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Newly Released Documents Give Boozy Insight Into Prohibition Era (PHOTOS)

Mon, 2014-09-15 12:56
Warning: some of these images may be disturbing to those who love beer.

In newly released documents and photos obtained by and, the height of the Prohibition Era comes to life like never before. As agents knocked down doors and dumped and destroyed beer and liquor, criminals like Al Capone and Enoch "Nucky" Johnson became some of the major players in Prohibition crime from 1920 to 1933.

More from

With the enactment of the Volstead Act in 1920, Prohibition agents were called upon to do the often unpopular work of enforcing the law, which included shutting down speakeasies and stills and interrupting the trafficking of bootleg alcoholic beverages. This collection contains identification card files for prohibition agents, prohibition inspectors, prohibition directors, warehouse agents, narcotics agents, and narcotics inspectors in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Prohibition Unit. Each card includes the date, agent’s name, photograph, residence (city or town), and title and were obtained from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Drink a nice cold beer and check out some of the collection below.

10 Tips to Being a Better Pet Health Caregiver

Mon, 2014-09-15 12:13
This past June, my 82 year-old father was diagnosed with a small cancerous tumor in his lung. Within two weeks of diagnosis, my father had thoracic surgery. I wish I could say that everything went well, but it did not. I thought we chose the right surgeon, the right hospital and the best postsurgical care possible for my father but in retrospect maybe my family and I could have done better. Fortunately, despite the mistakes, my father recovered. I would like to share with you what I learned from this experience because I believe it will make you a better health caregiver to your pet.

Ten tips to being a better health caregiver to your pet:

1. Make sure your veterinarian evaluates the entire patient.
Tell your veterinarian all your pet's problems and your concerns. Don't hold back on details. Your veterinarian may be a skilled diagnostician, but your history is integral to a successful diagnosis and treatment plan. Additionally, have your doctor examine the entire pet - from head to tail - to make sure all your concerns are addressed. It would be unfortunate if you brought your pet in to see your veterinarian for coughing but did not address your pet's painful arthritis.

2. Tell your veterinarian what medications, supplements and food you are giving your pet. Just last week, I ran a chemistry profile on an older dog and discovered that the pet's blood calcium level was significantly elevated. I was just about to investigate this problem when I soon discovered that the owner was giving a calcium supplement to her dog that was prescribed by her previous veterinarian.

3. Ask questions and make sure you not only get answers but also understand the answers. At your pet's next appointment, bring a list of questions to ask your veterinarian. During many conversations with my father's medical team, I frequently forgot to ask them important questions because I was so frazzled by my father's poor health. Check your list of questions before you exit the examination room to make sure that all your questions and concerns were addressed to your satisfaction. If you do not understand what your veterinarian is telling you, please speak up and say you don't understand. Ask your veterinarian for written material on your pet's illness that you can read later in a less stressful setting. If your veterinarian cannot immediately answer your question, make sure he/she will get back to you in a timely fashion or direct you to someone who can. Your veterinarian is the best referral source, so take advantage of it.

4. Make sure your veterinarian is capable of thinking outside the box. Yes, the proverbial saying "common things happen commonly" is true. After practicing over 28 years, most illnesses I recognize immediately and know exactly how to proceed. Occasionally, I'll have a medical case that does not follow the textbook and I need to be creative with my diagnostic pursuit. If your current veterinarian is not reaching a diagnosis or formulating a successful treatment plan, seek a second opinion from another veterinarian.

5. Make sure your veterinarian is compassionate and treats you and your pet with respect. Don't let them minimize your concerns and fears. Make sure your veterinarian addresses them head on. Your veterinarian should include you in the decision-making process and not proceed without your consent. Find out when you will receive the test results. Do you call the doctor for test results or will he/she call you? Never assume that if you do not hear from your veterinarian, that the test results are normal because no news is not always good news. A lack of response may mean a test sample was lost, your veterinarian never received laboratory results, or phone messages were not heard. If you do not hear from your veterinarian in a timely matter, do not hesitate to call him/her.

6. Remember no drug or "natural product" is 100% free of side effects. Ask your veterinarian what the side effects are for each drug your pet is prescribed. When my father was in the hospital, he was heavily medicated with a pain medication. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of this pain medication was respiratory depression - a reduced capacity to breathe. The doctors wanted to put my father on a ventilator but I told them, let's wean him off this drug, start him on an anti-inflammatory drug to minimize his discomfort, and give his body a chance to recover. (At this point, they asked me if I was an anesthesiologist. I told them, "No, I'm a veterinarian.") Within 18 hours, he started to breathe more effectively and the need to put him on a ventilator passed. Sometimes, you just have to step back a bit and look at the total picture before making a major decision.

7. Know what the logical or anticipated outcome of your pet's disease is. Although no one has a crystal ball to predict your pet's exact outcome, many other pets have experienced a similar illness and research studies are usually available to tell you the anticipated outcome. I think it is important that every client knows the expected prognosis so they can make the best medical decision for their pet. I recently discovered a large abdominal mass in a 16-year-old cat with chronic kidney disease. The owner asked me what the most probable diagnosis and prognosis were. I told her that it was most likely a malignant tumor and long-term prognosis was grave. She asked me if this were my cat what would I do. I told her that I would proceed with an abdominal ultrasound to see if this mass had spread to other organs and if it could be surgically removed. If overt metastatic disease was present or if inoperable, I would provide supportive care only to my cat. Despite my desire to prolong her life, I would not perform heroic measures to keep her alive. I strongly believe in quality of life, not quantity of life. Just because the science may exist to prolong your pet's life, sometimes it is not justifiable to pursue due to the stress and pain that it may cause in the household and in the ill pet. Please don't be afraid that your veterinarian is silently passing unfavorable judgment on you if you choose a less aggressive diagnostic or treatment plan. Remember, your pet is your loving responsibility and your veterinarian wants you to make the best decision for you and your pet.

8. Get explicit discharge instructions before you leave the hospital and make sure you are capable of doing them. I find it extremely helpful to provide the client with written discharge instructions detailing what and when medications are to be given. Sometimes, I provide a spreadsheet for clients to follow. Ask your veterinarian the following questions:
• Are there any medications that cannot be given together? For instance, never give a probiotic at the same time as an antibiotic.
• Some pets are extremely difficult to medicate. So, before you leave the hospital, ask the veterinary technician to physically show you how to pill your pet. Listen carefully to their helpful pilling tips!
• It is important for you to monitor your pet's progress. Ask your veterinarian what clinical signs you should watch for that indicate that your pet is not improving and may need immediate medical attention.
• Does your pet need a re-evaluation appointment?
• Are there any changes that I need to make in my home before my pet returns there? Do I need to buy floor mats to keep my pet from sliding? Should I change the location of the cat litter box? Do I need to buy a special harness to help my pet walk?
• Do I need to restrict my pet's activity level?
• Is my pet contagious to other pets or people? Are there any precautions I should take when picking up its stools or cleaning out the litter box?

9. Ask for an estimate for today's services as well as the anticipated near future expenses. Are you financially prepared to spend everything possible to help your pet, or is there a set dollar limit? Tell your veterinarian what your limit is. Do not let your veterinarian assume what your financial restraints are.

10. Tell your veterinarian what type of care you want your pet to receive. Are you the pet owner that wants to do every test right away, or are you the client that likes to take one step at a time? Are you interested in keeping your pet alive for as long as possible? Or, on the contrary, are you the pet owner that believes keeping the pet alive is not justifiable given the emotional or/and financial burden it places on you? After hearing your veterinarian's recommendations, tell him/her what you want to do. Let your doctor adjust to your desired style of care. Remember, you are the client, the loving pet owner, and are paying for it.

Being a great pet owner is an enormous responsibility. I hope these 10 tips make caring for your ill pet a little bit easier. Remember, your veterinarian is your partner in your pet's health care.

Dr. Donna Solomon is a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of Chicago and invites you to email her your questions or future topic ideas to

100 Million Thank-Yous to HuffPosters Around the World

Mon, 2014-09-15 12:04
This morning I sent an email to our HuffPost team, sharing the news of a major milestone for our company -- one that really struck a chord with me. And you, the members of the HuffPost community, are the heart and soul of this milestone. Whether you have blogged on HuffPost, commented on, shared or talked about a story or just made us a regular part of your media diet, you have been a key part of the conversation we set out to start a little over nine years ago. Indeed, without you, there would be no HuffPost. So thank you for being part of this remarkable journey -- a journey that is still very much in progress. Here is the email I sent to our team:


Today I'm delighted to share the news of a major HuffPost milestone: In August we reached 115 million global unique visitors -- the first time we've surpassed 100 million UVs on comScore -- making us the number-one news site in the United States. (Our internal numbers, at 368 million UVs, are much higher, of course.) So much for the dog days of summer! August was also the fourth consecutive month HuffPost was recognized as the largest publisher on Facebook, with more than double the social actions of the second-largest publisher. In every significant growth area of the media business -- social, mobile, video, native and global -- HuffPost continues to lead the way.

I have to say that this news made me a lot more emotional than a comScore stat usually does. It's the same feeling I get when I walk into our newsroom and see how a group of five has become a team of hundreds, or when I visit one of our 11 flourishing international editions. It's a lump-in-the-throat combination of gratitude; amazement; satisfaction at what we've accomplished; surprise at how fast it all happened; nostalgia for the early days, when we celebrated every small spike in traffic; and delight in knowing that, without question, our best days still lie ahead.

I remember the first time Yahoo featured one of our blog posts on its home page and our traffic numbers went through the roof. Paul Berry, our CTO at the time, was obsessed with stats and got so excited that I worried for his health. (This was before he became a fitness junkie addicted to SoulCycle.) Or the time Perez Hilton linked to a blog post by Ryan Reynolds and hundreds of thousands of new users were introduced to HuffPost. Or the crazy numbers that the Tiger Woods saga delivered to our newborn Sports section.

I remember the way we celebrated when we hit 1 million UVs for the first time, and then the steady climb up the comScore chart -- 5 million, 10 million, 15 million -- dispelling along the way any lingering doubts of whether we could be more than a niche site, and surpassing the most iconic news outlets.

And at every step along the way, we refused to fall prey to the innovator's dilemma by constantly evolving, innovating and reinventing vital aspects of how we put together The Huffington Post while remaining true to the core values that made HuffPost HuffPost, including:

  • Using storytelling to put flesh and blood on statistics, putting a human face on the numbers.

  • Finding the buried lede and moving it to the top of the page.

  • A commitment to transparency.

  • Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

  • Putting an end to seeing every issue through the tired frame of "right vs. left."

  • Recognizing the importance of integrating service into our lives.

  • Helping our readers live lives with less stress and more meaning.

  • Embracing voice, attitude and point of view and not pretending that there are two sides to every story or that the answer is always to be found in the middle.

  • A belief that, when it comes to the most important stories of the day, we need more biopsies and fewer autopsies.

  • Being serious about what we do while not taking ourselves too seriously. As evidenced by so many of our headlines and splashes, "playful" and "important" don't have to be mutually exclusive.

These are the things we return to again and again, all while obsessively continuing to innovate, develop cutting-edge tools and strategies and pursue new platforms and ways of telling a story to reach new audiences and better serve our current one.

The story of going from one UV to 115 million UVs in a little over nine years is, of course, the story of the people who built HuffPost, whose creativity, commitment, passion and sense of purpose have fueled our evolution and our growth. People like our founding editor, Roy Sekoff, who was there before day one and, as the president of HuffPost Live, continues to disrupt and innovate (with 1.7 billion views and a shelf-full of awards to show for it). And people who now own (or have sold on eBay) seven, eight or nine HuffPost Christmas sweaters, like Arthur Delaney, David Flumenbaum, Nick Graham, Ryan Grim, Jason Linkins, Nico Pitney, Nicholas Sabloff, Danny Shea, Whitney Snyder, Sam Stein, Anya Strzemien and Stuart Whatley -- longtime HuffPosters who helped define the site and continue to pass on their knowledge to the subsequent generations of editors, reporters, engineers and producers.

And, of course, they've been joined by hundreds and hundreds of others, including a lineup of great new leaders who, along with all of you, will help lead the way to the next big milestones -- starting with our fabulous CEO, Jimmy Maymann, and the equally fabulous trio of CTO Otto Toth, Managing Editor Kate Palmer and National Editor Katie Nelson.

And make no mistake: More big milestones are coming. As I said, our best days are ahead. You can see it in our commitment to greatly expanding our efforts in video, to delivering a state-of-the-art mobile experience, to social platforms and social engagement and to bringing HuffPost to more and more international markets (which now account for half of our overall traffic).

One hundred fifteen million UVs is an amazing accomplishment. But this is about so much more than numbers. It's about a conversation that has grown to include voices that once would have gone unheard, and a larger movement built around not just telling stories but changing lives.

Thank you for all that you've done -- and all that you do -- to continue to fulfill our core mission. The effort you all put in and the quality of the work you consistently deliver is inspiring -- and deeply appreciated.

I can't wait to send the email saying we've hit 200 million UVs! Thank you for everything.


Ray Rice and Domestic Violence

Mon, 2014-09-15 12:01

First and foremost, I would like to begin this story by saying that domestic violence is a serious issue around the world. Women suffer from incidents ofdomestic violence by the hands of a man on a daily basis in the United States. The video of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancé, now wife, Janay Rice was very disgusting and there was no excuse for his actions, especially since she did not pose any type of physical threat to him at all.

The history of domestic violence in the United States runs as deep as the Mississippi
River starting with the mistreatment of women which led to the Women's Rights Movement in the United States. Rice will pay a hefty price for his actions and the entire world is watching. Hopefully, people will not try to turn this situation into a racial issue. Peyton Manning or Tony Romo would probably get the same treatment as Rice if they were caught on tape knocking out their significant other.

Everybody understands why the NFL came down so hard on Rice, but taking a guy's career for life is a very drastic measure. Rice should be banned from the NFL for one year, seek counseling, volunteer at domestic violence shelters, and work hard on resolving his anger issues. If Rice's wife Janay is willing to accept him, then the NFL should work out a plan for him to return to the NFL, after one year off the field.

Some people will not be in favor of allowing Rice back into the NFL but everybody is entitled to a second chance as long as the individual shows serious remorse and completes an anger management program. If Rice gets a second chance then he could become one of the strongest advocates against domestic violence worldwide. Rice is in the process of fighting one of the biggest fights of his life right now, and it's up to him to come out and denounce his actions like a man. This way, he can begin the healing process for himself, his wife and their family. People do recover and bounce back from adversity in life.

This story is not intended to take up for Rice or any man found guilty of committing the act of domestic violence. However, every now and then in history a situation such as this occurs to bring much needed attention to a bigger problem in the world. Women deserve all of the respect worldwide. It would be great if the NFL were to start a domestic violence intervention program to help present and future NFL Players become more aware of this serious issue. Providing athletes and men in general with the necessary tools to help identify triggers that lead to domestic violence would be the main goal of the intervention program. Rice will only get a second chance if he puts in the work to help bring about the healing process in his life.

Would fewer governments in Illinois equal a more balanced budget?

Mon, 2014-09-15 10:55
Illinois has the lowest credit rating in the country, a budget that needs balancing and pensions that are millions of dollars underfunded. Illinois also has the most government taxing bodies in the nation. Is Illinois' woeful financial status related to its overabundance of small governments? Wendell Cox, principal of Demographia, says that more governments doesn't automatically equal more taxing and spending and fewer governments doesn't guarantee the opposite. He writes:

"If the bigger-is-better theory were valid, then Illinois would have the highest taxation per capita in the nation. It does not."


"Of course, there is more than cost. People are also want high quality public services. This is more likely to occur where voters have a larger voice -- where the size of the electorate is smaller. Even "bigger-is-better" advocates know this. For example, a report by the Brookings Institution and the Greater Ohio Policy Center noted the desire of citizens for more the "accessible and responsive" governments that is associated with smaller units of local government."

So which is better? Few, larger government bodies in a state or more, smaller bodies?

Part of the reason Illinois has so many governments is because of its large population. How did the state come to be the home of so many people? According to a New York Times report, more than 60 percent of people living in Illinois were born in the state. After that, most transplant Illinoisans come from other counties or other Midwestern states, followed by states in other regions of the U.S. How has this population shift changed over time?

Coalition Of 50 Hispanic Groups Aims To 'Deliver Record Latino Turnout' For Midterms

Mon, 2014-09-15 10:34
A coalition of 50 Latino groups announced the start of a monthlong drive to boost Hispanic voter registration Monday, vowing to raise turnout to record levels for the November midterm elections.

Timed to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month, which also began Monday, the announcement of the voter registration campaign comes shortly after President Barack Obama's decision earlier in September to postpone a planned executive action to offer deportation relief to undocumented immigrants. Some experts say Obama's delay has the potential to depress turnout among Hispanic voters, who are largely in favor of reform efforts.

The coalition, led by the nonpartisan groups Voto Latino and Mi Família Vota, has other ideas.

"We are calling [on] American Latinos to rise above our political differences and to unite as a community this November," Voto Latino President and CEO María Teresa Kumar said in a statement. "Today and for the next month, we will show that Latinos stand tall because we have pride in our culture, and we recognize the power of our vote."

While Voto Latino doesn't support individual candidates, the group's communications manager, Yándary Zavala, told The Huffington Post that the delay of the deportation relief announcement had angered many Latinos.

"It gave us additional validation that we were moving in the right direction," Zavala said. "This campaign is needed in our community. A lot of people were frustrated after that announcement, and it's OK to be frustrated, but instead of just stewing we need to do something about it."

While the growing Latino vote helped propel Obama to reelection in 2012, Hispanic voter turnout is often far below what it could be, particularly in midterm elections. Only 48 percent of eligible Latinos turned out to vote in 2012, according to the Pew Hispanic Trends Project. Among eligible black voters, that figure was 66.6 percent, and among eligible white voters it was 64.1 percent.

Several celebrities are backing the coalition, including filmmaker Diego Bernal, Latino Victory Project co-founder Eva Longoria and Voto Latino Chairwoman Rosario Dawson.

In an interview with Cosmo for Latinas earlier this month, Dawson explained that galvanizing the Latino electorate is necessary for those who want to have a more representative government.

"It's not just about getting out there to vote, it's also about who you vote for," Dawson told Cosmo for Latinas. "We need more women of color in politics, because otherwise, we're not represented."

The list of organizations participating in the Hispanic Heritage Month of Action, as the initiative is known, includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the blog Being Latino, the National Council of La Raza and dozens of other groups.

Mesmerizing Photographs Prove Burning Man Has Far From 'Jumped The Shark'

Mon, 2014-09-15 09:06
Every year, roughly during the weeks before and after Labor Day, various members of the media pontificate on the mainstreamization of Burning Man.

The art-speckled dream that materializes in middle-of-nowhere Nevada each August has gotten too big/loud/expensive/popular to stay true to its weirdo hippie roots, they argue. Silicon Valley elites are swarming like bees to a honey-slathered geodesic dome. Air conditioned RVs are omnipresent. The phrase "Burning Man jumped the shark" has become a meme in its own rite.

According to longtime Burning Man photographer Michael Holden, that narrative is "so tired and played out."

"Every year Burning Man is something new," Holden, who has attended for the past 15 years, told The Huffington Post. "It's a place where all sorts of subcultures and people come together and cross-pollinate and make something that is, by definition, new. It's a source of innovation and inspiration for individuals at all different levels."

Indeed, the massive-scale installations and glowing contraptions that rise from the Black Rock desert cast a shadow over isolated instances of privilege. Masterpieces this past year included the hauntingly intricate Temple of Grace, the behemoth six-story Embrace sculpture and the largest "man" in the event's history, among countless fiery, buzzing, mind-controlled, drone-controlled brainchildren of some of the most progressive and bizarre imaginations out there. Trying to experience every piece of art at Burning Man is as futile as trying to count every speck of dust on the playa.

"The scope of it all is the most amazing thing," Holden said. "You look around and you think, 'wow, we built this.' It's an emerging subculture of desperate geniuses. It's not just a feel good divergence. This is the beginning of something that might be of note in the overall scope of history."

Holden himself worked as a web developer in Seattle for years before bringing his camera along one summer. There, he discovered a passion for digital photography, and his pieces eventually grabbed the attention of the event's organizers. Now he works full-time as a fine art photographer, and his images are regularly featured on Burning Man's blog and in its newsletter.

And he claims that regardless of the media's chorus, the nature of the attendees hasn't changed much since his first Burn (Silicon Valley heavy-hitters have outnumbered dirty flower children since the early days, anyways.) Sure, the event was much smaller -- tickets sold out for the first time in 2011, and this year welcomed nearly 70,000 participants -- but it has always attracted a particular personality type.

"Every year we get a lot of new people," Holden explained. "But the profile of your average Burner has not changed much. They tend to be adventurous, resilient, seeking one way or another."

So will Burning Man ever jump the shark?

"If there's any shark that's going to be jumped at Burning Man, it's going to be awesome," Holden said. "You'll have some guy on a segway jumping off the beautiful shark art car in deep playa, and everyone will go crazy and cheer."

Take a look at a selection of Holden's dazzling images from Burning Man 2014 below, and visit his website for more:

20th Anniversary Review of the Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Ready to Die,' by a 2Pac Fan

Mon, 2014-09-15 09:02
Growing up I was never really a big (no pun intended) Biggie Smalls fan. At the time, the East vs. West beef was at its height and everyone had to pick their sides. I was living in Chicago back then and most people there identified with the East Coast, hence they were Biggie fans. As for me, I was riding with 2Pac. In fact, I road with 2Pac and the Death Row camp so much that if a Biggie song came on the radio I'd turn the volume down. And if his music video came on I would turn the channel. But little did I know what I was missing out on.

Now, two decades later, many are reflecting back on some of the incredible hip hop albums that are celebrating their 20th anniversaries like Nas' Illmatic, Method Man's Tical and many others. I found myself recently listening to Biggie's Ready to Die album -- honestly, for the first time -- and boy was I blown away.

Upon listening to Ready to Die, the first thing that stuck out was Biggie's uncanny storytelling ability. His songs, "Warning" and "Me & My B*tch," were vivid to the point that listening to each verse was like watching a dramatic television show and the hook was the commercial break. By the end of the hook, I'd find myself sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what was going to happen next. In Biggie's more rugged songs, "Things Done Changed" and "Ready To Die," I felt as if I survived the rough streets of Brooklyn's, Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, doing what I had to, to get by. Even more impressive was his versatility. In a Jekyll and Hyde fashion, Ready to Die goes back and forth from lightweight commercial songs like "Big Poppa" to much darker songs such as "Suicidal Thoughts," yet it all flows smoothly and makes sense.

When listening to Ready to Die there were numerous times where I caught myself saying, "Biggie said that?" Throughout the years, the number of hip hop artists who have reused Biggie's lines in their own songs are too many to count. More than likely your favorite rapper has "recycled" an old Biggie line at least once in their career. Here are just a few examples:

I never felt that way in my life, it didn't take long before I made you my wife
-Biggie Smalls "Me & My B*tch"
Cause see, I never felt this way in my life, it didn't take long before you made me your wife
-Lil' Kim "Don't Mess With Me"

I love it when they call me Big Poppa, I only smoke blunts if they rolled propa
-Biggie Smalls "One More Chance"
I love it when they call me Big Poppa, I only smoke blunts if they rolled propa
-The Game "Never Can Say Goodbye"

Cause I see some ladies tonight that should be having my baby, baby
-Biggie Smalls "Big Poppa"
I see some ladies tonight that should be having my baby, baby
-Fabolous ft. Mike Shorey "Baby"

After listening to Ready to Die from beginning to end, I realized how much of a fool I was to have been blind to this album for so many years. To simply call it a classic and leave it at that would be an understatement. Ready to Die is held in such high regard that many people who don't even listen to hip hop know this album. Rolling Stone magazine placed Ready to Die #23 on their "100 Best Debut Albums of All Time." It was hip hop albums like this that broke new ground and pushed the genre further into the mainstream.

Ready to Die is obviously one of the greatest and most influential hip hop albums of all time. But for me, it transcended beyond hip hop. Ready to Die is an American classic whose banner should be hung amongst the greats like Elvis, The Beatles and Sam Cooke. The notion that it actually took me 20 years to give Ready to Die a genuine listen and come to this conclusion is astonishing. But going back to my childhood, you were either Team 2Pac or Team Biggie. It makes me wonder how many other hip hop fans were affected in the same way during the East vs. West beef of the mid '90s. Luckily, there aren't beefs like that today. As Biggie said, "things done changed."

The Urban Food Banquet: St. Paul Leads Nation in Art of Food Justice

Mon, 2014-09-15 08:10
They began arriving hours in advance. Over 400 volunteers--farmers, cooks, drivers, mobile art kitchens, dance choreographers, spoken word poets, food servers, food runners, zero waste managers, and table hosts. And when the bell rang, nearly 2,000 guests followed the signs in Somali, Spanish, Hmong, and English and took their seats on Sunday, September 14--at a half-mile long dinner table along Victoria Street in St. Paul, Minnesota--to take part in the performance.

Welcome to CREATE: The Community Meal, the ambitious and jubilant public art event by nationally acclaimed artist Seitu Jones that has placed the urban Frogtown neighborhood and Public Art St. Paul in the forefront of the nation's growing conversation over food justice, and access to healthy food and farms.

"We all have a food story," Jones said, standing by the lineup of tables, only a half block from his storefront studio in the neighborhood. "Our next food story needs to be written to create a fair and just food system, a story that equitably shares the benefits and risks of where, what and how food is grown, processed, transported, distributed, accessed and eaten."

Seitu Jones and Chef James Baker, photo courtesy of Kate Maxwell Williams

How do you turn a "food swamp" into an urban farm and food catalyst for the city?

After years of watching his Frogtown neighbors pass his storefront studio with bags of processed foods from a limited convenience store, Jones and AfroEco, a group of African American environmentalists, undertook a food assessment that identified obstacles for healthy food choices in the area beyond high costs: Namely, the lack of access, and the loss of food traditions and cooking habits.

Check out Jones' interview with Janis Lane-Ewart on KFAI's Collective Eye on the event's background.

Working with local farmers, cooks and artists, Jones and Public Art St. Paul fashioned CREATE into a zero waste public art initiative to take the challenge of bringing healthy food directly to the table. Canvassing the Frogtown neighborhood several times, collecting stories over a year, he invited his neighbors to a special dinner for two--thousand.

"To give everyone a place at the table," St. Paul volunteer Ellen Muller said, setting out hand-made place mats produced from bio-waste and burdock plants by artist Mary Hark. Muller added, "Especially in a neighborhood that has been on the raw end of development," citing historical displacement from the 1-94 highway, among other issues.

For St. Paul resident Kathy Schoenberg-Ebertz, volunteering as a food server was a unique opportunity to be part of the performance and join the Frogtown community.

Led by chef James Baker, with a menu drawn from a collection of neighborhood food stories among African-American, Hmong, Somali, Latino and European American residents, hosts served a locally-produced meal of ginger-honey soy chicken, Ethiopian fosolia green beans, collard greens, black beans and rice, corn bread and a mixed salad, along with apple cider.

"In this way," said St. Paul volunteer Peyton Ginakes, a Ph.D student at the University of Minnesota in Sustainable Agriculture, "we all become part of the harvest."

"Those black beans, about 400 pounds, were farmed and harvested by Porfirio Perez and his family," Big River Farm manager Aaron Blyth told me, sitting across the table. Working with immigrant farmers from 10 different countries, Big River Farms has provided a certified organic vegetable component to the meal, along with land, resources and training for diverse farmers. Like the work of Perez, a Guatemalan immigrant, Blyth described how three farmers from different backgrounds and languages, as Kenyans, Hmong and African Americans, worked together to provide the fresh salad.

Pointing over his shoulder at the future site of the Frogtown urban farm, a long-time community initiative to obtain land for a park and farm, Blyth discussed how immigrants brought innovative new markets to the area.

Photo by Jeff Biggers

While the event called to mind Dante's concept of the "convivio"--the great banquet of food stories--Jones invoked Martin Luther King, Jr.'s idea of the "beloved community," adding food justice to the twin pillars of economic and social justice. The meal, in fact, began with a poem of grace, written by GE Patterson, and a closing by Soyini Guyton, as hosts served the main entree in a dance movement choreographed by artist Ananya Chatterjea.

"This reminds me how rushed we've gotten in our meals," Diane Natrop said, sitting at the head of one end of the table, "and so far away from the joy of cooking." Natrop, who lived only two doors away from the Victoria Street event, sat next to her two daughters and Minneapolis resident Leann Johnson, a self-described "recovering farm kid." They exchanged stories about their family food traditions, the problems of access today, and the joy of rediscovering an apple butter recipe. "It's time to get back to cooking," Natrop told her daughters.

It was clear their conversation, like those among two thousand others, would last far beyond this one meal. Plans for the follow-up legacy dinner, as Jones hoped, had just begun.

Cecily Strong Responds To 'SNL' Change: 'I Don't See This As Me Leaving Update'

Sat, 2014-09-13 10:11
Don't worry about Cecily Strong, y'all.

The "SNL" cast member who anchored "Weekend Update" during the last season, has made it clear she's very happy to be stepping away from the desk when Michael Che takes over on September 27. Strong posted this message on her Instagram late Friday.

I don't see this as me leaving update, just as me being on update in a looser, goofier way that is a lot more fun for me and in a way I think I'm better at. And now I get to do features with the very funny and wonderful Michael Che! No point in being angry or sad for me for something I'm genuinely happy about! Unless you are just a person who enjoys being angry or sad. Then I guess play on, playa.

NBC announced on Thursday that Che, a former "SNL" writer who had just left the show over the summer to become a "Daily Show" correspondent, would be the new anchor of "Weekend Update" alongside Colin Jost, who replaced Seth Meyers.

While Strong was still featured in many sketches, fans had lamented that as an "Update" anchor she was no longer able to step into some of her most beloved characters, like "The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started A Conversation With At A Party." Her message to fans seems to indicate that she feels the same way, and that the change will free her up to play to her strengths as a repertory player.

Appeals Court Reinstates Wisconsin's Voter ID Law

Fri, 2014-09-12 16:29
CHICAGO (AP) — A federal appeals court has reinstated Wisconsin's voter photo identification law.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman struck the law down as unconstitutional in April, saying it unfairly burdens poor and minority voters who may lack such identification. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to overturn that ruling.

The 7th Circuit issued a ruling late Friday afternoon lifting Aldeman's stay and allowing the law to go into effect before the November elections.

State attorneys asked a three-judge 7th Circuit panel during oral arguments on Friday to immediately reinstate the law.

Van Hollen's appeal remains in play, however. The judges say they'll issue a ruling on the merits later.

The Problem With Women (According to the NFL)

Fri, 2014-09-12 16:00

The problem of domestic abuse in the offices of 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan -- the NFL's headquarters, is like a lingering BM in a half-bath -- and the stink isn't going away anytime soon, if ever.

The NFL, the game we love, is violent. We know this. It promotes violence. We know this. It rewards players for being violent, we also know this thanks to the uncovering of the New Orleans Saints bounty program (a program not specific to just the Saints). And over the past thirty years, its players have gradually morphed into looking more and more like superheroes rather than football players.

NFL Films, the docudrama in-house production company, was used as a way to help promote the sport and to spread it's growth across the country. It showcased the game's greatest moments, the game's funniest bloopers (insert ascending and descending whistle effect), but more prominently, the game's most violent and brutal hits, celebrating helmets flying off mid-tackle, mouthpieces disintegrating into blades of grass, noses bloodied and crooked, and the iconic two tackles meeting head on at the line of scrimmage like two rams battling atop a mountain, their breathe frosting in the cold weather. Every one of these captured moments beautifully and perfectly synced to symphonies, the moment of impact between two gargantuan men coinciding with the crescendo, the crash of cymbals and the thunder of the timpani, giving the viewer at home a heavy dose of testosterone and the full sense of power and violence.

In the U.S., violence and culture go together like naked selfies and being hacked. Up until a few years ago, ESPN aired segments called "Jacked Up" on their Monday Night Football pre-game show, showcasing the week's biggest and hardest hits by having ex-players turned expert analysts obnoxiously scream "JACKED UP!" at the exact moment a player got hit by a defensive back. After the cumulative effects that these hits had on the brain began making its way into the public conversation, the segment was discontinued as it was seen as promoting violence and not in the best interest.

But promoting violence is what the NFL does. It is, after all, what separated the sport from the other major three in this country, leading to the surge of viewership in the 1990s. It wasn't just a difference in sports viewing, it's the violence itself that Americans love. See the UFC and USA Rugby, for example. Executives have recognized this, and it's why UFC and MMA popularity has surged with the under 35 male demographic. The USA Sevens, the annual rugby tournament which NBC Sports owns the T.V. broadcast rights, is particularly brutal, and went from airing eight hours of live coverage in 2011 to sixteen hours of live coverage just last year. Ratings continue to increase each year and has even beaten out other major sports in major markets around the country.

But the NFL succeeded in its broader goal which was tailoring the sport and its violence to the average male. The average male, who is innately violent by nature. Add your gladiator mentality, steroids, and the idea that weakness somehow makes you less of a man, and it's why violence, whether inflicted by the player on the field, or worse, by the player in the bedroom, will never change. Never.

Richard Wrangham, a Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University, believes violence is innate in all primates, especially in our early hunter/gatherer ancestors, saying, "those (hunter/gatherers) that are in close contact with neighboring hunter/gatherer societies of different languages are always found to be so violent with each other that there were frequent kills of each other... there is a lot of inherent propensity of violence in humans."

As Sports Illustrated ​points out, from January 1, 2012, to September 11, 2014, "31 NFL players were arrested on charges involving domestic violence, battery, assault and murder." Benjamin Morris over at FiveThirtyEight did a whole breakdown on the comparative statistics on arrests of NFL players to those of the general public, in similar age groups. Though he concluded that violent arrests of NFL players were below the national average (one reason why was that the NFL is a more affluent group, with the poverty rate at or near zero), NFL players had a much higher domestic violence arrest rate relative to the national average of males between the ages of 25-29 -- 55.4 percent to be exact. And that number is more than four times the NFL's number of total arrests (These numbers reflect arrests only and not convictions).

The NFL's history of handling and dealing with domestic violence, and more specifically women, is shameful. It parades its sideline reporters as anything but sideline reporters, essentially forcing them to fit a certain mold that is prized by the superficial guy on the couch with his burger and beer. It doesn't pay its cheerleaders. And it's why we saw Faith Hill and her leather boots singing the lead-in song to the NFL's most popular viewing night -- Sunday Night. Hill was recently replaced by a younger version of Faith Hill called Carrie Underwood (dressed similarly).

Why then was I surprised that the NFL swept the Ray Rice incident under the rug, along with the other 31 arrests for domestic violence?

I wasn't.

Never mind that the sideline reporter is going to be harassed by a section of men that have been drinking since 10 a.m.. Never mind that she'll have unwanted pictures taken of her legs and and other body parts, only to be uploaded and posted to some bro website so that 22-year-old frat boys can anonymously comment and rate her body.

Nevermind all of that. Just buy your pink jersey and pink beer koozie to match, and enjoy the game.



[Image Credit: Mike Pont/Getty Images]

NFL Sunday Night Football: Colin Kaepernick and Co. vs. Jay Cutler's Monsters of the Midway

Fri, 2014-09-12 15:39
It's going to be difficult for the Chicago Bears to vanquish the San Francisco 49ers on opening night at brand new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. The Niners plan extensive opening ceremonies that include celebrity guests, a six-minute film honoring the franchise and a Grammy winner singing the National Anthem. Festivities begin at precisely 5:01pm Pacific time. Get it? The average ticket price was north of $370 per person. It's a safe bet that fans forking over that kind of green will be ready to party -- and party loudly.

Chicago Offense versus San Francisco Defense.

Quarterback Jay Cutler is blessed with a trio of ball catchers that has reinvented The Windy City's famed "Monsters of the Midway" on the offensive side of the ball. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett led a 2013 passing attack that racked up 4,281 yards, 32 touchdowns and 215 first downs. Last weekend, Cutler showcased his complete mastery of the aerial game with long bombs (44 yards to Jeffery) and red zone connections (Bennett). In two minutes. Too bad that was strictly the opening possession. Unfortunately, Marshall has missed some practice with the ankle injury he suffered in Week 1, while Jeffery has a sore hamstring. Uh-Oh.

The good news for "Da Bears" is that the San Francisco secondary is having health problems of their own. CB Tramaine Brock left Week 1 with a toe injury and is questionable for Week 2. CB Chris Culliver exited the Dallas game with a concussion and it's unknown if he'll be cleared to play. If he cannot, look for Perrish Cox back in the starting lineup. If both starting corners cannot play, rookie Dontae Johnson is the only other option at nickel. Despite the missing starters, this group intercepted Dallas' Tony Romo three times. Talented as he is, Chicago's oft-grumpy signal caller can also be careless with the football -- which is somewhat against the object of the game, no? Uh-Oh.

Cutler should be feeling blessed at not having to face outstanding SF pass rusher Aldon Smith, though his jubilation may be marginally tempered by the presence of LDE Ray McDonald. The latter's arrest for domestic violence places him in that limbo where he is awaiting discipline from the League. Yet the 49ers, in an apparent abandonment of their former class as an organization, have kept him on the field. Behind McDonald lurks OLB Ahmad Brooks. Both are high on any QB's "best avoided at all times" list. The front seven dumped Romo thrice in Week 1. Chicago fans would probably like to believe that their beefed up offensive line is stronger than that of the beleaguered Cowboys. Ah, delusion is a powerful force. With injuries to center Roberto Garza, backup center Brian de la Puenta and guard Matt Slauson, life will be a bit precarious for No. 6 on Sunday night. Uh-Oh.

The Bears rushing threat certainly has, um, teeth. Matt Forte ran for 1,339 yards in 2013 and averaged eight yards per reception. He contributed 169 total yards against the Bills and one cannot ask for more than that. He will probably not have the services of FB Tony Fiammetta for the second week in a row. Forte and TE Martellus Bennett will face the San Francisco linebackers all evening. Formidable Niner Patrick Willis is heir to Ray Lewis' tradition at MLB. Coaches will probably try to keep Willis on the TE, since he's one of the few LB's who can handle such a challenge. That matchup alone should provide NBC with some of its patented "Must See TV." However, NaVorro Bowman's ongoing rehab will leave third-year man Michael Wilhoite on Forte and if San Francisco feels that they need to play the safeties back to protect young corners, the slot may open up.

San Francisco Offense versus Chicago Defense.

Was the 49ers O more productive than in pre-season action because they were playing against the frankly sad Cowboys D? Were the Buffalo Bills an offensive juggernaut because the Chicago defense is as "soft" as feared by their faithful fans? Not that such passionate folk would overreact after only one game, of course.

San Francisco's running game is ready to rock. Frank Gore hit 10,000 career yards in Week 1 and rookie Carlos Hyde was widely considered to be the best RB in the 2014 draft. ESPN fantasy compared him to Stephen Davis. The O-line should welcome back RG Alex Boone this Sunday, hoping that any rust from his holdout will fall quickly off his massive frame. Former Miami player Jonathan Martin has been manning RG. This unit has very little continuity and could be vulnerable to a pass rush.

If, that is, Chicago can generate a pass rush. Thus far, Lamarr Houston is performing this role without much assistance from fellow pricey free agent Jared Allen. Well-known DT's Jay Ratliff and Stephen Paea need to turn up the heat in the middle this weekend and venerable linebacker Lance Briggs must live up to his reputation and light a fire under the run D.

After two seasons of staring down WR Michael Crabtree, QB Colin Kaepernick is (as of Week 1) listening to his coaches and spreading the ball around. The result? TE Vernon Davis scored two touchdowns and the premier feisty WR on the West Coast (Anquan Boldin) pulled down eight catches for 99 yards. (For those who missed Thursday Night Football, the East Coast King of Feistiness is Baltimore's Steve Smith, Sr.) Nevertheless, one can't help but ponder that the Niners offense as a whole should have been more dominant in Dallas. The squad ran a relatively leisurely 54 plays in the era of hurry-up O, managed a mediocre 319 total yards and Kaepernick barely cracked 200 on the passing yardstick. As long as the D is forcing multiple turnovers, this may cut it. But it's not exactly ideal production.

Despite his slow start in 2014, Kaepernick is a dangerously mobile QB and that will put pressure on the Bears safeties. Not Chicago's strongest suit. The only truly noteworthy safety in Week 1 was Christ Conte with an interception. He then allowed RB Fred Jackson to lay on an embarrassingly effective stiff-arm in a run that set up the Bills game-winning FG. Uh-Oh.

Young Players to Watch (Chicago):

  • Rookie CB Kyle Fuller's brother Vincent was a safety for the Tennessee Titans and his other brother, Corey, is a WR for the Detroit Lions. The first-round draft pick from Virginia Tech compiled five tackles in his professional debut.

  • The second-string RB is rookie Ka'Deem Carey. The fourth-round Arizona product is 5'9" and 207 lbs. He had one carry in Week 1 for four yards. Carey has talent, if he can conquer his violent off-field tendencies.

  • Rookie punter Pat O'Donnell hails from the University of Miami. He was pressed into service four times, with an average of 40 yards per punt. He is the first punter drafted by Chicago since Todd Sauerbrun. You're in good company, kid.

  • Guard Charles Leno (Boise State) is a swing offensive lineman, which could matter in a game where three veteran linemen are featured on the injury report.

Young Players to Watch (San Francisco):
  • Return specialist Bruce Ellington was chosen in the fourth round. He played at South Carolina and is currently the starting return man for both punts and kickoffs. He earned academic as well as athletic honors and was a three-year starter in basketball. He is developing quickly at WR, which could give SF the speed they need at this position.

  • Promising rookie rusher Carlos Hyde is also an excellent pass blocker, courtesy of his decision to play in the pro-style offense at Ohio State.

  • Second-year safety Eric Reid has become a secondary star, living up to his first-round status out of LSU. He started his big play ways at the end of last season.

  • Safety Jimmie Ward was the team's first-round selection this year. He played his college ball at Northern Illinois and is essentially Plan B if any of the starters can't hit the field. The 49ers drafted him to replace Carlos Rogers. Which is easier typed than done.

  • NT Ian Williams was signed as a free agent out of Notre Dame in 2011. His reputation is that of a smart, determined player with strong instincts and will. He has returned from a broken leg with torn ligaments that required four surgeries and Jim Harbaugh swears he's a better player than before the injury.

Prediction: The "Uh-Oh Meter" has spoken. San Francisco by a touchdown. At least.

Report: Illinois is the Worst State in the Midwest to Raise Kids

Fri, 2014-09-12 15:33
What could you possibly love that costs on average $245,000 over 18 years? It must be something special.

The answer: a brand new baby.

That quarter of a million dollars needed to raise a baby born in 2013 is the national average, and does not include college expenses, which probably makes you dizzy just thinking what tuition and fees might be nearly two decades from now.

But that's not all. The cost of caring for an infant in Illinois, among other health and environmental factors, makes it the worst state in the Midwest to raise a child. You have to see where Illinois ranks overall among the 50 states including the District of Columbia, according to

And on top of Illinois' individual budget, health care and environmental rankings, we included estimated expenses, both annually and over 18 years, of raising a kid in the Midwest. Whether you live in an urban/suburban or rural area has a significant effect, as does household pre-tax annual income.

Let's just say that if you are a new parent or will be soon, you better have some sound financial plans in place. Remember, the numbers you'll see don't include college costs, but luckily, we have a list of states with the highest average public college tuition and fees. Can you guess which state made it?

Rarely-Seen Photos Spotlight The 1970s Social Scene Of South Side Chicago

Fri, 2014-09-12 15:00
To say it was a different time is putting it lightly.

In the 1970s on Chicago's South Side, revelers in their finest packed into nightclubs, dancing the night away to the soulful music of the era while knocking back a drink or three at now-extinct blues clubs like Perv's House, Pepper's Hideout and the High Chaparral.

No one captured the scene better than Chicago photographer Michael L. Abramson. What started as a simple student project during his time at the Illinois Institute of Technology ultimately earned him a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and catapulted him into a career as a prolific freelance photographer.

While several of the Brassai-esque shots below might look familiar -- some were included in the Grammy-nominated LP set "Light on the South Side," which featured Abramson's photography alongside music from the era -- many are being shown to the public for the very first time thanks to a new exhibition co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Columbia College Chicago Library.

The exhibition, titled "Pulse of the Night," comes three years after the photographer's death at the age of 62 but marks the first large-scale public show of his work since 1977.

Below, a preview of some of the work featured in "Pulse of the Night."

"Michael L. Abramson: Pulse of the Night" continues through Dec. 19 on the second floor of the Columbia College Chicago Library, 624 S. Michigan Ave.

Let's Give Illinois a Raise

Fri, 2014-09-12 14:59
When I accepted the minimum wage challenge this summer, my goal was to raise awareness and build support for raising the wage in Illinois.

When I finished my week living on the minimum wage, it was my own awareness that was raised.

For seven days, I lived without many of the small things in life that I often take for granted. Like giving my niece a birthday card with money inside. Enjoying hot tea from Dunkin Donuts. Having oatmeal for breakfast. And when I ran out of aspirin during the week, I had no choice but to go without.

But what I experienced last week doesn't compare with what a minimum wage worker goes through. For one, I also had the comfort of knowing this challenge would end after 7 days -- a comfort minimum wage workers don't have.

Every day I struggled a little, I thought of the working families who struggle a lot. It was humbling and tough to get by for a week on just $79 -- can you imagine what it's like for workers who face this challenge 365 days a year?

The minimum wage in Illinois is just $8.25. That is less than half of the average U.S. hourly wage. A full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois makes approximately $17,000 annually, well below the Federal Poverty Threshold of $19,790 for a family of three.

How do they make it? I tried to save with modest meals, usually bananas for breakfast and graham crackers for dinner, and yes, I was hungry. Can you imagine the difficult choices a minimum wage worker makes every single day? What about their kids?

Folks across the country are starting to get it and just this year, 11 states have enacted increases in their minimum wage. Millions of people in those 11 states will finally get a better chance to support themselves and their families and begin the journey to the middle class.

Illinois should be next to providing this pathway.

The fact is, raising the wage isn't just good for workers. It's good for our economy. If we took the step of raising the wage to $10 an hour, this would mean a half-million Illinoisans would make an extra $4,800 per year.

Working people tend to put this money right back into the economy in the form of purchases for food, clothing and furniture-and usually from small businesses.

I visited local establishments across the state (and I had a few bowls of grits along to way), talking to folks who earn the minimum wage and who know people who do. All over, I heard overwhelming support for giving people a hand up. We may not agree on everything, but most of us agree that nobody who works full-time should live in poverty.

This November, we'll have a chance to help get it done when a referendum question appears on the ballot: Should the state's minimum wage be raised?

When you head to the ballot box, you have an opportunity to tell their lawmakers how you want them to proceed. Will we help lift more people into the middle class and boost our economy? Will we do what is fair? If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since it was established, it would be $10.65 by now.

This is about dignity and decency.

I know that the minimum wage challenge I took and the tight budget I experienced over a mere seven days doesn't hold a candle to the battle for economic security so many Illinoisans face every day, in the face of an economy that too often puts the bottom line over our fellow-man and woman.

In raising the wage, we can say to our neighbors: We're in this together.

Let's give Illinois a raise.

WATCH: Meet The Terrorist's Son Who Refused To Follow In His Father's Footsteps

Fri, 2014-09-12 14:20
Zak Ebrahim is not my real name and was changed when my family decided to cut ties with my father, El-Sayed Nosair, the first member of a Bin Laden organization to shed blood on American soil.

As I share in my TED Talk, I have struggled for years to maintain my anonymity for fear of being judged for my father's actions, which has been a heavy burden to carry and at times, crippling. Being raised in the shadow of my extremist father, I feared being judged for having his blood run through my veins.

As I came of age, I began to bend back the bars of bigotry that had imprisoned me for years. It didn't happen all at once, but little by little, my worldview expanded as I chipped away at every lie my father, and later my abusive stepfather, had instilled in me.

Oddly enough, it was being the victim of a form of violence myself - bullying - that led me to seek a nonviolent path. When I was eleven, I once tried my hand at bullying another kid at school - but I found I could not do what had been done to me. Being bullied gave me empathy. And I realized, over time, that this empathy was more powerful than bigotry or hatred. It was this realization that helped me break a cycle of violence.

Zak visiting his father. Attica Correctional Facility, 1994. In the background: The small house where the family stayed together for the weekend. Courtesy Zak Ebrahim

"Empathy, peace, nonviolence-they may seem like quaint tools in the world that my father helped create. But, as many have written, using nonviolence to resolve conflicts doesn't mean being passive. It doesn't mean embracing victimhood, or letting aggressors run riot. It doesn't even mean giving up the fight, not exactly. What it means is humanizing your opponents, recognizing the needs and fears you share with them, working toward reconciliation rather than revenge. The longer I stare at this famous quote by Gandhi, the more I Iove how steely and hardcore it is: 'There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.' Escalations cannot be our only response to aggression, no matter how hardwired it is to hit back and hit back harder. The late counterculture historian Theodore Roszak put it this way: 'People try nonviolence for a week, and when it doesn't work, they go back to violence, which hasn't worked for centuries.'"

The Terrorist's Son by Zak Ebrahim is now available in bookstores, or you can get it for the Kindle or Nook, or through the iBookstore.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at
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16-Year-Old Invents A New Way To Communicate -- Using Only Your Breath

Fri, 2014-09-12 13:30
Sixteen-year-old Arsh Shah Dilbagi has found a way to convert human breath into speech, and he says his invention could transform the lives of an estimated 1.4 percent of the world's population who have conditions that prevent them from communicating verbally.

The Indian teen recently earned a spot as one of 18 finalists in the 2014 Google Science Fair for his invention, called "TALK." Arsh has created a new kind of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device (AAC), which enables people with medical conditions that make speech difficult, or even impossible, to express themselves out loud. (Famous scientist Stephen Hawking, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), uses an AAC device.)

TALK converts human breath into letters, allowing users to dictate words or phrases and communicate at up to three times the speed allowed by current ACC devices. While today's AAC devices cost thousands of dollars, Arsh says that TALK would be much less expensive to make and could sell for under $100.

Check out the rest of the 2014 Google Science Fair finalists, including other Huff Post favorite Samuel Burrow.

(Hat tip: Business Insider)

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Illinois Green Groups Push to Stop Fracking With All Eyes on JCAR

Fri, 2014-09-12 13:24
The second draft of Illinois' controversial fracking regulation has been presented to JCAR, the state legislature's Joint Committee for Administrative Rules. The powerful group of twelve legislators will give final approval, or rejection, of the updated rules.

If JCAR takes no vote then the rules won't be finalized and fracking will be further delayed. It might be nice to see the legislature do nothing, for once, They can also prohibit the rules as a "threat to the public interest, safety or welfare." What all environmental leaders agree on is that letting fracking come to Illinois is a major threat to public health and safety.

The universal response from environmental groups is that Illinois must ban fracking because these rules won't protect the public. Even groups who supported the regulatory law that's designed to open the state to large scale fracking are now pushing for a ban or moratorium.

Sierra Club responded to the revised rules by reaffirming that, "fracking is a very dangerous practice that threatens the health, water supply, and air quality of residents, and Sierra Club is opposed to its use in Illinois."

This summer, oil & gas industry lobbyists used the support Sierra Club and three other environmental groups gave the fracking law to claim the practice will be safe and has broad support. But in the past year more evidence is in that fracking can't reliably be regulated well enough to protect public health and the environment. Sierra Club now hopes the state "heard the voices of the overwhelming majority of Illinois' citizens who oppose fracking, and demanded that the state go back to the drawing board."

An action alert from Food & Water Watch bluntly warns the rules, "are grossly inadequate and practically guarantee that our groundwater will be contaminated once fracking starts in Illinois."

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which helped write the law along with industry lobbyists, now urges the General Assembly to "re-think the direction we're going" and "impose a moratorium on fracking until we have the science we need to make informed decisions about how to guard against its formidable risks."

SAFE and Illinois People's Action believe "the revised IDNR rules cannot and will not protect Illinoisans from the dangers of fracking." They oppose approval of the rules and reaffirm that "the wisest course of action would be to have a ban on fracking in the state of Illinois."

A recent Frack Free Illinois call to action asks JCAR legislators to reject the rules because the Department of Natural Resources admits they're "not ready to take on the daunting task of regulating this dangerous industry."

Grassroots activists in southern Illinois started the first wave of phone calls and tweets to legislators to reject and prohibit the rules. Environmental groups are finally uniting behind the grassroots in front line communities who are determined to stop fracking in Illinois.

Even the Southern Illinoisan, known as one of the most pro-fossil fuel newspapers in the state, made a surprising reversal of its editorial for rushing the process. In response to strong pushback from many of their readers, they now urge Illinois to "move cautiously." A top concern is that much oil fracking may be done with a low enough volume of liquids and chemicals to not be subject to the law. That would mean none of the regulation will apply to those wells and the state won't collect tax revenue.

The Illinois General Assembly rushed passage of the fracking law last year with less than an hour of public debate after some members openly admitted they know very little about the issue. Now the ball is back in their court and one legislative committee has the chance to slow down and do the right thing.

IDNR Director Marc Miller is on a greenwashing press tour to assure the public his rules will make fracking environmentally responsible. He bragged that fines for violations were increased to be in line with other states.

How have fines at these levels worked in other states?

Did fines in North Dakota prevent contaminated wastewater from ruining farmland?

Did fines prevent earthquakes in Oklahoma and Ohio?

Have they stopped people being forced to flee fracking areas of Colorado to escape air contaminated with toxins associated with increased rates of birth defects and miscarriages?

Did penalties prevent contamination of waterways in Pennsylvania? Or major health impacts on people living nearby?

How about oil fracking workers exposed to dangerous levels of benzine, a chemical that "can be acutely toxic to the nervous system, liver, and kidneys."

Clearly, the fines in other states aren't working. Why should any reasonable person believe they'll work in Illinois? Despite the best efforts of the Quinn administration to convince us otherwise, most people know fracking can't be made safe by regulation and definitely not by a weak law written with industry lobbyists.

These are the members of JCAR who can stop fracking from coming to Illinois.

Senator Don Harmon, Co-Chair, 708-848-2002,
Representative Timothy Schmitz, Co-Chair, 630-845-9590,
Senator Pamela Althoff, 815-455-6330,
Senator Tony Munoz, 773-869-9050,
Senator Sue Rezin, 815-220-8720,
Senator Dale Righter, 217-235-6033,
Senator Ira Silverstein, 773-743-5015,
Representative Greg Harris, 773-348-3434,
Representative Lou Lang, 847-673-1131,
Representative David Leitch, 309-690-7373,
Representative Don Moffitt, 309-343-8000,
Representative Andre Thapedi, 773-873-4444,

New poll shows Quinn leading Rauner for first time in governor's race

Fri, 2014-09-12 12:33
A new poll shows incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn leading Republican candidate Bruce Rauner by 3 percentage points, the first time Quinn has led Rauner since the March primaries, and in the 17 polls since then.

The Democratic Governors Association, which commissioned the poll, is the largest donor to Quinn's campaign, having donated $2.15 million since April. Its most recent donation was $500,000 on Aug. 15, according to the Illinois Board of Elections.

Chicago Sun-Times Early & Often obtained the poll results, which was conducted through Sept. 4-7 and surveyed 605 likely voters. The margin of error was +/- 4.0 percentage points.

The DGA commissioned New York-based public affairs organization, Global Strategy Group, to conduct the poll--a prominent political polling firm for the state's Democratic Party, according to a 2008 New York Times article.

Considering there have been a total of 18 polls since the primaries, it would be best to look at how polling has gone since then. Reboot Illinois combined all the results into an interactive line chart, showing fluctuations for both candidates over the past six months as well as those who are undecided.

While it's reasonable to question the objectivity of the DGA/GSG poll results, what do you think about this harsh analysis of Rauner's budget plan by the Chicago-based Center for Tax and Budget Accountability? See what it concluded about Rauner's "Bring Back Blueprint: Jobs and Growth Agenda" released in July.