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Seven Illinois Inventions You Don't Want to Live Without

Fri, 2014-07-25 12:42
Illinois might not have the best business climate these days, but in the past, the state was a breeding ground for groundbreaking inventions and innovation.

These inventions from the Land of Lincoln arguably changed the world, obviously some more than others. In fact, Abe himself is the only U.S. president to be issued a patent for a device he conceived in 1849 that helped buoy vessels over shallow water, though it was never manufactured -- probably because he had more important things going on.

While there are plenty more, here are seven notable Illinois inventions, their inventors and some interesting facts you might not have known.

1. The Cell Phone -- Schaumburg
  • Invented by Martin Cooper in 1973 while working as the head of Motorola's communication's systems division.

  • The original handset, DynaTAC 8000x, was nicknamed "the brick" or "the shoe" because it weighed 2.5 pounds and was 10 inches long.

  • DynaTAC's battery, which weighed about five times more than today's modern cell phone, was good for only 20 minutes of talk time before requiring a 10-hour recharge.

  • Cooper got his inspiration from Star Trek and the communicator used by Captain James T. Kirk.

2. The Mechanical Dishwasher -- Shelbyville
  • Josephine Cochrane is credited with developing the first mechanical dishwasher in 1885.

  • Cochrane was a wealthy Illinois socialite who hosted many dinner parties. It was after one of these soirees when Cochrane realized one of her servants chipped a piece of her best china - allegedly dating back to the 1600s. After assuming washing and drying duties, she loathed the time consuming task so much it drove her to develop a more efficient method of dishwashing.

3. The Zipper -- Chicago
  • Whitcomb L. Judson was a mechanical engineer and creator of the zipper. He held as many as 30 patents, nearly half of them for street railway innovations before developing a metal zipper with locking teeth in 1890. The invention was referred to as a "clasp-locker" at the time, which consisted of a complicated hook-and-eye fastener mechanism that was not without its technical problems.

  • Judson patented the clasp-locker in August 1893 and showed off the invention later that year during Chicago's World Fair where he was unsuccessful in his marketing efforts. Judson died in 1909 before the zipper was improved by Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sunbach, in 1923.

4. The Pinball Machine -- Chicago
  • Pinball enthusiasts can thank Steve Kordeck for his innovations to the pinball machine in 1948, which made them less expensive to produce and gave players more control. Kordeck revolutionized pinball by inventing the two flippers that were controlled by buttons on both sides of the machine.

  • Kordeck's game, Triple Action, was an instant hint when it was introduced at a trade show in Chicago.

  • In February 2012, Kordeck passed away at the age of 100.

5. Barbed Wire -- Dekalb
  • Joseph Glidden was granted a patent for his improved version of barbed wire fencing in November 1874. The barbs, made from coffee mill, were held in place by one wire twisted around the other.

  • Barbed wire drastically improved the work life of farmers and ranchers, but its effectiveness has made it a go-to option for security fencing worldwide.

  • Litigation ensued over who was the true inventor of barbed wire, which Glidden eventually won and then founded the Barbed Fence Company in Dekalb. By the time of his death in 1906, he was one of the richest men in America.

6. Cast Steel Plow -- Decatur
  • Perhaps one of the most well known inventors from Illinois, John Deere created the first cast steel plow in 1837. While Deere created the new and improved plow in Decatur, he later moved business operations to Moline, which was a major transportation hub along the Mississippi River.

  • The cast steel plow was made of wrought iron with a polished cast steel share, making it possible to cut through the sticky clay nature of prairie soil without clogging up the equipment.

  • By 1855, Deere had manufactured and sold more than 10,000 plows. And in 1868, he officially incorporated his business as Deere & Company.

7. Dentistry -- Jacksonville
  • Known as the "father of modern dentistry," Dr. Greene Vardiman Black relocated to Jacksonville after the Civil War and began his career in the largely unknown medical field of dentistry.

  • Dr. Black was the first to use nitrous oxide while extracting teeth, invented the first cord-driven dental engine operated by a foot motor and perfected the use of amalgam for fillings.

Check out eight other inventions (including sports, cleaning tools and medicine) conceived here in Illinois at Reboot Illinois.

Next article: Find out which hospitals are the best in Illinois
Illinois unemployment rate continues downward trend, but do statistics tell a different story?
Top 10 things to know about Bruce Rauner's fiscal plan
Report shows raising Illinois minimum wage might actually speed up job creation
Cartoon: Democratic math on minimum wage
Like editorial cartoons? We've got many cartoon galleries grouped by topic in our gallery section. See them all here.

Illinois home foreclosures among the highest in the nation

Fri, 2014-07-25 12:12
Homes in Illinois were foreclosed on at double the national rate in June, a study from RealtyTrac found. The country's foreclosures were down in June from May (and are the lowest they've been in nearly a year), but in Illinois, the rate went up and was the third-highest in the country, with one in every 645 houses foreclosed on in June.

Maryland and Florida were the only states with higher foreclosure rates than Illinois in June 2014. Nebraska had the lowest in the country.

Within Illinois, Will County had the most foreclosures in June, with one in every 259 houses facing foreclosure. Kendall, Lake, Kane and McHenry Counties also saw high foreclosure rates that month.
Cook County saw more foreclosures than the statewide average, with one in every 527, but the city of Chicago had a better rate, with one in every 681.

There may be better news for other counties in Illinois, especially ones that have a high percentage of residents with college degrees, which may bring up the median income for the area. DuPage County has the most college graduates of any county in the state, and also the number three median income. Everyone county in the top five in terms of highest median income is also in the top 10 for most college graduates. See where your county ranks at Reboot Illinois.

WATCH: He Was Shot 3 Times And He Killed Someone At 19. Who He Is Today Will Amaze You

Fri, 2014-07-25 11:25
Is it possible to forgive a murderer? What if that murderer is you? This former drug dealer and convicted murderer was in solitary confinement when he had the awakening that would change his life forever.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at
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The 33 Best Burgers in the Country

Fri, 2014-07-25 11:11
It's been about a year since our first 33 Best Burgers in the country piece came out. And in that year, many things have happened: Our photography has gotten bigger and SO MUCH better, our reach has expanded into more cities, and I've eaten a little more than infinity more burgers. I've also come to a more definitive definition of my favorite type: simple. Many of the burgers on this list (we have seven holdovers we couldn't possibly change, and 26 new entries) embody a commitment to almost austere excellence, sacrificing the show-tricks of crazy meats or toppings in favor of nailing the genuine article.

Now, of course, there are exceptions to this rule. And of course many of you will tender suggestions for things I've missed, or tell me that I have no palate, or just get into lively comment arguments because this is the Internet, and that is what happens. And we welcome it all. But before you do, maybe take a moment to celebrate and ogle our 2014 picks for the best burgers in the country. Now be a friend, and pass me the ketchup:

4505 Burgers & BBQ
San Francisco, CA
WHAT YOU'RE GETTING: Classic cheeseburger
When Ryan Farr took over Da' Pitt space on Divis, and I didn't have to go to the farmers' market to get his burgers, I figured they'd drop off. Or at least I wouldn't hold them in such high regard, because they'd lost a little bit of that elusiveness, and maybe that was what was keeping me in love with them. I was wrong. 4505 stays on the list this year, thanks to that classic made with Magruder Ranch beef on that perfect, not-too-thick sesame-scallion bun. The combination of the Gruyere, dry-aged beef, red onion, and special sauce may no longer be elusive, but it's still damn hard to top.

More: These are the 33 best BBQ joints in America

Credit: Kari Skaflen/Hogsalt

Au Cheval
Chicago, IL
WHAT YOU'RE GETTING: Single cheeseburger with an egg
In a city that enjoys heavy calories and arguing as much as Chicago does, it's nothing short of incredible that Au Cheval has steadily held the "best burger" consensus pretty much since opening in 2012. By now most locals know the drill: A single is actually a double, meaning your two impossibly beefy griddled patties will be enveloped in a creamy combo of cheese and Dijonnaise with just a briny hint of thinly sliced pickles. And you're getting it with an egg, because you know what is good.

Brindle Room
New York, NY
WHAT YOU'RE GETTING: The Steakhouse Burger
We wanted to make some other moves in the city. We wanted to add in some more new NY spots with promising burgers, and we were damn close. But, in the end, we couldn't, because we still believe the world needs to talk more about deckle. And so you can do so knowledgeably, we'll now define deckle, again, for you: It's basically the fat from around the edge of a ribeye cut. And, when worked in with other beef and steak trimmings at the East Village's Brindle Room, it turns a burger into a steakhouse burger, into a good-sized meat present from the meat gods. Have them throw some American and caramelized onions on top while it's getting medium-rare in the cast-iron skillet. Deckle. The name rings out in the streets, friends.

Credit: Chez Fonfon

Chez Fonfon
Birmingham, AL
WHAT YOU'RE GETTING: Hamburger Fonfon
Chez Fonfon may be a classic French bistro, but it plates an All-American caliber burger. James Beard Hall of Famer Frank Stitt grinds boneless chuck in-house to form his 8oz patties that get no seasonings other than a pinch of S&P. The sole frou-frou touch comes from Comte, but the cheese's nutty-sweetness melts into the beef amping the patty's flavor. Topped with grilled red onion, lettuce, tomato, and pickle, it's hard to believe this burger could've started with escargots or foie gras paté.

Credit: Alejandro de los Rios

The Company Burger
New Orleans, LA
WHAT YOU'RE GETTING: The Company Burger
At three-years old, Company Burger continues to dominate the NOLA burger scene with its dedication to old-school diner simplicity combined with the quality ingredients of the fancy-schmancy burger revolution. Adam Biderman, who worked at Atlanta's Holeman & Finch (Spoiler: their burger's also on the list.), grinds brisket and chuck in-house to form his 3.25oz patties, and the basic, namesake burger is one of those glorious items that nets you two patties rather than one. Want lettuce or tomato? You gotta bring your own -- or just let the griddled, tender patties, American cheese, white bun, and bread-and-butter pickles mingle together into a gloriously juicy, meaty bite.

This is just the tip of the burger iceberg -- check out all 33 of the best burger joints in America on!

More from Thrillist:

The 33 Best College Sandwich Shops in America

33 of the Best, Most Iconic American Foods

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We Are Not White

Fri, 2014-07-25 10:48
Politically speaking, the high level of social acceptance and privilege that comes with being Asian-American is ultimately dangerous because it sets up a false notion of who we really are.

For starters, we are not white.

The word "minority" and the entire concept if "modeling" is in itself disempowering and diminishing. Enjoying white privilege does not make us "white" politically, and we need to start embracing the difference.

Sure, in school, many Asian Americans perform better than, or as well as, our white counterparts. Economically, Asian-American's enjoy the highest median household income ($66,000/year) of any other ethnic group. And a high degree of social privilege comes with being seen as the "model minority," the ultimate backhanded compliment because it rewards us for blending into the woodwork, not "causing trouble" and "working hard," as if other people don't work hard, too. By being perceived as "staying in line," institutions and structures accept us, but it means we accept them and agree to play by the rules of a game we can never win.

Here's what I mean: While Asian-Americans are only 5 percent of the population, 16 percent of Ivy League college grads identify as Asian or Asian-American, and 35 percent of students at top schools, like MIT and Stanford, identify as such. Yet, in 2011, Asians headed just nine Fortune 500 companies, less than 2 percent. No sitting cabinet member is Asian-American nor are any Supreme Court justices. Only 1.5 percent of college and university presidents are Asian-Americans, according to a 2012 diversity report from the American Council on Education. We are invited to the table, but we rarely sit at the head of it.

And, I get why the easy path is to just try to fit in. A recent study found that women and people of color are penalized for trying to foster a diverse working environment. The study looked at how women and people of color who valued diversity fared with their bosses; in short, not well. White male executives who were seen as valuing diversity got high ratings for warmth and performance, according to researchers David R. Hekman of the University of Colorado, and Maw Der Foo and Wei Yang of the University of Colorado, Boulder. In contrast, women executives and people of color received negative evaluations when they were seen as promoting or valuing diversity. Study authors suggest people of color and women may be better off, "acting as tokens" and not pushing diversity. In other words, pull up that ladder behind you.

But, we must reject these ideals. There is no use playing by these rules because the game is rigged and we must make a path for those that follow and not be satisfied with, "I've got mine." The first step we can take is asserting that Asian-Americans are not a monolith. Southeast Asians face very different economic and social barriers. Recent Asian immigrants are not assimilating in the same ways as previous generations. U.S. Census data shows the fastest growing Asian-American group is actually Bangladeshi Americans. With these changing demographics, what does it mean to be Asian and how can we ensure our communities' needs are being met?

Seeing Asian-Americans as part of a larger social justice movement breaks down some of these stereotypes and hidden barriers. Suey Park, who created the widely successful #NotYourAsianSidekick hashtag has been effective at identifying with feminism and creating space where feminists of color can share the wider struggle for women's equality. That's just one example but not the only one that counts. What matters is Americans of color may not face the same barriers, but we all face barriers.

My parents are first-generation immigrants from Korea who continually told me America is the place where you can do anything, as long as you work hard, no, twice as hard as the white default for success. It's time to say "no" to backhanded compliments about hard work and being a template for other people of color, and aim for a more realistic version of what it means to be American: A place not only at the table but at the head of it because, it's true -- we are not your Asian sidekick and we will keep the ladder in place for those that follow.

The Beauty of Chicago

Fri, 2014-07-25 09:28
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. The city was always a magical place where my family would go see seasonal decorations, museums, theater productions, sporting events, and of course eat great food. I loved the city of Chicago and throughout my childhood I dreamt of the day when I could be a part of that city. When I finished school and started working in the Loop, the city became less magical to me. I was stuck in an office building from early in the morning to late in the evening. My view was not of the amazing city surrounding me, but of a window into another office building on the 30th floor. It is easy to forget the stunning backdrop we are blessed with, when we do not take the time to look beyond our day to day lives.

I stumbled across this beautiful time-lapse video of the city of Chicago. A freelance photographer named Max Wilson took the shots over a two year period using his Cannon camera/lenses and Emotimo equipment. It refreshed my view and brought me back to the same pride and excitement I had for the city when I was a kid. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and I encourage everyone to take a few minutes out of their lives to again see the incredible surroundings we often take for granted.

Chicago Timelapse Project - Windy City Nights from Max Wilson on Vimeo.

7 Ways That You (Yes, You) Could End Up On A Terrorist Watch List

Fri, 2014-07-25 07:48
Earlier this week, The Intercept published a 166-page document outlining the government's guidelines for placing people on an expansive network of terror watch lists, including the no-fly list. In their report, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux highlighted the extremely vague and loosely defined criteria developed by 19 federal agencies, supposedly to fight terrorism.

Using these criteria, government officials have secretly characterized an unknown number of individuals as threats or potential threats to national security. In 2013 alone, 468,749 watch-list nominations were submitted to the National Counterterrorism Center. It rejected only 1 percent of the recommendations.

Critics say the system is bloated and imprecise, needlessly sweeping up thousands of people while simultaneously failing to catch legitimate threats, like Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

While some individuals are surely placed on these watch lists for valid reasons, the murky language of the guidelines suggests that innocent people can get caught up in this web, too, and be subjected to the same possible restrictions on travel and other forms of monitoring. Here are several ways you could find yourself on a terror watch list, even if you aren't a terrorist:

1. You could raise "reasonable suspicion" that you're involved in terrorism. "Irrefutable evidence or concrete facts" are not required.

This guidance addresses how to place people in the broader Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), of which the no-fly list and the selectee lists -- which cover those selected for enhanced screenings before boarding flights -- are both subsections.

In determining whether a suspicion about you is "reasonable," a "nominator" must "rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts," can link you to possible terrorism. As Scahill and Devereaux noted, words like "reasonable," "articulable" and "rational" are not expressly defined. While the document outlines the need for an "objective factual basis," the next section clarifies that "irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary" to make a final determination as to whether a suspicion is "reasonable." So how could intelligence officials be led to put you on the watch list?

2. You could post something on Facebook or Twitter that raises "reasonable suspicion."

According to the document, "postings on social media sites ... should not be discounted merely because of the manner in which it was received." Instead, those investigating the individual should "evaluate the credibility of the source" and, if they judge the content to pose a "reasonable suspicion" of a link to terrorism, nominate the person to the watch list, even if that source is "uncorroborated." If this sounds disturbing, don't worry: There's a sentence that explicitly prohibits listing an individual "for engaging solely in constitutionally protected activities." So as long as your free speech isn't accompanied by any other "suspicious" behavior, you should be fine, maybe.

3. Or somebody else could just think you're a potential terror threat.

The guidelines also consider the use of "walk-in" or "write-in" information about potential candidates for the watch list. Nominators are encouraged not to dismiss such tips and, after evaluating "the credibility of the source," could opt to nominate you to the watch list.

4. You could be a little terrorist-ish, at least according to someone.

The document explains that you could be put on a suspected-terrorist watch list if you are determined to be a "representative" of a terrorist group, even if you have "neither membership in nor association with the organization." Individuals accused of being involved with a terrorist organization, but who later are acquitted in a court of law or saw their charges dropped, are still potential nominees for watch-listing, so long as "reasonable suspicion" is established.

5. Or you could just know someone terrorist-y, maybe.

Scahill and Devereaux reported that the immediate family of a suspected terrorist -- including spouse, children, parents and siblings -- may be added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), a broad terror database that feeds into the TSDB, "without any suspicion that they themselves are engaged in terrorist activity." According to the document, "associates or affiliates" of known or suspected terrorists, or just those somehow "linked to" them, can also be nominated to the TSDB watchlist, so long as the relationship is defined and constitutes a "reasonable suspicion" of a connection to terrorist activity. The document states that "individuals who merely 'may be' members, associates or affiliates of a terrorist organization" may not be put into the latter database, unless that suspicion can be backed by "derogatory information."

But there's also a more nebulous connection that could prompt your placement in the TIDE database. The document specifically provides for nominating "individuals with a possible nexus to terrorism ... but for whom additional derogatory information is needed to meet the reasonable suspicion standard."

6. And if you're in a "category" of people determined to be a threat, your threat status could be "upgraded" at the snap of a finger.

The watch-list guidelines explain a process by which the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism can move an entire "category of individuals" to an elevated threat status. It's unclear exactly how these categories are defined, but according to the document, there must be "current and credible intelligence information" suggesting that the group is a particular threat to conduct a terrorist act. Such determinations can be implemented and remain in place for up to 72 hours before a committee convenes to decide whether the watch-list upgrade should be extended.

7. Finally, you could just be unlucky.

The process of adding people to the terror watch lists is as imperfect as the intelligence officials tasked with doing so. There have been reports of "false positives," or instances in which an innocent passenger has been subject to treatment under a no-fly or selectee list because his or her name was similar to that of another individual. In one highly publicized incident in 2005, a 4-year-old boy was nearly barred from boarding a plane to visit his grandmother.

The watch-list guidance was supposedly revised in part to prevent incidents like these, but with more than 1.5 million people added to the lists in the last five years, mistakes are always inevitable. Just ask Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford University student who ended up on a no-fly list in 2004 after an FBI agent accidentally checked the wrong box on a form.

But then if you were to be mistakenly added to a list, you probably wouldn't know -- unless it stopped you from flying. The government has been extremely secretive about the names on the various watch lists. If you were to learn that you were wrongly placed on a watch list, good luck getting off it. As Scahill and Devereaux reported, you can file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, which begins a review "that is not subject to oversight by any court or entity outside the counterterrorism community."

And if you were to get your name removed from the watch list, the intelligence agencies aren't even obligated to inform you of your updated status. Helpful.

The secretive nature of the terror watch lists has come under court scrutiny recently. A federal judge ruled in June that the government must develop a new process under which individuals can challenge their inclusion on the no-fly list. The judge found the current process "wholly ineffective."

Gun Violence May Cost America's Most Famous Mayor His Job

Fri, 2014-07-25 07:29
It's been another violent summer in Chicago.

More than 80 people were shot, 16 fatally, over the Fourth of July holiday weekend -- the bloodiest weekend of 2014. In the two weekends that followed, a total of 76 people were shot, eight fatally.

Victims included 11-year-old Shamiya Adams, whose family is raising money for a funeral after the girl was killed by a stray bullet July 18 while making s'mores during a sleepover at a friend's house. Shamiya didn't make it to sixth grade.

Police charged an 18-year-old in Shamiya's slaying, saying he fired aimlessly into a building to avenge a young friend's beating in a fistfight.

As the toll of the bloodshed mounts, there are indications it may spread to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's re-election, according to experts.

Two polls this month show Emanuel's approval far below potential challengers. The headlines practically wrote themselves: "Rahmbo" is in trouble.

News coverage of Emanuel's poll plunge failed to note that the survey showing the worst news for the mayor was conducted following the bloody Fourth of July weekend.

The city's violence, back in the national spotlight two years after some news outlets incorrectly called Chicago America's "murder capital," is a major factor in Emanuel's unpopularity, according to Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor and former city alderman.

Violent crime typically dips during cold weather, coinciding with the mayoral election in February. But Simpson said he doesn't believe voters' attitudes on the problem will change significantly "unless there is some major break -- and I don't see what that would be."

Emanuel's popularity also has been plagued by mass closings of public schools, largely in black and Latino neighborhoods, and "the general problem of the perceived arrogance and unwillingness to have citizens involved in making decisions about the city," Simpson said.

Still, Emanuel faces no announced challengers, and none of the likely contenders can rival the former White House chief of staff's experience and fundraising prowess.

"The polls show Rahm is not invincible," Simpson said. He noted that both Mayor Richard Daleys presided over the city for decades, taking on airs of invincibility, even though Chicago was plagued by even worse violence.

"But the old saying is, you can't beat somebody with nobody," Simpson added.

One potential challenger who topped Emanuel in the recent Chicago Sun-Times poll was Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. Lewis rescheduled her annual Hawaii vacation from December to July this year, saying she's "seriously considering" challenging Emanuel.

The mayor's office called the Sun-Times poll "laughable" when it came out. Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator Jackson Potter said that reaction demonstrates "a general lack of respect for the will of the people in this administration."

Potter said he "absolutely" believes violent crime will be a re-election liability for Emanuel.

"The buck stops with him because he's the mayor," Potter said. "He's done a poor job and not reduced violence in a way that will make our neighborhoods safer in any credible fashion. We've had leadership by press release instead of substantive ideas that address the heartbreaking violence that permeates the streets in the city."

Emanuel's office and the Chicago Police Department have repeatedly noted that homicides this year are the least since 1963. On Monday, Emanuel hosted a closed-door summit on Chicago violence with community leaders and law enforcement officers. He also announced $10 million in new federal funding for two youth initiatives, including a dropout and violence-prevention program.

Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins acknowledged in a statement to HuffPost that "there’s still too much gun violence and much more work remains for everyone involved," though the city has made progress.

"Mayor Emanuel has said there will be a time for politics, but what’s important today is continuing to make progress so every child has the opportunity for a bright future and everyone in every neighborhood can enjoy the same sense of safety," Collins said in the statement. He added that the city has partnered with ministers and local leaders to provide opportunities for young people in crime-ridden areas.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said lax gun laws make crime-fighting "an uphill battle."

“We will keep building on our strategy, putting more officers on the street, and proactively intervening in gang conflicts, and we are supported by the mayor's investments in prevention programs for at-risk youth," McCarthy said in a statement.

While the number of homicides and violent crime overall have dropped this year from 2013, the number of shootings has increased.

Some neighborhoods haven't seen the decline. Yale University sociologist Andrew Papachristos told NPR violent crime worsened in some neighborhoods from 2011 to 2013.

The Rev. Corey Brooks, pastor at New Beginnings Church in the Woodlawn neighborhood, said communities like his haven't noticed the progress the Emanuel administration touts.

"It's always gunfire, always trauma, always situations that call for emergencies," Brooks said. "It's something we live under every single day on the south or west side of Chicago."

Brooks agreed that city violence needs to be a "front and center" discussion as Emanuel seeks re-election. He said the mayor's office has been reluctant to embrace ideas from the community and wants investment in community centers to teach conflict resolution and in interracial think-tank forums.

"I think if it's not birthed in the mayor's office or City Hall, they don't take it into consideration," Brooks told HuffPost. "What has to happen is for them to go outside of their office and consider other possibilities and solutions before anything else can be done.

"If not, we're going to continue to see what we see every day: More violence."

Are Workplace Bullies Rewarded for Their Behavior?

Fri, 2014-07-25 05:18
As a longtime hotel manager for upscale resorts across the U.S., Sandrine had spent her career believing that good service was the key to success. That included being courteous to your guests--and to your co-workers. Which is why the company's latest "star" employee, Russ, confounded her. He'd been hired as a bellman at the Northeast beach resort she was currently assigned to and in less than a year had worked his way up to associate manager, earning a promotion (and, she knew, a healthy raise) above her. She'd been with the company for nearly 10 years.

She could understand if he was an exceptionally hard worker, or a talented manager. But, she told me, Russ was verbally abusive to his staff, using fear and intimidation to get them to do what he wanted them to do, and to do it better and more quickly than any other department. He denied vacation requests and spread rumors about staffers who got on his bad side. Once, she'd witnessed him make fun of a hostess, in front of a dozen other employees, for a blemish she'd tried, not very successfully, to cover.

But when the hotel executives came to town, Russ played Mr. Popular amazingly well. "He was charming and believably personable, even if 20 minutes earlier he had been berating the chef," she told me, frustrated by her own inability to climb the ranks as well as Russ had. The higher-ups regarded Russ's department as one of the most efficiently run--and it was, given his reports were scared to get on his bad side--and he was happy to accept all the credit for it. As far as the bosses could tell, people seemed to like him. "I always operated by the idea that he'd get what he deserved--people like that always do, don't they?--but all he seemed to get was rewarded," Sandrine said.

Workplace bullying is on the rise: A 2010 survey of more than 4,000 American workers released by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 35 percent of employees had been bullied in the workplace -- defined as having experienced verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority, intimidation and humiliation, and deliberate destroying of relationships. Such behavior was both repeated and harmful to health. As a result of this study and others, many workplaces have launched anti-bullying initiatives, and many states are lobbying for anti-bullying legislation (although bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job, it is not yet illegal).

And yet a study out of the State University of New York, Buffalo, and published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology found that workplace bullies are often rewarded. Despite organizational efforts to curtail bullying, the researchers found, many bullies receive positive evaluations from their supervisors and achieve high levels of career success. And they do so much in the way Sandrine reported Russ had: by charming supervisors and manipulating others to help them get ahead. The study found that because many bullies can possess high levels of social ability and political savvy, they're able to strategically abuse co-workers and yet be evaluated positively by their supervisors. Bullies, it would seem, are among the most well liked and hated people at work.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 50 percent of workers don't report bullying they see or experience. Instead, many workers practice conflict avoidance, reasoning that an angered bully is a more dangerous bully and that staying out-of-the-way is the best way to personal survival. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, workplace bullying can be contagious. Bullying behavior (especially if such behavior seems to be rewarded) can encourage non-bullies, or victims, to take up abusive behavior themselves. In this way, the act of bullying by one individual can impact an entire company by fostering behavior that trickles down the entire organizational ladder.

Eventually, Sandrine asked for a transfer to a different hotel. A year later, Russ was promoted to regional manager, and Sandrine was one of his reports. "I should have taken action when I had the chance, and encouraged others to do the same," she told me. "In one sense, I figured he'd devise his own end. I thought there was no way his behavior could be rewarded. I was wrong."

Reading the Pictures: <i>On the Brilliant Michelle Obama Brown vs Board of Education Site Visit Photo</i>

Fri, 2014-07-25 04:49

If you aren't completely transfixed by photos from Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq or the border right now, you might have come across this. Simply put, it's the best visual to come out of the administration in months, maybe longer. (Full backstory on the photo and the visit to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site here.) One thing this image highlights by contrast is how visually tired this White House has grown. (That's as compared to the Vatican, say, which is brimming with creative energy and a savvy for capturing the moment.)

Our takes:

• What's brilliant about the photo is how it plays the "post-racial" ideal against the reality of continuing racism and discrimination. On the one hand, the first black First Lady transcends the "colored" label the same way we, as a culture, identify segregation and this specific set of terms as well behind us. On the other hand, Michelle Obama has been the object of racial slurs, especially visually ones, from the first campaign onward. (You can Google it.) On that level, what the photo communicates, in no uncertain terms, is that this label is continuously hung over her head.

• An extension of the last point, Michelle Obama has come a long way in her ability to establish her identity on her own terms. You recall the firestorm this caused because the Obamas weren't known well enough to make it obvious parody? The parallels to the photo above, are also interesting. Just add "militant."

• From a purely personal standpoint, it's impressive how much power and presence Obama brings to the photo. The fact she's so much taller than the education director at the center; that she's dressed in all black; that she remains so receptive, listening that attentively as she also stands with her arms crossed, all conveys a deep assurance and personal authority. It requires that kind of presence to counterweigh those signs.

• Certainly, this picture has plenty of power on its own. As a historical statement and a personal portrait, however, this photo makes a perfect bookend to the First Lady's very clever official portrait. Remember?

----------BagNewsNotes: Today's media images analyzed. Topping's Best Photo Blogs, follow us at BAG Twitter, BAG Facebook and BAG via email.

(photo: Chuck Kennedy/White House. caption: Michelle Obama tours the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, May 16, 2014.)

Fast Food Workers Prepared To Do 'Whatever It Takes' For $15 An Hour

Fri, 2014-07-25 00:11

CHICAGO (AP) — Fast food workers say they're prepared to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation, starting with a national convention in suburban Chicago where more than 1,000 workers are expected to discuss the future of the effort that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years.

About 1,300 workers will attend sessions Friday and Saturday at an expo center in Villa Park, Illinois, where they'll be asked to do "whatever it takes" to win $15-an-hour wages and a union, said Kendall Fells, organizing director of the national effort and a representative of the Service Employees International Union.

The union has been providing financial and organizational support to the fast-food protests that began in late 2012 in New York City and have included daylong strikes and a protest outside this year's McDonald's Corp. shareholder meeting that resulted in more than 130 arrests.

"We want to talk about building leadership, power and doing whatever it takes depending on what city they're in and what the moment calls for," said Fells, adding that the ramped-up actions will be "more high profile" and could include everything from civil disobedience to intensified efforts to organize workers.

"I personally think we need to get more workers involved and shut these businesses down until they listen to us," perhaps even by occupying the restaurants, said Cherri Delisline, a 27-year-old single mother from Charleston, South Carolina, who has worked at McDonald's for 10 years and makes $7.35 an hour.

Delisline said she and her four girls live with her mother, but the family still has difficulty paying utilities and the mortgage while providing for her children. She said she has not been to a doctor in two years and does not get paid if she stays home sick.

"To have a livable wage, it's going to need to be $15 an hour," said Delisline. "We make the owners enough money that they have houses and cars and their kids are taken care of. Why don't (they) make sure I can be able to do the same for my kids and my family?" she said.

The campaign comes as President Barack Obama and many other Democrats across the country have attempted to make a campaign issue out of their call to increase the federal and state minimum wages.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour translates to about $15,000 a year for someone working 40 hours a week, though many fast-food workers get far fewer hours. Obama and others have called for increasing it to $10.10.

Fast food workers say even that's not enough because most people working in the industry now are adults with children, rather than teenagers earning pocket money. The restaurant industry has argued that a $15 hourly wage could lead to business closings and job cuts.

A McDonald's spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment.

But the National Restaurant Association said Thursday that increasing wages to $15 will not solve income inequality and that the campaign was an attempt by unions to boost dwindling membership.

"Instead of demonizing an industry that opens doors for workers of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, the focus should be on finding better solutions to lift individuals out of poverty," including policies that increase education and job training, said Scott DeFife, the association's executive vice president of policy and government affairs.

Turnout for the protests has varied, but they've struck a chord at a time when the gap between the country's rich and poor has widened. Executive pay packages also are coming under greater scrutiny, including that of McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, who was given a pay package worth $9.5 million last year. Nevertheless, shareholders this year overwhelmingly voted in favor of McDonald's executive compensation practices.

Nancy Salgado of Chicago said she and her two children share a bedroom after being forced to move into an apartment with two other adults after her hours at McDonald's were cut from 40 a week to about 24.

"I don't think $15 will make me rich. ... I just want an apartment for my family and be able to have my kids in their own room, to not have to wait for the washing machine or the bathtub, and I don't want to be behind on bills if I take time off or get sick," said Salgado, who earns minimum wage after 12 years with the company.

"If we've got to stop working and shut down (restaurants) to get it, that's what we're going to do," she said.

Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Used Doctored News Headlines In TV Ad

Thu, 2014-07-24 17:20
Bruce Rauner (R), an Illinois businessman and gubernatorial candidate, is being called out for running a television ad with some altered news headlines about incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn (D), according to the Chicago Tribune.

In the ad, called "Headlines," the Rauner campaign shortened and even changed headlines that it attributed to various news organizations. One headline originally read "Quinn, Rauner spar on education in 1st 2014 event," and was altered in Rauner's ad to read “Quinn education cuts lead to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.”

Another headline said "Quinn doubles down on tax hike gamble" and was used in Rauner's ad with the word "gamble" dropped.

The Chicago Tribune says three other headlines were altered in the ad as well.

Quinn said on Thursday that the ad, which first appeared the day before, highlights what he views as Rauner's "pattern of dishonesty."

Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in an email to The Associated Press that "the TV ad does not say everything that appears on screen was a headline."

"Due to time and space constraints, some of the phrases had to be condensed," he added.

Quinn is seen as vulnerable in his re-election bid. His anti-violence initiative is facing a federal probe due to allegations of mismanagement.

These 2 Minutes Will Change How You Think About Consent

Thu, 2014-07-24 17:10
Consent should be an easy thing to define.

But this video from Campus Clarity illustrates the concept in a way that really resonates -- just by using a cell phone.

In the video, a woman attempts to borrow a phone from an array of people using different speech tactics; her inquiries range from curious to forceful to sneaky.

The questions she's asking may seem innocuous if taken at face value, but when considered in the context of sexual consent, they take on an especially powerful meaning.

This video makes us all step back and think about the fact that unless you get an enthusiastic "yes," the answer is "no."

[h/t TalkAboutItUSF]

Live & Dangerous: Lollapalooza 2014

Thu, 2014-07-24 16:23
One of the country's biggest and most revered music festivals, Lollapalooza, kicks off next week on August 1st in Chicago, Illinois. The 3-day festival will fill Grant Park with over 160,000 music fans for its 10th anniversary this year -- all spread out over 8 different stages. Lollapalooza, which is known for including a wonderfully diverse range of music every summer, will have about 130 acts on the bill this year. And in addition to always hosting some of the biggest artists out there (this year's headliners include Eminem and Outkast), the festival is famous as a launching pad for the careers of some of today's most popular acts. Here are 3 emerging acts from a variety of genres that we think will stand out at Lolla this year.

WHO: Blood Orange
WHEN: Friday August 1st @ 4:45pm -Grove Stage
WHY: Dev Hynes, who currently performs under the stage name Blood Orange, is an impressive 25 year old singer/songwriter from London who already has 4 albums under his belt (under several different monikers), and has written music for a number of Grammy winning artists. His sound can be loosely described as a sort of complex "chillwave R&B" -- a style which translates incredibly well live. His stage presence is second to none, and his sold out shows are full of funky dances, sax solos, and guitar shredding. Dev is reportedly working on a new album right now, so fans can hope to hear some new music drop at Lolla this year.

WHO: Jhene Aiko
WHEN: Sunday August 3rd @ 12:45pm -- Samsung Galaxy Stage
WHY: Def Jam newcomer Jhene Aiko has been making soulful, soothing music since she was a young teen. Now 26, the budding songstress has already generated a ton of hype through collaborations with big names like Lil Wayne and Big Sean, and is set to tour with respected artists The Weeknd and Schoolboy Q this fall. Although Jhene's sultry, deep sound can certainly hold its own on the stage, her live performances are always full of exciting surprise performers (past guests include Drake and Childish Gambino). Jhene's debut album is due out this September -- be sure to check out her set at Lolla before she hits the mainstream.

WHO: Jungle
WHEN: Saturday August 2nd @ 12:45pm -- Samsung Galaxy Stage
WHY: Jungle, a much-hyped and highly secretive UK outfit, made their funky debut late last year and have since been championed by revered industry taste-makers like Annie Mac and Pete Tong. The 2 men behind Jungle go only by the names T and J, and live shows are shrouded in smoke. But all the hush hush doesn't mean they don't know how to throw a party -- their live take on indie-funk/R&B always gets audiences into a dancing frenzy. They are a must see at Lollapalooza -- and certainly an act to expect big things from this year.

The Terrible Economy Just Claimed Another Victim: Walmart's U.S. CEO

Thu, 2014-07-24 16:16
The sluggish U.S. economic recovery just claimed another job.

Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart U.S., is stepping down, Walmart announced on Thursday. Simon's tenure was marked by a long stretch of poor performance, but bad luck might have played a role in that: He held the post during a particularly terrible time for low- and middle-income Americans, who are also Walmart's core customers.

"His tenure perfectly parallels the worst economic period in the last 70 years," Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect, said of Simon.

Simon became chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., effectively second-in-command of that business, in 2007, the year the Great Recession began. He became CEO of Walmart U.S. in 2010.

Bill Simon, former president and CEO of Walmart U.S., speaks to guests at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on June 14, 2013 in Chicago.

During the recession and the subsequent ongoing recovery, low- and middle-income Americans have been plagued by high unemployment, stagnant wages, benefit cuts and a proliferation of low-paying, part-time jobs at the expense of stable, salaried middle-class work. For Walmart, this means shoppers -- many of whom are also burdened by high levels of debt -- just aren't spending like they used to.

As a result, Walmart's bottom line is suffering. The company's U.S. sales have fallen in 12 out of the past 20 quarters at stores open a year or more, according to Ken Perkins, head of the retail data firm Retail Metrics. Walmart executives have repeatedly cited last November's cuts to the federal government's food stamp program as a reason for the company's poor performance.

By that same logic, critics have argued that Walmart could help boost its own economic fortunes by raising wages for its more than 1 million U.S. workers, many of whom are the type of low and middle-income customers who would turn around and spend that raise at Walmart. Simon, who will net a severance package of $4.5 million payable through 2016, spoke out against proposals to mandate Walmart pay its workers in Washington, D.C. a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour.

Bad economy or not, some observers say Simon deserves a share of the blame for Walmart's woeful performance.

"It's long overdue," Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist of Belus Capital Advisors, said of Simon's departure. "I've been waiting for this day and it's finally here. They let him stay at the helm for way, way too long, which is typical of the Walmart culture."

It's been speculated that a CNBC interview earlier this month, in which Simon offered a less-than-sunny assessment of Walmart's core customers and its domestic sales figures, prompted the company to accelerate his departure.

Since Walmart prides itself on being a destination for price-conscious customers, Fishman said, it's odd that more Americans haven't turned to Walmart during the recession and the recovery.

"People don't say 'The money is short, let's skip the toothpaste,'" he said. "Why hasn't Walmart actually done better?"

One reason may be that cash-strapped Americans are turning to dollar stores, which are in some cases cheaper and more convenient than Walmart. Online shopping has also become more prevalent: Where many people used to shop online only for large or expensive items, today it's common for shoppers to buy all of their goods over the Web.

Simon took steps to address many of these problems, analysts agree. He rapidly grew Walmart's Neighborhood Market stores -- essentially smaller Walmarts catering to urban customers who don't trek to the suburbs to shop. Simon was also part of a push to make Walmart's website and apps more compatible with its stores. (Customers can now refill pharmacy prescriptions with a Walmart app, for example.)

A Walmart neighborhood market in Chicago.

But it wasn't enough to turn the division around. Last year, Walmart's U.S. sales grew at a slower rate than the economy overall -- which grew pretty slowly itself.

"We know that we have to figure out a way to grow comp-store sales here in the U.S.," said Walmart spokesman David Tovar, using industry lingo for sales at stores open a year or more.

Tovar said Simon is leaving Walmart on good terms with the company. He added that Simon's departure came after he was passed up to succeed former CEO Mike Duke, who left earlier this year.

"In these situations, it's not uncommon for the person who doesn't get the job to leave and go figure something else out," said Tovar.

Simon's replacement, Walmart Asia CEO Greg Foran, will have a lot to figure out, too.

Ex-Governor Says His Dumpy Namesake Building Gives People Dumpy Impression Of Government

Thu, 2014-07-24 15:43
It's been a proposed casino site and a state budget bargaining chip, but to the namesake of Illinois' foremost state office building, the James R. Thompson Center is a dump.

Leaky ceilings, shabby landscaping and decades-old carpet held together by duct tape were just some of the reasons ex-Illinois Governor James R. Thompson cited when he lamented the state of the massive downtown Chicago building in an interview with Crain's Chicago Business.

"It looks like a scrap heap," the 78-year-old Republican told Crain's. "It's terrible, just terrible."

Thompson said much of the building is exactly the same as it was nearly three decades prior, including cheap carpeting that was never meant to last 30 years. He suggested to Crain's that the sad state of the government building reflects poorly on the government itself.

"What kind of message does it send?" Thompson asked. "What impression do you want people to have of state government?"

An unnamed source echoed the ex-governor's sentiments: "Can you imagine what a CEO thinks if he comes to talk to the governor about expanding in Illinois and walks through this?"

Constructed in 1985 and re-named in Thompson's honor in 1993, the Thompson Center has had its share of troubles over the years. Controversial for its salmon color and modern glass design, the building was also dogged for its inefficiency: glass panels allowed internal temperatures to rise as high as 110 degrees in the summer, ultimately requiring a costlier air conditioning system. Most recently, bedbugs were spotted in areas of the building.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services said renovations are expected this fall, including new carpet, according to the Associated Press.

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo Promises To Dedicate A Home Run To Fan With Cancer, Hits 2

Thu, 2014-07-24 14:54
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo may be a hard hitter, but he has a softer side, too.

Both aspects of the slugger's character were on equal display Tuesday, when the player pointed to the sky after each of his homers against the Padres. Turns out the mysterious gesture was a shout-out to Mike Kasallis, a fan who'd been diagnosed with leukemia. Rizzo had promised to dedicate a home run to him.

Many players might hesitate to dedicate a homer, fearing they may not hit one, let alone two. That doesn't seem to be a problem for Rizzo, who currently leads the National League with 25 home runs.

Rizzo not only hit two homers for Kasallis, he did it on the fan's 22nd birthday, adds.

If dedicating two home runs to a sick patient feels familiar, there's good reason for your déjà vu: Former Yankees player Paul O'Neill made a similar promise to Kramer in a 1995 "Seinfeld" episode.

20 Items You're Gonna Need For The Real World

Thu, 2014-07-24 14:45
College taught us many things, like how to think critically, engage socially and stay awake for 36 hours on nothing but 5 Hour Energy shots and Kit Kats.

But in order to fully adjust to the real world, you're going to need some supplies. We speak from experience when advising that you invest in...

1. A set of classy drinking glasses
We're not taking handle pulls and passing red cups anymore, people. Your guests might expect something nicer.

2. A pop-up tent
Like the 20-dollar-from-Walmart kind. Because you never know when you're gonna want to get away, or just pretend you're five and have a camp-out in your living room.

3. A miniature food processor
Hummus, coleslaw, cookie dough... the possibilities are endless, and endlessly easy to make.

4. An iron
The wrinkled-chic look is NOT hip anymore.

5. An air mattress
People are gonna want to come visit your new homeland, and it's pleasant to offer a sleeping option that's not the floor. Plus, it makes a great couch until you get around to finding one on Craigslist.

6. A Cards Against Humanity set
Nothing makes new friends faster than a game... especially one with sass.

7. A cookbook app
Because you are NOT going to know what to do with that radish you impulse-bought at the farmers market.

8. Print-out pictures of your friends and family
Homesickness -- and general nostalgic-for-college sickness -- hits hard. One coping method consists of plastering your bedroom and desk with photos.

9. A Kindle, or at least the iBooks app on your phone
Apparently, during the decade that we've been in school, humankind has continued the tradition of reading. Books. For fun. Once you realize this pastime is still completely still alive, you're gonna want to join in.

10. A killer interview outfit
Because looking the part is being the part.

11. A really sharp knife from a cooking store
Not only for self defense, but because those dirt-cheap "starter kitchen knife sets" you find on Groupon do NOT. CUT. ANYTHING.

12. A backpack that's not a JanSport
Yes, you're still allowed to carry things on your shoulders, because it's easier and prevents spinal injury. But let's take a smaaall step up from stained rucksacks and camp lanyards.

13. A grocery store rewards card
Every penny counts, so start earning rewards for your ramen now!

14. Super lightweight running shoes
People in the real world have jobs, so they're forced to sneak in workouts where they can. It always helps to have a pair of uber-light shoes in your bag, in case you catch a break.

15. A lunchbox
The ultimate vice of real world-hood? Buying lunch. A supercute lunchbox will motivate you to pack it up, not rack it up.

16. A credit card
If you didn't have one in college, get one now. Good credit will help you get real-world stuff like apartments and cars.

17. An iPhone battery case
Because there are not outlets in the middle of your desk like there were on the campus library tables.

18. A set of miniature makeup brushes
Never have you been away from your bedroom for so many hours at a time, with so many important humans -- touch-ups will be necessary.

19. A really awesome slate of price alerts
To make it through those endless first months of nine-to-five, you'll need something to look forward to. Set up airline fare alerts to come to your email -- companies will let you know when prices drop in your desired destination.

20. A cat
Because after a long day of real world-ness, you're gonna need a cuddle.

A Property Tax Freeze in Illinois? At Least One State Rep. Thinks It's a Good Idea

Thu, 2014-07-24 14:40
Illinois State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) says he thinks property taxes should freeze all across Illinois in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. The state has the second-highest property taxes in the country, after New Jersey, and they might get higher for residents of the state's biggest city following passage of the Chicago Public Schools 2015 budget.

McSweeney writes:

"Enough is enough.

We need an immediate, across-the-board property tax freeze. A freeze is not a comprehensive solution to Illinois' property tax problem, but it is a good start.

One reason I have been pushing a property tax freeze is to buy us some time to work on consolidating some of the more than 7,000 units of local government in Illinois. That would help to reduce the cost of government and ultimately lower residential property taxes. We cannot keep throwing money at all of these units of government and ignoring the outcome -- higher property taxes."

For homeowners who are already struggling to pay high property taxes, news of high foreclosure rates in the state isn't good either. Illinois had the third-highest number of home foreclosures in the country in June 2014, double the national average for the same month, according to RealtyTrac.

McSweeney writes:

Enough is enough.

We need an immediate, across-the-board property tax freeze. A freeze is not a comprehensive solution to Illinois' property tax problem, but it is a good start.

One reason I have been pushing a property tax freeze is to buy us some time to work on consolidating some of the more than 7,000 units of local government in Illinois. That would help to reduce the cost of government and ultimately lower residential property taxes. We cannot keep throwing money at all of these units of government and ignoring the outcome -- higher property taxes.

For homeowners who are already struggling to pay high property taxes, news of high foreclosure rates in the state isn't good either. Illinois had the third-highest number of home foreclosures in the country in June 2014, double the national average for the same month, according to RealtyTrac.

Rand Paul Proposes Measure To Shield State Medical Marijuana Laws From Feds

Thu, 2014-07-24 13:46
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday filed an amendment in the Senate that would protect states that implement medical marijuana laws, as well as patients and physicians in those states, from federal prosecution.

Paul's Amendment 3630, filed Thursday morning to Sen. John Walsh's (D-Mont.) jobs bill being heard on the Senate floor, allows states to "enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use" without fear of federal prosecution. There are 33 states that have enacted laws protecting some form medical marijuana.

The amendment also prohibits prosecution of patients and physicians in those states for violating federal laws against the drug.

"What we're trying to do is look at the law and allow states that have changed their laws and have allowed medical marijuana to do so, for doctors to be able to prescribe and for people to be able to get those prescriptions without being worried about the federal government coming in and arresting them," Brian Darling, Paul's communications director, told The Huffington Post.

To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Another 10 have legalized CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis frequently used to treat epilepsy, for limited medical use or research. Still, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as a Schedule I substance with "no currently accepted medical use."

In June, Paul introduced a Senate amendment to the Justice Department budget bill that would restrict DEA agents and federal prosecutors from using allotted funds to pursue providers of medical marijuana and patients using it in states that have legalized its use. A similar version of the amendment, co-sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), surprised even longtime supporters of marijuana policy reform when it passed in the House in May.

But Darling argued that Paul's new measure could provide additional protections beyond that which the Rohrbacher-Farr amendment offers.

"The effort before was to defund prosecutions -- so it would block the federal government from prosecuting until that appropriations bill runs out about a year later," Darling said. But Paul's amendment, Darling explained, would provide a more permanent framework of protection for states that enact medical marijuana laws.

"It would protect the states' rights to make those decisions about medical marijuana that wouldn't expire when the appropriations bill comes back up," Darling said.

Due to ongoing partisan gridlock in the Senate, it appears unlikely that Paul's amendment will get a vote. However, Darling said that Paul's office is prepared to pursue other legislation that may not be identical to the amendment, but would be in the same spirit.