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Visit Chicago's Worst Museums

Tue, 2014-10-14 09:47
That David Bowie exhibit at the MCA is cool as hell. George Lucas just announced that his museum is going to make our heads explode. And the Art Institute? TripAdvisor recently named it the #1 best museum in the entire United States, handily beating out institutions like the Getty Center, the Met and the Smithsonian.

Though the city easily deserves the top spot in the rankings, a fair number of Chicago museums deserve to round out the bottom. Here's a sampling of the least popular museums Chicago has to offer.

Museum of Service and Industry

Explore the Midwest's largest collection dedicated to your bar and waitstaff, featuring the Wall of Receipts, a bunch of servers named Sarah and The Interactive Undertipping Experience. Curated by Jon Taffer.

The "Dave Matthews Is" Exhibit

Before Bowie, the MCA partnered up with Wrigleyville to trace the evolution of Dave Matthews Band. Follow the band's journey from its early days as a not-quite-jam band to its current incarnation as the Jimmy Buffet of millennials.

Smith Museum of Stained Clothing

Sad about the closing of Navy Pier's Stained Glass Museum? Get over it while perusing the world's largest assortment of soiled garments, many of which belong to employees of Navy Pier.

CTA Transit Card Museum

Relive the excitement of having a working transit pass by traveling as far back in time to 2013, an exciting time in Chicago history that allowed passengers to board buses and trains without having to "Try Again." Your ticket also doubles as a MasterCard, which you will never use, because why?

Chicago Fire Festival Museum

Take a stroll through a wooden Victorian home that couldn't catch fire if two million dollars depended on it. (Note to time travelers: if you want to stop the city from burning in 1871, bring Redmoon Theater back with you to construct the buildings!)

Feel'd Museum

You haven't visited Chicago until you've been groped by local perverts! To experience the museum, ride any bus or train.

Spoiled Foodseum

Sponsored exclusively by the Four Corners Tavern Group, this trip down memory lane recreates the experience of going to a favorite Chicago bar or restaurant before it was bought out by a local conglomerate that trades the establishment's heart and soul for chicken wings and Miley Cyrus. Curated by Jon Taffer.

Divvy Museuum

An annual gift ($79) grants access to a members-only network of clueless, inexperienced cyclists.

Illinois Institute of Defeating Political Corruption

Opening date TBD.

Written by Greg Ott. This post originally appeared on The Second City Network.

Chicago Union Head Decides Against Mayoral Bid

Mon, 2014-10-13 18:41
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis — seen as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most high-profile re-election challenger — announced Monday through a spokeswoman that she would not run for Chicago mayor in 2015.

Lewis, who often tussled with the mayor during the 2012 Chicago Public Schools teachers' strike, didn't specify her reasons and a statement released on behalf of her exploratory committee made no mention of a recent "serious illness" she disclosed publicly. "Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid," said a statement from committee spokeswoman Jhatayn Travis. "Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities and good jobs for everyone."

Lewis had been seen as the best shot so far to unseat Emanuel, who won his first term in 2011. For months, she had been circulating petitions and raising her profile at parades and political events, often harshly criticizing Emanuel and his policies. She even dubbed him the "murder mayor" because of the city's violence problem.

But earlier this month she was admitted to the hospital after experiencing discomfort. She was evaluated for a "serious illness" but CTU officials declined to say more.

Emanuel issued a statement after her announcement wishing her a quick recovery.

"I have always respected and admired Karen's willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city's future," said Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff.

Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti, who announced his bid to run earlier last month, issued a statement Monday saying he was praying for Lewis' health.

"For Chicago's sake, I hope this is not the last we see of Karen Lewis," he said in a statement. "I can understand the battle with illness, and how it can change the best thought out plans. But I also know that Karen is resilient and strong and will be back advocating for educators, students and Chicagoans in no time."

Political experts said only a handful of credible candidates would be able to mount a serious challenge at this point ahead of the Feb. 24 contest. Names floated in Chicago political circles included Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has already said she planned to keep her current job and faces re-election, and Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Any candidate would have to be able to raise big funds and already have name recognition. Emanuel has already banked more than $8 million, while campaign finance filings show Fioretti had about $325,000 as of June. Also Emanuel's implied support from President Barack Obama as a former aide would be hard to counter in Obama's hometown.

However, political watchers said Emanuel's approval ratings have also been low.

"It's a mixed bag," said Chicago political consultant Don Rose. "Many people feel he's ripe for the picking."

The February election is nonpartisan. If no candidate receives over half of the ballots cast, there'll be a runoff in April between the top two candidates.

___

Follow Sophia Tareen at http://twitter.com/sophiatareen.

The Nation's Most Rat-Infested City Isn't The One You'd Guess

Mon, 2014-10-13 17:16
New York City might be infamous for its massive -- and apparently growing -- rat problem, but it was a different city that took top honors in a new ranking of America's most rat-infested cities.

According to a Monday news release from pest control company Orkin, Chicago holds the distinction of being the nation's "rattiest" city.

And if the mere thought of a horrific rat problem isn't enough to make one's skin crawl, the rodents are about to enjoy a seasonal surge: "Fall is a prime time for commensal rodents to actively seek food, water and shelter when temperatures drop and before the winter weather arrives," according to Orkin. "Each fall, rats and mice invade an estimated 21 million American homes. It only takes a hole the size of a quarter for a rat to squeeze inside, and a hole the size of a dime for mice."

Below, the 12 worst cities from the new rankings, which are based on the number of rat treatments the company performed last year:



Ron Harrison, an entomologist and Orkin's technical services director, said in a statement that the ranking is dominated by major U.S. cities because they provide "ideal" conditions for rats and mice.

"Commensal rodents depend on humans and their resources to survive, so unless residents and city officials take proactive steps to prevent rodents, infestations can easily get out of hand," Harrison said.

Chicago, incidentally, has also topped Orkin's ranking of the most bedbug-infested U.S. cities the last two years in a row.

Read here for the full ranking.

H/T NBC Chicago

Run The Jewels Recruit Zack De La Rocha On 'Close Your Eyes (And Count To F--k)'

Mon, 2014-10-13 17:03
Run The Jewels is possibly the most dynamic, hard-hitting duo in hip-hop today, and Killer Mike and El-P's new "RTJ2" track, "Close Your Eyes (And Count To F--k)," combines their intensity with one of the loudest, angriest and most inspiring vocalists to ever pick up a mic: Zack de la Rocha.

The Rage Against the Machine frontman hasn't been too active in music since the 2008 self-titled EP of his project "One Day as a Lion." Despite any absence, La Rocha is as furious as ever, spitting shrapnel lines with Killer Mike and El-P that target everything from preachers and politicians to corporations and prisons:

Dump cases with face and the cop pleas when we seizing a pump
With reason to dump on you global grand dragons
Still pilin' fast, plus Afghani toe taggin'
Now they trackin' me and we bustin' back, see
The only thing that close quicker than our caskets be the factory



El-P spoke to BuzzFeed about how the collaboration came about, explaining that he and La Rocha have more unreleased music from years back:

“We worked on music together in the late '90s after Rage broke up, but it never came out,” El-P said. “We remained friends, though, and when I was in L.A. working on the record I bumped in to him literally on the way to the studio. He came by and listened to what we had and a day later was recording with us.”

In other Run The Jewel news, the duo's "Meow The Jewels" Kickstarter has now surpassed three-quarters of its goal. What was initially a crowdfunding package joke, the duo has promised to re-record their "RTJ2" album with "nothing but cat sounds for music," and all funds raised are being donated to a charity directly benefiting the families of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. Just Blaze, The Alchemist, Geoff Barrow, Skywlkr, Zola Jesus, Nick Rook, Baauer, Prince Paul, Dan The Automator, Boots and Solidified Sun have all vowed to help El-P with production if the project is fully funded.

Fans can now preorder "RTJ2," which drops on Oct. 28.

Jimmy John's Makes Low-Wage Workers Sign 'Oppressive' Noncompete Agreements

Mon, 2014-10-13 15:03
If you're considering working at a Jimmy John's sandwich shop, you may want to read the fine print on your job application.

A Jimmy John's employment agreement provided to The Huffington Post includes a "non-competition" clause that's surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business's inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John's, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.

By signing the covenant, the worker agrees not to work at one of the sandwich chain's competitors for a period of two years following employment at Jimmy John's. But the company's definition of a "competitor" goes far beyond the Subways and Potbellys of the world. It encompasses any business that's near a Jimmy John's location and that derives a mere 10 percent of its revenue from sandwiches.

From the agreement:

Employee covenants and agrees that, during his or her employment with the Employer and for a period of two (2) years after … he or she will not have any direct or indirect interest in or perform services for … any business which derives more than ten percent (10%) of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches and which is located with three (3) miles of either [the Jimmy John's location in question] or any such other Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop.

It isn't clear what sort of trade secrets a low-wage sandwich artist might be privy to that would warrant such a contract. A Jimmy John's spokeswoman said the company wouldn't comment.

The noncompete agreement is now part of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed this summer against Jimmy John's and one of its franchisees. As HuffPost reported in August, Jimmy John's workers recently brought two lawsuits accusing the company of engaging in wage theft by forcing employees to work off the clock.

Last month, the workers filing one of those suits amended their initial federal complaint to argue that the noncompete agreement is overly broad and "oppressive" to employees. (The noncompete language from the franchisee's agreement can be found here, in the online hiring packet for a different Jimmy John's franchisee.)

Kathleen Chavez, the lawyer handling the case, told HuffPost in an email that her two clients named in the complaint were required to sign the agreement as a condition of employment; one is an assistant store manager, the other a former delivery driver and assistant store manager. Chavez argued that, if enforced, the clause would dramatically limit the places a worker could earn a paycheck following a stint at Jimmy John's.

Chavez said the effective blackout area for a former Jimmy John's worker would cover 6,000 square miles in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Founded in 1983, the college-town staple now has more than 2,000 locations.

"It is disturbing this document is being used and it is our position that it has broad impact on thousands of employees," said Chavez, who is a lawyer with the Chicago firm Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil.

Chavez used the example of a student who works at a Jimmy John's in Illinois during high school. Once he leaves for college at the University of Alabama, he has been foreclosed from working just about anywhere in Tuscaloosa that serves a decent share of sandwiches -- including, in theory, the school cafeteria -- because most of those places fall within three miles of a Jimmy John's.

HuffPost knows of no instances in which Jimmy John's has actually enforced this covenant upon a worker, and the company wouldn't necessarily be successful if it tried.

But it's not unheard of for a sandwich chain to enforce a noncompete clause. Last year, a former Subway manager accused her old employer of trying to block her from starting a new job at another sandwich shop, citing a clause the manager signed in 2009.

The effectiveness of noncompetition agreements varies from state to state. If the worker fights the clause in court, the company generally needs to demonstrate that it's legitimately trying to protecting itself, and that the clause is reasonable and wouldn't put an undue burden on a worker.

"A guy who's putting a piece of roast beef between two pieces of rye bread -- the challenge for the employer is to show what the hell this person knows that will hurt you," said one expert on noncompete agreements, who asked not to be named since he isn't involved in the case.

"Without making a judgment about Jimmy John's, I would say the lower you go down the food chain of employees, the question becomes a little more pressing: What is your legitimate business reason here?"

A company in this position may feel there's little to lose by inserting such language into an agreement. Even if the clause failed to hold up in court, the very possibility of limited employment opportunities could dissuade certain workers from rocking the boat -- like, say, those who are trying to unionize their Jimmy John's sandwich shop.

HuffPost readers: Have you been asked to sign a noncompete agreement for a low-wage job? Tell us about it.

Here Are The 20 Best Small Cities For College Students, According to AIER

Mon, 2014-10-13 14:33
Boulder, Colorado comes out on top as the best small metro for college students.

The American Institute for Economic Research compiled data from various metro areas across the country, comparing data on how students live there. They took information about student life, culture, economic health and opportunity. As AIER says, "The people students meet, the places they go, and the jobs they may hold are essential supplements to formal education."

Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, came in second, with high levels of academic research and development per student and percentage of workers in "innovative" fields.

In third place, Ann Arbor, Michigan reported both a high percentage of college-educated residents as well as a high student concentration.

See the full list here:

Man Stabbed Elderly Woman 4 Times Because She Was Black, Prosecutors Say

Mon, 2014-10-13 13:59
A suburban Chicago man has been charged with attempted murder and a hate crime after he allegedly stabbed a 79-year-old woman inside a grocery store because she was black.

Prosecutors say Pol Danilov, 26, told police that he attacked the victim on the morning of Oct. 10 at Walt's Food Centers in Homewood, Illinois, because her being elderly and black made her an "easy target," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Danilov was arrested at the store, and a knife with a 5-inch blade was found in his possession. Prosecutors say he has a history of animosity toward African-Americans.

The victim was stabbed four times and suffered a punctured lung during the attack, according to the Associated Press. She is expected to recover.

Bail for Danilov has been set at $500,000.

10 Facts About Homelessness

Mon, 2014-10-13 12:18
Renee Delisle was one of over 3,500 homeless people in Santa Cruz when she found out she was pregnant. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported she was turned away from a shelter because they did not have space for her. While other homeless people slept in cars or under culverts, Renee ended up living in an abandoned elevator shaft until her water broke.

Jerome Murdough, 56, a homeless former Marine, was arrested for trespass in New York because he was found sleeping in a public housing stairwell on a cold night. The New York Times reported that one week later, Jerome died of hypothermia in a jail cell heated to over 100 degrees.

Paula Corb and her two daughters lost their home and have lived in their minivan for four years. They did laundry in a church annex, went to the bathroom at gas stations, and did their studies under street lamps, according to America Tonight.

Fact 1: Over half a million people are homeless. On any given night, there are over 600,000 homeless people in the U.S., according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Most people are spending the night either in homeless shelters or in some sort of short-term transitional housing. Slightly more than a third are living in cars or under bridges or are in some other way living unsheltered.

Fact 2: One quarter of homeless people are children. HUD reports that on any given night, over 138,000 of the homeless in the U.S. are children under the age of 18. Thousands of these homeless children are unaccompanied, according to HUD. Another federal program, No Child Left Behind, defines "homeless children" more broadly and includes not just those living in shelters or transitional housing but those who are sharing the housing of other persons due to economic hardship; living in cars, parks, bus or train stations; or awaiting foster-care placement. Under this definition, the National Center for Homeless Education reported in September 2014 that local school districts reported there are over 1 million homeless children in public schools.

Fact 3: Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless. Over 57,000 veterans are homeless each night, according to HUD. Sixty percent of them are in shelters, the rest unsheltered. Nearly 5,000 are female.

Fact 4: Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), more than 90 percent of homeless women are victims of severe physical or sexual abuse, and escaping that abuse is a leading cause of their homelessness.

Fact 5: Many people are homeless because they cannot afford rent. The lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness, according to the NLCHP. HUD has seen its budget slashed by over 50 percent in recent decades, resulting in the loss of 10,000 units of subsidized low-income housing each and every year.

Fact 6: There are fewer places for poor people to rent than before. According to the NLCHP, one eighth of the nation's supply of low-income housing has been permanently lost since 2001. The U.S. needs at least 7 million more affordable apartments for low-income families, and as a result, millions of families spend more than half of their monthly income on rent.

Fact 7: In the last few years millions have lost their homes. Over 5 million homes have been foreclosed on since 2008; that's one out of every 10 homes with a mortgage. This has caused even more people to search for affordable rental property.

Fact 8: The government does not help as much as you think. There is enough public rental assistance to help about one out of every four extremely low-income households. Those who do not receive help are on multi-year waiting lists. For example, Charlotte just opened up their applications for public housing assistance for the first time in 14 years, and over 10,000 people applied.

Fact 9: One in five homeless people suffers from untreated severe mental illness. While about 6 percent of the general population suffers from severe mental illness, 20 to 25 percent of the homeless suffer from severe mental illness, according to government studies. Half of this population self-medicate and are at further risk for addiction and poor physical health. A University of Pennsylvania study tracking nearly 5,000 homeless people for two years discovered that investing in comprehensive health support and treatment of physical and mental illnesses is less costly than incarceration, shelter and hospital services for the untreated homeless.

Fact 10: Cities are increasingly making homelessness a crime. A 2014 survey of 187 cities by the NLCHP found that 24 percent of cities make it a city-wide crime to beg in public, 33 percent make it illegal to stand around or loiter anyplace in the city, 18 percent make it a crime to sleep anywhere in public, 43 percent make it illegal to sleep in your car, and 53 percent make it illegal to sit or lie down in particular public places. And the number of cities criminalizing homelessness is steadily increasing.

For more information, look to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, whose publications were very helpful with this piece, as well as the National Center for Homeless Education and the National Coalition on the Homeless.

This Comic Perfectly Captures How Feminism Helps Everyone

Mon, 2014-10-13 11:45
A comic artist known as Rasenth wants to set the record straight on sexism.

Rasenth, a 25-year-old based in Japan, has created a comic showing how sexism is hurtful to everyone -- and reminding us that we can only overcome it by working together.

Rasenth created the comic this summer, after student Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 others in a spree allegedly in retribution against women who had rejected his romantic and sexual advances. Rodger's attitude towards women brought to light an online culture of misogyny blaming women for men's unhappiness -- when it may be that sexism is the ultimate culprit.

"I was angered by the Elliot Rodger incident and how he was aggravated by his hatred towards women," Rasenth told The Huffington Post in an email. "The comments he made about women, I thought, were very common complaints lodged against women that people say and think everyday and yet these feelings led up to murder. I just wanted people to notice how our unconscious double standards are hurting ourselves and each other."

Check out the full, amazing comic below.


















Watch: What do the shifting poll numbers mean for Illinois' gubernatorial election?

Mon, 2014-10-13 11:44
A new Reboot Illinois poll last week found Gov. Pat Quinn leading Bruce Rauner when respondents were asked for whom they'd vote if the election were today.

But another poll, conducted over two days last week and one day in September, found the Quinn/Rauner numbers almost exactly reversed when the question was which candidate respondents believed to be more trustworthy.

Does this make sense? And why is Quinn suddenly ahead after trailing Rauner in polling all summer?

Those are a couple of the questions we're discussing on this week's "Only in Illinois."



A new poll from the Chicago Sun-Times confirms that the Illinois governor's race really is anyone's game at this point. Out of respondents, 44 percent said they would vote for Quinn, while 41 percent said they would vote for Rauner. The news for Quinn is mixed in the Sun-Times poll. By a margin of 41 percent to 36 percent, respondents chose Quinn as the candidate who most understands their everyday concerns. But Rauner was the choice when participants were asked which candidate they consider the reform candidate. What could these statistics mean for the election, just about three weeks away?

Chicago-Area Air Traffic Control Center Back To Full Operations Weeks After Fire

Mon, 2014-10-13 10:55
AURORA, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago air traffic center reopened early Monday, more than two weeks after damage from a deliberately set fire forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and disrupted travel nationwide, federal officials said.

A full shift of air traffic controllers at the Chicago En Route Center in Aurora resumed control of the center's airspace from adjoining centers between midnight and 1 a.m. on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a news release.

About 200 Aurora facility workers traveled to other FAA air traffic centers since the Sept. 26 incident. The FAA said those workers will be returning from those locations Monday.

Authorities have said a contract worker cut cables and set fire to a basement telecommunications room before trying to commit suicide by slitting his throat. The disruption forced an hours-long shutdown of O'Hare and Midway international airports that day.

FAA technical team will remain in Aurora until Tuesday to monitor system performance and help ensure a smooth transition, the FAA said. The agency said the event has prompted it to conduct a 30-day review of contingency plans and security protocols for its major facilities.

The agency's response to the incident drew criticism from some, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said the FAA needed to "work harder and better and smarter" to restore normal airport operations.

Brian Howard, 36, of Naperville is charged in federal court with felony destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities. His defense attorney, Ron Safer, has said Howard made a "tragic mistake."

America's Snobbiest Cities (PHOTOS)

Mon, 2014-10-13 09:19
Who says New Yorkers are snobs?

Not Travis Levius, a Big Apple photographer who has found that another city along the Northeast Corridor has more attitude.

"In D.C., it's all about what you do," he says. "You can be among New York City's elite if you're an artist, but in D.C., that might get you, at best, a look of 'bless your little heart.'"

Snobbery may indeed be in the eye--or ear--of the beholder. In the America's Favorite Places survey, Travel + Leisure readers rated New Yorkers to be the snobbiest, with D.C. at No. 4 (perhaps they'd accuse Levius of harboring a hometown bias). It's just one of the categories, including wine bars, museums, and cleanliness, in which voters evaluated 38 major metropolitan areas.

Among the survey's snobbiest cities, some residents--like the hipsters in Boston or Portland, OR--perhaps just came off as intellectually, well, confident. Other cities take their specialties so seriously that it borders on pretension. In Seattle, your choice of coffee speaks volumes, while in San Francisco, someone might look down his nose if you don't toss your Pellegrino bottle in the right bin.

Certainly, in many top-scoring cities, the snobby label is only skin deep--if that. Phoenix-Scottsdale spa owner Heidi Lamar laughs at her hometown's nickname of Snottsdale, and knows that even the most ostentatious locals must drop their guard at some point. "Last week I had a Maserati, a Ferrari and a Bentley in my spa parking lot, right next to the VWs, Hondas, and Fords," she says. "But inside the spa, you couldn't tell which guests were which."

Find out which other cities make a snobby impression on visitors--and make your opinions heard by voting in the America's Favorite Places survey.



--Katrina Brown Hunt

See All of America's Snobbiest Cities

More from Travel + Leisure:
World's Creepiest Attractions
America's Best Coffee Cities
America's Favorite Cities
Best Breakfast Restaurants in the U.S.
Funny Signs from Around the World

Fatal Airplane Crash Barely Missed Suburban Homes, Authorities Say

Mon, 2014-10-13 07:52
PALOS HILLS, Ill. (AP) — Three people have died aboard a small plane that crashed on the only vacant lot in a dense Chicago suburb of single-family homes, authorities said Monday.

The twin-engine Beechcraft Baron crashed in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills around 10:40 p.m. Sunday, shortly after takeoff from Chicago Midway Airport for Lawrence, Kansas, said Lynn Lunsford of the Federal Aviation Administration. "There's only one empty lot in the whole neighborhood and that's where the plane came down," Palos Hills Deputy Police Chief James Boie told The Associated Press by telephone early Monday.

He said the plane had hit some trees but didn't strike any houses when it crashed, adding the wreckage was in a rather compact area.

"Some of the residents said they heard an airplane. It sounded like it was kind of sputtering and then it came down right away," Boie said. "It did come close to one of the houses."

He said he had no immediate identification of the victims, adding a medical examiner was at the site Monday morning. About two blocks all around had been cordoned off by authorities. But he said there was no fire at the time of the crash and no evacuation ordered, though some people were kept away from their homes after the crash.

Lunsford said in an earlier email that the FAA had sent a team to investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified.

Boie said planes from Midway often fly overhead, but he recalled no incident in recent memory of a small plane crash in the community southwest of downtown Chicago.

'Red Army' Trailer Examines Hockey And Life Behind The Iron Curtain

Sun, 2014-10-12 15:32
"Red Army" is one of the year's most talked about documentaries, with critics raving after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Examining the Soviet Union's Red Army ice hockey team's Cold War era domination of the sport, the film gives a behind-the-scenes look at the team and the culture surrounding the USSR.

"Told from the perspective of its captain Slava Fetisov, the story portrays his transformation from national hero to political enemy," a press release explains. "From the USSR to Russia, the film examines how sport mirrors social and cultural movements and parallels the rise and fall of the Red Army team with the Soviet Union."

Also, at 40 seconds, there are a couple bears holding hockey sticks, on ice, playing hockey. Watch the trailer above. "Red Army" premieres Jan. 23, 2015. More clips from the film can be found on the official "Red Army" YouTube page.

Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge And Rita Jeptoo Win 2014 Chicago Marathon

Sun, 2014-10-12 12:39
CHICAGO (AP) -- Kenyans ruled the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, with Eliud Kipchoge leading a 1-2-3 men's sweep and compatriot Rita Jeptoo repeating as the women's winner.

Kipchoge pulled away over the last two miles for his first major marathon victory, finishing in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 11 seconds. He was followed by Sammy Kitwara in 2:04:28 and Dickson Chumba in 2:04:32.

Jeptoo was timed in 2:24:35 in winning her fourth straight major marathon. She also captured the 2013-14 World Marathon Majors points championship and took the Boston Marathon in April.

Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia (2:25:37) was second and Florence Kiplagat of Kenya (2:25:57) was third.

The winners earned $100,000. Jeptoo receives an extra $500,000 for winning the series championship.

Ideal conditions - sunny skies and 46-degree temperatures - greeted runners at the start. The men's pack stayed together for about 20 miles before Kipchoge, Kitwara and Chumba drew away.

Kipchoge and Kitwara were side by side with Chumba right behind after 24 miles. But Kipchoge made it look easy down the stretch. He made a quick burst and was in command as he headed toward the finish at Grant Park.

Jeptoo hasn't lost a major marathon since she finished second in a sprint to Ethiopia's Atsede Baysa in the 2012 Chicago Marathon. She smashed the course record to repeat as Boston Marathon champion in the spring and came away with an easy victory in Chicago for the second straight year.

She pulled away after 23 miles, with no one near her at the end. Jeptoo raised her arms as she crossed the line and sank to her knees.

So Just How Bad Is It To Eat In Your Bed?

Sun, 2014-10-12 08:20
Even if you don't have a TV in your bedroom, chances are you have Netflix on your laptop. And now that the weather's getting colder, there's probably a good chance that you might curl up under the covers with a flick and a snack of some sort.

But just how unsanitary is eating in your bed? We wanted to know, and we wanted you to know, too. Kadi Dulude, the owner of top New York City cleaning service Wizard Of Homes, told HuffPost Home that "at least half" of the places she cleans show signs of people eating in their beds.



"Most people know to take their dishes to the sink, but in the extreme cases, it's like their bed is their dining room and if they don't clean up, there are a lot of bugs," says Dulude.

So what will happen when you leave traces of snacking between the sheets? Paul Bello, exterminator and owner of PJB Pest Management Consulting, told HuffPost Home that bugs will appear when there are crumbs left around. The most common creepy crawlers to show up? Ants and cockroaches.

"The people who are sloppy and don't clean up after themselves are the ones who run the risk," says Bello. "Cockroaches need only a little bit of food to survive."

As you might expect, certain foods attract different types of bugs. According to Lou Sorkin, a forensic entomologist (a person who studies insects) and a senior scientific assistant at the American Museum of Natural History, sweet foods such as soda, fruit juices, cupcakes and cookies with icing could attract ants and certain flies, including house flies, blue bottle flies and green bottle flies. Leftover foods, such as milk from a bowl of cereal, pizza sitting in the box or hamburgers and chicken left out in the takeout container, can attract ants, flies and even cockroaches.

Normally, Dulude advises that people wash their sheets every week, but for those who constantly eat in bed, she says every three days would be ideal. When it's all said and done, we suggest heeding Dulude's sage advice when it comes to bedroom practices.

"I would suggest not eating in bed at all," she said. "Just don't put the TV in the bedroom. Keep the bedroom as a sacred place where you go to rest."

All images courtesy of Getty

How An Illinois Mom Converted To Islam And Found Peace And Joy During Her Very First Hajj

Sun, 2014-10-12 08:13
Kristin Szremski is a 53-year-old mom from Palo Hills, Illinois. Born into a Missouri-Synod Lutheran family, she first converted to Catholicism before finding her place in Islam. This year, Szremski was one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who were drawn to Mecca between October 2 - 7 to complete the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj.

She tells Huffington Post about her experience below. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.


1. How did you come to Islam and what was it about the religion that moved you?


I was a special assignment reporter for the Star Newspapers in suburban Chicago in 2000. I was assigned to cover the Arab community. At that time, I didn't know anything about Islam -- I was raised as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran and we had been taught that all religions and prophets that came after Jesus were false.

During the six weeks I had for research, I interviewed many, many Arab Muslims. My conversion was not something that happened overnight; it probably took more than 18 months. I was fascinated to learn that Islam had all the same stories as the Bible as well as the same characters.

To back up a bit -- I was raised Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism when I was about 40. I always wanted to belong to a large community and I was intrigued by the Catholic Church. Since my husband at the time was Catholic, I decided to join the church. That had a huge impact on my later conversion to Islam because where the Lutheran church believed in the Bible literally, the Catholic Church encouraged knowledge, questions and also gave us the historical context for the books contained in the Christian canon. This allowed me to open my mind to the possibility that the Quran was truly the revealed word of God.

Once I came to believe this, it was an easy step to believe Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the messenger and prophet. The harder part was letting go of my belief that Jesus was the Son of God. Ultimately, it was the passages in the Quran where God tells us that He was not begotten nor has He begotten and similar ones that finally helped me. Also, Jesus figures prominently in Islam so I wasn’t letting go of him, but just the idea that he is God.

In the end, my conversion came while I was praying. The date was July 21, 2001. I was in a hotel room in Washington DC, where I'd gone to cover a meeting for a magazine I was writing for. I had the Quran open on the bed before me and I was actually on my knees praying, asking God to lead me to the truth when suddenly I declared the Shahada –- that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger. I later made a public declaration in Arabic but for all purposes it was at that moment that I became a Muslim.

I love Islam because of its purity, its simplicity and its truth. The Muslims I had met were truly pleasant, patient and well-mannered people.


2. We understand this is your first hajj. Were you nervous at all?

I was very nervous about this trip because it is a heavy spiritual journey, which means there's a lot of personal reflection. It is also a very physical experience, with many different components taking place over several days. I’ve had two surgeries on my neck and lower back because of the degenerative arthritis and it has left me with some slight neurological deficiencies. One of the biggest of these is weakness in my legs, which things like overuse, fatigue, lack of sleep, extreme conditions can exacerbate.

3. Was there someone who showed you around? How did you know what to do?

I was traveling with a tour group, called Noor Travel, out of Milwaukee. The tour guide was extremely helpful. Plus, my lovely roommates are Arab American women who can help with the language as need be. There are also people in the group who have done this before who can offer advice. When all is said and done, though, 3 million people in one small place is pretty overwhelming and daunting so I pretty much learned as I went along.


4. Are there any parts of the hajj that you were particularly looking forward to?
Muslims pray in the direction of the Kaaba from wherever they are in the world. Being in the presence of God in Mecca, at the very center of the Earth, where Adam and Eve came to earth from the Garden of Eden, where Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba, and where Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived and received his first revelations from God is a tremendously invigorating and rejuvenating experience. To be able to see the Kaaba right in front of me after all these years was powerful and something I don’t believe I will ever forget.

5. How did it go?
I did much better physically than I expected. I’m actually feeling better now than before I left for the trip, mainly due to an improved state of mind that this trip brought about. In addition, Islam is always about moderation and the religion is not meant to be difficult. Therefore, certain accommodations are possible during the rites of Hajj.

There are three types of Tawafs, or circumambulations of the Kaaba. During each Tawaf, Muslims circle the Kaaba seven times.

I was able to use a wheelchair to circumambulate the Kaaba the first time.

During the second Tawaf, called Tawaf Al-Ifadah. I wanted to walk by myself so I could really concentrate on ‘talking to God,’ in my supplications and in worship. I also wanted to make the physical effort for God, as so much of Islam is about taking action with the help of God. This was an extremely beautiful experience for me, extremely spiritual. I finished the entire rite in just under three hours. Then it took me about one hour to make the usual 10 minute trip back to the hotel because I had overdone it a bit.

I was not able to finish the third Tawaf, called Tawaf Al-Wada or the Farewell Tawaf, because I was unprepared for the millions of people who were there at the same time as me. I was getting hurt and not strong enough to withstand the crush of people. So, sadly, I had to leave without completing it. To expiate for missing that rite, I paid to have a sheep slaughtered and its meat given to the poor.

Throwing stones at pillars that symbolize the spots where Satan tempted Abraham, who was preparing to sacrifice his son, is another rite of Hajj. Because of the sheer physicality it takes to walk up a steep hill to the throwing area and the danger of being in a crowd of a few million people throwing what are supposed to be pebbles but sometimes turn out larger, women, the elderly and people with health conditions can ask someone to throw the stones for them. I took advantage of this and asked some other group member to throw for me.

An integral part of the Hajj is the visit to Mount Arafah, where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prayed on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah when he made Hajj. The Day of Arafah is a day of atonement, when we stand in prayer from just after the sun reaches its zenith during midday until sunset. This year, it was about six hours. We were at Arafah long before that, though. We stayed in sweltering tents. It was 108 degrees outside and hotter inside because the air conditioning did not work.

If one stands in Arafah in sincere devotion and sincerely repents of his sins, all his sins will be forgiven. And we also believe that supplications on this day made sincerely will be answered. Standing is key, although allowances are made for older people or people, like me, with health conditions. I stood a great deal of the time but had to sit from time to time.

It was probably the most difficult physically and spiritually of the entire trip. But it was also extremely beautiful and cleansing. The most beautiful time came when it was close to sunset and hundreds of people gathered on a hillside, facing the Kaaba in the West, to make supplications while the sun was setting. All this was done while one imam made the supplications, called du'as, out loud. It was extremely powerful and many people, including me, were crying.

I think there's a recurring point here. Hajj requires extreme effort but then offers extreme beauty, peace and joy in return.


6. What were you searching for during this pilgrimage? Did you find it?

What I wanted most out of this journey is to find a deeper relationship with my Creator, to get to the place where I have the confidence of my conviction that God is all I need or will ever need. I was praying for this absolute, intuitive trust because who have attained this level of faith are never worried or discouraged.

I believe I absolutely found what I was looking for, although I also realize that this is something I have to work on every day. In Mecca, in the presence of the Kaaba, I felt God’s presence in a way that I never have before at any time in my life. There was an overwhelming feeling of love that inspired trust and confidence. I could pour my heart out, ask for anything and worship God.

Now that I have experienced this pure connection to God, I want to maintain and grow it. The onus is on me to make the changes necessary to help this happen. For instance, I plan on attending congregational Fajr (dawn) prayers at the mosque everyday, God-willing.

7. What did you hope would change about you after hajj, on the inside? Did this happen?

The last 10 years have been difficult ones for me - I got divorced, moved, had two major surgeries related to the degenerative arthritis, lost my house in economic crisis, and am beginning to feel worn down by the rampant Islamophobia in this country. Islam is the perfect religion, but I am not living it perfectly. Instead of complaining, I should be thanking God for what I’ve experienced in the past few years.

I think the biggest thing that happened to me was that I realized how spoiled I am as a privileged American, how ungrateful I’ve been for my conversion to Islam and for the life that I have.

People from all corners of the world come to Hajj and many of them do not have the means to stay in hotels, let alone tents. People leave their villages with not much more than a small sack of possessions, knowing they will be sleeping without shelter on a plaza, hillside, or on the street. Would I have that kind of devotion? I would hope so, but somehow I rather doubt it. It was these people, who inspired me to walk the second Tawaf, described above.

A person’s Hajj can be invalidated for complaining, arguing, or gossiping so it is extremely important to avoid all this. Dealing with crowds of millions requires massive doses of patience, which can only happen when you start looking at individuals in the crowd as just that – individual human beings deserving of respect and gentle treatment. Exercising this kind of patience for two weeks brought about a deeper sense of humility, which I hope to remember as I go about my daily life.

Finally, God says in the Quran that He guides whom He wills to Islam. As I mentioned, I’d been struggling lately because of things like Islamophobia. Instead of cherishing the fact that God called me to the religion, I’ve been focusing on superficial things that distract me from the real beauty of what it means to be Muslim. This experience showed me that I have been taking the great gift of this faith for granted.

Near-Perfect Conditions Predicted For Sunday's Chicago Marathon

Sat, 2014-10-11 08:23
CHICAGO (AP) -- Near-perfect conditions are expected to give elite entries in Sunday's Chicago Marathon an opportunity for record-setting runs.

The forecast is for 40 degree temperatures for the beginning of the race and the 26.2-mile course is relatively flat.

"If it's a nice day those guys up front could threaten the world record," said Bobby Curtis, a first-time Chicago participant who has a personal best of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 24 seconds. "I wouldn't be surprised if they set a course record, I wouldn't be surprised if they come close to a world record."

Leading the men's field are Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, renewing an 11-year rivalry from track and field days. Bekele and Kipchoge are the top men's entries with personal best times of 2:05.04 and 2:04.05, respectively.

Kenya's Dennis Kimetto holds the current men's world record of 2:02.57, set last month in Berlin. The 11-year-old women's standard of 2:15.25 was established in London in 2003 by England's Paula Radcliffe.

Chicago's 37th annual race includes a field of 108 elite men, women and wheelchair athletes. There are also 45,000 amateur runners registered and more than 1 million people are expected to watch along the way.

Chicago is fifth in his year's six-race World Marathon Majors, which concludes its latest two-year prize cycle with the Nov. 2 New York City Marathon. The series' top male and female runners will be awarded $500,000 apiece next month.

Kenyan Rita Jeptoo already leads the World Marathon rankings and is back to defend her 2013 championship.

"I'm here again to try my best and (run) my best time in Chicago," said the soft-spoken Jeptoo, a Boston Marathon champion this year and Chicago winner last year in 2:19.57. "Everybody here, I think, is ready for a run on Sunday. . Everybody is ready to run fast."

Kimetto sits atop the men's standings but is not entered this year in Chicago after his course record winning run of 2:03.45 in 2013.

That leaves Bekele and Kipchoge atop a speedy field of seven African runners who've clocked personal bests below 2:06. The two have run against each other more than a dozen times since the 2003 IAAF World championships in the 5,000 meters.

"I'm looking forward to competing with Kenenisa on the road this time," said Kipchoge. "This is my fourth (marathon) and that gives me confidence."

Kipchoge's 2:04.05 in a second place finish in Berlin in Oct. 2013 is his career best. Bekele is three-time Olympic gold and 18-time world champion in long distance track and reigning world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. He's entered in just his second career marathon. In April, he won a Paris run in 2:05.04.

"In track I did everything," Bekele said. "What's left is only the marathon."

Three-time Chicago champion Tatyana McFadden tops the 12-woman wheelchair field. McFadden owns four Chicago titles and set a course record of 1:42:35 in 2013. She also branched out last winter and won a cross-country skiing gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

Reigning men's champion Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, tops a 27-man wheelchair field that includes five ex-Chicago champs.

Also Friday, officials announced a four-year sponsorship deal with Abbott, a suburban Chicago-based health care company. The company's sponsorship of the World Marathon Majors begins with the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 22, 2015.

Watch What Happens When You Shove A French Horn At 'Meet The Press' Host Chuck Todd

Fri, 2014-10-10 17:26
Think fast!

Chuck Todd is usually the one asking the tough questions, but a few of his colleagues turned the table on the "Meet The Press" host during his visit to Chicago's NBC affiliate station earlier this week.

"We rented this for the day -- very clean mouthpiece," Chicago Sun-Times political columnist and NBC Chicago contributor Carol Marin said, handing Todd a French horn.

Todd's response: "Oh, good lord."

Though he rose to fame as a journalist, Todd attended George Washington University in D.C. on a French horn scholarship.

We don't know if Todd is contractually obligated to do so, but he ended his brief solo by playing a familiar G-E-C sequence -- otherwise known as the "NBC chimes."

Before dusting off his musical skills, Todd also speculated that the Islamic State would dominate the focus of the rest of Obama's presidency and that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be unlikely to run for president.

Check out the full segment:

Best City for Fall: Chicago

Fri, 2014-10-10 14:38
If you're not thinking of Chicago as a fall destination, you are really missing out. Sure, leaf-peeping in New England, apple picking in Michigan and laughing at the rest of the country from California are all fine fall traditions that you should go ahead and try, but don't discount Chicago.

From architectural tours to tons of haunted places, fall in Chicago has a lot to offer.


Image by Saul

Get Cultured
Chicago's architecture is internationally celebrated for great reasons. We have The Sears Tower, The Tribune Tower, The Hancock Center, The Wrigley Building, the twin corn cob buildings (aka Marina City) and tons and tons of others that are totally worth a look and some learning.

For the most informative guides, see the sites with docents from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The group offers boat trips through October 14, as well as walking tours and L train tours (which is apparently a great way to travel if you'd like to avoid zombies). Many people visit the city and miss seeing the loop on the train, which is actually super fun.


Image via Disturbia

Get Halloween-y
Chicago's scary history took center stage a few years back when everyone was reading Devil In the White City, which is about, among other things, the serial killer H.H. Holmes. And Harold Ramis, of Ghostbusters fame, also hails from Chicago if that's more your speed.

Head to the suburbs to be terrorized at a haunted house or celebrate neighborhood style. On the north side, hit the epic Northalsted Halloween Parade and Costume Contest, which has been going strong for 18 years in boystown. Expect lots of drag and tons of fun!

On the south side, thousands of people turn up on South Harper Avenue between East 57th and 58th Streets. The neighborhood has been welcoming trick-or-treaters in droves since the 1970s when, as the story goes, neighbors started going all out in defiance of the razorblade-in-the-candy scares.

This year, Critical Mass (a giant group bike ride that is 100% sure to feature costumed bikes and riders) falls on Halloween. The exact route is unknown, but it kicks off at The Daley Center and, if I had to guess, will wind through Wicker Park and Logan Square.


Photo by Greg Pietras

Get Drunk
Okay, well, you don't have to get drunk. But, many people in this city do like to have some beer and watch football. Luckily, there are a number of bars dedicated to just this activity!

Because the city is really big and welcomes transplants, we have bars dedicated to tons of different college teams and teams from other cities. However, we love The Bears the most. And no, we won't stop talking about how we won the Superbowl in 1985. For the full-on college bar experience, head to Lincoln Park, River North or Lakeview and go... well, kind of anyplace. If you're looking for a less overtly sporty crowd but still want decent TVs, try High Dive in West Town.

You might also enjoy taking in a game at Soldier Field. Be sure to bundle up because there's no dome and plenty of cold breeze off of Lake Michigan to remind you why fall is awesome and winter... well. We'll see you in the spring.

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