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How Reliant is Illinois on the Firearms Industry?

Thu, 2016-02-04 13:40
A new study by WalletHub.com ranks states according to their dependence on the firearms and ammunition industry. The personal finance website said it conducted the analysis following President Barack Obama's proposed executive orders on gun control and recent changes to state gun laws.

WalletHub compared states across three key dimensions: the firearms industry, gun prevalence and gun politics. Indicators that received the most weight were the number of jobs in the industry per 10,000 residents, gun ownership, gun sales per 1,000 residents and political contributions to both anti- and pro-gun members of Congress.


Source: WalletHub

According to the study, Illinois ranks 18th in the firearms industry category, 22nd in gun prevalence and 40th in gun politics, giving the state an overall rank of 30 for its dependence on the guns and ammo business.

Illinois is home to several major gun manufacturers, including Springfield Armory of Geneseo, which is one of the largest firearm companies in the world. The state ranked seventh in the nation for average wages and benefits in the firearms industry.

Here's how Illinois ranked in some other key metrics, including total taxes paid by the firearms industry per capita, NICS background checks per capita and the number of jobs in the firearms industry per capita.

NEXT ARTICLE: Bill would make President Barack Obama's birthday an official state holiday

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10 Mind-Numbing Facts About The Illinois Budget Deficit

Thu, 2016-02-04 12:59
Opinion by Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek

Ready for an 8 percent income tax rate in Illinois?

That's what all of us would have to live with, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says, to pay off the state's bills.

That's more than twice what we're paying now because our elected officials refuse to compromise with each other and agree on a spending plan. Instead, the state is being run by court orders, decrees and continuing appropriations. That means the firehose is on, our money is gushing out the nozzle and it can't be shut it off without a budget.

Money is gushing out, but not to the state's most vulnerable children, seniors, or mentally ill residents. Not to college students, professors or support staff that make up the higher education communities throughout Illinois. Soon enough, as public universities lay off employees, entire families will suffer and so, too, will small businesses and the families behind them in and near university towns like DeKalb, Macomb, Charleston, Urbana-Champaign and Carbondale.

Social services and universities are the two sectors still not getting state funding.

And yet, most of us still haven't pressured our state representative and state senator to pressure Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton to compromise? They're the ones who have been here the longest presiding over ballooning debt, in Madigan's case, serving as Speaker for nearly 40 years.

Munger, a Lincolnshire Republican appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to the job overseeing the state's checkbook, tried again to help make the numbers and the devastation real enough so that more of us might wake up and act to end this insanity.

Here are 10 facts she shared about Illinois' spending, debt, lack of budget.

NEXT ARTICLE: Rauner says takeover of Chicago Public Schools has Democratic support in the General Assembly

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Up-and-Coming Artists Dish on Breaking Into the Entertainment Business

Wed, 2016-02-03 19:13
How do you break into the entertainment biz? Whether it is the silver screen or the rock 'n' roll stage, getting there is an incredibly hard journey and many more make the trip than those who arrive.

Up-and-coming actors Maura Kidwell (Sirens, Chicago Fire) and Cole Doman (Henry Gable's Birthday Party, opening in Chicago February 26 - March 3 at the Gene Siskel Film Center and Shameless, Season 5) talk about what how they manage the feast or famine nature of the business over Beef Tacos with Pineapple, Red Onion and Cilantro and Cauliflower with Peach Mostarda, Pumpkin Seeds, and Buttermilk Vinaigrette on the most recent episode of The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano on WGN Radio's WGN Plus. Surprisingly, being nice, as well as staying healthy in body and disciplined in mind, plays a big role in how they stay the course.

In this double-feature podcast, talented Roger Moreno, Mike Reda, Ben Darling, Angelo Sakellaropoulos, and Roy Coghill of the band, Ship Captain, Crew, talk about how the love of creating music together overrides the long hours of holding down several jobs just to keep the music afloat. And, they give a live, in-studio, acoustic performance from their new CD! As I don't believe in starving artists, I made sure Beef and Barely was there to supply them with more than enough Cheeseburgers with Chicken Fried Onion Rings to go around.



In a different but similar discussion on The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano podcast, the talk turned to how to get your work noticed in the film world with comedian and actor David Pasquesi (by no means an up-and-comer having starred in dozens of movies to date), Beth Lacke (BLACK-ISH, Mike and Molly, How I Met Your Mother, Chicago P.D., Work It and Happy Hour) and actor and director Jack C. Newell (Open Tables, Close Quarters). Given that Jack's new film, Open Tables, is about finding love over food, it was only fitting that Over Morrocan Spiced Lamb Chili, Grilled Acorn Squash with Burrata and Sage, and Sun Chokes with Baby Kale, Black Garlic Aioli, Almond Butter, and Parmesan from The Dawson, we dished on love, food, movies and the cost of getting an indie film noticed in today's ultra competitive digital age. The screening of Open Tables in Chicago is February 10.

I hope you enjoy these podcasts on stomaching the highs and the lows in the entertainment world.

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CPS -- A Petulant Child That Feigns Never Having Heard "No" Before

Wed, 2016-02-03 18:47
When two sides enter into a negotiation, it is expected for the two sides to go back and forth on various points and details. One side will submit a proposal and the other side will reflect on the offer and then come back to the table to discuss what they like or do not like about the proposal.

Our teacher's contract expired July 1st 2015 and it took until January 28th 2016 for CPS to make their 1st "serious offer" regarding our contract. The teachers that make up the bargaining team of the Chicago Teachers Union had been making proposals for months about how to help our schools, our students, and our teachers, while CPS had been unreceptive and/or unwilling to negotiate in good faith. But now almost 6 months after our contract has expired CPS submits one proposal and we are all of a sudden expected to take it, like it was the greatest gift ever presented to teachers?!

After the teachers of the big bargaining team went through each line of the proposal, they determined that it was not in the best interest of the students and teachers of Chicago to accept this offer. CEO Forest Claypool sent a threatening letter to Karen Lewis saying he now has no choice but to cut millions of dollars from schools.

Wait, hold up. It is not like the big bargaining team declared they will refuse all offers from CPS. They just refused parts of this offer. So the logical next step would be to come back to the table and figure out how make a contract for all parties to agree on. Just because CPS claimed it was a "good offer" and leaked parts of the proposal to the press, making CPS look 'oh so generous' and teachers look 'oh so greedy', once again, does not mean it is a good contract.

So instead of continuing discussions, CPS has essentially given the middle finger to thousands of educators in this city. This is a big middle finger to the hundreds of thousands of students and parents who will be damaged by these draconian cuts to schools across the city.

All of this CPS madness comes from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who controls the schools. The same Mayor who is liked by only 18% of the people of Chicago. The same mayor that appointed CEO Forest Claypool (who has no educational experience) after his other appointed CEO got arrested. Both Rahm and Claypool control an appointed puppet school board that meets behind closed doors and ignores all public input to make their real decisions.

So once again I come back to the "serious offer" that CPS made. In the midst of all this corruption, we educators are just supposed to trust CPS and just accept their offer?

Teachers, unlike the Mayor, CEO, and Appointed School Board work with students and parents everyday.

We teachers send our kids to CPS.

We live in the city.

We will do what is best for the kids.

Yes, making sure a teacher is reasonably protected from the craziness that is CPS and paid fairly is still doing what is best for kids. A fair contract helps keep outstanding teachers from leaving this jacked up mayorally controlled undemocratic school system.

So CPS, grow up, realize that in a negotiation there will be times when you hear "No".

We teachers are the experts in knowing what our schools, students, and profession need.

The contract negotiating process the Chicago Teachers Unions goes through with the big bargaining team and House of Delegates is Democratic. Just because the politics of this city are run by a "Yes, Rahm" mentality does not mean we will follow suit.

We are educated in what Democracy looks like and like it or not, CPS, we are educating you, just like we educate hundreds of thousands of students across our city daily.

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Illinois's billionaires -- not the State == could be the salvation of Illinois's hungry, sick and homeless

Wed, 2016-02-03 15:08
For Illinois's impoverished and ill, and the social service agencies that have enabled them to survive, the end of Illinois's state budget stalemate won't matter much.

That's because the State will still be broke. That's because there still won't be enough money in the State's coffers to pay on those agency's contracts. That's because there will be enormous pressure on Governor Rauner and the legislature to address other fiscal problems first, e.g., pension and school funding. That's because that kind of government money no longer exists. The budget stalemate has made clear what many have known for years but pretended they didn't: since Illinois's fiscal house is so completely out-of-order, it can no longer be the primary underwriter of human services programs.

Willie Sutton famously said that he robbed banks because that's where the money is. Well, the money today is still in the banks, but it's not in Illinois's government accounts. It is in the accounts of Illinois's well-to-do, whether in the form of personal and family accounts or those of their philanthropies. And, it's hugely in the accounts of the state's billionaires.

There were 14 Illinoisans on the 2015 Forbes billionaire list, with a total wealth of $41.850 billion. Governor Rauner didn't make that cut, but there is, for instance, that $57.5 million he made in 2014, enough to fund almost ten times over the amount Lutheran Social Services needed to continue the services it had to cut. He would just have to tithe, something I imagine he's had suggested to him at some point.

Yes, those who care for the needy should continue to call on the state to do the right thing. However, a plea for mercy is only that. To survive, Illinois's social services sector needs to follow Jesse James's lead: go where the money is (and will continue to be).

How about an Illinois campaign akin to the Warren Buffett/Bill Gates giving pledge?

Illinois's billionaires could tithe to feed the hungry and heal the sick, fund the public health clinics, school lunch programs, veterans' mental health services, domestic violence shelters, and every single other charity now being laid waste by the State's failure to act. They could turn away from the latest, fashionable fundraising cause, turning towards the begging mothers, children and veterans all over downtown Chicago.

And, just in case you're wondering whether those begging mothers, sick children and homeless veterans really need your help, just in case you're wondering why they just can't pick themselves up and pay for what they need, note this data point from Lutheran Social Services: "The demographics of clients served by LSSI generally reflect those of Illinois' population, with one important exception--more than 80 percent of clients report an annual household income under $15,000, compared to just 12 percent of all Illinois households."

In my grade school, we used to ask this kind of question: how many times does $15,000 go into $41 billion? Or $4 billion (that tithe)? Not to worry: neither you nor your children need to do the math to know there's enough money to go around and end this shameful chapter in Illinois's history. It's time to ask for it.

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Chicago Public Schools Is Bleeding Out But Neither the Teachers Union Nor the Governor Will Help

Wed, 2016-02-03 11:21


Yesterday, I woke up to the news that 292 people were shot and 51 people murdered in Chicago in the first month of the New Year.

Then later in the day, I learned that the tentative offer Chicago Public Schools (CPS) made to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was rejected, making me think of a different kind of death, a killing-me-so-so-softly kind of demise.

If CPS were a person, I would call 911 to take him to a Level 1 Trauma Center right now.

This poor man is lying on the curb, totally exasperated...pulse is fading...bleeding profusely from multiple open wounds. When the first responders arrive--the CTU, the school board, the mayor, the governor and state legislators--all they do is blame each other for the man's injuries and fight about the best course of treatment.

Meanwhile, poor Mr. CPS is bleeding out and no one is reaching for a tourniquet.

After 14 months of bargaining, CTU's 40-member "Big Bargaining Team" unanimously rejected the proposed four-year contract that its union leadership had touted as a "serious offer" from CPS.

CTU President Karen Lewis acknowledged a "lack of trust" her members have for CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, she admitted that she was surprised that her members didn't take the deal.

That makes two of us, Karen!

The Problem

Let's face it, CPS and its appointed school board screwed up its own finances with bad investments, corruption and mismanagement, and over-promising pension benefits and then underfunding them, a situation impossible to be sustained long-term. Still, the district's financial failures are everybody's problem:

  • CPS is short $480 million to finance the rest of this school year.

  • The district is projecting a $1.1 billion deficit for next school year.

  • Despite terminating nearly 300 central office positions last month, the district would need to lay off some teachers this month to close the budget gap if no contract agreement is reached.

  • The district postponed a plan to borrow $875 million last week to finance its current operating budget. Now with a rejected teachers contract, financial experts fear the short-term uncertainty--coupled with the district's credit rating three tiers below junk bond status--has probably spooked investors from lending that kind of money to a school district on the precipice of bankruptcy.


"There were a lot of things that were great," Lewis said to the Chicago Tribune of the city's offer. "I'm not going to tell you they weren't. However, the things that will affect the classrooms the most--especially around the budget--were the ones that were concerning to people."

News flash: The issues around the budget are concerning, but it's virtually impossible for teachers to escape financial pain when negotiating with a desperately broke school district. The school district can't negotiate taxing the wealthy, only lawmakers can do that.

The Rejected Solution

Here's what the district had offered the CTU:

  • Continued raises for seniority and experience through a steps-and-lanes salary structure, in addition to cost of living increases at 2.75 percent next year and 3 percent for each of the following two years.

  • A freeze on new charter schools; CPS would only open new charter schools after it closes existing ones, as well as a commitment to push for revisions in the legislation that authorizes the Illinois Charter Commission, which currently can override CPS' charter decisions.

  • Raising at least $200 million in revenue by restoring a dedicated 0.26 percent property tax levy for teachers' pensions.

  • No teacher layoffs.


All these benefits would come in exchange for:

  • Teachers paying their entire 9 percent pension contribution, instead of their current 2 percent. Teachers would pay an additional 3.5 percent in July and the whole 7 percent as of July 2017.

  • Teachers paying part of their health insurance premium at 0.8 percent next year and another 0.7 percent the following year.


CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, who represents the dying school district, said he was "disappointed" that the union left him out to dry.

"This agreement provided pay raises, guaranteed job security and met the union's key demands, including restrictions on charter school expansion, raises for seniority in addition to cost-of-living increases, and more classroom autonomy for teachers," Claypool said.

Death by Debt and Indifference

Last month Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he'd rather have CPS file for bankruptcy and let the state take it over than provide the district with a half-billion dollar bailout. The Democrats have a supermajority in both the state House and Senate, but they lack the unity and political will to break through the state's year-long budget impasse and get things done.

Despite CPS being in critical condition, fixing the district by creating tax revenue streams and reforming the pension system is not at the top of state lawmakers' to-do list. The state is facing a pension shortfall of $111 billion and $10 billion in unpaid bills.

In fact, CPS, the city of Chicago, Cook County, and the state of Illinois are all fiscally bleeding out.

My daughter in eighth grade has been auditioning around the city for a spot in some of the district high schools' music programs. She very well may get into a school and then next year find that all the music and art teachers have been laid off.

Seeing that CTU could decide to strike as early as mid-May or choose to wait until start of the next school year, I'm tempted to just enroll her into a charter high school that may not even have a music program.

But if CPS runs out of money, a strike or massive layoffs won't be necessary. Schools would just shut down--district and charter alike. The district would just bleed out and die.

At that point, a tourniquet won't help. A new union contract won't make a difference. The feds will have to swoop in with their defibrillator--and the pain of that shock will be almost unbearable.
Photo by MilitaryHealth, CC-licensed.

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Top 5 Biggest Problems With Illinois' Medical Marijuana Program

Wed, 2016-02-03 10:29
The Illinois medical marijuana program is about two years into its four-year pilot period, but some patients and advocates say there are still plenty of kinks to work out. From high costs to low customer turnout, here's a list of five problems patients and activists cite with the Illinois program so far.

1) Not enough approved conditions

Illinois has approved 39 conditions that warrant the use of medical marijuana, but some advocates say the state is missing a few big ones -- like post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. Illinois officials have accepting petitions to add new conditions to the list, and the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board is recommending eight new conditions, including PTSD, chronic pain due to trauma and autism be approved.

But that decision is all up to Gov. Bruce Rauner. He already turned down the board's recommendation to add 11 new conditions last September, before dispensaries even opened.

Some veterans suffering from PTSD are calling on the governor to allow those new additions. At a press conference, Medical Cannabis Outreach founder Caprice Sweatt argued the prescription drugs available for patients can be dangerous, while marijuana doesn't cause some of the more serious side effects.

Vietnam veteran Lon Hodge said the psychotropic medications he used after his PTSD diagnosis were extremely damaging to his career as a professor and public speaker -- he described his condition as a "creative lobotomy."

"Those of us who suffer with PTSD to the extent that I do, we say we often carry suicide like a challenge coin in our pocket," Hodge said, "I don't want that for anybody else. Legalize this."

2) Fear of "pot doctors"

Hopeful medical marijuana patients need a doctor's signature before they qualify for the state-issued ID they need in order to get medical marijuana. Illinois' oversight is tougher than some other states -- at least four doctors have been accused of providing marijuana recommendations without a legitimate doctor-patient relationship. Some patients who went to the accused physicians are concerned they could lose their cards.

From the Associated Press:

Writing a law to restrict how doctors recommend marijuana is tricky. Lawmakers in Illinois, New Jersey and other states have tried to avoid California's drop-in, instant exams by attempting to define in legislation a legitimate doctor-patient relationship. Laws commonly call for a "bona fide" relationship with a physical exam and review of medical records. New Jersey doctors must register in a publicly viewable database and take courses in addiction medicine and pain management.

3) Not enough customers

The Illinois Department of Public Health has approved about 4,000 applications for medical marijuana, including 26 for people under 18 years old. However, business owners argue that number just isn't high enough to sustain dispensaries; they say they need at least 20,000 to 30,000 customers in the next six months to a year to stay open.

From the Daily Herald:

The reason for the disappointing numbers stems from what the operators call unnecessarily tight restrictions on who can buy marijuana.

For example, chronic pain and sleep disorders are not considered valid reasons in Illinois to buy medical pot, but they are elsewhere. State politics also plays into it, as does some reluctance within the medical community to embrace the program.

For medical marijuana programs in some other states, chronic pain makes up a huge chunk of the conditions users report. In both Michigan and Colorado, around 93 percent of patients use medical marijuana for severe and chronic pain.

4) Fingerprinting is a pain


Illinois' program requires marijuana patients to be fingerprinted. Some advocates say that's a violation of patients' privacy and civil rights, as no one else is required to be fingerprinted for any other types of medication.

And for those who can't leave the house or have difficulties travelling, getting fingerprinted can be a huge burden.

From Fox 32 Chicago:

Julie Falco has painful, incurable multiple sclerosis. Back when she could still walk, she was well known in the State Capitol as a tireless proponent of medical marijuana. But now with the program at the tipping point, she says she won't be part of it.

"Still feel like a criminal because I'm getting fingerprinted. Even though I use a wheelchair. I'm on a walker. I can barely move during the day," Falco said.

5) It's expensive

If you're looking for a medical marijuana prescription in Illinois, you'll need to have some money saved.

From the Belleville News-Democrat:

Patients in Illinois must pay a $100 application fee. Other charges, including a photo, fingerprinting fees and a physician consultation could tack on another $150 to the application process. Once they get their cards, they must pay an annual fee of $100 to keep them.

NEXT ARTICLE: The Top 10 most haunted hospitals in Illinois

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Illinois Super PAC Donations Already Changing Landscape of 2016 Legislative Races

Wed, 2016-02-03 09:51


In 2011, with the state reeling from campaign finance abuses exposed in the Rod Blagojevich scandal, Illinois enacted its first-ever limits on campaign contributions.

Boiled down to its essentials, the law limits donations to political candidates to $5,400 from individuals, $10,800 from corporations, unions or trade associations and $53,900 from another candidate's political fund. (There's a lot more to it, of course. The complete law is here.)

But that doesn't mean candidates can't get contributions bigger than those limits, nor are political candidates the only ones affected by the law.

Committees controlled by the state's political parties, for example, can give unlimited amounts to candidates in general elections. And political party committees can receive unlimited donations from political candidate campaign committees. Thus, Bruce Rauner's Citizens for Rauner fund, which now holds $19.5 million, can easily be channeled to supported candidates through the Illinois Republican Party's committee. Likewise with the four committees controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

But there also are circumstances in which contribution limit rules are nullified. If a candidate puts $250,000 of his or her own money into a statewide race or $100,000 into a legislative race, all limits come off for all candidates in that contest. Bruce Rauner's self-funding allowed the 2014 gubernatorial contest to become the most expensive in state history, as large donations poured into both his fund and that of Pat Quinn.

And then there are so-called independent expenditure committees, which are subject to no limits, but are prohibited from coordinating their activities with or donating directly to a candidate. Commonly known as Super PACs, independent expenditure committees exist to support or oppose political candidates or other electoral efforts. Once an independent expenditure committee spends $250,000 for or against a candidate in a statewide race or $100,000 for or against a legislative candidate, all limits come off for all candidates in that race.

In the 2016 primary election cycle, we've already seen limits dissolved in two races. The independent committee IllinoisGO in January spent $240,000 on behalf of Democratic Chicago State Rep. Ken Dunkin. That opened the door for a $500,000 donation on Feb. 1 to Dunkin's campaign from the conservative Illinois Opportunity Project.

In southwest-central Illinois, an independent expenditure committee with ties to the Illinois Opportunity Project spent $325,000 in support of Bryce Benton, the challenger of Republican incumbent Sen. Sam McCann of rural Plainview in the March 15 primary. With contribution limits now off, we can expect unions to support McCann with donations well above the $10,800 to which they would have been limited had Liberty Principles PAC not broken the barrier.

And this is only for the primary. The real money will get thrown into the Nov. 4 general election. Ever since his election, Rauner has vowed to use his resources to help elect Republicans to the General Assembly, where Democrats now hold three-fifths majorities in both the House and Senate.

We can expect Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the Democrats' traditional allies in organized labor and the trial bar to respond in kind.

Get ready to see previous spending records in local legislative races fall in a barrage of campaign ads.

NEXT ARTICLE: Illinois budget impasse projected to create $6.2 billion more in debt by June 30, Comptroller Munger says

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The 22 Best College Basketball Freshmen In America

Tue, 2016-02-02 10:50

Ben Simmons has been called the best pure basketball prospect to come along since LeBron James. Such a proclamation hardly guarantees NBA success. However, it's hard to ignore, given the influx of talented one-and-done phenoms -- as NBA commissioner Adam Silver discussed with HuffPost -- we've seen in the college hoops landscape over the past decade, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Andrew Wiggins, John Wall and Kyrie Irving.


While his prodigious gifts may warrant the incessant praise, Simmons is a work in progress, as are his freshmen counterparts. You can argue that few have lived up to the enormous hype bestowed on them before the season began. And yet, that hardly nullifies the immense talent this class has displayed, albeit less frequently then expected. 


Here are the top 22 college basketball freshmen in America.



Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related on Twitter at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram at @Schultz_Report. Also, tune in to Bleacher Report's NCAA Tournament coverage for my full analysis and check out my SiriusXM Radio show, airing Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-6 p.m. ET, on Bleacher Report channel 83.

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The Tom Cruise Superfan That Even HE Couldn't Forget, Years Later

Tue, 2016-02-02 10:23

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When Nancy Kozlowski's doorbell rang on the morning of November 30, 2001, she probably didn't expect to be greeted by a camera crew and the voice of a bathrobe-clad Oprah Winfrey ready to make a long-held dream come true. But that's what she got.


"Nancy, can you hear me?" Oprah asked. "I'm talking to you through the camera... You're on TV right now."



Nancy had written to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" about being Tom Cruise's biggest fan, so producers surprised the unsuspecting Chicagoan at her front door 15 years ago to tell her she would finally get to meet her movie star idol. Nancy's reaction was so unforgettable -- "This is better than the sweepstakes!" Oprah had joked -- that Cruise ended up asking about her ahead of his "Oprah Show" appearance in 2008.


So, naturally, the crew ambushed Nancy in her office to surprise her once again.


Both surprises play out in the video above, and at the end, "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" follows up with the unintentionally hilarious superfan to see if her passion for Cruise still burns strong. (Spoiler alert: It does. But you already knew that.)


"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.


Related: Oprah's all-time favorite guest shares an inspiring update


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How to Respond to Someone Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted

Tue, 2016-02-02 09:12


She was 15 years old when four men blindfolded and raped her. Shame and fear kept Zahra Bhaiwala silent for one year before telling anyone about the experience.

Bhaiwala narrates her story and the process of coping and coming out to her friends and family, alongside two other women in the upcoming documentary "Breaking Silence."

"Who you tell and what the response is can be very indicative of how you [as a survivor] can continue to cope and heal or not," said Navila Rashid, a forensic social worker and participant in the film, at a recent event highlighting the documentary.


Photo credit: BreakingSilenceTheFilm.com.



In their own words, here are some do's and don'ts for how to respond when someone tells you she* has been sexually assaulted:

1. Listen to them.

Be silent and just listen. It can be uncomfortable news to hear but to sit with that discomfort, to believe them and to express your support is much more powerful than asking probing questions or trying to fix the problem. While the trauma is indelible, the presence of someone who will listen without blame or judgment is vital.

Saying things like "I'm so sorry this happened, I can't make this better for you and I am here for you," can help a lot more because it validates the survivor, acknowledges their pain and expresses support for them.

2. Don't try to problem solve.

Often we ask questions because we're trying to understand what happened in order to find a solution or digest the trauma. But it's hard enough for that person to share her story, let alone answer questions about the physical or logistical details of the event. There can still be a lot of anger and shame the person feels, and she may just want to share the story without the burden of explaining it in depth.

3. Ask about their state of mind/health.

When a survivor shares her experience, it's clear she has processed some of it or has shared it before. Getting her to talk about how she feels or where she's at in the healing process can be helpful. And if she doesn't want to talk, silence is okay.

4. Refrain from minimizing the survivor's experience.

Comments like "well, at least it wasn't worse" or "at least this didn't happen" can appear dismissive or diminishing. At the end of the day, a survivor's suffering -- regardless of the severity -- is enough to warrant counsel and support.

5. Don't make comments that indirectly blame the survivor.

Questions like "what were you wearing?" or "are you sure you weren't interested?" or comments such as "It's because you don't wear hijab" can cause survivors to blame themselves, thus making them feel more confused and isolated. They also create an atmosphere that inadvertently absolves the perpetrator of his crimes.

Additionally, just because a survivor didn't violently protest or there were no signs of physical resistance, it doesn't mean she was not assaulted.

6. Making violent statements doesn't help. This applies to men, especially.

Statements like "Where is he? I'm going to beat him up" are not always helpful. That rage comes from a place of love, but when the survivor is telling you something serious and emotionally draining, an angry reaction doesn't help her process the trauma any more. In fact, it can make her feel guilty for placing an undue burden on you. Again, be calm and just listen.

7. The person who's telling you may not be very close to you. Listen anyway.

Sometimes, survivors get to a point where they are holding in the trauma for so long that they open up to whoever happens to be there, even if the person isn't close to them. In that case, it's still crucial to stay silent and be a source of support.

8. Expressing denial can exacerbate the trauma.

If the survivor's assailant is someone you know, a common reaction is to go into denial. When you go into denial you claim that the survivor is making something up, which can perpetuate that trauma significantly more. It's important to understand that anyone is capable of committing sexual assault, whether a relative, friend or community leader.

9. Don't gossip.

By sharing this story with you, the survivor shows that she trusts you, so treat this information with sensitivity, don't gossip about it with others and respect her privacy.

* * *

In participating in the film, the three women hope to open up a dialogue on tackling sexual abuse, especially in their communities where sex is a taboo topic.

By addressing how our responses to survivors play a critical role in the healing process, the women show that dealing with sexual assault should not be an individual's burden alone, but a collective responsibility we embrace with compassion and the utmost care.

*The feminine pronoun is used to reflect the reality that most victims of sexual assault are women.

_____________

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.










What You Learn About Being a Dad When You Grow Up Without One

Tue, 2016-02-02 05:15

Ten years ago, Friday the Thirteenth proved to be the most extraordinary day of my life.


Two days after Christmas in 2005, I set out to answer a seemingly simple question: Who was my father?


As a journalist, I wrote stories about complete strangers. But as a man, my own story was incomplete. I never knew my dad.


That changed on Friday, January 13, 2006.


I arrived in the lobby of a senior housing complex in Inglewood, California. A tall, broad-shouldered man wearing bifocals and a baseball cap greeted me.


That man was Edward Briggs. Edward was 74; I was 31. I had last seen him when I was six years old. It was the only time I had seen him. And it had been 25 years.



I shared the journey that led me to Edward in a Chicago Tribune article published on Father's Day 2006 that described our initial meeting:



Once we were inside his apartment, he took off his cap and got out his high school yearbook, along with a batch of photos.


As we sat side by side on the sofa, close enough to feel each other's warmth, I studied his face and body. His features seemed uncannily familiar, as though I were staring at an aged reflection of myself: oval-shaped head with lines creasing the brow; gentle brown eyes and bulb nose; salt-and-pepper, neatly trimmed mustache; smile lines carved around full lips.


Long, bony fingers wrapped in honey-toned skin extended from his palms. Our shoe sizes appeared nearly identical. The rhythm of his movements seemed to echo mine.


For 25 years Edward had been little more than a memory of light-skinned tallness. But here he was in the flesh. Here was my father?


Our striking resemblance became the elephant in the room. Neither one of us acknowledged it, but the shock was palpable. I was speechless; my father later told me that his appetite had left him.



My inbox was flooded with congratulations and compliments from readers who said the story tugged at their heartstrings and triggered tears, especially the last sentence: "On Sunday, for the first time in my 31 years, I will pick up the phone, dial his number and wish him a happy Father's Day." 


For readers, that was the end. For me, it was the beginning. I had found my biological father, but now what?



He was elderly. He lived 2,000 miles away. What kind of relationship could we realistically have? I was under no illusion it would resemble my memories of The Cosby Show, but hoped it could blossom into something more meaningful than a good story to tell at dinner parties. 



When we met in 2006, my dad shared how bad he felt that I had found him in the sunset of his life, when he didn't have much to offer in terms of money or possessions. He failed to grasp I wanted something far more valuable than an inheritance: time. To create memories. To fill in the blanks of him in my mind. To meet his kin.


Given my father's age, I did not believe time was on our side. And yet, over the past decade, I've gotten to know my dad through casual phone calls and visits and also through his family -- my family -- a tapestry of personalities, history and legacy that I never knew I could claim.



Among them are two aunts (one, Rosemary, a devout Jehovah's Witness matriarch in Omaha who drove with me to West Des Moines, Iowa where her daughter, Vicky, shared Jim Crow-era stories about my great grandfather, Ripley Briggs; the other, Linda, a gregarious, church-going woman in Kansas City who lives near her grown daughters, Dawn, Dana and Deana); and an uncle, Jim Powell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel built like a defensive lineman, and his wife, Tommie, who before their deaths in 2013 lived for 49 years in Sacramento, where Tommie worked for the school district.



There was a grandmother, Mamie Lue Powell, who was 96 when I met her for the first and last time at a nursing home in Grandview, Mo. Arthritis had ravaged her body and dementia had taken her once-sharp mind, but when I held her knotted-up hand in mine and stared deep into her face long enough to notice the blue rings around the iris of her eyes, she seemed glad to see me.


Mamie married the late Edward Briggs Sr., my grandfather, a cab driver and quarry worker who had a penchant for fedoras and thick cigars, before getting remarried to James William Powell, a 9th and 10th Calvary Buffalo Soldier and no-nonsense man.



I met two cousins, Rona and Lona. Rona is a records technician for a police department in suburban Kansas City and proud mother of three athletic sons, two of whom were featured in a humorous Sports Illustrated article about the preponderance of players named Downing on the Atchison High School basketball team.


Lona is a stylish artist who by day works as a development manager for an orchestral academy in Miami Beach, Fla. By night, she designs Afrocentric dreadlock accessories, jewelry, dolls and sculptures. There is also a first cousin, once removed -- Beverly, a former home child-care provider who has been married to her reverend husband, Jesse, for 56 years.


In 1990, they founded the Bridge Home for Children, a residential treatment center in Kansas City for homeless, abused and neglected children. "I can't say welcome to the family, because you have always been part of the family," Beverly wrote in email to me. "So, instead I say to you, WELCOME HOME!"



Each new family member I met was a kaleidoscope, refracting different sides of my father's life through recollections from childhood and family reunions past. It was like that popular 1950s TV show This is Your Life in which the host would surprise guests, then take them through their lives in front of a live audience that included guest appearances by colleagues, friends and family.


This is Your Life, Edward Briggs. There was only one audience member: me.



One of the great gifts of my life in the past decade has not only been finding my father, but becoming one.


My daughter, Emarie, was born 18 months ago -- a willful little girl throbbing with her own cosmic signature. Every day, between giggles, diaper changes, tantrums and bedtime, she teaches me lessons in love, patience and understanding.


One thing I've learned is no man instinctively knows how to father.


You become a father.



One of the great gifts of my life in the past decade has not only been finding my father, but becoming one.



For me this process of Becoming Daddy started as soon as I learned my wife, Rhonda, was pregnant. It gestated during 40 weeks of anticipating Emarie's birth, the bonding with Rhonda during each week and milestone trimester, the fleeting worries and regular doctor's visits, to say nothing of our periodic guessing game of imagining whose nose, ears and profile Emmy would favor. We were making room for an arrival -- room in our home, in our thoughts, in our hearts.


That's what it means to become a parent: You make room.



My dad missed out on becoming a father. He met my mother, Sherry, in 1973. They carried on a relationship for two months, maybe longer. Then, she stopped coming by his place.


"I didn't know she was pregnant when she left. I really didn't," Edward told me in 2006, reflecting on the memory. In 1981, when I was 6, my mother arrived unannounced at his home -- with me in tow. She was married by then but apparently felt it was important for us to meet. That was the last time I saw my dad.


When we reconnected 25 years later, Edward took those first awkward lurches toward a bond with me, those wobbly steps at becoming a father. During our first Father's Day conversation, he shared stories about going fishing with a favorite uncle and hunting raccoons and soft-shell turtles as a young boy.


He's since opened up about:



  • Living long enough to witness the nation's first Black president ("I couldn't believe it. I hope he accomplishes a whole lot. It's going to take him a while to straighten this mess out.")

  • His first car ("It was a raggedy '34 Ford. I paid $40 for it. I traded it in and got a '37 Studebaker.")

  • One of his high school crushes, Alberta Hunt ("Yeah, she was nice.")

  • The reason he joined the Navy as a young man ("I just wanted to see the world, man.")

  • His life's regrets ("See my downfall was I never did like to read. If I had liked to read, I could have amounted to something.")

  • The secret to his fried fish ("Seasoning salt in the batter.")

  • And the one keepsake he treasures from his brief relationship with my mother: a fake $100 bill, play money you might find at a gag shop, signed: "I love you to the utmost. I had a wonderful time with you. Love, Sherrie."


Nearly a year after our 2006 reunion, Edward sent me a shimmery American Greetings Christmas card emblazoned with a sentimental declaration: "For a Special Son." The headline read, "Words can never quite convey all that our hearts would like to say." Inside the card continued: "It's hard, even at Christmas, to put into words how much happiness you're wished, how much you're loved, and all that it means to have a son who's as wonderful as you. Merry Christmas."


The pre-printed text ends there, but in black ink my dad wrote in cursive, "+ Happy New Year from Dad." The word dad was in air quotes. I understand why.



Edward's confessed he's not comfortable being "Dad" -- he doesn't feel he's earned the title. Instead he prefers if I call him by his military nickname, "Watashi," Japanese for "I" -- that's how his friends greet him. That's the reality of our relationship: Edward is my father solely on the basis of genetics, but he's become my friend.


See, my family loved me so much that I never felt the void of my father so much as the holes in my own story. As I wrote in 2006, "I had a full family -- my mother, grandmother, uncles and, later, stepfathers -- all of whom played substitute. They were the ones who got the wrapped gifts, bear hugs and handmade cards scribbled in crayon with 'I love you.'" As a result, I don't mind calling Edward dad even though he will never be that for me.



See, my family loved me so much that I never felt the void of my father so much as the holes in my own story.



That acceptance frees me from expectations. Over the years, my aunt Linda has scolded her brother Edward for not picking up the phone to call me more often, for not remembering my birthday or sending cards and letters.


"You went through all that trouble to find him," Linda once said to me in a huff. "He should call you more often." At times, I have wished my dad would reach out more, but that's not the relationship we have.


There is no textbook way for a man to "make room" for his grown son.


In getting to know my dad, I've come to admire him for being a survivor. He's survived war, stomach cancer, a stroke. Not even a car accident that left him with a light limp slowed his swagger -- he found a walking cane to match his Stacy Adams ensemble and kept it moving. It's no wonder then that on the walls of my father's apartment hang portraits of Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- faith and conviction.


For years, my mother never asked about my motive for finding Edward or even acknowledged that he was part of my life. But in the fall of October 2011, when she learned I planned to visit Edward to see how well he was recovering from a stroke, she handed me a get-well card to give to him. I discovered afterwards she included a note inside with her cell phone number and they later spoke.


A month later, during Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago, my mother -- perhaps triggered by the framed copy of the 2006 "Lost and Found" Tribune article hanging in the hallway -- asked, "Why did you want to find Edward?" To which I replied, "Because I wanted to know my story." She looked pensive in the wake of my response.



In finding and befriending my father, I remain thankful to my mother for raising me to be the kind of man bold enough to break cycles -- the cycles of blame and shame, the heritage of not knowing our parents, our history, ourselves.


January the 13th will come and go, and each time it does I reflect on this lasting lesson. If you want to know the answers to life's most pressing questions, you have to venture out into the world and find them for yourself.


This post was originally published on Medium

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.










What You Learn About Being a Dad When You Grow Up Without One

Tue, 2016-02-02 05:15

Ten years ago last month, Friday the Thirteenth proved to be the most extraordinary day of my life.


Two days after Christmas in 2005, I set out to answer a seemingly simple question: Who was my father?


As a journalist, I wrote stories about complete strangers. But as a man, my own story was incomplete. I never knew my dad.


That changed on Friday, January 13, 2006.


I arrived in the lobby of a senior housing complex in Inglewood, California. A tall, broad-shouldered man wearing bifocals and a baseball cap greeted me.


That man was Edward Briggs. Edward was 74; I was 31. I had last seen him when I was six years old. It was the only time I had seen him. And it had been 25 years.



I shared the journey that led me to Edward in a Chicago Tribune article published on Father's Day 2006 that described our initial meeting:



Once we were inside his apartment, he took off his cap and got out his high school yearbook, along with a batch of photos.


As we sat side by side on the sofa, close enough to feel each other's warmth, I studied his face and body. His features seemed uncannily familiar, as though I were staring at an aged reflection of myself: oval-shaped head with lines creasing the brow; gentle brown eyes and bulb nose; salt-and-pepper, neatly trimmed mustache; smile lines carved around full lips.


Long, bony fingers wrapped in honey-toned skin extended from his palms. Our shoe sizes appeared nearly identical. The rhythm of his movements seemed to echo mine.


For 25 years Edward had been little more than a memory of light-skinned tallness. But here he was in the flesh. Here was my father?


Our striking resemblance became the elephant in the room. Neither one of us acknowledged it, but the shock was palpable. I was speechless; my father later told me that his appetite had left him.



My inbox was flooded with congratulations and compliments from readers who said the story tugged at their heartstrings and triggered tears, especially the last sentence: "On Sunday, for the first time in my 31 years, I will pick up the phone, dial his number and wish him a happy Father's Day." 


For readers, that was the end. For me, it was the beginning. I had found my biological father, but now what?



He was elderly. He lived 2,000 miles away. What kind of relationship could we realistically have? I was under no illusion it would resemble my memories of The Cosby Show, but hoped it could blossom into something more meaningful than a good story to tell at dinner parties. 



When we met in 2006, my dad shared how bad he felt that I had found him in the sunset of his life, when he didn't have much to offer in terms of money or possessions. He failed to grasp I wanted something far more valuable than an inheritance: time. To create memories. To fill in the blanks of him in my mind. To meet his kin.


Given my father's age, I did not believe time was on our side. And yet, over the past decade, I've gotten to know my dad through casual phone calls and visits and also through his family -- my family -- a tapestry of personalities, history and legacy that I never knew I could claim.



Among them are two aunts (one, Rosemary, a devout Jehovah's Witness matriarch in Omaha who drove with me to West Des Moines, Iowa where her daughter, Vicky, shared Jim Crow-era stories about my great grandfather, Ripley Briggs; the other, Linda, a gregarious, church-going woman in Kansas City who lives near her grown daughters, Dawn, Dana and Deana); and an uncle, Jim Powell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel built like a defensive lineman, and his wife, Tommie, who before their deaths in 2013 lived for 49 years in Sacramento, where Tommie worked for the school district.



There was a grandmother, Mamie Lue Powell, who was 96 when I met her for the first and last time at a nursing home in Grandview, Mo. Arthritis had ravaged her body and dementia had taken her once-sharp mind, but when I held her knotted-up hand in mine and stared deep into her face long enough to notice the blue rings around the iris of her eyes, she seemed glad to see me.


Mamie married the late Edward Briggs Sr., my grandfather, a cab driver and quarry worker who had a penchant for fedoras and thick cigars, before getting remarried to James William Powell, a 9th and 10th Calvary Buffalo Soldier and no-nonsense man.



I met two cousins, Rona and Lona. Rona is a records technician for a police department in suburban Kansas City and proud mother of three athletic sons, two of whom were featured in a humorous Sports Illustrated article about the preponderance of players named Downing on the Atchison High School basketball team.


Lona is a stylish artist who by day works as a development manager for an orchestral academy in Miami Beach, Fla. By night, she designs Afrocentric dreadlock accessories, jewelry, dolls and sculptures. There is also a first cousin, once removed -- Beverly, a former home child-care provider who has been married to her reverend husband, Jesse, for 56 years.


In 1990, they founded the Bridge Home for Children, a residential treatment center in Kansas City for homeless, abused and neglected children. "I can't say welcome to the family, because you have always been part of the family," Beverly wrote in email to me. "So, instead I say to you, WELCOME HOME!"



Each new family member I met was a kaleidoscope, refracting different sides of my father's life through recollections from childhood and family reunions past. It was like that popular 1950s TV show This is Your Life in which the host would surprise guests, then take them through their lives in front of a live audience that included guest appearances by colleagues, friends and family.


This is Your Life, Edward Briggs. There was only one audience member: me.



One of the great gifts of my life in the past decade has not only been finding my father, but becoming one.


My daughter, Emarie, was born 17 months ago -- a willful little girl throbbing with her own cosmic signature. Every day, between giggles, diaper changes, tantrums and bedtime, she teaches me lessons in love, patience and understanding.


One thing I've learned is no man instinctively knows how to father.


You become a father.



One of the great gifts of my life in the past decade has not only been finding my father, but becoming one.



For me this process of Becoming Daddy started as soon as I learned my wife, Rhonda, was pregnant. It gestated during 40 weeks of anticipating Emarie's birth, the bonding with Rhonda during each week and milestone trimester, the fleeting worries and regular doctor's visits, to say nothing of our periodic guessing game of imagining whose nose, ears and profile Emmy would favor. We were making room for an arrival -- room in our home, in our thoughts, in our hearts.


That's what it means to become a parent: You make room.



My dad missed out on becoming a father. He met my mother, Sherry, in 1973. They carried on a relationship for two months, maybe longer. Then, she stopped coming by his place.


"I didn't know she was pregnant when she left. I really didn't," Edward told me in 2006, reflecting on the memory. In 1981, when I was 6, my mother arrived unannounced at his home -- with me in tow. She was married by then but apparently felt it was important for us to meet. That was the last time I saw my dad.


When we reconnected 25 years later, Edward took those first awkward lurches toward a bond with me, those wobbly steps at becoming a father. During our first Father's Day conversation, he shared stories about going fishing with a favorite uncle and hunting raccoons and soft-shell turtles as a young boy.


He's since opened up about:



  • Living long enough to witness the nation's first Black president ("I couldn't believe it. I hope he accomplishes a whole lot. It's going to take him a while to straighten this mess out.")

  • His first car ("It was a raggedy '34 Ford. I paid $40 for it. I traded it in and got a '37 Studebaker.")

  • One of his high school crushes, Alberta Hunt ("Yeah, she was nice.")

  • The reason he joined the Navy as a young man ("I just wanted to see the world, man.")

  • His life's regrets ("See my downfall was I never did like to read. If I had liked to read, I could have amounted to something.")

  • The secret to his fried fish ("Seasoning salt in the batter.")

  • And the one keepsake he treasures from his brief relationship with my mother: a fake $100 bill, play money you might find at a gag shop, signed: "I love you to the utmost. I had a wonderful time with you. Love, Sherrie."


Nearly a year after our 2006 reunion, Edward sent me a shimmery American Greetings Christmas card emblazoned with a sentimental declaration: "For a Special Son." The headline read, "Words can never quite convey all that our hearts would like to say." Inside the card continued: "It's hard, even at Christmas, to put into words how much happiness you're wished, how much you're loved, and all that it means to have a son who's as wonderful as you. Merry Christmas."


The pre-printed text ends there, but in black ink my dad wrote in cursive, "+ Happy New Year from Dad." The word dad was in air quotes. I understand why.



Edward's confessed he's not comfortable being "Dad" -- he doesn't feel he's earned the title. Instead he prefers if I call him by his military nickname, "Watashi," Japanese for "I" -- that's how his friends greet him. That's the reality of our relationship: Edward is my father solely on the basis of genetics, but he's become my friend.


See, my family loved me so much that I never felt the void of my father so much as the holes in my own story. As I wrote in 2006, "I had a full family -- my mother, grandmother, uncles and, later, stepfathers -- all of whom played substitute. They were the ones who got the wrapped gifts, bear hugs and handmade cards scribbled in crayon with 'I love you.'" As a result, I don't mind calling Edward dad even though he will never be that for me.



See, my family loved me so much that I never felt the void of my father so much as the holes in my own story.



That acceptance frees me from expectations. Over the years, my aunt Linda has scolded her brother Edward for not picking up the phone to call me more often, for not remembering my birthday or sending cards and letters.


"You went through all that trouble to find him," Linda once said to me in a huff. "He should call you more often." At times, I have wished my dad would reach out more, but that's not the relationship we have.


There is no textbook way for a man to "make room" for his grown son.


In getting to know my dad, I've come to admire him for being a survivor. He's survived war, stomach cancer, a stroke. Not even a car accident that left him with a light limp slowed his swagger -- he found a walking cane to match his Stacy Adams ensemble and kept it moving. It's no wonder then that on the walls of my father's apartment hang portraits of Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- faith and conviction.


For years, my mother never asked about my motive for finding Edward or even acknowledged that he was part of my life. But in the fall of October 2011, when she learned I planned to visit Edward to see how well he was recovering from a stroke, she handed me a get-well card to give to him. I discovered afterwards she included a note inside with her cell phone number and they later spoke.


A month later, during Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago, my mother -- perhaps triggered by the framed copy of the 2006 "Lost and Found" Tribune article hanging in the hallway -- asked, "Why did you want to find Edward?" To which I replied, "Because I wanted to know my story." She looked pensive in the wake of my response.



In finding and befriending my father, I remain thankful to my mother for raising me to be the kind of man bold enough to break cycles -- the cycles of blame and shame, the heritage of not knowing our parents, our history, ourselves.


January the 13th will come and go, and each time it does I reflect on this lasting lesson. If you want to know the answers to life's most pressing questions, you have to venture out into the world and find them for yourself.


This post was originally published on Medium

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.










Rahm Forced to Make Changes in Chicago

Mon, 2016-02-01 12:39

If the Laquan McDonald video was never released to the public, then Mayor Rahm Emanuel would have never made any changes within the Chicago Police Department. Why did it take the killing of a young African American man for Rahm to do something? Superintendent McCarthy was fired, one of the city attorney's stepped down, the head of Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) resigned, and several African American Police staff were promoted to higher level positions.



There were many issues in Chicago before the release of the Laquan McDonald video. Now the embattled mayor is trying to get another chance to prove his commitment to the people. Why would anyone listen to a mayor who covered up a killing to win his re-election bid? If the city attorney, the head of IPRA, and Superintendent McCarthy knew what was going on with the Laquan McDonald killing, then the mayor also knew what was happening. The blame goes to the leader of the pack for the misconduct of his team. The cover up was managed from the top down. Select CPD officials along with State's Attorney Anita Alvarez worked in concert from the very beginning to make sure that the video was not released until both election cycles were over.



If a person is forced to make changes, then the changes are not sincere. Mayor Emanuel should be ashamed of himself considering that he depended on the African American vote to win office. The mayor has also been going out of his way to appear in pictures with African American people to make himself look good or feel accepted. This appears to be another futile attempt to win the people over. Several protestors have organized demonstrations in front of the mayor's house in an attempt to have the mayor step down.



Governor Bruce Rauner has also criticized the mayor for his inability to improve public safety in Chicago. Some of the mayor's supporters probably believe that this issue will go away one day, but the people will continue to fight for mayor Emanuel's resignation.



How many people think that the mayor would stand by their sides if they broke the law or found themselves in a compromising position? Most politicians will not even consider standing up for one of their colleagues or supporters in a moment of adversity whether the person is guilt or not. Effective political leaders make tough decisions to move the people forward and not sit on a time bomb before addressing specific issues that could taint or destroy their legacy.



Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a golden opportunity to stand like a champion when Officer Jason Van Dyke killed Laquan McDonald, but instead he chose to save face instead of bringing the issue to light whether it cost him the election or not. If the mayor would have brought the issue to light, then he would have been respected as one of the greatest leaders of our time. He probably would have won the election by a landslide.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Poll: Weak Clinton Lead Over Trump in Illinois Should Worry State Dems

Sat, 2016-01-30 09:33
For those Illinois Democrats who have been trusting in Hillary Clinton's skirt tails as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee to help sweep Illinois House and Senate Democratic incumbents back into office and to perhaps topple some GOP lawmakers, uh, knock it off.

An Illinois juggernaut the Clinton campaign is not.

As a raft of new Iowa and New Hampshire polls reveal, Clinton is struggling against Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in those looming primary contests. In Iowa, A January 15-20 CNN-ORC poll CNN-ORC gave Sanders 51% to Clinton's 43%. In December, CNN-ORC had Clinton leading Sanders by 18 points.

Closer to home, a January 18-19 poll of 570 likely Democratic voters, conducted by KBUR-AM (Burlington, IA) and Monmouth College shows that Clinton leads Sanders 48% to 39%, but, like CNN-ORC, it is a steadily diminishing lead from a 63% to 20% advantage in June and 46% to 32% lead in October.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley - yes, he's still campaigning - has 7% of the vote, a slight increase from 5% support in both June and October.

"There's no question Sanders has gained momentum and has steadily gained on Clinton," KBUR-AM "Talking Politics" host Robin Johnson said.

Clinton's dismal standing in the polls has unleashed another round of hand-wringing among national Democrats over the durability and draw of her candidacy.

Additionally, a new Illinois poll from The Illinois Observer's subscription e-newsletter, The Insider, that pits Clinton against Donald Trump as the GOP nominee should also cause Illinois Democrats to wring their hands too over voter enthusiasm for the former First Lady who grew up in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois.

The January 9 survey of 502 likely 2016 Illinois voters finds that Clinton edges Trump 36.5-27.5% - or 9 lousy points - and with 36.1% undecided.

The poll had a +/- 4.46% margin of error.

If Clinton can't cross 50% in blue Illinois against Trump and can't scrape together at least a 10-point lead against the blow-hard billionaire, she - and House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton - have plenty to worry about.

Since Bruce Rauner's win in 2014, Democratic campaign operatives and lawmakers have invested much faith for 2016 in the "Democratic presidential turnout" theory as a fire-wall against Rauner's expected money tidal wave that will crash against them.

In 2012, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney 57.6-40.7% in Illinois, a victory which helped hand Madigan and Cullerton supermajorities in both chambers.

At this point, Clinton, despite being from Illinois, is generating nowhere near Obama-level of enthusiasm. As the Democratic nominee, almost no credible observer would suggest that Clinton could lose Illinois, but a lackluster Clinton and Rauner's cash combined could easily whittle away Madigan and Cullerton's supermajorities.

For those top Democrats, a Democratic state representative and state senator are far more valuable to their political fortunes than a Democratic President of the United States.

Stay tuned.

davidormsby@davidormsby.com

David also edits The Illinois Observer: The Insider, in which this article first appeared.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

What Wednesday's Redeye</em> Cover Art Got Wrong About Gender Neutrality

Fri, 2016-01-29 17:26
The cover of Redeye on Wednesday featured the headline "Sign of the Times" and, according the blurb, the cover story explores "Activists Push for More Gender Neutral Bathrooms in Chicago." How exciting! I'm so glad Chicago is moving that direction and one of our free dailies is covering it. Pun intended.

Wednesday's RedEye: Activists push for more gender-neutral bathrooms in Chicago. Cover by @saamato

A photo posted by RedEye (@redeyechicago) on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:08pm PST





I first saw the image on Instagram the night before and then again on my walk to the train where Redeye's pepper the sidewalk and litter the train cars. My point being, almost everyone in Chicago that can see will most likely consume this image. Far few less will consume the text and chances are even fewer will read the article.

Which is why this isn't about the article -- this is about the cover art. Cover art that is explicitly making women invisible by painting over them. This is not a metaphor. You can see it. This is also not what gender-neutral means, at all. Gender neutrality means working towards a world where no individual is bound by normative gender roles that seek to limit their identity. It does not mean erasing one gender in favor of another. Especially the oppressed one.

Rather than suggest an overall move towards eliminating male and female identifiers on restrooms, the image does illustrate a very uncomfortable truth in our culture. A truth so deeply embedded in all of our psyches and systems that it is almost impossible to recognize. The truth being that male is our default definition for human being. That gender-neutral means being more like a man. That women are: invisible, unnecessary, less valuable...need I go on?

The subtext in this image is not up for debate and the comments by Redeye designer Sara Amato (@saamato) are just as disappointing as the image itself.



The argument that I was "reading too much into it" prompts a counter-argument: why didn't the designer or the person in charge of approving this cover art not read more into it?

Redeye and staff, I ask you to please consider the following:

1. The average American consumes about 15 ½ hours of media a day, according to a recent report, with new digital sources (like Instagram) having major effects on most forms of media consumption. Media is built on images. These images are part of what we use to define ourselves and the world we live in. Research on the negative effects of media consumption is plentiful, particularly when it comes to women. Negative body image, eating disorders, low self-esteem and more have been linked to gender and media influence. You think seeing your likeness being painted over by a mainstream news source is helping? Um, no. So, while this cover art may not have been intentionally meant to communicate sexist messages, it still does.



2. We live in a patriarchy which means a male dominated society. All things and people are not equal. Men still dominate most industries, especially media. The defense that it "doesn't matter where I start," is totally inaccurate and quite ignorant. It does matter. It matters in a world where women are consistently shamed and silenced, excluded and alienated, paid less for the same work, ridiculed for being leaders, Still fighting for the right to control their own bodies.

3. According to the latest research, Chicago boasts the only newspaper in the country to not only equal but also exceed gender parity in bylines, The Chicago Sun-Times. Our city is teeming with talented women in comedy, theater, film, design and science. And yet we are clearly missing critical dialogues when it comes to design and publishing practices.

Redeye missed an excellent opportunity to create an image that more accurately reflects not only our citywide progression towards gender-neutral restrooms but also a cultural shift towards gender inclusivity and instead painted a misleading picture reflecting subtle, sexist ideologies.

As of today, Redeye has responded to the comment thread on Instagram.


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10 Notable DNC Members From Illinois Announce Support for Hillary Clinton

Fri, 2016-01-29 14:29
Ten prominent Illinoisans and members of the Democratic National Committee have announced their support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

They include Senate President John Cullerton, Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello.

"We're honored to have the support from these party leaders who know that Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who can stop Republicans from ripping away all of the progress we've made," said Marlon Marshall, Hillary for America director of state campaigns and political engagement. "These DNC members will only strengthen our grassroots-driven campaign and help us engage even more voters across Illinois in order to win the March 15th Primary."

The latest polls show Clinton as the front-runner in the Democratic primary race, holding a double-digit lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt.

Here are the 10 notable DNC members from Illinois who are throwing their support behind the Clinton camp.

NEXT ARTICLE: Bernie Sanders will be president, says Western Illinois University -- and it hasn't been wrong in 40 years

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Illinois Meets Paul Newman: Is What We Have Here a Failure to Communicate?

Fri, 2016-01-29 14:25
The 1967 prison drama "Cool Hand Luke" is a classic, and contains one of the all-time classic American movie lines.

"What we've got here is failure to communicate," the prison's sadistic warden intones with mock regret after administering a beating to Luke (Paul Newman), newly recaptured after an escape.

The line comes to mind this week as Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his second State of the State Address and his political nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan, delivered his response.

Rauner says (more nicely this year than in last year's address) that he will not discuss tax increases to balance a state budget until the Democrats who control the General Assembly pass at least some of his business and political reforms. Madigan says those reforms amount largely to lowering wages and the standard of living for the middle class.

Thus Illinois heads toward its eighth month without a state budget as public colleges struggle to keep their doors open, the state's largest social services provider imposes massive cutbacks and 125,000 college students go without financial aid that had been promised them before the current school year. The state is spending far more than it's bringing in, and it appears likely this could continue into the next budget year, which starts July 1.

We're not sure if this is a failure to communicate or an unwillingness to do so. Whatever the interpretation, it's pretty clear that each side sees the other as the Captain, the tormentor of Paul Newman.

We explore the communication gap that has Illinois' finances in shackles on this week's "Only in Illinois."



NEXT ARTICLE: House Democrats pass MAP grant funding bill, GOP calls it a hoax

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Chicago Announces New Police Training For Dealing With Mentally Ill

Fri, 2016-01-29 13:47

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, facing sharp criticism over police shootings of civilians, announced reforms on Friday to address how police and other emergency workers respond to the mentally ill, including new crisis training for officers.


Last month, a police officer responding to a call by a father who said his son was threatening him with a baseball bat fired into a home, killing both an emotionally-troubled college student and an innocent bystander.


Both the families of Quintonio LeGrier, 19, and Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five, have sued the city. Police later admitted that Jones was shot by accident.


Recently released 911 emergency calls revealed that LeGrier had called police three times asking for help before he was shot, but the dispatcher hung up on him when he would not give his name.


The reforms would increase the number of officers who receive a 40-hour "Crisis Intervention Team," training course, which teaches the best ways to de-escalate situations with people in crisis, especially the mentally ill, the mayor's office said.


The number of officers who receive this training would expand to 2,800 from 1,890 this year, so each district will have a CIT officer staffed on every watch.


In addition, all of the department's 12,000 police officers would receive eight hours of training on mental health awareness, and 911 dispatchers will be trained on identifying situations requiring crisis-intervention tactics.


The city also plans to find ways to improve access to mental health services. Emanuel has been criticized for closing six mental health clinics in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods.


Costs for the additional training were not immediately available.


The U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating the Chicago police's use of deadly force, among other issues.


High-profile killings of minorities by mainly white police officers have led to a national debate over the use of deadly force by the police. Both LeGrier and Jones were black and the officer who shot them was white.


Alexa James, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago, praised the plan for more crisis training as "an important and necessary step."


But community activist Gregory Seal Livingston, who has been among those calling for Emanuel's resignation over police shootings, said he was "incredibly skeptical" that anything will get done.


"Whatever trust he had with the public has been eroded," Livingston said of the mayor.


(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, editing by G Crosse)


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Chicago Fan's Obituary Takes Passing Shot At Jay Cutler

Fri, 2016-01-29 12:49

She just sacked Jay Cutler from the grave.


The recent obituary for Elizabeth Porter Bowman, who died Jan. 9 at age 78, extolled her virtues as a grandmother, mother and lover of Chicago sports teams.


But Cutler, the oft-maligned Bears quarterback, rated special mention in the Chicago Tribune's Legacy.com post:



Ouch. Cutler has gotten plenty of criticism in his career, but this diss is eternal.


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