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Healing the Criminal Justice System

Thu, 2015-01-29 17:52
"It'd be really hard to have a higher recidivism rate than we have in Cook County."

Maybe this is the place to start a brief meditation on changing the world, or at least Chicago . . . known to some of its residents as "Chiraq."

The speaker is Elena Qunitana, executive director of the Adler Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, which, in partnership with Roosevelt University's Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, recently completed a study on Cook County's dysfunctional juvenile justice system.

What we're doing isn't working, justice-wise, order-wise, sanity-wise. The state of Illinois is bankrupt and yet its jails are full to bursting, at a cost, per occupant, equal to or greater than the cost of luxury suites at its ritziest hotels. And 90 percent of the teenagers who enter the system come back within three years of their release. This is no surprise: The system is a spiral of entrapment, especially for young men of color.

Why? What's the point of such a costly and ineffective system (if "effectiveness" is measured by bringing positive change rather than by simple self-perpetuation)? Bureaucratic punishment is not the answer to social disorder; instead, it's a major contributor to the disorder, shattering families and communities and branding people for life as permanent wrongdoers -- "ex-felons" -- yet answerable only to its own rules and procedures. It has nothing to do with . . . what's that word again? Oh yeah, healing. Deep in the hidden core of the American system of justice is a determination to dehumanize people, not rescue them.

The problem is that punishment, dehumanization and domination -- us vs. them -- are America's default setting. We're always righteously subduing bad guys, in our movies and in our politics. We're always at war, both internally and externally, and waging it is barely subject to economic restraint. Those who question it do so as individuals; collectively, the system rolls on, no matter the cost to its victims -- who, ultimately, are all of us.

So I was profoundly encouraged to hear about the completion of what is called the Juvenile Justice Needs Assessment Study, the "overarching recommendation" of which, according to the executive summary, is that the juvenile justice system "create a common goal of keeping youth in community."

When I talked with Elena Quintana, she put it a little more bluntly: "We have a moral mandate to keep kids in the community. The gestalt of (the current) system is not about reclaiming you. It's about corralling you because you're seen as unfit. And when you're bounced back, you'll be watched and rearrested.

"Your police officer has more incentive to catch you doing something wrong than to help you do something right."

Here's where the meditation comes in. Calm yourself, inhale, think about the world we're collectively creating every day. What if that world is self-destructing from its own momentum and inertia -- from its commitment to militarized "security" at home and abroad?

Consider this fragment of insanity, one of the challenges the study identifies about the juvenile justice system, as noted in the executive summary: "Many at risk youth who need services were unable to receive them without entering the juvenile justice system."

In other words, kids that are in trouble won't get help of any sort until they're arrested. The cost to young people for extracting assistance from the state is to be branded for life as a felon and caught up permanently in the system.

"We have to deal with gangs, guns and drugs in a real way," Quintana said. "Not by bringing in Robocop, but with preschool, with alternatives to incarceration. Instead of investing in humanizing people, we're investing in dehumanizing people."

Noting that many, many young people have experienced "complex trauma" in their lives, and that so many of the institutions that serve them fail to address this, she said, "We systematically invest all our money in further depriving them. We're colluding in child neglect, if not outright abuse, because we're not investing in types of programs for troubled young people that allows them to flourish."

The amazing thing, she said, is that "there's tremendous agreement about this" among juvenile justice personnel at all levels. "It's not even controversial."

In other words, the current system isn't working and most people who are part of it realize this, but they are not yet, to a significant degree, in community with one another about how to begin changing it.

The system won't be reformed, as far as I can tell. It will only be rebuilt from its core: around the values of healing and prevention and regarding young people, as Quintana put it, as precious -- not as predators. The Juvenile Justice Needs Assessment Study is, I believe, a significant contribution to this rebuilding effort and I will return to its findings in future columns. What it does is begin to solidify and create common cause around a healing-based criminal justice system.

"We heal in community," Quintana said, "We don't heal on an ice floe. We don't heal in solitary confinement."

- - -
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2015 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Here's How Fast The Marijuana Industry Is Growing, In 5 Charts

Thu, 2015-01-29 16:00
The marijuana industry is booming, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down in the near future.

Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States, according to a new report from researchers at The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm based in Oakland, California. In the next two years, a flurry of states are expected to consider the legalization of recreational marijuana. A majority of Americans continue to support full legalization, nationally, and by 2016, it's entirely possible that marijuana could be a wedge issue in the presidential election.

"These are exciting times, and new millionaires and possibly billionaires are about to be made, while simultaneously society will become safer and freer," Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group and publisher of the third edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets, said in the executive summary of the report. "We believe that the development of a responsible, politically engaged, and profitable, legal cannabis industry will hasten the day when not a single adult in the world is punished for this plant."

ArcView surveyed hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana retailers in states where sales are legal, as well as ancillary business operators and independent cultivators of the plant. They also compiled data from state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies in the marijuana industry for a more complete look at the marketplace.

Here's five charts that show just how fast the marijuana industry is growing, courtesy of ArcView Market Research:

1. This map shows how many states have legalized recreational marijuana and are likely to legalize by 2020.

Graph courtesy of ArcView Market Research.

2. This map shows how many states have legalized medical marijuana and which ones are expected to do so by 2016.

Graph courtesy of ArcView Market Research.

3. This chart shows that California has the largest marijuana market. Right now only medical marijuana is legal, but the state is expected to have a recreational legalization measure in 2016. If voters approve it, the industry could quickly double in size.


Graph courtesy of ArcView Market Research.

4. This chart shows the growth states with medium-sized markets have experienced since 2013. In addition, with Oregon, it shows the vast growth that recreational legalization presents a state.
Graph courtesy of ArcView Market Research.

5. This chart shows the growth in marijuana sales since 2011, as well as the projected increased sales trend into 2016.

Graph courtesy of ArcView Market Research.

Scholars in the Trenches: WWII Battle of the Bulge 70th Anniversary December 16, 1944-January 25, 1945

Thu, 2015-01-29 15:54
How many of our fathers, uncles, grandfathers, great-grandfathers fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII seventy years ago?

Let's not forget the war efforts of the distaff side, our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, great-grandmothers.

Vassar classmate Caroline Cleinman's mother, Clara Ofenloch McCormack and Aunt Caroline Ofenloch, for whom she is named, were both First Lieutenants in WWII's Army Nurse Corps on opposite sides of the globe, her mother in the Battle of the Bulge, her aunt in the Philippines.

As 70th anniversary remembrances wind down, the Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Campaign, remains the U.S. Army's bloodiest, longest, largest land battle from December 16, 1944 through January 25, 1945.

Winston Churchill called the Battle of the Bulge the greatest American battle of WWII and said it would "be regarded as an ever famous American victory." The Oxford Guide to WWII, published by Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 40.

Longtime Rochester, New York newspaperman and WWII historian for the 87th Infantry Division Association, Mitchell Kaidy, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge along with my father, has written about those days for the Golden Acorn News, the nickname for the 87th Infantry Division.

Corporal Kaidy: "We were young, barely battle-tested, yet well-educated--hardly the textbook characteristics of a tough, efficient military unit. Exhausted from a bone-numbing 300-mile road march in open trucks from Germany's Saar Valley by way of Rheims, France, on Dec. 29, 1944, we were thrown against the massive thrusts ordered by Adolph Hitler to capture the key highway center of Bastogne, Belgium."

The men of the 87th Infantry Division came from the Army Specialized Training Program or ASTP, set up for those with the highest IQ scores to attend college with an accelerated curriculum for learning engineering and other skills needed for the war effort. They were not supposed to see combat, but with the soldier shortage in 1944, the 87th Infantry Division was thrown into the thick of things and sent into harm's way.

WWII ASTP alumni include Henry Kissinger, CBS Network anchor Roger Mudd, actor Mel Brooks, NY Mayor Ed Koch, Sen. Frank Church. Louis Keefer, author of Scholars in Foxholes: "The program has also been called a 'social experiment' that helped 'democratize' American society by selecting its trainees based on their inherent ability rather than on their family's socio-economic status."

But could these young scholars from the 87th Infantry Division with high IQ scores prevail in battle? That was the question waiting to be answered.

I had the honor of meeting and later becoming friends with Mitchell Kaidy, first at the 87th Infantry Division's reunion in 2006 in Arlington Heights, Illinois and later at its legacy association's reunions for veterans and their sons/daughters in Pittsburgh in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, I attended the reunion with my niece Jacqueline and two of my four brothers, Jan and Jeff, in memory of our father.

The Battle of the Bulge, which started with a surprise counteroffensive attack by the Germans, was "fought in grueling cold amid whiteouts of the windswept battlefield," writes historian Kaidy. Trench foot, frostbite were common among American soldiers, including my dad. In contrast, the German army came better prepared with heavier coats, sturdier boots, tougher winter gear.



Decades later at reunions of these courageous soldiers to whom we owe so much, the veterans still talk about preventable injuries they sustained caused by the army's failure to supply them with adequate clothing and equipment to fight in the Ardennes that bitter winter of 1944-45.

From bitter cold to heavy rains flooding foxholes forcing their abandonment, the low visibility and cloudy conditions prevented the Allies at first from launching air strikes. Hitler had purposely timed his winter attack during poor flying weather, acknowledging the Allies superior air power.

"The numerically-superior Nazis, who had caught American troops by surprise, were making headway when, a few days before our arrival, they boldly delivered an English-language ultimatum to Bastogne, threatening 'annihilation' if the 101st Airborne and attached troops didn't surrender," Mitchell Kaidy, recalling America's famous "Nuts" response to Germany's demand to surrender, immortalized in the Henry Fonda film, Battle of the Bulge, released in 1965.

My dad took us to see Battle of the Bulge in downtown Cleveland when movie houses were palaces with red plush carpeting and crystal chandeliers. Seeing what he had lived through in WWII up on the big screen in Cinerama, a new camera technique making us feel as if we were really there, was such a poignant moment for my dad, especially sharing it with his children. In the closing credits, the film is dedicated to the million who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.



Victories by the 87th Infantry Division in towns outside of Bastogne at Libramont, St. Hubert, Moircy, Pironpre, and Tillet "broke the back" of the German counteroffensive and liberated Bastogne, critically important in winning the Battle of the Bulge, assesses historian Kaidy. Overcoming youth and inexperience, hellish weather, and not enough time to conduct adequate reconnaissance, coupled with the 11th Infantry Division's not being able to coordinate with the 87th as planned, due to the 11th's massive casualties, all this made the 87th's harrowing victories, including hand-to-hand combat in Tillet, even more impressive.

Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton: "While the 11th's armor had stalled, the infantrymen of the 87th were more successful on the Corps' left. On Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and 2, the 87th's infantrymen fought well in snow, sleet, and deepening cold. They accomplished their mission of cutting the highway linking the Germans at St. Hubert with supply sources back in Germany." From Middleton's biography on p. 262, published by Louisiana State University, as related by historian Kaidy.

Gen. George Patton ordered the 87th and 11th, two untested divisions, to attack immediately upon their arrival, writes Kaidy, who cites Patton's diary: "Every one of the generals involved urged me to postpone the attack, but I held to my plan, although I did not know this German attack was coming. Some call it luck, some genius. I call it determination."

The young, inexperienced scholars with high IQ scores, had prevailed despite being far outnumbered by the Germans on the battlefield.



Midway Village Museum's World War II Days. Photo Credit: Lonna Converso

Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois, an hour's drive from Chicago's O'Hare Airport, pays tribute to America's WWII veterans every September with its weekend-long WWII Days, North America's largest WWII re-enactment.

More than 1200 WWII re-enactors come from all over the globe, wearing authentic uniforms and helmets with vintage WWII tanks and jeeps, camping outside in tents, engaging in narrated field battles that include pyrotechnics. Quite the production!

"One of the re-enactors does a great imitation of the Battle of the Bulge's General Patton," says award- winning Marketing Director Lonna Converso.

Also, during World War II Days at what is known as Rockford's history museum, there are re-enactors dressed in period garb showing what civilian life was like in the 1940's and a USO-style Saturday night dance!

My dad, like many of his generation, never talked much about the war. Except when our red-and-white station wagon would careen on Cleveland's icy winter streets or driving through blizzards. Then dad would calm our fears of ending up in a ditch or worse, telling us this was "duck soup" compared with what he went through in WWII. That we'd make it home okay. Unlike our men and women in uniform in harm's way, who don't make it home okay.

So, whenever I see someone in uniform, I make a point of thanking him or her for their service. Whatever the war. Wherever they're stationed. Hope you do, too.

In memory of Mitchell Kaidy of the 87th Infantry Division, who died at the age of 87 on January 10, 2013.

Lonna Saunders may be reached at lonna2@msn.com

Three fun facts from the 2014 Illinois governor's race

Thu, 2015-01-29 14:02
Illinois' 2014 governor's race was a big one for the state--record spending and the first Republican governor elected in 12 years.

We've extracted some more fun facts about the race from a new study from the Paul Simon Institute of Public Policy at Southern Illinois University.

6. Bruce Rauner is far from the biggest spender in a governor's race

Bruce Rauner put more than $27.5 million of his own money into his successful campaign for governor. That's a lot for Illinois, but falls far short of other wealthy candidates in recent elections. eBay CEO Meg Whitman put $114 million of her fortune into a campaign she lost to Democrat Jerry Brown in California's 2010 governor's race. Michael Bloomberg spent $70 million of his own money to win his first term as New York City mayor.

5. The 2011 income tax increase defined the race

When Quinn persuaded his Democratic party colleagues in the House and Senate to pass a 67 percent income tax increase shortly before a new General Assembly was to be sworn in in January 2011, the intent was to address the state's bill backlog. But by making the tax increase temporary and setting it to expire Jan. 1, 2015, Democrats ensured that it would be Issue No. 1 in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

4. Quinn's nominal Democratic primary opponent made his mark

Though Chicago community activist Tio Hardiman was "an unknown candidate from Chicago who had no money, no media, and no campaign staff," he won 30 downstate counties and 28 percent of the vote statewide in the Democratic primary.

Check out three more fun facts from the study at Reboot Illinois, and find out what factor really sealed the deal on Quinn's loss.

Speaking of lists, here's another one: The most interesting things learned in Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis' interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.

1. She is back to work

Lewis took some time off from her CTU presidential duties in October when she first learned she had a brain tumor, she said. She still hasn't taken the reins back fully from CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, but is starting to join such work as negotiating CTU contracts with Chicago Public Schools.

From the Sun-Times:

She also has a new governor to meet, one who likes charter schools more than labor unions, and a new standardized test to fight alongside CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

2. She is campaigning for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for mayor

If she can't run for mayor herself, Garcia is the second-best bet in Lewis' book. She hopes the Cook County Board commissioner can get the votes to overtake Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and is even appearing with him at campaign stops.

From the Sun-Times:

"He's very laid-back because he's getting things done, solving problems, not screaming and hollering at people," she said, with a jab at Emanuel. "And I think people mistake that kindness for weakness."

See the rest of the list at Reboot Illinois to find out how often Lewis has spoken with Mayor Rahm Emanuel since October.

NEXT ARTICLE: How much did Bruce Rauner spend on TV advertising in the 2014 election?

You Can't Unsee How Justin Bieber's Calvin Klein Ad Looked 'Before' Photoshop

Thu, 2015-01-29 13:43
Photoshop: taking celebrity beauty from No. 2 to No. 1.

You sensed something was up with Justin Bieber's Calvin Klein underwear ad. You couldn't put your finger on it, but something smelled off. Well, after some in-depth investigative journalism, we now know the truth.

CollegeHumor doesn't pull any punches in this reverse time-lapse video, revealing Justin Bieber's true identity, obscured by now-infamous photos for Calvin Klein.

Photoshop level: Magic.

'The Nightly Show' Takes On The Koch Brothers' Dark Money ... Or, Rather, 'Old, White Money'

Thu, 2015-01-29 13:11
More like Koch 10 zeroes, amrite?!

With over $40 billion dollars in total assets EACH, the Koch brothers are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to political contributions, especially now that corporations are all living, breathing people and not simply unmarked mailboxes in the Caribbean.

On Wednesday's "Nightly Show," Larry and his guests discuss "dark money," and he doesn't mean his short-lived '80s rap group.

"The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" airs weeknights at 11:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.

3 Things The New England Patriots Need To Do To Win The Super Bowl

Thu, 2015-01-29 10:29
After a disappointing 2-2 start to the season, New England's streak of nine of 10 AFC East crowns and three consecutive trips to the AFC Championship appeared to be in serious jeopardy. Tom Brady, at 37 years old, was playing the worst football of his career, culminating in an embarrassing Monday Night Football road loss to Kansas City. And yet, as Bill Belichick's teams seem to do on an annual basis, they adapted. Now the AFC's top overall seed, the Patriots enter the Super Bowl in fifth gear, amid equal parts success and controversy (see above and below videos). Brady holds an impressive slate of playoff records, including most wins (20), touchdown passes (49) and yards passing (7,017).

Let's take a look at the three most vital elements for success.

PROTECTING TOMMY



When Brady has ample time, he's been called a statue in the pocket. That is what needs to happen against Seattle, a defense that has led the NFL for three straight years (the first time a team has had that run since Minnesota did it in 1971). Part of protecting Brady is quick drops and progressions that result in less time for the defense to generate a pass rush. Brady, for his part, is deftly accurate with such throws, and his 24 "short" touchdowns ranked third in the league, per ESPN The Magazine. Furthermore, the Seahawks were a woeful 27th against the short passing game. Brady, to his benefit, has developed a strong rapport with receivers Julian Edelman (92 catches in the regular season) and free agent acquisition Brandon LaFell, who totaled 74 catches for nearly 1,000 yards). All of this will open the seam for All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has become equally lethal in slant routes inside the 20s. The Seahawks, meanwhile, were the third-worst in the league in terms of touchdowns surrendered to opposing tight ends.

HE'S NO MARSHAWN LYNCH, BUT...



LeGarrette Blount has a similarly bruising running style that can be very effective against aggressive defenses like Seattle's. Blount -- who returned to New England late in the season following a failed experiment with Pittsburgh -- has become as close to a bell-cow runner as one can expect in a Bill Belichick-coached team. Most recently, he gashed Indianapolis in the AFC Championship for 148 yards and three scores. The Seahawks have had great success against the run, thanks in large part to a trio of linebackers that fly to the ball and tackle just about everything. The return of a healthy Bobby Wagner, a first-team All-Pro, has been the impetus to this defense getting back to an elite level. With Wagner on the field, Seattle allows a rushing touchdown every 82 carries, per ESPN The Magazine. But when he's not on the field, that number triples.

Like to Lynch, Blount is not a burner, but a highly patient runner with tremendous feet and vision that wears down defenses in the second half. Six feet tall and 250 lbs., he tends to get stronger as the game progresses. We can talk about Brady and the Pats' quick-strike offense all we want, but balance has been crucial to this offense, and Blount is a key reason why.

STRENGTH VERSUS STRENGTH



One of the most crucial matchups in Super Bowl 49 will be how the Patriots handle the dynamic scrambling ability of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Because he lacks a traditional go-to receiving option, Wilson relies heavily on his feet to both extend plays as a passer and as a runner. In fact, his 849 rushing yards this season not only led the NFL, but ranked sixth all-time in league history for a quarterback. But New England features a slew of athletic linebackers who can really run. Despite the season-ending loss of Jerod Mayo in Week 6, the duo of Dont'a Hightower (drafted in 2012) and Jamie Collins (drafted in 2013 -- and a former draft sleeper of this writer) -- have become arguably as important as the team's stellar duo at cornerback, Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty. Collins (above) led the team with 109 tackles while producing four sacks and four forced fumbles. Hightower finished the regular season second in team tackles with 92, while adding 12 quarterback hits as well. How the two young linebackers read their keys, play assignment football and ultimately disrupt Wilson's timing and comfort level could determine the game.

You can read more of the Schultz Report's Super Bowl coverage right here.



Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure and catch my NBC Sports Radio show, Kup and Schultz, which airs Sunday mornings from 9-12 ET, right here.

Illinois Educational Funding -- Expect Deep Cuts

Thu, 2015-01-29 10:20
Within 24 hours of Governor Bruce Rauner taking office, numerous media outlets reported on his immediate steps to rectify Illinois' dire financial situation. While his first acts as governor weren't earth-shattering, they are more than we've seen in recent years as previous administrations have allowed the state to fall further into debt.

Nonessential spending is now frozen and every executive branch agency must report on every contract and hiring decision made after mid-November. Calling it the "road to fiscal responsibility," Gov. Rauner also is putting a stop to grants and plans to sell excess state property. Click here to read more from the Daily Herald.

These moves already are making waves among politicians who argue the new governor (often criticized for his business approach) is in for a tough time as he learns to play the political game. Unilateral decisions don't work in politics, and overnight change most assuredly won't happen, especially with an Illinois deficit at an estimated $150 billion that has taken decades to grow.

In his speech earlier this month, Gov. Rauner also stressed the importance of education, citing a need to invest in adequate training for future generations. Given that legislators are considering redirecting MAP grant funds and reducing higher education funding by 20 to 30 percent, the state of education funding in Illinois remains unknown. As I have predicted for many years, it is my belief that funding for higher education will continue to evaporate over the next several years and state leaders will focus education solely on K-12. In fact, the last time most institutions have received their full 33 percent of operating funds from the state dates back to the 1980s.

Gov. Rauner has said he's open to extending the five percent personal income tax rate, as expected, but he also has plans to expand Illinois' sales tax base. These are lofty goals for a four-year term. Fixing the situation will require tough, tangible decisions and somewhere along the line cuts -- deep cuts -- should be expected.

With these cuts comes no other option for many institutions but to put the cost of higher education on the backs of students. During President Obama's State of the Union address on January 20, the President mentioned the Federal administration's proposal to offer free community college tuition. The details of the America's College Promise are, at this point, vague. Click here to read an article from Community College Daily.

What we do know is that the program will cost an estimated $60 billion and to participate, states will have to partner with the federal government and pledge to fund 25 percent of this expense. To be eligible for free tuition at a community college, students will have to maintain a 2.5 grade point average and not all college programs will qualify. Not surprisingly, the state funding portion of this proposal is likely to cause problems for a number of states, including Illinois.

Aside from funding, however, there are other concerns. If this program is implemented and community colleges throughout the country see an influx of students, are these campuses equipped to accommodate the growth? College of DuPage already is near capacity at peak hours during the week. We're currently taking steps to construct a new instructional building. We are fortunate enough to be in a financial position to allow for this type of expansion, but many schools are not. How then are they to prepare without additional funding?

I have no doubt that free community college would benefit a large number of students. Community colleges can and do change lives. (Click here for a recent Op/Ed piece written by Tom Hanks on his experience at Chabot College in California.)

Bringing "free college" to the larger national stage, however, is a huge undertaking. It will be interesting to see what the federal budget and state buy-ins reveal in terms of this proposed initiative.

Note: A portion of the following article written by College of DuPage President Dr. Robert L. Breuder was printed in an internal newsletter for COD employees on Jan. 20, 2015.

Rahm Emanuel's Biggest Threat: 'I Like The Idea Of A Fight'

Thu, 2015-01-29 10:13
On Feb. 24, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is up for re-election.

Emanuel has out-fundraised his closest challenger almost 30-to-1 and has benefited from an improved approval rating thanks to a barrage of TV campaign ads, but some still believe the mayor remains vulnerable due to voter anger over the mass closing of some 50 public schools and half the city’s mental health clinics, Chicago's increased shooting rate, and other issues.

Cook County Commissioner and mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is one of the believers.

Garcia entered the race late, declaring his candidacy in late October after fiery Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis suspended her own campaign due to health issues. In fact, it was at Lewis's insistence that Garcia launched his campaign.

In the weeks since that decision, Garcia has built an impressive operation and gained some traction, if not fundraising. Among four candidates to attract more than 5 percent support in the latest major poll on the race, Garcia drew 18 percent of respondents, second only to Emanuel's 42 percent. Twenty percent of Chicago voters remain undecided.

If voter turnout in Chicago mirrors that seen in last November's election, Emanuel's challengers — who also include Alderman Bob Fioretti and entrepreneur Willie Wilson — face an uphill climb to the fifth floor of City Hall. But a two-person run-off, required when no mayoral candidate earns 50 percent of the vote, is possible. In 2011, Emanuel avoided a runoff with 55 percent of the vote.

Garcia, 59, sat down with The Huffington Post to explain why he thinks this time will be different.

The Huffington Post: A Reuters article recently labeled you an “underdog” in this race. What do you make of that title?
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia: I relish the label of an underdog because I believe that’s been sort of a frame from the first time I ran for elected office as ward committeeman when I was 27 years old, and I won that contest by 59 votes. When I ran for state Senate folks thought it was a long shot, but I won it. When I ran for [the county board], after being out of politics after the state Senate, I decided to run five days before the last day to file and I came in and surprised everyone and I beat a 15-year incumbent [Joseph Mario Moreno] in three months, so I’ve done it before.

I’m used to adversarial conditions and coming out a winner. I like the idea of a fight. We’re matched against big money but remember, he’s already spent $5 million trying to inch up to the threshold he needs to get re-elected without a runoff. He’s not going to achieve it.

HP: Karen Lewis said she had to “twist your arm” to convince you to run.
JG: She says that in a jesting manner, a playful manner, just like when I went to visit her after she came home from hospital, I said I wanted to take a picture of her stitches so I could show people that she had had the surgery and that she’s tough and earned some additional stripes of merit. When she popped the question and the challenge that I seriously needed to consider running, I shared with her that I was at a really good place at this time of my life.

HP: Why was the decision so hard and what changed your mind and convinced you to go for it?
JG: First of all, I was cruising unopposed to a re-election effort at the county board and that this was the first time ever in all my 13 outings as a candidate that I ran unopposed. I was looking forward to getting a chance to read books that are stacking up, check out a few movies, walk my dog and enjoy the grandkids, so I‘m like, 'Why are you ruining the party, Karen?' That's what she was getting at, that accepting the challenge was going to entail a huge sacrifice. It was going to be a life changer and it needed careful thought by myself and my family.


Garcia with Karen Lewis, left, at the Chicago Teachers Union's Martin Luther King Jr. clergy breakfast on Jan. 15, 2015. (Facebook)

HP: Still, some people have questioned, given the level of fundraising and the perception of your initial hesitation to run, how serious you are about this campaign. How do you respond to people who question your candidacy like that?
JG: I don’t think they’re looking deeper at my history. I’m not your conventional politician. I’ve been in the trenches, seeking to come up with strategies to improve communities and solve issues in a serious way both as an organizer as a community builder. I’m someone who’s been involved with philanthropy supporting the most effective and impactful organizing groups in the Chicagoland area. As a public official, I haven’t gone the conventional route of Chicago politics. I’ve been a progressive, consistent reformer and coalition builder. I don’t think any elected official has been in more picket lines in labor causes than I have. I think that opinion tends to be superficial.

HP: What do you think is the biggest issue for Chicago voters in this race?
JG: I think people want a mayor who is going to be a real listener and who cares. People feel alienated from Mayor Emanuel. They feel that he thinks he knows all the answers to all things and that there is a sense about him that they don’t share, a quality, and that is the aloofness and the arrogance about knowing more than what Chicagoans know. I think that strikes them very negatively because they’re the Chicagoans. They’ve lived in this city, they know what it’s like to work, to struggle to raise a family, to endure the day in and day out of living in Chicago’s neighborhoods, the good times and the bad times.

People are hurting from the recession. People feel that they’re not progressing, that their incomes have lost ground or stagnated and they also see that a small sector of the city has done fantastically well and they haven’t. They want the prosperity that they see around them to arrive to their household and to their neighborhood and they want a sense of helping to shape the direction the city moves in.

HP: You’ve said you want to hire 1,000 new cops in Chicago. How would you pay for that and how would you deploy them? And how do you respond to those who say the city doesn’t need more police given all the issues with community mistrust in the department?
JG: My proposal to hire additional policemen and women is not simply to have them driving in cars with the sirens and lights flashing, because that doesn’t provide sustainable security for communities. We haven’t had community policing in Chicago. We took one first step with the CAPS [community policing] program and beat meetings that occurred, but we didn’t follow through to create a more robust approach and we need to do that. If we learned anything from Ferguson and New York City, it’s that there’s a great gulf of separation and a lack of trust and mutual respect between residents and police officers and that’s why community policing will help ensure we begin to narrow that. We’ve really gotten away from community policing and it needs to be brought back.

HP: There have been serious questions raised in multiple media outlets about the Chicago Police Department’s crime statistics and accusations that certain numbers are doctored. (Ed. note: CPD has called such reports "absurd," "false, misleading and unsubstantiated," while the outlets have stood by their reporting.)
JG: i think it’s to a good degree representative of the [Emanuel] administration. The police superintendent works at the pleasure of the mayor and there are certain imperatives that come with that. You’ve got to do what the mayor wants says and toe the line. It’s no secret if you talk to police officers, they’ll tell you that there’s a sense that the numbers are not accurate, that they’re fudged and that everything is to get to a re-election of the mayor.

HP: How would you address that level of scrutiny and mistrust in the department?
JG: The Chicago magazine article reported on how crimes are reported or not reported and how one shooting incident where five people shot is reported as one -- it’s killing crime through the lens of how the numbers are arrived at. Officers, because of the use of overtime, are suffering from burnout and a lack of motivation to engage in a different type of policing. They feel understaffed and it creates more fatigue and I think it takes a toll on the quality of patrolling that occurs. It’s not a good time at the police department, I would say.


In this Nov. 24, 2014 file photo, Garcia, second from left, and his wife, Evelyn, give thumbs-up after he turned in his nominating petitions at the Chicago Board of Elections in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

HP: Emanuel is a supporter of a controversial mandatory minimum sentencing state bill [for crimes involving illegal possession of firearms] and has pushed aggressively for it, as has Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Do you back the proposal?
JG: I support strong sentences for individuals who are convicted of using a gun committed in a crime. The sentencing bill he has supported I think continues the thrust of disproportionately incarcerating young people of color and I don’t think that’s good. I think he’s using it to show he’s “tough on crime” but the repercussions for the future are counterproductive. That’s why most of civil rights groups oppose it and that’s why people who have been looking for solutions to improve the quality of life for young people oppose it. It will send more people to jail unnecessarily. This bill is wrong-headed.

HP: When was the last time you spoke with Rahm Emanuel? What did you speak about? [Ed. note: Interview was conducted prior to a Jan. 27 debate hosted by the Chicago Tribune editorial board.]
JG: I bumped into him at a 5k run on a Saturday morning in early November of 2014 in West Englewood and shook his hand. That was the last time that we exchanged any words. We were both cordial.

HP: So, no swearing or anything like that?
JG: Too many people around. [Laughs] And the media.

Interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.

2015 U.S. Best Ranked Cities for Hotels

Thu, 2015-01-29 10:11


You don't have to sacrifice quality in order to pay less for a hotel, and to make sure that you're staying in the best rooms available while still paying the ideal price, hotel search trivago.com has compiled America's Top 50 Cities for quality accommodation. Combining and averaging hotel ratings for every city in America with at least 50 hotel properties, and aggregating hotel ratings from 31 websites, trivago's list of Top 50 Best Ranked Cities for Hotels will help travelers of all types sleep stress-free during their 2015 adventures.



Breaking Down 2015's US Best Ranked Cities for Hotels

Arizona leads the 2015 Best Ranked Cities list with cities in first and third place, but it's Florida that dominates with three cities in the Top 10 and a total of nine in the Top 50.


© Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

2015's Best Ranked city for quality hotels, with an average hotel rating of 84.3%, is a scenic respite from the hectic pace of city life. Sedona's cooler temperature makes it a haven from the rest of Arizona's blistering heat, and lets adventurers hike red rock canyons, slide or wade along Oak Creek in Slide Rock State Park, and explore the surrounding Verde Valley all year long.


© Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

Phoenix (#48) may be in the spotlight as it hosts the Seahawks v. Patriots NFL championship, but it's Scottsdale, Arizona -- an artistic haven just 20 minutes away -- that takes bronze with an average hotel rating of 82.9%.


© Naples Marco Island Everglades CVB

Everything is coming up roses in sunny Florida, as the state nabs a record number of cities on both the Best Ranked Hotels and Best Value Indexes for 2015. Just steps away from the untamed Everglades, Naples takes the number two spot with an overall hotel rating of 83% and boasts chic shopping and a world-class beach.

The palm-lined streets of Key West (#6) follow close behind, with an average hotel rating of 82.7% and an easygoing island culture shaped by Bahamian wreckers and a Cuban heritage -- not to mention a Jimmy Buffet Martaritaville state-of-mind.


© Charleston Area CVB

Voted the 2014 "Friendliest City" by Condé Nast Traveler, Charleston (#5) proves that Southern hospitality is alive and thriving with an average hotel rating of 82.8%. Travelers searching for more Antebellum charm or craving Cajun cuisine should venture just outside of our Top 10 to Savannah, Georgia (#15) and New Orleans, Louisiana (#16), whose respective average hotel ratings of 81.3% and 81.2% will not disappoint.

Perennial favorite Lake Buena Vista takes the number eight slot with an average hotel rating of 82.5%, narrowly beating out the other family-friendly favorite Santa Fe (#9) at 82.3%. Santa Fe's renowned New Mexican cuisine, legendary art scene, and 1.5 million miles of unspoiled Rio Grande will give your family plenty of options, while a visit to Lake Buena Vista's Walt Disney World and Epcot theme parks are sure to keep everyone entertained.


© Unsplash.com

Finally, rounding out the Top 10 are some of America's most storied, historically significant, and largest metropolises with Chicago (#4), Washington D.C. (#7), and Boston (#10). A visit to Washington's Lincoln Memorial or Boston's infamous harbor is an amazing opportunity to stand amongst American history, and it's basically the law (or should be) that visitors to the Midwest can't possibly go home without trying a three-inch high slice of Chicago deep-dish pizza.

*About Reputation Ranking
The trivago.com Reputation Ranking examines destinations globally to determine those with the most reputable hotels, based on their collective hotel ratings. Over 140 million hotel ratings aggregated from 31 booking sites were used to calculate the Reputation Ranking. Hotels with more than 60 reviews and cities in the U.S. with over 50 hotels were analyzed, with 100% as a perfect score.

For more travel inspiration, check out our blog trivago checkin!

Watch Kanye & North West Star In The 'Only One' Music Video

Thu, 2015-01-29 07:44
Kanye West previewed the music video for "Only One," his first new single of the year, on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." The track is personal and references his daughter, North West, explicitly -- it also features Paul McCartney -- and the new video compliments the song's intimacy. The clip, directed by Spike Jonze, shows the father and daughter walking in a field on a foggy day. He shelters her when it starts to rain.



West also sat down for an interview with DeGeneres and spoke about his marriage to Kim Kardashian and fatherhood. "I think I'm a better human being because of [Kim] and because of my daughter, and I have always someone to think about going home to," he said. "Something for me to not only to be brave for what I want to do for humanity, but also to be more protective of myself for my family, because there's things I've done in the past that were considered negative, but I was really jumping in front of the tank for other people, or for culture, in a way. So now, I always have to have that in my mind that I have a family that I have to protect, too."

There could be more additions to the family, too: West told DeGeneres that he and Kardashian were "trying" to have more children. "I just want whatever Kim wants," West said when DeGeneres how many kids he wanted. Watch the full interview below.



5 Things You Didn't Know About The Seattle Seahawks

Thu, 2015-01-29 07:26
You might know that the Seattle Seahawks are going to destroy the New England Patriots this Sunday, but despite your fandom for the blue and green, there's probably some trivia you'd like to brush up on about your favorite team.

Especially if you're one of the diehard Twelves, you've got to learn these five things about the Seahawks before they take on the Patriots at Super Bowl XLIX.

Grab some Skittles and keep reading.



1. The logo was based off a real transformation mask made by the regional Kwakwaka’wakw tribe.



The designers for the Seattle Seahawks logo were inspired by native Northwest Coast art, specifically settling on a Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask. In 2014, Robin K. Wright, Curator of Native American art at the Burke Museum in Washington, wrote an article about the mask which at the time had unknown whereabouts. But Wright's article ended up causing the mask to be rediscovered at the Hudson Museum in Maine, which had not originally been mentioning anything about Seahawk logo inspiration.

The mask's similarities to the Seattle Seahawks logo went unnoticed while at the Hudson Museum because it was always featured in an open position, showing the human face inside rather than the "thunderbird."

Now the mask has been temporarily moved to the Burke Museum in Washington where it is currently on display until July, 2015. Ex-Seahawks star quarterback Jim Zorn was there for the opening celebration. The Huffington Post reached out to Wright about the mask who explained:

It was used as a transformation mask. It's a type of mask that's used by the Kwakwaka’wakw people in their winter ceremony that's called the Tlasula. It's the ceremony where the inherited privileges of the host family are brought out and displayed in the big house in the firelight and the dancer dances the mask around the fire.

To have your family go through this ceremony was a "very prestigious privilege."

The Burke Museum in Washington and Hudson Museum in Maine have a friendly Super Bowl bet over their two home teams. If the Patriots win than the Hudson is getting Seattle crabs and if the Seahawks win Maine lobsters are coming to Washington. "We like to say that the Seahawks haven't lost since the mask came to Seattle," said Wright.

Images provided by the Burke Museum. Image top right was provided to them by the Hudson Museum and image bottom right is originally from the book Art of the Northwest Coast Indians.



2. A Washington resident named Hazel Cooke is credited with naming the team after winning a contest.



Before mentioning anything else, it should probably be said that the football team isn't the first "Seattle Seahawks" to exist in the city. From 1933 to 1941 a hockey team called the Seattle Seahawks played in the North West and Pacific Coast hockey leagues.

Jump a few decades later and the NFL awards an expansion team to Seattle. At this time, the new organization held a contest to name the team and as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, 20,365 entries were submitted with 1,741 different proposed names. Mariners, Evergreens, Olympics and Sockeyes were among those proposed. 151 of those names were for the "Seattle Seahawks."

From those 151 names, the now-called Seattle Seahawks organization drew a name randomly to determine who officially named the team. A woman named Hazel Cooke won and said at the time, "I submitted Seahawks because it’s alliterative with Seattle. And a hawk is proud, bold, fierce. I hope the team will be such." Cooke won two 1976 season tickets

The others who submitted "Seattle Seahawks" also received some prizes. One winner was Deane Brazas who wrote to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to describe what he got:

In addition to a framed certificate signed by the owners, I received a personalized book about the history of the team, complete with photos and bios of all the original players and owners. In addition, I received two tickets to a preseason game every year until Paul Allen bought the team.



3. The "Legion of Boom" all started with an innocuous comment about dieting by Kam Chancellor.



The origin of this phrase is considered a bit of a mystery, but here's what seems to be the most likely backstory.

Kam Chancellor was guesting on “The Bob and Groz Show” in August, 2012 when he simply said, "I changed my diet up, just eating a lot cleaner, just eating chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, trying to stay light to where I can run fast, but also still have a little weight to keep that boom."

This mention of keeping up "that boom" took off as around that time the show was looking for suggestions of what to call the Seahawks backfield. Later in October, 2013 Chancellor was back on "The Bob and Groz Show" to give them credit saying:

It started on your show, yeah I remember saying 'the boom', the whole boom idea, and then it went to Twitter, and the 12th Man came up with "Legion of Boom," and you know we just ran with it there. But it definitely started on your show, with me saying 'boom.'

The first surviving tweet from that first August 2012 was made by @realjoedurfee and said, "#Seahawks secondary is now called The Legion Of Boom. I kinda like it." HuffPost reached out to Joe asking where he'd first heard the "Legion of Doom" and he said it was "just something that someone had suggested and I guess it stuck." Joe said he heard it on 710 ESPN Seattle, the station that plays "The Bob and Groz Show."



4. The first ever player to be drafted by the Seahawks was almost one of their greatest of all time, but then got an injury after one season.



Defensive tackle Steve Niehaus was the first person chosen by the Seattle Seahawks and the second overall in the 1976 draft. Occasionally he is thrown into a list of terrible draft choices, but this isn't quite what happened.

In this first year with the Seahawks, Niehaus notched 9.5 sacks which still stands as a team-high total. By the end of the year he'd also received the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Niehaus was on pace to be one of the defensive greats.

Unfortunately, Niehaus' arm just wouldn't hold up. As Seattle Times writer Danny O'Neil described, "Niehaus would lie there and twitch and wait for someone to reset the joint." That would be after the arm came out of his socket, regularly. Occasionally Niehaus would even use a leather strap to keep his arm in his side and still play football. When Niehaus finally had a major operation on the arm however, he was done and had to quit the game. It's too bad this first Seahawk found out what happened when you fly too close to the Sun.

Image Right: Seahawks Official Website



5. Seahawks fans have created multiple earthquakes.



The Marshawn Lynch 67-yard touchdown "Beast Quake" run in 2011 was noticed by John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, who on a whim discovered that a seismic monitoring station about 100 yards west of Qwest Field had recorded a magnitude somewhere between 1 and 3.

This original Seahawk fan created earthquake lasted about 30 seconds.

The 12th man did it again during the 2015 playoffs when Kam Chancellor returned an interception against the Carolina Panthers for 90-yard touchdown run.

And then a "dance quake" was reported to have occurred by ESPN after the win against the Green Bay Packers to advance to the 2015 Super Bowl. The University of Washington's Steve Malone said that this dance quake was the biggest seismic signal Seahawks fans had ever created. If only the Super Bowl was a home game!

With all this ground-shaking activity, seismic sensors have actually been installed at CenturyLink Field to monitor further earthquakes caused by Seahawks fans.



BONUS: The "12th Man" is so loud that it's close to ear rupturing. No other crowd causes more false starts.



The Twelves have gotten up to 137.6 decibels, which is just about 12 decibels from what it takes to rupture an eardrum.

Because of this extremely loud crowd, ever since the team started recording opposing team false starts at home games in 2005, the Seahawks have led the league.

In 2006, when the team was still at Qwest Field the Giants GM Ernie Accorsi complained to the league that the Seahawks might be blasting additional crowd noise out of their speakers. This was found to be completely false, Seattle fans are really just that loud.

All images Getty unless otherwise noted.

More Smokers Are Turning To E-Cigarettes To Help Them Quit

Thu, 2015-01-29 00:00

By Jilian Mincer

NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - When Marty Weinstein decided to quit smoking, he took a friend's advice and tried electronic cigarettes rather than government-approved nicotine replacement products.

Weinstein, 58, has gone from a pack a day nine months ago to the equivalent in nicotine of four or five cigarettes. The e-cigs have a familiar look and feel, and quench his desire to hold on to a cigarette and puff.

"I fully understand I'm still addicted to nicotine," said Weinstein, a Connecticut taxi driver who had smoked for more than 20 years. "But I'm now so much healthier."

E-cigarettes, metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when sucked, are transforming the market for smoking cessation products and slowing the $2.4 billion in global sales of long-standing aids such as nicotine patches and gums. But their impact on health remains unclear, experts say, raising difficult questions for regulators who are starting to impose limits on e-cigarette use.

E-cigarette makers in the United States are barred from explicitly marketing the products as smoking cessation devices, but have found ways to appeal legally to smokers who are thinking of quitting.

"You never say 'quit' because it's not approved by the FDA as a smoking cessation device," said Jose Castro, the chief executive of A1 Vapors in Miami, referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A1 Vapors runs an ad on its website urging customers to "kiss tobacco goodbye" and give themselves the "gift of your life. literally," adding a disclaimer that e-cigs are not a smoking cessation product.

E-cigarettes, or e-cigs, have only come into widespread use in the past few years, but have already made inroads into traditional quitting therapies.

About a third of British smokers trying to quit were using e-cigarettes, according to a University College London survey in January of 1,800 people, including 450 smokers.

E-cigs are used by almost twice as many people as government-approved nicotine gums, lozenges and patches, according to the survey. That was a reversal from 2011, when only about 5 percent of people were using e-cigarettes and more than 30 percent used over-the-counter products.

Similar data is not yet publicly available for the United States.

Worldwide sales of all nicotine replacement therapies grew just 1.2 percent last year, to almost $2.4 billion, according to data from commercial researcher Euromonitor. U.S. sales, at $900 million, grew 0.2 percent, and are expected by Euromonitor to drop this year by that amount.

Big tobacco companies like Altria, Lorillard and Reynolds American have rushed into the e-cig market. The entire U.S. market for "vapor devices" such as e-cigs grew in 2014 by 40-50 percent to $2.5 billion to $3 billion, Euromonitor said. The global market is worth $5 billion.


RULES ON E-CIGS TIGHTENING

Mark Strobel, a consumer health analyst at Euromonitor, said e-cigarettes have slowed nicotine replacement therapy sales, along with relatively high prices and a shrinking population of smokers, especially in the United States.

"For some consumers it has been a direct substitution."

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Johnson & Johnson don't break out the data on their smoking cessation products, which are relatively small parts of their sales, but the companies have noted the change.

"It's definitely taken a bit of our market, no question at all - but there's a lot of competition in that space," GSK chief executive Andrew Witty told Reuters in an interview this month.

GSK's nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation products include the brands Nicorette, NicoDermCQ and the medicine Zyban.

There is little long-term safety data on e-cigarettes, although some healthcare professionals say they may be better for consumers than tobacco cigarettes because they have no carbon monoxide and fewer cancer-causing chemicals.

A growing number of states, cities and countries - including Israel and Australia - are considering or have approved legislation to ban or limit the devices or the liquids, which come in exotic flavors from bacon to bubble gum.

California's top public health official on Wednesday slammed e-cigs as addictive, saying they were leading to nicotine poisoning among children and threatened to unravel the state's decades-long effort to reduce tobacco use.

Earlier this week, California introduced a bill that would ban the devices in public places, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a similar ban earlier this month.

Last year, the World Health Organization recommended that smokers should be encouraged to try already approved treatments rather than e-cigarettes. The FDA last April proposed rules for electronic cigarettes that would, among other things, ban sales to those under 18, but not restrict flavored products, online sales or advertising.


MAKING SMOKING COOL AGAIN?

Many health experts worry that e-cigarettes will become established as smoking cessation aids before enough research is done to determine their health impact. Another concern is that they may stop people from quitting tobacco completely and deter people from trying potentially more effective methods.

Dr. Albert Rizzo, senior medical advisor for the American Lung Association, said that when patients ask about the products, he tells them it's good that they are trying to quit but: "We don't know enough to recommend them."

Some healthcare professionals said that even if they are not opposed to e-cigarettes, they are concerned about their marketing, especially to young people.

The Federal Trade Commission declined to comment on specific e-cig ads but said "advertising must be truthful, non-deceptive and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence."

E-cigs risk bringing the "cool" back to smoking, reversing the progress over decades in which smoking has become less socially acceptable, said Dr. Robert K. Jackler, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

"A lot of us are very concerned about the renormalization phenomenon," he said. "These glamorize smoking behavior."

Still, some doctors point to the low efficacy of traditional ways to quit smoking.

"They have better results than placebos, but their rates of success are quite low," said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, who said e-cigarettes are an alternative, especially for people who have tried the conventional therapies and failed. (Additional reporting by Kate C. Kelland and Ben Hirschler in London; editing by Peter Henderson and Stuart Grudgings)

Ebony Selling Photo Archive, The 'African American Getty,' Worth $40 Million

Wed, 2015-01-28 18:39

By Fiona Ortiz

CHICAGO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - A climate-controlled archive in Chicago holds 5 million images of what could be called the African American experience since 1942, including exceptional, intimate photographs of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., singer Billie Holiday and boxer Muhammad Ali.

Now Johnson Publishing, parent company of struggling Ebony and Jet magazines, is seeking a buyer for the archive, which it estimates is worth more than $40 million.

"Nothing exists like it. It's almost like an African American Getty," Johnson Publishing Chief Executive Desiree Rogers told Reuters, referring to the renowned Getty Images photojournalism archive.

"We are still the curators of the African American experience. That's the mantle the editors wear," she said.

Among archival experts who are advising Johnson in its search for a buyer is Mark Lubell, executive director of the International Center of Photography in New York.

Rogers would not comment on potential buyers or whether commercial or historical archives had expressed interest.

The company spent 18 months organizing the images but has digitized only about 6,000 of the millions of photographs and videos, said Rogers, President Barack Obama's former White House social secretary. Johnson Publishing makes little money off the rights to the images, she said.

Facing declining readership and ad revenue, like much of the magazine industry, Jet magazine went digital-only last year. Ebony's print and digital versions both went through expensive redesigns in recent years.

The archive includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Moneta Sleet, Jr., of Coretta Scott King with her daughter Bernice on her lap, at the funeral of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sleet in 1969 became the first African-American man to win a Pulitzer prize.

Over many years working for Ebony, Sleet photographed King and his family and covered the civil rights movement as well as black leaders and politicians such as Adam Clayton Powell, entertainers such as Stevie Wonder and sports greats.

The collection also includes many images of black business owners and professionals. (Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Will Dunham)

Ernie Banks Statue Moved To Downtown Chicago For Fans To Pay Tribute

Wed, 2015-01-28 18:36
CHICAGO (AP) -- Ernie Banks fans got their first chance to pay their respects to the most famous and beloved Chicago Cub who ever played after the statue of the Hall of Famer was placed in a downtown plaza Wednesday.

One after another, fans stopped in Daley Plaza to take photos of the statue that normally stands at Wrigley Field. The city and the Cubs took the unprecedented step of taking the statue out of storage - where it was being held while the ballpark is renovated - and putting it on public display away from its usual home.

The 83-year-old Banks died Friday of a heart attack. A visitation will be held this coming Friday, followed by a memorial service Saturday.

By 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the plaza was growing crowded with fans admiring the statue of Banks, frozen in the batting stance that kids in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s grew up imitating. They told stories about their connections to Banks, whether it was watching him play or meeting him.

"My family and my brothers were always watching him on TV and there was nobody like Ernie Banks," said McKenzie Holmes, 51, his postal worker uniform topped off with a Cubs hat. "My brother just passed and I was thinking he's up there playing catch with Ernie now."

Trudi Burns took pictures for her son. Though he's 23 and has only seen Banks in action on clips of games played long before he was born, Burns said he insisted she take a photo.

"It's his birthday this month and he said, `Mom, I don't want anything else. I just want a picture of Ernie,'" she said, adding that the day Banks died her son named his new puppy Banks.

Jim Kosik, 54, told of how Banks signed a ball for him in the 60s - a ball he has since lost. He, too, took pictures, for himself and his family.

"I will send a photo to relatives who left Chicago so they can share the moment," he said.

Later, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, accompanied by Banks' widow, placed a wreath at the statue, saying that while Banks has long been known as Mr. Cub, he "always will be and always has been Mr. Chicago."

The statue will remain at Daley Plaza through Saturday, just a few feet away from a Picasso sculpture - an ironic placement given that in 1967 an alderman called on the city to replace what he saw as a hideous piece of junk with a statue of, that's right, Ernie Banks.

'Key & Peele' Give Us Even More Ridiculous Football Player Names In Super Bowl Special

Wed, 2015-01-28 15:20
Nice to meet you, Grunky Peep, from Georgia Southern University.

College and professional sports are usually fertile ground for player names that border on the bizarre. And no one spins this trend better than "Key & Peele." TheirEast/West College Bowl introduction parodies have introduced us to college superstars like Hingle McCringleberry, Jackmerius Tacktheratrix and the player fomerly known as Mousecop.

Now we have even more names to crack up over in this clip from their upcoming Super Bowl Special. But be careful now, there are some real players thrown into the mix too. They might have unreal names, but the have very real feelings.

The "Key & Peele Super Bowl Special" premieres January 30 at 10:00 p.m./9:00 CT on Comedy Central.

Now That Starbucks Delivers, You Don't Have To Leave The Office. EVER.

Wed, 2015-01-28 13:22
Soon it will all be intravenous.

As you're all aware, the best part of leaving the office to get coffee ... is LEAVING THE OFFICE to get coffee. But now that Starbucks delivers, your higher-ups might be under the impression that you'll never have to leave the office ever again.

UCB group Pocketwatch shows us in their latest video "Starbucks For Delivery" that work efficiency should only be taken so far. And no amount of cake pops or salted caramel sugar drink can stave off the workplace insanity that results being in an office all day long.

Okay, maybe some amount of cake pops.

How Can Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Maintain His Outsider Status While on the Inside?

Wed, 2015-01-28 12:14
Illinoisans elected Gov. Bruce Rauner in large part because he offered new ideas for the state government. Voters chose an outsider who promised to fix insider culture.

In the 1970s, Pat Quinn made a name for himself as an outside agitator to state politics. He led an initiative to pass the "cutback amendment" in 1980 to punish lawmakers for voting themselves a 40 percent pay raise. As part of that protest, Quinn encouraged citizens to send tea bags to Gov. Jim Thompson. He was a tea party guy before there was a Tea Party.

Yet as Quinn left office, he handed out jobs and appointments in a style that smacked of insider-ism. His administration in its final year got into a patronage hiring scandal that was the epitome of insider manipulation.

Rauner can learn a lot from his predecessor. We suspect he'll be learning soon that it's hard to remain an outsider when you hold the state's highest office.

Meanwhile, the Illinois State Board of Education, now run by Rauner's chairman-designate, Rev. James Meeks, may have handed Rauner a lesson in campaign promises when it asked for a $730 million increase in its funding.

So many challenges and so much to learn. That's what we're talking about on this week's "Only in Illinois." Watch the video at Reboot Illinois.



There are also a few outsiders trying to push back against insiders in the Chicago mayoral race. Candidates Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Bob Fioretti, businessman Willie Wilson, former gubernatorial candidate William "Dock" Walls and Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia met at the Chicago Tribune for a debate Jan. 27. We've got a rundown of the topics discussed and the disagreements that flew, including TIF money, schools and food deserts.

NEXT ARTICLE: How much did Bruce Rauner spend on TV advertising in the 2014 election?

Seattle Seahawks Must Do These 3 Things To Win The Super Bowl

Wed, 2015-01-28 11:52
Thanks to a certain ongoing controversy, the actual, you know, football-playing aspect of Super Bowl XLIX has received a bit less attention than it deserves. But with the big game just four days away, now seems like a good time to review a few key points Seattle ought to keep in mind.

CONTROL THE TEMPO




Marshawn Lynch is the heartbeat of this offense. He will bail out the offense at some point on Sunday, whether it's in the running game or the screen game. Oddly enough, the one thing Seattle was unable to do last year amid its 43-8 Super Bowl rout of Denver was to establish Lynch. The NFL's leading rusher over the past three seasons went for just 39 yards on 15 carries. Meanwhile, the current version of New England has revamped its defense, and it starts up front with a healthy Vince Wilfork.

If you go back to the four Seahawk losses this season, a common theme is Lynch not having a normal game. In fact, looking at those four matches, he rushed for a pedestrian average of 68.5 yards per game on a measly 58 carries. That's hardly proven a successful strategy for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. If Lynch isn't established early on in the game, he doesn't have a chance to wear down the defense. During Seattle's recent NFC championship game against Green Bay, which ended in a miraculous Seahawks victory, it should be noted that on the first 11 read-option plays called, Wilson kept the ball every single time. The first time he handed it off to Lynch, the result was the go-ahead touchdown.

HIT TOM BRADY




The winning formula for beating New England has always been: Take one Tom Brady, apply constant pressure. The tricky part is doing it without bringing a blitz, because very few quarterbacks are better at beating one. With Michael Bennett and Chris Avril, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn often doesn't have to blitz, because both are apt at applying the necessary pressure.

Unlike Russell Wilson, Brady will mostly stay within the pocket. A clean pocket -- which he had when playing against both Baltimore and Indianapolis -- means clear throwing lanes for one of the game's all-time most accurate quarterbacks. Seattle's secondary gets most of the headlines, but its defensive line has two terrific speed rushers in Avril (14 sacks and six forced fumbles in two years as a Seahawk) and Bennett (15.5 sacks in two years with Seattle), who rush on opposite sides. Neither guy is situational -- meaning each will be on the field for most of the game -- and they are each capable of taking control of a game. Brady knows this and will employ max protection when necessary, but if either Avril or Bennett has a strong showing, the Seahawks' vaunted linebacking core and secondary will feast.

GIVE RUSSELL A CHANCE




If Russell Wilson is even remotely within striking distance late in a game, he becomes lethal. His most recent antics versus Green Bay are proof enough of that. Ultimately, it seems like Wilson just doesn't care how poorly he has played -- he wants the ball when it matters the most, and more often than not, he delivers. The 25-year-old has the most fourth-quarter comebacks (10) and game-winning drives (15) through a quarterback's first three seasons in NFL history, not to mention the most wins. If Seattle defeats New England, Wilson will be the youngest player ever to win multiple Super Bowls. So yeah, you get the idea.

Wilson is sometimes criticized, perhaps unfairly, for leaning on an elite defense to bail him out. He has been called a "game manager," which is ludicrous when you consider both his stats and his clutch gene. But no matter what labels he gets plastered with, Wilson relishes the pressure moments, a la Brady, and excels in them as well. The Seahawks know this. They revel in it. And, maybe most importantly, they play to it.



Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure to catch my NBC Sports Radio show "Kup and Schultz," which airs Sunday mornings from 9 to 12 EST, right here.

These Photos Capture The Little-Known Beauty Of Lake Michigan In Winter

Wed, 2015-01-28 10:33
In the height of winter, most people would be hesitant to spend the day at the beach. But nature lovers willing to brave the bitter cold and blustery winds might be rewarded with one-of-a-kind sights.

That’s what photographer Ken Scott has found in his constant explorations of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Though he has been shooting the scenery of Leelanau County in northern Michigan for three decades, he captured some of his most spectacular images during the height of last winter’s polar vortex, published in 2014 in the book Ice Caves of Leelanau.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.


The Great Lakes region was hit with some of the lowest temperatures in history last winter, and Lake Michigan came closer to freezing over entirely than any year on record. But thousands of people flocked to the beach to check out something few had seen: huge hollowed out caves in the ice, worn by the waves.

Scott was one of them. Photographing the caves and other unique forms, he found drama and beauty in the close-up details of icicles or wide panoramas of the sun setting over an icy plain.

“The shoreline in the wintertime is the most dramatic,” Scott told The Huffington Post. “It’s always changing, you never know, it’s always going to be different.”

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.


Scott’s documentation of the ice caves last year on Facebook drew likes, attention and, eventually, the book deal. In Ice Caves of Leelanau, he shows numerous views of the caves, blue ice, volcano ice, pancake ice, the large sheet of anchor ice along the shore, and the rounded and smoothed chunks of ice known as ice balls. Meteorologist Ernie Ostuno captioned Scott’s photographs for the book, and nature writer Jerry Dennis introduced them:

The caves were the surprising thing. Many of us had seen similar structures during other winters, but never many of them, and never this large. These were big enough to stand in -- for a dozen people to stand in -- and as elaborate as caves in limestone. They were domes and keyholes and grottos. Wave spray and intermittent thawing and freezing had embellished them with columns and pillars. Their surfaces were so smooth they gleamed in sunlight, and from their ceilings dripped hundreds of daggers of clear ice, like crystal stalactites.



Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.


George Leshkevich, a researcher with the North American Ocean Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, noted that last winter was particularly severe for the Great Lakes, resulting in unique conditions where ice reached peak thickness two separate times in the season.

Different kinds of ice formations occur because of a confluence of reasons, Leshkevich explained, including meteorological conditions, the physical location and wave action, so they’re hard to predict and will vary widely along the shore.

Though the ice caves were not a phenomenon unique to last year, it’s only rarely that anchor ice builds up enough for explorers to venture out to see the caves for themselves (an activity that carries risk, as it's hard to judge the thickness of ice and whether it can hold weight). But Scott also shot ice caves back in 2003, and with 30 years of daily shooting in the same wilderness in northern Michigan, it might seem like he’d eventually find the scenery repetitive. He doesn't.

“My creative eye is always on. It doesn’t get bored,” Scott said. “A lot of people get stuck on seeing things only one way, like the wide view or closeup view … but there’s everything in between. Boredom would come when you’re getting stuck in seeing things only one way. You just have to shift it a little bit and it a open up a whole other world.”

Below, see more photographs from Ice Caves of Leelanau. Books and prints are available on Ken Scott’s website, and his recent work can be found on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

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