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Why We Celebrate Labor Day

Mon, 2015-09-07 09:33
This Labor Day, Americans across the country will be heading to the beach, barbecuing with their families, or spending some hard earned dollars at the local mall. However, it's important that we take the time to remember what today is all about -- a recognition of the achievements of the labor movement and a celebration of the strength and resiliency of the American worker.

The modern labor movement that began around the mid-19th century has given us many of the basic working rights that we now take for granted. Thanks to the relentlessness and courage of our unions, workers now enjoy the 40 hour work week, minimum wage, sick leave, workers compensation, overtime pay, and child labor laws, among a host of other rights. In addition, unions have long been the foundation of our middle class and helped create the most competitive workforce in the world -- a workforce that made America the economic power it is today.

But as union memberships have shrunk, so has the share of income going to middle class families. This is no coincidence. Unions have long championed measures to reduce social and economic inequality and efforts to weaken the labor movement at both the state and federal level have successfully stalled any progress.

Between 1948 and 1973, when union representation was at its highest, workers who produced more were adequately compensated for their efforts. Over that period, productivity rose by almost 97 percent and hourly compensation of a non-supervisory manufacturing worker rose by a little over 91 percent. But the erosion of collective bargaining, beginning in the 1970's, quickly caused wages to lag behind productivity. Between 1973 and 2013, productivity rose by over 74 percent, but wages only grew by a paltry 9 percent.

Instead of focusing on attacking unions and the labor movement, we need to find ways to strengthen and empower workers so we can put more money in the pockets of middle class families. But what does it mean to strengthen and empower workers?

It means promoting more unionization and the use of collective bargaining; not less, as many states have tried to do through so called right-to-work laws.

It means paying workers a fair and livable wage, starting with increasing the minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 for the last six years despite prices rising by 11 percent over the same period.

It means providing workers with equal pay for equal work and ending years of wage discrimination suffered by women who on average earn 78 cents for every dollar that men earn.

And it means promoting policies that encourage a proper balance between work and family through access to paid sick leave, affordable child care, and paid parental leave.

So by all means, kick back, relax, and enjoy this time spent with family. But also take a moment to remember why we observe Labor Day and just how much more we need to do to strengthen and empower workers throughout our country.

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Guy Has World's Loneliest Bachelor Party After Friends' Flights Get Canceled

Fri, 2015-09-04 16:16

There are three words no man should ever have to say at a bachelor party: "Table for one."

Thanks to a handful of canceled flights Thursday evening, that's been the reality of Robbie* Chernow, a New Yorker who flew into Chicago for his friend Jake's bachelor party this weekend, then ended up carrying the torch alone.

 *("Too immature for Robert and not cool enough for Rob," he told HuffPost.)

"The original plan was for me to get here a few hours earlier, but when I got here I found out that the two other flights with the bachelor and others in the party had both been canceled," Chernow explained to The Huffington Post, sending along a photo of a canceled ticket as proof of the mishap, "and they couldn't rebook in a timely fashion -- thanks Delta!"

Despite his friends' absence, Chernow, who does improv, determined to push on through each of the planned events, documenting the hilariously sad trip on Instagram with the hashtag #chicagoforone.

"I've been sticking to our planned agenda pretty much step for step -- just alone," Chernow added. "I've also changed some little things ... since the scheduled "get ready" time is much shorter for one person than 10."

So far, he says, the highlight has been meeting Chicagoans, whom he describes as "encouraging and accommodating." Once he got over the initial shock, he's had a pretty great time -- despite his apparent sadness in every photo.

Here's what Robbie has been up to so far:

He went to a Bears game! (They lost 24-0.)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 5:15pm PDT

"Apparently everyone in my section also tried to take Delta to get here."


He went on a boat ride!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 3:50pm PDT

"I have so much room on this boat for all my friends who's [sic] flights to Chicago got canceled."


He set up a Tinder profile! (In search of friendship)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 4:50pm PDT

Things got "real weird, real quick."

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 7:14pm PDT

He grabbed one of Chicago's famous Italian beef sandwiches!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 8:51pm PDT

"This is Theresa. She works at Portillo's. According to Theresa, 'these sandwiches are normally meant to be shared, but you seem sad enough to finish one by yourself.' Thanks, Theresa!"


He visited a spa! (Well, kind of...)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 4:57am PDT

He went to 360 Chicago to take in the view! (It was foggy, a fact the ticket agent had warned him about.)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 6:52am PDT

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 7:15am PDT

He saw The Bean!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 5:47am PDT

"Both my hotel concierge Alex and new friends on Tinder agree -- The Bean at Millennial Park is a must for a great photo-shoot. 'It's the perfect for spot for a wacky photo with all your friends in front of the Chicago Skyline.' Thanks, Alex!"


He visited a park!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 12:12pm PDT

Chernow told HuffPost his friends should be landing in Chicago sometime Friday afternoon, leaving plenty of time to celebrate before the group's planned departure on Monday. 

Until then, visit Chernow's Instagram page to follow along on what just might be the world's loneliest bachelor party.

Also on HuffPost:

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Poor Kids In Chicago Have More Options For Where To Go To School, But That's Not Necessarily Good

Fri, 2015-09-04 14:26

Long gone are the days when poor children in Chicago got trapped in failing neighborhood schools. Nowadays, families from low-income neighborhoods are more likely to send their kids to a greater range of types of schools than families from affluent areas, according to research from a Johns Hopkins University professor. But that doesn't necessarily mean these kids always get a richer educational experience. 

Using 2008-2009 data from Chicago eighth-graders about to enter high school, Johns Hopkins University professor Julia Burdick-Will tracked where students chose to attend school and compared it to the median income in their neighborhood. Burdick-Will, who presented her findings in late August to the American Sociological Association, found that children in affluent neighborhoods were more likely to go to school close to home, while lower-income students were more likely to leave their neighborhood by way of charter and open-enrollment schools.

Over the past few decades, Chicago has been at the forefront of education reform efforts, opening a sizable number of new charter and magnet schools that allow students to get an education outside their neighborhoods. In the fall of 2009, Burdick-Will found, 32 percent of students in the Chicago Public Schools decided to attend schools in their neighborhood. Most of these students came from affluent families, whose parents could afford the luxury of being deliberate in where they chose to live. Poorer children, on the other hand, typically chose to travel farther distances for school. 

This phenomenon is displayed in the graphic below. 

The idea that poor Chicagoans frequently leave their neighborhood for education contradicts the perception that low-income kids are often "trapped in underperforming local schools," according to Burdick-Will's paper on the subject. This perception often drives the arguments of school reform advocates in Chicago who push for greater school choice options.

"These findings suggest that there is room for much more heterogeneity in educational experiences within poor neighborhoods than is generally acknowledged," according to Burdick-Will's paper on the subject. "In poor neighborhoods school choice and parent resourcefulness combine in ways that break the link between residential and educational sorting."

Still, the fact that low-income families are more likely to exercise school choice should not be seen as a positive. The ability to not have to search for schools outside your neighborhood is the real privilege, said Burdick-Will. 

"Not having to participate in this complicated system is really a privilege. The most advantaged people really don’t have to figure out how to read the Chicago high school book. They don’t have to gather the information or spend a lot of time figuring out if charter school A is better than charter school B," she said.

She continued, "We tend to think of more money as more options and the problem with poverty as having less options. But some of it is reversed. Part of having resources is not having to. Life is simpler. There aren’t as many tradeoffs between finding a good housing unit and a good school."

Of the kids who exercised school choice to go to institutions outside their neighborhoods, many of them ended up in better schools. But not all of them.

Fifteen percent of students who chose to leave their neighborhood for school went to an institution that was objectively worse than the one they lived by, according to "freshman on-track rates." Seventy-two percent of kids end up in schools with higher test scores. 

When kids live in areas where most people opt not to attend a neighborhood school, they are more likely to choose poorly and attend a school that is worse than the one to which they've been assigned, Burdick-Will found. 

"I think there’s a sense of 'anywhere but here,'" said Burdick-Will of neighborhoods with high rates of educational heterogeneity. "You don’t know how what’s better and what’s not. Everyone is scattering so there’s no clear information about where to go."

The implications of how increased school choice impacts community bonds are still unclear. 

There is "potential for less social interaction among neighbors," said Burdick-Will. "Also, kids traveling long distances to school maybe less likely to participate in a late after school program. [They are] possibly just more socially isolated in general." 

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Video Could Be Key To Finding Alleged Killers Of Cop Charles Gliniewicz

Fri, 2015-09-04 13:24



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Hundreds of law enforcement officials on Friday pressed on with their search in northern Illinois for three suspects in the fatal shooting of a veteran policeman while police called a home security video among the most important pieces of evidence in the case.

The officers scoured the region of Fox Lake, located about 60 miles (97 km) north of Chicago and close to the Wisconsin border, for the men suspected in Tuesday's shooting of Fox Lake Police Lieutenant Charles Gliniewicz, 52.

 This undated photo provided by the Fox Lake Police Department shows Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Fox Lake, Ill.

The video was turned over to authorities by a police officer, Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko told CNN. The officer was told that images on the video matched the description of the two white men and one black man suspected in the case, Filenko said.

Filenko said it is still not known whether the video is relevant to the case "but at this point it's probably one of the most significant ones we've recovered."

The video was turned in Wednesday night, officials said.

A public viewing and funeral service for Gliniewicz have been set for Monday at Antioch High School in Antioch, Illinois, the sheriff's office said.


(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Union Bill Veto Override Vote Distracted From Social Services Conversation in Illinois

Fri, 2015-09-04 12:51
The big news from Springfield this week was House Democrats' failed effort to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a bill that would have sharply curtailed Rauner's power in union negotiations.

Had the override happened, it would have represented a stinging rebuke of Rauner's agenda by his political nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

But all 71 Democrats needed to be present Wednesday in Springfield and all 71 needed to vote for the override to make it happen, and neither of those criteria were met. Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, wasn't in Springfield for the vote and Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, voted against it. (Drury explains his vote in this interview.)

One important bill, however, probably did fail because of Dunkin's absence. And during debate over restoring severe cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program -- which provides child care subsidies to low-income, working parents -- tempers flared on the House floor over the ongoing budget impasse.

In this week's "Only in Illinois," you'll see an excerpt of a speech on the House floor by Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, that summed up the frustration of many rank-and-file lawmakers on both sides of the aisle over their leaders' failure to enact a state budget.

Watch Only in Illinois here:

The veto override bill failed in the House, as there weren't enough Democrats to vote in favor of the override. Check out how your representative voted at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Editorial: Let Rauner do what he was elected to do

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This Labor Day, Americans Deserve a Raise and Fair Trade

Fri, 2015-09-04 12:39
American workers are the best in the world. They teach our children, care for our sick and elderly, build our communities and much more. This Labor Day, we must recognize the tireless devotion of our working men and women - and stand up for them.

Throughout this year, I have been impressed and inspired by hard working Americans who are fighting for their rights. I have joined marches and protests with workers in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. - and the fight continues.

American workers deserve a raise. I fully support the push for $15 an hour and a union. We also must raise wages for low and middle income families. In fact, organized labor built the middle class and to rebuild it we must grow support for workers and their unions. Our workers deserve no less, especially because while economic productivity has soared by nearly 65 percent in the last 35 years in our country, hourly wages have only grown by 8 percent. We can afford to pay workers fairly and it is the right thing to do. We also need equal pay for equal work. Today, women, on average, still earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. It is even less for women of color - for African-American women it's 64 cents and for Latinas it's 55 cents. This is unacceptable.

In addition, over the past 20 years hard working Americans have been faced with unfair trade agreements that have led to depressed wages and job losses here at home. Good paying American jobs have been shipped to countries that have deplorable working conditions, allow human trafficking to thrive, and manipulate their currency to keep the costs of their products artificially low. I will keep fighting against trade agreements that treat American workers unfairly, resulting in lost jobs and depressed wages.

And lastly, despite those in government who operate in a framework of scarcity, the United States is the richest country on the face of the earth - and we've never been richer. Yet so many families are struggling to get by because we have massive inequality in our country. The richest .1 percent of Americans has as much wealth as the least affluent 90 percent of us. I join with all who are committed to shifting the dangerous trend of high inequality and stagnant wages.

Higher wages for American workers are not just good for American families, they are good for our economy. I will keep fighting for a raise for hard working Americans, so our families can afford housing, help their children get a quality education and secure a good retirement.

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3 Must-Know Facts About Illinois Taxes

Fri, 2015-09-04 08:59
Because Illinois taxes can get pretty complex, the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois, Illinois Fiscal Policy Council and Tax Foundation created "Illinois Illustrated," a book that makes the state's taxes easier to understand through direct, user-friendly graphs and charts.

From local to corporate taxes, the visual guide provides Illinoisans with a comprehensive overview of state taxes and the economy in general, sans all the confusing tax terminology. The selected charts and graphs below are from the report; a full version can be found here.
Three fast facts to know about Illinois taxes
5. When compared to the rest of the U.S., Illinois is much more reliant on property taxes, which accounted for 38 percent of all the state and local taxes collected in 2012. The sales tax share in Illinois--15 percent--is eight percentage points lower than the combined average of each state. 

4. One of the most important components of a state's tax policy is revenue stability over the business cycle, according to the report. When the state economy experiences variations, certain types of taxes tend to respond differently to these changes. In Illinois, corporate income taxes were found to fluctuate the most.

3. On top of corporate income taxes, businesses in Illinois are subjected to an array of other taxes. In fact, of the $32.3 billion paid by the state's businesses in 2013, the largest portion--$12.8 billion--came from property taxes, with corporate income taxes constituting the third-largest source of tax revenue. 

To see two more facts you should know about Illinois taxes, including how the sales tax has become less and less a part of the economy, check out Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Map shows Illinois property tax rate is second highest in the nation

  1. 10 things to know about Illinois taxes

  2. Guest: Homeowners need a "time out" from relentless Illinois property taxes

  3. Moody's Illinois report: State holds seeds of its financial destruction or renewal

  4. A nationwide overview of state income tax systems, rates in 2015

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

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

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5-Year-Old Girl's Stem Cells Help Put Twin Brother's Cancer In Remission

Fri, 2015-09-04 07:47

Sharing is caring, and no one knows that better than these young twins.

When 5-year-old Bradley Godish required a stem cell transplant to help eliminate his leukemia, his twin sister, Charlotte “Charlie,” was the first to step up to the plate as the donor, WGN-TV reported. With Bradley’s cancer now in remission, the duo is back in the swing of things, with a friendship even more special than before.

“They’re best friends,” Brian Godish, the twins’ dad, told WGN-TV. “Now the bond that they share is as strong as it can possibly be." 

Bradley was diagnosed in November with acute myeloid leukemia, and the best option for treatment was chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, reported. The 5-year-old’s parents, Brian and Jennifer Godish, found out Charlie was a perfect match as a stem cell donor, and approached their daughter in January about the procedure. 

"We wanted Charlie to feel like she was part of the decision-making process and wanted to prep her mentally," Jennifer told "So we explained that Bradley's blood was sick and hers was healthy, and she said, 'Let's do it.'"

The surgery took place in February, at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, according to ABC News. Charlie bravely underwent the procedure, with little tears or complaints, and helped eradicate her brother’s sickness.

"They've both bounced back nicely -- our hope is that the further out we get from the transplant, the better the chances are that it will never come back and he'll have a full recovery," the twins' transplant coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Schneiderman, told

Though Bradley still requires routine checkups, he’s in recovery, and the twins have started kindergarten and are settling back into their daily schedules.

"We really hope as parents they learn from this -- to always be selfless to always help somebody out, to always give," Brian told ABC News. “This shows how valuable love and life is and I hope they never take life for granted."


Also on HuffPost:

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The Struggle and Surprising Upside of Parenting While Depressed

Fri, 2015-09-04 07:44
"What reason could you possibly have to be depressed?" I heard the words over the phone line, and I visibly winced. His reaction was the exact reason I hadn't told anybody until that moment that I'd been experiencing symptoms of depression. I quickly changed the subject. He wasn't ready. And neither was I. The man on the other end of the line was a close friend of mine. It was the first and last time I would broach the subject with anyone. Until now.

As a boy, I'd dutifully memorized vocabulary words such as "depression." And I'd imagine a man glumly pressing his face against prison bars, estranged from love and any hope of human connection. As a child in school, I learned definitions. But what I did not learn was the application of those definitions beyond what was written on the page. Depressed people did not have wives. They did not have successful careers and rewarding hobbies. And they most certainly did not have children. Or so I thought. As an adult, I realized that depression wasn't exclusive to the loveless, glum faces behind prison bars. People with loving families, millionaires with houses on each continent, nobody was immune to the all-consuming soul-suck known as depression. Having my own children taught me this, but I never could have imagined that it would simultaneously hold me back and push me forward.

In mid-2012, despite having two healthy, thriving sons and a loving wife, I still suffered in silence. I had no "reason to be depressed," but I still had my dark days, despite the joy my family brought me. And I harbored guilt for feeling that way, considering all the blessings in my life. Then, that reason finally happened, and I faced a situation that would not only challenge me as a parent, but as a man. When my children were just starting to get to know my mother, she died suddenly of a massive heart attack. I was very close with her, and I was the one who discovered her body. And as the days of mourning stood ominously before me like thick redwood trees, I began to fear I'd never recover. But shortly thereafter, it became apparent that the juxtaposition of my mother's untimely death with the demands of parenthood would make me stronger than I ever could have imagined.

The immediate days and weeks following my mother's death were filled with anger, anxiety, sadness, resentment, and the unwanted knowledge that my life would never be the same as it was. But I wasn't afforded the luxury of crawling into a hole and covering my head. I had children to raise who weren't old enough to realize I was going through a personal hell. The ongoing responsibilities of raising my two sons with my wife, along with the demands of my career, prevented me from mourning my mother the way I likely would've chosen to -- sitting in dark rooms every day, drinking myself into a stupor, while wallowing in self-pity for God knows how long. Framed that way, I suppose I should thank my children. They unknowingly pushed me forward when the current was pulling me mercilessly in the other direction.

Trying to be a present, effective parent while carrying the weight of depression is like the dream you have when you're trying to run but your legs won't move. Like treading water while holding barbells (or babies) over your head. It seems like an impossible feat while you're trying to do it. But in the end, you'll end up stronger in every way imaginable because of it. And you're not the only one it benefits.

A few months later, on a random Thursday night, my older son was misbehaving badly. He refused to brush his teeth and/or put on his pajamas. I raised my voice, he raised his. You know the drill. And suddenly, in a moment that surprised even me, I lost it. My eyes welled up with tears, and I stopped dead in my tracks. Voice noticeably cracking, I said, "Honey, I need you to do this for me. Please. Just do it." And I left the room. Within a couple of minutes, he did the things I asked him to do, and even wrote me a note on the back of an old birthday card.

"Daddy, I'm sorry. I love you," was scribbled on the page. He followed it up with a hug. As furious as I was just a few minutes earlier, I couldn't have been prouder to witness the first tangible example of my son's ability to show this incredibly important personality trait- empathy. Later that night, while I was putting him to bed, he asked questions about his grandmother. He clearly didn't understand the finality of death, but he'd established a strong enough sense of empathy, even at the age of four, to comfort his grieving father, if only for a moment. It remains a lone bright spot in an otherwise deeply sad situation.

I'd like to be clear that this piece of writing is not intended to evoke sympathy for me. And I'm well aware of how fortunate I am. A beautiful, loving wife and three remarkable children are gifts that not everyone is blessed enough to receive. But more than anything, I wrote this to open some eyes to the idea that the frazzled, out-of-his-wits person you scoff at in the grocery store, or in a crowded restaurant with his unruly children, may be undergoing a challenge you know nothing about. I try to remember that any time I even think of judging another human being.

There have been days when I've left my wife with the kids while I locked myself in the bathroom with tears streaming down my face, nights when my kids will want to play horsey and the weight of my own legs feels insurmountable. But without my family, and without the constant hands (quite literally) pulling me forward, I believe I'd be much worse off than I currently am. Parenthood has been my greatest obstacle. It's also saved me in my darkest of moments. That's the ultimate gift of having children. And it's a gift I'm thankful for every single day of the year.

This post is dedicated to the memory of a young New Jersey boy who tragically lost his life in an accident five short weeks ago, Christopher D'Amico, Jr. To honor his memory, a Facebook page has been opened named "Kindness for Christopher," which encourages people to perform random acts of kindness for others. I urge anyone reading to "like" the page and follow their beautiful example.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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16 Mouthwatering Illinois Town and Village Names

Thu, 2015-09-03 10:14
Does something delicious come to mind when you hear the name of your hometown? For some Illinoisans, things like cherry pie and fish filet are the first things to relate to home. If this sounds familiar to you, then you probably live in one of these 16 mouthwatering villages and towns. Did your town make the list? Let us know in the comments below!

27. Sandwich

26. Fishhook

25. Honey Bend

24. Mulberry Grove

23. Apple River

22. Aroma Park

21. Bismarck

20. Buncombe 

19. Cherry

18. Cherry Valley

17. Crescent City

16. Fisher

15. Frankfort 

14. Hamburg

13. Hazel Crest

12. East Hazel Crest

To see 11 more tasty town and village names, including Orangeville and Sugar Grove, check out Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Weird Illinois: The 15 strangest Illinois landmarks

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Climbing Denali

Thu, 2015-09-03 08:53
Renaming a mountain is better than beheading it.

And the pseudo-uproar from Donald Trump and other Republicans over the presidential renaming of the continent's highest mountain, Denali -- "the great one" -- is so much yammering in a cage.

The cage is "Americanism." The small-mindedness of this concept is suddenly more apparent than ever: Hey, we're the greatest! Obama's taking Mount McKinley -- our mountain -- away from us, giving it back to the Indians . . .

Would that it were true. Would that a sense of earth-reverence had entered the national consciousness through this act of renaming, this acknowledgement that our world isn't merely the plaything of the American political ego. Would that President Obama meant what he said when, as he began his symbolic, climate-change-awareness trek to Alaska, he declared: "The time to plead ignorance is surely past."

But of course he only meant it rhetorically, as though sternly resonant words -- a great speech -- could stop global warming and the melting of Arctic ice and the looming shroud over our children's future. It's so easy to call for change, then go back to business as usual. "We're proving that there doesn't have to be conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth," he said.

Uh, yes there does.

For one thing, we have to get far more serious about weaning the human race from its dependence on fossil fuels and leave most of the oil, coal and natural gas that's still in the ground exactly where it is, according to most climate scientists. If we don't, the greenhouse gas emissions we produce by burning them will cause a global temperature rise beyond the point of ecosystem sustainability, which is 2 degrees Celsius.

That's why the fact that Obama granted approval to Royal Dutch Shell to begin oil and gas drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off of Alaska's northwest coast -- "potentially opening up a giant new pool of oil," as Bill McKibben recently wrote -- has ignited so much outrage. "It's as if the health teacher giving the anti-smoking talk to junior-high assembly had a Marlboro dangling from her lip," he added.

Here's what I'll concede. The nation is a stew of contradictory forces, all of which the president must, at the very least, placate. If the corporate drivers of the American and global economy want something, they're going to exert enormous pressure to get it -- the sort of pressure a political leader may find almost impossible to resist. Indeed, the concept of the nation-state may be no more than an amalgam of destructive forces and "interests" -- greed, fear, the lust to dominate -- that render it incompatible with transcendent change, which is what our global crises absolutely require. The nation-state serves war. The nation-state serves economic growth. The nation-state does not serve climate integrity.

And so the climate crisis is where science and political science meet, as McKibben put it. "Climate change is not like most of the issues politicians deal with, the ones where compromise makes complete sense," he wrote.

The players "think the relevant negotiation is between the people who want to drill and the people who don't. But actually, this negotiation is between people and physics. And therefore it's not really a negotiation."

The scientists sounding the global-warming alarm are simply reporting the basic physics of the situation. "They're not expressing an opinion; they're reporting on the world's actual limits."

But of course there is more involved here than merely cold, impartial science. There's a conflict of attitudes going on. One attitude serves and benefits from a self-perpetuating political-economic system that's all about endless growth, endless expansion. Our leaders and our media, for the most part, cater to this attitude. For instance:

"President Barack Obama on Tuesday will propose speeding up the timeline for purchasing and constructing new Coast Guard icebreakers in the Arctic, an area where the United States has fallen behind Russia in resources as the melting sea ice creates more opportunities for global commerce, tourism and scientific research."

This is from CNN. I grab the sentence almost at random. I read it again, not quite believing it. ". . . as the melting sea ice creates more opportunities for global commerce, tourism . . ."

The other attitude is more like a rending cry that we value the planet the way we would value our own children. I'm sure this is not an easy attitude to legislate, at least not under present circumstances. We've achieved so much by turning our most callous instincts loose on the world. We're addicted to environmental collapse. Even the death throes of the global ecosystem, if that's what this massive melting can be said to represent, are seen, and legislated, as opportunity.

I think again about the renaming of a mountain. I think about our slow ascent toward awareness.

- - -
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at or visit his website at


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9 Things Every Male Nurse Should Know

Thu, 2015-09-03 08:52
Some men shy away from the nursing field because of the perception that nursing is a female-dominated field. But, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, "the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent, and the proportion of male licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses has more than doubled from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent." As a male nurse myself, here are some of the things that I have learned along the way.

1. Gender biases are usually all in our heads.

Approach every patient -- whether male or female -- with confidence. Unless it's a cultural consideration or requested by the patient, you'll find that most patients are accepting of male nurses.

2. Don't let patient preference get to you.

Just as some female patients refuse personal care from male nurses, some male patients refuse personal care from female nurses. Just accept that and stay positive. Always remember that being male will have no bearing on the care and comfort that you can provide.

3. Thou shall not fear OB/Maternity.

You will have opportunities to observe live births, c-sections and do cervical exams. As long as you're polite and provide good nursing care, you will be "A-OK."

4. Those awkward moments are inevitable.

Remember to be professional and focus on the task at hand of helping people get better and you will do just fine.

5. The concept that we must work harder to prove that we can be just as competent as our female counterparts is a myth.

Have no fear, male nurses are provided with the same opportunities given to female nurses.

6. Half of your patients will think that you're a doctor.

It may feel frustrating, but keep your pride as a nurse.

7. Play to your strengths.

Male nurses are expected to be stronger and thus often called on to help lift heavy patients. This attribute can work in your favor; consider yourself a valuable resource.

8. Be active.

Some nursing groups are great resources for connecting with other male nursing students/male nurses.

9. You are a nurse, not a male nurse.

Your female counterparts are not "female nurses." Just as female medical students break the gender barriers in medicine, we will continue to break the gender barriers in nursing.

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School Protesters Force Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel To Shut Down Budget Meeting

Wed, 2015-09-02 22:03

A group of protesters caused Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to shut down a budget meeting on Wednesday evening after he refused to answer their questions regarding the future of a city school.

According to local news reports, Emanuel was holding a public hearing about the city’s 2016 budget when residents protesting the closure of Dyett High School pressed him about the city’s plans for the future of the school.

Chaotic scene at Chicago budget hearing as protesters take the stage over future of a city high school.

— Monica Davey (@monicadavey1) September 3, 2015

After he repeatedly declined to answer their questions, the protesters swarmed the stage, demanding an answer from him “right now.” Chicago police quickly escorted Emanuel out of the meeting. The mayor’s office then ended the meeting early.

Video shows crowd yelling at Mayor Emanuel, as Supt. McCarthy and others help get him out.

— Tina Sfondeles (@TinaSfon) September 3, 2015

Dyett High School closed in June due to low test scores and enrollment rates, part of a wave of school closures in Chicago over the last two years. City officials have yet to make permanent plans for the school, but neighborhood residents want it to reopen next year as an open-enrollment, science-focused school called Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School.

Some of the protesters have been part of a hunger strike that reached its 17th day on Wednesday. That same day, two of the protesters, Jitu Brown and April Stogner, took their fight to Washington, D.C., and delivered a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, asking him to intervene. The hunger strikers have insisted that they will not stop until city officials decide to keep the school open and select the community’s proposed plan.

"We’re going to do whatever is necessary to keep this school and have an open-enrollment school in our community,” Stogner said at a press conference. “I’m hungry. But I’m not really hungry for food -- I’m hungry for justice. I’m hungry for justice for my grandbabies, for all the kids in my community."

Their cause has begun to attract national attention, including from National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who both attended Wednesday's event in Washington.

I was so proud to stand w/ these hunger strikers for justice as they brought the #FightForDyett to DC today

— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) September 2, 2015

While Dyett was once slated for permanent closure, city officials are considering several different proposals to reopen the school. However, protesters say the process has been slow and they are concerned that the delay will ultimately allow the school to remain closed. City officials postponed a public meeting about the school to focus on the city's budget.

Wednesday's meeting was the second of three scheduled public hearings about the city’s budget. Dyett protesters have been present at both meetings, trying to get a direct response from Emanuel on the future of the school. After the first meeting on Monday, Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool agreed to meet with the protesters but made no commitments. 

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15 Illinois State Legislators Who Opted Out of Their Health Insurance Plans

Wed, 2015-09-02 13:01
Illinois state legislators have the same entitlement to health insurance as people with most other jobs in the U.S.; this is part of their compensation for voting on and writing state laws. The difference in their health care plans, however, is that the lawmakers get to keep their plans after they leave the job (as part of their pension packages). The health insurance also is part of the benefits package for what officially is a part-time job, something unusual in the private sector.

As the Illinois News Network's Scott Reeder pointed out, that means that Illinois taxpayers spent $1.23 million on insurance for current and former legislators. But there are 34 lawmakers (out of 177) who have decided to forgo the state-provided health insurance and cover their medical costs another way.

One expert told Reeder that the high-level plan is unusually generous:
Illinois lawmakers have afforded themselves one of the most generous health insurance plans available; far better than that of most of their constituents who are ultimately paying for it, said Naomi Lopez Bauman, a health policy analyst for the Goldwater Institute.

In fact, the plan is so generous that it is considered a "Cadillac plan" under the Affordable Care Act. In 2018, the state could begin paying an excise tax to the federal government for the lawmakers' health insurance plans.
State Rep. David McSweeney said he thinks the whole plan should be eliminated and legislators should be responsible for figuring out their own insurance plans with the state already so strapped for cash. (Eliminating that cost would reduce the state's annual budget by approximately 0.004 percent). Others, such as Rep. Mary Flowers, say they pay for health insurance in employee contributions just like any other worker and deserve the plan as part of a standard salary package.

The 34 legislators could have decided to opt out of the state-provided health plan for many reasons, fueled either by convenience, economics of principles. Perhaps some of them have health insurance provided by another job in the private sector. Perhaps some of them already are enrolled in health insurance plans through their spouses' jobs. Maybe they have chosen to find their own private plan or buy in through the state health insurance exchange. One representative, Republican Rep. Avery Bourne, is still young enough to qualify to stay on her parents' health insurance plan.

Here are 15 of the 34 Illinois state legislators who are not covered by the General Assembly's health insurance plan:


Sen. Andy Manar, Bunker Hill

Rep. Katherine Cloonen, Kankakee

Rep. Lawrence M. Walsh, Jr., Joliet

Sen. Thomas Cullerton, Villa Park


Rep. Avery Bourne, Litchfield

Rep. Brian W. Stewart, Freeport

Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, Jacksonville

Rep. Chad Hays, Danville

Rep. David McSweeney, Barrington

Rep. Ed Sullivan, Mundelein

Rep. Margo McDermed, Frankfort

Sen. Neil Anderson, Moline

Rep. Reginald Phillips, Charleston

Rep. Steven Andersson, Geneva

Sen. Sue Rezin, Peru

Rep. Thomas Bennett, Watseka

Rep. Tom Demmer, Rochelle

To see 17 more legislators who are not covered by the General Assembly's health insurance plan, including those from Blue Island, Elgin, and Chicago, check out Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Illinois lawmakers' "Cadillac" health plans under fire


  1. Transparency, efficiency, police accountability boosted by Illinois General Assembly

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  4. Miller: Illinois' fiscal crisis getting worse and worse with no end in sight

  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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The 25 NFL Breakout Stars Of 2015

Wed, 2015-09-02 12:41

Predicting the next crop of NFL stars isn't exactly like trying to finish The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle -- but it's not much easier, either.

My predictions in 2014 were evidence of that; whereas, in 2012 and 2013, I seemed to hit the jackpot.

With pro football about to kick off, keep in mind that this year's list of breakout competitors excludes both rookies and defensive players.

Oh, and for the fantasy players out there, this list will hopefully help you win your league(s).

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report.

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Chicago Is Not Broke -- Funidng the City We Deserve

Wed, 2015-09-02 12:24
The Mayor is hosting a series of 2016 budget town meetings this week.

The bad news is being delivered by Budget Director Alex Holt and Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown
[Alex Holt, Carole Brown - photo by Tom Tresser]

They say we are facing a 2016 operating budget deficit of $232.6 million.

I'd like to suggest that this is a mirage. You can see it - but it lacks substance. It's not real.

I'd like to offer three pots of money available to the city that would wipe out that forecast deficit and replace it with a surplus.

Here's a way to fund the Chicago we deserve. A city where ALL her citizens flourish - not just the same set of prosperous people, insiders and the mayor's campaign contributors.


This includes money lost through corruption, theft and patronage. This includes contracts given without bid to insiders at inflated prices. This includes ghost payrollers and triple-dippers who are on the public dime in multiple jobs at the same time. This includes money wasted through endless judgements against the city -usually for police misconduct - the biggest expense here being the cost of prosecuting and repairing the torture cases against Police Commander John Burge.

This includes unnecessary fees to consultants and financial institutions - such as the much reviled toxic credit swaps that the Chicago Board of Education is staggering under. One report estimated the total payments by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools of payments and termination fees to be $1.2 billion through August of 2014!

It's hard to go back in time to - say - 1990 or 2000 - and estimate what the cost savings could've been had we ELIMINATED all this waste. It's equally difficult to come up with an ANNUAL revenue number that would fall to our bottom line if all PRESENT corruption and waste were eliminated.

But I'm going to make a rough estimate here and say Bucket 1 would give Chicago $1 billion in new or released revenue annually.


This one is easy for me to articulate and estimate. Tax Increment Financing districts hold the most hidden public money in Chicago on an annual basis.

The TIF Illumination Project has analyzed all of Chicago's 2014 TIF Annual Reports. Our work shows that in 2014 Chicago's TIFs extracted $426 million from property owners. At the end of 2014 there was $1.44 billion in property tax dollars sitting in TIF accounts.

Cancel the TIFs and return all TIF funds sitting in bank accounts to the units of government that would have received those funds in the first place.

This would result in a one-time cash infusion of $1.4 billion to local government, with $784 million going to Chicago's public schools.


This bucket is perhaps the most controversial and would be the most contested. We are leaving literally BILLIONS of dollars on the table in Chicago (and Illinois) every year.

The biggest source of potential revenue is a financial transaction tax levied on contracts at Chicago's exchanges. Even asking traders to pay $1 per contract would bring in enormous revenues that would be split between the state, the county and the city. One study calculates the annual total from a LaSalle Street Tax to be as high as $12 billion for Illinois overall, with $2 billion of that for Chicago annually!

Following on that source would be a progressive income tax for Illinois that would take in billions more in revenue annually, with much more revenue sharing coming to Chicago. There have been a number of proposals to move Illinois out of the company of the most regressive and unfairly taxing states in America and each proposal would have a different net gain for Chicago.

Let's say that a modestly progressive income tax for the state would net Chicago $500 million more annually.

That's $2.5 billion in new revenue for Chicago from just these two sources.

I think that's a good start. There are other, more creative, more radical ideas for saving money and generating revenue for Chicago - but for now, let's total up what we could get from deploying our three buckets.

I think I just identified $4.9 billion in revenues for the city of Chicago.

What would YOU do with a first year harvest of almost $5 billion and then an annual increase of about $4 billion in NEW revenue for - say - the next ten years? What would you start or build to make Chicago the city we deserve?

My friends and neighbors, Chicago is most definitely NOT broke.

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Pope Francis Holds 'Virtual Audience' With ABC's David Muir Ahead Of U.S. Visit

Wed, 2015-09-02 11:24

ABC's David Muir moderated a first-of-its-kind discussion this week between Pope Francis and several people scattered across the U.S. who were able to interact with the pope via satellite.

Muir traveled to the Vatican to moderate the pope's interaction with what ABC called a "virtual audience." The Monday event connected the pope to a group of students in Chicago, church congregants from McAllen, Texas, and individuals from homeless shelters in Los Angeles.

Chicago high school senior Valerie Herrera had the opportunity to speak with the pope about the years of bullying she's experienced because of her vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that causes white spots on the face and body.

Herrera told the pope that after she joined her church choir, she learned to be more comfortable with herself. Francis then made a request she hadn't expected.

"May I ask for you to sing a song for me?" he asked Herrera. "Be courageous." 

A release from ABC News says the pope used the "virtual audience" as a way to reach people in cities he'll be unable to visit during his highly anticipated trip to the U.S. later this month.

During that trip, his first to the U.S. as pope, Francis will meet with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., and deliver an address to Congress. He will then travel on to New York City and Philadelphia. Many more details about his visit are available here.

The "virtual audience" event will air during a special edition of ABC News’ "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. EST.

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David Bowie Loves Spongebob So Much He's Writing Music For His Broadway Show

Wed, 2015-09-02 07:36

For all you simpletons who said Spongebob Squarepants was lame, let me tell you, revenge is oh. so. sweet.

The Bob himself is headed to Broadway where he'll star as the subject of his very own musical, aptly titled, "Spongebob Squarepants! The Musical." And that's not all. Glam rocker (and potentially the coolest person alive) David Bowie will be writing some of the music

Bowie. Spongebob. Music. Magic. Picture it. Just picture it. 

The musical, directed and co-created by Tina Landau with a book by Kyle Jarrow and music supervision by Tom Kitt, is slated to show at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre from June 7 to July 3, 2016, before heading to Broadway for the 2016-2017 season. 

And that's still not all! Bowie is not the only first rate musical force signed on to tell the age old tale of a sponge living in a pineapple under the sea. The Dirty Projectors, the Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s and They Might Be Giants are some of the other big deals on board. 

Who's laughing now, Spongebob haters? Who is laughing now???


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Rep. Mike Quigley: A Better Deal Could Not Have Been Negotiated

Tue, 2015-09-01 16:35
On Monday, August 31, I went to the City Club of Chicago to see a speech by Democrat Mike Quigley, who represents Illinois' Fifth Congressional District in Congress. I went for three reasons: to support a vigil outside the talk by supporters of the Iran deal, urging Quigley to back it; to deliver petitions to Quigley signed by more than 2,000 of Quigley's constituents urging him to support the deal; and to hear what Quigley would say about how he planned to vote on the deal.

Quigley did not address the issue during his prepared remarks. But the first question after the talk was: "What is your position on the deal?" A moderator later said something like: there were 34 questions, and 30 of them were on the Iran deal. (This was like the National Press Club where you have to write your question on a card beforehand.) The fact that so many questions were on the Iran deal certainly reflects engagement and interest from the City Club of Chicago audience; it may also reflect the fact that people who came to the event were greeted by people with "No War With Iran" and "Defend Diplomacy" signs.

Quigley said the following. This is verbatim, I recorded it on my phone. Interested reporters can contact me for the video.

"I believe -- and I believe our intelligence community, and internationally, overall, the intelligence community believes, that we will know more about what's happening in Iran if we do the deal than if we don't."

Quigley is on the House Intelligence Committee, so presumably he is in at least as good a position as any other member of Congress, if not better, to judge what the intelligence community believes.

"Also, I will say this, and I know that this upsets people because they disagree, but I don't believe a better deal could have been negotiated. Which is not to say that there is not something we would have preferred, right? Total elimination of any nuclear material in Iran. But given our dance partners -- and I'm not just talking about the Iranians -- I think that Secretary Kerry probably did the best job anyone could. And with all due respect, if we go back to the table, I don't think they all come back to the table."

I will leave it to The Hill to judge whether they should change their assessment of Quigley from "Unclear/Undecided" to "Leaning Yes" based on these remarks. To me, the logic is clear and strong: if you support diplomacy, and if you think this is the best deal possible, what else is there to say about whether you are likely to vote yes or no? We're not voting on whether to fall in love with the deal and live happily ever after. We're voting on whether this is the best possible course of action among the realistic alternatives.

Regardless of that, I think the following is beyond reasonable dispute: Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, just refuted two key claims of Republican opponents of the deal: the claim that Obama and Kerry could have gotten a better deal, and the related claim that if Congress were to blow up this deal, we could go back to the table and negotiate a different one. No, Quigley said. Kerry got the best deal possible, and if Congress were to blow up this deal, some of our "dance partners" -- countries without whose participation international sanctions cannot meaningfully hurt the Iranian government -- are not coming back to the table.

With Senator Casey and Senator Coons coming out for the deal, the Washington Post is all but calling game over on Republican efforts to block the deal in Congress. But that still leaves the question of how individual Democrats who have not declared yet will vote. If we want to turn a corner in U.S. foreign policy, if we want to show the world and show ourselves that we think we learned something important from the Iraq fiasco, it would be a very good thing if we can tell the story that when the chips were down, Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly supported diplomacy and that Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez were marginalized.

So it still makes a difference what Mike Quigley does. So far not one Illinois Democrat in Congress has come out against the deal. Perhaps this shouldn't surprise us much: from the point of view of many Illinois Democrats, who are overwhelmingly Chicago-area Democrats, Obama is our guy, our gift to the world. And Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, organizing Senate Democrats in support of the deal? That's our other guy. And Jan Schakowsky, organizing House Democrats in support of the deal? Also one of ours. Saying the Iran deal is no good is saying that Obama is no good. Saying that Obama is no good is saying that Chicago is no good.

And when some people say that Chicago is no good -- well, Chicago Democrats don't like that.

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Illinois Manhunt Underway After Officer Is Shot And Killed

Tue, 2015-09-01 14:37

A massive manhunt for three suspects in northern Illinois is underway after a Fox Lake police officer was shot and killed early Tuesday. 

The suspects are considered armed and dangerous, according to police.

The slain officer was identified Tuesday afternoon as Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a 32-year veteran of the force. Gliniewicz, who went by the nickname "G.I. Joe," was married with four children, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing a police source and family.  

Canine units, choppers and a "large number" of officers on foot have been deployed near where Gliniewicz died, roughly 50 miles north of Chicago, Lake County spokesman Detective Chris Covelli said during a morning news conference. Area SWAT teams and the U.S. marshals have also joined the search. 

Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose told the Tribune that Gliniewicz died at the scene and had been stripped of his gun.

"At this point, this is a tw0-pronged investigation. We're looking into the apprehension of the three suspects at large," Covelli said. "In connection with that, we're working the investigation on the officer who was injured. Lake County Major Crimes Task Force is heading up that investigation."  

Gliniewicz contacted the police department via radio around 8 a.m. to say he was on foot and pursuing three suspicious subjects, Covelli said. Contact was lost shortly thereafter. When backup arrived on the scene, Covelli said they discovered the downed officer had suffered a gunshot wound.

During a press conference, Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit said the town not only lost an officer, but that he personally had "lost a very good friend."
“G.I. Joe was a father of four boys, a decorated police officer and a devoted member of this community,” an emotional Schmit said. 

The area surrounding the shooting, near U.S. Route 12 and Sayton Road, is a mix of wooded, marshy land and industrial space. Police have blocked off several main thoroughfares east of the shooting area, and some local businesses were closed earlier on Tuesday, area publication the Daily Herald reports. 

Schmit also noted that students in area schools that were put on lockdown earlier in the day were dismissed at 4 p.m. and that parents were asked to pick up their children from school. 

Police asked area residents on Tuesday morning to stay in their homes and to report any suspicious people or activity. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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