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15 Of The Most Beautiful Architectural Photographs From Around The World

Fri, 2014-12-12 20:10
This article originally appeared on ArchDaily.
by Katie Watkins


Fifteen images ranging from a close-up of Herzog & de Meuron’s Beijing National Stadium to a portrait of a graveyard-turned home in the Philippines, have been selected as the finalists of the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) 2014 Art of Building Photographer of the Year competition. The public will now decide who will take home the title and a £3,000 cash prize.

“There is a cornucopia of styles and stories in this year’s final,” said Saul Townsend, CIOB spokesman in a press release. “In a world full of high definition colour technology, black and white photography still inspires a host of photographers. Voters are in for a visual treat and will hopefully be inspired to look at the built environment in a new way and to take part themselves next year.”

The fifteen finalists were selected by panel of judges that included photography critic and editor Sue Steward, award-winning photographer Matt Wain and the editor of Construction Manager magazine, Elaine Knutt.

Take a look at the 15 finalists after the break and don’t forget to vote for your favorite before January 11, 2015 on CIOB’s Art of Building website. The winner will be announced February 5.



File ref: 9222
Name: Frank Machalowski
Title of Photograph: Multiexpo Potsdam#5
Photo taken in: Potsdam, Germany
Photographer from: Germany
Photographer’s description: This multi-exposure picture reduces the building to its core without any irrelevant background. It emphasizes the building.






File ref: 9573
Name: Hoang Long Ly
Title of Photograph: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Photo taken in: Abu Dhabi – UAE
Photographer from: Vietnam
Photographer’s description: This mosque is a religious icon not only for Abu Dhabi but also for the Islamic world of UAE.






File ref: 9805
Name: Mario Bejagan Cardenas
Title of Photograph: Bird’s Nest Puzzle Close-Up
Photo taken in: Beijing, China
Photographer from: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Photographer’s description: Beijing National Stadium is an eye-catching state of the art structure. The stadium is a work of exceptional design and proves to be a mind-boggling complex artifact as you get up close.





File ref: 9910
Name: Rajaram
Title of Photograph: Near to fire for bricks
Photo taken in: Pondicherry, India
Photographer from: Pondicherry, India
Photographer’s description: The people are working near a hot fire to burn the bricks. To make a single brick is not as easy as we think.





File ref: 9381
Name: Richard Pennington
Title of Photograph: Concrete Arteries
Photo taken in: Amsterdam, Holland
Photographer from: Essex, UK
Photographer’s description: A rare infrastructure perspective of Amsterdam’s newest Metro Line. I liken the concrete Metro tunnels of the city to the arteries running throughout or bodies that keep it alive and functioning.





File ref: 9003
Name: Flores Giorgini
Title of Photograph: Water pipe on a roof
Photo taken in: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Photographer from: Paris, France
Photographer’s description: When I took this photo it was because I found it really strange that this pipe was on the roof; it is an interesting contrast with modern buildings.






File ref: 8856
Name: Pierre Cuony
Title of Photograph: Up
Photo taken in: London
Photographer from: Switzerland
Photographer’s description: This picture is a low angle shot of a beautiful building in London. Good place, right time.





File ref: 9806
Name: Mario Bejagan Cardenas
Title of Photograph: My home, my playground and my cemetery
Photo taken in: Manila, Philippines
Photographer from: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Photographer’s description: Thousands of families have made a city’s graveyard their home as authorities grapple with rising population and housing shortage. Depressing community where hapless residents call this place a home among the dead.





File ref: 7858
Name: Lisa Shalom
Title of Photograph: Giuseppe Perugini Bathroom
Photo taken in: Fregene, Italy
Photographer from: California, USA
Photographer’s description: Giuseppe Perugini was a famous architect who built very modern home decades ago in the heart of Fregene, Italy. Since his death, the home is abandoned. Here is a woman gazing through a small window in the bathroom.






File ref: 10170
Name: Pessoa Neto
Title of Photograph: Library by Siza Vieira
Photo taken in: Portugal
Photographer from: Portugal
Photographer’s description: I really loved the light coming down the centre of the Library building. I saw two young kids and just waited for the moment.






File ref: 8151
Name: Pulock Biswas
Title of Photograph: Little House
Photo taken in: Bangladesh
Photographer from: Bangladesh
Photographer’s description: It becomes a work of art.





File ref: 8869
Name: Wahid Adnan
Title of Photograph: Getting lost on a roof
Photo taken in: Bangladesh
Photographer from: Bangladesh
Photographer’s description: A Muslim man is deep into his thoughts on a roof of a building surrounded by other buildings. Access to a roof in Dhaka is not always possible for people as the owners don’t allow tenants to go up.





File ref: 8523
Name: Yana Bulyizheva
Title of Photograph: Songs of light
Photo taken in: Milan, Italy
Photographer from: St.Petersburg, Russia
Photographer’s description: The photo shows Duomo not from the main facade, it shows details, and this architectural element is like a powerful luminous song for me.





File ref: 8477
Name: Patrick Mouzawak
Title of Photograph: Inception
Photo taken in: Milwaukee, USA
Photographer from: Madrid, Spain
Photographer’s description: The multiple layers created by this architectural form with a human attending to it as if carefully repositioning the triangle shapes herself.





File ref: 9330
Name: Lana Yankovskaya
Title of Photograph: Capsule
Photo taken in: Germany
Photographer from: Kiev, Ukraine
Photographer’s description: Mysterious construction, as if it’s from the future, but at the same time from the past. Reminds about aliens or mad architect, about emptiness and uselessness, which in fact, no one needs what we do, and it all will turn to ash.




Cite: Watkins, Katie. "15 Finalists Nominated for the Art of Building Photographer of the Year Award" 11 Dec 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 12 Dec 2014.



15 Finalists Nominated for the Art of Building Photographer of the Year Award originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website in December 2014.

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Chicago Protesters To Eric Holder: Police Brutality Has To Stop

Fri, 2014-12-12 17:20
A small group of protesters gathered Friday afternoon outside the Chicago hotel where U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder held a closed-door meeting with police, political and community leaders.

The topic inside and outside the Sheraton Towers: law enforcement issues in the wake of policing incidents that claimed the lives of unarmed black men in Missouri, New York City and elsewhere.

"I'm hoping that we will be able to see justice served in the Eric Garner case. That's the primary goal," protestor Shirleen Jackson, an organizer with the group Stop Mass Incarceration Network, told The Huffington Post. "We can't continue to allow the justice system to murder our young men and get away with it. There needs to be some kind of investigation into this case and many others. We want policies that will ensure the protection of our citizens."

The Chicago Tribune reports that during the meeting -- which was attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Zachary Fardon and anti-violence activist Father Michael Pfleger, among others -- Holder said the nation is facing "critical times."

"We have to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about the lack of trust that exists between some communities and law enforcement," Holder said, reportedly suggesting that one of the ways to tackle the chasm of mistrust was "to have meetings like this."

His Friday appearance in Chicago was part of a six-city tour that includes stops in Memphis, Cleveland and Atlanta.


Aaron Bernard Hollins, Jr. holds a "Black Lives Matter" sign outside a Friday afternoon meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Protestors touted the need for nationwide changes in policing strategies. Jackson said she wants to see more chokehold bans enacted, similar to one recently proposed in Chicago.

Aaron Bernard Hollins, Jr., who was among some 18 people demonstrating outside the meeting, told HuffPost he thought Holder's meeting was "a step in the right direction."

"But if we don't let our voices be heard," he added, "the same things are going to keep happening."

Hollins' motivation for joining the protest was to highlight the death of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old who was fatally shot in October by a Chicago police officer.

"Not a lot has been said about it," he said.

The number of police at the protest was roughly equal to the number of protesters. Bicycle police edged protesters off the sidewalk outside the hotel, but confrontations were otherwise civil.

As the law enforcement roundtable went on inside, a few curious onlookers stopped to watch. At one point, a woman stopped to scold the protesters.

"You try being a cop for one day!" said the woman, who was white, wagging her finger at the group before hurrying off.

"Try being a black man," Hollins replied, holding his sign.

Chicago Police Officer Disciplined Over Playing 'Sweet Home Alabama' At Eric Garner Protest

Fri, 2014-12-12 15:17
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Police Department says it will discipline an officer who played "Sweet Home Alabama" over a police-cruiser loudspeaker during a march protesting police treatment of African Americans.

The song is considered an anthem to Southern pride but some interpreted his playing of the song during Saturday's march as racially insensitive.

The department didn't identify the officer or say how he'll be disciplined.

The department says in a statement that the officer maintained he played the song because he is a University of Alabama fan. But the department says it can't condone an act considered "disruptive or disrespectful" to protesters or residents.

Saturday's march was one of many in response to decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, not to prosecute white police officers in the deaths of unarmed blacks.

Choosing A Secret Santa Gift Is Hard, But There's One Option That's Always A Hit

Fri, 2014-12-12 15:01
If you're someone's Secret Santa this holiday season and you have no idea what to buy them, these thoughtful gifts will definitely get everyone into the holiday spirit...

... Or, spirits.




Image credits: Getty/Imgur

This New Phone App Can Tell When You've Had Too Much To Drink

Fri, 2014-12-12 13:47

A new federally funded cellphone app allows people who may have had one too many to get an idea just how drunk they are — and hail a ride home.


Users enter their sex, height, weight, and number of drinks consumed to help figure out their blood-alcohol level. They also can play two interactive games to test reaction time and cognitive agility. And the app uses GPS technology to call cabs and pre-load phone numbers for potential designated drivers.


The app, called ENDUI — pronounced "End DUI" — was announced Thursday by government and police officials in Maryland. Funded by federal money reserved for drunken-driving education efforts, the app is among several in a handful of states to tackle drunken driving — though Maryland's is one of the most elaborate.


"It's unique," said Kara Macek, a spokeswoman at the Governors Highway Safety Association, which funded the new app, developed by the Maryland Highway Safety Office for about $50,000.


"I think states are starting to go that route because they're trying to reach consumers where they are and where they spend time, and everyone spends time on their phone," Macek said. "I think we're going to see more of that as we go forward."


States with similar apps include New York, New Mexico, Colorado, and California, which launched its version two weeks ago.


Like the other states, Maryland's app is available for free on Android and iPhone.


One of the games on the app involves pressing a red "brake" button when an image of a pedestrian passes by or a car ahead stops. The app says just how fast — or slow — users react and how much time their car would have needed to avoid a collision.


The other game shows nine road signs that blink in different order; users try to recall the order, which gets increasingly challenging with each round — with or without drinks.


"The game is meant to be a hook and pull you in," said Tom Gianni, chief of the Maryland Highway Safety Office. "Then it's meant to give you a lesson of, 'See what can happen. Imagine if you were behind the wheel.'"


A feature that estimates blood-alcohol levels has users enter their height and weight, and details about what kind and how many drinks they have. For instance, the app estimates that a 130-pound woman who just drank a glass of red wine would have a blood-alcohol level of .04 percent.


Though that's under Maryland's legal limit of .08 percent, the app warns that "driving ability is likely to be impaired."


"Get a cab or have someone that has not been drinking take you home," the app advises.


At nearly every step, the app warns users that no matter what the results, "driving with any amount of alcohol in your system may impair you and be illegal."


Gianni called the driving-related features the most important for someone who's been drinking.


"It kind of takes the guesswork out of a situation where you've had a few drinks and you're not sure what to," Gianni said. "This takes all the brainwork out of it."

2014 in Sports: 6 Takeaways From the Complicated Year That Was

Fri, 2014-12-12 13:44
In many ways, 2014 was a year to forget in the world of sports. The instinct in most fans is to try and use sports as an escape from the problems or bad news of everyday life, but this year sports themselves were often the bearer of bad news. Donald Sterling's skin-crawling racism, Paul George's gruesome and avoidable injury, Tony Stewart's involvement in the death of the young Kevin Ward, Jr., the Ray Rice video, Adrian Peterson's switch, Roger Goodell's all-around incompetence -- we shook our heads at each one of these stories with disgust or disappointment, often both.

However, while it's easy to lament to the failings of our sports fandoms in 2014, there's no denying that there was also a lot of good to come from the past year. Here are six ways in which sports inspired us, captivated us and reminded us why we investment the time in them in the first place.

We touchingly said goodbye to a pair of living legends in 2014: Derek Jeter and Landon Donovan. When watching the two of them this year, it was obvious Father Time had his grip on both of them. Jeter's average barely hovered around .250 and Donovan was ignominiously left off the United States' World Cup team. Nevertheless, showmen and icons that they both are, each man managed one final memorable moment just before they exited the stage. It'll be a long time before either sport finds a superstar of similar magnitude.




There was the collective rush of dousing our cheers with a heavy dose of patriotism during the Winter Olympics and World Cup. T.J. Oshie's marvelous shootout performance against Russia had people clamoring to put him on our currency. Meanwhile, Tim Howard's dominant goal-tending in Brazil earned him a tongue-in-cheek spot in the president's cabinet, as the "Secretary of Defense." Although the men's soccer team was bounced in the round of 16, moments like Howard's uncanny saves or John Brooks' goal ensured that this once maligned-sport is here to stay as a domestic force.





2014 was also the year of personalities and pioneers, of iconoclasts and trailblazers. Michael Sam and Jason Collins inspired us all this year. Sam became the first openly gay football player ever to be drafted into the NFL and Collins became the first openly gay active NBA player ever. At the Little League World Series, Mo'ne Davis proved "you throw like a girl" is actually the best compliment going. As for big personalities, Seattle Seahawks cornerback has that in spades. Bigots and stupid people dismissed his brash and uninhibited comments following the NFC Championship Game as just the ranting of an uppity, angry black man, when in fact they were actually the embodiment of the most fundamental axiom of sports: if you can walk the walk, you're sure as hell allowed to talk the talk.






The year's single best game in all of sports didn't come in a championship or postseason tournament, and it didn't feature any real household names (unless you count the two old guys on the sidelines). On February 1st, Duke and Syracuse met at the Carrier Dome for the first time as conference rivals. What followed was an instant classic in every sense of the phrase, a back-and-forth overtime battle that saw the Orange ultimately prevail 91-89. The two teams met in Durham for a rematch later that month. That game was exciting but not as priceless as the first, though it did give us one unforgettable moment, in Jim Boeheim's reaction to a late game charge call.




And then there are the moments of individual grandeur, the flights of fancy and raw athleticism that leave us speechless. Thoreau saw the sublime in the ripples of Walden Pond, but I see it in the fingertips of Odell Beckham, Jr. Here are a handful of the most amazing individual plays and performances in sports this year.






Another welcome trend in 2014 was the return of the Activist Athlete. Long gone were the days of Mohammad Ali's anti-war stance, Tommie Smith & John Carlos' black fists or Bill Russell's civil rights contributions. Jordan's "Republicans buy sneakers too" had become the law of the land. Athletes were supposed to #SticktoSports. Not so in 2014. We had the Clippers turning their warm-ups inside out in silent defiance of racist owner Donald Sterling. The St. Louis Rams receivers entered the Jones Dome recreating Ferguson protestors' "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture. And multiple NBA and NCAA teams have recently donned "I Can't Breathe" tees in solidarity of Eric Garner. In a year when racial strife and civilian-police relations seem headed toward a fever pitch, it was great to see that sports don't just have to be an escape from our problems -- they can also serve as a challenge to us as a citizenry to be better than what we settle for.





Thomas McKenna is a writer whose work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Gawker, Hollywood Take, Sports World News, and Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @tmckenna1

Street Drug 'Special K' May Offer New Hope For People With Treatment-Resistant Depression

Fri, 2014-12-12 12:48
A hallucinogenic drug known on the street as "Special K" offers new hope to those suffering from severe, treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine, which is derived from phencyclidine (PCP), already has a well-established medical use as a sedative or pain killer. But since 2000, small but high-quality studies have demonstrated its uses as a powerful and fast-acting treatment for major depression.

The growing body of evidence has emboldened doctors to begin prescribing Ketamine for depression, despite the fact that the drug has not been approved for such a use and the long-term effects are still unknown. To address those unknowns, various pharmaceutical companies are formulating their own versions of the drug and testing them in clinical trials, as The New York Times recently reported, but advocates say that the trials are simply an attempt to make money on tweaked versions of a generic drug.

Ketamine doesn't work like common, widely-used antidepressant medications like Prozac, Zoloft or Lexapro, which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that change the balance of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Instead, Ketamine targets receptors of glutamate, an amino acid.

Scientists first noticed that targeting glutamate had an antidepressant effect more than 50 years ago, when doctors administered a glutamate-modulating antibiotic to tuberculosis patients and saw their moods lift, according to Dr. Robert Howland, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Howland recently published a review of 25 peer-reviewed studies (that had a total of 416 participants) in the journal Neuropharmacology that examined the effects of Ketamine treatment on people with treatment-resistant depression.

All 25 studies suggested that Ketamine was indeed an "active and rapid antidepressant" for people with treatment-resistant depression (approximately 10 to 20 percent of those who have depression), wrote Howland in his review. Three of those studies even showed that Ketamine appeared to reduce suicidality (suicide ideation) in people treated with the drug. This confirms that glutamate plays an active role in this mental illness, according to Howland.

But serious questions remain about the drug's long-term effects, as well as its ability to sustain the same levels of antidepressant over time without upping the dose. After all, people can become addicted to "Special K," and large doses of the drug could cause hallucinations, aggressive or violent behavior and even death from overdose, according to the University of Maryland's Center for Substance Abuse Research.

"Although limited to initial observations, ketamine may be effective not only in TRD patients but also on suicidality," concluded Howland in his study review. "However, future studies are recommended in order to test the efficacy of ketamine when compared with other active comparators such as electroconvulsive therapy or antidepressant-antipsychotic drugs combinations."

Illinois and U.S. politicians remember Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

Fri, 2014-12-12 12:31
While the identity of her successor remains a mystery, Illinois continues to remember the life and governmental career of state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Recollections came in from prominent political figures, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and even President Obama.

My favorite so far, though, arrived this morning in the Chicago Tribune, where Illinois Senate President John Cullerton memorialized his former Republican Senate colleague in a piece headlined, "Why this Democrat will miss GOP's Judy." (In the print edition, it appears aside similar pieces from Sheila Simon, who lost to Topinka in the November election, and former Gov. Jim Thompson.)

A few choice excerpts:

A couple years ago, Judy Baar Topinka and I were sparring over the numbers she was using for the state's backlog of bills, so I invited her to my office for a chat.

She strides in, tosses a folder full of financial documents on my desk and loudly proclaims:

"There's my poop."

We eventually agreed to disagree, and the conversation turned to me haggling her to quit smoking and her detailed description of the effects of the smoking-cessation drug Chantix.

And I came away with the same impression I had from numerous other meetings with Judy over the nearly 30 years that I've known her. If I may borrow from Judy's vibrant vocabulary -- when it came to state finances and politics -- she did indeed know her poop.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

Other politicians also shared their sadness at Topinka's passing this week.

President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Judy was an institution in Illinois politics. Her public service spanned more than 30 years, including her tenure in the State Legislature and as Chair of the Illinois Republican Party. Judy was a fierce advocate for her constituents, which I got to see firsthand when she was State Treasurer - the first woman to hold that office. She was blunt, pragmatic, unfailingly cheerful and energetic, and always willing to put politics aside to find commonsense solutions that made a difference for the people of Illinois. She will be greatly missed. Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Judy's family, friends and constituents today.

Gov. Pat Quinn:

Today is a sad day in the state of Illinois. I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of my friend, Judy Baar Topinka.

As the first female Treasurer of Illinois and a longtime public servant, Judy was a trailblazer in every sense of the word.

Never without her signature sense of humor, Judy was a force of nature. She left her mark on the state she has called home her entire life. Her leadership improved Illinois and paved the way for countless women in politics.

My deepest sympathies go out to Judy's son, Joe, daughter-in-law Christina, granddaughter Alexandra, her family, friends and devoted staff.

Today the entire state mourns the loss of one of the greats. Judy Baar Topinka will be incredibly missed.

Check out more at Reboot Illinois, including thoughts from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner.

NEXT ARTICLE: Elegy for crazy, blunt, beloved aunt Judy Baar Topinka

Full 'Insurgent' Trailer Previews Total Destruction

Fri, 2014-12-12 10:25
The full "Insurgent" trailer is here, after a teaser previewed the second installment in the "Divergent" series last month. "Insurgent" follows Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) in a futuristic version of Chicago after they became fugitives for deserting the factions from the previous film. Together they fight for their lives and the future of their friends to stop the Erudite leaders from pursuing evil.

Mystery! Terror! Love! It's got everything a dystopian novel-turned film franchise could hope for. Based on Veronica Roth's book series by the same name, "Insurgent" comes out March 20.



And here's a new poster:

Dear Ella, Be Proud of Your Beautiful Name

Fri, 2014-12-12 10:03
Earlier this week, as I returned to New York after a week in India for the launch of HuffPost India, I learned that while I'd been away, a story that had run on HuffPost Parents had left one of our readers a bit upset. The post was entitled "20 Kids' Names That Most Often Appear On The 'Naughty' List," and the reader was a 7-year-old girl named Ella -- which also happened to be the number-one name on the "naughty" list.

Ella forthrightly took it upon herself to write a letter to HuffPost about her disappointment. Unfortunately, a cranky (or sleep-deprived) elf must have misfiled the letter, and we only found out about Ella's reaction when it was featured on her local news station in Grand Rapids, Michigan.



So I feel duty-bound to respond to Ella directly -- and to any other boys and girls who might have been surprised or upset to find themselves on the "naughty" list based solely on a name they did not choose. Watching your TV interview, Ella, I was so impressed by your intelligence, your wit and your charm, and I am certain that you are not only very well-behaved but fearless. (Our HuffPost Parents editors tell me they agree.) As I have always taught my own daughters, Christina and Isabella (whose names weren't on either list but who definitely had their naughty moments), it is so important to stand up for yourself, tell the truth and speak out when you think something is, as you wrote in your note, "blony."

So Ella, be proud of your beautiful name -- a name that, incidentally, is only one letter away from my mother's name, Elli. She would have loved your courage and grit.

And Ella, if you're reading this, please email me at arianna@huffingtonpost.com, and we will figure out a time for you to talk about the experience on our video network, HuffPost Live. I'm sure Santa reads The Huffington Post, but I'm also equally sure that he makes his own "naughty" and "nice" lists that are much more accurate than ours.

Love,
Arianna

This Pretty Much Nails What Holiday Shopping Looks Like From Inside Your Head

Fri, 2014-12-12 09:59
Get me out, get me out, get me out ...

You've been trudging through the stores all day doing your holiday shopping. Someone smells. Is it you? *sniff* No, no you seem okay. Does that person work here? Let's ask ... nope, just wearing the same colored shirt as the employees. Well, that was awkward ...

And it goes on and on like that! CollegeHumor pretty much nails the first person stream-of-consciousness on exactly how stressful it is to do your holiday shopping. Suddenly your online shopping cart is looking a little empty.

16 Quotes To Remind America That Black Lives Matter

Fri, 2014-12-12 08:26
The deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police officers in Missouri, Ohio, New York and other places around the U.S. have become the latest tipping point in a long history of racial tension.

Protests, marches, die-ins and sit-ins have swept the nation -- most recently resulting in over 300 arrests in New York City over a non-indictment in the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old confronted by NYPD officers for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Social media exploded with rallying cries like #DontShoot, #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter, the latter of which points out what already should have been obvious.

It's become painfully clear that America is not the post-racial society we'd love to believe it is, or that some insist it's become. In light of that, it's worth taking a look at how 21st century society is, in many ways, still shaped by racial inequality. Below, we've rounded up just a few of the many thoughtful and informative writings on the subject. Some provide a historical perspective while some feature original personal anecdotes. Others are just trying to make sense of tragic events. All are worth the read.


Image via foxadhd.



History has shown consistent discrimination against black people across many aspects of American life.


"Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person ten times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert past, a delinquent debt that can be made to disappear if only we don’t look."

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ lengthy feature in The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations,” illustrates the ways in which slavery and its aftereffects helped build the world’s largest democracy. Coates, who did not always support the idea of reparations, primarily dissects the history of housing discrimination. [Link]



And despite years of discrimination, it still persists.


"When we blame private prejudice, suburban snobbishness, and black poverty for contemporary segregation, we not only whitewash our own history but avoid considering whether new policies might instead promote an integrated community."

A report by the non-profit Economic Policy Institute explains how discriminatory policies in real estate, banking and finance over the past century contributed to the formation of mostly black, low-income neighborhoods like Ferguson. [Link]




Often, black children can't afford to remain innocent about race.


"It was the last day of school, and I was walking with my dad, preparing to leave. Suddenly, he paused, looked at me intently and said, 'Son, you're a black male, and that's two strikes against you.' To the general public, anything that I did would be perceived as malicious and deserving of severe punishment and I had to govern myself accordingly. I was seven years old."

Jazmine Hughes’ piece on how black Americans talk to their children about the police features an array of personal stories. The above comes from 26-year-old Robert Stephens from Kansas City, Missouri. [Link]


"Is this why I didn’t get the job? Is this why my lease application was denied? Is this why I got into college? Is this why this person keeps following me around the grocery store? And when you ask, you’re looked at like you’re crazy, met with denial  --  because it’s always plausible, deniable.”

Bijan Stephen writes about “the talk” black American males sometimes receive from their parents and older relatives on the unfortunate realities of racism, particularly when dealing with law enforcement. [Link]



Police have long been accused of targeting black Americans through racial profiling, which has fed a vicious cycle of distrust between black communities and officers.


“Instead of feeling protected by police, many African Americans are intimidated and live in daily fear that their children will face abuse, arrest and death at the hands of police officers who may be acting on implicit biases or institutional policies based on stereotypes and assumptions of black criminality."

A letter released by Sociologists for Justice stated that “deeply ingrained racial, political, social and economic inequalities” are at play in law enforcement agencies around the U.S., and outlined practical suggestions for overcoming them, including body cameras for police. The letter has been signed by over 1,800 sociologists. [Link]


"Our courts and juries aren’t impartial arbiters -- they exist inside society, not outside of it -- and they can only provide as much justice as society is willing to give."

Jamelle Bouie opines on the consequences police officers commonly never face after using deadly force on citizens. In a separate article, Bouie critiques the officer Wilson's and the grand jury's image of "black brute" Michael Brown. [Link, link]



Although, again, inequality exists far beyond the realm of law enforcement.


"White rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations."

Carol Anderson, associate professor of African American studies at Emory University, writes about the institutionalized backlash that she argues has always accompanied black progress. [Link]


"There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race. Scientifically, anthropologically, racism is a construct -- a social construct. And it has benefits. Money can be made off of it, and people who don't like themselves can feel better because of it. It can describe certain kinds of behavior that are wrong or misleading. So it has a social function, racism."

In an interview with Stephen Colbert, author Toni Morrison talks about being pigeonholed as an "African American writer," when she would really like to be considered an American writer. [Link]



And reports of unfair treatment often fall on deaf ears.


"Photographs of lynchings didn’t foster a shift toward justice. News reports of water hoses and police dogs didn’t compel national outrage from 'sea to shining sea.'"

An argument that police body cameras will not solve the underlying issue behind police brutality over at The Root. [Link]


"Our white allies can alleviate their fears by returning the country to some imagined golden age of the friendly neighborhood constable, whistling as he strolls his beat, idly swinging his baton. Black Americans don’t have to be civil rights scholars to know that there is no idyllic utopia there for us."

Ezekiel Kweku writes about "respectability politics" -- wherein respectable people should have no reason to beware police -- in the media and the general public to determine whether Michael Brown's character was relevant to his death. [Link]



For his part, President Barack Obama has recognized that inequality is still a great hurdle.


"When you're dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you've got to have vigilance, but you have to recognize that it's going to take some time, and you just have to be steady, so that you don't give up when you don't get all the way there."

The president's most recent comments about race come in an interview with BET. [Link]


"We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow."

Speaking in March 2008 after criticism of remarks made by his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama delivered a speech touching on issues of inequality and race. [Link]



But oftentimes, the way we talk about racism is awkwardly flawed.


"But the thing is, we treat racism in this country like it’s a style that America went through. Like flared legs and lava lamps. Oh, that crazy thing we did. We were hanging black people. We treat it like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people. You’ve got to get it at a lab, and study it, and see its origins, and see what it’s immune to and what breaks it down."

Chris Rock speaks about the isolating experience of being a successful black American with Frank Rich for New York Magazine. Rock points to the lack of other black patrons at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park the day of the interview to illustrate lingering inequality. [Link]


"These conversations are always so tense, so painful. People are defensive. We want to believe we are good. To face the racisms and prejudices we carry forces us to recognize the ways in which we are imperfect. We have to be willing to accept our imperfections and we have to be willing to accept the imperfections of others. Is that possible on the scale required for change?"

Roxane Gay dissects the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson at The Butter. [Link]


"We'll probably have to have a few uncomfortable conversations to sort of get things right, so everybody can walk and enjoy America like it's supposed to be enjoyed."

At the New York City premiere of "Annie," actor Jamie Foxx spoke out in wake of protests following the Staten Island grand jury decision. [Link]



Yet necessary.


“I think, if anything, more and more people are willing to talk. I think that this is opening conversation and not shutting it down. I’m actually more hopeful."

Missouri resident Mel Smith spoke about the discussion being created in the community when she came out to help clean up after the Ferguson protesters. Despite the violence, Smith thought there was still hope for repairing the community's relationship with law enforcement. [Link]

Geminid Meteor Shower Of 2014: How To Watch The Year's Best Sky Show

Fri, 2014-12-12 07:14
Listen up, skywatchers. What's expected to be the year’s best meteor shower is set to light up the skies this weekend.

The 2014 Geminid meteor shower will peak overnight on Saturday, Dec. 13 through Sunday, Dec.14. If the sky is dark and clear, viewers in the Northern Hemisphere may be treated to as many as 120 meteors per hour starting around 9 p.m. local time until dawn.

The meteors--small pieces of debris from an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon--should also be visible on Friday and Sunday nights.

(Story continues below image.)

Geminids captured in December, 2012 in South Dakota. (Flickr/David Kingham)

No special equipment to catch the meteors is needed. Just find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky and no glaring lights nearby.

“Go out late in the evening, lie back in a reclining lawn chair, and gaze up into the stars,” Sky & Telescope’s senior editor, Alan MacRobert, wrote in the magazine. “Relax, be patient, and let your eyes adapt to the darkness."

NASA says Saturday's celestial show will be particularly good for youngsters, as the best time for viewing will be in the first half of the night, before the last-quarter moon rises around midnight. Though the moonlight may interfere with meteor-watching, the brightest Geminids will probably outshine the moon. (Head over to the U.S. Naval Observatory's website to find out the moonrise time for your location.)

Unable to make it outside when the meteors show up? The Slooh space camera is scheduled to live-stream the shower on Saturday starting at 8 p..m. EST -- check it out above.

The Most Horrifying Fast Food Menu Items Of 2014

Fri, 2014-12-12 06:00
According to Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of the horse. People born this year are said to be full of personality, enjoy socializing and have a great sense of humor. But, there's nothing funny about the fast food nightmares this year brought. From black hamburgers to chicken corsages, let us take a slow, digestive stroll down memory lane.





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The Most Horrifying Fast Food Menu Items Of 2014

Fri, 2014-12-12 06:00
According to Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of the horse. People born this year are said to be full of personality, enjoy socializing and have a great sense of humor. But, there's nothing funny about the fast food nightmares this year brought. From black hamburgers to chicken corsages, let us take a slow, digestive stroll down memory lane.





Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.



Mistletoe Kissing Stunt Earns This Guy All Of The Smooches

Thu, 2014-12-11 17:16
A college student and aspiring comedian recently outfitted himself with a homemade PVC-pipe “mistletoe kissing contraption” and hit up the streets of Chicago to see what would happen.

What could go wrong, right?

Well, as it turns out, not much: YouTube prankster Blake Grigsby -- whom you might recognize from “Drive-By Compliments” and other viral videos he’s created -- was met with plenty of smiles, laughs and, naturally, a whole lot off smooches when he camped out at the city’s Christkindlmarket downtown.

The DePaul University student’s video, which was released Wednesday, shows dozens of people -- women, a few men and at least one baby -- sidling up to him for kisses on the cheek and lips, all in the spirit of good holiday cheer.

Two Santa-thumbs down, however, to one couple who decided to take the opportunity under Grigsby’s mistletoe to share a not-so-quick smooching session of their own. Rude.

H/T DNAinfo Chicago

Chicago Is Holding Big Pharma Accountable for Their Role in Fueling the Rx Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Thu, 2014-12-11 17:09
At the Chicago Department of Public Health, many of the diseases we seek to fend off are as inevitable as natural disasters, but the prescription drug epidemic -- consisting largely of the abuse of narcotic prescription pain medications known as opioids -- is not. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking action and proving Chicago is a leader in the U.S. in the fight against this preventable addiction, which was fueled in part by pharmaceutical companies seeking to increase their profits.

This manufactured epidemic of addiction has taken a toll on our country's health systems, a problem most recently documented in a national study of hospital emergency department visits for opioid overdoses in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study found that nearly seven in 10 opioid overdoses that were treated in emergency departments around the country involved prescription opioids -- not illegal opioids like heroin -- and concludes that "further efforts to stem the prescription opioid overdose epidemic are urgently needed."

They are right. Emergency departments have been inundated as a result of this epidemic. Out of every 100,000 people, according to a 2009 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, 40 people in the Chicago metropolitan area visit emergency departments due to adverse events from opioid, which translates to 1,080 preventable trips to the emergency departments per year.

But the problem also exacts a significant financial burden on health systems. In fact, during the last seven years, the City of Chicago, through its health benefits and workers compensation programs, paid more than $10 million for opioid prescriptions. That does not include the additional money we have spent for ambulance runs or emergency department visits for opioid overdoses and drug treatment to try to break the cycle of addiction. Perhaps more troubling, the addiction to prescription opioids has caused law-abiding people to turn to the streets to seek out heroin, which is cheaper and can be easier to obtain. Contrary to industry reassurances that these drugs are safe, addiction to opioids is powerful and not at all rare, including for patients prescribed these drugs. As a result, families have been shattered, careers have been lost and lives have been destroyed.

Enough is enough, and the City of Chicago is taking action. In June, at the direction of Mayor Emanuel, the City filed suit against five manufacturers of opioid drugs for misleading doctors and their patients about the dangerously addictive nature of opioids. We are seeking to hold the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture these drugs accountable for what we now believe was a methodically executed plan to deceive doctors and patients into over-prescribing opioids.

The reality is that in order to make more money, Purdue Pharma, Janssen, Cephalon, Actavis, and Endo obscured the dangerous effects of these drugs. They claimed the drugs were rarely addictive, misrepresented their medical value in treating chronic pain, and assured doctors and patients that the drugs were safer than over-the-counter pain relievers.

Their actions contributed to the creation of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called a "national epidemic" and, while other actors did play a role, the evidence of just how successful the marketing practices of these pharmaceutical companies were in Chicago, is impossible to ignore. We now know that the rate at which opioids were prescribed in Chicago consistently increased as pharmaceutical companies' fraudulent marketing began to achieve its desired effect. In 2003, the City health plans funded 32,091 opioid prescriptions. By 2011, however, this number had almost doubled, with the City health plans paying for 61,434 prescriptions. The lawsuit is a landmark action to address not only the millions of dollars spent by the City and by Chicago residents, but more importantly the thousands of lives harmed and lost as a result of these drug companies' deceptions. It seeks injunctive relief to require the drug companies to set the record straight and provide doctors and patients with complete and accurate information about opioids so that they can make informed choices about their care.

Chicago is not alone in its suffering. In the U.S., there are more than 2.4 million people addicted to opioids. What is worse, these addictions usually began with a relatively common trip to the doctor for back pain or arthritis.

As a doctor I know these drugs have a very legitimate, but limited, use. They are effective for treating people with cancer and terminal illnesses or for short-term acute pain. But the data shows that only about 15 percent of opioid prescriptions are for these kinds of treatments. The rest are prescribed for chronic pain, a use for which there is no scientific evidence.

As a public health official, it is my responsibility to manage the systems that care for all Chicago residents. Whatever the disease, it is my responsibility to track down the root problem and prevent it from spreading any further. The same is true for the crisis of manufactured addiction that these pharmaceutical companies helped cause -- and I am pleased to work with Mayor Emanuel to stand up to these companies on behalf of the City of Chicago.

---

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

The Militarized Divide

Thu, 2014-12-11 16:19
This shattered nation.

"Eric Garner was overweight and in poor health. He was a nuisance to shop owners who complained about him selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. When police came to arrest him, he resisted. And if he could repeatedly say, 'I can't breathe,' it means he could breathe."

And, oh yeah: "You cannot go out and break the law. What we did not hear is that you cannot resist arrest. That's a crime."

This is the police counter-narrative, as reported by the Associated Press. Eric Garner's choking death was mostly his own fault. It's another standoff: another line of cops in bulletproof vests, ominously gripping their batons, stepping slowly toward the protesters. "He was a nuisance . . ." Get him, boys. Take him down.

The national divide is solid and four-square. Actual human beings congregate only on one side of it, or the other. If Eric Garner is a nuisance and Michael Brown is a thug and Trayvon Martin is a suspicious-looking kid in a hoodie who didn't belong in that neighborhood... then, whoosh, all their humanity vanishes and "upholding the law" justifies every action against them, including killing them. The cries of grief from their families are just irritating noises. The outrage about it is insubordination.

Either we're united by our common humanity or we live in a broken world, a nation hellishly divided against itself, a roiling stew of privilege and squalor. And no one in such a world is free -- that is to say, fully himself or herself, fully human. Fear rules. Hatred rules.

As James Baldwin wrote more than 50 years ago, in an essay originally printed in The Progressive called "A Letter to My Nephew": "We cannot be free until they are free."

If this is true, then we're stuck -- forced to acknowledge, and ultimately to honor, the humanity of "them," the ones on the other side of the divide.

What does this look like? When I ask myself this, I suddenly think about a high school student and her alarm clock. It's the simplest story imaginable, but maybe it holds a kernel of truth profound beyond reckoning: Building power with one another is more effective than exerting power over them. Slowly, Chicago's public school system is getting it: Punishment, suspension and expulsion -- "zero tolerance" -- are wrecking lives, not establishing order.

An alternative to such ineffective practices is known as restorative justice, about which I have written a great deal. A few days ago, as part of my ongoing research about the restorative justice movement in Chicago, I interviewed several students at a local high school, Sullivan, who were part of what is known as a peer-conferencing program at the school. Kids who get into trouble, rather than face automatic reprimand and punishment, have a chance, instead, to talk with fellow students trained in peacebuilding work and try to find root causes and solutions to whatever's going on.

One of the trained "peace ambassadors," Jamisha, told me about her first conference, with a girl who was continually late to school. The girl explained that her mom doesn't always wake her up, but vowed, as a result of their half-hour discussion, to start setting an alarm clock. And that was it. Problem solved. End of story.

What made this story feel enormous was that, in a punishment-based system, this simple solution could so easily have been overlooked. The girl could have been defined as a "problem" and wound up, my God, in a downward spiral of punishments that ended in expulsion. Think of the bitterness such a system engenders.

Another one of the peace ambassadors, Jonathan, told me about the difference he's noticed at the school since peer conferencing and other restorative practices have taken hold: "That feeling of hostility in the hallways isn't there anymore!"

I take a deep breath and move from Sullivan High School to politics and policing across the country. Then I think about the National Defense Authorization Act, which, as Pro Publica reports, "has provided $4.3 billion in free military equipment to local police" since the 1990s.

And, as Faiza Patel wrote this week at JustSecurity.org, ". . . the issue is not just military equipment, but a counterinsurgency mindset that 'views residents as potential threats rather than potential partners.' The White House review on federal support for the acquisition of equipment by police failed to grapple with the core problem of whether providing military equipment to police effects their culture and undermines cooperative relations with the communities they are meant to serve."

Of course, police do serve a segment of their communities. Last month, in Pontiac, Mich., a revelatory "us vs. them" moment was captured in a YouTube video, which showed the interaction between an African-American man and a police officer who stopped him as he was out walking on a snowy day.

"You were making people nervous," the officer tells him. "They said you had your hands in your pockets."

That was it. No arrest, just incredulity and bad vibes. Being a cop in a race-terrified society means serving the divide, not bridging it. And the hostility continues.

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

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Chicago May Consider Ban On Chokeholds In Wake Of Eric Garner Protests

Thu, 2014-12-11 16:15
Several Chicago aldermen have proposed a ban on the use of chokeholds by city police as well as other law enforcement and private security in the wake of protests related to the death of Eric Garner, the New York City man who died in July as a result of a police chokehold.

“It is our intention to forbid the use of chokeholds by peace officers and security personnel in order to avoid a similar tragic death in Chicago,” Ald. Ed Burke (14th), a former police officer, said in a statement. “We must take every step to safeguard the health and well-being of a suspect while effecting an arrest or overcoming resistance.”

The proposal, introduced Monday by the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee, would forbid the use of chokeholds by any peace officer serving within the city limits, including officers with the Chicago Police Department, sheriff's deputies, U.S. marshals and private security guards, such as those hired by retail stores.

Under the Finance Committee's proposal, a chokehold "shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.”

As NBC Chicago notes, the city's Municipal Code does not currently use the term "chokehold" but specifies that "sworn personnel and security contractors must avoid sitting, kneeling or standing on a subject's chest." It also mandates that police "position the subject in a manner to allow free breathing."

Burke noted to ABC Chicago that chokeholds were at one point taught at the police academy.

In response to the committee proposal, the city's Police News Affairs released the following statement to The Huffington Post:

This ordinance would reinforce CPD’s existing directives and practices. Chokeholds are not an approved technique for our officers, we already train officers not to use chokeholds, and CPD’s directives expressly state that officers will position anyone in a manner that allows free breathing.

Aldermen supporting the proposed ban "felt it was necessary to be very specific about" language used to describe prohibited moves, City Finance Committee spokesman Donal Quinlan told HuffPost on Thursday.

"And it certainly acts as a reminder to CPD officers if they're not aware [of the department ban]," Quinlan added.

If the measure is approved by the committee, it will be put before the full city council for approval as soon as Jan. 21.

Congressional Staffers Walk Out In Protest Of Police Killings

Thu, 2014-12-11 16:01
Dozens of congressional staffers walked out of their Capitol Hill offices Thursday in a display of solidarity with demonstrators across the country who have protested the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

At 3:30 p.m. ET, the staffers stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with their hands raised in the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture.


(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)


(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Walkout. pic.twitter.com/zg1guvKmtD

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) December 11, 2014


Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who has spoken out against the failure of grand juries in Ferguson and New York to indict police officers in the deaths of Brown and Garner, attended the event.

The walk-out was planned by the Congressional Black Associates, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association.

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