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This Video Shows You How Fast Baseball Used To Move ... And How Slow It's Gotten

Tue, 2014-10-28 12:25
America's pastime passes a lot more time than it used to. In 1981, nine innings lasted just over two and a half hours. In 2014, average game length topped three hours for the third straight season.

The differences in game speed -- as well as some of the underlying causes -- are readily apparent when comparing a single at-bat from a 1983 game between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees (the same game as George Brett's infamous pine tar incident) to an at-bat from a 2014 game between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. In the '83 at-bat, Royals designated hitter Hal McRae barely moves away from home plate as Yankees pitcher Shane Rawley, who doesn't step off the mound or seem to wave off very many signs from his catcher, fires off pitch after pitch. The entire confrontation consists of five pitches and lasts just 46 seconds. In the '14 at-bat, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles and Jake Peavy of the Red Sox meander through an five-pitch at-bat that stretches to one minute and 55 seconds.

What Is Bystander Intervention, Anyway?

Tue, 2014-10-28 11:14
If your teen was at a party and saw someone making sexual advances toward a student who was drunk, would she intervene?

What if someone made a rape joke in class? Or, if a sexually explicit photo of a classmate went viral on social media?

What would your teen do? What should he do?

These questions are at the heart of what's known as bystander intervention, a violence prevention strategy that's come into discussion as universities and the federal government work to address growing concerns about sexual violence on college campuses and how institutions deal with assault allegations.

Addressing bystander intervention at colleges is important, but sexual violence prevention experts say sexual violence is a community issue and families should discuss bystander intervention before teens head to school.

[Ask these 10 questions about campus safety.]

So what exactly is bystander intervention?

Simply put, it's when someone interrupts a potentially harmful situation. That includes stopping actions or comments that promote sexual violence, experts say.

For teens, that could mean making sure that the drunken student at the party gets home safely. But intervening is about more than just reacting in the moment to a potentially​ violent situation. Experts say it’s about challenging and changing the cultural norms that make sexual violence acceptable.

"It is common for people to witness situations where someone makes an inappropriate sexual comment or innuendo, tells a rape joke, or touches someone in a sexual manner. Bystanders who witness these behaviors can intervene in a way that will help create a safer environment," Tracy Cox, spokeswoman​ for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center,​ wrote in an email.

​In other words, when a teen hears a rape joke and steps up to explain why it’s inappropriate, posts a link to a safety ​PSA​ on Twitter or defends a student who is being sexually exploited and humiliated online, they’re working to change the social norms.

Stepping up to help someone in need sounds noble, but the reality is that we all have barriers that can prevent us from intervening, says Dorothy Edwards, executive director of Green Dot, etc.​,​ which develops and offers training for sexual assault and domestic violence prevention.​

Teens may fear for their own safety, struggle with peer pressure​ or worry about being embarrassed.

That’s why it’s important for parents to have open conversations with their kids about these barriers and give them realistic solutions for getting involved, Edwards says.

The organization​ teaches students to intervene by being direct, delegating the responsibility to others or creating a distraction to defuse a potential​ly dangerous situation so students feel comfortable stepping up. ​

In the party example,​ that could mean that instead of calling out the potential attacker, the bystander calls the inebriated student's friends to intervene or creates a diversion to dissolve the situation, like "accidentally" spilling a​ drink on the potential aggressor or asking about a homework assignment.

"It doesn’t have to be this politically correct, 'Hey man, real men don’t get girls drunk,'" Edwards says.

When students feel like they have a variety of options, they’re more likely to get creative and find ways to intervene, Edwards says. "Once we acknowledge the barriers and assure them that they don’t have to get over them and give them realistic options, suddenly kids are stepping up in incredible ways."

Teens aren’t the only ones with mental blocks.​ Conversations about sexual violence can be uncomfortable for parents, but there are ways to limit the discomfort.

[Learn how to research and discuss sexual violence on college campuses.]

Parents can use pop culture to bring up the issue with teens. Televisions shows geared toward teens and adults are a good lead-in​ to a conversation about bystander intervention, since most of those shows depict some sort of dating violence, says Kait Scalisi, a sex educator who works with colleges and health care organizations to promote sex-positive approaches to violence prevention.

"Music is also a really great tool for parents who are really nervous about having this conversation," she says.

Parents can use lyrics from songs that come on the radio to ask their children questions about how women and men should be treated, she says. Scalisi encourages anxious parents to have the conversation in an informal setting like during a car ride, ​which can make it less awkward for parents and teens.

"It feels less heavy and risky and threatening than Mom​ sitting her teen or child down and saying, 'Let’s talk about this,'" she says.

Parents ​ can find more resources on topic starters and safety tips from organizations like the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, No More and the White House’s recently launched It’s On Us ​campaign. Colleges can also be a good resource as more schools are stepping up their programs as a result of​ the recent media attention surrounding how schools handle sexual assault allegations​, experts say.

[Read more about the "It's On Us" sexual assault awareness campaign.]

But ending sexual violence starts at home. Discussing bystander intervention as a family can help teens develop the values that will encourage them to step up and create a culture that stands against violence, experts say.​

"If​ we’re living in communities and we don’t take a stand and we don’t intervene in a way that is safe and comfortable for us, we’re essentially saying that 'This is OK, I’m allowing this to continue.'" Scalisi says. "​That’s not to say that everybody is responsible for this​. But it is to say that we all can play a role in ending it."

Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of Best Colleges.​

This article comes to us courtesy of U.S. News & World Report, where it was originally published.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Let Campaign Negativity Keep You Away From the Polls

Tue, 2014-10-28 10:52
The 2014 Illinois governor's race has been one of the most fiercely fought in recent memory. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner have both tried to convince voters that the other is the worst thing that could happen to the state. The negativity is enough to make you want to stay away from the poll all together. But Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek reminds us why it's still important to vote, even when we might not want to.

From Doubek:

1. One of these men will be the next governor. To achieve anything, the winner will have to figure out a way to work with House Speaker Michael Madigan, as well as Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

2. This election isn't just about Rauner's or Quinn's future. It's about ours. We each have a lot at stake.

3. Got children or grandchildren? The next governor will have significant say in how our schools get funded, and therefore, how we help our children. That will play out in every grade and high school. It also will affect what happens with tuition and fees at our colleges.

See six more reasons at Reboot Illinois.

Speaking of negative news in Illinois: From 1988 to 2012, Dixon, Ill. Treasurer and Comptroller Rita Dixon embezzled more than $50 million from the city. How did she pull that off for so long without anyone noticing? For one, she had no accountants on her staff. Secondly, she set up a fake bank account. Thirdly, no one was closely looking over they city's capital asset records. Business expert Nancy Mathieson explains the rest at Reboot Illinois.

Famous Graves in Illinois

Tue, 2014-10-28 10:05
In addition to pumpkin-flavored coffee, picking apples and watching the leaves change, Halloween has also historically been about bridging the gap between the living and the dead. The two worlds are said to meet that night.

In Illinois, the world of the dead is populated with many people who were famous while alive. Check out a list of famous people buried in Illinois, from the website Find a Grave.

21. Muddy Waters (April 4, 1915 - April 30, 1983)

Bio: American blues musician who is considered the "father of modern Chicago blues"

Cause of death: Heart failure

Grave site: Restvale Cemetery in Alsip

20. Daniel Hale Williams (Jan. 18, 1856 - Aug. 4, 1931)

Bio: A black general surgeon and the second person credited with performing successful open-heart surgery; appointed to the Illinois State Board of Health, which is now known as the Illinois Department of Public Health; founded Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1891 -- the first African-American owned, non-segregated hospital and nursing school in the United States.

Cause of death: Stroke

Grave site: Graceland Cemetery in Chicago

19. Maurice "The French Angel" Tillet (Oct. 23, 1903 - Sept. 4, 1954)

Bio: French-born professional wrestler who suffered from acromegaly, a rare disease that causes bones to grow uncontrollobably; won the American Wrestling Association World championship on Aug. 1, 1944 against Steve "Crusher" Casey; later inducted in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame

Cause of death: Heart disease

Grave site: Lithuanian National Cemetery in Justice

18. Richard Warren Sears (Dec. 7, 1863 - Sept. 28, 1914)

Bio: Founder of Sears, Roebuck and Company

Cause of death: Bright's Disease (kidney failure)

Grave site: Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Chicago

17. Carl Sandburg (Jan. 6, 1878 - July 22, 1967)

Bio: American poet

Cause of death: Heart attack

Grave site: Carl Sandburg Birthplace in Galesburg

See 16 more famous people who are buried in Illinois at Reboot Illinois, including athletes, politicians and comedians.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date on Illinois' political news.

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Amtrak Train Collides With Semi In Indiana

Tue, 2014-10-28 09:41

(Refiles to fix slug)

Oct 28 (Reuters) - Ten people were injured when a Chicago-bound Amtrak passenger train collided with a semi-tractor trailer at a crossing in northern Indiana on Tuesday morning, an Amtrak official said.

The train was traveling from Indianapolis with 56 passengers and three crew members, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

He said none of the injuries to the 10 passengers and crew members appear serious and they were being examined by medical personnel at the scene of the accident, which happened at about 7:45 a.m. local time north of Lafayette, Indiana.

Magliari said he did not know if any would be admitted to the hospital.

Magliari also did not know the condition of the driver of the truck or why it was in the crossing. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bill Trott)

<i>Marhaba</i>! Introducing HuffPost Morocco

Mon, 2014-10-27 20:59
I'm very excited to announce that the journey we started over a year ago in Tunisia and continued this May in Algeria has now added the final missing part -- HuffPost Morocco -- to create the full ensemble of The Huffington Post Maghreb!

This launch comes at an incredible time, not only for HuffPost -- a journalism outlet and blogging platform with 11 editions around the world, with Greece, India and our Arabic editions coming next -- but specifically for the Maghreb, a region that is undergoing amazing transformations -- socially, politically and economically. In Morocco today we are witnessing a golden age of online collaboration and engagement that is both local and global -- in particular among Moroccan youth. There's no better time to start the conversation.

At HuffPost Morocco we'll be telling the stories that matter most and -- just as important -- helping people throughout Morocco tell their stories themselves, in words, in pictures and in video. We'll be covering topics including corruption, political tensions between Morocco and Algeria, social and religious questions like abortion and public health issues like the threat of Ebola. HuffPost Morocco will also be a place to discuss and celebrate Morocco's unique traditions and culture -- everything from sports and entertainment to technology and parenting.

While HuffPost Morocco will function as an individual edition, it is also a part of our larger regional edition HuffPost Maghreb, led by the incredibly talented Alix Etournaud and Fares Mabrouk, both with deep personal and professional roots in the region. Their mission of telling the Maghreb's most important stories and, at the same time, inviting the people of the Maghreb to tell their own stories has been a huge success in Algeria and Tunisia and will now also come to Morocco.

Leading HuffPost Morocco are editor-in-chief Hassan Hamdani and editorial director Youssef Ziraoui. Youssef, in nearly a decade in journalism, has served as the editor-in-chief and manager of TelQuel's multimedia division. In 2008 he was awarded the Lorenzo Natali Prize of the European Union, which honors journalism that uncovers corruption, abuse and violence in developing countries.

Before this endeavor Hassan had a long tenure at TelQuel magazine, where he was the culture editor, news editor and then editor-in-chief, and he has also worked at Femmes du Maroc and La Vie économique. In 2010, with Aïcha Akalay, Hassan was granted the award for best investigative reporting by Reporters Without Borders, RFI and Organisation internationale de la Francophonie for "The Temptation of Christ," a report about the persecution of Moroccans who convert to Christianity.

The expansion from the east Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast of Africa was carried by the wonderul Samia Cherif, HuffPost Maghreb's head of management, and Houeida Anouar, who's in charge of coordinating its editorial teams.

To kick off HuffPost Morocco, we are featuring a range of bloggers. There's journalist and photographer Leïla Ghandi on the need for gender equality in Morocco and for more women in leadership positions; Morocco's leading anti-corruption official, Abdesselam Aboudrar, on the necessity and challenges of fighting corruption; and Chafik Chraibi, the president of the Moroccan Association for the Fight Against Clandestine Abortion, on the consequences of unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions. We also have contributions from Laila Ouachi, a former advisor to Morocco's prime minister; Laïla Marrakchi, one of the country's most successful filmmakers; psychologist and TV host Aboubakr Harakat; Hit Radio CEO Younes Boumehdi; and Faouzi Skali, a co-founder of the Festival of Sacred Music.

To Moroccan readers and those around the world who are interested in Morocco and its rich culture, please email editor-in-chief Hassan Hamdani at and join the conversation. So Marhaba, Morocco, and welcome to the HuffPost family!

Activists Continue Push For Reparations For Victims Of Chicago Police Torture

Mon, 2014-10-27 17:05
Almost a month after a former Chicago police commander who oversaw the torture of more than 100 black men was released from prison after serving less than four years, activists are still fighting for victims to receive reparations for their suffering.

On Friday, activists used the Twitter hashtag #RahmRepNow to express their support for a reparations fund for those who were tortured at the hands of Jon Burge and the Chicago Police Department. They urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back such a fund.

A guest post on Amnesty International's blog urged people to participate in the Twitter campaign.

Dear @ChicagoMayor, how can we condemn torture abroad and not have justice here? Pls pass police torture #reparations ordinance. #RahmRepNow

— Dorothy Roberts (@DorothyERoberts) October 24, 2014

Free all Chicago police torture victims who've served far more time than CPD torturers. Reparations to help rebuild their lives #RahmRepNow

— Hauntological (@GMalandrucco) October 24, 2014

Follow #RahmRepNow. Chicago police thugs who tortured have never been held accountable. More than 100 men and their families deserve better.

— Liliana Segura (@LilianaSegura) October 24, 2014

Last year, Emanuel issued a public apology for the torture endured by dozens of Chicagoans under Burge and his "midnight crew" of detectives, who forced false confessions out of suspects in a number of brutal ways including electric shock, suffocation with plastic bags and mock executions. Emanuel called it "a "stain on the city's reputation" and "a dark chapter in the history of the city of Chicago."

Earlier this month, after activists and a group of Chicago aldermen renewed their call for a $20 million reparations fund for survivors who cannot sue the city because their statute of limitations has expired, Emanuel indicated he may be open to some form of reparation. However, he said he was unsure the $20 million figure -- the same amount of money the city spent on legal fees defending Burge and his associates in court -- was appropriate.

The reparations fund activists are advocating for would do more than offering financial compensations to the survivors. The ordinance that would create the fund would also create a community center on the city's South Side that would provide services to torture survivors, and it would require Chicago Public Schools to teach a history lesson about the torture cases. It would also serve as a formal apology from the city.

As Vice noted in a Sunday report, the ordinance is currently in a standstill and its future remains uncertain amid some concerns over the fund's cost at a time when the city of Chicago is struggling to balance its budget.

The renewed push for reparations came two days after the release of a report alleging city police have engaged in "ongoing, pervasive" violence specifically targeting youth of color in Chicago. Activists will present the report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture next month in Switzerland.

John Spinello, Inventor Of 'Operation' Game, Can't Afford Real-Life Operation

Mon, 2014-10-27 15:15
John Spinello earned a small spot in pop culture history 50 years ago when he invented Operation, the battery-powered game that lets kids play surgeon.

But now, the 77-year-old Illinois man needs $25,000 in oral surgery and can't afford to pay for it, having sold the rights to his creation for just $500.

Spinello says he's not bitter and prefers to not focus on the healthcare crisis.

"Look, everyone needs medical care," Spinello told HuffPost Weird News. "I prefer not to dwell on that aspect and focus more on the joy that the game has brought to so many over the years."

To help him out, a couple of toy designer friends are trying to help him raise $25,000 for anticipated bills via a crowdfunding campaign at

The campaign had raised more than $1,300 by Monday morning, mostly from toy industry insiders. A sister website,, is selling copies of Operation personally signed by Spinello.

In addition, Spinello is planning a December auction of his original game prototype, hoping to raise at least another $35,000, according to toy designer Tim Walsh, who is organizing the fundraiser along with fellow designer Peggy Brown.

Spinello invented Operation while he was an industrial design student at the University of Illinois. The Bloomington resident was tasked to come up with an electric game where the object was to insert a metal wand into holes without touching the metal edges of the openings.

"I got an A," Spinello said.

A family friend was so impressed that he helped Spinello get a meeting with Marvin Glass, a leading toy designer who gave the world novelty products like fake vomit and wind-up chattering teeth. He was also the force behind such classics as Mouse Trap and Lite Brite.

"I walked into his office and I put it on his desk. I said, 'You have to take this probe and go through the maze and see if you can complete it,'" Spinello explains in a video about the campaign.

Glass didn't seem impressed until he touched the wand to the metal plate.

"It went 'BLATTT' and a spark jumped out of the stylus," Spinello said. "He threw [the stylus] up in the air and says, 'I love it! I love it!'"

Glass offered the young college student $500 -- about $3,771 in 2014 dollars -- and the promise of a job upon graduation in exchange for all the rights to the game.

But the job offer didn't happen.

"I did get the two checks -- eventually," Spinello said. "I had to call for them."

Walsh says Spinello is not bitter about the lack of royalties, though he estimates the game has generated at least $40 million in sales since its 1965 debut.

By the early 1970s, the game was heavily advertised on TV, and has made several comebacks over the years, with a "Shrek" edition in 2004, followed by "Simpsons" and "Spider-Man" versions.

Spinello's daughter has an extensive collection of Operation memorabilia that celebrates the game's history.

"John celebrates the game wherever he can, though his kids do give him a hard time in a good-natured way," Walsh told HuffPost.

Spinello is not broke, but a warehouse company he ran went under in 2008, and times have been tough since then.

Walsh says Hasbro, the gamemaker that owns the rights to Operation, has supported the campaign by allowing the fundraising team to use promotional images for fundraising purposes. In addition, he suspects the company may be very interested in purchasing Spinello's prototype (seen below).

Even if the campaign doesn't reach its intended goal, Walsh hopes it raises awareness of Spinello's place in toy history.

"We were at a toy convention a few years back and so many people acted like Wayne and Garth [from "Wayne's World"] meeting Aerosmith," Walsh said. "He got a few 'we're not worthys.'"

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I Live Only 2 Hours From the Ebola Hospital in Dallas: Here's What I'm Doing to Protect My Family

Mon, 2014-10-27 12:57
We Americans sometimes seem to have only two settings when it comes to public health issues: "unconcern" and "panic." (I think the media deserve a great deal of blame for this.) The last few weeks have seen the switch flipped to near-panic about Ebola after the recent infection of two Texas Health Presbyterian nurses who were treating infected patient Thomas Eric Duncan and possible exposure of additional people after one of the nurses took a commercial flight. The fact that 43 individuals who had direct contact with Mr. Duncan have now passed the 21-day incubation period for the disease without signs of infection, that Senegal has been declared free from Ebola (no new infections have occurred there for 42 days), that Nigeria is close to the same milestone, and that the two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, are doing much better, doesn't seem to make much of a dent in the fear-mongering I've seen in recent weeks.

And now with the report that a physician with Doctors Without Borders, who recently returned to his home in New York City from West Africa, has tested positive without Ebola, the "Ebola panic" is just going to get worse.

Given the fact that I live so close to Dallas (just two hours!), I've been getting a lot of questions from friends and readers about whether I'm nervous about Ebola. So here are the precautions I'm taking to protect my family's health:

1. I've gotten a flu shot (and encouraging my friends and family to do the same), because influenza is a far bigger threat to our health than Ebola, and the vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting myself and my family.

2. I am donating to Doctors Without Borders, because the crisis is in West Africa and it's critical that we stop it there. Those brave physicians and nurses are on the front lines of the battle against Ebola, and they need our support. Strangely, while stopping the outbreaks in West Africa is absolutely crucial, there's almost no public charitable response to this crisis, in contrast to the many campaigns we see after natural disasters. I just came across #tackleEbola on Twitter, and that seems to be another good effort. I hope it takes off.

3. I am calling out misinformation that's being spread to provoke a panic response. One of the reasons why we're so excited by this particular infectious disease despite the fact that it is FAR FROM the most dangerous threat to our health is because the media have stoked fears of it, with sensationalistic coverage, and we citizens have allowed ourselves to be entertained (yes, entertained!) by epidemics. Remember "The Hot Zone"? "Outbreak"? Any zombie movie, ever? Turns out they're scientifically inaccurate, but they unfortunately influence the way we think about infectious diseases. We love a good "outbreak" story -- they're deliciously scary. But this is the real world, and there are consequences when we allow our fantasies to inform our decision making. Epidemics are not entertainment, and treating them as such, ironically, allows them to get much worse.

Furthermore, the panic that we are indulging in has hurt many people unnecessarily. Schools in Texas and Ohio have closed. A cruise ship was sent back home to the United States from Belize because it was carrying a Texas hospital lab worker (the worker was following CDC protocol and 19 days had passed since any possible exposure; she posed no credible danger to her shipmates). Despite health experts' recommendations politicians and the majority of the public favor a travel ban from West Africa. A Texas college has a new policy of rejecting applicants from Nigeria, despite the fact that there have been no new cases in that country since Sept. 8.

And idiotic conspiracy theories are rampant, as well as quack remedies. Instead of that nonsense, I urge you to read reputable, scientifically accurate information about Ebola here, and from Doctors Without Borders. Despite irresponsible rumors to the contrary, Ebola isn't airborne, nor is it likely to become airborne in the future through mutation. If you're not taking care of an infected person, you're extremely unlikely to contract it. The simple truth is that Ebola, compared to the flu or measles, actually isn't particularly easy to catch, and you are in far more danger from the "familiar" infectious diseases.


So how should a reasonable person think about this? Keeping things in perspective will help you avoid fear:

It is absolutely appropriate to criticize the CDC and Texas Health Presbyterian for their initial mishandling of the first infections. But there is a difference between criticism and fear-mongering. I have spoken with a Texas physician who was extremely critical of Texas Health Presbyterian, but told me that physicians' and nurses' training has drastically changed in recent weeks to include live simulations, supervisors, and other critical measures. He feels a lot more confident that their hospitals will be able to competently handle any cases, and was convinced that this wouldn't have happened had they not learned from their earlier experiences. I hope that this is true nation-wide.

I think we should be mindful of how our popular media has influenced us and alert to the possibility of the press stoking our fears for attention. I think we need to think carefully about who constitutes a credible source of information here -- who are the experts? -- and listen to what they're saying, rather than conspiracy theorists seeking to profit from our fears.

By cutting through the hype and panic, by thinking critically about Ebola in the context of relative risks, we can make much more rational decisions to protect ourselves and our families.

You can read a longer version of this post and join in a discussion on the author's blog.

The Latino Policy Forum hoped to share candidates' views with Illinois Latinos

Mon, 2014-10-27 11:37
The Latino Policy Forum is an organization that aims to encourage Latinos to get involved in the political process and helped register thousands of people to vote this year. In September, the Latinto Policy Forum and the Illinois Latino Agenda invited the gubernatorial candidates to share their political platforms with Latino voters in Illionois. Republican candidate Bruce Rauner's campaign declined to answer the provided questionaire, so the organization could only distribute answers from Democratic candidate Gov. Pat Quinn.

Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum Sylvia Puente and Senior Policy Analyst Martin Torres said many Latino leaders were disappointed by Rauner's lack of participation. From Puente and Torres:

Latinos, the largest minority ethnic group in Illinois, deserve specific answers to policy questions that affect their lives from education and immigrant integration to public safety and affordable housing.

The Latino Policy Forum is neither pro-Quinn or anti-Rauner. It is pro-Latino voter, pro-civic engagement, and pro-government responsiveness.

The message that candidates running for Governor ought to be communicating to voters is, "Here is how I am going to advance policies that better serve your children, family and community." In other words, this is why you should vote for me.

See why Martin and Torres believe candidates must explain to Latinos why their agendas would benefit them if the candidates hope to win Latino votes at Reboot Illinois.

Rauner's campaign is also involved in another controversial conversation. Last week, Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Dave McKinney resigned from the paper after he says the Rauner campaign interfered in his employment there after he wrote a potentially damaging story about Rauner. Capitol Fax Editor Rich Miller said McKinney's resignation is an example of a problem within our political culture: being too sensitive to "apperances of impropriety." See Miller's explanation of the situation at Reboot Illinois.

Bears' Lamarr Houston Injures Himself While Celebrating A Sack

Mon, 2014-10-27 11:25
Chicago Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston was hit with a bad case of instant karma on Sunday after celebrating a sack while his team was down by 25 points.

After bringing down New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Houston leaped in the air to celebrate, but landed awkwardly. Houston was eventually carted off the field with a knee injury. To make matters even worse, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Bears "fear the worst" regarding Houston's injury.

Apparently, Houston didn't learn from the misfortunes of Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who tore his ACL earlier this season while celebrating a sack.

Following Chicago's 51-23 loss, Houston expressed some regret over his celebration.

"I probably shouldn't have celebrated while they were blowing us out, but it happens," Houston said, via

Author Eula Biss On Sexism, Fear And How 'Anti-Vaxxers' Mirror The 'One Percent'

Mon, 2014-10-27 11:17
Shots are unpleasant by nature, but award-winning writer Eula Biss explored just how complex the pain around the modern vaccination debate has grown with her third book, the recently publishedOn Immunity: An Inoculation.

Among the topics from her Saturday discussion that kicked off the 25th annual Chicago Humanities Festival, Biss drew similarities between vaccine fear and politics, noting how "anti-vaxxers" are like the "1 percent" who dodge risk at the expense of others.

Biss shared the same idea during a recent conversation with The Huffington Post ahead of her CHF appearance.

"I became kind of excited by the idea that, wow, if we look at it this way, immunizing yourself and your children is a kind of radical social move," Biss said. "It’s accepting a small degree of risk to protect yourself from a minority to which you don’t necessarily belong.”

But fear and politics aren't the only things the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award-winner tackles in On Immunity. Diving into the history and motivations around vaccination, Biss injects the book with literary myth, metaphor and her personal experiences of navigating a hot-button issue while expecting her first child while tackling issues like sexism, race and class that touch the vaccination debate.

Deft with her metaphors, Biss summed up the current discourse on vaccination in America:

“It’s like politics: A lot of bluster, a lot of hot air, a lot of slinging of blame, and not a lot of thought or information exchanged.”

On the way sexism is viral in the vaccination debate.

“There’s this insinuation [in the vaccination debate] that if women weren’t so dumb and bad with science, there wouldn’t be this problem [of misunderstanding vaccinations]. One of the things I wanted to do with this book was refuse the idea that you can’t be rational if you’re emotional.”

Biss added, "I see it often as a reflection or rather amplification of the sexism that’s being leveled at a lot of other women less high-profile than someone like Jenny McCarthy. A lot of people will say 'How can you possibly take anything she says seriously? She was a Playboy centerfold, how can you listen to anything she has to say?'

"Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just rebut the ideas rather than the person itself?”

Why she'll stick up for activists like Jenny McCarthy -- to a point.

“[In McCarthy’s case] why do we look at the way she used her body as proof she can’t use her mind? I myself don’t agree with most anything that comes out of her mouth, but it’s not because she’s a model or blonde or a woman, but because she says things I don’t agree with.”

Biss firmly believes it's the message -- not the medium -- that should matter and makes a deft point at the end of On Immunity by introducing noted immunologist Polly Matzinger.

“Matzinger was also a Playboy Bunny,” Biss explained. “And she brought new thinking to immunology and brought radical change to a lot of fundamental theories, just by offering a different way of thinking. Here’s a woman who also, for a while, made a living by letting people view her body in a certain way.”

How “anti-vaxxers” are like “the 1 percent": sheltered at the expense of the 99 percent:

“Yes, there’s a higher rate of people living below the poverty line who aren’t vaccinated. But it’s much rarer for that to be a product of choice than a product of circumstance. Money isn’t the direct impediment -- vaccinations are subsidized. But getting to healthcare facility and getting health care itself will cost something. There’s the lifestyle that goes along with being low income, it’s high-demand: Working one or two jobs at a time, being a single mother.

"Then there are pockets of children who are upper middle-class or wealthy who are not immunized by choice. And the disturbing dynamic that can emerge is that a disease begins circulating in one of those pockets of unvaccinated children, but then of course it moves out and affects those children who are low-income who don’t have access to good healthcare and run a much higher chance of suffering the consequence to whatever disease in circulation."

... And how that affects races and classes unequally:

"You can see that in the 2010 pertussis (Whooping Cough) epidemic in California. Pertussis is complicated and it involved the failure of a vaccine as well as people not vaccinating. but it also involved wealthy people, like in Marin County, not vaccinating. Ten babies died in that epidemic. Nine of them were Hispanic. There’s a racial element there of who’s bearing the burden of this disease the hardest."

Why it’s impossible to “win” the vaccination debate:

"One of the more surprising thing that has emerged in the past couple weeks are that people on both sides of the debate are upset with me. Some of the people who are staunchly 'pro-vaxx' think I’m too empathic towards the people who are 'anti-vaxx.' Like, ‘you’re wrong to extend any sympathy to people who decide not to vaccinate.’ And that’s a little dismaying to me.

"A live chat on Gawker became an argument with vaccinators over whether or not it was okay to call people who don’t vaccinate 'stupid.' They wanted me to be part of a jubilant festival of hating on anti-vaxxers. And that’s not something that’s comfortable for me or something that I’m willing to do."

On her book’s unconventional structure:

“Something that many people have paid attention to is the form or structure of the book. I have seen people responding to it with confusion: This book is set up in a confusing way because it’s not set up like a typical piece of pop non-fiction.

"But as a writer, in a nerdy way, I’m excited about the relationship between form and content and the 30 sections is a metaphor for our bodies."

Where To Vote For Election Day 2014: Find Your Polling Place

Mon, 2014-10-27 10:58
Election Day 2014 is almost here, and the tool below, created by The Pew Charitable Trusts in partnership with Google, can help you figure out where to cast your vote.

The tool uses official state data and does not require users to submit any personally identifiable information.

To find information on polling locations, voter ID requirements and candidate information, type the address where you are registered to vote into the tool below:

officialOnly: false,

Even When Medical Marijuana Is Legal, There's Still A Part Where People Have To Break A Law

Mon, 2014-10-27 07:48
CHICAGO (AP) -- As more states legalize medical marijuana, there's one stage in the process nobody wants to talk about: the part where people still have to break the law.

After growers obtain licenses, plan for security and build facilities, they then must obtain their first seeds or cuttings - while regulators turn a blind eye.

"It has to be hush-hush," said Bradley Vallerius, an attorney focused on the emerging industry in Illinois. "I've seen the moment where the client realizes this is a problem" - and wonders how they're supposed to get started.

The situation is known as the "immaculate conception" or the "first seed" problem. Those involved see it as an absurd consequence of the nation's patchwork of laws, with 23 states allowing medical marijuana sales, Colorado and Washington state allowing recreational use and a federal prohibition in place.

While marijuana may not be hard to find, getting the first seeds for medical operations often involves either descending into the underground market or crossing state lines - a violation of state and federal laws.

One Colorado grower, Toni Fox, says she ordered her first seeds for a medical crop five years ago from advertisers in High Times magazine. If they showed up at all, they came hidden in packages with T-shirts and coffee mugs.

In Illinois, where medical marijuana growing permits will be granted later this year, suit-and-tie capitalists are connecting with black-market growers for seeds or cuttings. Online, seed banks in the Netherlands and Canada promise discreet shipping in unmarked packages.

Most state laws are silent on the issue, forcing officials into a "don't ask, don't tell" stance. In Washington state, growers have a 15-day, no-questions-asked period during which they can bring non-flowering plants into their operation, which must then be bar-coded and registered.

In one Seattle case, a medical grower trying to break into the recreational market accumulated more than 2,000 plants. Police, responding to complaints about the smell, seized all but 45 plants.

The grower, Matthew Segal, faces no charges but estimates the raid cost him about $1 million. He has since sold one of his marijuana dispensaries and put his house up for sale to help cover the losses. "When (state governments) look the other way, it turns the regulations into Swiss cheese," Segal said.

In Nevada, where the first medical marijuana business certifications will be awarded next month, state law allows registered patients, who can legally grow up to 12 plants, to sell plants to a cultivation center - just once.

"We've learned from what a lot of other states have done. We've tried to avoid a lot of the pitfalls," said Pam Graber, spokeswoman for the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program.

But the Nevada law says nothing about where patients are supposed to get seeds or plants. "We cannot offer suggestions," Graber said.

Illinois officials danced around the question at a meeting for aspiring businesses.

"We're expecting that any applicant that is proposing an operations plan is going to have a plan for getting the operations started," program director Bob Morgan said when pressed for details on acquiring startup seeds or plants.

State Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored Illinois' medical marijuana law, concedes lawmakers knew there was an issue. "We did not address it in the bill on purpose," he said. "We can't sanction in a law doing an illegal act."

David Ittel has sold indoor gardening supplies for decades at shops in Illinois and Wisconsin. Ittel won't say that the light timers and water pumps he sells have been used in illegal operations, but is meeting with aspiring medical marijuana business owners in Illinois.

"I've had people ask me: Can I help them get seeds? That's not what I do," Ittel said.

He believes some business owners will get plants in Illinois on the black market. Another source will be out-of-state growers in legal markets. Ittel believes starter plants will be brought into Illinois covertly.

With its thriving recreational market, Colorado would seem a likely source. But it's risky for growers to divert plants out of state, cautioned Colorado Director of Marijuana Enforcement Lewis Koski.

"I'm not aware of a lawful way for that to occur," Koski said. "A business could have their license revoked. The members of the company could face criminal charges."

Ultimately, there will need to be a federal solution, said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that supports regulated marijuana.

Otherwise, he said, "there isn't much of an option for states except to look the other way and understand that there has to be a way for regulated businesses to operate."

Sara Gullickson, of Newton, Massachusetts-based consulting company, doesn't advise clients on the question. But she knows the score.

"They have to get (seeds or plants) from another state," she said, "and it's not legal, but that's what they do."

The Most Loved Statues On College Campuses

Mon, 2014-10-27 07:35
Statues on college campuses tend to take on a life of their own, animated by students' traditions, legends and a penchant for pranking.

These cold, hard representations become a source of luck, a symbol of pride and achievement, and the world's most trustworthy confidante.

We took a look at the most loved campus statues, seeing what makes them so special to each school, and listed them here in no particular order. If you think we missed one, tweet it at us: @HuffPostCollege.

13 Spook-Free Safety Tips to Keep Your Kids and Pets Safe This Halloween

Sun, 2014-10-26 20:18
Halloween is full of tricks, treats, ghoulish games, frightening frocks, cute costumes, glowing Jack O' Lanterns, pumpkin-packed parties, and of course spookiness! Unfortunately, all of the frightening fun has dangers lurking behind them. Whether you are a parent of two-legged loved ones or four-legged furry loved ones, it is critical to be aware of the true spookiness that is hiding behind all the ghostly fun. So I called upon two experts that have simple tips for a safe, scare-free Halloween to keep your children and pets safe.

First up are the experts in keeping your little pumpkins safe. They may have "boo" in their name, but there is nothing scary about Boo Boo Busters. As a leading professional childproofing service they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe. Following are Halloween safety tips for your pets from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist. He has been taking care of all kinds of pets for over 20 years and his tips are sure to keep your furry friends from howling at the moon.

Kid Halloween Safety Tips:

1. Choking hazards: As a good rule of thumb, a choking hazard could be considered as anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. So, taking that into consideration, look closely at all the items that you are putting out to display. From bats and ghosts to pumpkins you roast. Hazards lurk everywhere!

2. Flashlights: Child-safe flashlights should have a child-safe battery door on them that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, thus preventing a choking hazard. Use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin too; flames and kids don't mix.

3. Halloween lights: Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper-resistant bulbs that can't be removed easily, and remember cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short and tight. Consider taking the excess that you might leave hanging and bind it up with a zip tie. So it can't be made in to a loop to be placed around a child's neck.

4. Pumpkin carving: Remember to only use child-safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives you must know that they will want to do the same. As soon as you turn around to grab something you forgot... little hands wander.

5. Costumes: As a kid it's mandatory to dress up. Our job is to make sure dress up is safe. Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a trip hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it's loose, baggy or long it could create a trip hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.

6. Glow at night: Make sure your child's costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple of glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good additive as well.

7. Candy: Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy that you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn't been tampered with. Unfortunately, ghouls are sometimes disguised as regular people.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips:

1. Pet costumes: Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume! Keep in mind, your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit. Feel free to get that amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any "wardrobe malfunctions!"

2. No chocolate: Most people know chocolate is toxic to their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance, that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, always best to contact your veterinarian to see if treatment is indicated.

3. Watch out for sugar-free: Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, always best to contact your veterinarian as your pet may likely need treatment and supportive care.

4. Healthy treat dangers: If you're offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.

5. Burning Jack O' Lanterns: Flames and fur aren't typically a good combination. Just as you do for kids safety, consider replacing that Jack-O-Lantern candle with a flickering LED light.

6. Trick-or-Treating: During trick-or-treating it is best to keep your pet inside, safe from all of the scary costumes, noises and lights that might frighten your pooch or feline. And, if you have a black cat be sure to keep them inside!

11 Things You Didn't Know About Michael Jordan

Sun, 2014-10-26 18:36
His triviAirness.

Although he was chosen third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft and initially didn't make his varsity basketball team in high school, Michael Jordan would go on to have arguably the greatest basketball career of all time. Six NBA championships. Five NBA Most Valuable Player awards. Fourteen NBA All-Star appearances. Jordan was even so influential during his reign, that he's credited with starting the baggy shorts fad when he required bigger shorts so he could continue wearing his University of North Carolina shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls gear during every game.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan's NBA debut on Oct. 26, here is a roundup of a few facts you didn't know about the eternal King of Chicago.

These are 11 things that will make your head spin about MJ.

1. "The Flu Game" might have been caused by someone poisoning Michael Jordan's pizza.

In the famous "Flu Game" in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, despite almost passing out in Scottie Pippen's arms, Michael Jordan scored 38 points and led the Bulls to victory. The game is certainly one of Jordan's most memorable performances, but the flu might not have been to blame for Jordan's sickness.

Tim Grover, Michael Jordan's former personal trainer, recounted what happened the night before:

Yes, 100 percent poisoned for ('The Flu Game'). Everyone called it a 'Flu Game,' but we sat there and we were in the room, we were in Park City, Utah, up in a hotel. Room service stopped at like nine o'clock. And he got hungry, and we really couldn't find any other place to eat so we ordered ... I said, 'Hey, the only thing I could find is a pizza place.' He said, 'All right, order pizza.' We had been there for a while, so everybody knows what hotel ... Everybody kind of knew where we were staying. So we order a pizza, they come to deliver it, five guys come to deliver this pizza ... I said, 'I got a bad feeling about this.' ... Out of everybody in the room, he was the only one that ate. Nobody else ... then two o'clock in the morning, I get a call to my room. I come to the room, he's curled up in the fetal position ... Immediately I said, 'It's food poisoning.' Guaranteed. Not the flu.

Coach Phil Jackson has also said that the Bulls guard Ron Harper also claimed it was "bad pizza" to blame.

2. Michael Jordan played a cartoon superhero in a short-lived series with Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson.

"ProStars" lasted for two seasons in the early '90s and featured the three sports stars living together in a gym and saving the world from villains. Michael Jordan was the leader and brainy one of the group, often explaining long scientific reasonings for plans.

Jordan and the other stars would do real-life Q&As alongside the cartoon, but none of the actors provided their actual voices for their characters. A few of the episodes have survived on YouTube.

3. The inspiration for Michael Jordan sticking out his tongue came from watching his father do the same while he worked.

When Michael Jordan's father was fixing things around the house, he'd stick out his tongue. His father actually clarified and said it stretched even farther back in the lineage, "As far as I can remember it originated from my granddad. My granddad stuck his tongue out and if I'm working on my car or something around the house I find myself going [sticks tongue out] really concentrating."

In 1989, the Chicago Tribune did an in-depth report on what Jordan's "tongue-wagging" actually means and decided the move fit in with anthropologist Desmond Morris' categorization of the "Concentration Tongue." Quoting Morris about this classification:

The gesture gradually revealed itself, not so much as a pure 'concentration' gesture, but as a 'please leave me in peace' gesture ... Once the action was understood as a social rejection gesture, it began to fit in with the infantile breast rejection movement.

Well that's one theory!

4. Michael Jordan donated his first year salary with the Washington Wizards to the recovery effort and victims' families of 9/11.

For his first year out of retirement with the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan was paid $1 million, a sum he gave away entirely. With the tragic events of 9/11 happening just a short time before the NBA season was set to start, Jordan decided to help the recovery effort. "It's my way of giving back and hopefully aiding those in need during a terrible time," he said.

Jordan went on to lead the Washington Wizards in points, assists and steals that season.

5. Michael Jordan's jersey was once stolen in Orlando, forcing him to wear the number 12 with no last name.

On Valentine's Day, 1990, a still unknown thief stole Michael Jordan's jersey right out of the locker room just a bit over an hour before tip-off. Unable to recover the jersey and unsure what to do, the Chicago Bulls had Jordan try on a fan's replica jersey, but unfortunately the fit was too small. The equipment manager then came up with an extra jersey kept for emergencies that simply had the number 12. It would have to do.

"That has never happened to me before. It's pretty irritating because you're accustomed to certain things and you don't like to have things misplaced," Jordan said to the Orlando Sentinel. He ended up scoring 49 points, although the Orlando Magic won this game in overtime.

6. Growing up, Michael Jordan's nickname was "Magic Jordan" -- named after Magic Johnson.

Talking to Playboy in 1992, Michael Jordan revealed that Magic Johnson was an idol of his despite having career strife when he first came into the league:

I liked him when I was in high school. They used to call me Magic Jordan. My first car had a license plate with Magic Jordan on it. It was a 1976 Grand Prix ... There was a little bit of envy because of the way I came into the league. Magic came in with even more flair and even more success. And he should have been even bigger than I was in terms of endorsements and business opportunities. But he wasn't marketed that way. And I was fortunate to have good people. So there was some envy ... During my third year, he invited me out to play in his summer charity game. We ironed out our differences in private in the locker room and we began a relationship.

7. Starting in November 1990, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls never lost three games in a row.

Michael Jordan went eight years without a three game losing streak. Although this math has been called into question, Ben Blatt of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective figured out the insane odds for accomplishing this feat and determined it was ".2114 percent, or about one out of 500." A more updated math led to Blatt determining the number might be closer to one out of 140, which is still ridiculously improbable.

This span included 500 regular season games and 126 playoff games for a total of 626.

8. Michael Jordan's best friend is the limo driver who picked him up when he arrived for the first time in Chicago.

First landing at the Chicago O'Hare airport in 1984, the Chicago Bulls had neglected to send anybody to pick up Michael Jordan. A limo driver named George Koehler took pity on him and offered to help. Koehler was a young man as well and the two hit it off, despite an initial confusion. Koehler recounted, "I was excited because I knew who he was and I thought, 'Holy smokes, it's Larry Jordan.' I played four years in high school with a guy named Larry Jordan so that name was stuck in my memory bank ... When I saw Michael, I said, 'Larry Jordan.'" Larry was Michael's brother and so they bonded over Koehler attending the same school as his sibling.

Koehler only charged Jordan 25 dollars and offered him to show him around the city to help him find a beer. A couple of weeks later, Jordan called him to hang out. Koehler explained the development of their friendship:

And 25 years later I don't drive the limo for him, but we're still really close friends. I've met just about everyone under the sun through Michael. If you picked up a book about Michael's life, it would be my life, just Michael's name on the cover. I don't know if you believe in fate, but I obviously do. My whole life could've been different if my customer had showed up that day. Michael likes to tell the story and say, "George was the first person I ever met in Chicago. He gave me a ride and has taken me for a ride ever since."

Image: Mickey Duzyj

9. The Miami Heat also retired his number 23 jersey out of respect.

The first jersey that the Miami Heat ever retired was Michael Jordan's 23. The ceremony took place on April 11, 2003, before a game between the Washington Wizards and the Heat.

"No one will ever wear number 23 for the Miami Heat. You're the best," Heat President Pat Riley said to Jordan. Riley had coached against Jordan many times when he still played with the Chicago Bulls.

The Wizards won this game.

10. There's a legend that a UNC Geography professor told his students the average starting salary for their major was $250,000, but then admitted that's only because of Michael Jordan.

The story is now often used as a peril for always trusting the "mean average" in statistics. Michael Jordan's salary for his first year on the Chicago Bulls for the 1984-1985 season was $550,000. Presumably, Jordan's graduating class would have had to be very small for this salary to skew the average so much, but perhaps this is just a legend anyway.

The Huffington Post reached out to the current chair of the University of North Carolina's Geography department, but did not hear back.

11. Michael Jordan's favorite dunk ever was on Patrick Ewing.

In a promotional video for the NBA 2k14 video game, Michael Jordan revealed that his most memorable dunk of all time was against his longtime friend Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks. The dunk happened in Game 3 of the 1991 NBA playoffs and happened in Ewing's home court of Madison Square Garden. Michael Jordan explained:

My most memorable dunk that I think about very, very often is the Patrick Ewing dunk. That’s only because Patrick and I are such great friends. [Charles] Oakley was a part of that whole process because he thought he could defend. We got into a screen-and-roll and I spun back and Patrick, I told him Georgetown guys don’t block shots they just take charges. And I dunked it so hard on him it was unbelievable.

Jordan claimed he won't let Ewing forget the moment and said, "Every time I see him that's the first thing I remind him of."

BONUS: This is the photo shoot that the Air Jordan logo comes from.

Michael Jordan initially wanted his brand to be Adidas, but as the company was going through succession problems, they wouldn't make Jordan an offer. Nike swooped in and sealed one of the most lucrative deals of all time. The NBA tried to ban the shoes, but Nike paid the $5,000 fine for each game.

For the logo, design team leader Peter Moore found a Life Magazine photo of Jordan during the Olympics and recaptured the star pulling off a similar move wearing his Bulls colors.

All images Getty unless otherwise noted.

On Hillary Clinton's Birthday, Here Are 7 Awesome Things She Said This Year

Sun, 2014-10-26 09:27
It's been an eventful year for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With the release of her memoir about being secretary of state, Hard Choices, came dozens of interviews and speeches about her experiences as a woman in the public eye. She's deflected probably a thousand questions about her plans to run in 2016 (fingers crossed, right?). And, of course, she became a grandmother to Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky on September 26.

In honor of her 67th birthday, here are seven of our favorite Hillary Clinton quotes this year:

1. On how done she is with people dissecting her appearance:

2. On how to handle criticism while in the public eye:

3. On the advice she'll offer her granddaughter someday:

4. On her hopes for female leadership in the U.S. at the highest level:

5. On the importance of recognizing capability in all women:

6. On the problems with our justice system in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death:

7. On responding to explicitly sexist comments:

Happy Birthday, Hillz! And bring on more wisdom in 2015.

The World Of Vodou: Exhibit Brings To Life A Highly-Misunderstood Religion

Sun, 2014-10-26 07:32
The real world of Haitian Vodou is hardly like what Hollywood would have us believe.

For one, many depictions of the religion focus on New Orleans-based Voodoo, a related but separate set of traditions. To help understand this tradition, Chicago's Field Museum is taking a deep dive into the world of Vodou in a new exhibit running October 24, 2014 - April 26, 2015.

"Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti" includes over 300 Vodou objects, including altars, mixed-media sculptures, drums, sequined flags and large-scale representations of spirits called lwa (pronounced luh-WAH). The exhibition explores the ways in which Haiti's history of slavery, oppression and resistance helped shape Vodou traditions and the religious role of ancestor spirits in helping practitioners keep their history alive.


Alaka Wali, The Field Museum’s Curator of North American Anthropology and Applied Cultural Research Director, said in a statement send to The Huffington Post:

"The exhibition demonstrates the power of human creativity. It goes beyond the usual stereotypes to bring us into a wonderful and deep world of spiritual beliefs and ritual practices created and maintained by the Haitians during times of hardship and suffering brought on by enslavement and its consequences. We hear directly about what Vodou means from the practitioners, in their own voice."

Take a look at this list of Vodou myths compiled by the exhibit's curators:

Myth: Vodou originated in New Orleans.

On trips to New Orleans, many Americans have encountered a set of secularized traditions known as Voodoo. New Orleans Voodoo is related to but separate from Haitian Vodou.

In Haiti, Vodou is an active, living religion practiced by millions of people, and a source of national identity and pride. The Haitian Creole word Vodou comes from Vodun, a word from the Fon language of modern-day Benin, meaning mysterious invisible powers that intervene in human affairs.

Haitian Vodou keeps alive the theology and spiritual practices of West African cultures. Africans first came to Haiti as slaves in the 16th century. Their deeply rooted beliefs combined with those of Indigenous peoples already living in the Caribbean, and also combined with elements of Christianity. Because Vodou helped galvanize slaves to revolt at the end of the 18th century, Vodou is inextricably tied up with Haiti’s history of abolition and its establishment of an independent nation.

Myth: Vodou dolls are used with pins to harm others.

In Haitian Vodou practice, dolls are never stuck with pins. And certainly, causing harm to another person is against Vodou ethics. This misunderstanding could stem from the Vodou practice of hanging dolls to tree branches to send messages to the spirits of deceased loved ones. Dolls are sometimes used as parts of religious statues, but they usually represent specific spirits (lwa) or attributes of spirits. A beautiful example in Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti is a richly ornamented doll figure representing Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love and luxury.

Myth: Vodou Priests and Priestesses can bring the dead back to life as zombies.

Vodou priests and priestesses have no interest in bringing the dead back to life. Indeed, a basic tenet of Vodou metaphysics is that people remain connected to our world after death, and that death is a part of life. However, the concept of the zombie in Haitian Vodou is complex, and should be interpreted from both spiritual and material perspectives. For those people who believe in zombification, it’s considered a terrible social punishment.

The zombie of Haitian Vodou is completely different from stories created in Hollywood and American pop culture. In Haiti, the term zonbi refers to a person who has lost his or her soul. This soul-less state has a particular horror because it harkens back to the condition of slavery in colonial Haiti. Materially speaking, several ethnobotanists and authors have claimed to have discovered naturally occurring chemicals or formulas that can induce catatonia, and could be used in zombification rites. Zombification rituals are very rare, however, and take place in rural Haitian communities.

It should be noted that Vodouists are very open to being possessed by spirits (lwa), and possession is considered a common and often helpful occurrence in ceremonies. However, being possessed by a spirit and being incapacitated as a zombie are completely different ideas in Vodou. There are hundreds of lwa in Vodou, and being possessed by a spirit can help heal, balance, and guide the believer.

Myth: Vodou is irrational and is full of devil worship.

Regrettably, in common English usage, the word “voodoo” has also come to mean illogical or silly superstitions. On the other hand, derogatory misconceptions about Vodou also often originate in fear of its power to potentially upend authority.

When slaves revolted in Haiti at the end of the 18th century, fear of Vodou-inspired revolts spread to the United States, where slavery was still legal at the time. In the 19th and 20th centuries Haitian Vodou practice was often forced underground, further fueling misconceptions about unfamiliar symbolism and rites. And ever since the silent film era, American movies have had fun telling lurid but completely fictitious stories about devil worship, human sacrifice, and dolls with pins.

Devils and demons are never worshiped in Vodou. However, outsiders may become confused because Vodouists are so comfortable with death, and because they maintain relationships with deceased loved ones in the spirit realm. Many Vodouists are also comfortable around human bones, which can lead to misconceptions about the bones’ uses. Vodou practice has elements of magic (maji), which allows Vodou spirits to be of service to humans. Because Vodou is a monotheistic religion, maji and Vodou spirits ultimately enable believers to keep in touch with the supreme God of all creation.

Here is a sampling of the pieces included in "Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti":

America's Last Coal-Fired Ship Finally Stops Dumping Coal Ash Into Lake Michigan

Sat, 2014-10-25 09:30
The 2014 season for Lake Michigan's only coal-powered passenger and car ferry comes to a close Sunday, signaling the end of the controversial practice of dumping coal ash into the Great Lake. When the vessel resumes operations in 2015, it will no longer release the waste material into those waters.

The SS Badger, the last coal-fired steamship still operating in the United States, began service in 1953. From May to October, it ferries riders between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Until recently, it also dumped about 500 tons of coal ash per season into Lake Michigan. To put that into perspective, all other Great Lakes freighters combined discharge just 89 tons of coal, limestone and iron waste annually.

But as part of a 2013 Environmental Protection Agency consent decree, the ship reduced its ash output last year and, beginning in the 2015 season, will keep its ash out of the lake. A spokeswoman for Lake Michigan Carferry, which operates the Badger, told The Huffington Post that an ash retention system will be installed over the winter, and that the boat's next season will proceed as usual.

Lake Michigan Carferry last winter dropped $1.5 million to install a combustion control system on the ship. The pricey upgrade allows ash to be stored on board by reducing both the amount and temperature of the ash produced, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In an agreement with the EPA last year, Lake Michigan Carferry consented to reducing its coal consumption and cutting ash discharges by 15 percent this year. Prior to the agreement, however, the company lobbied to avoid EPA regulation entirely and pushed to get the ship designated as a National Historic Landmark, according to the Chicago Tribune. Shortly before the Badger's last permit expired in 2012, several congressmen attempted to pass legislation giving it a lifetime permit.

Many locals see the Badger as a historic treasure and a vital piece of the local economy. (The ship provides 200 jobs and brings a combined $35 million to the two port cities it connects.) Some were altogether opposed to new regulations for the ship; others favored compelling the Badger to stop dumping ash, as long as the EPA allowed Lake Michigan Carferry time to comply.

But detractors have long been concerned about the potential harm of coal ash, which contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

“The SS Badger, the filthiest ship on the Great Lakes, has been given two more years to dump hundreds of tons of dangerous coal ash into Lake Michigan," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in a statement when the EPA consent decree was lodged in 2013. "The millions of people who live, work and play in and around this beautiful lake should be outraged that this filthy ship will continue to operate."

As part of the EPA agreement, Lake Michigan Carferry was ordered to pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury standards. According to the Tribune, 2012 testing showed mercury concentrations in the Badger's coal ash reached 200 parts per trillion, while the federal standard is just 1.3 parts per trillion.