Subscribe to CNC Huffpo feed
Chicago news and blog articles from The Huffington Post
Updated: 57 min 27 sec ago

If You Have A Mac, Memorize These 13 Keyboard Tricks

Mon, 2014-04-14 08:02
If you're going to spend your life with your hands hovering over a keyboard, you might as well do it right. Or at least make the experience as tolerable as possible.

And while most Mac users the know basic keyboard shortcuts -- command + "X" to cut, command +"V" to paste, etc. -- there are so many more life-altering, time-saving tricks to be discovered. Let us lead you into the light.

1. If your boss walks by while you're reading this article, press...
COMMAND + W


Command + W quickly closes the current tab on your web browser, which is helpful if you're trying to sneak in a cat video (or worse) at work.



2. If your boss walks by and basically everything you're reading is incriminating, press...
COMMAND + H



Command + H hides the current application and all of its windows. Because, let's face it, sometimes more than one tab can be incriminating.

3. If you're drowning in a sea of windows...
COMMAND + OPTION + M



Command + Option + M minimizes all your windows so you can create the illusion of a fresh start. But remember, "starting over" really just adds to the mess.


4. If you need to cut through the clutter, press...
COMMAND + F3



Command + F3 pushes all your open applications out of the way so you can actually see your desktop, so you can procrastinate dealing with impending application overload.



5. To become a tab-scrolling expert, press..
COMMAND + 1 (and so on)



Command + a number helps you easily scroll through the respective tabs in your web browser, so you can quickly see what you need and, more importantly, click out of what you don't.

6. If you're kind of picky about your computer volume, press...
OPTION + SHIFT + F11
and
OPTION + SHIFT + F12



Option+Shift+F11+F12 will lower or raise the volume in smaller increments than the typical volume symbols. WHO KNEW?



7. If you need to add a little psychedelic flavor to your day, press...
CONTROL + OPTION + COMMAND + 8



Control+Option+Command+8 reverses the colors on your screen. Now try going back and forth real, real fast. You will be transfixed.


8. If you don't want to watch the entire hour-long YouTube Video of your niece's dance recital, press...
1, 2, 3 (and so on)



1, 2, 3 will advance the video to 10 percent completion, 20 percent completion, 30 percent completion, respectively (and so on and so forth). Take that, little niece.




9. If you frequently write words like "antidisestablishmentarianism," press...
OPTION + DELETE



Option+Delete deletes entire words so you don't have to hold down the delete key forever. Unfortunately, there is not a keyboard shortcut to ending your insufferable wordiness.



10. If your vocabulary isn't quite as advanced, try...
CONTROL + COMMAND + D



Control+Command+D will define any highlighted word. Look at you, all literate now!

11. If formatting copied text drives you insane, try...
CONTROL + COMMAND+V



Control+Command+V pastes your copied text without including its formatting. Your formatting problems have now been disappeared.

12. If you're a fast reader or a little spastic, try
COMMAND + UP
and
COMMAND + DOWN



Command+Up and Command+Down will make your scroll jump. This command will have you hopping through the text for a speedier, if not slightly erratic, reading experience.

13. If the feeling of the sun on your face has been permanently replaced with the feeling of your retina display on your face, try...
CONTROL + OPTION + COMMAND + EJECT



Control+Option+Command+Eject quickly shuts down your computer so you can get outside, you crazy, pasty kid! No, but seriously, go the heck outside.

Lunar Eclipse To Bring 'Blood Moon' On April 15 (VIDEO)

Mon, 2014-04-14 07:26
What exactly is a "blood moon," and what's its connection to a lunar eclipse?

Skywatchers will find out on April 15, as the first total lunar eclipse of 2014 kicks off a series of four blood moons expected to grace the night sky over the next year and a half. Just check out the new NASA video above to learn more.

Total lunar eclipses are sometimes called "blood moons" as they can present "a dramatically colorful appearance, ranging from bright orange to blood red,” Fred Espenak, an astronomer with expertise in eclipses, told The Washington Post.

The dramatic colors are the result of dispersed light from the Earth's sunrises and sunsets falling on the face of the moon.

The upcoming eclipse will be the first in a lunar eclipse tetrad, the term for four consecutive lunar eclipses. It will begin at 2 a.m. EDT on April 15 and will be visible for most skywatchers in North America.

The first eclipse of the year is well placed for observers throughout the Western Hemisphere.



Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye.

The other lunar eclipses in the upcoming tetrad will fall on October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015; and September 28, 2015.

Dozing Through 'The Great Moving Right Show'

Mon, 2014-04-14 07:08
The greatest danger currently facing all of us in America, and particularly progressives, is one of drift. As an economy, the United States is drifting along a low-growth path that is acclimatizing all of us to levels of unemployment which only a decade ago would have been treated as an outrage. As a society, the United States is drifting towards levels of income and wealth inequality so large that, if left unchallenged, will soon become irreversible. And as a political system, the United States is drifting towards a Republican sweep of both the House and the Senate in November unless the democratic left acts now to reverse what is in truth a carefully orchestrated and heavily funded great moving right show.

Those of us of a progressive predisposition are drifting towards a political defeat of historic proportions -- one underpinned by an economic and social settlement of a highly conservative kind -- and we are doing so with what would appear to be only the slightest sense of alarm. If that is true, we do now need to wake up, and do everything we can to stop the drift.

I

The political drift is understandable. The idealism briefly mobilized by the Obama candidacy in 2008 against the backdrop of an unpopular war and an unprecedented recession has long gone, washed away by the moderation of Obama the president and by the steady post-recession pressure on the job security and living standards of Democratic voters. Any generalized faith among particularly young Obama supporters that the levers of power in Washington could be deployed for progressive ends by our first African-American President has been rendered mute by the gridlock of divided government and by the intransigence of Republican opposition to each and every one of his policies, no matter how moderate those policies turned out to be. And the resulting White House horse-trading of big gains for minor ones has taken the gloss off a presidency that once promised so much, by restricting the capacity of even as gifted a politician as Barack Obama to use the presidential bully pulpit to articulate a convincing alternative progressive vision.

It is conservatives who are enthusiastic for politics now, not progressives -- that is how much has changed since 2008 -- and that conservative enthusiasm constitutes a real and present danger not just to the Affordable Care Act but also to what still remains of the legacy of both the New Deal and the Great Society. The fate of minimum labor rights, of Social Security, of Medicare and Medicaid -- all that also hangs in the balance as America goes into its next electoral cycle. So this is no time for understatement. Right now the democratic left in America is being seriously outplayed. Progressives are losing both the public argument and public support. We have to understand why, and we have to do something about it.

Why are we losing support? We are losing public support in part because there is currently so much money flowing against us, as the Supreme Court repeatedly opens the sprocket through which the funds of conservative billionaires so easily flow. We are losing public support in part because the Republicans, sitting in power in the House, are able to block one progressive initiative after another, so generating an impotence in Washington which further alienates people from government, reinforcing the very antipathy to public policy on which conservative Republicanism feeds. And we are losing public support in part because what progressive leadership there still is in Washington is either preoccupied by the wider responsibilities of office or rendered invisible by the mainstream media's almost total focus on the daily pantomime of Congressional deadlock. Mix into that lethal political cocktail the additional fact that so many of the senators now struggling for re-election are themselves on the conservative wing of the Democratic coalition, and it becomes even clearer why the November elections could be a progressive wipe-out. It could be a complete wipe-out to the degree that one uninspiring Democratic office-holder after another is rejected in favor of an even more conservative Republican opponent by a mid-term electorate seriously reduced in size by the unwillingness of so many Democratic supporters to vote at all.

We cannot let that debacle happen without trying to prevent it; which is why the fight-back has to start now. Starting in November will be far too late. The current Republican onslaught of ideas and money has to be challenged throughout the summer and the fall -- challenged with ideas and money of our own. Progressive ideas need to be widely reasserted, the better to encourage the flow of Democratic money and activism. The American electorate needs to hear again, in every corner of the public debate, progressive arguments that undercut core Republican claims and progressive ideas that project a clear and superior alternative social and economic compact. Potential American voters need to hear again arguments and ideas, that is, which collectively constitute an equivalent great moving left show.

II

Good shows need a good script. This one could use at least the following.

Markets, left to themselves, work well when everyone within them has equal purchasing power. But when that basic equality of consumer power is missing, unregulated markets simply privilege the rich and intensify the inequality that corrodes their inner working. If Republicans genuinely want markets to work well, they should join us in creating a level playing field for all the participants.

In any case, even when markets do work well, not all of them are the same and not all services are properly bought and sold. Labour markets (markets in which people sell their skills) are not the same kind of markets as those for the commodities people then make; and because they are not, they require different kinds of regulation. Some services (not least the provision of decent health care) are not best distributed by price. You shouldn't buy and sell things that are more properly available to everyone by right.

The current Republican Party resistance to effective federal regulation runs counter to the fundamental truth that, for long-term democratic health, public policy should always take precedence over private monopoly. Public goods are vital to the public good. Even Adam Smith recognized that such public goods required their public provision; and what was good for Adam Smith ought to be good for those who follow him.

Trickle-down economics simply does not work; and because it does not, the most effective route back to full employment and rising living standards -- given our contemporary economic conditions -- is not through a growth strategy that further empowers the rich. It is through a growth strategy based on greater income and wealth equality. Greater equality is currently an economic as well as a moral imperative.

Equal pay for equal work, as part of a sustained assault on the gender gap, is more than a morally desirable objective -- though it is certainly that. It is also a key element in a vitally needed resetting of the balance between work and life in contemporary America, and as such is by far the most effective way currently available to us to immediately strengthen the American family. You don't strengthen families by underpaying women.

Nor do you strengthen American employment by exporting jobs overseas. A strong American middle class requires a strong American manufacturing sector. Low-paid service employment simply will not cut it. Nation-building at home needs to precede nation-building abroad; and

Climate-change denial is a conservative luxury that we can no longer afford. No adequate economic strategy can or should ignore the appalling environmental consequences of excessive business de-regulation. The route to long-term and secure growth has to be a green route, and it is a route whose time has come.

III

Each of these central progressive assertions needs to be developed and justified by detailed arguments relevant to them alone. In the months to come, my contribution to creating and sustaining a great moving left show will be focused on that task. I hope that others will contribute too, adding to the list of progressive assertions and developing the arguments to sustain each. Conservative and libertarian voices have been allowed to frame public discourse in Obama's America for too long. The few progressive public intellectuals on which we now regularly rely -- the Paul Krugman's, E.J. Dionne's and Harold Meyerson's of this world -- have carried the burden alone for too long. It is time for the entirety of the Democratic Left to stir itself, and to be heard again.

____________
These arguments are more fully developed in David Coates, Answering back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments. New York: Continuum Books, 2010.

First posted with full academic citations at www.davidcoates.net

Southwest Plane Diverted After Unruly Passenger Tries To Open Door Midflight, Witnesses Say

Mon, 2014-04-14 00:50

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California-bound Southwest Airlines flight was diverted to Omaha, Neb. after witnesses said a passenger tried to open a door midflight.


The airline said the Chicago-to-Sacramento plane landed on Eppley Airfield Sunday to "have an unruly passenger removed" before continuing on to its destination. The flight with 5 crew members and 134 passengers arrived in Sacramento about two hours behind schedule.


Once on the ground, a doctor onboard told KCRA-TV he and two other passengers tackled the man in the back of the cabin and restrained him until air marshals escorted him off the plane. Scott Porter said the man "was going to do bad things to the plane."


The airline had no further details about the passenger. A call to the Omaha Airport Authority wasn't immediately returned.

U.N. Climate Panel Highlights Lack Of Action On Rising Temperatures

Sun, 2014-04-13 08:24
BERLIN (AP) — The cost of keeping global warming in check is "relatively modest," but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.'s expert panel on climate change said Sunday.

Such gases, mainly CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, rose on average by 2.2 percent a year in 2000-2010, driven by the use of coal in the power sector, officials said as they launched the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's report on measures to fight global warming. Without additional measures to contain emissions, global temperatures will rise about 3 degrees to 4 degrees Celsuis (5 degrees to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 compared to current levels, the panel said.

"The longer we delay the higher would be the cost," IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri told The Associated Press after the panel's weeklong session in Berlin. "But despite that, the point I'm making is that even now, the cost is not something that's going to bring about a major disruption of economic systems. It's well within our reach."

The IPCC, an international body assessing climate science, projected that shifting the energy system from fossil fuels to zero- or low-carbon sources including wind and solar power would reduce consumption growth by about 0.06 percentage points per year, adding that that didn't take into account the economic benefits of reduced climate change. "The loss in consumption is relatively modest," Pachauri said.

The IPCC said the shift would entail a near-quadrupling of low-carbon energy — which in the panel's projections included renewable sources as well as nuclear power and fossil fuel-fired plants equipped with technologies to capture some of the emissions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called it a global economic opportunity.

"So many of the technologies that will help us fight climate change are far cheaper, more readily available, and better performing than they were when the last IPCC assessment was released less than a decade ago," Kerry said.

The IPCC said large changes in investments would be required. Fossil fuel investments in the power sector would drop by about $30 billion annually while investments in low-carbon sources would grow by $147 billion. Meanwhile, annual investments in energy efficiency in transport, buildings and industry sectors would grow by $336 billion.

The message contrasted with oil and gas company Exxon Mobil's projection two weeks ago that the world's climate policies are "highly unlikely" to stop it from selling fossil fuels far into the future, saying they are critical to global development and economic growth.

Coal emissions have declined in the U.S. as some power plants have switched to lower-priced natural gas but they are fueling economic growth in China and India.

The IPCC avoided singling out any countries or recommending how to share the costs of climate action in the report, the third of a four-part assessment on climate change.

Though it is a scientific body, its summaries outlining the main findings of the underlying reports need to be approved by governments. This brings a political dimension to the process.

In Berlin, a dispute erupted over whether to include charts that showed emissions from large developing countries are rising the fastest as they expand their economies. Developing countries said linking emissions to income growth would divert attention from the fact that historically, most emissions have come from the developed nations, which industrialized earlier.

"This is the first step for developed countries of avoiding responsibilities and saying all countries have to assume the responsibility for climate change," said Diego Pacheco, the head of Bolivia's delegation in Berlin.

In the end the charts were taken out of the summary, but would remain in the underlying report, which was to be published later in the week, officials said.

Counting all emissions since the industrial revolution in the 18th century, the U.S. is the top carbon polluter. China's current emissions are greater than those of the U.S. and rising quickly. China's historical emissions are expected to overtake those of the U.S. in the next decade.

The IPCC summary also refrained from detailed discussions on what level of financial transfers are needed to help developing countries shift to cleaner energy and adapt to climate change.

Another IPCC report, released last month, warned that flooding, droughts and other climate impacts could have devastating effects on economies, agriculture and human health, particularly in developing countries.

"The world's poorest nations are in need of economic development. But they need to be helped to leapfrog dirty energy and develop in a way which won't entrench their poverty by making climate change worse," said Mohamed Adow of charity group Christian Aid.

The IPCC reports provide the scientific basis for U.N. climate negotiations. Governments are supposed to adopt a new climate agreement next year that would rein in emissions after 2020.

The ambition of that process is to keep warming below 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 Fahrenheit) compared to today's levels. Global temperatures have already gone up 0.8 Celsuis (1.4 Fahrenheit) since the start of record-keeping in the 19th century.

The IPCC, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, said the U.N. goal is still possible but would require emissions cuts of 40 percent to 70 percent by 2050 and possibly the large-scale deployment of new technologies to suck CO2 out of the air and bury it deep underground.

"The IPCC is telling us in no uncertain terms that we are running out of time — but not out of solutions — if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington-based environmental group. "That requires decisive actions to curb carbon pollution — and an all-out race to embrace renewable sources of energy. History is calling."

____

Karl Ritter can be reached at www.twitter.com/karl_ritter

People Are Making A Lot Of Money In College Sports, Just Not The Athletes

Sun, 2014-04-13 08:14
When it comes to college sports, a lot of money is at stake.

A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board to allow players at Northwestern University to vote to unionize, coupled with a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA arguing student-athletes should be paid, has shaken the college sports world, threatening to disrupt a multi-billion dollar business.

The NCAA, a nonprofit, has long argued it's an amateur model, the athletes are students first and they are compensated through scholarships.

But that defense is challenged when, after he and his team became the national champions of men's basketball, University of Connecticut player Shabazz Napier opened up about going to bed hungry as a student-athlete.

"We're definitely blessed to get scholarships to our universities, but at the end of the day, that doesn't cover everything," Napier told a group of reporters, adding, "I don't think student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but ... there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I'm starving."

The Most Profitable Teams Make Ridiculous Amounts Of Money

Despite UConn winning the national title in both men's and women's basketball this year, Napier plays for a program that actually loses money. According to FindTheBest, a website that collected data submitted to the Education Department's Office of Postsecondary Education, UConn's basketball program ran $2.36 million in the red in the 2013 fiscal year. (Still, UConn men's head coach Kevin Ollie makes $1.25 million annually.)

However, many other hoops teams collect millions in profit.

Compare College Basketball Programs | FindTheBest


And yet, the real money is in college football.

Most Profitable NCAA Division I-A College Sports Teams | FindTheBest


At Northwestern, where players are considering unionizing, football and basketball are the only two sports bringing in cash -- and no small amount, either. The Illinois school's football program collects $8.4 million in profits annually, while basketball nabs $3.9 million per year, according to FindTheBest.

Northwestern University Sports Programs | FindTheBest


To explain how much money is available, see football powerhouse University of Texas at Austin. If the university paid each of its Texas Longhorn football players a salary based off Texas' minimum wage, amounting to $13,920 a year, it would still leave $80 million of profit on the table, according to calculations using FindTheBest's data on profits. If the same were to happen at Northwestern, based on Illinois' current minimum wage, it would still leave almost $7 million in profit untouched.

Of course, players aren't paid a dime, unlike the coaches.

Comparing Coaching Salaries With The Rest Of The Nonprofit World

The head coaches of three football teams -- Texas' Charlie Strong, Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema -- all collect more than $5 million a year. Six other head coaches make roughly $4 million annually, ranging $3.9 million to $4.8 million, according to USA Today's salary database.

Comparing the salaries of coaches at these "nonprofit" sports programs to those of executives at nonprofits more broadly,
Strong, Saban and Bielema each earn approximately twice as much as the "most overpaid" nonprofit executive, according to the Fiscal Times: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation chief investment officer Laurance Hoagland Jr., who pulls in $2.5 million annually.

The roughly $5 million salary these coaches earn is also 12 times more than the median compensation for nonprofit CEOs in 2012: $417,989, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy additionally said that seven nonprofits paid their chief executives in excess of a million last year, along with 27 other groups that provided pay for 2011. No college president in the country earns as much as these coaches, either.

And that's without even mentioning Duke University's head basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who makes nearly $10 million a year, or the 34 other millionaire men's college hoops coaches, or the nine athletic directors making a million or more annually.

The Highest Paid Public Employee In All But 11 States Is A College Football Or Basketball Coach

CHART: The highest paid state govt employee in your state. Probably a football coach.
(Source http://t.co/f2CmYGrzEs) pic.twitter.com/L5yHoTBVLO

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) May 10, 2013


Assistant coaches make bank, too.

At UT Austin, a number of assistant coaches and coordinators earn close to half a million a year, according to the Texas Tribune.

And for good measure, let's not forget that while he's not a public employee, NCAA President Mark Emmert makes over $1.7 million annually, for running a nonprofit.

How Do The Ever-Growing Coaches' Salaries Compare To Professors' Pay?

As the NCAA likes to remind people, the players are in school for an education first and are on the team for the love of the sport. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald considers himself an educator, "teaching life lessons." Though coaches teach courses at some schools, this isn't true for a majority of universities known for their athletics, or for Fitzgerald.

College professors have salaries that pale in comparison to the coaches of sports teams. Professors earn between $50,032 and $126,981 annually, according to the American Association of University Professors. Adjuncts, or part-time, non-tenure track instructors, make around $20,000 to $25,000 a year, according to the AAUP.

That pay gap between educators and coaches is also getting worse, and it's not just limited to just basketball and football.

Even the head coaches of NCAA Division I tennis, soccer and golf squads are seeing their pay increase 3 to 4 times faster than the average professor, according to AAUP.

Cross, Frerichs Treasurer Contest Cues up Fierce Clash

Sat, 2014-04-12 14:00
Both the rhetoric and the tactics are heating up in race for State Treasurer, which other than the Governor's race, offers the most potential for drama in Illinois' 2014 campaign season.

While this race may not feature stark ideological differences on social issues, former House GOP Minority Leader Tom Cross and State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) are two well-established pols who are eager to move up and who both have enough political history to make opposition researchers gleeful.

Cross recently went on the offensive after the Governor Pat Quinn's budget address, pinning Frerichs to Quinn's attempt at "doubling down" on the permanent extension of the 2011 income tax hike and generally laying the entire sorry state of the Illinois budget on the "Quinn/Frerichs" leadership of Illinois.

Frerichs' camp counters that Cross is attempting to persuade voters to forget that the former House Minority Leader participated in crafting multiple inflated budgets built on questionable gimmicks over the years. The senator is liberally using the word "hypocrite" to define Cross.

Cross' camp blames Frerichs for the early negative campaign tone, saying that he used his victory speech on primary night to attack Cross for "consistently siding with wealthy and powerful interests in Springfield" and for saying that Cross has "little regard for the middle class."

The early and angry public rhetoric between the Cross and Frerichs camps is undoubtedly the result of a tight race.

The Cross campaign recently released poll results that reveal Cross leading Frerichs 34-30 percent, a lead within the margin of error.

The survey, conducted by GS Strategy Group, found Cross, who is both pro-choice and a supporter of same sex marriage, grabbing an astonishing 21 percent of the vote in Chicago.

That poll, taken March 6 and 7, had an error margin of plus or minus 4.8 percent.

A source in Frerichs' campaign said that its own poll yielded a similar result - essentially a tied race.

But while the public war of words over economic issues is following predictable partisan talking points, an inside source is saying the real drama is heating up behind the scenes.

Frerichs' campaign is reportedly angry that Cross staffers have begun issuing Freedom of Information Requests not only looking for information on Frerichs, but extending their requests to family members in government, including two of Frerichs' brothers who are non-classroom, blue-color employees at the University of Illinois at Champaign.

It is common for opposition researchers to review candidate family members and to tar their opponent with any problematic information. But Frerichs reportedly was unhappy to hear to the news that his family was already being dragged into the fray.

In addition to the FOIA's, Cross' team is considering rehashing an attack line from Frerichs' 2012 campaign for reelection in which his opponent claimed that Frerichs' family moved their trucking business out of state. The business is owned by a distant cousin and the charge is a stretch, but voters often fail to look past the first couple of lines of an attack ad. Frerichs cruised to victory in 2012, but Cross may still think the issue has traction when properly amplified.

The Cross campaign is, however, making it clear that its opposition research operation will avoid any "dumpster diving," saying it will steer clear of any probe of Frerichs' recent divorce settlement.

Frerichs' campaign got off to a rough start when his announcement video featured him touting that he "voted to end free health care for legislators", a measure he actually voted against. But early mistakes are better than late ones, and it is doubtful that it will wound him fatally in the long run.

Still, Frerichs recognizes that he is largely undefined statewide.

"No body knows who the hell we are," said a Frerichs campaign source citing polling data. "An no one knows who Cross is either."

Meanwhile, the Frerichs operation is comfortable with their financial position.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Frerichs reported a significant money advantage over Cross with $800,000 in the bank to Cross' $388,000. And on Tuesday, Frerichs, who had no primary opponent, announced that he had raised $387,000 in the first quarter of 2014 and that he ended with $1,082,000 on hand.

In the first quarter, Cross raised $147,988 in large contributions for his treasurer account and $22,000 for his legislative campaign committee. But he faced a primary opponent and spent nearly $150,000 on broadcast ads, according to one estimate from an ad tracker.

What's next?

Trying to determine the moment when to pull the trigger on advertising to define the candidate and the opponent is the most important question for a campaign. A million dollars is a lot of dough, but that's just a few weeks of a solid TV buy in the Chicago media market.

Still, a pile of unused cash does little for a candidate's poll numbers.

Spend early? Spend late?

That's a key decision that awaits Frerichs.

For observers, only the unfolding campaign drama between Cross and Frerichs awaits.

DavidOrmsby@DavidOrmsby.com

David also edits, with the help of Capitol Fax's Rich Miller,
The Illinois Observer: The Insider, in which this article first appeared.

16 Shot, 2 Fatally, In 12 Hours

Sat, 2014-04-12 12:47
Two people were shot to death and 14 others were wounded in city shootings from Friday afternoon into Saturday morning.

The most recent homicide happened about 9:25 p.m. Friday in the 2700 block of East 76th Street in the South Shore neighborhood on the South Side, police said. A 37-year-old man, who has not yet been officially identified, sustained "multiple" gunshot wounds and died on a front porch of a frame home on that block.

The Best And Worst Predictions From The 1964 World's Fair

Sat, 2014-04-12 10:03

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York World's Fair of 1964 introduced 51 million visitors to a range of technological innovations and predictions during its run. Fifty years later, some of those ideas have turned out to be commonplace in our world. Others? Not so much.


What they had right:


— "Picturephone": Bell System introduced this innovation, which allowed people to see whom they were calling. It didn't go over well at the time, but it's a concept that's an everyday part of our lives now in apps such as Skype and Facetime.


— Personal use of the computer: Several pavilions had exhibits set up where visitors could ask computers for information and get responses in seconds.


— Robotics: Walt Disney's "It's a Small World" exhibit introduced robotic animation in which characters sing, speak and make lifelike gestures such as smiles and blinks. It's still in use in theme parks and movies today.


— Ford Mustang: The two-seater sports car with its long hood and short rear deck was officially unveiled at the World's Fair and immediately became popular. It has remained in production ever since.


— Touch-tone phones: Originally introduced at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, this was still the first time many visitors were exposed to this technology.


What they had wrong:


— Colonies on the moon, underwater and in Antarctica: The "Futurama 2" ride from General Motors, which featured images of people living in places where they clearly don't.


— Paved-over rainforests: Another image from "Futurama 2" featured a machine that used a laser to cut through the rainforests and left behind paved roads.


— Jet packs: There were demonstrations of jet pack power at the fair, with men wearing them and zooming around the grounds. Sadly, they remain a mode of transport found mainly in science fiction.

Paul Ryan: My Budget Is A Step Toward GOP Unity

Sat, 2014-04-12 09:19
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan told an Iowa audience Friday that his party can and must come together, and he held out his recently passed budget plan as a sign of growing GOP unity.

Although blocs of Republicans object to aspects of the plan passed Thursday in the U.S. House, Ryan said it embodies the principles upon which the nation was founded. "Some people wanted to go further, some people thought it went too far. The point is we unified around these common principles in a plan," the Wisconsin congressman told reporters after headlining a state party dinner in Cedar Rapids. "That's very important to me — which is we can't just oppose, we have to propose."

Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, also played down the significance of his speech in Iowa, home of the leadoff presidential nominating caucuses. He declined to discuss plans beyond the election in November, including whether he would seek the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, in light of Michigan Rep. David Camp's decision to retire after 2014.

"It's just premature to get into all that stuff," he said.

Instead he said during his speech that Republicans must unify behind goals.

"We may disagree from time to time on tactics, but let's put it all in perspective and come together and unify on the task," he said after the speech.

Ryan headlined a fundraiser in Illinois before swinging west to Iowa, and he was headed home to southern Wisconsin after Friday night's event. He was invited to headline the Iowa dinner more than a year ago, and spoke to an audience of about 400. The annual spring dinner typically draws would-be presidential candidates as marquee speakers.

Many GOP officials in Iowa, the state where a Ryan presidential campaign would likely start, praised Ryan's effort drafting the budget, including Gov. Terry Branstad. But they also said it's far from perfect.

"I certainly do not endorse all the details in that budget. But I do give him credit for at least trying to do something," Branstad told The Associated Press this week. "I obviously am concerned about those things that would have a negative impact on our state or on our state budget."

Ryan authored the mostly symbolic measure. It promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years through sweeping cuts in social spending, including major changes to the health care law.

The plan, which also calls for steps toward private market solutions, could be a sort of political credo for Ryan, should he seek the presidency.

Under the plan passed in the GOP-controlled House, Congress would repeal the Medicaid component of the 2010 health care bill. Last year, Branstad, like several GOP governors, agreed to expand and modify the state-administered health care plan for poor people, with the understanding that the federal government would provide financing for the expansion for three years before gradually decreasing the portion to 90 percent.

The GOP plan would cut more than $5 trillion over the coming decade. It would rely on sharp cuts to domestic programs, but leave Social Security untouched and shift more money to the Pentagon and health care for veterans. The cuts would come at the expense of poor people and seniors on Medicaid, lower-income workers receiving the health care law's subsidies, and people receiving food stamps or Pell Grants.

"House Republicans put our votes on the line, and we passed for the fourth year in a row a budget that balances the budget and pays off our debt," Ryan said, in his lone mention of the measure during his 20 minute speech Friday night.

The comment sparked a slow roll of applause across the banquet hall. But, several other Iowa GOP leaders and candidates said it would not go far enough.

Iowa Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler said "conservatives certainly don't like it," chiefly because it does not project a balanced budget until 2024.

Ten years is too long, said U.S. House candidate Matt Schultz, Iowa's secretary of state.

"We've got to start making serious decisions now," said Schultz. "A budget that says, '10 years from now,' is not good enough."

But the six-way GOP field for the June 3 primary Schultz is running in is divided on the measure, according to interviews with other 3rd District candidates.

"It moves the ball down the field," David Young, a former senior aide to Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, said of Ryan's plan. "And that's a good thing."

But it would allow increased total spending next year, the ultimate problem for conservatives, said former state GOP executive director Chuck Laudner.

"It's the same trap, even if the numbers add up," Laudner said. "People can't get past that opening paragraph: We're going to spend more."

News Anchor Caught Off Guard By Lab-Grown Vaginas: 'That Was A Tough Story For Me To Read' (VIDEO)

Fri, 2014-04-11 16:28
A Chicago morning news team earned itself yet another gold star for awkwardness during a Friday segment on -- wait for it -- lab-grown vaginas.

WGN Morning News anchor Robin Baumgarten could barely hold it together during the segment about four teenage girls who successfully received the lab-grown organs and confessed at the end of the clip, "That was a tough story for me to read, I just want you to know that."

var src_url="https://spshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?playList=518193445%2C518193452%2C518030913%2C517885989%2C517929918%2C517885890&height=411&width=570&sid=577&origin=SOLR&relatedMode=2&relatedBottomHeight=60&companionPos=&hasCompanion=false&autoStart=false&colorPallet=%23FFEB00&videoControlDisplayColor=%23191919&shuffle=0&isAP=1"; src_url += "&onVideoDataLoaded=HPTrack.Vid.DL&onTimeUpdate=HPTrack.Vid.TC"; if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") { src_url += "&siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category; if (commercial_video.package) { src_url += "&sponsorship="+commercial_video.package; } } document.write('');


Baumgarten's colleagues, including co-anchor Larry Potash, wasted no time chiming in with the wisecracks.

"A coochie-coo? Is that better? Just say what it is, it's just biology," Potash said, adding, "I just did a story about the Wig and Penis."

Another anchor off-camera chimed in on the exchange: "Put your stories together and you'll have something going on!"

No stranger to off-the-wall moments that range from reporting on a fake plane crash to coining infamous phrases like "sweater stretchers" and "caboose pistol," WGN Morning News has pretty much cornered the market on hilariously awkward newscasts by now.

Don't ever change, WGN. Don't ever change.

Chicago Archbishop Cardinal George Asks Church To Begin Process To Find His Successor

Fri, 2014-04-11 16:21
CHICAGO (AP) — Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago who is being treated for cancer, said Friday that the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to begin formally searching for his successor as head of the nation's third-largest diocese.

George spoke about his most recent bout with cancer while meeting with reporters to share his thoughts on the canonizations later this month of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. George had been scheduled to travel to Rome for the April 27 canonizations, but canceled his plans on the advice of his doctors. A recent infection forced him to be hospitalized for a week, delaying the start of his second round of chemotherapy, and doctors were worried that he could be vulnerable to another infection during the trip, George said. "I can't do that, it would be very foolish," he said of traveling against that advice. "I'm not going to do something dangerous. ... But I'll be there in prayer."

George spoke admiringly of both popes and said of John Paul that he was down to earth and had an ironic sense of humor even while being "a monumental figure."

"He was a genius and a poet and a philosopher and a very, very kind bishop and a saint," he said. "When you talked to him you had the sense that he was also having a conversation with the Lord, that there were three people in that conversation."

The 77-year-old said it was time to begin the search for his successor as the spiritual leader of Chicago's more than 2 million Roman Catholics. He said he has spoken with the apostolic nuncio, the Vatican's U.S. ambassador, who agreed to formally begin the process. That follows a resignation letter he submitted when he turned 75, as all bishops are required to do at that age. But many bishops continue serve beyond that point, and George had said at the time that he hoped the pope would not immediately accept the resignation and allow him to serve two or three more years.

"The fact that my health is uncertain — it isn't a question of imminent death; I'm not going to be dying, I don't think, in the next few months — but it's a question of being able to spend your entire energy on what is my responsibility as archbishop of Chicago," George said. "... Now, it looks as if I'm going to have to be spending a little more attention on my health. And so it's just not fair to the archdiocese."

George said the formal succession process is lengthy and will begin soon, although he had no precise timeframe.

He has resumed his chemotherapy after being hospitalized for an infection that left him dehydrated and with flu-like symptoms. The cancer is near his right kidney.

George survived bladder cancer eight years ago and was diagnosed with urothelial cancer in 2012.

He had planned to meet with Pope Francis during the visit to Rome and said he still hopes to do so on another occasion.

George still intends to participate in the Holy Week services and Easter Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral.

Illinois Man With Infectious TB Must Stay Home Alone, Judge Says

Fri, 2014-04-11 15:52

CHICAGO, April 11 (Reuters) - An Illinois judge on Friday ordered a disobedient patient with infectious tuberculosis to wear an ankle bracelet and stay home alone or be taken into custody.

Christian Mbemba Ibanda, of Champaign, Illinois, failed to appear at a hearing for which Judge Chase Leonhard and his entire courtroom had been fitted with protective masks to guard against the highly contagious disease.

Authorities later found Ibanda, who is in his 20s, and he is now wearing an ankle bracelet, said Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde.

Pryde, who sought the order, said the man had refused to come to the hearing and told her he was staying home.

However, when a team of health officials arrived at his apartment in Champaign, about 140 miles (225 km) south of Chicago, it was vacant. Pryde slapped a sign on the door reading "Quarantine. Contagious Disease. Keep Out."

Ibanda was diagnosed in March with active pulmonary tuberculosis, and was ordered to stay home on his own and await a nurse's daily visit to administer medication, Pryde said.

"We go and he's not there," she said before the hearing.

On previous occasions, when health workers contacted Ibanda by phone, he had said he was out shopping and "basically told us he has things to do," Pryde said.

Another time, he was found to be home with a woman and a 5-year-old girl, both sleeping in the house and neither wearing masks, she said.

Ibanda could not be reached for comment.

Pryde said it was not immediately clear whether Ibanda would face consequences for failing to show up at Friday's proceeding.

Tuberculosis is a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease with symptoms including night sweats and extreme exhaustion and is spread through sneezing or coughing.

Unlike some forms of multidrug-resistant TB, active pulmonary tuberculosis responds to drug therapy. If Ibanda was compliant, he could be rendered noninfectious in five weeks and cured in six months to a year, Pryde said.

It is not known how Ibanda contracted the disease.

In a similar case in 2009, another Champaign TB patient was in court-ordered isolation for about six weeks and, after a year of therapy, he was cured of TB, Pryde said. (Editing by Matthew Lewis and Mohammad Zargham)

You Can't Buy Ikea's Newest Item In Stores, But It Just May Change The World

Fri, 2014-04-11 14:31
Ikea just got one step closer to going off the grid.

The Swedish home goods giant, best known for its affordable and efficiently flat-packed furniture, announced Tuesday the purchase of a 98-megawatt wind farm in Hoopestown, Ill.

The farm, about 110 miles south of Chicago, marks the company's single-largest renewable energy investment to date.

“It’s about taking care of the environment and living within our means," Rob Olson, chief financial officer of Ikea U.S., told the Tribune Thursday.

The Hoopestown wind farm is currently under construction and expected to be up and running by the first part of 2015, the company said in a statement. Upon its completion, the farm is expected to generate up to 380 gigawatt hours of renewable energy a year, or the equivalent of taking 55,000 cars off the road annually. The company says the projected output represents the energy consumed by 70 Ikea stores or 18 percent of the electricity used by the Ikea Group worldwide.

“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense,” Olson said according to the news release.

Terms of the deal weren't released, though the company said Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex Clean Energy will run the farm on Ikea's behalf.

Back in 2012, the company announced a roughly $2 billion stratedy to be energy independent by 2020.

Currently, Ikea owns wind farms in eight other countries including Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden. The company also boasts sizeable solar energy investments with 90 percent of its U.S. stores generating solar power, Forbes reports.

Other big energy-consuming corporations like Wal-Mart, Intel, Whole Foods, Khol's and Google have already invested heavily in wind power and other renewable energy sources.

Greg Hasevlat, a sustainability research analyst at Pax World Management LLC, told the Tribune beyond corporate responsibility, the investments are way to maintain some stability despite volatile and ever-fluctuating fossil fuel costs.

“All those stores in aggregate consume a lot of electricity,’’ Hasevlat said. “These are not small investments, these are long term business decisions.”

U.S. Legal Pot Sales To Hit $8 Billion A Year In 2018: Report

Fri, 2014-04-11 14:02
Combined sales of legal recreational and medical marijuana in the United States is projected to reach more than $8 billion in 2018. That's according to a new report by Marijuana Business Daily citing data from the Marijuana Business Factbook, which forecasts that the 2018 retail marijuana industry could see an estimated $7.4 to $8.2 billion in sales.

The projection is based on sales estimates from the state-legal medical and recreational marijuana markets that already exist, as well as 4-5 additional states that are expected to legalize recreational marijuana and 2-3 states expected to legalize medical marijuana by 2018.

Currently, there are 20 states with legal medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington have both legalized recreational marijuana and about a dozen other states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form in the coming years.

“This total is conservative –- the reality of retail sales could be larger,” Chris Walsh, editor of CannaBusiness Media, the publisher of both the Factbook and Marijuana Business Daily, said in a statement. “Nor does it include wholesale cannabis sales, or the billions of dollars in ancillary cannabusiness revenues such as growing equipment, real estate, legal fees, testing labs, paraphernalia, etc.”

Walsh's suggestion that sales could exceed that $8 billion mark is supported by another recent study that projects that the U.S. marijuana industry could be worth $10 billion by 2018.

If Colorado's first two months of legal recreational sales are any sign, the market nationally could see tremendous revenues. In January alone, 59 marijuana dispensaries -- a small fraction of the approximately 550 total dispensaries in the state that could qualify to sell legal cannabis -- generated $14 million in sales. Sales were also up slightly in February, bringing in a two-month total of about $7.6 million in medical and recreational taxes and fees into the state's coffers.

Why Is John Cullerton Talking About Sunshine, Rainbows and Liking Illinois?

Fri, 2014-04-11 13:32


Senate President John Cullerton says he likes Illinois. And it's in writing too, so it would be hard for anyone to dispute him on that fact. Cullerton wrote an op-ed saying despite it being "not all sunshine and rainbows" in Illinois, he is optimistic about the state's future because of the progress he says the state has made the past five years.

What progress you may say? Cullerton has it all laid out for you in his op-ed.

YOU CAN READ CULLERTON'S PIECE HERE

Cullerton definitely says he likes Illinois, but why? It could be for the reasons he laid out in his op-ed, or perhaps it's because he read our awesome list of 25 Illinois fun facts which you can read too.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CLICK HERE FOR THE FUN FACTS

The One Question I Am Asked In Every Country I Visit

Fri, 2014-04-11 13:17
I have been asked about Miley Cyrus a handful of times during my travels abroad. I am often asked if I know someone named "John" who also lives in New York City.

But the only question I have been asked on every coast of every country I've visited is: "Why do Americans love guns so much?"

One of my Tasmanian friends wants to travel to the U.S. but told me she is "scared I'll be shot." A New Zealander informed me last night that, were she to summarize the U.S. in one word, it would be: "violent." My Saudi Arabian friend gently suggested, "Every country has its problems. Yours is guns."

As the U.S. repeatedly fails to prevent gun violence, I find myself often slipping into a disillusioned resignation that perhaps this is just how the world is now. But what is happening in America is not normal.

I was studying in an American middle school classroom the day two high-schoolers entered Columbine High School and shot to death 12 students and one teacher.

I was traveling alone for the first time in Belgium when a student killed 32 people on Virginia Tech's campus, and a street vendor asked me if I was scared to return to a U.S. university.

I was in India when a boy shot a 14-year-old student in the neck outside an Atlanta middle school, and a driver asked me why America's children keep shooting other children.

I was in Japan when a 10-year-old boy was accidentally shot to death while playing with other children in Ohio and the Senate rejected efforts to expand gun control.

I was in Tasmania, Australia when a soldier shot and killed fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. The second time.

Tasmania knows gun violence. The country's southernmost state -- which boasts one of the tallest tree species on Earth, the world's best single malt whisky, and pre-Looney Tunes Tasmanian devils -- is also where, one Sunday in 1996, a young man shot 35 people to death.

Tasmania knows what it's like to have a community brought to its knees as media swarm for quotes, scoops and then disappear as the more fixed pain sets in. But when Australia witnessed dozens of its citizens murdered one weekend afternoon, it did something rather foreign to America: it enacted change. Australians turned in nearly 700,000 guns and laws were tightened. There were 11 mass shootings in Australia the decade before 1996. There have been no mass shootings ever since.

Our nation may see itself as a gun-toting "Dirty Harry" hero, but some regard us more as an immature brute unwilling to pry his fingers off deadly toys, drunk on a wildly wealthy gun lobby's stale elixir mislabeled as American pride.

I do not believe that everyone looks at our country's gun obsession with bewilderment and ridicule. But the small percentage of the world's population that I've met sure do.

When I try to explain to my baffled new friends that, well, some Americans feel safer with guns, I get blank stares. Maybe because a study last year found that guns do not make a country safer, and "There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths." A separate report last year found that many of the states with weak gun laws also saw the greatest levels of gun violence.

When I suggest that some people believe unrestricted gun ownership is their Second Amendment right, I get cocked heads. Even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found that "the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

When I ask my international friends why they don't own guns, I get blinks of confusion. "I'm not a hunter," an Australian co-worker suggested. "It's just not our culture," my friend in Japan shrugged.

Australia's former Prime Minister John Howard explained in a New York Times op-ed last year that in his country, "The fundamental problem was the ready availability of high-powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing. Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. But nothing trumps easy access to a gun."

Gun Owners of America's Larry Pratt responded to Australia's initiative: "We're not interested in being like Australia. We're Americans."

Perhaps that's the trouble: A hijacking of the word "American." My passport reads "United States of America," I've voted in every election since turning 18 (and before that I voted in the first three seasons of American Idol.) I grew up on North Carolina hushpuppies, New York bagels, California avocados and Florida orange juice. But I choose life over guns, and it's time that became "American."

Where Did the Good Jobs Go?

Fri, 2014-04-11 13:15
Several days ago, the Labor Department released its most recent figures -- 192,000 new jobs were created in March. That's good news, right? Not necessarily. It's not just the quantity of jobs but the quality that matters, and the quality isn't there.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its own set of data, identifying the fastest growing and largest employment sectors this week. Its findings were sobering but unfortunately not unexpected. As of May 2013, the most recent date for which data is available, the lion's share of jobs are increasingly in low-wage industries such as food service (including fast food, food preparation and waiting tables), office administration, retail, and customer service. With the exception of nursing, average wages for the 10 most common occupations ranged from $18,800 to $34,000. In light of this new data, it's clear that we're overlooking an important angle. If our economy is in recovery, with new jobs being created and profits on the rise, why are wages declining? And how are these low-wage workers making ends meet?

If we look at the numbers, we can see that the answer is simple: They aren't. Heartland Alliance, the Midwest's leading anti-poverty organization, where I work, is based in Illinois, where the average yearly wage for a cashier is $21,250, or $10.22 an hour. This simply isn't a wage you can live off of and as these jobs have multiplied, so has the number of families relying on government programs such as food stamps to make ends meet. Today, one in seven Americans utilize this program -- in 2007 there were less than half as many.

With monthly benefits averaging $130 per person, these low-income workers must spend their food stamp dollars in the most economical possible manner or go hungry. Often, they end up shopping at local discount stores -- which rely largely on low-wage labor -- perpetuating the cycle. These families work hard but can't get by, they rely on benefits to close the gap but have no choice but to patronize the businesses that keep wages low in the first place. That's a cycle that's bad for families, bad for communities and bad for the economy.

We don't have to accept this as a give -- or pick between profitable businesses and well-paid workers. Costco is a great example of this -- it pays its employees an average of just over $20 per hour with pensions and health insurance available and its profits have grown 15 percent annually since 2009. By paying workers well, we also create a cycle -- one we want to encourage. Well-paid workers spend their increased income in their communities, helping to lift their families out of poverty and create thriving local businesses. As communities grow, they become more attractive to businesses looking to invest, bringing new job opportunities and furthering the cycle of growth, which can minimize ties to government programs and help balance our nation's budget. It's a cycle that leads to stability, rather than stagnation and poverty.

In America, short-sighted policy decisions are an issue we're faced with on a consistent basis. Poverty doesn't exist in a bubble; those who receive government benefits increasingly live in a household in which someone works full-time year-round. The problem isn't that there are too few jobs -- it's that there are too few jobs that pay a living wage. Let's take the long view on this. A higher minimum wage would reward work and decrease the need for government benefits and it needn't strip businesses of a healthy profit margin. It's time to decide where our priorities are and make the investment our workers deserve.

An Overwhelming Number Of Fast Food Workers Report Getting Ripped Off By Their Bosses: Poll

Fri, 2014-04-11 12:31
Before she got fed up and quit last month, it wasn't uncommon for Darenisha Mills to keep working after her shift ended at the McDonald's in Pontiac, Mich., where she was a cashier.

"They're asking you to clean the bathrooms, sweep the lobby, run the register," the 26-year-old told The Huffington Post, "but they don't pay you anything for the time you work over."

The formal name for that is wage theft, which occurs when an employer withholds pay rightfully earned by an hourly worker. It happens in a variety of ways, from not paying for overtime, to denying mandated breaks, to subtracting hours from employees' weekly total.

A recent poll commissioned by labor group Fast Food Forward estimates that a stunning 89 percent of fast-food workers have experienced at least one form of wage theft. A previous study, conducted in the first half of 2008 before the recession, found 68 percent of low-wage workers had been victims of wage theft in their previous work week, and estimated that wage theft cost workers an average of $2,634 annually.

"The survey [from Fast Food Forward] lays bare the fact that wage theft is rampant," said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, an attorney with the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage workers and performed the 2008 survey. "It's pervasive throughout our economy."

"They want to keep labor costs very low," said Kwanza Brooks, 37, who was a McDonald's manager for over a decade in Maryland and North Carolina before quitting a couple years ago. "Taking the wages was the only way they could control it," says Brooks, who now volunteers for Fast Food Forward in Charlotte.

The Fast Food Forward poll found that 84 percent of McDonald's workers who responded had experienced wage theft. Hart Research conducted the online survey between Feb. 15 and March 19 on behalf of "Low Pay Is Not OK," a campaign affiliated with Fast Food Forward. The poll surveyed 1,088 fast food employees, including workers at Wendy's and Burger King, in the top 10 metro areas nationally.

McDonald's cautioned against drawing broad conclusions from the survey. In a statement the company called it a "small, random informal sampling." The company said it believed workers should be paid correctly.

McDonald's and its franchisees are now facing six lawsuits in three states, involving tens of thousands of employees, claiming various wage theft violations.

Wage theft can become increasingly common in times of high unemployment, experts say. "When people are desperate for jobs, they're afraid to risk them by taking on their boss," said Ross Eisenbrey, of the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

And because the amounts of wages being withheld are often small, it can be hard for a low-wage worker to find an attorney willing to take their case.

For their part, fast-food managers are under "tremendous pressure" to keep labor costs low, especially when sales are sluggish, said Nelson Lichtenstein, the director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Companies may also engage in the practice when the risk of getting caught is low. There aren't nearly enough U.S. Department of Labor investigators to enforce the laws, said Gebreselassie. He added, "The chance any worksite will be investigated is miniscule."

Nevertheless, the issue of wage theft has been getting increased attention in recent months. In March, the owner of seven McDonald's restaurants in New York was ordered to pay almost $500,000 to more than 1,000 employees who performed work off the clock and had other pay illegally withheld.

The restaurant chain's sales have been slumping of late, and executives acknowledged recently that the company's menu had grown complicated and less appealing to customers.

Drink Like The Truthiest American This Weekend By Channeling Stephen Colbert

Fri, 2014-04-11 12:00
Happy Friday! Welcome to Drink Like A Famous Person, where we let you bring out your fabulous side in the name of some well-earned R&R. Eschew your regular habits this weekend by drinking like...

Stephen Colbert!



Our very favorite Lord of the Rings superfan and faux-conservative news host will be leaving his right-wing alter ego behind for new adventures in late night as he replaces David Letterman next year. Let's show off our own patriotic sides by mixing up...

The "Colbert Bump"!

Back in 2009, Colbert hosted Esquire magazine's resident mixologist, David Wondrich, whom he implored to create a namesake cocktail on his own behalf. Named after the bump in popularity candidates are scientifically proven to enjoy after appearing on "The Colbert Report," you'll need your very best "good ol' Republican gin" for this one -- by the look of things, that'd be Seagrams or Beefeater.

Fill a highball glass three-quarters full of ice as cold as a bald eagle's glare, and stir in the following in order:

1 ounce cherry liquor
1.5 ounces gin
1/4 ounce lemon juice
Splash of soda

Watch Colbert totally own a game of Tolkien trivia with James Franco below.



Cheers!

Pages