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I Strongly Support the EPA Clean Power Plan

Mon, 2015-08-03 14:07
Climate change is one of the most serious challenges we face at home and around the world. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred in this century, and we're on pace to set a new all-time record this year. The National Climate Assessment showed that without major intervention, oceans will rise as much as 4 feet, water shortages will increase rapidly, and our hottest days could be more than 10 degrees hotter than they are today by the end of the century. Food will become more scarce and more expensive, and global conflict will rise. This is a crisis we can't wait to address.

President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy, and the entire Administration have made addressing climate change a top priority, and today's final rule is a critical moment in those efforts. For the first time in our history, there will be restrictions on emissions from power plants - which are responsible for almost one-third of all U.S. carbon emissions. The rule provides flexibility for states and businesses as they meet its requirements, keeping energy affordable and available for consumers. It will protect our environment, improve public health and cut energy bills. In fact, the plan will save each American family nearly $85 a year in 2030 and collectively the plan will save consumers $155 billion from 2020 to 2030.

I strongly support this final rule, and I will work to prevent any Congressional effort to undermine it.

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Munger Reaches Labor Deal as Rauner Continues His Own Battle

Mon, 2015-08-03 13:35
As Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to battle with organized labor, the state comptroller he appointed has cut a deal with union workers in her office. They'll get more pay but it won't drive up pension costs.

Comptroller Leslie Munger reportedly will give 220 full-time workers in her office a one-time, $1,000 payment in the next year in lieu of raises that also would boost pensions, Mike Riopell of the Daily Herald reported.

Munger intends to run for election to the seat next year, while Democrats, state Sen. Daniel Biss, and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza are eyeing runs as well.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers reached the agreement for the payments with Munger, he reported, and money for them will come from funds from last fiscal year. Munger's spokesman, Rich Carter, and union spokeswoman Aviva Bowen each put their own best political spin on the news:

"The funds were available because the Comptroller identified efficiencies and cut costs, allowing the Office to return $500,000 to taxpayers and cut its budget by 10 percent," Carter said. "The approach allowed the Office to reward hardworking employees while avoiding increases in base pay and pension costs."

Plus, read more about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's latest pay raise proposal for county workers, which comes just two weeks after the county's sales tax was upped by one percent to 10.25 percent.

NEXT ARTICLE: Rauner's rules don't read much like an open operation

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Florence And The Machine Electrifies At Lollapalooza, Lightning Storm And All

Mon, 2015-08-03 12:54

If British singer-songwriter Florence Welch was bothered at all by the massive summer lightning storm that served as a dramatic backdrop to her Lollapalooza-ending set in Chicago Sunday, she did not let on. If anything, she appeared to thrive on it.

Welch, who heads up Florence and the Machine, hit the ground running during her headlining set, literally. Clad in an all-white ensemble and barefoot, she dashed swiftly from one side of the stage to the other during “What the Water Gave Me” and “Ship to Wreck.” Later, she ran deep into the crowd, singing the thrilling “What Kind of Man” inches away from a male fan’s face.

All the while, the storm raged on, causing Welch to joke that she believed stormy weather was following her around during the writing of her latest album, “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” and “had found her again.” 

Ultimately, the weather caused Welch to cut her set short, ending with fan favorite “Dog Days Are Over,” which the singer punctuated by urging the crowd to remove one article of clothing and wave it above their heads. Welch followed her own instructions, in fact, stripping down to her bra before taking one last dash into the crowd while security guards tried desperately to keep up with her.

"We're so sorry, but the storm has won," Welch said. "We'll be back!"

Despite the abrupt ending, Welch still brought so much energy to her evocative baroque-pop anthems that her set, in addition to fellow headliner Paul McCartney's, was surely one of the weekend's most memorable.

Earlier in the day, Lollapalooza briefly evacuated its festival grounds in Chicago’s Grant Park due to an earlier group of storms. Incidentally, the last time Lollapalooza had a weather evacuation was also the last time Welch played the festival.

Fans captured the dramatic scene below:

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University Of Illinois Crowned Top Party School By Princeton Review

Mon, 2015-08-03 12:15

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the new top party school, according Princeton Review's annual ranking. 

The University of Iowa is the runner up for the second year in a row, after taking the top party school crown in 2014. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, ranked No. 1 in 2006, came in third this time around. Last year's top party school, Syracuse University, fell to fifth place in the 2015-16 ranking. 

This year marks the first time Illinois has taken the top spot on the annual party rankings, released Monday by Princeton Review to go with the publishing of their new "Best 380 Colleges" book. 

Rankings are determined through a survey administered to 136,000 students at 380 top colleges to produce 62 different lists. Students are asked 80 questions about their school's academics, administration, student body and themselves, according to the Princeton Review.  

UIUC did not provide comment. 



The top 20 party schools ranked by Princeton Review for 2016 are listed below.


To see the previous top party schools, head over to our past coverage:

The Top Party Schools For 2014-15
A History Of The Top Party School Rankings
Why Getting Named Top Party School Is Bad News For Rowdy Students
Syracuse University Students Defend Their Right To Party In YouTube Video
How To Choose A College, In 5 Venn Diagrams
University Freaks Out About Being Ranked 13th Biggest Party School



Tyler Kingkade covers higher education and is based in New York. You can contact him at or on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.


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Statement on Clean Power Plan & Illinois

Mon, 2015-08-03 11:32
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration released the final version of the landmark Clean Power Plan.

In response, Jack Darin, Director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club released the following statement:

"The Clean Power Plan is the most significant single action any President has ever taken to tackle the most serious threat to the health of our families: the climate crisis.

"Today marks a new era of growth for affordable and safe clean energy sources that don't fuel climate disruption and sicken our communities. It is a step towards improving the quality of life for low income neighborhoods and communities of color, which have disproportionately borne the brunt of power plant pollution in Illinois for decades. It is an opportunity to protect what we treasure most here in Illinois; from Lake Michigan to our state's vital farmland.

"We know we can meet these goals for reducing carbon pollution in Illinois because we've already started. Since Illinois started adding wind and solar to our power grid, and investing in energy conservation, we've created over 100,000 jobs in clean energy, saved consumers over $1 billion on their electric bills and reduced the emissions that threaten our health and our climate. With a strong state Clean Power Plan, we can build on that success to create good jobs where we need them most, protect ratepayers, and clean the air we breathe. The Illinois Clean Jobs bill is the best way to bring Illinois a clean energy future by ramping up renewable energy like wind and solar to 35 percent by 2030 and cutting energy use through efficiency by 20 percent by 2025. These efforts will save consumers money while bringing clean energy investment to new communities to strengthen local tax bases and create family-sustaining jobs.

"We are especially proud that a President from Illinois is leading America to confront the climate crisis, and seize these opportunities. With so much at stake, it's time to come together to build solutions to ensure that no Illinois community is left behind as we shift to a clean energy economy. As we work to build a better future for our children and grandchildren, these efforts must include ensuring good jobs and economic vitality in diverse Illinois communities so families can grow and thrive.

"We stand ready and eager to work together on a Clean Power Plan for Illinois that delivers the better future we all want for our families and our future."


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Thank You, Mark and Priscilla, for Sharing About Pregnancy Loss

Mon, 2015-08-03 11:06
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are finally pregnant with a healthy baby after three miscarriages, and the way they announced their joy -- by acknowledging the pain it took to get there -- gave hope to me and millions of other women who have experienced pregnancy loss. It also helped me decide once and for all to go public about my own miscarriage and to look back at notes I had written to myself back in April when the loss was still fresh.

Back then, I was writing an article in which the researcher, a miscarriage scientist named Dr. Zev Williams, explained how damaging myths around miscarriages can be. Most notable was the assumption that losing a pregnancy was somehow somebody's fault. This idea of culpability, in turn, is a huge part of why women are advised not to announce their pregnancies before 12 weeks.

"Implicit in keeping an early pregnancy secret," he'd written to me, "is the notion that if there is a miscarriage, you wouldn't want anyone to know."

When I interviewed him, I had just miscarried at around eight weeks. After a joyous day seeing the heartbeat flicker on the ultrasound in early April, we returned for a check-up to find our little one still shrimp-like, slumped against the wall of its placenta.

"Because your embryo made it to the heart beat stage, we know it tried really, really hard to live," my doctor said. My chest swelled and I felt like a proud mother. I squeezed my husband's hand and saved my tears for the elevator.

On the drive home I started shooting off emails immediately: to my editor, the handful of co-workers I had told, a circle of close girlfriends. We called our parents and told them the sad news. Siblings got text messages. And so it went throughout the days that followed; I'd be sitting in a daze on the couch and suddenly remember that more people needed telling. "You told John! Now you have to tell him about the miscarriage," or "Justin knew!"

"God-fucking-dammit," my husband would say, gritting his teeth as he tapped out more emails. Simon, who is naturally an anxious and cautious person, had fretted every time I told someone new about the pregnancy. And now that our worst fears had come true, he was more than a little resentful of the burden of telling so many people about the miscarriage. I felt ashamed. I didn't think I could have prevented the loss, but I knew I had broken the rules and made things worse for us.

"This is why you don't tell people," I repeated to myself in my prim, self-punishing way. "Next time, you'll know better."

I never set out to tell so many people in the first half of my first trimester. I really and truly did try to be that "good" pregnant woman who kept her happy secret with her husband for 12 weeks.

But I couldn't keep my trap shut because I was so unbelievably happy. After 14 months of trying, we had, with the help of our fertility doctor, finally gotten pregnant. And all the love and hope I had been building up during that time exploded into intense, overwhelming euphoria for my embryo. Pregnancy made me feel drunk with joy. It put a stupid smile on my face the whole day. It made me excited about drinking my vegetable smoothies and taking my vitamins. And it made me tell and tell and tell.

I told more than 30 members of our family, friends and co-workers the happy news. I had even blurted it out at a birthday brunch, half-filled with people I didn't know.

So now I had to tell them about the miscarriage. Only now I didn't want to talk about it anymore.

At the office, I wrapped myself in a blanket and worked in silence. My email announcing the miscarriage had also forbidden my co-workers from approaching me about it when I returned the next Monday. I cut off conversation with friends by telling them I felt "resilient" and ready to try again as soon as possible.

It was better this way, I thought at first. Most of the people I had to tell about the loss were appropriately sad and sympathetic upon hearing the news. But some were disappointingly callous about how to treat a grieving person, and some were so distraught that I ended up comforting them about the miscarriage, assuring them everything would work out in the end.

I brushed every cruel comment (or worse, inexplicable radio silence) off my shoulders and felt sorry for my friends and family -- that I had ever burdened them with this information in the first place, that I had made them think about blood and vaginas, or put them in an awkward social situation that, I felt with grim pity, had let their absolute carelessness and stupidity shine through.

Disappointing reactions, I figured, were the wages of my sin. Heck, even I was pissing myself off. Every morning I would wake up and triumphantly shout-sing, "I'M OV-ER IT!" Then my husband, grieving and sweet, would gather me up in an embrace and whisper tenderly: "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Still, as weeks passed, something interesting began to happen. I started finding out -- as so many women new to miscarriage do -- that I actually knew several women who had personally experienced a pregnancy loss. I just didn't know it yet.

An old school friend, who had also seen some shit as an active duty military member, said that her miscarriage was "the worst pain she had ever experienced." A loving older family member who has three grown children said that she "never thought" about her several miscarriages, and assured me that I wouldn't either, in time.

An ex-boyfriend's mom, who had an early miscarriage in between her two children 30 years ago, quietly shared that she thought of herself as a "mother of three." A good traveling buddy and self-admitted lapsed Catholic said she hoped she would one day meet her baby in heaven.

What amazed and humbled me about these healing words is that the one type of conversation that succeeded in lifting my spirits after the pregnancy loss would not have been possible if I hadn't been such a Chatty Cathy and broken all the rules about discretion during early pregnancy and remained silent after a miscarriage.

These women were pretty much the only people I could talk to without feeling misunderstood or overlooked or diminished. No matter what they said or how they said it, or even if I disagreed with them, their words were like cool water pouring over my head, washing away my tears and giving me back my strength.

And yet, when I first finished this blog post back in May, I turned it into my editor and then decided not to publish it anymore. "I don't feel that way anymore!" I told my therapist, who had gently encouraged me to share my experience in an essay. More honestly, the reason might have been something more like, "I don't like being publicly associated with failure!"

Yet seeing the Zuckerberg-Chan pregnancy/loss announcement on Friday jolted me back to my original thought: "Miscarriages aren't shameful secrets, and neither was mine!"

Yes, losing my pregnancy was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But it was also a universal experience, and one that now connected me to a cloud of mothers like Priscilla who gave me hope for myself and the future of my family.

In Williams' survey, 28 percent of women who had experienced a miscarriage reported that learning about a celebrity's pregnancy loss helped them feel less isolated, but that number jumped to 46 percent when it was a friend sharing about their own miscarriage. I hope no woman I love goes through a pregnancy loss in the future, but the odds are that about one in five will.

That's why I'm publishing this blog now. And, I suspect, why the Zuckerberg-Chans felt compelled to share their experience. So that anybody I know (or don't know, for that matter) who experiences a pregnancy loss in the future doesn't have to grope around in the dark for weeks before feeling understood. Come to me, tell me your story, and I'll tell you mine.

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14 People Shot, Including 2 Children, In Chicago Since Sunday Afternoon

Mon, 2015-08-03 01:33

At least 14 people were shot, including two young children, in shootings across Chicago since Sunday afternoon, police said.


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Chicago Thunderstorm Storm Kills One Person After Tent Collapses

Sun, 2015-08-02 19:35


 WOOD DALE, Ill. (AP) — One person was killed and 20 injured on Sunday when a tent where people had sought shelter during a brief storm blew off its moorings and collapsed on some of the crowd at a festival in a Chicago suburb.

Mike Rivas, deputy police chief in the suburb of Wood Dale, said three people were seriously injured and 17 others had minor injuries and were either treated at the scene or transported to area hospitals.

He declined to give details of the fatality pending notification of family.

The incident happened at about 2:40 p.m. when a sudden storm brought high winds, hail and rain to the annual Prairie Fest, Rivas said.

"People sought shelter under the tent and then it hit," he said of the storm.

The tent was ripped from its moorings and fell on some people, said Craig Celia, a spokesman for Wood Dale, which is about 25 miles northwest of Chicago. The remainder of the festival's final day was canceled, he said.

Photos of the scene showed police and fire officials holding up a sheet over a body. Chairs, tables and other debris were strewn on the grass near where the tent collapsed.

Tracy Anderson, whose husband is a member of a band that was scheduled to perform there Sunday, said her husband witnessed the huge tent blow up in the air and land.

"The tarp landed on several people, and rescuers started cutting holes to get them out," Anderson told the Chicago Tribune.


The annual celebration known as the Prairie Fest is a four-day event with food, live music, a carnival and fireworks. Thousands of people attend and there were around 5,000 there on Saturday night, said a city council member for the area, Art Woods.

Rivas said that luckily the festival was not yet too crowded on Sunday afternoon because the band was doing a sound check and had not started.

Parts of the Chicago area were hit by a brief, intense summer storm that brought high winds and left tree branches strewn on major roads, traffic lights out and snarled traffic.

The storm also prompted organizers to briefly shut down the popular music festival Lollapalooza in Chicago's Grant Park on Sunday afternoon, although the music had resumed by late afternoon.


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Paul McCartney Brings Down The House At Lollapalooza

Sat, 2015-08-01 11:29

When music festivals like Lollapalooza are hyper trendy (arm dyeing, anyone?) and fixated on the next hot thing, it makes it a little easier for the classics to come back and seem cooler than ever. 

Sir Paul McCartney's headlining performance Friday closed out the first night of the three-day fest in Chicago in grand fashion. The roughly two-hour set was a burst of joy on the lakefront, complete with eye-popping pyrotechnics, sweet dedications to old friends and new loves -- and heavy on Beatles-era hits.

At 73, McCartney is still lean, spry and relentless when it comes to pleasing the crowd. Where some veteran acts can phone in a show and still draw roars of approval, McCarthney never lost focus or turned off his charm.

His voice, of course, isn't as smooth as it once was, but he was still full of clear and lively whoops and yells during hits like "Back In The U.S.S.R.," "Hey Jude" and “Helter Skelter.”

Where McCartney's voice showed signs of age, the rocker's southpaw guitar skills have only improved with time. McCartney did a sexy, slithering (and wordless) jam of "Foxy Lady" as a tribute to fellow lefty Jimi Hendrix. Mixed in with the Beatles hits were a few Wings cuts and a short medley of "FourFiveSeconds" (sadly, without Kanye and Rihanna). The best surprise, however, was when McCartney invited Alabama Shakes' singer and guitarist Brittany Howard out for a blistering rendition of "Get Back." 

Though Howard more than held her own as an impressed McCartney looked on, inviting a young artist to sing with one of the most famous musicians in the world was a kind and humble gesture. 

It was that kindness that made McCartney's set extra memorable. McCartney paused a few times to take in the scene, telling the crowd how amazing it was from his view; he read aloud from several of the signs adoring fans in the audience had made for him and he dedicated songs to John Lennon, George Harrison and his wife, Nancy Shevell. 

Sir Paul even took the nasty sound bleed emanating from Kaskade's nearby EDM set with good humor. 

"I planned this," McCartney cheekily told the crowd. "It's like a mash-up between me and whatever shit they're playing over there!"

Though most of McCartney's gags fell squarely into "dad joke" territory, hearing him crack wise about the former Soviet defense minister in a Russian accent was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

The crowd, which spanned many generations, ate it up. McCartney led the audience for a spirited "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and everyone's favorite part of "Hey Jude" (the nah-nah-nah-nahs, naturally). A few softer tunes, including a gentle, gorgeous version of "Blackbird" and "Eleanor Rigby" added dimension to the harder rocking. 

Stage flames and blasting fireworks for "Live And Let Die" thrilled the audience, and when they beckoned for an encore, he went with the obvious but fitting choice. 

Under a full moon in downtown Chicago, McCartney sang "Golden Slumbers" and wished Lollapalooza goodnight. 

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14 Illinois Prisons Reaching 80 to 96% of Their Total Capacity

Fri, 2015-07-31 13:01
There are more than 47,000 inmates under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Corrections as of May 2015, the lowest the state's prison population has been in five years, says the IDOC's quarterly report.

While the number of people incarcerated in Illinois prisons is slightly lower, overcrowding remains a major problem considering the state's correctional system was designed for an inmate capacity of 32,000.

The operational capacity at all but two of the state's 25 correctional centers exceeds 90 percent, meaning they've nearly reached the maximum number of inmates a facility can hold.

When you look at these prisons' design capacity--the number of inmates a facility initially was designed to hold--every correctional center in Illinois is operating above capacity. Some prisons hold double the number of inmates intended in their original designs.

Statewide, the average operational capacity of the 25 correctional centers is 94 percent and 149 percent for design capacity.

The chart below shows both the operational and design capacities of 14 correctional systems in Illinois. Click on the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet to switch between current operational and design capacities.

Check out Reboot Illinois to see which correctional facilities in the state are up to 98 percent and 99 percent full.

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

NEXT ARTICLE: Top 25 most dangerous cities in Illinois

  1. Cold cases: 24 unsolved crimes in Illinois

  2. Top 10 crimes committed by Illinois prisoners

  3. 2013 violent crime statistics for Illinois universities

  4. Top 25 Illinois cities with the most DUI arrests in 2014

  5. Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool. 

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Locally Grown Food Could Be Good for Illinois' Economy

Fri, 2015-07-31 12:15
Editor's Note: The landscape in rural Illinois is changing rapidly as family farms give way to industrial agricultural production. This change is having a profound impact on the economic and social life of Illinois' rural communities. Less well known, but just as significant, this landscape change is also adversely affecting both Illinois' economy and food sources. This Policy Profile from the Northern Illinois University Center from Governmental Studies explores these changes and offers suggestions which can help correct some of the resulting problems.

While Illinois has some of the richest soil in the world, the state's farms now produce only four percent of the food consumed in the state. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has estimated that the state has the ability to produce 85 percent of the food its residents and visitors consume. Where is the disconnect?

One answer is that economic considerations have rendered the family farm, once the backbone of Illinois' agricultural economy, obsolete. To make matters even worse, the federal government's agricultural subsidies, originally intended to protect and maintain family farms, now serve as an added incentive to large, agribusiness enterprises--industrial farming--to expand their operations and drive family farms out of existence.

What happened to Illinois' family farms?

Illinois' flat topography encourages farmers to increase profitability by planting a single crop--most commonly corn or soybeans--across vast acreage. This is best accomplished by acquiring huge tracts of land; investing in large, expensive mechanized equipment; and planting a single crop in a field stretching across many dozens of acres. It enables a farmer to plant corn and soybeans in uniform rows; apply huge volumes of chemical fertilizers and pest controls; and expand the use of potentially harmful chemicals to increase agricultural yields in the short term. But such techniques also discourage farm operations from producing food for human consumption.

These techniques require a huge, up-front investment of capital, but they also produce huge yields, enabling the investors to sell the crops with lower profit margins. Access to such capital for investment poses relatively few problems for agri-business enterprises, but it is beyond the means of all but the most successful family farmers.

The traditional family farm, in short, can no longer compete economically with today's agri-business enterprises.

Check out the rest of the report from the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies at Reboot Illinois.

Business in other industries in Illinois is taking a hit, too, some say. The closing of a Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Ill. could be part of a larger trend in declining Illinois manufacturing as a whole, says Scott Reeder of the Illinois News Network. He says the closing is "just the latest example of manufacturing jobs disappearing from a state that was once a manufacturing powerhouse." To see what other factories have closed in Illinois, check out Reeder's list of companies at Reboot Illinois.

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

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Cheapest Lake Escapes in the U.S.

Fri, 2015-07-31 11:30
By Ciara Collins for the CheapTickets Blog

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, this laid-back watering hole has become quite the Midwest getaway for slowed-down weekends of lakeside moseying through shops and finding a good patio at sunset to lazily sip on a beer. Personal boat rentals can cost you a few mackerels, so get your float on with a boat tour via the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Whatever you're into--they've got a specialty boat tour for it: ice cream social, champagne brunch, jazz dinner. Step back on land (and back in time) at the Baker House, an 1885 mansion turned hotel, bar, and restaurant great for sipping a cocktail while overlooking the lake.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Geneva hotel  

Lake Tahoe South, California or Nevada

Ski town in the winter; lake town in the summer. As far as "lake-cations" go, Lake Tahoe has made a name for itself as a "play hard, then play harder" destination. Daytime means plunging into crystal clear waters with your closest kayaking friends or finding yourself in a hot air balloon peacefully floating in a crystal clear sky. Once you've worked up an appetite, head to the highly praised Base Camp Pizza Co. for a powerful pie (tease your taste buds with flavors like "Thai Curry Chicken" and "Pear & Gorgonzola") and live music that will get you ready for an even livelier night ahead. There's no time to relax because once you've eaten your weight in pizza it's time to chug a cold one at local watering hole, Macduffs, bring your best poker face to Harrah's casino, or dance the night away at Peek Nightclub. The best part? Wake up and do it all over again.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Tahoe South hotel 

Lake Clark, Alaska

Beat the summer heat with a cool Alaskan breeze and hangout session with Mother Nature. At Lake Clark you'll find yourself exploring miles of untainted land and get up close with its local fauna. Silver Salmon Creek, Chinitna Bay, or Crescent Lake are the most popular areas to spot a brown bear from a distance. If befriending a bear isn't quite your thing, find some inspiration at late, great nature enthusiast Dick Proenneke's handcrafted cabin. Proenneke built his cabin by hand and lived independently with nature for roughly thirty years making him an Alaskan icon. At night, keep the serenity alive and find yourself sipping on a cold brew under the stars.

Click here to find the cheapest Alaska hotel 

Lake Placid, New York

If you haven't started to relax from just the name alone then that is reason enough to head here. Lake Placid literally becomes more placid in the summer months so grab the whole family for some "gentle" whitewater rafting (ahem, oxymoron much?) or step up the adventure with a rigorous hike up the tallest mountain in New York: Mount Marcy. If you are thinking about a winter trip, don't miss the opportunity to experience the snowcapped great outdoors with man's best friend as your guide; take a dog sled ride with Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours or Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides. Still not convinced? The Breakfast Club, a crowd pleaser restaurant located on Main Street, offers breakfast all day long. Think about all of the bloodies! Sold? Thought so.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Placid hotel 

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

The only thing better than free stuff is free stuff on vacation. Lake of the Ozarks offers a ton of free attractions--it's the adventure vacation that just keeps on giving. At Ha Ha Tonka State Park you'll find your gaze stuck on the remains of an early 1900s castle; the product of a wealthy businessman's crumbled dreams. At the Camden County Museum you can grab a quick history lesson at what fittingly was a former school building. And at the Ozark Distillery you'll find yourself with a free tour and tasting of spirits such as vanilla bean moonshine, vodka, and whiskey. Cheers to freebies.

Click here to find the cheapest Osage Beach hotel

Crater Lake, Oregon

Forget "there's no place like home," and remember that Crater Lake is "like no place else on earth." Embark on a magical journey with the Wizard Island Tour, where you will set off by boat into one of the deepest lakes in the world and find yourself exploring the mysterious volcanic crater that lives in the lake. If you aren't feeling adventurous, you can ditch the hike and take in the beauty of Wizard Island from afar on the Standard Lake Cruise. After working up an appetite all day, head to Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, known for its locally grown ingredients, to indulge in elk chops, bison meatloaf, or a rack of lamb.

Click here to find the cheapest Oregon hotel

Lake Havasu, Arizona

You don't need to hop over the pond to experience London. Instead you can jump in a lake. In 1968 the founder of Lake Havasu purchased the old London Bridge, moved it to Arizona, and the rest is well, history. Take a 90-minute walking tour of the bridge or grab your boat and drop your anchor right below. History lovers aside, Lake Havasu is also the place for those who are looking to party in paradise, minus the whole cost of paradise. Think brews, boats, bros, and babes on a budget. Forget water sports and hikes, this is the ultimate in finding your tan, your fun, and your friends all day (and night) long.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Havasu hotel 

Lake Caddo, Texas and Louisiana 

At Caddo Lake you'll find yourself amongst the alligators, swampy waters, endangered species, and Bigfoot. Wait, what? Yep, rumors swirl about Bigfoot leaving its footprint in the wetland and after researching reports of an "ape-like" figure you'll soon want to join in on the hunt. If finding a mysterious creature isn't your thing you can take an educational outing at the park headquarters. Here you can learn about Lake Caddo, the Great Depression, and prohibition (you'll be thankful it came to an end if you do spot Bigfoot). And if the idea of Bigfoot traipsing the land around you is truly terrifying you can always head to the water and hop on a boat tour with Caddo Lake Steamboat Company. Bigfoot can't swim, right?

 Click here to find the cheapest Texas hotel

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Pit Bull Puppy Is Just A Poop Away From The Rest Of His Beautiful Life

Fri, 2015-07-31 08:37

Jean Keating has one quite personal hope for her foster dog Colt: that the pit bull pup will poop. 

"New opportunities and adventures will be open to Colt if he can poop like every other puppy," Keating says. 

Colt's funky bowels have been the focus of Keating's attention for quite some time now. 

This past April, when he arrived at her Ohio home, Colt was a tiny dog with a big problem.

Seven weeks old, and just 2.68 pounds, the wee pit bull had been spotted for sale online, by a volunteer with Keating's rescue group, the Lucas County Pit Crew.

It was clear from his photos that the puppy was very sick. 

Colt had some sort of infection in the beginning, possibly from a botched surgery to fix what is now assumed to have been an anal prolapse (that means some of his rectal tissue was poking out of his behind). 

The vet wasn't sure he'd make it, given how sick he was. Keating had already fallen in love with Colt, and decided to take him home. If necessary, she'd give him hospice care.

But within about a week Colt was eating up a storm and putting on some weight. His friendly, clown-like personality was shining through and he was making fast friends with Keating's other dogs -- but he still wasn't excreting in the usual way.

"He drips," says Keating -- which gets all over, and, more seriously, represents what could be a profoundly disabling condition.

It was determined that Colt now had a "rectal stricture" -- a band of scar tissue that narrowed his anal opening -- making it hard to get everything out and causing him a lot of pain. 

"He was uncomfortable and was having some serious complications from getting so backed up," says Jim Whitehead, a veterinarian with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, who oversaw Colt's case.

If Colt wasn't treated, he could become completely constipated, and stop eating or drinking. Whitehead says he would then die, or have to be euthanized.

Colt's first surgery (with another vet) didn't take. In May and then again in June, Whitehead used an inflated balloon to stretch out the scar tissue nonsurgically.

That, too, didn't work as well as Keating and the doctors had hoped. At least not at first.

"Colt continued to sort of drip and not really poop," Keating says.

Keating was scheduled to go to a conference in mid-July. Her "heart was heavy," she says, knowing that Colt's quality of life could become poor, and she might have a very difficult decision to make, when she returned.

But the day before she left, something wonderful happened.

"I looked down, and there was real poop. It was formed and semi-solid," Keating says. "I burst into tears." 

But Colt went back to his old, constipated ways. And so late this week, Keating brought him back to Blue Pearl for another operation, to widen the little guy's rectum.

She is feeling cautiously optimistic about the results.

"It's his best shot at having a wonderful life," she explains.

Colt is still in the hospital, as of Friday. Whitehead says the procedure went well. Colt's active and eating, and has even pooped a little. But not quite enough for him to come home yet.

Keating, of course, is eager to get her now-12-pound foster puppy home.

"I love him to the moon and back," she says. "With all the poop I clean up on a daily basis, it's a little crazy that I am so excited for more poop."

Yes, Keating's short term goal is for Colt to produce a series of solid, respectable BMs.

Longer-term, her ambitions are a little further off the ground: once he's well enough, for this trooper of a pittie to be adopted by people who will love him for "the incredible little puppy that he is."

"All he wants is to share his zest of life," says Keating. "And that is perfect, because his forever family will appreciate that sometimes love is messy."


Keep tabs on Colt's progress on the Lucas County Pit Crew Facebook page.

And get in touch at if you have an animal story to share! 

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The Top Ten Cities for Creatives

Thu, 2015-07-30 15:47
A thriving creative class is a key feature of nearly every successful modern city. A vibrant culture is not only valuable in its own right, it also often serves to attract and inspire talented workers in non-creative fields, creating a rising tide that benefits the entire city. However, that very same rising tide often lifts housing costs and other living expenses, which consequently puts a strain on the budgets of those creative workers.

Find out now: How much house can I afford?

Indeed, the financial realities of creative fields such as dance, photography and music often mean that creatives cannot afford to live in many of the places where they have historically had the most success and influence. Cities like New York and Los Angeles have, simply put, become too expensive for many working artists.

So which cities present the best opportunities for today's creative workers? To answer that question, SmartAsset compared the cost of living in major U.S. cities to the concentration of creative workers in those cities. We considered 28 different professions in our analysis, including jobs like graphic designer, choreographer and photographer. (See the full list of jobs we included and read more about our methodology below.)
Key Findings
Avoid the coasts. Zero West Coast cities and just one East Coast city ranked in the top 10 in SmartAsset's analysis. Durham, North Carolina was the only coastal city to score well for both affordability and culture.

Are the new creative capitals in the South and Midwest? Nine of the top 10 cities for creatives in SmartAsset's study are located in one of these two regions. If housing prices and the cost of living in cities like San Francisco and New York continues to climb, more and more creatives may head for the heartland.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana

The birthplace of jazz, New Orleans has long been considered one of the country's best cities for musicians seeking inspiration and an audience. While it remains one of the world's top music cities, it has emerged as a great place for all kinds of creatives. Indeed, going by total employment, the single largest creative profession in New Orleans is acting. There are 1,900 full time actors or actresses in New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Salt Lake City, Utah

The only western city to crack the top 10, Salt Lake City scored well for both its low cost of living and the high number of professionals in creative fields in the area. The Salt Lake City metro area has the 11th highest concentration of creative professionals of any U.S. metro (there are over 400), with 109 creatives for every 10,000 workers.

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These jobs are supported by a strong arts scene, with a premier art museum in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, a world-class ballet company in Ballet West and numerous annual music and art festivals like the Living Traditions Festival and the Utah Arts Festival. Salt Lake City is also one of the screening locations for films participating in the Sundance film festival, widely considered to be one of the best independent film festivals in the world.

3. Kalamazoo, Michigan

In many cities, creatives have to take on a second job or a "day job" in order to pay the bills, focusing on their art (or music or writing or photography) in the off-hours. In Kalamazoo, such a trade-off may not be necessary. The city's cost of living is 15% lower than the national average and half the cost of living in New York and Los Angeles.

Nonetheless, the city still has a rich creative culture. With two local institutions of higher education (Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College), as well as the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, creatives in the area likely have no trouble finding support and inspiration in the local community.

4. Austin, Texas

Austin is not only the political capital of Texas and a booming tech scene, it is also the Lone Star State's creative capital. Indeed, the city's official slogan is "Live Music Capital of the World." ("Keep Austin Weird" is the unofficial slogan.) While Austin does indeed have some of the world's best live music venues and performers, the city's creative culture goes much further than that.

Along with the inimitable street art and two world-famous music and film festivals, Austin also has one of the country's best independent book stores (Book People) and one of the world's premier literary and cultural archives (the Harry Ransom Center has 1 million rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible).

5. Nashville, Tennessee

While outsiders often associate Nashville with country music, the city's cultural life goes far beyond twang and honky-tonk. The Nashville Opera, the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Ballet are a few of the city's leading cultural institutions. A number of local colleges and universities, including Vanderbilt and Tennessee State, also provide support for the arts. Combine that with a cost of living that is 8.8% below the national average and Nashville presents a great setting for creatives.

6. Columbus, Ohio

Historically, universities have been the primary incubators of the arts, providing stable teaching jobs to artists in a variety of fields who can perfect their craft and pass on their knowledge to their students. In addition to Ohio State, the Columbus area is home to more than a dozen colleges and universities, including the Columbus College of Art and Design. The city also has eight museums, including the expanding Columbus Museum of Art (a new wing is set to open this fall).

7. Omaha, Nebraska

Many who work in creative fields struggle to make ends meet. Those who work full-time as an artist, musician or writer may not have sufficient income to cover rent and other basic expenses. In Omaha, where median rent for a one bedroom home is just $686 per month (according to, artists will likely face less financial stress. On top of that, local organizations like the Omaha Creative Institute offer resources to help creatives build their careers so they can stop worrying about their income and focus on their trade.

8. Des Moines, Iowa

The cost of living in Des Moines is 6.9% lower than the national average and more than 20% lower than the cost of living in Chicago. At the same time, Des Moines ranks 34th in the U.S. out of more than 400 metro areas for its concentration of creative professionals. There are about 80 people working in creative fields in Des Moines for every 10,000 workers in the wider economy.

9. Durham, North Carolina

The Durham Performing Arts Center opened in 2008 and is among the largest such centers in the U.S. It hosts hundreds of events and performances every year, including the American Dance Festival, one of the premier dance festivals in the world. Durham is also home to a music scene that boasts a number of independent record labels, including Merge Records, and has produced multiple national acts over the past decade.

10. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City has emerged in recent years as a creative hub to rival those in the northeast and on the West Coast. The city's Crossroads Art District has gained national recognition for both its growth and the quality of its offerings. Crossroads alone has more than 70 art galleries, to go along with larger institutions like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities for creatives, SmartAsset gathered data on 176 of the largest cities in the country. We considered two factors in our analysis: the cost of living and the concentration of people working in a creative field.

In total, we included 28 different occupations in this calculation, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Art Directors; Craft Artists; Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators; Multimedia Artists and Animators; Artists and Related Workers, All Other; Commercial and Industrial Designers; Floral Designers; Graphic Designers; Interior Designers; Set and Exhibit Designers; Designers, All Other; Actors; Producers and Directors; Choreographers; Music Directors and Composers; Musicians and Singers; Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers, All Other; Editors; Writers and Authors; Sound Engineering Technicians; Photographers; Film and Video Editors; Dancers; Fashion Designers; Reporters and Correspondents; Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary; Curators; Architects.

For each city in our study, we calculated an affordability score and a creative culture score between 0 and 100. The lower the cost of living, the higher the score. (Any city with a cost of living that is 85% of the national average or lower scored a perfect 100 for affordability and any city with a cost of living at least 115% of the national average scored a zero.) Similarly, the greater the number of creative workers, the higher the creative culture score. (Any city with a concentration of at least 125 creative workers per 10,000 scored a 100 for that factor, while any city with 10 or fewer creatives per 10,000 scored a zero.)

Lastly, we averaged these scores and indexed the results to 100: the city with the highest average scored an overall 100, while the city with the lowest average scored a zero.

Cost of living data used in our study comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research. Jobs data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Questions about our study? Contact us at

Photo credit: ©,  © Pavone

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Reparations for the 99%

Thu, 2015-07-30 12:37
Seven years after the housing crisis, which led to the financial crisis, which led to the recession, it may be time to review what happened to the people, the government, and the financial industry (banks, mortgage lenders, and investment firms).

I have found that three questions are most useful in trying to understand major events like the financial crisis. Who pays? Who benefits? And, is it fair? Using these questions on the 2008 crisis, it becomes obvious that the 99% has been short-changed.

The People and Government Paid:

Lost interest income:

It has been estimated that between August 2007 and September 2013, holders of savings accounts lost nearly $1.2 trillion in interest income due to the Federal Reserve's policy of near-zero interest rates. (1)

Lost wage income:

In 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated an increase in unemployment from 5% in 2008, to a peak of about 10% in 2010, declining to about 8% in 2012. (2) The average increase in unemployment due to the crisis was about 3% per year over the five years measured.

Total nonfarm employment in January 2008 was about 138 million. (3) The 3% increase in unemployment amounts to an extra 4 million people unemployed each year during the recession. Taking a conservative estimate of average wages during this period of $25,000, this amounts to about $100 billion/year in lost wages, or about $500 billion between 2008 and 2012.

For comparison, a 2009 independent estimate by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (4) projected lost wages over the same period at over $1 trillion. So, it is safe to say that the crisis cost workers between $1/2 and 1 trillion in lost income from 2008-2012.

Lost home equity:

The same 2013 GAO report (5) also noted that "...households collectively lost about $9.1 trillion (in constant 2011 dollars) in national home equity between 2005 and 2011, in part because of the decline in home prices." While home values have substantially recovered by now, the losses spanned nearly a decade, affecting family wealth across the country. Many homes remain "under water," worth less than their mortgages.

Direct foreclosure losses:

"Too big to fail," did not apply to homeowners. Both Clinton and Obama called for a one year moratorium on foreclosures during the election campaign. After the election, silence in the White House. Silence in Congress. No moratorium on foreclosures. No significant helping hand for homeowners.

Estimates of the number of homes foreclosed range from 5-15 million, since 2008. It is difficult to find reports on how much individual homeowners lost in the crisis. Losses include their equity in a home, plus mortgage and legal fees. If I assume 10 million foreclosures, and that the average loss per home was around $20,000 (a very conservative estimate), then over $200 billion was lost nation-wide. Other estimates range up to $1 trillion, but sources for these are few, and hard to locate and evaluate.

The Financial Industry Received a Bailout:

The total net U.S. bailout outlays were $3.3 trillion, plus a total of $16.9 trillion in guarantees.

Details of the Net Bailout Outlays: (6)

The infamous Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) spent nearly $900 billion in bailouts of the "too big to fail." Even though it eventually recovered about $700 billion, the public perception remains that this program saved the financial industry, while giving nothing to the people who suffered from the crisis.

The Treasury spent about $500 billion, most of it in purchases of industry financial instruments.

The Federal Reserve spent a net of about $2.6 trillion, again most of it in purchases of financial instruments.

The Treasury guaranteed about $4 trillion, most of it to back money market mutual funds.

The Federal Reserve guaranteed about $2 trillion, most of it for commercial instruments.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guaranteed about 2.5 trillion, in temporary liquidity guarantees.

Other government programs guaranteed about $7.6 trillion, most of it for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank.

This bears repeating: the total net U.S. government bailout outlays were $3.3 trillion, plus a total of $16.9 trillion in guarantees. These funds bailed out and backed the banks, mortgage lenders and investment firms which marketed and profited from the shaky securities which created the housing crisis.

So, we know who benefitted during the crisis: the financial industry. "Too big to fail," cost us a great deal. A simple question: does the world really need Goldman Sachs? Instead, why not a little capitalist "creative destruction," with new companies replacing the failed financial industry?

The government's policy of individual accountability vs corporate impunity just might explain the fury of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, as well as many millions of people around the country.


Let's summarize the core of this history in the following table of direct costs:


The people........................... Lost at least $ 1.9 trillion
The government.................... Paid at least $ 3.3 trillion
The financial industry.......... Received at least $ 3.3 trillion

The third question, "Is this fair?"

The obvious answer is "NO!" But now we have to ask another question: what can be done to rebalance the costs and benefits among the key parties?

The financial industry should pay back at least some of the huge costs it imposed on the country. It is time for reparations. As a starting point for the discussion, here is a modest proposal: retrieve $4 trillion from the financial industry, returning $2 trillion to the people and $2 trillion to the government.

I would structure this payback as a 40 year loan, amortized as a 4% mortgage repayment. On this basis, the annual repayment to the treasury would be about $200 billion. The industry would have to figure out how to generate this payback, but a surcharge on financial transactions would be an easy starting point.

The government can handle collecting $2 trillion in reparations over 40 years, but what would work for the people? I would have the Treasury just write the checks, and use the industry repayments to recover the money. Payments to the people would be made within the next year.

About $1 trillion would go to those who suffered foreclosures since 2007, at least partly restoring their lost equity. The second $1 trillion would go as checks to nearly every adult in the country, an average of about $5,000 per person.

A Presidential Commission could work out the details, in a short time. One guideline: protect small and medium banks and mortgage companies from large assessments. Another guideline: use the industry's records to determine the foreclosure reparations, with little individual paperwork. A third guideline: tilt the individual checks toward those who lost jobs in the recession. A fourth guideline: no reparations for those making over $250,000/year.

The financial industry has to be held accountable for the impact of the crisis. Reparations for the 99% could go a long way toward restoring a sense of fairness to the people. Why not get going? Now.

(1) Mario Belotti (Professor) and Maria Farley (Research Assistant), University of Santa Clara,

(2) GAO, "Financial Crisis Losses and Potential Impacts of the Dodd-Frank Act, Page 18, Figure 3

(3) Bureau of Labor Statistics data

(4) Center for Economic and Policy Research,

(5) GAO,, Page 21

(6) Christopher Chantrill,

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The ADA at 25: A Commitment to Our Neighbors

Thu, 2015-07-30 12:11
In 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, I had not yet made my decision to begin ROTC and a career of military service. I had no idea that I would join the Army, become a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. I certainly had no idea that eight months into my deployment a rocket-propelled grenade would tear through the Blackhawk helicopter I was flying, rip off one leg, crush the other and tear my right arm apart. The power of the ADA is that it ended up changing my life long before I ever imagined it would.

The ADA is the living testament to our Nation's commitment that we will always stand up for our neighbors' right to live fulfilling lives. It recognizes the fundamental reality that every American is merely one medical diagnosis or one accident away from a serious disability that forever alters his or her life. The ADA is essential in helping me overcome the obstacles I face as a Wounded Warrior and empowers me to assist other Veterans. It allows me to be physically active, have my pilot's license and serve in Congress. Simply put, the ADA enables me and millions of other Americans to move forward with our lives.

The ADA allows persons with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the world around them. Sidewalks and streets are now accessible because of curb cuts. Football stadiums and movie theaters now have accessible seating. Restrooms and elevators are now useable by people who depend on wheelchairs and walkers. Our courthouses and our government buildings now have ramps so that everyone can enter them to do business.

Our interaction with technology changed as well. Telephones are more accessible because we have video relays that allow those who are deaf to communicate with others. Television and movies are captioned. Our computers have touch screens so that those who have difficulty typing can use a pointer or other devices.

The ADA truly changed the world for all Americans.

As we celebrate the ADA's 25th Anniversary, our country should also use this milestone to renew its commitment to fully achieving the four main goals written into this landmark law: equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.

We must never be satisfied with a status quo where only a third of working-age people with disabilities participate in the workforce, despite the fact that 80 percent want to work. During the great recession of the late 2000s, people with disabilities lost their jobs at a rate 10 times greater than that of people without disabilities and they have not yet returned to the employment level they had in 2008. This is not only a tragedy for those who can't find work, but also for employers. Persons with disabilities represent a tremendous talent pool in this country. These hard-working employees are tremendously loyal to employers who give them a fair chance, boasting a retention rate far higher than the overall workforce.

Equally troublesome is the rate of poverty among people with disabilities. Over 26 percent of the disabled population lives below the poverty line.

Without good jobs at fair wages in inclusive settings, economic self-sufficiency will not be achievable. Without reliable transportation or accessible housing, full participation will be unattainable. Without sound education at all levels, equal opportunity to compete for a job will not be a reality.

Our world changed for the better because of the ADA. As we look to the next 25 years of its implementation, it is time to take the next step and ensure that all Americans with disabilities have access to good jobs, accessible housing and reliable transportation.

The time has come for Congress to take action to fulfill the community living promise within the ADA. In the coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strengthen the ADA. We all want the 56 million Americans with disabilities to be fully integrated into our communities and be equal participants in the American Dream.

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10 Illinois Counties With the Fewest Rapes Per Capita

Thu, 2015-07-30 11:18
(Editor's note: This article is the latest installment of our occasional series on criminal activity in Illinois. You can find previous articles here and here.)

The term "sexual assault" can cover a multitude of sex-related crimes. For this reason, its use in crime statistical applications can sometimes be ineffective. In many cases, the term is too broad.

Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation break down sex crimes that might commonly be referred to as "sexual assault" between forcible rape and aggravated assault/battery. The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient," which includes forcible rape.

The only type of sexual assault that is reported by such crime statistics specifically is forcible rape. The FBI changed the definition of forcible rape in 2011 to include rape of men, not just women, and to include instances of statutory rape, says ABC News.

In Illinois in 2013, there were 3,878 incidents of forcible rape reported to the police in Illinois, according to the Illinois State police. (There could be more incidents that were not reported.) That's down about 10 percent from the year before, when there were 4,330 reported cases. According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, there were 79,770 rapes reported to the police in the U.S. in 2013. Counts for both Illinois and the U.S. as a whole were significantly down from 1998, when the U.S. saw 93,144 rapes reported and Illinois saw 6,156, according to Illinois State Police and FBI crime reports.

In 2013, the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault served 18,048 survivors of sexual assault in Illinois. In 2014, that number dropped to 17,351. Not everyone in Illinois who experience sexual assault in those years sought help from the coalition or from any other organization and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that only 38 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to police. The data below is taken from the Illinois State Police reports.

Illinois counties with the fewest rapes per capita:

10. Macoupin County--1.07

Total rapes reported: 5

Population: 46,880

9. Cumberland County--0.91

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 10,939

8. Ogle County--0.76

Total reported rapes: 4

Population: 52,835

7. Washington County--0.69

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 14,448

6. Carroll County--0.67

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 14,910

5. Effingham County--0.58

Total reported rapes: 2

Population: 34,307

4. Edgar County--0.56

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 17,960

3. Douglas County--0.50

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 19,887
2. Jo Daviess County--0.45

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 22,407

1. Williamson County--0.30

Total reported rapes: 2

Population: 66,924

To see the top 10 Illinois counties with the most reported rapes, which includes McDonough County and Jefferson County, check out Reboot Illinois.

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Rauner's Business Reform Plan Could Face First Test With Plant Closing

Wed, 2015-07-29 12:51
No sooner had the closing of the Normal Mitsubishi plant been announced last week than critics of Illinois' business climate pounced on the news.

The plant, which opened in 1988 and employs 1,200 workers, will close in November as Mitsubishi Motors consolidates its manufacturing operations in Asia, the company announced July 24.

The Mitsubishi plant was the lone American factory of a Japanese automaker with a workforce represented by the United Auto Workers. As such, it made a fat target for those who have long complained of Illinois' union-friendly labor laws, high workers' compensation insurance costs and comparatively strict regulatory climate.

"The fact of the matter is that manufacturers in Illinois cannot remain competitive given the state's absurd regulatory and business climate," wrote Michael Lucci, director of jobs and growth at the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute.

There's no denying that Illinois' manufacturing economy has crumbled in recent years. But using the Mitsubishi closing as an example of the state's poor manufacturing climate is inaccurate and, more importantly, misses what it truly represents. The Mitsubishi plant failed because Mitsubishi for years was failing in the American car market. Nothing in the Illinois labor or business statutes could have helped a company that had lost market share as Mitsubishi had.

It's what happens after the plant closes in November that will provide the real test for Illinois and its business climate for manufacturing.

Check out how that test might turn out for Illinois' business climate at Reboot Illinois.

Regardless of how that test turns out, one Illinoisan, former Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan, says the state should take a breath and turn away from focusing on Illinois' woes about the budget and its other problems and make a plan for getting to work and getting the state back on track. Check out the seven-point plan outlined by Houlihan at Reboot Illinois.

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

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Every U.S. Governor From Most Liberal to Most Conservative

Wed, 2015-07-29 12:41
In the 2014 mid-term elections, the GOP solidified its control of both the House and the Senate. Republicans also dominated when it came to electing governors. There are currently 31 Republican governors and only 18 Democratic ones; Alaska is the only state with an Independent governor.

Using data from OnTheIssues, InsideGov broke down the political ideology of every governor. OnTheIssues analyzes public statements, press releases, campaign platforms and voting records to score each governor's view on important issues. We then converted these scores to a single scale from -10 (most liberal) to +10 (most conservative).

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Overall, the Southern states have the most conservative governors, with an average ideology score of 3.5. The Midwest is a close second, scoring 3.4 on average.

Conversely, the Eastern region has the most liberal governors, with an average score of -0.9. The Western states are fairly mixed and have an average score of 0.9.

In some cases, a governor's ideology does not reflect the overall political leaning of the state. Maryland, for example, is one of the most Democratic states in the country, but has a Republican governor.

Scroll through the graphic below to see a breakdown of each governor's political ideology score. You can also filter for region or by party.

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With an ideology score of -5.0, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf is currently the most liberal governor. On the other end of the spectrum is Butch Otter of Idaho, with an ideology score of 7.0. Democratic governors Steve Bullock (MT) and Earl Tomblin (WV) are outliers for their party, with overall conservative scores.

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7 Top Summer Blueberry Dishes and Drinks

Wed, 2015-07-29 08:45

Ice Cream Jubilee, DC

Blueberries deserve to have their own month for sure. Here at Eat Drink Lucky we can't imagine life without blueberry jam, pie, muffins and pancakes. We put them on waffles, in salads, in cocktails, in smoothies and in ice cream - and we're big fans of the toss-them-into-our-mouths technique.

Here are some of the top blueberry picks across the country selected by Eat Drink Lucky editors. Don't go all Violet Beauregarde on us now, but do get your blueberry fix soon.

Chicago, IL
If you're celebrating National Blueberry Month in Chicago, the "Violet You're Turning Violet" at Homestead on the Roof is the drink to order. Made with Blueberry Veev, Cava and lemon, it is destined for summer rooftop sipping and the perfect blueberry cocktail.
1924 W Chicago Ave.


Los Angeles, CA
It's important to maintain a well-rounded diet, and by that we mean eating lots of doughnuts. You'll be drooling like Homer Simpson for the blueberry doughnut at Kettle Glazed Doughnuts. It's topped with a maple glaze and bacon bites. They also have an excellent old fashioned blueberry lemon doughnut. Mmm. More blueberry.
6211 Franklin Ave.

Kettle Glazed Doughnuts

Austin, TX
It may be blackberry season in Austin but bartenders still honor the blueberry because it tastes great in bourbon. Get the Blueberry Bourbon Mule at Sullivan Steakhouse made with Jim Beam Red Stag Bourbon, house made blueberry simple syrup, lemon sour and a float of ginger beer. We think they should bottle and sell that blueberry simple syrup, it's so good.
300 Colorado St., Ste 200

Portland, ME
The blueberry cheesecake at new French-inspired spot Portland Patisserie is a tasty blueberry treat. The petit gateau features blueberry pastry cream and a blueberry macaron crust, making this easily the most blueberry-ified dessert you'll eat all summer.
46 Market St.

Photo by Rob Schatz

Seattle, WA
Rodeo Donut has been filling its brioche donuts with fresh blueberry jam this summer, topped with either limoncello or lavender glaze. The result? A morning treat that jump starts your day in the best way possible.
2052 NW Market St.

San Francisco, CA
There's nothing more summery than sipping a fresh blueberry ale in a beer hall. New bar Hogwash has the latest award-winning batch from Marin Brew Co., brewed just outside the city in Larkspur. Get your taste in one of their signature oversized beer goblets.
582 Sutter St.


Washington, DC
It's also National Ice Cream Month so it's only natural to indulge in some over-the-top blueberry ice cream. You'll find it in a scoop at DC's Ice Cream Jubilee. One of the parlor's most popular flavors is their beloved blueberry pie ice cream with bits of real homemade pie crust for bursts of buttery goodness. Just look at the photo above!
301 Water St., SE

We hope you will get to enjoy some of these delicious summer treats soon - and make some of your own blueberry recipes at home from this great Huffington Post article with 40 ideas.

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