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The Golden Girls Got It Right

Thu, 2014-10-16 07:03
Lately, I've been giving a lot of thought to my commune -- the one I plan on forming when I'm older and widowed and my kids are launched into lives of their own.

Think I'm alone in the commune-planning department? You'd be mistaken. I hear this conversation almost daily now -- whenever and wherever groups of 60-something women gather. We are planning on becoming roommates just like the "Golden Girls:" One will cook, another will drive. We'll take turns doing the dishes and, in general, we'll just laugh our way through old age -- all under the same roof, all of us in comfort shoes. At least that's the plan.

Sometimes, we fantasize about starting this living arrangement sooner rather than later -- you know, when we become "available," which is Commune-Planning Speak for widows, divorcees and never-marrieds tired of flying solo. In my girlfriend circles, we all want to travel, hike around the Alps, bike the Cotswolds and loll around on exotic beaches. We also agree with AARP's "three C's" of aging: Be concerned about companionship, caregiving and costs. For us, forming a commune hits the Trifecta.

How active is our planning? Not very, although just last week a friend sent me links to properties we could buy together in Canada and another spent an evening "researching" real estate online in some small town in Eastern Washington that somebody told her was perfect. One friend prefers big-city life, but thinks we'd have to share a bathroom to afford it. Another wants me to consider Hilton Head Island and just learn to ignore the Republicans.

For the record, my very-much-alive husband thinks that moving to a commune with my women friends is a great plan -- once he's dead, of course. He calls it a quality-of-life insurance policy. And my kids? The one lost in college brochures looked up long enough to promise to visit me wherever I am; the other keeps the door to his room barricaded so I couldn't actually ask his view. Yes, this is a plan for the future, obviously.

But that doesn't make the planning any less fun. Communal living, of course, isn't a new idea: The Puritans who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony were essentially a commune -- sharing a common philosophy and dividing up the chores for the common good. My commune won't be doling out any scarlet letters for misbehavior, I assure you.

And certainly, my generation is no stranger to communes: We formed about 2,000 of them during the height of the 1960s as we tested alternative lifestyles. Some were tinged with socialist principles, others embedded with a dash of communism, and still others run with a heavy dictatorial hand. Almost all failed. But now that we are older and wiser, the idea of communes may be, for some, the democratic answer to how to afford aging -- to handpick the friends you want to live with and jump off the aging cliff Thelma and Louise-style.

AARP's housing expert Rodney Harrell says that in 2000, there were 780,000 people age 50 or older living with roommates in "Golden Girls"-style households. In 2012, that number jumped to about 1 million. Not a huge increase and considering there are 104 million people in this country who are age 50 and older, just a drop in the bucket. That's OK. I have no issue with being ahead of the curve. And the number, said Harrell, is less interesting than the potential. We're going to need someone to take care of us, so why not our friends, he said.

There are also several bigger, organized co-housing developments formed by and for seniors.Glacier Circle in Davis Calif. was the country's first self-planned housing development for the elderly, and is one of the best-known. A dozen residents who all knew each other designed this community of eight townhouses and a common house with a living room and communal dining area. It also has a studio apartment for an on-site nurse. Then there's Elderspirit in Virginia, a church-based co-housing community and a third one in Boulder, Colorado, known as Silver Sage. They all seem like fine alternatives to an expensive assisted-living facility when I get much older. But I'm more focused on the years before that -- the years when I'm still well enough to live alone but would prefer not to for economic and/or social reasons.

Baby boomers have consistently said they want to stay in their homes and continue to live in the communities in which they raised their families, Harrell noted, but those homes and communities may be inhospitable to aging. As people age, they rely more on public transportation and also prefer homes without stairs. Plus they need activities and friends to avoid social isolation.

But like a lot of other things, there are a few obstacles and the government may be three steps behind the obvious solution. Harrell says that some municipalities have laws dating back 100 years -- intending to thwart houses of prostitution -- that actually could impede groups of unrelated friends setting up housekeeping together. And in some places, parking and building code regulations pose an impediment.

For the time being, I will continue to while away my evenings thinking about where my commune should be and who I want to live with in it. Nobody but me, by the way, calls them communes anymore. The preferred language of sociologists and planners is "intentional communities." You say tomato, I say tomato. Whatever. Let's just split the rent and have someone to hang out with in the evenings, OK?

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Riding A Bike Every Day Will Change Your Life For The Better

Thu, 2014-10-16 06:25
Carly Schwartz is The Huffington Post's Deputy National Editor. This is her GPS Guide on her favorite way to live in the moment.

For 24 euphoric minutes every morning and every evening, I can fly.

In hipster solidarity with my fixie-riding neighbors, I make my daily commute from my house in Brooklyn to HuffPost's office in the East Village by bike. Gliding past dog-walkers and elementary school kids on my block, expertly weaving around delivery vans and taxis up First Avenue, breaking a sweat on the steady incline of the Williamsburg Bridge and then reveling at the wind in my face going down the other side, I'm invincible.

My daily rides are my form of meditation -- few other physical activities force me to so fully embrace the present and consider my surroundings. If I'm feeling sad or angry, I pedal until the city blurs past me and all I can feel is pavement. If I'm already in a good mood, five minutes on my bike and I may as well be a superhero. At the very least, every day I arrive to and from work more invigorated and grateful for what my body can accomplish.

I don't remember exactly when or how my cycling habit grew from a handful of casual weekend rides to my most sacred daily ritual, but now I can't imagine a world without two wheels. I've biked through the mountains and to beaches, into hidden corners of all five boroughs, up and down the Hudson and East rivers, alone, in pairs, in a flash mob of 200. In the City of a Thousand Things, it's comforting to know that whatever I need is nothing more than a bike ride away.

Riding along the Hudson River is one of life's greatest pleasures.

Experts are quick to tout the health benefits of biking: It boosts energy and fights fatigue, it's gentler on the joints than walking or running, it can help reduce the risk of heart disease and it's one of the most effective full-body workouts you can engage in. (Given my disdain for most forms of exercise, that last point is particularly compelling.) And while the barrier to entry is low -- pretty much all you need to know to start cycling is how to ride a bike itself -- people often ask me if I have any tips for beginner bikers.

Below, a few things I've learned along the way that help make for a safer and more joyful ride:

Follow the rules of the road. Brake at yellow lights, stop for pedestrians and maintain a solid distance from cars. Cyclists who push the limit -- flying through stop signs, tailgating, shouting at cars -- not only give bikers a bad rap, but tempt fate. "A bike rider is flesh, bones, tendons and skin against a two-ton S.U.V.," Timothy Egan noted rather morbidly in the New York Times. "What would be a fender-bender, scrap or brush between cars can be fatal to a cyclist." I think of that every time my friends tease me for being a bit of a bike wimp.

But don't let fear keep you off your bicycle seat. It's markedly safer to ride on a bike than in a car. In 2012, cyclists accounted for just 2 percent of all traffic-related deaths. While it's essential to remain cautious and aware, it's unfounded to let anxiety cloud your biking experience.

Seriously, is there anything more beautiful?

Ignore those "you don't need a helmet" rumors. A British neurosurgeon recently made headlines when he claimed that wearing a bike helmet is actually more dangerous than traveling without one, but most research suggests otherwise. A full 98 percent of bike commuters own a helmet, so you'll be in good company, anyway.

Light up the night. Blinky lights are your best friend when it's dark or overcast. Just don't forget to take them off when you lock your bike up, as they’re an easy item for thieves to pocket.

Keep the air flowing. Riding with less-than-full tires is like trying to ice skate in sneakers: It's possible, but it's far less enjoyable. Invest in a good pump and make sure to learn where the best neighborhood bike shops are so you can fill in a pinch.

Make a playlist. Laws against riding with headphones vary from state to state, and it's never kosher to listen to music in more than one ear. But cruising around to a soundtrack can be an amazing feeling, so consider buying a wireless speaker you can mount on your frame. Then put together a list of your favorite tunes and get ready to feel like you can conquer the world.

The Williamsburg Bridge is the ultimate commuter workout.

Know your rights. If you do end up getting into a collision, stay on the scene until the police come, and make sure you give them an accurate report of the incident. Cyclists are too often taken advantage of in bad situations, especially if their injuries aren't apparent in the immediate aftermath of an accident.

Find some friends. As cathartic as it can be to bike alone, zipping down the street in a big group is an equally satisfying experience. Most cities have ample resources for the cycling community that run the gamut from bike maintenance workshops to organized day trips, providing opportunities to both make connections and explore places you may have otherwise never heard of.

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

Chicago Guns And Bullets To Be Melted Down Into Jewelry

Wed, 2014-10-15 20:30

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Guns and bullets seized from Chicago-area crimes will be melted down and turned into jewelry by a company that pledges to give part of the profit to at-risk children, company and government officials said on Wednesday.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office collects about 1,500 guns a year, along with ammunition, said Sheriff Thomas Dart. If the guns are no longer needed in an investigation, they are destroyed.

Under a partnership with New York-based Liberty United, run by entrepreneur Peter Thum, the county will allow the guns and ammunition to be made into bracelets, rings and necklaces that cost from $35 to $1,600.

From 20 to 25 percent of the profits will go to Cook County non-profit groups, starting with Children's Home + Aid, which provides services to families in Chicago's high-crime Englewood neighborhood.

Thum said he's excited to take the project into the nation's third-largest city, which saw 414 homicides in 2013.

"Chicago is a city that has suffered a lot over the past few years because of gun violence," he said. "There's an interesting opportunity to do something here."

Thum is best known as the founder of Ethos Water, which helped raise funds for safe water programs and was sold to Starbucks in 2005. After he left Ethos, Thum started Fonderie 47, which turned assault rifles from African war zones into jewelry and art, then co-founded Liberty United to do the same with U.S. guns.

Starting last year, Liberty United entered into partnerships with Philadelphia; Syracuse, N.Y., and Newburgh, N.Y. to take guns and ammunition. Thum said "tens of thousands" of dollars have been given to non-profit groups, but he couldn't give an exact figure.

An online company, Jewelry for a Cause, also turns illegal gun material into jewelry, with a portion of proceeds going to fund gun buy-back amnesty programs. (Editing by Eric Walsh)

Craigslist Ad Offers $200 Dollars To Anyone Who Will Take 'Hot Swinger Wife' To Foo Fighters Show

Wed, 2014-10-15 17:07
A Craigslist ad in Chicago may be the most strangest one ever posted.

It seems a man is looking for a guy to take his "hot swinger wife" to the Foo Fighters -- and he will pay $200 to boot.

Illinois Woman Receives Snake She Did Not Order In The Mail

Wed, 2014-10-15 17:03
A Granite City, Illinois, woman got the surprisssssssse of a lifetime when she opened up a FedEx delivery and discovered a live baby python inside.

Area news outlet KMOV reports that Delores Gavin "let out a big scream" when she opened the box, sent by a California reptile dealer, and found the snake, which she had not ordered.

Police believe a stolen credit card number was to blame for the surprise delivery, according to the Belleville News-Democrat, a local paper. The dealer has refunded Gavin's money.

An investigation into who ordered the reptile is underway.

The snake, a spotted python, is non-venomous and recognized as an "ideal first snake" for reptile owners.

Increased Minimum Wage Leads to Stability

Wed, 2014-10-15 16:08
We must start somewhere. Raising our minimum wage to $13.00 an hour in the City of Chicago is that starting place. But $13.00 an hour by 2018 is truly a floor-base-minimum to ensure that our city has a viable workforce for a vibrant economy in the 21st century.

Recently, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) hosted a roundtable meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to discuss the issues women face both in entering and maintaining their rightful place in the workforce. Gathered around the table were many of CFW's grantee organizations. These organizations are at the front lines, providing women with the stability and resources needed to take care of their families and enter the workforce.

Our mayor believes that the best social program is a job that pays a living wage. One of our goals at CFW is to help women not only find those jobs, but to keep those jobs and to thrive. Throughout our discussion with the mayor, the key word to success for women in the workforce was "stability."

What does stability look like? First and foremost, it is a wage that allows a woman to provide for the health, education and care of herself and her family. A $13.00 an hour minimum wage is an absolute bare-minimum base for that stability. More than half of all minimum wage earners in Chicago are women. Too many women in the city are at or below the poverty level.

Gender plays a definite role in women's poverty. The wage gap between women and men is 77 cents on the dollar. According to Wendy Pollack of the Sargent Shriver National Center for Poverty Law, closing that gap could cut poverty in half for women and their families. Equity in pay along with increasing the minimum wage are key first steps down the road to stability for working women. A stable workforce is the foundation of a stable economy.

Stability also requires certainty. Certainty to a woman with children is assurance that when she is at work or in school, she has dependable childcare. I applaud the Mayor's institution of universal full-day kindergarten. Apart from the school day, our grantees are working hard to provide the necessary childcare for women who work. At the Instituto del Progreso Latino (IDPL) and the Centers for New Horizons -- both CFW grantees -- working mothers are offered childcare services and counseling to help women as they navigate their journey in the workforce.

Stability breeds opportunity for women. That opportunity can take shape as a certification, a "stackable degree," or as a high paying job in the trades. CFW grantees are providing the training necessary to open doors for women in higher-paying traditionally male-dominated jobs. If a woman can get through the orientation at Kinzie Industrial Development Corporation and can attend class each Saturday for seven months, she is well-prepared to take the exam to become an emergency medical technician. With this certification, she can qualify for a $50,000 to $70,000 a year job. That is stability.

Stability is the foundation for women in the workforce. Yes, that stability starts with a bare-minimum wage of $13.00 and with equity in pay. We should also work with our politicians and grantees to ensure that comprehensive, affordable childcare is available for women who choose work and support programs that are providing "stackable" degree programs and non-traditional job training for working women. If you are a woman in the City of Chicago, and you choose to work, you should be able to look forward, not back.

'Love Is...' Newspaper Cartoon Sends Misguided Message About Rape Culture

Wed, 2014-10-15 15:45
A long-running cartoon described as "heart-warming" received a cold reception after a panel published Tuesday appeared to send the wrong message about consent.

Tuesday's syndicated "Love Is..." panel featured male and female cartoons above the caption, "Love is... knowing that 'no' means 'maybe' and 'maybe' means 'yes.'"

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Post by Lisa Kwiatkowski.

"Love Is..." appears in papers like The Chicago Sun-Times, whose readers took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their disgust. In response to the criticism, the paper replied from its verified social media accounts, writing: "We obviously don't approve the message this comic conveys and are seeking clarification from the syndicate."

Calls to the Sun-Times' publisher and page editor were not immediately returned, but the paper ran an apology on page 2 of Wednesday's edition apologizing for the cartoon.

The Tribune Content Agency, a syndication company that licenses news, cartoons, TV listings and other content for publications, confirmed to The Huffington Post that Tuesday's cartoon was indeed a current one. Vice President of Sales Wayne Lown said newspapers may license the comic strip but opt not to publish it. He said he could not confirm the list of clients with syndication rights to the cartoon, citing privacy reasons.

On Wednesday, Lown issued a statement on behalf of the TCA. The message, obtained by The Huffington Post, reads:

"To Our Clients and Readers:

Tribune Content Agency has removed from its content system a “Love Is” comic panel dated Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, because it used inappropriate language that could be interpreted as a reference to violence against women. The cartoon does not reflect the high editorial standards we have in place and work vigilantly to maintain. The distribution of the cartoon resulted from a breakdown in our editing procedures, and we apologize for the error and any offense it caused."

Though discussions over rape culture, "no means no" and affirmative consent continue to make news, the issue gained new prominence after California became the first state to have an affirmative consent law to define when "yes means yes."

New Zealand cartoonist Kim Casali created "Love Is..." in the late 1960s. It was inspired by love notes Casali drew for her future husband. After her death in 1997, her son, Stefano Casali, "maintained his mother's legacy" and continued syndication of the "Love Is..." concept, according to the panel's official site.

The cartoons are currently drawn by British cartoonist Bill Asprey.

Messages sent to Casali and Asprey were not immediately returned.

Why Bad Relationships Happen to Good Women

Wed, 2014-10-15 15:11
I'm an optimistic single.

I personally believe that there are more good guys out there than bad, and that the typical single guy isn't on the prowl to scam and hurt women. The typical guy, much like the typical woman, is just searching for a connection that he can believe in.

Unfortunately, I feel as if I'm in the ignorant minority with my "most guys are good" train of thought, as bad relationships are popping up all around me. Two of my friends are divorced; and one of my close friends recently had a relationship experience that knocked the optimism out of her.

My friend "Donna" discovered that her boyfriend of two years was actually someone else's husband of 9 years. Despite seeing this guy several nights a week, the truth of the matter was that he had a family, and Donna was just his sidepiece.

I've met Donna's ex, and when I saw the two of them together, I envisioned a hideous bridesmaid dress in my future, and I told her so. Donna's married man had fooled me, too; when everything crashed and burned between them, I wondered, are some women magnets for bad relationships?

Probably, especially after leaving a bad relationship suggest Helen Goldberg and Amy Loeb, authors of Sex Esteem: The Secret Struggles of Wives and Side Chicks.

The authors state that the cycle is a vicious one: A bad relationship experience is likely to damage a woman's self-esteem, and a woman with low self-esteem is more likely to enter into a bad relationship.

As for my friend, Goldberg doesn't believe that a woman can unknowingly date a married man for years, she tells me.

"Men are good at compartmentalization, but they're not that good," she says.

If there are certain areas of his life that you don't have access to, for example, his friends, family, home-front, etc., those are definitely red flags. If you can only see him during certain hours, or if you only have a cell phone number for him after you've decided to date each other exclusively, you should have an inkling that he is committed to someone else.

Co-author Amy Loeb adds that some women are co-conspirators in the deceit. "We wear blinders, especially if the loving is good," she says. "Men are crafty, yes, and we help them by choosing to ignore the red flags in the relationship. If we're comfortable, and we like the guy, we're going to wear our blinders and hope for something more."

Ultimatums, temper tantrums and all hell breaks loose if our relationship demands are not met, of course. Eventually, we dust ourselves off and throw ourselves back into the dating game -- but if we make that move too soon, we can end up in the Heartbreak Hotel once again Goldberg warns.

"You can't predict whether or not a guy will be bad for you," Goldberg states. "However, if you run away from one bad relationship and jump into a new one, you'll miss the red flags. You'll appear desperate, and you'll continue to attract the emotional predators who are no good for you."

Perhaps we would all be better off if we didn't callously fall in love, but instead strategize to land the relationship we truly wanted.

This relationship strategy would include a thorough background check for our suitors and a realistic expectations checklist for ourselves. We would welcome the courtship and friendship that good relationships are made of before we jumped into the sack.

And above all else, we would date with our eyes wide open, no blinders allowed.

Cops Chase Drugs Suspect Bryan Duffy Through Chicago Marathon

Wed, 2014-10-15 14:29
CHICAGO (AP) -- Authorities say a wanted man attempted to flee pursuing officers by blending into the sea of Chicago Marathon runners.

WLS-TV ( ) reports Bryan Duffy of Chicago ran from police officers Sunday after they approached him. Police say the 29-year-old man jumped into a group of marathon runners in hopes he could make an escape. But police were ultimately able to tackle and arrest Duffy.

Police say the man was carrying 10 capsules of MDMA, also known as Molly or ecstasy.

Duffy is charged with possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest. He was also charged with reckless conduct for endangering the marathon runners.

His bail is set for $10,000.

85 Colleges Are Now Under Federal Investigation For Sexual Assault Cases

Wed, 2014-10-15 14:21
Eighty-five higher education institutions are now under investigation due to concerns with how the schools handle sexual violence on campus, the U.S. Department of Education told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.

Of the current investigations, 55 began in 2014 and nine were added in the past two months. The Education Department began publicly disclosing its Office for Civil Rights investigations of colleges for sexual violence in May, when the overall total was 55.

The most recent schools to fall under federal scrutiny include Grand Valley State University in Michigan and Marlboro College in Vermont, which had investigations started Oct. 6; Drake University in Iowa and Valparaiso University in Indiana, both opened Oct. 3; and the California Institute of the Arts and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for which inquiries began Sept. 30.

Any school that receives federal funding, which is nearly all of them, is required to abide by the gender equity law Title IX. Court precedents and federal officials have established that, under Title IX, colleges must address and eliminate sexual violence and harassment on campus, regardless of whether police are involved in a case.

Investigations can arise from complaints filed against colleges or be launched proactively by the Education Department.

The student who filed a complaint against CalArts told Al Jazeera America that school officials questioned her about her drinking habits and the length of her dress when she filed formal charges with the college against her alleged rapist, and administrators asked her whether she climaxed during the assault. CalArts found the accused student responsible for sexual assault and suspended him for a year. It denied an appeal from the victim, who publicly identified herself only as "Regina," for a harsher punishment.

(READ: Fewer Than One-Third Of College Sexual Assault Cases Result In Expulsion)

CalArts also did nothing to stop the accused student's classmates from harassing Regina after her report, said SurvJustice, a nonprofit survivor advocacy group that helped Regina file the complaint.

"The men who intimidated, harassed, and stalked me for reporting the assailant are in the same classes as me this semester," Regina said in an email to The Huffington Post. "If the school won't even protect me from those students, how can it promise to keep me safe when the man who raped me returns to campus?"

CalArts issued a schoolwide email addressing sexual assault on campus on Oct. 6, after the college knew it was under investigation. However, it did not tell students about the federal inquiry.

CalArts spokeswoman Margaret Crane said the school takes sexual misconduct "very seriously" and considers safety a "top priority," but said she could not provide any additional information. Crane did not say why the school didn't tell students about the investigation.

(READ: Many Universities Don't Want You To Know How They Punish Sexual Assault)

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln did address its campus earlier this month about the complaint that resulted in its investigation. It insisted the school "took timely and appropriate action" in the case and noted the offender was no longer at the school.

A law student who filed a complaint against Valparaiso University in September accused the school of not informing her about interim measures it put in place for her and her alleged assailant. Valparaiso has said it can't comment on the case, but "strives to protect its students from sexual assault."

Marlboro spokesman Matthew Barone told HuffPost its investigation was the result of a complaint and the school is in the process of providing information to the OCR. Both Drake and GVSU told HuffPost their investigations were the result of complaints against the universities, and that they are both committed to ensuring their campuses are safe for students.

Schools with Title IX violations can lose federal funding, though that's never happened in higher education. OCR investigations typically result in a resolution agreement stipulating changes the school must make to address sexual and gender-based violence.

Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

OCR Sexual Violence - Open Investigations - Higher Ed - 10-15-14 by Tyler Kingkade

5 Things Your Landlord Wants You to Know

Wed, 2014-10-15 13:20
In the world of renting, the relationship between a landlord and a tenant can be a tricky one. The reality is, a landlord wants what's best for their investment property and that means they want you, their beloved tenant, to know a few important things, so the time you spend under their roof is a great one!

Here are the five key things every landlord wants their tenant to know:

1. Everyone Wins When You Read Your Lease
This sounds so simple and basic, but you wouldn't believe how many people that have never actually read their entire lease agreement. Upon first glance, it's an unending list of paragraphs and jumble, especially if your building or home is managed by a property manager or large company. But within all those pages, the tenants can learn not only what is expected of them, but what is expected of the landlord. Knowing your rights and the rules helps you avoid issues before they become problems. Most leases have very specific guidelines for every category: rent payments, late penalties, tenant utility responsibilities, noise issues, additional occupants policy, proper notice for vacating, procedure for repair requests etc. Understanding the lease allows you to to avoid costly extra charges and keep you protected from giving the landlord reason to financially penalize you or worse ... evict you. Take the 15 minutes to read your lease -- it is a win/win for everyone.

2. Landlords Don't Want to Charge You Late Fees or Returned Check Fees
Do you think that landlords love to receive all those late fees and other charges from you? They don't. They also really hope you not are late each month or bounce checks so they can up-charge you extra fees. No matter how much more they are receiving because of your inability to manage your finances, it not worth the hassle of chasing you down for the overdue rent and bounced funds. The bottom line is they will charge you, and if you do not pay all due rent and fees, at some point they can evict you. But trust me, it costs you far more than it bothers them. Late fees can range from 5-10% of your rent, and banks are charging huge fees for returned checks these days. Consistently racking up those fees can cost you an enormous amount of money each year. And it can set you up for eviction proceedings, which will then also affect your credit score and your ability to rent elsewhere.

3. Pet Stains Will Cost You Far More Than You Think
We love our dogs and cats, and thankfully, many apartment buildings will allow them. However, the big shocker always comes when a tenant moves out and he or she is hit with a huge repair bill. Why? Well, that little stain on the wall-to-wall carpet may seem pretty small to you. However, pet urine seeps deep into carpet and into the padding below. Your landlord is not going to be able to rent that apartment to the next tenant with pet-stained carpet. And unfortunately for you, most of the time the entire room of wall-to-wall carpet and padding will have to be replaced. What about those shiny hardwood floors? Even more expensive to repair. Pet urine will soak into hardwood and leave dark stains that often cannot be sanded out. Actual planks will need to be replaced. So whether you have carpet or hardwood, your deposit will become a distant memory if sweet little Fido has one too many accidents.

4. Your Deposit Is Not Your Last Month's Rent
More and more landlords are now asking for first month's rent, last month's rent, and a security deposit when you move into an apartment. That is a lot of money. On a $1,900/month apartment or house, that comes to $5,700--just to move in! Sometimes, you get lucky and you'll be asked for only your first month's rent and the security deposit up front. But this is where you can get yourself into a lot of hot water down the line. Many tenants assume that your deposit money can be used as your last month's rent. Wrong. It is a security-damage deposit. Something completely separate. Refusing to pay your last month's rent by offering up your deposit can ultimately cost you far more than that rent payment. You will be slapped with a notice of eviction and late rent charges. This can potentially ding your credit, destroy your ability to use your current landlord as a reference for your new apartment, and open you up to legal action. Plan ahead, don't get stuck short for cash -- allocate enough funds so that when it is time to move, you have enough for the upfront fees for your new place, as well as enough to cover your current obligations.

5. If You Are a Good Tenant, Landlords Don't Want You To Move
If you are quiet, nice, clean, and pay your rent on time, chances are you're considered a good tenant. Good tenants are valuable. One of the biggest costs associated with being a landlord is the apartment turn-over process when a tenant moves out. There is lost rent for any time the unit is not occupied, cleaning costs, and high-dollar improvements to be made. Yes, landlords need to continually raise rents to keep up with the increased costs of running the building, taxes, insurance, etc., but if you do some homework and determine that you are paying close to the current market rent, you may be able to make a case to forgo a rent increase this year or at least come to a compromise. If your landlord is asking for a 5% increase on a $1,500 rent ($75.00/month), he won't want to lose you over that $75.00. You may be able to ask to split the difference or even skip the rent increase entirely this year.

Illinois governor candidates focus on, clash over jobs, violence at debate

Wed, 2014-10-15 12:48
At Tuesday's Illinois gubernatorial debate, candidates Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner clashed about issues important to the African-American community, such as jobs, education and dealing with violence in communities. The debate was held at at the DuSable Museum of African American History on Chicago's South Side.

Under questioning from Perri Small of WVON-AM 1690, CBS 2 political reporter Jay Levine and Chicago Tribune business reporter Corilyn Shropshire, Quinn and Rauner hammered home the themes that have defined this race. For Rauner: Quinn is inept and ineffective in fostering business growth; he's part of an old political system that needs to exit. For Quinn: Rauner is too wealthy to understand average citizens' concerns; his business success has brought him wealth while hurting those on lower rungs of the economic ladder.

Check out the full debate and highlights at Reboot Illinois.

Many aspects of the future of Illinois depend on which candidate is ultimately elected in November, but Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek says that no matter if Quinn or Rauner is elected, Illinoisans should be prepared for higher taxes.

Doubek writes:

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn told the Daily Herald in his endorsement interview that he'll try to make the temporary 5 percent income tax increase permanent, something Republican governor nominee Bruce Rauner now is highlighting in his latest ad. Quinn doesn't like to talk about it too much, but he's called for making the tax permanent since March. He probably figures if he wins, he's got a mandate to increase taxes and raise the minimum wage.

Rauner will be hiking taxes, too. Rauner said he would add sales taxes onto scores of services that haven't been taxed yet. The budget plans he's offered do not add up, with the personal income tax rate set to drop to 3.75 percent in January, so don't be surprised if he tries to take more of our money if he wins, too. He's said he hopes to drop the income tax rate back down to 3 percent over four years.

See the rest of her thoughts on taxes and the election at Reboot Illinois.

'Dear White People' Director Justin Simien: 'Closed Cultural Loops' Cause Blackface Parties

Wed, 2014-10-15 12:32
From the University Of Florida to the University of California, Irvine to Arizona State University, insensitive blackface videos, images and parties continue to pop up at colleges across the United States.

Partygoers don baggy pants, throw on their finest grills and even paint their skin a dark hue in pursuit of a good time and playful parody. While these parties attract fiery criticism nearly each time they take place, they seem to be pervasive within the university party scene.

Director Justin Simien, who explores the complexity of the black experience at an elite university in his upcoming satirical film “Dear White People,” weighed in on the controversial practice in a HuffPost Live interview on Tuesday.

"It happens in these closed cultural loops, and it happens when people are not necessarily trying to make black people feel bad," Simien said. "It is a combination of being ironic, celebrating and kind of being ignorant to the experience of the other."

Ultimately, Simien concluded that blackface parties are a manifestation of a lack of understanding among racial groups.

“It comes down to the fact that we as a culture are so unwilling to see ourselves in people who don’t look like us," Simien exaplined. "If we found a way to be a little bit more open in that respect, they would have enough black friends and say, 'You probably shouldn’t throw this party on Martin Luther King Day, and you probably shouldn’t Instagram about it because Gawker will pick it up and this will be a blight on this college campus.'"

Check out the full HuffPost Live conversation with ‘Dear White People’ director Justin Simien and actress Tessa Thompson here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Wed, 2014-10-15 10:57
Top chefs and legendary bakers are among the new breed of pizzaiolo who are just as fanatical about the temperature of their ovens as they are about the provenance of their ingredients. Here, F&W names the best places for pizza around the country from these new guard spots--including a Bay Area pizzeria that uses locally-milled flour--to century old East Coast institutions.

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Jeff & Spencer Tweedy Talk & Perform on The Interview Show

Wed, 2014-10-15 10:22
Jeff and son Spencer Tweedy join Mark Bazer on The Interview Show to talk about their new album, "Sukierae," as well as about autographing Dominick's receipts, a band called Sexfist and much more. Plus, they perform "You Are Not Alone," a song Jeff wrote for Mavis Staples.

Filmed at The Abbey Pub Sept. 12, 2014. Thanks to Ben Chandler and Adam Peindl. Next Interview Show is Nov. 7 at The Hideout.

Honoring Our Gorgeous and Efficient Skyline: Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Awards

Wed, 2014-10-15 09:56

Tonight the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative is having its first awards ceremony, honoring one building and three building engineers who have contributed most in the early years of the program to unleash the power of energy efficiency across Chicago's iconic skyline.

NRDC is proud to be sponsoring the event, along with the Joyce Foundation, and is proud of the work we've done with many partners to launch and guide the Commercial Buildings Initiative. Today, forty seven diverse buildings, including some of the oldest and most venerable in the city, and some of the newest as well, have joined the program pledging to reduce their energy use by 20% over five years. Together, the partners have made substantial technical and financial resources available to ensure that the buildings are able to succeed. We recently documented the key elements of this partnership in a report designed to show other cities how to engage building owners and managers in a similar effort.

In the first 1.5 years of the program, the first wave of participating buildlings reduced their energy use by a collective 7%, which means 28,000 fewer tons of carbon being emitted each year, and avoids more than $2.5 million in energy costs. That puts the project on track to hits its five-year goal. More importantly, the leading buildings are developing strategies and gaining experience that can lead to similar improvements in the thousands of buildings across the city, and in the building owner's broader portfolio of buildings across the country.

We look forward to announcing the winners tonight and will tell you much more about them in a blog on Switchboard to follow immediately after the announcement.

"Red White and Blue skyline" image by jmogs via Flickr highlights two commercial building initiative participants: Adler and Sullivan's Roosevelt University - Auditorium Building at 430 South Michigan Avenue (the white building) and CNA Headquarters at 333 South Wabash Avenue (the red building).

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.

Lost in Translation: The Hammond, Indiana, Police Brutality Case

Wed, 2014-10-15 08:57
During a stop for what should have been a routine seatbelt ticket, things turned violent. On September 24, 2014, midafternoon, Hammond police pulled over Lisa Mahone because she and Jamal Jones, who was riding in the front passenger seat, were not wearing seatbelts as required by state law, according to police. Ms. Mahone's children, ages 14 and 7, were in the backseat. What happened next would have at one time been a verbal or testimonial matter of dispute. Hammond police officers smashing a car window and then Tasing and arresting Mr. Jones, would normally end up as a "he said/they said" disagreement between the police and the now-accused Jones. (He is charged with resisting law enforcement, failure to aid an officer and not wearing a seatbelt now.)

As a former public defender, I can remember being assigned to a misdemeanor call in what was then called Branch 28 on Monroe and Racine in Chicago. My more seasoned partner in the courtroom told me when I first started there that if I saw a client in the lock-up with injuries, I could be certain that he would be charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest or assault on an officer, depending on how badly he had been injured. I didn't want to believe it, but it turned out it was true. It was also true that sometimes my client had resisted arrest or assaulted the officer. But sometimes the defendant would get hurt by police just for not having the "right attitude." Oh, and being black or brown didn't help the client much either. When there would be a swearing contest between the accused and the police, unsurprisingly, the police would win. After all the defendant was biased and the officer was just doing his or her job, and it is a dangerous job at that.

Back then there would have been no independent witness, and so there it would stay. The officer could have been right, wrong or somewhere in the middle, but nothing would happen to that officer even if he was in fact in the wrong.

As the former Chicago police commander Jon Burge torture scandal has shown, it can take hundreds of victims and decades of abuse before anyone begins to believe that police are human and sometimes do wrong. But in this case things are a bit different, because there is a witness, in the form of a video (actually, allegedly, two) -- one taken by the teenage son of Mahone, who was a backseat passenger in the car, and one taken by officers (which they have yet to release).

In the video that was released, you see Mr. Jones handing the ticket he received for not having insurance to the officer and then some conversation occurs. The police say that he was reaching for something in the backseat and they thought it might be a weapon. Mr. Jones (according to the civil rights law suit that is now pending) says he was getting what the police asked for out of the backpack behind him. What the video shows next is the officer smashing the window in with his baton, grabbing and Tasering Jones; you hear the 7-year-old crying. Looking at the video, it is difficult to see what would cause the police to be in fear, other than Jones' refusal to exit the car. He refused, he says, because he was afraid to. Where does such a feeling come from? It comes from history. We unfortunately have a long history of police misconduct and abuse, sanctioned by law in the past and by practice more recently, of mistreatment of minorities by police.

What happens when there is a long history of a community feeling that the police are not there to help them, but to hurt them? When the police feel that every dark face is dangerous? When the public has long believed the police on this issue? Ferguson, Missouri, happens. And not only that but the killing of Michael Brown (an unarmed black teenager) by a white police officer it is seen differently depending on who you are. Minorities feel that racism plays a large part in their lives; white people feel it is over and if there is race discrimination it is against white people.

Perhaps the advent of cameras will help us all to see better, to understand another perspective, and maybe we can hold everyone -- citizens and police -- equally accountable.

This Is The State Of American Art

Wed, 2014-10-15 08:56
It's a basic assumption in certain circles that life ends west of the Hudson River, and doesn't start back up until Los Angeles. But there is one place even the prickliest coastal snob seems unable to resist: Crystal Bridges, the largest museum to open in the country's interior in a generation.

Funded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, the show-stopping shrine to American art drew headlines the moment it opened in tiny Bentonville, Arkansas, simply for the fact of its existence. Five years later, the talk is about the art inside those famous glass walls.

In the latest issue of Huffington magazine, we take a look at the museum's current headline-getter. Unlike comparable exhibitions, "State of the Art" features artists who've often never made it into a museum before. To find them, two of the museum's staffers -- president Don Bacigalupi and curator Chad Alligood -- traveled 100,000 miles around the country. It was a curatorial adventure unlike any before, equal parts buddy comedy, great American road trip, and cultural reboot.

Above, SotA artists Vanessa L. German and Andy DuCett join Bacigalupi and Alligood in the HuffPost Live studios to discuss how it all went down.

Latino Votes Must Be Earned, Just Like Everyone Else's

Wed, 2014-10-15 07:25
An increasingly divisive debate is raging among politically engaged Latinos right now over how to respond to our political leaders' incapacity to reform our immigration system. This should worry politicians in general and Democrats in particular.

The frustration has simmered for years, but President Barack Obama offered the latest catalyst last month when he delayed a promised decision, for a second time, to use his executive authority to offer deportation relief to undocumented immigrants. During that time, tens of thousands of people will be deported, often slapped with a criminal charge of illegal entry and thrown in jail before being expelled.

The White House said it delayed the decision to avoid undermining vulnerable Democrats in several hard-fought Senate races in the upcoming midterm elections.

The move frustrated Latino groups across the board, from grassroots activists to the establishment politicians who make up the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. That should worry the White House, because many of these people helped in one way or another to propel Obama to office in 2008 and again in 2012, when Obama won a whopping 71 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Some, like Presente Action, have encouraged Latino voters to oppose Democrats perceived as anti-reform. Others, like Carlos Garcia of the organization Puente in Arizona, have urged Latinos to simply boycott the midterm elections if deportation relief isn't forthcoming, sending the message that Hispanic votes can't be taken for granted.

The idea of boycotting elections understandably concerns other Latino advocacy groups that have spent years on the ground trying to boost turnout among Hispanics, which remains notoriously low. Groups like the National Council of La Raza and Voto Latino have instead encouraged Latinos to realize their political power by showing up at the ballot box.

"Only by building our segment of the electorate can we change the bad politics practiced by both major parties that now stands in the way of needed policy changes on immigration reform and other issues," Maria Teresa Kumar, the president of Voto Latino, wrote in an article for MSNBC on Monday. "Our strength comes from voting for ourselves and not for politicians or political parties."

The vote is one of the most important keys to political power our representative system offers. The prospect that some potential Latino voters are so disillusioned that they won't make use of it should disturb us.

Some in the Democratic Party feel unfairly targeted, given that many Republicans have driven Hispanic voters away in droves by embracing harsh anti-immigration policies and offensive rhetoric. Since the child migrant crisis this summer, even one-time GOP leaders who backed reform, like U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) or John McCain (R-Ariz.) have now retreated, instead pushing to end the president's 2012 policy of deferring deportation for people brought here illegally as children.

But the fact of the matter is that if Democrats aren't energizing Latino voters, they should blame themselves.

They should blame themselves for failing to pass immigration reform when they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency. They should blame their president for repeatedly declining to weaken the deportation apparatus that causes so much harm to the Hispanic community. They should blame the president's refusal, for a second time, to keep his word about following through on executive action on immigration in the face of Congressional gridlock.

When Democrats retreat on immigration reform, it leaves few options for Latino voters who care deeply about that issue. If those voters can't find candidates that reflect their values, it may be hard to convince them to cast a ballot for its own sake.

When polls indicate a crisis of confidence in the U.S. Congress, we generally lay the blame on our representatives for causing the problem -- not the electorate. But when Latino voters show the same crisis of confidence, many point their fingers at the voters rather than the officials who have done a poor job representing their constituents.

Any democratically minded person should want Hispanic political engagement and voter turnout to rise as high as possible. But when Hispanic voters stay home to oppose both major parties, that isn't always apathy -- sometimes it's a form of political protest, and one that both parties should take seriously. Latino votes, just like everyone else's, should not be taken for granted. They must be earned.

Pork Industry Defends Use Of Antibiotics In Livestock After PBS 'Frontline' Report

Tue, 2014-10-14 23:01

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A leading U.S. pork association will use an online marketing campaign to counter a critical television documentary on antibiotics use in livestock, pointing consumers to industry-funded websites that defend the practice, according to an association email.

The National Pork Board sent out an email about the strategy to food and agriculture officials in advance of Tuesday evening's PBS Frontline program entitled, "The Trouble with Antibiotics."

The industry was taking steps to "monitor, engage and respond to any and all media coverage of this story," Jarrod Sutton, vice president for social responsibility at the National Pork Board, said in the email seen by Reuters.

One of those steps is to use "Paid Search Engine Optimization (SEO)," according to the email. SEO is a widely employed marketing tactic that aims to get a website to show up higher in a search engine's results for particular search terms.

"The industry will tie any consumer searches for 'PBS Frontline' and 'Antibiotics' to the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance site, Food Source," the email stated. "Included in these searches will be the terms 'pork, antibiotics and Frontline.' In those cases, users will be directed to the National Pork Board and [National Pork Producers Council] NPPC site"

Sutton told Reuters the email was just notifying "our customers and consumers" of something they might find of interest.

Sutton, whose email outlined how the pork board was working with livestock commodity groups and others, told Reuters that "SEO is an emerging way to best direct consumers to accurate and publicly available information."

Sutton and the National Pork Board did not answer questions about specifics of the SEO effort. It is not clear when the SEO effort would start. A Google search of these terms by Reuters on Tuesday did not list any of the sites mentioned in the email in the first 10 pages of search results, nor to ads leading to those sites.

Officials for U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and NPPC could not be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

Search engine marketing can vary. Some companies use optimized key words and other techniques to rise to the top of standard search results, while others pay for ads on a search engine's pages. Some firms attempt to "game" search results - a practice that Google Inc and others guard against.

A preview video on PBS' website showed a series of video clips of farms and scientific labs and questioned whether "decades of antibiotics in our farm animals" may be linked to antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

Scientists fear the widespread use of antibiotics on farms may be a factor in the rise of "superbugs" - bacteria that grow resistant to drugs and infect humans.

In 2003, U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to evaluate every new animal drug based on the drug's potential to create superbugs. A Reuters review of FDA data shows the agency has not reviewed the vast majority of animal drugs now on the market, because most were approved before 2003. (Additional reporting by Brian Grow in Atlanta; Editing by Ken Wills)