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Apple Unveils New, Bigger iPhone 6 Plus

Tue, 2014-09-09 12:42
There's a new iPhone out, and this time it's not only better -- but also much bigger.

Apple announced a new pair of iPhones at an event in Cupertino, California, on Tuesday. As predicted, both of the phones have larger screens than previous Apple phones. The iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch screen, while the iPhone 6 will have a 4.7-inch screen. In comparison, the iPhone 5s has a 4-inch screen.

The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus compared to the 5s.

The release confirms the long-standing rumor that Apple would introduce a bigger phone in order to compete with Android phones, namely Samsung, in the increasingly popular "phablet" category.

Also as predicted, the larger phone will be more expensive, starting at $299 with a contract.

The iPhone 6 Plus screen features Retina HD technology -- allowing for crisper video and images than ever before. The 6 Plus is also thinner than previous iPhones at just 7.1 millimeters wide, though it is slightly thicker than the iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6 Plus.

The 6 Plus features a longer battery life than the standard model, allowing for 80 hours of audio playback and up to 14 hours of video. The iPhone 6, in contrast, allows for 50 hours of audio and 11 hours of video.

Both of the new iPhones will have upgraded processors. The iPhone 6 Plus is 84 times faster than the original iPhone, Apple said.

This is a developing story.

Esurance Takes Down Billboards With Seemingly Smutty Typo

Tue, 2014-09-09 11:57
Give those letters some space, Esurance.

An Esurance billboard in Chicago got the wrong kind of attention earlier this month because the "click" in its "cover your home in a click" slogan looked like it said, well, something smutty.

(Story continues below.)

@HeathStevens69 @GUNNAROptiks !! I'M NOT ALONE IN THIS CLICK/DICK THING.
http://t.co/b16NZkGMph pic.twitter.com/gYPYRIV4WE

— Mazy Yap (@MazyYap) September 5, 2014


Then a mischief-maker on the Internet got involved, Photoshopping the sign to make it appear as if there were no question that the word was d-i-c-k. Instagram user Thorne Brandt admitted to the Chicago Tribune that he had doctored the photo as a joke.



But Twitter user Sharlene King took it as real, the Trib wrote, and playfully called out Esurance for its "kerning" issues.

Esurance responded to her concerns:

@typodactyl Thank you for the tweet, Sharlene. We are aware of the issue and have removed all affected billboards.

— Esurance (@esurance) September 3, 2014


An Esurance spokesman told The Huffington Post that the insurance company was actually responding to the issue of the "click" appearance on the real billboards from a certain distance.

"We removed the billboard over a month ago, long before the Photoshopped image surfaced," the spokesman said.

Still, the signs supplied plenty of comic grist.

@ALTtoBTC @typodactyl it would be impressive.

— John (@JohnManBQue) September 3, 2014


The moral is, there's a thin line between click and you-know-what.

h/t AdWeek

13 More 'Michael Brown' Police Killings We've Learned About In The Month Since His Death

Tue, 2014-09-09 11:32
It has been exactly one month since Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The unarmed black teen's death drew national attention to a number of issues about policing and equal treatment under the law that have long been of concern to the African-American community. How did a fatal confrontation sprout, when initial reports suggest that Brown was simply walking in the street? Why did Officer Darren Wilson fire six shots into Brown's body, including two to the head? Were Brown's hands in the air at the time the fatal shot was fired? Was such lethal force really necessary, even if investigators end up concluding Wilson's actions were justified? And if Wilson's actions were criminal, will Brown's family actually find justice?

While much has been said about the role race played in the Brown case and in similar incidents of unarmed black men being controversially and forcefully targeted by police around the country, the events that unfolded in Ferguson on Aug. 9 and in the response to subsequent protests undoubtedly speak more broadly to a disturbing pattern of behavior by law enforcement. Around the nation, people of every race, age, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are being treated questionably and aggressively by police officers, in a manner that often leads to suspects being killed or injured, seemingly without proper cause. To make matters more concerning, we have no idea just how many people police kill each year, whether justified or not.

The assorted cases below -- all of which have either taken place or come to light in the past month -- all touch upon many of the core issues at play in the Brown case. Not all of the victims were black males, and the regional context is unique in each case, but they all raise the same questions: How frequently are police too quick or undiscerning in their use of excessive, often lethal force? And are these cases adequately investigated and prosecuted by the other law enforcement officials tasked with making these determinations?

Here's what some of the most controversial police violence looked like in the past month alone:

Aug. 10

On the evening of Aug. 10, an off-duty Dallas police officer confronted Andrew Scott Gaynier, an unarmed 26-year-old who was reportedly pacing up and down the street and making lewd comments to a number of women. Police say Gaynier didn't comply when an officer ordered him to show his hands shortly after attempting to enter a passing family's vehicle. A video shows that Gaynier then charged toward the officer, leading him to open fire on the suspect. Unnamed witnesses claim Gaynier shouted "shoot me" and screamed before rushing toward the officer. A witness also claimed the officer fired four shots, including three to the chest.

An investigation into the incident has been launched and the video of the shooting was turned over to a special investigative unit.

Aug. 11, case 1

Veteran officers with the Los Angeles Police Department stopped Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill man, about a block from the street he grew up on in the South Los Angeles’ Florence neighborhood on the evening of Aug. 11. Little is known about why the officers stopped Ford, but police say during that stop a scuffle ensued with Ford during which Ford reached for the officer’s gun. The partner officer then opened fire upon Ford. The police say Ford was rushed to a nearby hospital, and later succumbed to his wounds. However, eyewitnesses tell a much different story. They say that Ford was unarmed and was being compliant with the officers, lying on the ground when three bullets were unloaded into him by the police. Members of Ford’s community and family say that it was well known, even by police officers, that Ford was mentally ill.

Attorney Steven Lerman, who also represented Rodney King -- the man whose videotaped beating by LAPD officers following a high-speed car chase in 1991 sparked outrage around the nation -- took on the Ford case and has said that he intends to file a federal civil rights lawsuit over the shooting, which he described as an “execution.”

The LAPD recently released the names of the officers involved in the shooting, but has maintained an “investigative hold” on the Ford autopsy report. The LAPD’s Force Investigative Division and Robbery Homicide Division investigations into the shooting are ongoing.



Protestors gather in front of Police Headquarters in Los Angeles on Aug. 17 to demonstrate against the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford.

Aug. 11, case 2

Salt Lake City police officers were responding to reports of a man brandishing a handgun when they confronted 20-year-old Dillon Taylor outside a 7-Eleven store. Taylor was unarmed at the time, witnesses say, but some reports suggest that he may have reached toward his waistband before being shot by a police officer. Taylor's brother, who was with the 20-year-old when he was killed, said Taylor was wearing headphones at the time, so may not have heard the officers' command for him to put his hands in the air and get on the ground. Taylor died at the scene.

The South Salt Lake Police Department is investigating the incident, but has so far not released a ruling as to whether the officer was justified in firing the fatal shots. The officers at the scene were wearing body cameras during the confrontation, and investigators say the footage will be released when when the investigation concludes.

Aug. 12

On Aug. 12 in Victorville, California, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to take Dante Parker, a 36-year-old father of five, into custody. Parker, who was biking at the time of the confrontation, was a suspect in a burglary, police said. When officers confronted him, they say he became "uncooperative and combative," and acted as if he was under the influence of an unknown substance. Officers deployed Tasers on him repeatedly, according to police officials, and Parker was later transported to a local hospital where he died. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's department is conducting an investigation into Parker's death, but the results have not yet been released.

Aug. 14, case 1

On Aug. 14, the family of Omar Abrego, a 37-year-old father from Los Angeles, came forward to KTLA, claiming that Abrego had been beaten to death by police following a confrontation. The LAPD claims police attempted to pull over Abrego because he was driving erratically and almost hit a pedestrian. Officers say he attempted to flee, first in his vehicle, then on foot, before eventually being caught. In the altercation that ensued, police officials say Abrego suffered a laceration. Witnesses claim to have seen officers striking him on his head and face, however, with one saying the beating lasted 10 minutes. A cell phone video appears to show a motionless Abrego with a bloodied face, lying on the ground. An ambulance was called to the scene, and 12 hours later, Abrego was dead.

The LAPD says the two sergeants involved in the incident were injured as a result of the arrest and that the department has mounted an investigation into the incident.

Aug. 14, case 2

Police in Greeley, Colorado say they were responding to a 911 call reporting an intoxicated man armed with "two or three guns" on the morning of Aug. 14 when they encountered 21-year-old Jacinto Zavala. The military veteran reportedly had a brief encounter with police, officials say, during which he refused their commands to drop a weapon and instead pointed it at officers, leading them to shoot and kill Zavala. While police maintain that Zavala was brandishing an AR-15, his family has claimed he was armed only with a BB gun, and that he never raised it at the officers. The source of the 911 call, who claimed the suspect had PTSD, is also unclear. Zavala's family alleges that he didn't suffer from the disorder, but that officers should have behaved differently if they believed they were responding to a mentally unstable individual.

The Weld County District Attorney's Office is currently investigating the case, though details about incident have not yet been released.

Aug. 14, case 3

On the morning that Diana Showman, a 19-year-old woman with severe bipolar disorder, was shot to death by police officers in San Jose, California, she called 911 reportedly telling dispatchers that she had a gun and was going to shoot her family. However, no one else was at home with Showman. When Showman later approached officers outside of her home with a large black object in her hand, the officers ordered her to drop it, but when she disobeyed the order, police say, an officer fired one fatal round. It was later discovered that the large object was a black cordless drill.

Showman’s parents, as well as local police, are demanding a thorough investigation of the shooting.



The drill Showman was carrying at the time of her death.

Aug. 14, case 4

On the same afternoon, a veteran officer from the Phoenix Police Department arrived at 50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux’s apartment in order to transport her to an in-patient mental-health facility. Police say Cusseaux -- who was said to have serious mental illness which included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression -- met the officer at her front door with a hammer in her hand when she was shot dead.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting after Cusseaux’s mother asked that the city use an independent agency to look into the incident.

Aug. 17

On Aug. 17, Joshua Paul, a 31-year-old from Carpentersville, Illinois, was pulled over by police for a traffic violation. What happened next still isn't clear, but the officers informed Paul that he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest due to prior traffic violations, and attempted to take him into custody. Police reported a "brief physical struggle," which left Paul with a laceration under his chin that required on-scene medical attention from paramedics. The extent of his injuries was reportedly more substantially, because he was eventually taken to the hospital in an ambulance, where he died a few hours later. The cause of Paul's death and extent of his injuries have still not been released by officials, and the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit has launched an investigation into the incident.

Aug. 19

On Aug. 19 in Orlando, several people called 911 to report a man with a gun outside of a downtown nightclub, but that he hadn’t fired it yet. According to a police affidavit, police ordered Kody Roach, the gunman, to get on the ground, but when he started to back up toward the club again, witnesses say that policed fired as many as a half-dozen shots. Police say that during a police confrontation with the gunman, 22-year-old Maria Godinez was killed by a stray bullet fired by an officer. Roach survived the shooting and now faces a murder charge for the killing of Godinez.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation into the shooting.



A photo of Godinez, via WKMG.

Aug. 24

Police in Ottawa, Kansas, say they responded to calls about unusual behavior from 18-year-old Joseph Jennings and reports that he may have had a gun. Officers said that when they arrived in the parking lot of a local hardware store on the afternoon of Aug. 24, Jennings ignored police commands. That’s when police fired upon Jennings. But witnesses say Jennings may not have had a gun at all, and that police may have fired more than 15 rounds at the teen who had left a psychiatric hospital just hours before. Family members also said that police were aware of Jennings' mental state and had made several recent trips to his home because the young man had been having suicidal thoughts brought on by what his family described as painful seizures.

The case has been taken over by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Aug. 28

Police say they received 911 calls on the morning of Aug. 28 describing a man walking down a street wielding a pipe and bashing in windows. A witness described the man as homeless, and he was later identified as 36-year-old Guillermo Canas. St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said that the man was attacking officers with rocks and had also apparently attacked a school bus with a metal pipe. Witnesses say that when police arrived, the man was throwing rocks and trying to punch police officers just before he finally charged at one of the officers and was fatally shot.

Sept. 3

Earlier this month, the family of Marlon Horton filed a civil rights lawsuit over the fatal shooting of the 28-year-old man by an undercover Chicago police officer the year before. Horton was reportedly attempting to visit his girlfriend on the morning of Sept. 7, 2013, but a lawsuit claims that his cell phone battery had died, leaving him unable to call his girlfriend to get into her building. Horton then asked two building security guards, one who turned out to be an off-duty Chicago police officer, to let him into the building. When the pair of guards refused to let him in and asked him to leave, Horton allegedly began to urinate near the police officer’s car and a scuffle began. It ended with Horton being shot as he moved toward the off-duty police officer.

Transcripts from 911 calls allegedly reveal a dispatcher instructing the off-duty officer to give Horton medical assistance after Horton had been shot, but security video from the scene of the shooting shows no assistance was given, according to a lawsuit launched by the family.

The family’s attorneys say that had Horton been white, he would not have been shot and killed. The Chicago Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the incident.

_______________________

Not every target of police violence that emerged in the past month met such a tragic end. In late August, Chris Lollie, a 28-year-old father of four from St. Paul, Minnesota released video of a January encounter that led to him getting hit with a Taser twice by police before being arrested.



Lollie claims he was sitting in a public skyway-level lounge area when a security guard told him to leave. Believing he was in a public space, Lollie declined, and the guard called police to the scene. When officers arrived, Lollie had left the area to go pick his children up from daycare. They approached him in another section of the skyway and asked him to identify himself; Lollie was filming the confrontation on his cell phone. When he refused to identify himself, officers attempted to take him into custody. Lollie claims an officer placed his phone on a ledge, and audio of the incident shows there was a brief struggle before an officer deployed a Taser on him, allegedly in front of his daughter's day care classmates.

The charges -- for misdemeanor trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process -- were eventually dropped in July, but Lollie is now filing a federal lawsuit, claiming he was a victim of unlawful search and seizure, motivated by racial bias. Lollie luckily wasn't killed or seriously injured in the incident, but as some of the previous stories demonstrate, many similar incidents have had more tragic ends.

Lollie's situation also garnered national attention due to a video, but there is no doubt there are many similarly questionable confrontations we don't hear about. In many of these cases, unnecessary or at least potentially controversial use of force goes unnoticed by the public and unquestioned by police officials. It's only when someone actually dies -- an outcome that officers often have little control over if a Taser or other "non-lethal" weapon is used -- that the story emerges and the nation again is forced to see the parallels to the case of Michael Brown.

#WhyIStayed Stories Reveal Why Domestic Violence Survivors Can't 'Just Leave'

Tue, 2014-09-09 11:24
"But why would you stay if someone was abusing you?"

That's a distressingly common response to revelations of domestic violence. After a video was released yesterday showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancée (now wife), Janay Palmer, and dragging her unconscious body from a hotel elevator, media pundits and online speculators have questioned why Palmer -- or any victim -- would remain with someone who abused them. The subtext: someone who stays isn't really being abused. Or equally troubling, such reactions imply that a woman can ensure her safety by simply leaving a violent partner.

An estimated one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes -- and most instances of intimate partner violence are never reported. On average, a victim leaves their abuser seven times before staying away for good.

So, when author Beverly Gooden saw people questioning the experiences of Janay Palmer and other survivors of domestic abuse, she stepped in to explain why "just leaving" isn't that easy.

"When I saw those tweets, my first reaction was shame," Gooden told Mic. "The same shame that I felt back when I was in a violent marriage. It's a sort of guilt that would make me crawl into a shell and remain silent. But today, for a reason I can't explain, I'd had enough. I knew I had an answer to everyone's question of why victims of violence stay. I can't speak for Janay Rice, I can only speak for me."

The author started sharing her own experiences in an abusive relationship through tweets, using the hashtag #WhyIStayed.

I tried to leave the house once after an abusive episode, and he blocked me. He slept in front of the door that entire night. #WhyIStayed

— Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014


I stayed because my pastor told me that God hates divorce. It didn't cross my mind that God might hate abuse, too. #WhyIStayed

— Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014


I had to plan my escape for months before I even had a place to go and money for the bus to get there. #WhyIStayed

— Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014


Next, Gooden invited other survivors to share theirs. These powerful testimonies speak for themselves.

All tweets below are embedded with permission.

#whyistayed Because when he said he was sorry, I trusted that meant it wouldn't happen again. Again. Again. Again. Again.

— Katie Clark (@omgcornflakes) September 9, 2014


#whyistayed. He'd shot my dog Said I'm next if I threaten to leave him again. Victim 75% more likely to be killed if she leaves.

— terry ann thaxton (@terryannthaxton) September 9, 2014


He made me feel absolutely worthless. I thought he was the best I'd ever get. I thought that if I tried harder, he'd change. #WhyIStayed

— Evan Avery Birch (@brassiest) September 8, 2014


Because I didn't know what a healthy relationship was, or how mine wasn't. #WhyIStayed

— Mara Jade (@marajade13) September 9, 2014


#whyistayed because I "knew" no one else would want me. I was "lucky" that he chose me. I finally left because he almost killed me

— thriftymaven (@thriftymaven) September 9, 2014


I was told marriage is forever. I didn’t want to be a failure #whyistayed

— Jessica Merrell (@jmillermerrell) September 9, 2014


I stayed because I was sure he would stop if he only understood how he was hurting me. #WhyIStayed

— Annaleise Dearinger (@Dearinger007) September 9, 2014


I thought it was "love". I thought it was my fault & I deserved it. I thought it was normal & I always justified his actions #WhyIStayed

— D.Stephanie17 (@DannaStephanie) September 9, 2014


These tweets put human faces to intimate partner violence, and remind us that escaping that violence isn't simply a matter of staying or going. The cycle of domestic abuse is far, far more complicated than that.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Are Chicagoans and Downstate Illinoisans Really All That Different?

Tue, 2014-09-09 10:25
The rivalry between Chicago and downstate Illinois gets played up a lot, but what do we have to be competitive about? We're all Illinoisans. Are we really that different? And if we can't agree on where downstate Illinois actually begins, can we call it a real distinction?

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the term "downstate" doesn't have a specific definition in regards to Illinois:

For some Illinoisans, downstate begins at the southwest city limits of Chicago. Others would claim that any area north of I-80 is "outstate," and that downstate does not really begin until one reaches Bloomington.

Should it even matter what geographic area we identify with if we are all Illinoisans? We all endured the polar vortex together, we've all borne the shame of having to send so many governors to jail and we all want to see the best for our state. But living in the urban jungle of Chicago and living in the suburban, rural and small-town environment of the rest of the state produces distinctly different lifestyles. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

Downstaters both fear and envy Chicago. Downstaters are convinced that Chicago gets "their" highway money and "their" school funds. Chicago equals big city, big city equals crime, noise, traffic, welfare, and poverty. Forgotten--except to the occasional tourist--are the architectural wonders of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Lake Michigan, the exchanges that buy and sell downstate's agricultural produce, the Art Institute, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera, the parades, festivals, and the sheer wealth and exuberance of America's "most livable" big city.

To be sure, many Chicagoans probably feel the same way about downstate: envious of their space, lower taxes and cost of living and possibly safer neighborhoods and fearful of the boredom that comes with massive expanses of corn fields and soybeans.

Chicagoans and Downstaters are sometimes even culturally distinct. This map from Roll Call shows U.S. House of Representatives 2014 election preferences. Chicago and the surrounding areas are steadily Democrat-leaning, while most of the rest of the state leans Republican to varying degrees (though voter preferences are a little more up in the air around St. Louis and the Quad Cities).



This map from Trulia shows that houses are more expensive in and near Chicago than most of the rest of the state:



As Chicagoans will moan about and Downstaters will brag about, gas is significantly more expensive in Chicago, according to this map by illinoingasprices.com. (Gas seems to be particularly cheap in the central part of the state. The real question, though, is does that count as downstate?)



There's a reason Illinois has been called a microcosm of the whole country: all of the variations mean Illinoisans are a blend of all the best of the state and the U.S.: The cultural exchange, excitement and of the big city and the picturesque nature, small-town charm and agriculture of downstate, plus a healthy amount of political intrigue and hometown competition. From the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

Of course, to combine all the strength of Chicago with the quiet beauty of Southern Illinois (which is geographically and spiritually closer to Mississippi than it is to Chicago) is to realize that Illinoisans have the best of all worlds, and that Teddy Roosevelt was right when he said almost a hundred years ago that Illinois is the most American of all the states.

Even if we can all agree that the differences between downstate and Chicago can be good for the state, the rivalry can still be fun. Where do you think downstate starts? How do you identify yourself?

Check out more maps at Reboot Illinois to see how Chicagoans and Downstaters speak differently (soda or pop?) and take the survey about where you think downstate really begins:




NEXT ARTICLE: Nom nom: Your favorite restaurants in downstate Illinois
15 famous downstate Illinoisans
Who's more trustworthy-Pat Quinn or Bruce Rauner?
The most boring places in Illinois
Miller: Bruce Rauner budget plan a "boldfaced lie"

Rahm Emanuel's Money May Not Be Enough To Save Him

Tue, 2014-09-09 08:37
While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's (D) approval rating among voters has continued to dwindle in recent polling, critics hoping to capitalize on the mayor's unpopularity have struggled to overcome their biggest obstacle to defeating Emanuel: fielding a major challenger to take him on.

That could soon change.

It was reported Monday that Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, who has outpolled Emanuel in both of the most recent surveys conducted on the race, loaned $40,000 of her own money toward a mayoral run. And though she has yet to formally announce whether she will or will not run, it's another sign she is very seriously considering doing so.

The Chicago Sun-Times also notes petition circulators have begun to work on Lewis' behalf while the union leader continues to put off an official announcement.

Meanwhile, another possible mayoral challenger appears to be gearing up to step into the ring. Ald. Bob Fioretti, one of the Chicago City Council's most outspoken Emanuel critics, tweeted Friday that he'll announce "some big news" on Sept. 13. He has already recruited campaign staff for a possible run and launched a "Should I run?" petition website seeking the public's input on the matter.

"I'm seriously considering it," Fioretti told the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman when asked directly on Monday.

While other Emanuel challengers have already announced their candidacy -- including police officer Frederick Collins, community organizer Amara Enyia and former Ald. Robert Shaw -- it is doubtful they have the name recognition or fundraising prowess required to overcome the mayor's $8.3 million campaign war chest.

Lewis has previously admitted her possible mayoral challenge "can never compete with [Emanuel] with money" though American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten suggested Lewis's campaign would warrant seven-figure backing from the national union if she does decide to run, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Lewis and Emanuel were frequently at odds over the course of Chicago's historic teachers' strike in 2012, followed by the mayor's support for closing of 50 public elementary schools largely in minority communities. Lewis has described Emanuel as the "murder mayor" and "a liar and a bully," while Emanuel is widely reported to have cursed the union leader out during a private meeting over lengthening the school day in 2011.

Five Dinosaur Myths That You Probably Thought Were True (VIDEO)

Tue, 2014-09-09 07:26
How much do you know about dinosaurs? If you’re still relying on what you learned in grade school -- and saw in Hollywood classics like "Jurassic Park" -- you've got dinosaurs all wrong.

Yes, the scientific understanding of dinosaurs -- and dinosaur behavior -- has changed drastically in recent years.

"'Jurassic Park' fossilized an image of scaly dinosaurs in our imagination," Brian Switek, dinosaur expert and author of the book My Beloved Brontosaurus, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Despite scores of fluffy and fuzzy dinosaur fossils, many people still prefer the scabrous, reptilian versions they grew up with. Nostalgia's great, but paleontology has kept altering our perceptions of what dinosaurs were like in the 20 years since Spielberg's classic film."

And, of course, paleontologists may have just (literally) scratched the surface when it comes to finding all there is to know about dinosaurs.

For instance, "one of the common misconceptions I hear is that dinosaur diversity was dwindling toward the end of the Cretaceous [period]," paleontologist Peter Larson, president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Interestingly enough, that is where we need more collecting and more research."

Switek and Larson helped me make sense of five new scientific findings that just may change the way you think about dinosaurs -- check out the video above and/or read the transcript below. Also, leave your thoughts about our changing understanding of dinosaurs in the comments. Talk nerdy to me!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey everyone. Jacqueline Howard here. Just in case you didn’t recognize it, that's a dinosaur. At least that’s how people used to think dinosaurs looked and behaved. Now we know better. We know that dinosaurs aren't the dumb, slow-moving, scaly creatures you may have learned about in grade school. I’ll share with you five big myths about dinos—and the latest scientific thinking on these amazing creatures. But first, let’s go back in time…

Dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago, wiped out by a huge comet or asteroid. But we can look at the fossil evidence they left behind to understand what these prehistoric beasts were really like.

In ancient times, fossilized dinosaur bones were thought to have belonged to monsters, or giants, or even dragons. In the 1800s, scientists realized that these teeth and bones were unlike those of any living animal -- so they must have been the remains of long-extinct creatures. And so, British paleontologist Sir Richard Owen coined the word “dinosaur” to describe these prehistoric creatures. But the fossil record can be hard to interpret, which brings me back to those myths.

5. “Dinosaurs were dumb.”

In the 1970s, a system was developed to estimate dinosaur intelligence based on the dinosaur’s brain weight relative to the brain weight of another living animal. It turns out that, based on that system, some dinosaurs (like the Velociraptor) were pretty darn smart.

4. “Brontosaurus was the biggest dinosaur of all.”

Like me, you may have been taught that one of the biggest dinosaurs was the enormous plant-eater called Brontosaurus. But there’s one problem, that guy never existed. Brontosaurus was invented when 19th century paleontologist O.C. Marsh misidentified an Apatosaurus skeleton as belonging to a new species. Even though the mistake was discovered in 1903, it wasn’t until the 1970s when museums got around to fixing their skeleton displays. Still, the long-necked dinosaurs were the biggest of them all.

3. “Dinosaurs were covered in scales.”

You may have heard that some dinosaurs sported feathers. Fossil evidence now suggests that most or even all did. Researchers recently found fossils belonging to a small, two-legged dinosaur with scales and feather-like structures, dating back around 160 million years. This leads scientists to think that dinosaurs’ plumes may have evolved much earlier in dinosaur history than previously thought.

2. “Dinosaurs were cold blooded.”

At first scientists thought maybe dinosaurs were cold-blooded like reptiles. Then some researchers said that dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded. But based on dinosaurs’ growth rate, size, and metabolism, some scientists now pose that dinosaurs were mesotherms, which means they couldn’t control their body temperature as us mammals do, but they weren’t so dependent on their environments as cold-blooded reptiles are. They were somewhere in between.

1. “Dinosaurs were slow movers.”

Dinosaurs may have been way speedier than you probably thought. Computer simulations suggest that this tiny guy was the fastest dinosaur of all, with a running speed of around 40 mph. Meanwhile, a six-ton T. rex could reach a top speed of around 18 mph. That’s one guy I’m glad I’ll never have to outrun.

What other questions do you have about dinosaurs? Let me know in the comments. Come on, talk nerdy to me.





See all Talk Nerdy to Me posts.

'Daddies Date Babies' Documentary Features Sugar Babies On Their Own Terms

Tue, 2014-09-09 06:39
Parinda Wanitwat was concerned about finances when she graduated from college this summer. After reading a Vanity Fair article about “sugar babies” -- young women who date older men in return for compensation -- she turned to the website SeekingArrangement.com to see what the fuss was about.

“I didn't think it was a safe place at all for me,” Wanitwat, a 23-year-old New York City resident, said of the site. The website, launched in 2006, matches wealthy "sugar daddies" with willing "babies." "But I wanted to do some research."

Wanitwat began thinking about the women in such relationships, and developed an interest. After connecting with young women through online relationship forums and email Listservs, Wanitwat set out to produce a documentary that allows "sugar babies" to tell their own stories -- without judgment.



“Daddies Date Babies,” set to be released in December, follows five young women ranging from ages 18 to 27 as they navigate heterosexual sugar relationships and discuss past encounters.

The documentary explores how women enter and define these relationships, concerns they have about their privacy and safety, preconceived notions they had and why the relationships are so stigmatized.

"The women want as much money as possible for as much stability as possible," one participant says in the film's trailer. "The men want to pay as little as possible for as much novelty as possible."



As college tuition rises and an estimated 37 million Americans have outstanding student loan debt, some college students and graduates turn to sites like Seeking Arrangement to help pay bills.

"I got into sugar babying because I didn't have a job, had graduated from college and needed money," Tess Wood, 25, told The Huffington Post. "It seemed easier than bartending. It seemed like a very available option. It seemed easy to fall into."

Wood, who has been involved with sugar daddies in Chicago, New York and Jacksonville, Florida, never found the relationships particularly satisfying. She agreed to participate in Wanitwat's documentary to help debunk myths about the women in sugar relationships and deconstructing the stigma.

“In general, women are sort of trained to not speak about certain things ... One of those things is sex,” Wood told HuffPost. “We're not really supposed to talk about sex. Things like sex work and the dark side of it, the stuff that isn't discussed -- that's the side I think we need to be talking about. We use shame to keep us from confronting these issues.”



Stephany Xu, a 23-year-old entrepreneur (who, in the interest of disclosure, was a college classmate of the author) often dates older men and expects them to provide a credit card for her personal use. Xu joined Seeking Arrangement five years ago and still occasionally checks the site, and has also dated older men she met at airport lounges or through introductions from friends.

"The first person I ever met off [Seeking Arrangement], I had such an amazing experience with," Xu told The Huffington Post. "He turned out to be so nice and knowledgeable and supportive. He's still one of my very close mentors today."

Xu rejects the sugar baby label, and said the credit card arrangement is a perk rather than a requirement.

"I like credit cards because it gives you an amount of freedom," she said. "I can pay off the card myself if I want to, or he can choose not to pay it that month. It never has to be something that's discussed, it's something that's kind of there."

Xu's participation in the documentary stems from her positive experiences dating so-called sugar daddies, though she noted that her relationships have been very different from other women profiled in the film. For example, the idea of a man paying her $500 specifically for oral sex -- an experience another baby recounts -- makes her very uncomfortable.

"That's terrifying to me," Xu said.



Wood no longer seeks out sugar baby relationships, after a series of disappointing endeavors in which she invested significant emotional energy in exchange for what she considered a substandard financial gain. She said she feared for her safety with one man, and had multiple experiences with sugar daddies who promised money and never delivered.

"That's one of the reasons I got out of it," Wood said. "There's no way to make sure people aren't lying."



Wood and Xu discussed relationships and sexual encounters that they said are more socially acceptable than sugar relationships, but still involve some element of exchange. For example, Wood has hooked up with men in the past order to get access to their social circle or aspects of their lifestyle. Xu is currently involved with a man a few years older who treats her to meals, shopping trips and nights out. They call each other "boyfriend" and "girlfriend."

"There are so many different facets to sugar baby dating," Wood said. "I think it ranges. It bleeds into 'regular dating' more than people realize. This whole idea of transactional relationships is insidious. It's everywhere. One thing that stood out to me, is that these [sugar baby-sugar daddy] relationships are not fundamentally different."

Xu and Wood agreed that the sugar baby label is unnecessarily stigmatizing.

"There are elements of transactionality in every single relationship," Xu said. "Who gets to say where the line is?"

Learn more about "Daddies Date Babies" here.

U.S. News Best Universities Ranking Released For 2015

Mon, 2014-09-08 23:11
Surprise! The Ivy League universities are really good schools. So are Duke University, the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cal Tech, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The U.S. News Best National Universities ranking for 2015 were released Tuesday, showing the typical elite schools at the top once again.

There is relatively little change in the top 10 from last year, except to note Dartmouth College fell out of it, but only to 11th place. Princeton University is once again No. 1, followed by Harvard and Yale.

The methodology is unchanged as well, measuring graduation rates, selectivity and freshmen retention, among other items.

Of course, while U.S. News' college rankings are the most influential among its competors, it also frequently attracts a heap of criticism. All while students of all backgrounds mostly ignore them.

See the top 10 national universities according to U.S. News & World Report below:

World Leaders Call For Massive Shift In Global Drug Policy

Mon, 2014-09-08 19:00
In a report to be released Tuesday, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a panel of prominent political figures and activists, will call upon governments around the world to decriminalize drug use and legalize marijuana.

Members of the commission, including former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, are calling for drug policies shaped by a greater emphasis on public health, as well as alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug crimes. The participating members also say it is time to permit the legal regulation in all countries of psychoactive substances like cannabis and coca leaf.

"The import of the Commission's report lies in both the distinction of its members and the boldness of their recommendations," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a partner organization of the commission, in an email to The Huffington Post. "The former presidents and other Commission members pull no punches in insisting that national and global drug control policies reject the failed prohibitionist policies of the 20th century in favor of new policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights."

The report's executive summary reads, in part:

The Commissioners call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of users together with targeted prevention, harm reduction and treatment strategies for dependent users.

In order to reduce drug related harms and undermine the power and profits of organized crime, the Commission recommends that governments regulate drug markets and adapt their enforcement strategies to target the most violent and disruptive criminal groups rather than punish low level players. The Global Commission's proposals are complementary and comprehensive. They call on governments to rethink the problem, do what can and should be done immediately, and not to shy away from the transformative potential of responsible regulation.

Members of the commission will meet Tuesday in New York City to discuss the report at a press conference moderated by Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post's Washington bureau chief. The conference can be live streamed Tuesday morning at 9:45 a.m. EST.

Following the Tuesday conference, members of the commission will meet with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson to discuss the report's recommendations. The report is being released in anticipation of the upcoming U.N. General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, scheduled for 2016. Members of the commission say they hope the U.N. will take their report's recommendations into consideration in reshaping global drug policy.

"The facts speak for themselves. It is time to change course," said Annan in a press statement about the report. "We need drug policies informed by evidence of what actually works, rather than policies that criminalize drug use while failing to provide access to effective prevention or treatment. This has led not only to overcrowded jails but also to severe health and social problems."

The report's executive summary summarizes the group's multifaceted recommendations for policy reform:

  • Putting health and community safety first requires a fundamental reorientation of policy priorities and resources, from failed punitive enforcement to proven health and social interventions.

  • Ensure equitable access to essential medicines, in particular opiate-based medications for pain.

  • Stop criminalizing people for drug use and possession -- and stop imposing "compulsory treatment" on people whose only offense is drug use or possession.

  • Rely on alternatives to incarceration for non-violent, low-level participants in illicit drug markets such as farmers, couriers and others involved in the production, transport and sale of illicit drugs.

  • Focus on reducing the power of criminal organizations as well as the violence and insecurity that result from their competition with both one another and the state.

  • Allow and encourage diverse experiments in legally regulating markets in currently illicit drugs, beginning with but not limited to cannabis, coca leaf and certain novel psychoactive substances.

  • Take advantage of the opportunity presented by the upcoming UNGASS in 2016 to reform the global drug policy regime.


"Ultimately, the global drug control regime must be reformed to permit legal regulation," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in a statement on the report. "Let's start by treating drug addiction as a health issue -- rather than as a crime -- and by reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives. But let's also allow and encourage countries to carefully test models of responsible legal regulation as a means to undermine the power of organized crime, which thrives on illicit drug trafficking."

The report comes as traditional punitive-oriented drug policies around the world are already being reconsidered and, within some governments, drastically reshaped. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to approve the legal regulation of the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. While the U.S. federal government continues to ban marijuana, two states -- Colorado and Washington -- have enacted programs that legalize the recreational use of the drug. Twenty-three other states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use in the U.S., and dozens more states are expected to consider legalization in some form in the coming years.

"We can't go on pretending the war on drugs is working," Branson said in a statement about the commission's report. "We need our leaders to look at alternative, fact-based approaches. Much can be learned from successes and failures in regulating alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceutical drugs. The risks associated with drug use increase, sometimes dramatically, when they are produced, sold and consumed in an unregulated criminal environment. The most effective way to advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation."

Among the other members of the commission involved in the report are former Colombian President César Gaviria, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss and other political and business leaders from around the world.

"There's no question now that the genie of reform has escaped the prohibitionist bottle," Nadelmann, who is not an author of the report but is listed as a member of the commission's "expert review panel," told HuffPost. "I'm grateful to the Commission for the pivotal role it has played in taking drug policy reform from the fringes of international politics to the mainstream."

Click here to live stream the Global Commission on Drug Policy's discussion of the report, as moderated by HuffPost's Ryan Grim, Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 9:45 a.m. EST.

University Of Iowa Makes It Clear Rapists Will Be Removed From Campus

Mon, 2014-09-08 18:07
The University of Iowa made it clear last week to students that anyone found responsible for sexually assaulting someone will be suspended, at a minimum.

UI President Sally Mason unveiled a six-point plan in February to address sexual assault with cracking down on offenders being the top priority. On Thursday, Mason posted a sanctioning guideline so students can understand how assailants will be punished.

"Non-consensual Sexual Intercourse," which is not limited strictly to forcible rape under UI's definition, will be met with penalties ranging from a multi-semester suspension to expulsion from the university, "with expulsion being the most likely sanction."

Other behaviors like "Non-consensual Sexual Touching," mostly groping, and attempted sexual assault could be punished with less severe sanctions like probation, but the university noted expulsion will still be on the table.

"When we rolled out the Six Point Plan, I promised that we would crack down on offenders, including making use of the most severe sanction that the university can impose, which is expulsion," Mason wrote to students. "We expelled one student in the spring semester, and today I can share with you that we expelled a second student in the summer term."

The University of Iowa's approach stands in stark contrast to some peer institutions who are facing intense backlash over what students see as lax punishment for sexual assault.

Students at the University of Kansas, for example, are in an uproar following a report by The Huffington Post revealing a student found guilty of "nonconsensual sex," who admitted to police he continued intercourse after the victim said "no" and "stop," was punished with probation and a ban on student housing.

At Central College, a private school in Pella, Iowa, a student found guilty of "non-consensual sex" was allowed to choose his punishment between two options.

Last week, a woman filed federal complaint against the University of Toledo for punishing a student with a $25 fee and probation for sexual assault. Another woman complained the University of California-Santa Barbara investigated her reported drug-induced rape, but declined to rule whether the accused student was responsible or not for sexual assault.

Iowa is also expanding support services, planning to review its sexual assault policy and will seek to improve communication with the campus about sexual violence. The university will even include a "Trigger Warning" in campuswide emails about sexual assault reports.

Here Are 5 Photos Of Mooncakes To Get You All Excited For The Mid-Autumn Festival

Mon, 2014-09-08 14:10
Any good holiday has a tasty treat at the center of the celebrations. During the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, it's all about the mooncakes.

The annual celebration of the harvest -- most widely celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people around the world -- occurs each year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. This year's celebration falls on Sept. 8 and happens to coincide with a harvest moon and the last "Supermoon" of the season.

"Traditionally, the Mid-Autumn Moon Fest was about reunions and time where families get together," Wei Shang, professor of Chinese Culture at Columbia University, told The Huffington Post Monday. "The symbol of the moon looms larger in the Chinese imagination."

With mooncakes as the most recognizable part of festivities -- which include hanging lanterns, Cassia wine and worship of the moon goddess -- here's what you should know about the celestial sweet:

In 'Bare Reality,' 100 Women Share How They Feel About Their Breasts

Mon, 2014-09-08 14:06
How do you feel about your breasts?

One hundred women answer that question in an upcoming book, Bare Reality.

(Some images below may be considered NSFW)



Photographer Laura Dodsworth started the project after becoming frustrated with how breasts were shown in the media, feeling that most portrayals created an "unobtainable ideal."

"I felt compelled to embark on a personal exploration of what it means to be a woman," Dodsworth told The Huffington Post in an email. "To understand women’s experiences through their body. I wanted to re-humanize women through honest photography and interviews, present our breasts as they really are and burst the ‘fantasy bubble’ of the youthful, idealized and sexualized breasts presented by the media."


© Copyright Laura Dodsworth 2012-2014. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

The book features photographs of women aged 19 to 101, of all breast sizes and sexualities. Some women talk about how their breasts give them confidence, while others reveal struggles with self-esteem related to their cup size.

All of the stories remind us that women should be proud of their bodies despite the size, appearance or presence of their breasts.

In an anecdote from the project posted on The New Statesman today, one woman shares her experience with breast cancer and a subsequent mastectomy.


© Copyright Laura Dodsworth 2012-2014. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

The woman, age 54, also discusses her decision to cover the scar with a floral tattoo rather than undergoing reconstructive surgery.
I don’t think I could have psychologically come to terms with my “battle scar” as easily without the tattoo. It would have taken a lot longer to look in the mirror and feel okay about the scar where the boob was. It makes a statement and it’s pretty to look at. I’m proud of it. I want people to realise you don’t have to hide away, just because you’ve had breast cancer.

For each book sold, a donation will be made to Breast Cancer UK.

Dodsworth, who is herself the 100th person profiled in the book, hopes that the project will empower women and assure them that, no matter how complicated their relationships with their breasts, they are not alone.

"Bare Reality has changed me, and changed how I think and feel about women." she told HuffPost. "It has transformed my relationship with my breasts. Quite simply, I like myself more as a woman, and I like my breasts more."

Learn more about Bare Reality here.

It Only Takes A Few Hours For A Virus To Spread Through An Entire Office

Mon, 2014-09-08 12:02
Once a virus makes it onto an office doorknob, it only takes a few hours before it can be found on 40 to 60 percent of the people inside a workplace -- as well as 40 to 60 percent of other commonly-touched objects, like an elevator button or printer -- according to famed germ scientist Charles Gerba, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona, Tucson. Luckily, it’s just as easy to halt the spread of a virus, thanks to a few well-placed hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.

Gerba arrived at his conclusions after conducting a novel study in which he actually planted “tracer viruses" -- meaning viruses that are not harmful to human health, but resemble those that are -- inside offices and then measured how fast and how far they spread. He then provided workers with what he labeled "weapons in germ warfare": alcohol gel sanitizers and disinfectant wipes, along with instructions for proper use.

Even though only half of the workers committed to using these sanitizing products, the number of surfaces and objects containing the virus decreased by at least 80 percent once they were employed. What's more, when Gerba re-contaminated the offices as part of a later phase of his experiment, the concentration of the virus itself was reduced by more than 99 percent.

“Things that we recommend, like hand sanitizers, hand washing, disinfectant wipes and disinfectants do their job,” said Gerba in a live-broadcast presentation on Monday at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. “By doing these kinds of virus release studies, and looking at where viruses accrue, we can get a more precise idea of the benefits of these types of weapons of germ warfare.”

The virus Gerba used, known as MS-2, infects bacteria but is not dangerous to humans. But MS-2 has a similar shape, size and and resistance to other viruses like the norovirus, which causes acute gastroenteritis and is responsible for some 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus can live for days or even weeks on hard surfaces and may be resistant to some disinfectants, notes the CDC.

In one particular experiment, Gerba put the tracer virus on the doors of an office with 80 people and found that in three hours, MS-2 could be detected on over half of the office population’s hands, as well as over half of the surfaces people touched in the building. One room in particular was a “hotspot” for the virus, noted Gerba.

“What we learned was, the first area to be contaminated was the coffee break room,” said Gerba. “That actually turned out to be a hotspot, because a lot of people go in there — more of a hotspot than the restroom.”

In the second phase of that experiment, Gerba educated office workers about the proper use of alcohol gel sanitizers and disinfecting wipes with quaternary ammonium compounds, which are usually used in health care facilities to guard against infectious diseases. He installed a hand sanitizer in the break room and instructed workers to clean their desk once a day with the wipes.

Then Gerba re-released the tracer virus into the office (and into the newly-educated workforce) and found his interventions overwhelmingly halted the spread of MS-2.

“'Make it convenient’ is what we really went for,” said Gerba. “I’m sure a lot of people who were involved or said they would use a hand sanitizer or disinfectant also participated because it was there and made available to them.” Gerba repeated the study several times and in different offices so that his infection risk data could approach statistical significance.

In another experiment that was part of the study, Gerba “infected” hotel rooms with tracer viruses and found that they were passed from room to room on the cleaning cloths of housekeeping services. In the future, he plans to contaminate the public restrooms of a facility with a tracer virus to see how and where it spreads throughout the office building.

“We know that the bottom of women’s purses pick up bacteria from restroom floors,” said Gerba about his past research on the subject. “We want to see: Will that move a virus around an office or could people take it home?”

Gerba presented an abstract of his research at the annual infectious disease meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C.

What We Learned From The NFL's Opening Sunday

Mon, 2014-09-08 12:00
The opening Sunday of the NFL is in the books, and the arduous eight-month wait was well worth it. Rookie stars emerging? Check. Head coaches way over their heads? Check. Wild shootouts and backdoor covers? You betcha. That is why we cherish each week of the season like a great bottle of red wine. Let's take a look at what we learned from Week 1.

Same Ol' Romo

Coming off his second back surgery, the 34-year-old Tony Romo entered 2014 with the weight of an entire city on his shoulders. It took all of one quarter to realize that one of the league's most polarizing players hasn't changed a bit. Facing the potent -- but banged up -- San Francisco defense, Romo ended the first half with 99 yards and three interceptions, including a brutally head-scratching one in the end-zone. Like he always seems to do, Romo tacked on the meaningless yardage to end with a respectable 281 and two touchdowns, but Cowboys fans have seen this movie one too many times. About the only thing to make them feel worse? His six-year, $108 million contract extension just began. The Dallas defense may be historically poor this season, but its quarterback doesn't appear to be much better.

Not The Same Bengals?

Nobody was less bullish on Cincinnati than I was last season, but the Bengals may have turned a corner in their 23-16 road victory over AFC North rival Baltimore. Andy Dalton (the same "0-3 in the playoffs" Andy Dalton), along with that sparkling new six-year, $96 million contract extension, looked strong, as did the normally stout defense that last season ranked among the top in several key categories. Dalton is not a top-five quarterback and he may not be a top-ten guy either, but if he can limit mistakes and get the ball to Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green, this defense will take care of the rest.

Written-Off Quarterbacks



Speaking of quality quarterback play, how about the quartet of Miami's Ryan Tannehill -- a breakout player of mine -- along with Tennessee's Jake Locker, Buffalo's E.J. Manuel and Cleveland's Brian Hoyer? Three of the four pulled out tricky wins, and Hoyer nearly led an improbable 24-point comeback in Pittsburgh. Tannehill (above) and Locker are both elite athletes with great weapons, and it's conceivable that both can continue their quality play. Manuel had a seesaw rookie season but has a new toy in speedster Sammy Watkins, the fourth pick of the draft. With Johnny Manziel waiting in the wings, Hoyer's job will remain a question mark, but Browns fans can't ask for much more than 19-31 for 231, a TD and no picks.

Minimizing The Zebras

One of the things that jumped out during the preseason was the rule changes, specifically the illegal contact rule that drew egregious calls against the secondaries. In fact, more than 100 illegal contact penalties were drawn, nearly as much as during the entire 2013 season. But to the league's credit, Week 1 saw a much cleaner outcome: In the 12 Sunday afternoon games, there were a mere nine illegal contact penalties. It is a small sample size to be sure, but a good start nevertheless.

They've Got Next

It's usually a good idea not to overreact to one performance, but it's hard not to be impressed with a few of Sunday's rookies. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who I've lauded for awhile now, showed why New Orleans traded up to nab him in the first round. The diminutive and highly explosive Cooks caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown to go along with an electric 18-yard rush. He might catch 85 balls this season. Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin is a physical freak at 6-foot-5, 240 lbs., but it wasn't until his 26-yard-touchdown grab with a defender draped on him that most people understood his talent. Lastly, did you see Derek Carr? His 151 yards don't tell the entire story. Against a Rex Ryan defense, on the road in Week 1, the second-round pick from Fresno State looked sharp and in control of an otherwise underwhelming Oakland offense. Carr tossed two touchdowns and more importantly, didn't turn the ball over despite being under consistent pressure.



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

Poll shows the Illinois treasurer's race is close, but one candidate snags a big endorsement

Mon, 2014-09-08 10:54
A Reboot Illinois/We Ask America poll conducted last week found that the Illinois treasurer's race is tightening. Republican candidate state Rep. Tom Cross had a 6-point lead over Democrat state Sen. Michael Frerichs, down from an approximately 9-point lead in July and closer to Cross' 6-point lead in June.

Frerichs' lead in Chicago 57.18 percent to 16.51, while Cross led in the Cook County collar counties and downstate. Frerichs leads among Democrats across the state while Cross lead among Republicans and Independents and had the lead among both males and females across the board.

This poll is the first from Reboot Illinois to include Libertarian candidate Matthew Skopek. How could his inclusion on the ballot have affected the way voters responded to this poll and how they will vote in November?

Both candidates' campaigns are in full swing. While Frerichs has a more than $1 million ad campaign planned for the fall, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce endorsed Cross for treasurer Sept. 4, the first endorsement ever for the group, said David Ormsby of the Illinois Observer.

"Tom Cross has distinguished himself as a leader in the fight for responsible, accountable government," said the Chamber's CEO Todd Maisch. "As House Republican Leader, he fought for common sense lawsuit reform, worked to reduce burdensome regulations and vigorously opposed the Quinn income tax increase".

The Last Summer 'Supermoon' Of 2014 Is Also A Harvest Moon

Mon, 2014-09-08 10:03
Skywatchers, you're in for a treat. Tonight's "supermoon" is a pretty special one.

When the moon turns full on Monday, Sept. 8 at 9:38 p.m. EDT, it not only will become the last supermoon of the summer, but also this year's Harvest Moon -- which is a full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox.

(Story continues below.)


Supermoons are full moons that coincide with "lunar perigee," when the moon's orbit brings it closest to Earth. This moon appears bigger and brighter than a typical full moon.

Though Monday's supermoon won’t be the largest of the summer's trilogy of supermoons (that distinction went to the full moon of Aug. 10), the coming lunar event is unique in its own way -- it coincides with the Harvest Moon.

For several nights around the time of the Harvest Moon, the moon rises around the same time that the sun sets, giving the moon a reddened, swollen, pumpkin-like appearance. According to NASA, the name comes from the days before the invention of the lightbulb, when moonlight helped farmers reap their crops at this time of year.

On average, the moon usually rises about 50 minutes later than it did the day before, but in the days around the autumnal equinox, that difference decreases to about 30 minutes each night.



See the super Harvest Moon for yourself on Monday. Watch it rise just after sunset, when it will appear at its largest.

If you can't get outside to see it with your own eyes, the SLOOH Space Camera will be hosting a live broadcast of the celestial event (see the livestream video above).

Head over to the U.S. Naval Observatory's website to check local times for the supermoon in your area.

Political Ads From Gubernatorial Campaign Are Starting To Look Like Bad Infomercials

Mon, 2014-09-08 10:00
CHICAGO (AP) -- Da Coach has weighed in on Da Campaign for Illinois governor.

Former Chicago Bears football coach Mike Ditka appears in a new TV ad for Republican candidate Bruce. It aired Sunday during a broadcast of the Bears game against the Buffalo Bills.

The 30-second spot plays off Ditka's reputation as a tough, no-nonsense task master.

In it, the Super Bowl-winning coach sits across a table at a restaurant and tells Rauner he likes him because he opposes special interests. Ditka slams his clenched fist and adds, "Bam, hit `em right in the mouth."

When Rauner responds that maybe he's "been too hard" on special interests, Ditka gives him a 10-second, silent, cold stare before the Republican backtracks, saying, "OK. You're right. I don't know what I was thinking."

"Yeah, stick to the game plan, Bruce!" Ditka barks. "Stick to the game plan!"

Rauner, a multimillionaire businessman, is locked in a tight campaign race against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn's campaign responded to the ad in a statement later in the day, drawing attention to the Republican challenger's wealth.

"Only a billionaire ... could afford to run such expensive ads during the Bears game," the Quinn campaign said.

12 Amazing Snacks You Forgot About That You Should Eat Immediately

Mon, 2014-09-08 09:18
Snacks make us fickle beasts. You spend your days eating your favorite snack and then just like that, you're on to a new one. But then you grow up and move on to the next food fad in your life. After all, how many times have you eaten popcorn this week?

But now, it's time for a change. It's time for the underrated yet beloved snacks of the world to rise up and get the attention they really deserve. Behold, the 13 snacks you used to adore so much, but forgot about and now will eat immediately after reading this.

1. Sun Chips



Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips taste like a slightly healthier yet totally delicious version of Nacho Cheese Doritos. The Garden Salsa flavor doesn't fall too far behind, either.




2. Babybel cheese



Remember getting these in your lunchbox as a kid and playing with the wax as you ate the softest circle of cheese ever? Guess what? YOU CAN STILL DO THAT.




3. Chex Mix



Because why wouldn't you grab a bag that has two different kinds of Chex, pretzels and the most magical swiggly mini breadsticks AND mini bagel chips?




4. Nilla Wafers



You know these, right? They're always sprinkled on top of that banana pudding you like to eat. But remember eating them straight out of the box? You used to love doing that. Do it again!




5. Bugles



Part of the fun of eating Bugles is putting them on your fingers and turning your hand into a creepy Freddy Krueger situation. But the real fun of eating Bugles is how delicious they taste.




6. Pringles

So, this dog may be afraid of Pringles cans...



But you know you're not. You understand that these stackable chips are truly a work of art.






7. Hello Panda Chocolate Biscuits



When you were a kid, you thought these were just so cute. Now you crave the blended chocolate and vanilla cracker that's stamped with a panda because it's just plain good.




8. Kraft Handi-Snacks



This glorious invention is like having your own private cheese and crackers party. Just for you. All for you.




9. Snackwell cookies



Whether you eat them whole or you break them apart, these cookies are simple yet essential.




10. Lance crackers



The "ToastChee" crackers are obviously the best ones, but we're not going to hate on you if you like the Whole Grain crackers. As long as they were the last ones left in your variety pack.




11. Combos



It was all about the Pepperoni Pizza flavored ones and it's STILL all about them.




12. That big tin of Utz cheese balls



That cheesy residue. The ease of popping one after another, after another, into your mouth. The sharp cheese taste that hits you like a little pop of heaven. Cheese balls come with endless possibilities. Cheese balls give you hope in life.

Don't ever forget about these snacks again...

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Hispanic Communities Lack Latino Cops Even More Than Black Communities Lack Black Cops

Mon, 2014-09-08 07:59
WASHINGTON (AP) — The killing of an unarmed black 18-year-old by an officer in a nearly all-white police department in suburban St. Louis refocused the country on the racial balance between police forces and the communities they protect.

But an analysis by The Associated Press found that the racial gap between black police officers and the communities where they work has narrowed over the last generation, particularly in departments that once were the least diverse. A much larger disparity, however, is now seen in the low number of Hispanic officers in police departments. In Waco, Texas, for example, the community is more than 30 percent Hispanic, but the police department of 231 full-time sworn officers has only 27 Hispanics.

Across the United States, there are police departments that still look like Ferguson, Missouri, a largely white police force protecting a mostly black community.

After rioting followed the shooting of Michael Brown there, Attorney General Eric Holder noted the lack of black police on the city's payroll. "Police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve," Holder said.

Holder on Thursday announced a Justice Department investigation into the practices of the city's police department. Holder said he and his department had heard numerous concerns from people in Ferguson about police practices, a history of "deep mistrust" and a lack of diversity on the police force.

"If we have a basis to believe that part of the issues out there, should we find any, is a lack of diversity on the police force, that is something clearly that we will look at, make recommendations with regard to," Holder said.

But the situation in Ferguson is less common than it was 20 years ago. In most cases now, underrepresented minority populations in police departments are found in places such as Anaheim, California, West Valley City, Utah, and Providence, Rhode Island, where there are large Hispanic populations, yet few Hispanic officers.

Less common today are the circumstances in cities such as Ferguson, Chester, Pennsylvania, and Maple Heights, Ohio, where most of the sworn officers are white and are protecting largely black communities.

In Anaheim, for instance, where the police department is among the least racially balanced in the nation, the police killings of two Latino men in 2012 set off weeks of angry protests. While more than half the community is Hispanic, only 23 percent of the sworn police officers are.

"There's a huge gap between community and police," said Theresa Smith, a member of the Anaheim Community Coalition, which aims to improve police oversight. Police shot and killed Smith's son in 2009. "You can't bridge that gap if people don't trust you."

The AP compared Census Bureau data about a community's racial and ethnic makeup with staffing surveys by the Justice Department for more than 1,400 police departments from 1987 and 2007, the most recent year for which the data are available. The AP then analyzed how different a department's racial makeup was from the population it served.

The AP found that since 1987, black representation on police forces has improved, such as in New Orleans and in East Orange and Plainfield, New Jersey.

At least 49 departments had a majority Hispanic population, yet more than half of the police department was white. That's nearly five times as many departments than in 1987, when the largest disparities disproportionately involved black police officers and residents.

Efforts to improve relationships between police departments and communities date to the 1950s and 1960s, when some departments started creating community relations units.

Among the most balanced police departments in diverse cities are in Miami Beach, Florida, Oak Park Village, Illinois, Pasadena City, California, Bexar County, Texas, Cambridge, Massachusetts, New Orleans, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

One benefit of diversity is to avoid the perception of discrimination, said Anthony Chapa, executive director of the Hispanic American Police Command Officer Association.

But a diversified police force does not solve all problems.

The AP found that even in cities where police departments reflect the communities they protect, there still are issues with racial discrimination. Police may not be able to hire their way out of problems.

New Orleans, for example, is among the most racially balanced departments in the country. Yet in 2011, the Justice Department found that it discriminated against African-Americans. There are similar concerns in the Hispanic community.

The executive director of Puentes New Orleans, Carolina Hernandez, said her group has been working with local police to bridge the divide between officers and the Latino community. "If you're here to protect and serve," she said, "it's hard to accomplish that when the community automatically doesn't trust you."

The U.S. government recognized the importance of recruiting more minority police officers as early as 1968, with that recommendation from the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, convened by President Lyndon Johnson after deadly riots in a series of cities the previous year. But it would be years before police departments made real efforts. Some departments still struggle with it today.

"It is one of the challenges that I inherited," said Adrian Garcia, the sheriff in Harris County, Texas. The first Hispanic sheriff of the sprawling county that includes Houston, Garcia said his department is not representative of the community. But he's trying to change that.

"I call myself the chief recruiter," Garcia said. "I have to talk to the community and let them know what we want their sons and daughters to serve the community."

Garcia said he does not think a police department that does not look like the community it protects is more prone to discrimination than more racially diverse departments.

"But it leaves that perception," Garcia said. "As long as the community can point and say, 'There's no one that looks like me, and as a result, I feel like I was treated unjustly,' it opens up the argument that maybe the policies are shortsighted in how you work with a diverse community."

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Associated Press writers Michael Melia in Hartford, Connecticut and Russell Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and researcher Monika Mathur in Washington contributed to this report.

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