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The Things I Miss Most About My Dad This Father's Day

Wed, 2015-06-17 11:05
Father's Day is coming. Like it or not. This will be my tenth unhappy fatherless day. As the big day approaches I can't help but think of all of the things my dad was to me. And I can't help but think of the things I miss most about my dad.

I really miss the way his left arm got really, really tan from hanging it out the car window to smoke all summer long. Yet his right arm was pasty white. It would have been no big deal if he wore long-sleeve dress shirts. But he didn't. Only short sleeves and a tie for him.

I also really miss report card days. Those were some crazy times in our house. My brother Dat would straight up lie to my Dad's face on a daily basis saying he was doing great in school. His report card told another story. Every freaking time. I can remember driving home from the school and my dad just slamming my brother's head off of the passenger's side window the entire ride home. Still makes me laugh.

Another time my dad was going to have knee surgery the same exact day that report cards were being handed out. I could not believe my luck. He would be in the hospital and way too busy/drugged/in pain to remember report cards. I was very wrong. I remember going to the hospital and the first thing he said was how'd you do on your report card? He got so mad that he whipped out that oxygen tube and lit up a cigarette.

My dad was really calm and very laid back. But we still found ways to really tick him off. One time, pretty sure it was another report card day (he really had a thing for education), I was the one in trouble. I just remember him yelling at me to take out the garbage. My mom chimed in that it was actually one of my brother's jobs. My dad's response was, well if she's going to act like a boy we'll treat her like a boy. Ummmm what the hell does that even mean?

Another thing that really got my dad's blood boiling was the all-girls Catholic high school he sent me to. This may have been the maddest I ever saw him in my entire life. It cost a small fortune to send me there. And one day I came home and announced that my school was changing the sign of the cross. Instead of "In the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit" it changed to "In the name of the creator, the redeemer, and the sustainer of life".

I think they were trying to take the gender out of God. Perhaps implying God could be, might be, possibly be, a woman. Not on his dime they weren't.

My dad wasn't a male chauvinistic pig. He was totally okay with women wearing slacks, voting and even pumping their own gas. But the implication God was in any way, shape, or form a woman -- that wasn't gonna fly. Not even a little bit.

I know all of the medical experts say my dad died of pancreatic cancer, but I'm pretty sure this incident is what really killed him.

I remember thinking that I really didn't care what the hell I was supposed to say, but when I saw my dad's reaction I knew I could really take advantage. I knew that if I got an F in religion, I would not get in trouble. I got the F in religion. And I did not get in trouble. I saw pride in my dad's eyes that report card day. I still weep thinking about it.

My dad loved the Chicago White Sox. Like, maybe more than he loved us. He watched every single game in his La-Z-Boy. He loved lemonade and was always on the hunt for the biggest cup possible to drink it out of. One summer my brother found a sixty-four ounce plastic cup called "the hog". My dad was in heaven. It was the little things.

My dad taught me so many things that I didn't even realize until I had my own kids. He used to go nuts if we spilled something and used too many paper towels to clean it up. He was constantly ripping paper towels in half. I still feel a pang of guilt each time I use paper towels. If only he had lived to see the select-a-size. He would have been in heaven. Well if he wasn't already in heaven.

When my mom died I remember making all of the arrangements. The funeral director suggested we get a limo for the procession. My dad said no. I argued the fact. My dad simply said we're not limo people. And we all crammed into his little, smoke-filled, green Ford Contour instead. That's one thing I did not inherit from my dad. I think I'm a limo person.

I definitely inherited his sense of humor. I also inherited his laidback demeanor. And unfortunately I've been told I inherited the way he would talk in what he thought was a whisper. I did not, however, inherit his liver. That I got from my mom. I was able to drink my dad under the table by the time I was eighteen.

My dad was such an awesome funny guy. He taught me most things by example. I try to be like him everyday. My brothers and I each have one child that totally reminds us of our dad and it makes us happy. I spent a lot of these past ten years crying. If tears had calories I'd be obese.

But this year I'm remembering all the good times. The times that mattered. The memories I'll have forever. Like the way he liked to scratch his back with a fork. And put his feet up on the table to have an after-dinner smoke. Or compliment my mom by telling her a meal she prepared made his top five list.

And I will laugh. Like the time the gynecologist was trying to explain how dire the situation was with our mom and my dad said, now I'm no genie-ologist, but this doesn't sound good.

The thing my dad taught me the most was to laugh. Even in the worst of times. There is humor in everything.

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Rauner's Anti-Madigan Media Blitz Begins

Wed, 2015-06-17 10:51
Gov. Bruce Rauner has begun airing TV ads across Illinois that attack House Speaker Michael Madigan and legislative Democrats as anti-reform and pro-tax.

The first 30-second spot began appearing this week on TV stations and cable channels throughout Illinois as part of an $826,000 campaign by Turnaround Illinois, an independent expenditure committee established in April. Chicago businessman Sam Zell donated $4 million to the committee on April 17. Rauner added $250,000 on April 30.

The ad singles out Madigan for blocking Rauner's business and political reforms, but its tone is not abrasive. It ends with Rauner reminding viewers that they elected him to change how things work in Springfield.

Watch the video:



Check out more commentary on Rauner's ad at Reboot Illinois.

In early 2015, Madigan proposed an idea to erect a statue in honor of former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Hastert, who is now under federal investigation for subverting banking laws, possibly as part of a "hush money" scheme, said "No thank you," to the $500,000 statue, according to the Illinois News Network's Scott Reeder. Check out what Reeder thinks the whole episode means at Reboot Illinois.

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

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Rauner's anti-madigan media blitz begins

Wed, 2015-06-17 10:51
Gov. Bruce Rauner has begun airing TV ads across Illinois that attack House Speaker Michael Madigan and legislative Democrats as anti-reform and pro-tax.

The first 30-second spot began appearing this week on TV stations and cable channels throughout Illinois as part of an $826,000 campaign by Turnaround Illinois, an independent expenditure committee established in April. Chicago businessman Sam Zell donated $4 million to the committee on April 17. Rauner added $250,000 on April 30.

The ad singles out Madigan for blocking Rauner's business and political reforms, but its tone is not abrasive. It ends with Rauner reminding viewers that they elected him to change how things work in Springfield.

Watch the video:



Check out more commentary on Rauner's ad at Reboot Illinois.

In early 2015, Madigan proposed an idea to erect a statue in honor of former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Hastert, who is now under federal investigation for subverting banking laws, possibly as part of a "hush money" scheme, said "No thank you," to the $500,000 statue, according to the Illinois News Network's Scott Reeder. Check out what Reeder thinks the whole episode means at Reboot Illinois.

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

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The Rules for Crashing at a Friend's Place

Wed, 2015-06-17 10:14
This post originally appeared on Map Happy.

Everyone's been there, trying to stretch the dollars. I've crashed my fair share of couches, worn out my welcome (I'M SORRY, INDI AND ANDY) and have been an avid Couchsurfer when times get rough. These days I pay it forward as much as I can but that doesn't disguise the fact that there are basic guidelines. The key to being an amazing houseguest is learning how to talk, walk and breathe like a ninja.

The other option is being homeless.

Be practically invisible.
Don't be messy. Wash the dishes. Walk softly. Talk softly.

For all intents and purposes, leave as little trace as possible. Minimize and occupy as little space as it is possible for a 110-pound, 5'3 person to occupy. Let everyone have the bathroom first. See no evil, hear no evil. You are a ninja in the night.

Clean up the sheets on the couch -- daily.
Couches are in the common area, right? Well, guess what happens when there's a guest sleeping on a common area? It's no longer so common. Be aware that the space you're sleeping on is where most inhabitants of the household would usually congregate outside their respective bedrooms so make an honest effort to fold up the sheets and put them away every morning. Let other people sit on the couch. It's about being respectful.


God, it's good to be in your 30's and have friends who have money and spare bedrooms.

Don't bring guests over.
At least not without permission from the person whose name is actually on the lease or mortgage. Being a guest doesn't entail the ability to bring over other guests, unless you're at your parents' house. I don't know about you but at least my mom is pretty cool about it.

It might be a little different if the invitee is in the same friend circle as your friends but, yeah, no extra overnight guests, plz. (I also think this applies to Airbnb guests).

No. (James Lee / Flickr)
Help out.
I have i-banking friends. Artist friends. Everyone makes a different income. The important thing is that you are able to contribute what you can contribute and, in the event that the shoe is ever on the other foot, to pay it forward.

Be prepared with a gift for short stays--"thank you" cards have a permanent spot in my travel bag--and if you're staying longer, definitely carve out time with your host to take them out to dinner. Cook a homemade meal if that's beyond your means. Make 'em your famous cookies. Show your appreciation.

Finance startup Splitwise even has a guest calculator about how much to contribute. Amount varies depending on how much your friends love you.

Offer to pay for long-term stays.
Anything longer than a week starts dangling into weird long-term territory. Two weeks is super substantial; any longer than that and it might even be possible to turn into a real subletter (or freeloader). Definitely preempt to pay for some rent and/or utilities; still beats staying at a hotel, right? To keep everyone happy, if I'm going somewhere for a while, I usually like to stay at a place for a week max and will arrange another place as a backup, at the very least. For the sake of your friendship.

Long-term stays are relevant to how often you visit.
I'm a bit more gracious to someone I'm close to who I haven't seen in two years and lives in freakin' Munich or someone's who helped me out substantially. If I see you every weekend... we might need to have a conversation.

If you get asked to pay for the utilities, prepare for an exit.
No one wants to have the discussion. (starmanseries / Flickr)

This is a clear sign you're wearing out a welcome. As much as I love my friends and I don't want to them to leave ever--okay maybe that's not true--there's a point in time where everybody should start paying for the fair share of the rent if you're in the spare bedroom all the time or if I haven't been able to sit on the couch for longer than a week.

If I've gotten to this point where I've asked this, it means I don't want to tell you to get out. But I do want you out. This is not my passive aggressive way of telling you to leave. But maybe it is.

Make life easier for everyone by getting the hint. Love you!

Read More:

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Which Illinois Counties Have the Most Concealed Carry Permits?

Tue, 2015-06-16 15:08
Illinois became the last state in the union to legalized the carrying of concealed weapons nearly two years ago. The Illinois State Police began issuing concealed carry licenses to residents in the spring of 2014.

The Illinois State Police provided Reboot Illinois with the latest statistics on the number of concealed carry licenses that have been issued by county, including the number of active, denied, suspended and revoked licenses. As of June 6, 2015, there were a total of 113,732 active concealed carry licenses.

Here's a look at which counties have the most concealed carry license holders per 1,000 people, along with the total number of active, denied, revoked and suspended licenses.

Here are 10 counties with some of the most concealed carry licenses per 1,000:

25. Marion County - 16.85

  • Active - 650

  • Denied - 0

  • Revoked - 1

  • Suspended - 0


24. Crawford County - 17.33

  • Active - 336

  • Denied - 2

  • Revoked - 0

  • Suspended - 1


23. Douglas County - 17.35

  • Active - 345

  • Denied - 2

  • Revoked - 2

  • Suspended - 1


22. Tazewell County - 17.41

  • Active - 2,363

  • Denied - 11

  • Revoked - 7

  • Suspended - 1


21. Grundy County - 17.45

  • Active - 880

  • Denied - 9

  • Revoked - 0

  • Suspended - 0


20. Alexander County - 17.62

  • Active - 132

  • Denied - 0

  • Revoked - 0

  • Suspended - 0


19. Woodford County - 18.60

  • Active - 729

  • Denied - 2

  • Revoked - 1

  • Suspended - 1


18. Wabash County - 18.62

  • Active - 215

  • Denied - 0

  • Revoked - 0

  • Suspended - 0


17. Franklin County - 18.88

  • Active - 744

  • Denied - 2

  • Revoked - 0

  • Suspended - 0


16. Clark County - 19.16

  • Active - 310

  • Denied - 4

  • Revoked - 0

  • Suspended - 0


Check out Reboot Illinois to see which 15 counties have the most licenses and which 25 counties have the fewest concealed carry licenses per 1,000 people.

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

NEXT ARTICLE: 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Illinois in 2015

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Chicago River Runs Backwards: A Climate Change Reminder for Senator Kirk

Tue, 2015-06-16 15:01
A series of storms swept through Chicago on Monday, with violent monsoons hitting hard during the evening rush hour. By 6:40 p.m., the Chicago River had had enough. It was filled to the brim as the region's dilapidated combined sewer system funneled much of the rainy onslaught into its banks. As billions of gallons of stormwater flooded into the river, it rose.

And rose.

Until gravity took over.

As has been the case more and more frequently in recent years, the river couldn't handle the influx. Water levels in the River swelled and the locks that separate the waterways from Lake Michigan were opened to relieve the pressure. As a result, the Chicago River flowed into the Great Lakes bringing millions of gallons of tainted water to Lake Michigan via the Chicago Lock right next to Navy Pier and another spot in suburban Wilmette. In the loop, gorgeous new Riverwalk sections that opened in recent weeks were christened by sewage.

PHOTOS: Chicago River floods newly-opened Riverwalk in downtown Chicago: http://t.co/2odX1vVLc2 pic.twitter.com/3eycml2uVT

— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) June 16, 2015


Blame climate change. Violent storms like the ones we saw last night dump an incredible volume of rain in very short periods of time. A half-inch dropped on Midway airport in less than five minutes yesterday (an inch of rain hit Aurora, IL in a half hour at the height of the storm). Even with massive additions to the region's stormwater system, it cannot keep up. The 109 miles of Deep Tunnel under Chicagoland was filled last night and the rain kept coming.

And that is going to continue.

Climate scientists have predicted this phenomenon for decades; so as galling and shocking as the reversal of a river sounds, it shouldn't be a surprise. It is happening on an annual basis at this point. There is hope though. The Obama administration has advanced the most important climate action in history in the form of the Clean Power Plan, which would slash dangerous carbon pollution from our nation's power plants -- the largest source of carbon emissions in America.

Unfortunately, there are many standing in the way of meaningful climate action.

NRDC sent a letter to Senator Mark Kirk today urging him to vote in support of climate action as some in Congress push to delay the Clean Power Plan. We highlighted the impacts of climate change on the health of people in this state, on the Great Lakes and on national security...

... but in retrospect, we probably could have just pointed to the river flowing backwards through downtown Chicago.

The Chicago River re-reversals make clear climate change is already having serious impacts. There is much to be done to make the systems we rely on more resilient in the face of the climate turbo-charged rainy onslaught (I've blogged before about the need to invest in green infrastructure and rethink the river). But the folks in Washington have a key responsibility to take action now to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it is too late.

Senator Kirk need only look lakeside in the North Shore suburbs or at the Loop to see that he needs to support climate solutions and resist pressure from climate deniers in Congress. And Senator Kirk can look to the South Side of Chicago, where flooded basements are a real economic environmental and health threat bringing "climate maggots" and disease tainted river water which cannot be ignored.



First flood for the new #ChicagoRiverwalk pic.twitter.com/RKhARcFTVZ


-- MAS Context (@MASContext) June 16, 2015





And a few pics of "The Cove" area of the #ChicagoRiverwalk pic.twitter.com/7ENj7Q3Iep


-- MAS Context (@MASContext) June 16, 2015




This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches Are the New Cupcake

Tue, 2015-06-16 14:59
Cauliflower is the new kale. Cruffins are the new cronut. And you know what? Beef fat is the new duck fat. We've been reading tea leaves (and consulting with our contributors) and now we're making predictions for this summer. Check out what's popping up across the country faster than you can say "Eat Drink Lucky."

Beef fat is the new duck fat.
Austin, TX
Once upon a time, French fries were cooked the Belgian way, in plenty of duck fat. Now, at spots like Salt & Time, the fries are cooked in beef fat. Over at Dai Due they roast their home fried potatoes in an iron skillet with beef fat, and at Contigo, the popcorn snack with sriracha is popped in smoked beef fat. Good thing those animals are big, looks like we'll be seeing a lot of beef fat this summer!

Cereal milk is the new milk. Or maybe cream.
Los Angeles, CA
Even if you know you discovered it first, at the age of six, at the bottom of your bowl of Froot Loops, face it: Christina Tosi at Milk Bar has made cereal milk famous, and since then it has found its way everywhere, from coffee drinks to desserts. At Atticus Creamery & Pies they took the logical leap from cereal milk to cereal milk ice cream. You can get it in a cone - or as the star ingredient in yet another huge summer trend, ice cream sandwiches. Cereal milk, it's not just for kids.


Atticus Creamery & Pies

Fried chicken is the new short rib.
Boston, MA
"Up North," fried chicken is the new short rib. While we're still going to see some short rib, even in summer, more Boston chefs are putting on the southern charm, like at Sweet Cheeks Q, where Tiffani Faison serves up buttermilk fried chicken with collard greens and black eyed peas.


Sweet Cheeks Q

Tex-Mex is the new Italian.
New York, NY
Babbo, Carbone and Del Posto may have set the pace for Italian spots in the city, but now the taco is moving into pasta territory. You'll see more Tex-Mex fare and fancy tacos migrating from the South, like at Javelina Tex Mex. Now that we've told you, you're going to see Tex-Mex everywhere.

Popsicle cocktails are the new punch.
Washington, DC
You'll still see punch on cocktail lists this summer, but keep an eye out for popsicle cocktails. The "poptails" at Ping Pong Dim Sum, like their Earl Grey Julep frozen popsicle cocktail, are a fun twist on a childhood classic. Anything that keeps you cool and brings on the booze is a winner in our book. And that's another trend by the way, tea-infused booze.


Ping Pong Dim Sum

Chilled ramen is the new ramen.
San Francisco, CA
Some like it hot, some like it cold. And for a trend as popular as ramen (deservedly so we should add), we love that we can indulge when it's hot out without breaking a sweat. Ramen fiends will love the dish from Chubby Noodle, which has Korean chili dressing, a fried egg and pickles over chilled ramen noodles. Not to be outdone, Genki Ramen is also chill with its ramen offerings.

Pre-Prohibition cocktails are the new barrel aged cocktail.
Denver, CO
Everybody likes a little history with their cocktail, right? Introducing the pre-Prohibition cocktail, fully embraced by newly opened Union Lodge No. 1. The entire menu is fashioned after American bars of the 1800s and remains authentic to the time period with sips like the Knickerbocker and Sazerac. As bartenders continue to mine history for inspiration you'll see even more housemade bitters and falernum on cocktail menus.

Ice cream sandwiches are the new cupcake.
Portland, Maine

Ice cream sandwiches are this summer's treat of choice. New casual spots Otherside Delicatessen and Figgy's Takeout both offer versions with homemade cookies, and you can also find ice cream sandwiches at Eventide, Sur Lie, and at Nosh, where they have the S'mores Burger with Nutella spread, brûlée marshmallow, vanilla ice cream and Maldon sea salt on mini brioche.

Now, get out there and enjoy some of this summer's hottest (and coldest) culinary trends!

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Artist Writes 'Welcome To Cleveland' On His Roof For Planes Flying Overhead. He Lives In Milwaukee.

Tue, 2015-06-16 13:25
The guy's got a sense of humor.

If there's one thing 62-year-old artist Mark Gubin admits he's "pretty good" at, it's madness. That was his intention 27 years ago, when he noticed planes traveling to and from Mitchell International Airport fairly low over his art studio. So he grabbed a roller and some white paint and wrote "Welcome To Cleveland" in large letters on his roof.



The thing is, Gubin lives in Milwaukee.

The prank seems to reflect Gubin's general outlook on life. "It was all tongue-in-cheek, just for fun. Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

We love this guy.

Head on over the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for the full story.

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Good News, Chicago! The Stanley Cup Is Totally Clean And Ready For Your Smooch

Tue, 2015-06-16 12:36
"You might as well slurp the handrail of an airport escalator, lick a bathroom door or eat soup out of a rented bowling shoe," CBS Chicago columnist Dan Bernstein wrote Monday about kissing the Stanley Cup.

In reality though, Chicagoans -- whose beloved Blackhawks just won the NHL title for the third time in six years -- will be relieved to hear that the massive trophy is surprisingly clean.

Some 5,000-plus kisses are bestowed on the trophy when it goes on its annual victory tour. Then there's the salacious escapades the cup has enjoyed over its 123-year history (taking a dip in Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Patrick Roy's pool in 1993 comes to mind). But a Chicago Tribune report revealed that kissing the Stanley Cup may be safer than going to the office.

the early bird gets to kiss the Stanley Cup pic.twitter.com/3dKumv1uzl

— mackenzie (@mackenziefine) January 22, 2015


In 2010, the Tribune swabbed the cup and sent the sample out for microbial testing. The results: Just 400 counts of general bacteria were found, with no signs of staph, salmonella, or E. coli. In comparison, your average office desk has about 10,000 counts of bacteria, and your coffee maker could have E. coli.

If you're wondering how the cup stays cleaner than your desk, the answer is that people clean it. According to the curator of the cup, it gets a soft detergent wash once a day and is taken apart and professionally cleaned with silver polish twice a year.

So pucker up without fear, Chicago. Anyone who says otherwise may just be confusing germs with sour grapes.

H/T Chicago Tribune

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My Q and A With James Proud, Creator of the Sense Sleep and Bedroom Tracker

Tue, 2015-06-16 11:56
James Proud is the founder and CEO of Hello, the maker of Sense, a bedside device that tracks your sleep and your sleeping environment. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on why what you keep in your bedroom matters, the link between sleep and decision-making, and the potential of new tech tools can improve our lives.

Why did you see a need for Sense? What inspired you to create the product?

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, but we spend very little of our time thinking about how we can sleep better. Sleep is the foundation on which we build everything else, and since our goal at Hello is to help people to live better, we felt like sleep was the best place to start.

What did you consider when designing Sense? What makes it different from other sleep trackers out there?

The bedroom is a highly personal space, and people take great care in choosing what they bring into it. In creating something meant to be placed in on a nightstand, it was important to us that it should be something beautiful -- almost like a piece of art -- that people would enjoy having there anyway.

Beyond its design, what sets Sense apart is its ability to do more than simply track your sleep during the night. With an array of sensors, Sense can help you to better understand how things like light, sound, temperature, air quality, and humidity impact the quality of your sleep. This gives us a more complete understanding of how to then improve things.

Describe your Kickstarter campaign -- what level of interest did you get? What did people have to say about Sense?

Our Kickstarter went far beyond our expectations -- with a goal of $100,000, we raised just under $2.5 million from over 20,000 backers in just one month. We were amazed by the response we received. As a result of the people who supported us, we were able to prove that people care deeply about their sleep, and that gave us immense drive to create the best product we possibly can.

How can a device like Sense actually improve sleep?

By giving people the information to think about sleep and then make better decisions on a daily basis. Sense tells you more than how much you moved about during the night. By monitoring your environment and recognising your sleeping patterns, Sense is able to provide you with detailed insights that allow you to better understand your sleep. When you have access to this kind of information, you're able you to make more effective decisions about your routine, and sleep better as a result.

What do you see as the future of the sleep technology business?

My thoughts on the future are less around the actual technology or business, but more on how can we use these increasingly sophisticated tools to help people with their daily lives. Once we do this well enough, the rest will follow. In recent years, many health centric technologies have become an almost mainstream embrace. Ultimately this is about people wanting to feel better, less tired and more able to enjoy work, family and friends. I believe that sleep is beginning to experience a similar move into mainstream acceptance, but one that we believe will be even more beneficial to people given it impacts almost everything else. The response for products like Sense is one example of just that.

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What Do You Call White Rioters? Anything But Thugs

Tue, 2015-06-16 08:06


The day after the first night of the Baltimore uprising following the death of Freddie Gray, ABC News used the word "thug" almost 800 times.

It was no rare occasion. "Thug" was thrown around in the media after the demonstrations in Ferguson and New York. Practically every person of color who has protested the killing of young black men by law enforcement -- seemingly no matter how peaceful their demonstration -- has been labeled a "thug."

As NFL star Richard Sherman so memorably noted, and as the black activists on the ground in Ferguson and Baltimore so often remind us, the word "thug" has become little more than a socially acceptable version of the rightly outlawed n-word.

When white students at the Keene State College Pumpkin Festival threw rocks, glass, bottles, and even skateboards at police, set multiple fires, and forced police to respond with riot gear, rubber bullets, and tear gas, they were never declared "thugs." When white people riot because their baseball team won, no one throws around the word "thugs." But when black people respond to physical violence with protests against inanimate objects, that word is all you hear.

This blatant hypocrisy is the creative spark behind White Riots, a new short film from Brave New Films. Starting with the absurd reporting from ABC News the day after the Baltimore uprising began, White Riots explores the biased language so often employed by media to describe black Americans exercising their first amendment rights. And contrasts it with the kiddie-gloves treatment of everything from violent students to biker gang shootouts.

Just look at the language around Keene State "students," "youthful debauchery," "kids." Then compare to the language of Ferguson and Baltimore: "thugs," "criminals," "offenders." Or take the word, "gang." Black people wearing the blue of their sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, were reported to be in a gang. Groups of white men can wear matching jackets and murder nine people and injure 18 more in broad daylight, and the media will still describe them as a "social club." (This actually happened.)

We could go on. Dr. King called riots "the language of the unheard." When young, prosperous university students -- who have a voice in our society -- riot, some media outlets will actually deem those riots a "form of protest." But when the actual unheard raise their voices in anger, even if there is no violence, the black community is condemned. When property damage occurs, the sins of the few are laid at the feet of the broader community and blamed on a "lack of leadership" in the "black community." But in contrast, when was the last time you saw 72 hours of breathless criticism of university students "wasting taxpayer dollars" with "destruction of public property," even though universities actually do have clear leadership?

The problem here is that biased media coverage and racialized language shape dangerous stereotypes. Those stereotypes, in turn, are used to justify discriminatory policing, violence against people of color, and a mass incarceration system that is so racist that one author calls it the "new Jim Crow."

Young white people are seen as "kids," prone to make mistakes, well into their twenties. But a 12-year-old black kid is seen as a dangerous criminal once he is old enough to play alone in the park -- so inherently dangerous that police are considered to be justified even when shooting unarmed children in "self defense." Law enforcement will even target African-American neighborhoods on drug sweeps or through programs like "stop and frisk," based in large part of the perception of black criminality pushed on us by the biased, fear-mongering media. If we force unbiased reporting, we can chip away at the foundations of the injustice within our criminal justice system.

The media drumbeat shapes our opinions, and our opinions in turn shape the destiny of a generation of young people. If we allow media to speak of students protesting the firing of a coach in understanding terms, while heaping scorn upon those protesting soul-crushing levels of poverty, violence, and forgotten neighborhoods, our nation will end up poorer for it.

Brave New Films wants to change the language the media uses. The newest release "White Riots" is a startling look on how deep the problem runs. It is a call to conscience for journalists across the nation to no longer use racially charged terminology to describe black protestors and civil unrest. We can change the biased narrative -- one word at a time.

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Rauner says Illinois will see spending consequences if budget not passed

Mon, 2015-06-15 14:18
The Illinois General Assembly hasn't yet agreed on a balanced budget for fiscal year 2016. Mark Fitton of the Illinois News Network reports on what Gov. Bruce Rauner says will happen to programs such as Amtrak and the World Shooting Complex if lawmakers can't get a plan together:

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday afternoon announced another round of spending reductions -- this one totaling about $420 million -- should the state not have a workable budget by July 1.

Among the actions are a freeze on state construction projects other than transportation, a shutdown beginning Sept. 1 of the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, reduction in state funding for Amtrak and halt in funding for several crime prevention programs.

The cost cuts, most of which would take effect July 1, are in addition to $400 million in emergency measures the governor announced June 2.

Reaction from around the state was mixed, with Republicans largely sympathizing with the governor's position and Democrats contending Rauner was using a budget ax rather than negotiating.

"The governor's got to do what he's got to do," said state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.

"I've built my business over the last 15 years. I've had to make some tough decisions -- and I'd rather not have made them," McCarter said. "But I did because I knew there could be a future for my business. I had to make tough decisions today so there could be a tomorrow."

"This is just sad," said state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg. "It's another sad day in the state of Illinois."

Read the rest of Fitton's report at Reboot Illinois.

Among the sticking points preventing a budget compromise between Rauner and the legislative Republicans and House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton and Democratic legislators is clashing political rhetoric. Watch Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek discuss the stalemate:




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5 Illinois Counties With Huge On-Average Tax Deductions

Mon, 2015-06-15 14:07
Every Illinoisans is on the hook for three percent of their income going to state income taxes, according to the state tax code. Their federal taxes, however, likely will vary, and municipalities throughout the state levy their own local taxes on different things and at different levels. But some places in Illinois, and throughout the country, benefit more from state and local tax deductions than others. How does this happen and which counties in Illinois come out the winners in this ranking?

The Tax Foundation explains that people can get itemized tax deductions for state and local income taxes, sales taxes and real estate taxes. They looked at every county in the country and the way their residents benefit from these tax deductions:

The measurement used here is mean deduction amount taken per return: in other words, the total of all of the deductions for state and local taxes, divided by number of returns filed.

The county with the highest average state and local tax deductions in the country is New York County, New York, where residents have an average of $20,621 deductions taken. No Illinois county ranks in the top 10 of the country, nor does any county in the Midwest. All of the highest-deduction counties are in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

Still, here are the five counties in Illinois whose residents have some of the highest tax deductions on average, according to the Tax Foundation:

10. Grundy-$3,561

9. McLean-$3,622

8. Monroe-$4,002

7. Cook-$4,038

6. Kane-$5,065


Check out Reboot Illinois to see a map of which Illinois counties have the biggest on-average tax deductions and which counties have the smallest on-average tax deductions. Also see how income can make a difference in this county-by-county variety.

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Chicago's 7 Best Alfresco Dining Spots

Mon, 2015-06-15 03:49
We love dining alfresco, but there's something sorta gross about eating your salade Niçoise in the middle of a busy street. Our favorite patios in the city are these quiet, secluded ones with plenty of trees and twinkling lights.

Gold Coast
Fig & Olive's 36-seat terrace is a tucked-away haven with an LED-lit "living wall" and a row of rosemary shrubs to block out the city sounds. Location.



Logan Square
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Go to Parson's Chicken & Fish. Drink Negroni slushies. Eat fried things. Thank us later. Location.



River West
Piccolo Sogno is the classy granddaddy of Chicago patios. Take a client for lunch, sip rosé and order the black spaghetti with seafood. Location.



Near North Side
The cocktails are expertly poured on the sexy patio at Japonais by Morimoto. Make a reservation--it's a scene (and a people-watching paradise), and tables fill up fast. Location.



Lincoln Park
With grassy expanses across the street and a fresh asparagus salad to die for (think marinated feta cheese and lentil vinaigrette), Perennial Virant is a summer staple. Location.



Lincoln Square
Need the opposite of hectic? Head north to Bistro Campagne, where the courtyard tables are quiet, the lights twinkle and the steak frites always hit the spot. Location.



Lincoln Park
The landscaping by Bottle & Branch is stunning this year on the romantic patio at Boka, which opens for the season on June 6. The famous roast chicken only helps the cause. Location.



More from PureWow

The Ultimate Summer Outdoor Entertaining Guide
12 Of The Best Sandwiches Of All Time
Healthy Summer Grilling Recipes
7 Luxury Hotels With Spectacular Views
26 Recipes For The Ultimate Mexican Fiesta

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Audio: "Bro with no ho" and 4 other Sen. Mark Kirk blunders

Sun, 2015-06-14 11:28
Though his "bro with no ho" comment is the most recent uncomfortable remark made by Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk from Illinois, the lawmaker is no stranger to political gaffes.

A live microphone picked up the comment about U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican presidential candidate. The Chicago Tribune points out that though the comment seems to have been meant to be private, the remark stands "to make an already challenging 2016 re-election bid even more difficult" for Kirk.

Graham, who is running for his party's nomination for the 2016 presidential election, is not married and has told the press his many female friends could stand in for "rotating first ladies" were he elected. Kirk was laughing about this idea during a Senate committee meeting, says the Tribune, when he made his widely reported remark:

"He's a bro with no ho," Kirk said, apparently talking to a colleague. "That's what we'd say on the South Side."

Listen to Kirk's remarks:



The Tribune notes the slip up is doubly awkward for Kirk:

Kirk found himself facing a barrage of criticism over a quip that insulted both women and African-Americans. Kirk's comment is even more politically troublesome because all of his potential Democratic opponents who have either announced or are considering bids are women, and two of them are African-American.

Kirk immediately told reporters he regretted making the comment and that it was a "joke between friends,"

The Tribune outlined several other facepalm moments by Kirk:

  1. He said he had come under enemy fire in Iraq, that he ran the war room in the Pentagon and that he was the Navy's intelligence officer of the year, which were not true. (Kirk's unit won the award.)

  2. He said he was responsible for the end of the Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere" during his time in the U.S. House, which was not true.

  3. He called for the mass arrest of 18,000 "Gangster Disciples," but then admitted that he fabricated the number 18,000 in order to shock people into paying attention to the gang problem.

  4. Kirk implied that he saw someone get killed (a "guy got popped") during a ride-along with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. McCarthy later explained it was a gang-related, non-fatal shooting.


Check out four other awkward comments by Kirk at Reboot Illinois.

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Multiracial Population Three Times Larger Than Census Count, Pew Survey Says

Fri, 2015-06-12 18:32
Census figures are likely underestimating the size of the multiracial population in the United States, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday.

The Census Bureau estimates that 2.1 percent of the population is multiracial. But the figure is likely closer to 6.9 percent, according to the Pew survey -- more than three times as high as the official government estimate. The Pew estimate comes from asking adults to not only self-identify but to also state whether their parents or grandparents were of different races.

Not only is the multiracial population in the U.S. nearing double digits, according to Pew’s survey, it is also growing three times faster than the rest of the country’s population.

"When we look at the number of babies being born that are mixed race and the rise in interracial marriage, we can see that not only is it continuing to grow but the growth could accelerate in the future," Pew’s director of social trends research Kim Parker told the Associated Press.

Half of the multiracial population has a white and American Indian background, although the group is the least likely to identify as “multiracial.” The rest of the population’s breakdown is as follows:


Note: The Pew survey defines "Hispanic" as an ethnicity and not a race.

The majority of multiracial adults, 61 percent, do not self-identify as “mixed-race or multiracial.” Nearly half of the adults who didn’t identify as multiracial said it was because physically they looked like one particular race, while others said they were raised to think of themselves as a particular race.

“It was kind of an eye-opener to us that multiracial identity [is] more than just the people who make up a family tree, it’s also a product of experiences or attitudes,” Parker told The New York Times.

Take a look at other highlights and charts from the report:

  • Forty-six percent of multiracial Americans are younger than 18, compared to 23 percent of the overall U.S. population.

  • Sixty percent of people with mixed race backgrounds said they were proud to be multiracial, and 59 percent said it opened them up to other cultures.

  • Fifty-five percent said they’ve been the target of racial slurs or jokes.




  • Twenty-four percent reported having felt annoyed when others made assumptions about their racial background.

  • The numbers of multiracial children being born is growing at an increasingly fast rate, from 1 percent in 1970 to 10 percent in 2013.



Check out the full report at the Pew Research Center website.

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Political Corruption in Illinois

Fri, 2015-06-12 18:08

Illinois has a long history of politicians going to jail. It appears that corruption is a learned behavior passed down from one politician to the other, or maybe power sometimes corrupts people. However, there is no excuse for the bad decisions that politicians make when it comes to serving the people versus themselves. Dennis Hastert, one of the most powerful politicians in Congress, is currently facing charges for questionable bank withdrawals. The reality is that somebody knew that Dennis Hastert was allegedly paying hush money to a young man that he allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact with during his coaching days in Yorkville, Illinois.



How could Dennis continue to keep his alleged misconduct under the radar without the help of the political machine? This is one of the main reasons why there should be term limits on elected officials, or maybe the good-old-boy system dictates that the catching comes before the hanging? In other words, "do not worry about this my brother, we can take care of this when it becomes a bigger problem." Wrong is wrong and if we are depending on corrupt politicians to make solid decisions for the people, then we are in trouble as a nation. Illinois has been hit with some major political bombs from Former Governor Dan Walker to Former Governor Rod Blagojevich.



This is bad business for the State of Illinois considering all of the major problems with the pension crisis and budget shortfalls. It's time for sweeping changes in the way we do business on high levels of government. Maybe we should implement a system to help monitor elected officials a little closer like videotaping all meetings with lobbyists and companies trying to do business with the state. This way there will be no room for corruption or backdoor bargaining. We should also think about more training designed to help politicians avoid bad situations that could lead to making poor decisions. No matter what happens to corrupt politicians, working class and poor people continue to suffer. Do not misunderstand the message in this story because there are some good politicians out there, but many have fallen in Illinois in the area of breaking the law. Aaron Schock, another promising Congressman from Peoria, Illinois recently resigned due to some revelations regarding his spending practices.



There is no overnight solution to an age old problem known as corruption, but you can bet that more politicians will fall victim to making poor decisions due to ego or being power hungry. How much money do people need to make it in life? Congressmen and United States Senators make over $170,000 a year with many perks and benefits.



There is no excuse for taking advantage of the taxpayers when the majority of high-level politicians are living high on the hog. That's probably why so many politicians are trying to hold their position for eternity.

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How Teen Girls Experience Street Harassment -- And What They're Doing To Fight It

Fri, 2015-06-12 13:28
"Sexual harassment makes me feel unsafe and angry."

That's what 15-year-old Elizabeth has to say in an imMEDIAte Justice documentary about street harassment. ImMEDIAte Justice, a volunteer organization that empowers young women to tell their stories on film, worked with teens who wanted to share their experiences with catcalling and explain why it has to stop. A recent Hollaback! survey found that the majority of women worldwide first experience catcalling when they are aged 11-17.

In the short film, girls discuss their experience being catcalled and how it has changed their perception of the world. Namely, most of the teens who spoke out in the film no longer feel safe out in public.

"I've been harassed just about everywhere," 16-year-old Mary Beth says. "I've been harassed here at school, on the street, out with my friends, and even in amusement parks and stuff, where it's supposed to be kid-friendly."

The teens also speak to their male peers, who explain why they catcall girls.

"If a girl's wearing a crop top and short shorts, it looks like they wanna get catcalled," one boy says. "It looks like they want the attention... I'm pretty sure they don't think they're getting harassed. They're just flattered."

The teens created a music video, "Catcall For What," that was shown in L.A. high schools to raise awareness about street harassment. They also vowed to stand up for themselves and not let street harassers get away with their behavior.

"Every time I get harassed, I speak up." One girl concludes. "Because if I don't speak up for myself, who will?"

Watch the full video above.

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"Business as Usual" for Cook County Prosecution of Marijuana

Fri, 2015-06-12 11:20


CHICAGO--In April, Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez announced a new policy that received national attention - her office would no longer prosecute people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In addition, people with nonviolent felonies on their record caught with marijuana or controlled substances would be diverted to drug rehab programs.

Though this marks a turnaround for Alvarez, who once deemed marijuana a "gateway drug," there are still several issues with the move - including that the Cook County Public Defender continues to see prosecution of some low-level marijuana cases, despite those cases fitting within the state's attorney's new guidelines for dismissal.

Alvarez's policy change, which many media outlets hailed as progressive, struck others in the legal world as borderline yawn worthy. The announcement wasn't a message to police to stop making arrests for those offenses - indeed, the Chicago Reader reported 212 city-wide misdemeanor marijuana arrests the very week of Alvarez's announcement. Additionally, judges and prosecutors already routinely toss out low-level marijuana cases.

But a month after Alvarez's announcement, there's still inconsistency when it comes to prosecutors following the state's attorney's new policy, according to Stephen Baker, legislative liaison for the Cook County Public Defender.

"From our supervisors, I have not heard of any sudden change. At least as of now, it's pretty much business as usual," said Baker.

"We're still seeing low-level marijuana cases being prosecuted," said Aaron Goldstein, an attorney supervisor for the Public Defender's office. Goldstein emphasized that the exact reasoning behind dismissal in low-level marijuana cases is often unclear, making it hard to track how often Alvarez's new policy is actually being invoked.

Chicago began ticketing for small levels of marijuana in 2012, when the City Council passed an ordinance allowing police officers to issue $250-$500 tickets to those caught with up to 15 grams (around half an ounce), with a ticket serving as an alternative to arrest. Additionally, the Illinois Senate recently passed legislation which would go one step further, in essence decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and mandating tickets for those caught. (That legislation still awaits approval from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who's expected to sign the bill).

With Rauner's potential support of decriminalization legislation, Alavrez's policy change with regard to marijuana misdemeanor in essence jumped the gun. The more interesting part of her announcement has to do with a plan to extend Cook County's drug treatment and education programs. "Drug school," as it's informally called, already exists for smaller drug cases where the offender has no criminal background. Those charged must take a series of classes which basically amount to adult detention - as long as they complete the program, their charges are dropped.

Alvarez's plan would extend that same kind of drug school to low-level felony offenders who do not have a background of violent crime. It's a new policy that equates to more people being diverted into drug rehab programs, according to Pam Rodriguez, executive director at TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), a nonprofit which has managed referrals for the state's attorney drug rehab programs for over 20 years.

"Some of this is kind of publicly making a statement about a change of policy and practice on the state's attorney's part, and some of it is actually new," Rodriguez said. "And what is particularly new is that it's going to be much larger. Whatever they're doing will be on a much bigger scale than they've done in the past."

Rodriguez has said she expects the number of people diverted to drug rehab programs to double to over 12,000 a year. There are also plans for a juvenile version of the program, which the state's attorney's office has compared to Seattle's privately-funded LEAD program. Rodriguez said she worries about costs, especially in light of Rauner's proposed budget which plans to cut upwards of $27.5 million in alcohol and substance abuse programming (The bulk of TASC's funding currently comes from the state and county).

So far, there are few funding specifics for the juvenile and felony drug programs - a Freedom of Information request for early funding data was denied, indicating concrete funding plans have yet to manifest. State's attorney spokeswoman Sally Daly would say only that the program would initially rely on federal funding via the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Daly added that the state's attorney's office expects both drug programs to be implemented by the end of summer.

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Shhh...Speaker Madigan is speaking

Fri, 2015-06-12 10:58
As the Illinois General Assembly wraps up its second week of past-due budget wrangling, Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek looked at what House Speaker Michael Madigan might be thinking:

Shhhhhhhush. Pay attention. The Speaker is speaking. No, not that Speaker. The Speaker. Michael Madigan, also known as The Velvet Hammer.

Listen carefully:

The governor and I, The Speaker, are always cordial with each other. The Speaker has been, is, and always will be professional and cooperative with the governor (except, understandably, when it comes to passing policies that do not help the Speaker, politically, at least until such time as I may change my mind.)

The most important issue facing the state is the budget deficit (which I helped grow for many, many years now). It must be fixed through a mixture of cuts and revenue increases, using a balanced and moderate approach. (Please hear that with a proloonnnged emphasis on balanced and moderate.)

The governor (Bruce Rauner) is extreme. Did you pay attention when I mentioned the governor is extreme? He wants to force people onto Medicaid, into emergency rooms and onto welfare rolls.

Listen closely. The governor is extreme. The Speaker is the one here protecting the poor and the middle class...

Pay no attention to the facts and history behind the velvet curtain.

Check out those facts and history and the rest of the "Speaker's" "speech" at Reboot Illinois.

The chamber under the leadership of Madigan, the Illinois House of Representatives, passed a workers' compensation reform bill through the votes of Democrats, even though Republican representatives warned that Rauner plans to veto it. The bill passed 63-39 and will head to the Senate next. Read what the bill entails and why Rauner is not a fan at Reboot Illinois.

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