. Kirking said she'd only purchased fertilizer for her hibiscus plant, but this was enough to get her caught up in an operation that involved monitoring garden stores in search of suspects who might be cultivating marijuana.

The DEA obtained a warrant to investigate Kirking, tracking her electricity consumption and digging through her trash to find a small quantity of marijuana stems. That was apparently enough to authorize a raid. When agents stormed into Kirking's house, they found a small baggie of weed, enough only for a misdemeanor charge.

The DEA once tried to ban pacifiers and glow sticks, claiming they were "drug paraphernalia."

In a prime example of the extreme lengths to which the DEA can go to combat drug use, the agency attempted in 2001 to ban popular symbols of rave culture at a prominent New Orleans club that had become associated with Ecstasy. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint, arguing that items such as masks, glow sticks and pacifiers were not "drug paraphernalia" as the DEA claimed, because they played no part in the actual ingestion of any drugs. A federal judge ultimately barred the DEA from enacting such restrictions, finding that "the government cannot ban inherently legal objects that are used in expressive communication because a few people use the same legal item to enhance the effects of an illegal substance."

The agency is so unwilling to reconsider some of its outdated policies that the DEA chief once refused to acknowledge that marijuana is less harmful than crack and heroin.

For all of the sketchy things the DEA has done while waging the drug war, perhaps most upsetting to critics is the agency's often stubborn insistence that the war should be fought with the same aggressiveness on all fronts.

Earlier this year, the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group dedicated to drug law reform, issued a report showing how the DEA has systematically rejected scientific evidence in order to maintain current prohibitive drug scheduling laws. The report cited a number of cases in which the DEA has undermined, ignored or circumvented research suggesting that marijuana and MDMA, or Ecstasy, don't belong in DEA's Schedule I, a category for substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse or severe psychological or physical dependence.

The agency's unwillingness to reconsider its policies in the face of countervailing scientific evidence was perhaps best demonstrated when DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart testified before Congress in June 2012. In her testimony, Leonhart refused to answer the seemingly straightforward and obvious question of whether heroin or crack are worse for a person's health than marijuana. State and local governments are increasingly acknowledging through policy shifts that marijuana is less harmful than those more potent drugs. But the DEA has insisted on treating marijuana with equal severity. Admitting that it is, in fact, less harmful could have been especially awkward for Leonhart, considering the DEA at the time was in the midst of an aggressive crackdown on medical marijuana facilities.

Raids on legal marijuana facilities have slowed in recent years, and Leonhart's stance on the drug war has appeared increasingly at odds with the more progressive views of Attorney General Eric Holder. Still, the DEA chief recently suggested that the push toward legalization only drives the agency to "fight harder."

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart takes part in a news conference at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The DEA again showed its rigidity in the drug war earlier this year when Kentucky legalized the cultivation of hemp, a plant that is related to cannabis but lacks the psychoactive ingredient that produces a high. With Kentucky expecting a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds from Italy, the DEA stepped in, impounding the shipment and claiming the importation was still illegal because under current federal drug law, both hemp and cannabis are considered Schedule I substances. After a brief legal battle, the DEA released the shipment.

Be sure to check back soon for part two of this story.

Still They Rise Against the Machine

Wed, 2014-10-22 20:29
For the last 15 years, Chicago's Rise Against has been bringing a fury and thunder to punk and rock and roll. This past year, the band released seventh album, The Black Market to critical and commercial acclaim and scored their second No. 1 Billboard Top Rock record. With their relentless touring schedule, Rise Against show no signs of stopping and prove that like a fine wine, they are getting better with age. I spoke with singer Tim McIlrath about their history, work ethic, new album, and the responsibility a socially aware band has to their audience.

Rise Against have been going strong since 1999 and have seen all aspects of the music industry, as you get older, what advice would you give for someone wanting to start a band today?

The business of music was the furthest thing from my mind when I started writing and playing music with my friends. Focus on your music and your band and who you are, the industry is a moving target that changes every year.

What did you do on The Black Market that you haven't done before?

We really tweaked the guitar tones and some of the themes on the record. We used a program to help us use more of the analog signals, an amp called the Kemper which houses many different amplifiers in one, and we used bridge called the Evertune that helps keep our guitars in tune, which freed up a lot of time to be more creative and worry less about the technical aspects. All of those are kind of nerdy musician things, but they helped us make the record the best it could be.

The band has had a revolving door of musicians over the years, how do the line-up changes affect the band's style and sound?

A new band member can bring new energy into the band and breathe new life into something. When you remove the elephant in the room, you change the dynamic and open up new channels that then affects the creative process. The songwriting has always been predominantly Joe and I, and the lyrics have always come from me, so that signature has always been there, but nobody plays guitar like Zach and nobody plays drums like Brandon. We all help arrange the songs and find their flow.

The Black Market is one of the few Rise Against records where the same line-up has appeared on the last three albums. How is the relationship within everyone in the band?

We're firing on all pistons and having a lot of fun out here.

You have said that making The Black Market you didn't have a lot of the lyrics written yet as the music was coming in. Has this been a normal practice for the band in the past?

That's pretty normal for me. I used to write a lot more before the music but now I let the music come first and get a feel for the song and the mood and that helps shape the content. This record evolved as we made it and I wanted to capture that evolution.

One of the many things I have loved about this band is how you shift from bone crunching, loud, intense guitars and drums to the acoustic records where, in many ways, weighs just as heavy on the listener. Has the band ever toyed around with the idea of making an all acoustic album?

We haven't really considered it but we've never ruled it out either. I just released an acoustic cover of Gun'n'Roses "Civil War" for a compilation called This Concerns Everyone, where each artist covered a protest song using one instrument and their phone.

Seven albums in, which record means the most to you and why?

The Black Market is really important to me because it looks inward a lot, instead of outward like we have in the past.

Political activism and social stances have always been at the forefront of Rise Against, yet, in a day and age of social media, it seems as if less and less artists are lacking the balls to say what they feel out loud. However, you still stay true to who you are. Why do you think we are seeing a decline in artists like yourself?

The artists that speak about ideas of change and awareness are out there if you look hard enough. Music has become very careerist and a bit like a pyramid scheme that focuses on success, and the rules tell us that taking stances alienates audiences. We never really cared about that, though we also never thought we'd still be here standing this many years later. We're proof that you can speak your mind and still reach wide audiences.

As we speak, Ferguson, Missouri, which is not that far from where Rise Against comes from is on fire. What is your take on that situation?

Violent police reactions to containable situations in low income neighborhoods is far too prevalent in this day and age. Racism isn't over. Black lives matter. People in power need to be held accountable when they abuse that power.

Your live shows are known for their chaos and intense performances from both you and the fans, what happens as soon as you step off stage and the show is done? How do you unwind from those gigs?

We each have our own ways, but I like to hop in a shower and stay away from the backstage madness for as long as I can before I step back into it. It's a meditative moment, and recuperation, and a transitional thing. A lot of adrenalin and emotions are coursing through you at that time, it takes a long time to come down.

A longer version of this interview appears on Officially A Yuppie

Saba Talks 'ComfortZone' on 'The Interview Show'

Wed, 2014-10-22 18:04
Saba's new mixtape, "ComfortZone," is one of the year's best. Lot of fun to have him on The Interview Show.

Filmed at The Hideout, this summer (Aug. 1, 2014). Next Interview Show is Nov. 7, with Kelly Hogan and more!

Thanks to Ben Chandler, Adam Peindl and Kevin Viol.

Illinois Is Killing Black Opportunity

Wed, 2014-10-22 17:21
Illinois is killing black opportunity

Illinois is home to a vicious cycle that prevents its black residents from reaching their full potential, and too little attention is being paid to the numbers driving it.

For starters, less than half of working-age black adults in Illinois are employed.

Those who can find work make 25 percent less than Illinois' median household income of $56,250. The median household income for black Illinoisans is just $34,815, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey.

But why?

Part of what's driving this disparity in income and employment is the fact that so many in Illinois' black community are trapped in a public education system that is failing to prepare them to succeed.

In the 2011-2012 school year, just 68 percent of black students graduated on time from Illinois' public school system, compared to 82 percent of the total student population.

In Chicago, three out of 10 freshmen at Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, don't graduate on time. In 2009, the Chicago Sun-Times shared results from a report from the City Colleges of Chicago, or CCC, showing that of the more than 2,800 CPS high-school graduates heading straight into CCC, 71 percent needed remedial reading, 81 percent needed remedial English and 94 percent needed remedial math.

This comes with sobering consequences. The dropout-to-prison pipeline is all too real for many Illinoisans. Four in five Illinois prisoners didn't graduate high school; just 8 percent had some undergraduate experience; and only 1.2 percent graduated college.

So not only are black Illinoisans trapped in failing schools, struggling to find employment and making less money when they do find work, but they also make up a majority of the state's prison population.

That's right, a majority. In 2012, Illinois' prison population was 57 percent black, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections' Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report. Conversely, black Illinoisans made up only 13 percent of the state's workforce, according to data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Once someone has a record, it's incredibly difficult to find work. Unfortunately, Illinois prisoners also have a 51.7 percent chance of being back behind bars again within three years.

And not only is it harder for anyone with a criminal record to get hired; it's sometimes impossible for them to strike out on their own. The government can legally refuse to provide certain professional or occupational licenses to anyone with a criminal record.

According to The Crime Report, there are about 57 professions in Illinois from which you can be barred if you have a criminal record. One example exists in the state's barber act. The law reads:

(1) The Department may refuse to issue or renew, and may suspend, revoke, place on probation, reprimand or take any other disciplinary action as the Department may deem proper, including civil penalties not to exceed $500 for each violation, with regard to any license for any one, or any combination, of the following causes:
a. Conviction of any crime under the laws of the United States or any state or territory thereof that is (i) a felony, (ii) a misdemeanor, an essential element of which is dishonesty, or (iii) a crime which is related to the practice of the profession.

The cycle of black poverty in Illinois is real. Bad schools beget dropouts; dropouts and a biased criminal justice system beget criminal records; and criminal records and biased licensing requirements kill opportunity.

Clowns Assaulted Haunted House Visitors With Sex Toys: Lawsuit

Wed, 2014-10-22 16:19
A visitor to an Illinois haunted house is suing the establishment after she says workers dressed as clowns assaulted her and her daughter with sex toys.

Regina Janito, her 17-year-old daughter, and three other minors were walking towards the ticket window of the Massacre Haunted House in Montgomery on the evening of October 11, when two men in clown costumes “confronted” them, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday and obtained by The Smoking Gun.

One clown, identified in the suit as Robert Keller, then allegedly “began to violently poke” the 17-year-old with a purple vibrator “in various parts of her body, including her buttocks.” The other clown, identified only as “John Doe,” then allegedly began to simulate oral sex on a teddy bear that had a sex toy attached to its groin. ‘

As the group screamed and tried to get away from the men, Keller then allegedly yelled threatening statements at the women, including “You know you like it in the butt!”

The group ultimately left without buying any tickets to the haunted house.

Keller, 23, was charged with battery and disorderly conduct earlier this month, WGN reported. While the lawsuit describes the device he allegedly wielded as a “purple sex toy resembling a penis,” WGN refers to it as an “electrical neck massager.”

The FAQ page for the haunted house warns potential patrons not to attend “if you are easily offended.” Chicago Tribune columnist Luis Gomez wrote that during his visit to the attraction, “an actor dressed as a cross-dressing junkie begged me to help him get his fix and revealed the sexual act he was willing to do if I helped him get it.”

Nic Miele, the haunted house’s general manager, said in a statement released Tuesday:

We abide by all regulations, take all allegations of misconduct seriously, and are cooperating with police. All the while, we are committed to continuing our Halloween tradition of fear and fright for many years to come.

The suit is seeking unspecified damages for assault, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the Daily Herald.

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Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Resigns, Says Paper 'No Longer Has The Backs Of Reporters'

Wed, 2014-10-22 16:01
A veteran Chicago Sun-Times reporter has resigned from his job amid speculation that the newspaper bowed to pressure from the campaign of Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner (R), an ex-stakeholder in the paper, to punish the reporter for writing a story the campaign was not happy with.

Dave McKinney, who had served as the paper's Springfield bureau chief and led its Illinois political coverage since 1995, announced his resignation Wednesday via an open letter addressed to Sun-Times chairman Michael Ferro Jr.

Earlier this month, McKinney co-authored a story centered on allegations that Rauner verbally threatened an executive of LeapSource, a company owned by GTCR, Rauner's investment firm. The Rauner campaign has denied the allegations, pointing out that the complaint was dismissed in summary judgement, though the campaign for incumbent Governor Pat Quinn (D) has been using the story in its advertising.

McKinney in his open letter writes that the Rauner campaign tried to block the LeapSource story by suggesting a conflict of interest between the reporter and his wife, Ann Liston, who works as a political consultant. According to McKinney, Sun-Times publisher Jim Kirk responded by defending McKinney and the story, but the reporter was nonetheless pulled from his beat and told to go on leave. McKinney also says Kirk offered up other jobs at the paper that McKinney "considered demotions."

McKinney eventually returned to his position. Soon after, the Sun-Times, which had instituted a policy of no political endorsements in 2012, endorsed Rauner, who was a 10-percent owner of Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC until shortly before he launched his gubernatorial campaign.

Though Kirk has publicly defended McKinney and his story -- as well as the paper's endorsement of Rauner -- the reporter writes that the controversy has "had a chilling effect in the newsroom."

"Readers of the Sun-Times need to be able to trust the paper. They need to know a wall exists between owners and the newsroom to preserve the integrity of what is published. A breach in that wall exists at the Sun-Times," McKinney writes. "While I don’t speak for my colleagues, I’m aware that many share my concern. I’m convinced this newspaper no longer has the backs of reporters like me."

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. -- In response to McKinney's resignation, Kirk said in a statement to Crain's Chicago Business that he "disagree[s] with Dave's questioning the integrity of this newspaper and my role as editor and publisher. I call the shots. While I've been here, our ownership and management have never quashed a story and they have always respected the journalistic integrity of this paper." He also described McKinney as "among the best in our profession" and said he still stands behind the LeapSource story.

Rauner is challenging Gov. Quinn in what has been called one of the nation's most expensive governor races this year.

Pest Company Says Chicago Has the Most Rats of Any City

Wed, 2014-10-22 15:06
Keep an eye out, Chicago. The Windy City was the most rat-infested city in the country in 2013, according to pest-control company Orkin. The company based its rankings on the number of rat-eradication service requests it received in specific cities.

The company says cities can be great homes for our rodent friends because they can thrive with help from human infrastructure -- specifically by eating out of our garbage and taking shelter in our buildings.

From a press release that announced Orkin's rankings:

Fall is a prime time for commensal rodents to actively seek food, water and shelter when temperatures drop and before the winter weather arrives. Each fall, rats and mice invade an estimated 21 million American homes. It only takes a hole the size of a quarter for a rat to squeeze inside, and a hole the size of a dime for mice. Rodents are also known to chew around holes to make them larger, after which they can slip into homes. It is not uncommon for homeowners and businesses to begin spotting rodents beginning in October.

Orkin reminds city-dwellers that besides being gross and annoying, too many rats in an area can also be a health issue. They can carry and spread respiratory and neurological diseases and are the hosts for several types of insects that can carry and spread even more diseases. Plus, they can trigger allergic reactions. Pregnant women and children are at particular risk.

Five of the most infested cities:

1. Chicago

2. Los Angeles

3. Washington, D.C.

4. New York

5. San Francisco

See the five cities that round out the top 10 most-rat-infested cities in the U.S. at Reboot Illinois.

The City of Chicago website says the Chicago species of rat is called the Norway rat-but the species originated in Asia.

The rat has an average life span of six to twelve months. Beginning at the age of two to three months, a female rat can produce four to seven litters per year with each litter containing eight to twelve pups. Females can become impregnated within 48 hours after giving birth. The number, size and survivability of litters produced depends upon the amount of food and shelter available.

They prefer fresh food, but will eat many things such as pet food, dog feces, garbage and plants. If food is scarce, the strongest rats may even eat the weakest and young.

Norway rats prefer to live in burrows in the ground. They are excellent climbers and swimmers and most active at night. They have very hard teeth and can chew through wood and plaster or any other material that is softer than their teeth. They can crawl through holes the size of a quarter, tread water for three days and land unharmed after a five-story fall.

Norway rats live in colonies that have very well defined territories. The strongest colonies get the best places to live.

A rat in an alleyway may be creepy, but a rat in the home is downright icky. Orkin offered some advice about how to prevent and deal with these twitchy pests.

  • Regularly inspect the home - inside and outside - for rodent droppings, rub marks or burrows.

  • Seal all cracks and gaps around utility penetrations larger than 1/4 of an inch, as well as install weather stripping at the bottom of exterior doors.

  • Trim overgrown branches, plants and bushes near the home, and consider keeping a 2-foot barrier between any landscaping and the home.

  • Store all food (including pet food) and garbage properly in sealed containers both indoors and outdoors.

  • Remove all pet bowls after animals are finished eating, and remove pet waste from the lawn promptly.

  • Contact a pest professional for assistance managing rodents, as these pests can be dangerous and difficult to control.

Chicago has also been named the top city for bedbug infestations for two years in a row and general pest infestations by Orkins, according to Crain's Chicago Business. According to Crain's, 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti in March suggested the city use a bait that sterilizes female rats as a way to control the animals.

Chicagoans can call 311 or go online to report a rat infestation.

See which other cities near Chicago are also infested with rats at Reboot Illinois.

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Robert Peace and the Educational Reform Movement

Wed, 2014-10-22 14:52
How can a brilliant man who received a rigorous education at a private school and graduated from Yale University end up living in poverty and shot dead for dealing drugs in Newark? That is the question I grappled with as I read The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs.

There is no question that Rob Peace was brilliant. School was his place to shine. His test scores were always excellent. So he would be the perfect example of what the educational reform movement hopes to accomplish by standardizing education through the Common Core curriculum and making teachers and schools accountable for educating every child, regardless of socioeconomic inequality. Except he wasn't.

As Hobbs explains, there was also Shawn Peace, the name Rob was known by in Newark. In that part of his life, he was the child of a single mother who struggled to provide him with food and safe housing. His father was in jail, convicted of murder. Marijuana, both consuming and selling it, was part of his everyday life. And without the structure of school, he had no idea how to live in a world outside of the one in which he grew up.

Ironically, while I was reading this book, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Alex Kotlowitz, author of There are no Children Here. When this book was published in 1992, I was totally moved by the plight of the two boys and their family in Chicago's Henry Horner housing project. Connections for the Homeless, a local organization that works to provide stable housing for some of the 639 kids in Evanston, Illinois who do not have homes, sponsored the lecture.

Kotlowitz spoke of how inequality, poverty, racism, violence, and hunger make it difficult for kids to benefit from educational opportunities alone. In the 20 plus years since his book was published, things have gotten even worse. Poverty has become an entrenched way of life and the sense of community has unraveled. People no longer trust their neighbors, the culture of meaningful work has vanished, and foreclosed and boarded up homes (18,000 in Chicago since 2011) have degraded neighborhoods. He referenced what Mother Teresa called "the poverty of the spirit."

As I listened, I wondered what had happened to the boys Kotlowitz wrote about in his book, Pharoah and Lafayette. Sadly, the brothers, now 36 and 33, both served time in prison. You can read the full story HERE and HERE. Like Rob Peace, they could not escape the drug culture and violence in which they were raised. Despite having a mother who tried her best and despite Kotlowitz's efforts to help them, their lives assumed the trajectory of their peers.

Kotlowitz and Hobbs discuss the similarities in the stories they told in a review published by Barnes and Noble, Where Empathy is Born. Hobbs shares how his Yale roommate's 2011 death set him on a quest to understand how a brilliant man given so many educational advantages could end up dead from dealing drugs in Newark. While receiving an excellent education opens many opportunities for success in life, sometimes the overriding issues of inequality and poverty prevent people like Rob Peace from living up to their potential.

In his recent post One-Third Of Americans Are In Or Near Poverty, Matt Bruenig points out that the recent census data reveal children are the largest subgroup of the poor in this country. While 15% of Americans live below the poverty line, another 17% are slightly above it and struggling to survive. That's a lot of children in the US who come to school hungry and often lacking the basic necessities of shelter and clothing.

I have often wondered why some people are able to overcome adversity and others are destroyed by it. Several days ago, the actress Viola Davis talked about growing up in poverty.  She was fundraising to combat the extreme hunger she experienced as a child. You can hear her speech HERE. She said, in part:

"I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where the next meal was coming from, and I did everything to get food. I have stolen for food. I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood, who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame."

Somehow, despite her childhood filled with extreme hunger and poverty, she achieved unimaginable success, starring in a television series, appearing in many movies, and nominated for an Academy Award. Unfortunately, Davis is the exception. More often, things end poorly for people like Pharoah, Lafayette, and Rob Peace.

Sports Illustrated's recent cover story, Young, Gifted, and Homeless, also grapples with the issue of the 100,000 youth, public school, and college athletes who do not have homes. They are part of the 1.3 million homeless children enrolled in our schools in 2012-13. That's a 58% increase over the previous 6 years. Can we really expect kids who come to school hungry, who have no place to call home, who have nobody to help with homework to "race to the top"? Can we really expect teachers and schools to overcome these obstacles by preparing these kids for "college and career" without addressing the inequality and poverty their students experience everyday?

I know. The problem is huge and overwhelming. I have no magic answer. Of course, educational opportunities are very important, but I also agree with Connections when the organization points out,

"Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children's concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn."

In 2001, the Act to Leave no Child Behind, proposed by the Children's Defense Fund, was introduced in Congress. Of course, while it sounds similar, this is not at all the same as what passed Congress, No Child Left Behind.  Here are a few of the things left out of the measure that became law:

  • Health care for all uninsured children

  • Head Start for all eligible preschoolers

  • Child care for all eligible children

  • After school youth development programs

  • Tax relief for low-wage working families

  • Nutrition and housing assistance for low-income children

  • Protection of children from abuse and neglect

  • Finding permanent families for vulnerable children and youth

  • Protection of children from gun violence

  • Working to lift all children out of poverty

  • Prevention and intervention to prevent juvenile delinquency

  • Building supportive communities for children and their families

Maybe the educational reformers should check out this list. Perhaps some money spent on these items will go farther to help kids like Rob Peace than funding more high stakes testing of our kids.

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A version of this post originally appeared in ChicagoNow, October 16, 2014

New Chicago Archbishop Won't Live In $14.3 Million Cardinal's Mansion

Wed, 2014-10-22 12:08
Chicago’s incoming Archbishop Blase Cupich is foregoing the archdiocese’s lavish $14.3 million Cardinal’s Mansion for humbler digs.

The Chicago Archdiocese confirmed in a press release Wednesday that Cupich is breaking from the tradition set by his predecessors and has made up his mind to move instead to the rectory at Holy Name Cathedral.

The decision was made, in part, because Cupich expressed a “desire to reside in a place where he could be most effective in serving all the people in the Archdiocese of Chicago.”

The Archbishop also has plans to say daily mass at Holy Name Cathedral, which is the seat of the Chicago archdiocese.

Hailed as “Pope Francis’ American Messenger” after the pontiff tapped him for the top job in Chicago’s archdiocese, Cupich’s decision seems to mirror Francis’ modus operandi. The pope has rejected the opulent Apostolic Palace for a no-frills room in a Vatican City guest house, the Casa Santa Marta.

The North State Parkway mansion rejected by Cupich “has been the home to every archbishop in Chicago since it was built in 1885,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

The historic red brick mansion will be used for official functions and as a guest house, the Chicago Tribune reports. The residence also has 19 chimneys and contains a chapel.

Cupich's track record as a priest and as bishop of Spokane, Washington has won him support among the Catholic Church's progressive wing, according to Religion News Service. The 65-year-old has "steadily staked out positions that align him with Catholics who want the church to engage the world rather than rail against the forces of secularism."

The Archbishop will take over the reigns as leader of Chicago's 2.2 million Catholics on November 18, after an installation ceremony at Holy Name Cathedral.

Illinois Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate explains why she thinks we need new leadership

Wed, 2014-10-22 11:50
With so much focus on Illinois gubernatorial election Nov. 4, it can be easy to forget that Illinois is also in the midst of five other statewide races. Illinois Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Sharon Hansen, who is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis, reminds Illinoisans the othe races also deserve our attention--and she calls for attention to Libertarian candidates specifically.

From Hansen:

I decided to run for office for two reasons. I got sick and tired of telling my so called representatives what I wanted only to be told that essentially that they are smarter than I am. The second reason is that our country is rapidly going down the tubes and I believe we need citizen legislators who are not interested in a life in politics but want to change the direction of our state and country. I am not doing this because it is something I've always wanted to do. To be honest, I hate politics. It stinks. This is something that we all need to do but most won't. I didn't want to do it, but I believe that I must do it. Someone has to and there is no one running for this office that I would vote for except for myself. And, I'm not brimming with self confidence. I just think that my opponents are that bad for the country. I am honest, have no personal agenda, and want to do what is right for the people.

Read the rest of her thoughts at Reboot Illinois.

Politics can be frustrating for many people, not just Libertarian Senate candidates. Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association said there might be corruption issues surrounding waste processing in Cicero, Ill.

From Shaw:

The Better Government Association recently reported that a suburban waste processing company has contributed big bucks to political funds controlled by Cicero's Town President, Larry Dominick.

The firm, Heartland Recycling LLC, is a longtime Cicero contractor that's been paid more than $15 million since Dominick was elected in 2005.

And the whole thing has a bad smell to it.

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