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Chicago Women Show Rahm Emanuel the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thu, 2014-07-17 09:25
Tuesday, Toni Preckwinkle, one of the two women who -- according to the latest poll -- would beat Rahm Emanuel in a race for mayor of Chicago, announced she wasn't running.

Monday, the other one, Emanuel's enemy Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, announced she was considering running. As evidence of how seriously she's considering the opportunity, Lewis offered-up a spokesperson to talk about the formation of an exploratory committee and a strategy for building neighborhood support for a candidacy.

Lost in the news reports I've seen so far, including national analyses of the situation, is the fact that the two most viable candidates for defeating the mayor of the nation's third largest city are women. Have we reached the point when this fact is a ho-hum?

No, we haven't. At a time when so many Americans need so much from their government, American women who care are finding it really tough to win executive office. For instance, Chicago has elected only one woman mayor and that was 35 years ago. New York and Los Angeles have never elected one, though a strong woman candidate ran in each last year. One could argue that's the luck of the (political) draw; or that Christine Quinn in New York and Wendy Greuel in Los Angeles made some dumb political mistakes and, therefore, deserved to lose. (On Quinn, here is my analysis.)

But the fact remains that women, girls and women-headed families (the majority in our nation's largest cities) lose greatly when caring women aren't elected. That's because -- along with executive political office -- comes a bully pulpit unlike any legislator's, the opportunity to take executive actions without legislative concurrence (Barack Obama these days, anyone?), and the opportunity to press for important legislation from a uniquely powerful position. And, since it's women politicians who typically promote policies beneficial to women, those men-only executive suites can offer cold comfort.

In Chicago, we have an embarrassment of riches of women with executive experience. Each could be a mayor who puts equality and opportunity for women foremost. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer could run a good race. Probably, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan could beat Mayor Emanuel anytime she gets tired of state government.

Consider these proof points about these Chicago women who care:

  • In Madigan's and Gainer's cases, each has addressed issues important to the security of Chicago's women-headed families: in the case of Madigan, sex crimes and bankers' misdeeds; in the case of Gainer, abandoned homes and services for juvenile offenders.


  • Toni Preckwinkle is a unique leadership voice for the oppressed and underserved in Chicago and Cook County. At almost any opportunity, she speaks about Chicago's "intersection of race and poverty" and its resulting problems: street violence, prison overcrowding, a dearth of trained workforce participants, and schools that fail to educate.


  • Karen Lewis has spent time making her case for urban education, which differs dramatically from Rahm Emanuel's. One can rebut it, as Mayor Emanuel has, but Lewis's vision is legitimate and, as we now know, compelling to Chicago voters.



Pundits will say my analysis is immaterial since none of these women, except for Karen Lewis, is known to be considering a run against Mayor Emanuel. I disagree. This review buttresses the truth that Chicago can be better than it is today. Chicago can be -- for everyone -- a City that makes it clear -- in every action it takes -- that it welcomes, cherishes and delivers for everyone.

I've never met Karen Lewis, but I did observe her one day. That encounter gave me confidence that compassion and humility are central to her view of city life. In the event, perhaps we'd see these qualities in candidate dialogues with Mayor Emanuel.

This encounter was at the funeral of Addie Wyatt, a heroine to many women of Lewis's, Preckwinkle's and my generation. (Lisa and Bridget know all about her, too.) Addie was one of the first African-American leaders of the modern women's movement, as well as an important leader of the civil rights movement. She is deserving of the greatest props. Lewis gave her those.

The Vernon Park Church of God in Christ sanctuary was overflowing, forcing those of us who arrived late to sit in the church basement and watch the closed circuit TV version of the funeral service. Lewis was one of us in the basement.

Unlike so many other notables who, even if arriving late, would demand a primo seat in the sanctuary -- since, after all, what's the purpose of a VIP-politician's funeral if not to see and be seen -- Lewis descended to the basement; sat on a folding chair in a corner; and watched the proceedings silently and without show.

Today, Addie's South Side neighborhood is one Chicagoans fear to tread. Even her church of sixty years is leaving for safer (suburban) pastures. Whether it's numbers about violence, or jobs, or teacher layoffs, or about costly improvements to downtown while neighborhoods are rife with abandoned buildings, Addie's neighborhood and the rest of outlying Chicago is in desperate need of repair.

So, Chicago girlfriends: While the politicians do their thing, let's do ours. Let's show the guys the light at the end of the tunnel, i.e., the solutions of women who care, wherever those women sit. Let's help caring women politicians realize their dreams, so often also ours. Let's run the most important campaign of all: the one that is for, with and by women. No matter who is mayor.

How Long It REALLY Takes To Get Over A Breakup

Thu, 2014-07-17 08:22
Once the romance fades and the relationship is over, how much time does it take to officially get over it?

Science says a year and a half. One 2009 study suggested it takes nearly 18 months for divorcees to feel ready to move on after a split is finalized. Another popular theory, perpetuated by the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," is that it takes half the length of the relationship's duration to recover from a breakup.

Chicago-based cartoonist Corinne Mucha offers up a new theory in her autobiographical graphic novel, Get Over It!

Mucha's comic centers on her own experience of a messy breakup, chronicling the feelings of confusion and frustration that will be immediately familiar to anyone who's been there before.

Here's one of our favorite excerpts:












Mucha is celebrating the release of "Get Over It!" with a reading at Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago on Friday, July 25.

When Being Obese Could Save Your Life

Thu, 2014-07-17 07:05
You've just had a heart attack, and you're in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. If you're overweight or moderately obese, you're actually more likely to survive that heart attack than if you were a normal weight or underweight person.

It's what doctors and researchers call the "obesity paradox." While being overweight probably helped land you in the hospital with a heart attack in the first place, that extra weight could work in your favor after the fact. In fact, dozens of studies from the past several years indicate that people who are overweight or moderately obese according to the body mass index are more likely to survive chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and diabetes than normal weight or underweight people.

But whether the obesity paradox is a real phenomenon with a yet-to-be-discovered biological basis or just a statistical fallacy drawn from bad data is up for (angry) debate.

NOT BLACK AND WHITE

In the "fat as protection" camp is Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, as well as an obesity paradox expert.

"It's very provocative to go out and say obesity isn't as bad as we thought -- to announce to the world that there are good things about obesity, too," Kalantar-Zadeh told The Huffington Post. "But the truth is that there is [an] emerging set of data over the past several years suggesting that obesity is not as black and white as we have maintained for the past 30 to 40 years."

Kalantar-Zadeh wrote an editorial in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings that compared the obesity paradox to a bad friend whose influence lands you both in jail. You wouldn't be there in the first place if it weren't for that bad friend -- but once in jail, that friend protects you from bad conditions and other inmates. The effects of the obesity paradox are especially pronounced in old people and those with acute and chronic diseases, Kalantar-Zadeh wrote.

"I don't let my kidney disease patients and patients on dialysis lose weight," Kalantar-Zadeh said to HuffPost. "If I tell your 91-year-old grandma to lose weight, am I helping her or hurting her? This is all about who benefits from losing weight, and who doesn't."

Kalantar-Zadeh's editorial accompanies two new studies in the journal that shed more light on the obesity paradox. The first, a meta-analysis of 36 different coronary heart disease studies by Dr. Abhishek Sharma of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, confirms what researchers have been saying for several years now: Coronary heart disease patients with a BMI between 25 and 30 (technically "overweight") have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than normal weight patients with a BMI between 18 and 25.

In fact, obese and severely obese patients with cardiovascular disease had 27 percent and 22 percent lower chances, respectively, of dying from any cause compared with people with normal BMIs.

The second, an observational study of almost 48,000 heart surgery patients that was led by Dr. Carl Lavie of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, digs a little bit deeper into the paradox. Instead of simply using body weight to compare patients, Lavie used a formula to estimate both the patients' body fat percentage and lean mass percentage (organs, bone, muscle) and compared those characteristics.

He concluded that it's the healthy lean mass -- not fat -- that could be protecting patients once they suffer from a cardiovascular outcome. In fact, higher lean body mass was associated with 29 percent lower risk of death.

WRONG DATA, WRONG CONCLUSIONS?

A lot of data supporting the obesity paradox would disappear if researchers followed Lavie's example and relied on more comprehensive data points than simply BMI, said Dr. Jonathan Myers, a clinical professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and health research scientist at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, CA.

"One of the problems with the obesity paradox is that we've been making the wrong measurements," Myers told HuffPost. "Most of these studies only have BMI available, and what we really want to measure is body composition -- namely, how much visceral fat you have, which is associated with high metabolic risk."

One simple and cost-effective way to more directly measure body composition is to take a patient's waist circumference, Myers said, since the amount of visceral (abdominal) fat is a better predictor of disease than how much a person weighs.

Another simple explanation for the obesity paradox could be that researchers aren't taking into account a person's fitness level. Myers and other investigators have done extensive research showing that the obesity paradox is not seen among individuals who are fit. And as a scientist at the VA hospital, Myers runs into another possible explanation for the obesity paradox all the time -- something he and his colleagues call the "veteran effect."

Career military folks have to maintain certain weight and athleticism, Myers explained, which staves off obesity and its complications for many years beyond the average American. But even if that military member ends up becoming overweight or obese after leaving the armed forces, his or her metabolic markers are a lot healthier than someone with the same weight.

"They've spent most of their adult life pretty healthy and reasonably fit," Myers explained. "We see the 'obesity paradox' with them, simply because they haven't been exposed to the risks of obesity long enough."

In his meta-analysis on obesity and coronary heart disease, Sharma outlines other possible explanations for the so-called paradox. He suggests:

  • Obese people tend to have coronary heart disease earlier in their life, and it's their young age that helps them survive --not necessarily their weight.


  • Underweight and normal weight patients might have heart disease because of underlying genetic factors, which potentially leaves them worse-off than overweight patients who acquire the disease because of lifestyle factors.


  • Overweight and obese people might receive better medical care. Because of their size, doctors might be more diligent in prescribing overweight patients more heart medications at higher doses than normal weight patients.


The biggest thing to remember about the obesity paradox, concluded Myers, is that researchers are observing the phenomenon in clinical populations, not the general population. That means the people in these obesity paradox studies are already sick, and that a healthy person shouldn't decide to pack on the pounds based on this research.

"There are a lot of potential reasons that may explain this obesity paradox in these clinical populations, and more needs to be done to figure it out," concluded Myers. "Claiming that fat may be protective is a little bit dangerous, because we know overweight and obesity is associated with many different kinds of health problems."

House Votes To Allow Banking Access For Marijuana Businesses

Wed, 2014-07-16 16:15
Signaling growing acceptance of cannabis legalization nationally, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to allow banks to provide traditional banking services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law.

Sponsored by Reps. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the amendment to the Financial Services appropriations bill prevents the Treasury Department from spending funds to penalize financial institutions that provide services to state-legal marijuana businesses. The amendment passed with bipartisan support, 231 to 192.

The House also rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), that would have blocked Department of Treasury guidelines issued back in February that are intended to increase banking access for pot shops.

“Congress is yet again rejecting the failed war on marijuana,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “They have read the poll numbers and are doing both what is right and what is politically smart.”

Due to banks' fears of being implicated as money launderers, marijuana-related businesses are often forced into cash-only transactions, putting retailers' safety at risk and creating issues involving taxes and employee payroll. Despite the Treasury Department's guidance, most banks are still extremely wary of working with marijuana businesses since the plant remains illegal under federal law.

“While we appreciate the efforts by the Department of Justice and FinCEN, guidance or regulation doesn’t alter the underlying challenge for banks," Frank Keating, the president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, told HuffPost regarding Treasury's earlier guidance. "As it stands, possession or distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and banks that provide support for those activities face the risk of prosecution and assorted sanctions.”

Perlmutter, who thinks it shouldn't be optional for banks to work with marijuana businesses, said in February that safety should be a top concern of federal officials and banking regulators.

"The crime potential for an all-cash businesses, whether that’s robbery, burglary or assault -- a violent crime -- or tax evasion, fraud and skimming -- a white collar crime -- is pretty substantial," he said. “At the heart of the banking and tax issue is we want these businesses to be safe."

Wednesday's vote follows a House vote in May to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to target medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws. The same day, the House passed two additional amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.

"It's clear that cannabis reform is having a very good year in Congress," said Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell.

While the banking measure passed easily in the House, it must now pass the Senate, where the medical marijuana protections measure still languishes.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use, while medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. About a dozen more states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form in the coming years. And for the first time ever, a majority of Americans nationwide support the legalization of marijuana, according to a recent poll.

The legal marijuana industry is expected to grow to $2.3 billion in the U.S. in 2014. One study suggests that figure could balloon to over $10 billion by 2019.

Read the text of the amendment that passed:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington or Wisconsin or the District of Columbia, to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State or a unit of local government.

NBA Free Agency Winners And Losers

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:41
With megastars and mega money, NBA free agency perhaps has eclipsed the regular season itself in terms of pure excitement. Rumors run wild, as players are overpaid, underpaid and everything in between. And while LeBron James mania has taken over the league, there are plenty of other important moves -- not just Carmelo staying in New York -- that are sure to impact next season.

Let's take a look at free agency's winners and losers.

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs' giant gamble to re-attain hometown star LeBron James came to fruition. It was a rather unconventional approach -- Cleveland fought off the pressing urge to make short-term moves -- and the team now has the 29-year-old LeBron to team up with three No. 1 picks, including Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. Whether Kevin Love ends up a Cavalier remains to be seen, but this has been a remarkable turn of events for one of basketball's seemingly moribund franchises. And we haven't even gotten to recently minted head coach David Blatt, who walks into his first NBA gig in style.

Chicago Bulls



The Bulls dodged a bullet when Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the Knicks, and then they proceeded to go out and get Pau Gasol from the Lakers. Assuming Gasol is healthy (he has vertigo issues), his value remains as a splendid passer and pick-and-pop big. Chicago inks a solid deal, signing the 34-year-old Spaniard to a three-year, $22 million-plus contract with a player option. Assuming Derrick Rose is healthy again, Gasol -- who can play both the four and five spots -- will team up nicely alongside him, All-Star center Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

Flying more under the radar was Chicago's move to sign 23-year-old Montenegrin forward Nikola Mirotic, a 2011 first-round draft pick. The contract is worth $17 million over three years as part of the mid-level exception, and gives Chicago a fantastic 3-point shooting big (46 percent in Spain's highly competitive ACB League last year).

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are clear free agency winners -- signing Lance Stephenson means that much. He didn't receive the colossal offer he had hoped for, but the 23-year-old instantly becomes the focal point of Charlotte's offense, playing a two-man game with talented power forward Al Jefferson. Something was clearly wrong in Indiana, because Stephenson turned down their offer of more money, but the Pacers' loss is the Hornets' gain.

Phoenix Suns

Isaiah Thomas to the tune of four years and $27 million may turn out to be the heist of free agency. Thomas averaged more than 20 points last season -- albeit for Sacramento -- plus the Suns will still have an opportunity to go out and get Kevin Love. They have an embarrassment of riches at point guard right now (remember, they drafted Tyler Ennis), but that's not the worst thing in the world either.

Dallas Mavericks



Houston foolishly elected not to match Dallas' three-year, $46 million deal on Chandler Parsons (above), a former second-round pick who will now earn about $15 million a year -- a 1,500 percent raise from his rookie deal. A terrific playmaker from the small forward position, Parsons will become a legitimate second option behind Dirk Nowitzki (who re-signed on the super cheap). He gives the Mavs another ball handler, and one who just happens to be 6-foot-9. One of the game's premier offenses also acquired a former Finals hero in center Tyson Chandler, who will improve Rick Carlisle's entire defense.

Chris Bosh

The 30-year-old Bosh seemingly pulled a fast one on the entire city of Houston and on NBA circles everywhere by re-signing for the max in Miami. Bosh has repeatedly said that he enjoys winning more than the spotlight, but in turning down four years and $88 million from the Rockets, it would appear that the latter got the better of him. There is also the matter of getting $118 million and staying in South Beach -- and the fact that sans LeBron in the Heat lineup, Bosh's scoring average increased more than six points, per ESPN Stats & Info. (Last season, he averaged a mere 12 field goal attempts per game.)

Boston Celtics

I'm cheating a little bit here, given how free agency ties in with Boston's wonderful draft. The Celtics re-signed 23-year-old combo man Avery Bradley for four years, $32 million. Between Bradley and Marcus Smart, the sixth pick in the draft, head coach Brad Stevens possesses a lightning-quick backcourt that can really defend. We can only speculate about the uncertain future of point guard Rajon Rondo, but if Rondo is not dealt, Boston will have the league's quickest trio of guards that also can put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses.

Losers

LeBron James

I've already made my thoughts on this clear.

Miami Heat

Pat Riley lost the best player on the planet and then gave Chris Bosh the max. That's a rough summer for anyone.

Houston Rockets



How GM Daryl Morey lost out on both Chris Bosh and Chandler Parsons is beyond me. Forget about Carmelo for just a moment. Bosh re-signing with Miami makes sense because of the cash, but Parsons' deal not being matched is a spectacular display of ineptitude by Morey. Morey could have paid less than $1 million next season for Parsons, but he declined that option. Parsons is a phenomenal playmaker who spreads the floor extremely well for James Harden and Dwight Howard. By letting him walk and attaining Trevor Ariza from Washington, Morey acquires a less-gifted version of Parsons. Ariza has long been known as a defensive ace, but Parsons offers more offensively and is still only 25 years old.

Perhaps Morey's statement to KBME-Am 790 in Houston sums it up best: "The contract (Parsons) got...the Mavericks are a smart organization; they obviously wanted to get him...that structure of that (contract) is literally one of the most untradeable structures I've ever seen." Morey did not match solely because the contract is untradeable? That's a joke.

Utah Jazz

Gordon Hayward is a nice player and one I've always really liked, but matching a $63 million contract over four years puts the Jazz in a really tight spot moving forward. This is a talented young team, with bigs Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, along with guards Trey Burke and Dante Exum. It drafted Rodney Hood, who can do a lot of the same things and may become a better version of Hayward.

Kobe Bryant

In the twilight of his career, the 35-year-old Bryant is sans Pau Gasol, playing alongside Nick "Swaggy P" Young in the backcourt, and running pick-and-roll with Jordan Hill! Super.

New York Knicks



Congratulations to the Knicks for re-signing this generation's version of Bernard King! In 10 seasons, Carmelo has been out of the first round twice. He has led the league in scoring while winning a total of three postseason series. Phil Jackson, a basketball maestro of unquestioned genius, shockingly gave Anthony the max, thereby ensuring his team's inability to make the necessary winning moves going forward.

Atlanta Hawks

The roster remains in decent shape, assuming Al Horford is back to 100 percent. However, it's becoming a joke how much this organization struggles to attract free agents. And we're not even talking about marquee guys. Nobody wants to play in Atlanta.

Sacramento Kings

Under the rudderless leadership of management, Sacramento's big move was to nab veteran point guard Darren Collison. More importantly, the Kings lost free agent Isaiah Thomas, who averaged more than 20 points in his third year in the league. Oh, and they have two shooting guards now too.

Indiana Pacers

Indiana lost another series to Miami while simultaneously watching its All-Star center Roy Hibbert forget how to play basketball. A perimeter duo of Paul George and Lance Stephenson could have been devastating for the next decade. Losing Stephenson is just a killer, any way you slice it up.

Detroit Pistons

The same ill-timed logic goes for the Pistons as well, who signed 3-point specialist Jodie Meeks away from the Lakers for three years, $19.5 million. Actually, that sounds even worse when you say it out loud.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure and catch my NBC Sports Radio show, Kup and Schultz, which airs Sunday mornings from 9-12 ET, right here.

Rescue Dog Undergoes Dramatic Transformation And Loses 2 Pounds Of Matted Fur (PHOTOS)

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:23
Ellen the dog has a whole new 'do.

The rescue dog underwent a striking transformation after she was retrieved from an animal shelter by Chicago-based Trio Animal Foundation.

When founder Sue Naiden and the team at the all-volunteer rescue organization -- which often foots the medical bills for abandoned pets -- found the mistreated pup, they could barely see the dog under hunks of matted fur. At first, Naiden couldn't even determine whether the pooch was male or female.

But after countless hours of grooming and cleaning, an adorable young pup -- who the foundation decided to name after Ellen Degeneres -- emerged.

"We wanted a name that was pretty much synonymous with happiness," Naiden wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "[W]ho couldn't help but think of Ellen DeGeneres and the smile that she always has on her face?"

Naiden first got a line on a mistreated dog and picked up the pooch from an open-access shelter in the Chicago area Sunday evening. When Naiden arrived, she couldn't discern which end was which.

(Story continues below)



"When we first saw this dog in it’s cage, we didn’t know which end was front or back. We had to get a treat to see which end lifted up to sniff," Naiden wrote in a post on Facebook, detailing the rescued dog's transformation. "As it turned out, the dog had two very petite legs hidden underneath all the knotted fur and the outer appendages were just matted fur and debris."



A local groomer in the area volunteered her services and started to work on the staggering amounts of knotted fur, shaving it off to try and extricate the dog from the disarray. Slowly, the dog's head and limbs began to become visible under the estimated 2 pounds of hardened fur.

Naiden continued:
Even though we had to pull out fur that had grown 2 inches down Ellen’s ear canal and shave matted fur away from her irritated paper-thin skin, never once did Ellen growl or show her teeth. When it came time to shave the matted fur that had tightly wrapped its way around Ellen’s raw legs like a snug boot, Ellen actually looked up at me and started to give me kisses… I could have died.



After hours of intense grooming, Ellen was bathed and given a final touch-up before she was transported to a nearby veterinarian for a checkup. Seated next to the pounds of matted fur she lost, Ellen looked like an entirely new dog.



Now, the Trio Animal Foundation is helping to arrange Ellen's adoption. With the spread of rescued dog's story of transformation on Facebook, Naiden said that Ellen already has numerous adoption offers -- including two from Greece and Australia.

"She truly is a little miracle," Naiden told HuffPost.

Interested animal lovers can fill out an adoption application on Project Rescue Chicago's website.

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Plan a Fun Summer Getaway in Illinois to These 10 parks

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:23
ROAD TRIP! Looking to get the family out of the house and on the road? With gas prices climbing, you may want to stay a bit closer to home this summer -- look no further than your own backyard. Check out these great Illinois parks.

 
1. Starved Rock State Park
Location: Utica



 
2. Shawnee National Forest
Location: Harrisburg



 
3. Garden of the Gods
Location: Harrisburg (in the Shawnee National Forest)



 
4. The Morton Arboretum
Location: Lisle



 
5. Matthiessen State Park
Location: Utica






6. Lake Katherine Trail
Location: Palos Heights



 
7. Cave-in-Rock State Park
Location: Cave-in-Rock






8. Busse Woods
Location: Elk Grove



 
9. Apple River Canyon State Park
Location: Apple River



 
10. Castle Rock State Park
Location: Oregon



 
NEXT ARTICLE: More summer fun here! Check out Illinois' most popular attraction
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Yes, You Can Now Have A Drone Photograph Your Wedding

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:21
When it comes to wedding photography, the sky's the limit -- literally.

Iowa-based Picture Perfect Portrait and Design is offering a brand new service to brides and grooms looking for unique ways to capture their wedding: drone photography.

Owner and photographer Dale Stierman said the idea came to him after seeing drones used for real estate.

"I thought it was a great idea and just knew there was an angle for wedding photography," he told The Huffington Post. "There are endless possibilities for camera angles that no other photographer can get."

Stierman shot a wedding via drone recently at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, which sits right on the Mississippi river. This was the result:


Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Portrait & Design

According to Stierman, this is a normally impossible shot to get -- "Airplanes can't get low enough to do it." Here's another shot with the bridal party:


Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Portrait & Design

Of course, it's not an easy operation. "You can't shoot a whole wedding with a drone, but you can shoot it for about 30 minutes," Stierman said. That means everything has to be planned out before the Big Day.

"We plan it out about a week before the wedding, then we have the shots set up when it's time to shoot," he said.

In order to make sure each 30-minute session runs smoothly, Stierman communicates by two-way radio with a team on the ground, who directs the wedding party on where to go and what to do. He also has an expert flyer controlling the drone.

"The whole thing's remarkable," he said.

Couples can add a drone shoot to their photography package for about $400. The company has the capability to shoot all over the U.S.

What do you think -- would you want a drone to photograph your wedding?

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Chicago Archdiocese Wants To Help Immigrant Children

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:09

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, July 16 (Reuters) - Roman Catholic officials in Chicago want to provide services, which may include housing, to undocumented immigrant children who have been pouring into the United States in recent months, church officials said on Wednesday.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third-largest Catholic diocese in the country with 2.3 million members, has submitted a proposal offering to help the children to the refugee resettlement office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said.

More than 400 unaccompanied minors caught crossing the Mexican border are being held at government shelters in Chicago, according to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican.

The Heartland Alliance, an anti-poverty organization, is coordinating services for children in the Chicago area, but a surge in need has the government seeking proposals for more help by Aug. 6, Dolan said.

"The cardinal wants to be helpful, wants the archdiocese to be helpful," Dolan said of Cardinal Francis George. "Now we wait to see what they'd like us to do."

The archdiocese could provide housing and counseling, she said.

Bilingual Catholic Charities workers from Chicago are currently assisting immigrant children in Texas, Dolan said.

More than 52,000 children traveling alone from Central America have been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border since October, twice as many as in the same period a year earlier.

U.S. immigration officials say the crisis is being driven by poverty and gang violence in countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, as well as rumors spread by smugglers that children who reach the United States will be allowed to stay.

Pope Francis this week called for the refugee children to be welcomed and protected. Hispanics make up about one-third of the roughly 75 million Catholics in the United States. (Editing by Eric Walsh)

This Is The Soccer-Themed 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' Parody We Deserve

Wed, 2014-07-16 13:56
If you find yourself lying in bed with a serious case of World Cup withdrawal, and are thinking of playing hooky until you recover: we've got the video for you.

Chicago Fire striker and 2013 Major League Soccer MVP Mike Magee -- who happens to be in the running for "Best MLS Player" at tonight's ESPY awards -- stars in a "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" parody, above, that's tailor made for soccer fans.

In addition to several Chicago Fire coaches and players, the video has some pretty great cameos by American footballers: Sydney LeRoux of the U.S. Women's National Team plays a sultry Sloane, teeammate and goalkeeper Hope Solo looks like she's having a blast as the revenge-seeking Joanie Bueller, and U.S. Men's National Team defender Omar Gonzalez is a practically flawless Cameron. French soccer legend and MLS player Thierry Henry, former USMNT coach Bruce Arena, USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley and comedian Judah Friedlander have some great blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos, too.

The video was a joint effort by the Chicago Fire, MLS, and Kick TV, a YouTube offshoot of MLS digital. Magee shot his scenes in the pre-season and earlier this spring in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, according to the Fire.

Coming just days after the World Cup final, the video is also a conveniently-timed plug for the MLS, which is no doubt looking to hold on to some of last month's record-setting soccer viewership.

Want more Magee than you get above? Watch the extended cut on YouTube

27 Ways Fans Can Recharge On The Slowest Sports Days Of The Year

Wed, 2014-07-16 13:49
The time for watching is over. Well, it's at least in a rare timeout. It's a day to do things, to get outside and to put on a shirt without a number stitched or screened onto the back. As is the case every summer following Major League Baseball's All-Star game, the frenetic sports calendar nearly comes to a standstill.

Welcome to the slowest sports days of the year. Enjoy!

While the Stanley Cup finals, the NBA Finals, the World Cup and the events of MLB All-Star break were taking place during the last several weeks, spring gave way to summer. With those first three events over and MLB off until Friday, here is a chance for everyone to remember that the wide world of sports isn't nearly as wide as the actual world. It's time to unplug and recharge.

Here are 27 things for you to do to make the most of your days and nights without any MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL or World Cup games* to keep you tethered to the television or rooted in your local sports bar:



*Those in dire need of a North American professional sports fix can catch four Major League Soccer games on Wednesday, July 16. The MLS schedule is clear on Thursday, July 17. The WNBA schedule includes a pair of matinee games on Wednesday and a four-game slate on Thursday.

Is Fishiness Afoot in Redistricting Reform in Illinois?

Wed, 2014-07-16 12:56
Was there something fishy going on when the state board of elections raised questions about whether the redistricting reform campaign had enough valid signatures to get on the November ballot? The effort is over for now, but it will return so studying it and improving it will be key.

William J. Cadigan, a lawyer for the Yes for Independent Maps campaign, shared how some parts of Illinois election law can seem incongruent with the democratic process.

To run for the highest, statewide offices in the Land of Lincoln, you're required to collect the signatures of 5,000 registered voters. But to get a citizen-generated question on the ballot, you're required to collect nearly 300,000 registered voters' signatures. Really? Really.

Plus, the rules for checking all of the gathered signatures weren't finalized until about 10 days before the deadline came to turn them in. What else just isn't quite right?

As redistricting reform champions try to figure out their next steps, pension reform advocates are also wondering if their initiative is doomed. After the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that government retirees do not have to pay more for their state health insurance, many are saying this could spell bad news for the pension reform law passed in December.

New Research Shows How Marijuana Compound Can Reduce Tumor Growth In Cancer Patients

Wed, 2014-07-16 11:49
Scientists have long known that compounds derived from marijuana have some cancer fighting properties, but a recent discovery demonstrates how exactly one compound may fight tumors.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the research reveals two previously unknown "signaling platforms" in cells that allow THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis known for producing the "high" sensation, to shrink some cancerous tumors.

“THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties," Dr. Peter McCormick, a researcher from University of East Anglia in England and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "This compound is known to act through a specific family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. However, it was unclear which of these receptors were responsible for the anti-tumor effects of THC."

When the researchers applied THC to tumors induced in mice using human breast cancer cells, the interaction between two cannabinoid cell receptors -- CB2 and GPR55 -- were responsible for THC's anti-tumor benefits.

"Our findings help explain some of the well-known but still poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumor growth," McCormick added. He emphasized in an email to The Huffington Post that dosage is critical to outcome, since the wrong protocol can sometimes increase tumor growth, he said.

"So, the ideal would be either the purified THC in an effective dose provided by a health care provider to reduce the known cognitive side effects and still deliver the appropriate reduction in tumor growth, or a synthetic homolog that provides the same effects," McCormack said. He added that the research team didn't screen all tumors and that some types may not respond to this treatment if they do not have compatible receptors expressed.

The endocannabinoid (EC) system is a communications network in the brain and body that is involved in a number of physiological processes that affect a person's feelings, motor skills and memory. The EC system is responsive to the body's naturally-occurring endocannabinoids as well as the cannabinoids found in marijuana, like THC. And scientists have found that the CB2 receptor specifically is sensitive to the therapeutic properties of marijuana-based compounds.

This isn't the first time scientists have found that marijuana can be effective at fighting cancer. Previous studies have found that THC cuts tumor growth in lung cancer in half and also prohibited the cancer from spreading. THC has also been shown to induce death in brain cancer cells.

But THC is just one of many cannabinoids found in marijuana. Others, like CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound in the cannabis plant, has also shown promise in the battle against cancer. Researchers in California found that CBD could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer.

In the United Kingdom, a team of scientists found that six different purified cannabinoids -- CBD (Cannabidiol), CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid), CBG (Cannbigerol), CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid), CBGV (Cannabigevarin) and CBGVA (Cannabigevaric acid) -- showed a wide range of therapeutic qualities that "target and switch off" pathways that allow cancers to grow.

A number of studies in recent years have demonstrated the medical potential of pot beyond cancer treatment. Purified forms of cannabis has been tied to better blood sugar control, and may help slow the spread of HIV. Legalization of the plant for medical purposes may even lead to lower suicide rates.

Currently, the federal government classifies the plant as one of the "most dangerous" substances alongside heroin and LSD with "no currently accepted medical use."

McCormack told HuffPost that the researchers are moving toward clinical trials but that it would be at least five years before those would begin.

I Was Confined to Solitary at Age 16 and It Still Haunts Me

Wed, 2014-07-16 11:38

February is cold in Northern Virginia. It's even colder when you're in a cell alone, without a mattress, a blanket, a pillow, or a sheet.



When I walked into that cell in the basement of the Fairfax County Jail, my hands cuffed behind my back and stomach grumbling from a half a day without food, I was almost relieved. Happy to be soon free from cuffs, to be close to being processed, and to be moved to wherever I'd suffer next. What I didn't know is that once the deputy uncuffed me and closed the small opening that I'd slipped my hands through, no one would talk to me again for days.



This was February 21, 1997. Seventeen years ago and still the date, the time of day I arrived, and the exact location of the cell in solitary confinement are permanent fixtures in my memory. I was 16 years old and being held in pre-trial detention on carjacking and robbery charges.



After spending three months in juvenile facilities, I had grown strangely familiar with being in a cell. But nothing prepares you for solitary confinement.



I spent 10 days in that cell. I learned to pace, seven steps back and forth, again and again. I stared at the wall, sought out figures in the cracks. Across from me was the padded room where they sent prisoners who threw things on the deputies. The kid in the cell beside me, he too only 16 or 17 years old, told me about all of his fears of a straightjacket. Those days felt like a straightjacket to me.



Eight of those days were without a shower or any of the other small allowances that helped men from freezing in the night. I wore the same clothes and slept on a concrete slab that was covered in phlegm. For a time I told myself that the ordeal couldn't be real. I wondered if one of the punishments for guilt was solitary. How would I know otherwise? I hadn't been to court, hadn't seen my lawyer in a few weeks, had yet to have a trial -- and yet, without explanation I was in solitary confinement.



After those first 10 days in solitary, I would go on to plead guilty to carjacking and robbery. Sentenced to eight years in prison, the better part of my youth was spent confined. And during those eight years, I spent a year and a half doing various short stints in solitary confinement. I watched grown men crack under the pressure of a solitary cell. I watched men beg for relief, strapped to a bed by their arms and legs.



Seventeen years later, I find that I'm again constantly thinking about solitary confinement. The horror stories that drive the public conversation about solitary are not stories to me, but memories. It's unsettling because as much as I know the truth of what the noise of silence can do to a person's mind, I know the dangers for juveniles are worse.



It's good to see this issue getting more press. And it's encouraging to see some states slowly making changes. But it's still unacceptable that every day children are held in solitary confinement for upwards of 22 hours -- in adult prisons and jails and juvenile facilities alike. It's unacceptable that we still have a practice on the books that devastates children's minds. We know that solitary confinement does not reduce violence and likely increases recidivism, and we must end this child abuse nationwide.



This piece first appeared on the ACLU blog. Follow the ACLU on Twitter @ACLU and on Facebook.

Guns, Intimacy and Tragedy for Women

Wed, 2014-07-16 11:22
The statistics are horrifyingly real. From 2001 to 2012, the number of women murdered by intimate partners using guns (6,410) exceeded the number of U.S. troops killed in action in the Iraq and Afghan wars combined. Every day in our country, five women are murdered by gunfire. Even the most ardent gun-rights advocates should be appalled by this home grown carnage involving women. As far as intimacy and violence are concerned, our guns are not securing us. They are killing us at home and in our neighborhoods.

In its recent study, "Women Under the Gun," The Center for American Progress sets out the facts explaining how anemic gun laws at both the federal and state levels are allowing women to be killed. First, violence against women is generally a crime of intimacy. In 65 percent of cases, women knew their attackers. Men knew their assailants only 34 percent of the time.

Second, according to the study, a staggering proportion of violence against women is fatal, and guns are a key factor in those deaths. As the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recognizes, if an abuser owns a firearm, an abused woman is five times more likely to be killed. (Domestic Violence & Firearm Policy Summary at smartgunlaws.org.)

Put simply, the presence of guns dramatically increases the probability of death in incidents involving domestic violence. In 2011 almost two-thirds of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners.

And our situation appears unique on an international level. Women in the U.S. are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than are women in any other high-income country

It is time that we as a nation recognize the clear intersection of intimate partner violence and gun possession, and enact laws on local, state and federal levels that protect women where they live.

As The Joyce Foundation recognizes, better gun enforcement and stronger gun laws are both needed to reduce gun violence. Enforcing our current laws is not enough to protect women. Here are some concrete things that legislators can do:

  • Bar all convicted abusers, stalkers and those subject to restraining orders -- including temporary ones -- from possessing guns. "At the time a domestic violence survivor leaves a domestic violence situation, she or he is five times more likely to get murdered," according to Karma Cottman, Executive Director of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Banning those subject to temporary restraining orders brings cries of lack of due process, but the danger at that time is too real and the process is sufficient to match the compelling circumstances. Some states, such as Illinois, are at the forefront of protecting women in these situations. More states should follow suit.


  • Recognize that a growing proportion of domestic violence is perpetrated by "dating partners," not spouses. Antiquated legal definitions of intimate relationships are keeping guns in the wrong hands. The laws should be updated to account for the fact homicides committed by dating partners are outpacing homicides committed by spouses.


  • Provide timely records of gun-barred abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), maintained by the FBI. Law Enforcement needs to know who shouldn't have a gun. All law enforcement agencies and governments need to do a better job of reporting abusers so that women can be protected from known threats.


  • Make sure that those who are prohibited from possessing guns don't have guns. This preventative action seems so obvious but it needs to happen.


Guns are killing women in circumstances when they should be most secure, not most in danger. Our laws need to respond to this domestic tragedy.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Faces Questions About Now-Defunct Anti-Violence Program

Wed, 2014-07-16 07:37
CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, fighting to hold onto his seat and his reputation as a reformer who's cleaned up state government, is facing questions about a now-defunct anti-violence program he started in the run-up to his 2010 election after a state audit found funds were misused.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission will decide whether to call witnesses to testify about the program, which is also under investigation by federal and Cook County prosecutors. Republicans — including Quinn's opponent in the November election, businessman Bruce Rauner — have alleged Quinn used money from the $55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative as a political slush fund to secure votes in predominantly minority neighborhoods of heavily Democratic Chicago in a tight race. Quinn has denied that claim and says he has "zero tolerance" for fraud or abuse.

Whether there was any wrongdoing, the allegations alone could be damaging for Quinn, who often touts the steps he's taken to turn Illinois around after the last two governors went to prison for corruption. Rauner, meanwhile, has worked to paint Quinn as just another insider.

The Legislative Audit Commission oversees state audits and must approve one that concluded that the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was hastily put together, poorly managed and had "pervasive" problems, including the misuse of funds. Quinn has said he shut down the program in 2012 when concerns about possible misspending arose.

Quinn's office also says it has instructed all state agencies to fully support any law enforcement inquiries. Senate Republican spokeswoman Patty Schuh said Tuesday that Quinn's office had provided members of the Legislative Audit Commission an estimated 2,000 emails linked to the program.

Prosecutors want the commission to hold off on subpoenas of seven former Quinn administration employees involved in the program, including his former chief of staff and other members of his one-time inner circle, for 90 days while they conduct their investigation. But Republicans have said they want to proceed.

The commission is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, and it would take a majority vote to reverse an earlier decision to call the witnesses.

Schuh said all seven witnesses are expected to attend the hearing in Chicago. Even if they are called, they could exercise their constitutional right not to answer questions.

Quinn ascended to the governor's office in 2009 when lawmakers ousted Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich after Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges. Quinn won his first full term in 2010, beating Republican state Sen. Bill Brady by a slim margin.

17 Foods You Didn't Even Know You Could Freeze

Wed, 2014-07-16 07:30
We've told you which foods should never be frozen -- and stand by those rules.

But the freezer remains a highly useful member of your kitchen appliance family, and should be treated as such. Since a full freezer is more economical to run, there's nothing stopping you from buying in bulk -- especially when there's a sale -- and properly storing for later use. Generally, that means using resealable bags or freezer-safe plastic containers labeled with the date of storage and separated out into realistic portions. Meats, dairy, and some vegetables should not be re-frozen if you've got leftovers.

Here's how to make the most out of whatever freezer space you've got. Believe it or not, you can store...



1. Fresh corn on the cob



Don't you wish for sweet and sun-kissed corn on the cob in the gray and gloomy days of winter? Fresh-picked corn from a farmer's market can last the better part of a year if you get it in the freezer right away -- husk and all. If you buy it from a traditional grocery store, however, you'll want to husk and blanch it before freezing, to stop enzymes that cause a loss of flavor and color.



2. Avocados for guacamole



We know how much y'all love your guacamole and are probably panicking at the thought of an avocadapocalypse. Breathe. While thawed avocados aren't so great for eating plain on, say, a salad, because the freezing process changes their consistency, they'll still make for a good dip! Wash and halve the fruits before peeling, then either freeze as halves or puree with an acid, like lime or lemon, and store in resealable bags for up to eight months.



3. Hummus



How much hummus can you eat in four months? Probably a lot. And no one's judging you for that. So go out and buy a bunch of hummus. Scoop it into freezer-safe containers. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on it so it doesn't dry out and, when you want to dig in, thaw it in the fridge for a day before mixing it up really well.



4. Cloves of garlic



Chop them and stick them in the freezer. Or don't. Freeze it whole. Whatever, man. You can also preserve garlic in olive oil, but you've got to be careful, because the National Center for Home Food Preservation has suggested it may foster botulism when stored at room temperature. The mixture can be stored in the freezer safely for a few months, however.



5. Chips



A few bags of chips might get snapped up quickly at a barbecue or in a house where any number of teenage boys are present, but for others of us, a partially eaten bag of chips can go stale pretty fast. Good thing you can stick them in the freezer -- and they take only minutes to defrost.



6. Buttermilk for baking



Since they've yet to start selling buttermilk by the teeny-tiny portion you actually use, take comfort in the fact that you can freeze whatever you don't use for about three months. As with most dairy products, the consistency of buttermilk changes slightly after freezing, but it's still fine for use in recipes after thawing in the fridge. You can also freeze one-tablespoon amounts in an ice cube tray for easier measuring. Once frozen, transfer the buttermilk cubes to a resealable bag.



7. Flour



Like many foods, flour lasts longer in the freezer. Surprised? Maybe not. But have you been keeping flour in your pantry all this time? That's what we thought. Most bakers prefer to keep their flour frozen, as cold ingredients make for a flakier pastry crust.



8. Organic peanut butter



Most commercial peanut butters have at least a year-long shelf life, so freezing isn't that necessary. But maybe you rarely eat the stuff and it was on sale, so you bought a bunch. Good news -- HuffPost Taste discovered that frozen organic peanut butter left to thaw on a desk tasted perfectly fine.



9. Eggs without shells



Frozen eggs with shells will crack and possibly create a disgusting, eggy mess around all of your ice creams. Instead, crack them into a bowl and mix with a pinch of salt -- careful not to whip too much air into the mixture -- to prevent the yolks from clumping when thawed. Store a couple eggs' worth (or however many you may need at a time) in individual resealable bags for up to a year.



10. Cooked rice and pasta



Freezer meals are nothing new, but you may be surprised to learn that you can also save time by cooking large batches of plain pasta or rice at once and freezing it in individual portions for later use. When you're ready to eat, sprinkle with a bit of water and heat it up in the microwave.



11. Chicken broth



Chicken broth doesn't last very long in the fridge, but in the freezer it can last four to six months. Just don't store it in the can. Don't do it. Even opened cans may present a health hazard, so transfer anything you plan on freezing to an airtight, freezer-safe container.



12. Pesto



As with avocados, a pesto habit can get expensive. Luckily you can keep store-bought or homemade varieties in the freezer for months at a time. Just make sure the container isn't too full or there won't be room for expansion.



13. Pasta sauce and tomato paste



Tomato paste is another one of those things that's just impossible to find in the correct portion size for you. So go ahead and freeze the rest. Again, just don't be that guy (or gal) who stores it in the can.



14. Herbs in olive oil



Putting herbs in the freezer isn't a great idea, since they'll come out limp and lacking flavor. Storing them in olive oil, however, is a different story. (Sure, you can buy them pre-made, but they don't take that long to make yourself.) Chop herbs and add to an ice tray, then cover them with olive oil, leaving a bit of room at the top for expansion. Once frozen, your herb cubes can be transferred to a resealable bag and dropped straight into soups and frying pans.



15. Tortillas



Like other dry goods, these can be frozen for months at a time. To revive them -- since they may dry out a bit -- just microwave in a damp paper towel.



16. Homemade cookie dough



Maybe you love fresh-baked cookies, yet are faced with the dilemma of whether to make an entire batch without enough other people around to gobble them up. We have your solution: Make a full batch of dough, then freeze it into individual globs on a baking sheet. Once they're frozen, transfer to a resealable bag and voilá! Bake as many or as few cookies at a time as you wish.



17. Chocolate



Chocolate is a finicky thing -- sticking it straight into the freezer from room temperature can cause it to become brittle and crumbly. And profoundly disappointing when you're craving chocolate, which is as underrated a tragedy as we've ever heard. The trick is to cool it down slowly. Refrigerate first, then transfer to the freezer for up to six months.



All images via Getty.

American League Defeats National League 5-3 In Derek Jeter's All-Star Game Farewell

Tue, 2014-07-15 22:43
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball's national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and then delivered two final All-Star hits.

Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned him MVP honors. On a summer evening filled with reminders of generational change, the AL kept up nearly two decades of dominance by beating the National League 5-3 Tuesday for its 13th win in 17 years.

Miguel Cabrera homered to help give the AL champion home-field advantage for the World Series.

No matter what else happened, it seemed destined to be another special event for Jeter.

He received a 63-second standing ovation when he walked to the plate leading off the bottom of the first, another rousing cheer when he led off the third and 2 1-2 minutes of applause after AL manager John Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez to shortstop to replace him at the start of the fourth.

As Frank Sinatra's recording of "New York, New York" boomed over the Target Field speakers and his parents watched from the stands, Jeter repeatedly waved to the crowd, exchanged handshakes and hugs with just about every person in the AL dugout and then came back onto the field for a curtain call.

"The guys on our side have the utmost respect for him and would like to have been standing out there for a little while longer," said NL manager Mike Matheny of the Cardinals. "I think Derek was the one that was uncomfortable with it."

While not as flashy as Mariano Rivera's All-Star farewell at Citi Field last year, when all the other players left the great reliever alone on the field for an eighth-inning solo bow, Jeter also tried not to make a fuss.

A 14-time All-Star who was MVP of the 2000 game in Atlanta, he announced in February this will be his final season. His hits left him with a .481 All-Star average (13 for 27), just behind Charlie Gehringer's .500 record (10 for 20) for players with 20 or more at-bats.

While the Yankees are .500 at the break and in danger of missing the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in two decades, Jeter and the Angels' Trout gave a boost to whichever AL team reaches the World Series.

The AL improved to 9-3 since the All-Star game started deciding which league gets Series home-field advantage; 23 of the last 28 titles were won by teams scheduled to host four of a possible seven games.

Detroit's Max Scherzer, in line to be the most-prized free agent pitcher after the season, pitched a scoreless fifth for the win, and Glen Perkins got the save in his home ballpark.

Target Field, a $545 million, limestone-encased jewel that opened in 2010, produced an All-Star cycle just eight batters in, with hitters showing off flashy neon-bright spikes and fielders wearing All-Star caps with special designs for the first time.

With the late sunset — the sky didn't darken until the fifth inning, well after 9 o'clock — there was bright sunshine when Jeter was cheered before his first at-bat. He was introduced by a recording of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard's deep monotone: "Now batting for the American League, from the New York Yankees, the shortstop, number two, Derek Jeter. Number two.

St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove on the mound and backed up toward second, clapping along with the crowd of 41,048.

Jeter appreciated the move, saying "for him to do that meant a lot to me."

When Jeter finally stepped into the batter's box, he took a ball and lined a 90 mph cutter down the right-field line for a double.

"I was going to give him a couple pipe shots just to — he deserved it," Wainwright said. "I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little bit better."

After those in-game remarks created a stir on the Internet, Wainwright amended his remarks: "It was mis-said. I hope people realize I'm not intentionally giving up hits out there."

Trout, the 22-year-old Los Angeles outfielder who finished second to Cabrera in AL MVP voting in each of the last two seasons, followed Jeter in the first by tripling off the right-field wall.

Raised in New Jersey, Trout saw a lot of Jeter and said all week he felt honored to play alongside him.

"Growing up and him being my role model, it's pretty special," Trout said.

After Robinson Cano struck out, Cabrera homered over the left-field wall for a 3-0 lead — just the fourth home run in the last six All-Star games.

Jeter then hit a soft single into right off Alfredo Simon leading off the third but was stranded.

The NL, which still holds a 43-40-2 advantage in the series, came back on consecutive RBI doubles by Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy off Jon Lester that made it 3-2. Lucroy's run-scoring double against Chris Sale tied the score in the fourth.

The AL went ahead for good in the fifth against Pat Neshek, the St. Louis reliever who grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs and started his career with the Twins.

Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris hit one-out singles, and Trout hit an RBI double down the third-base line that was ruled fair by umpire Scott Barry. Because the ball landed in front of the umpire — it was real close to the line — it was not reviewable under baseball's new replay rules.

Jose Altuve followed with a sacrifice fly off Tyler Clippard that made it 5-3.

NOTES: Next year's All-Star game is in Cincinnati. ... Neshek's brother works on the grounds crew at Target Field.

New Revelations Cast More Doubt on Bruce Rauner's Fitness For Office

Tue, 2014-07-15 19:54
Veteran Illinois political reporter Kurt Erickson has detailed new bombshell revelations exposing yet more direct links between Bruce Rauner and the mistreatment and deaths of the most vulnerable of Americans.

It's a theme very similar to the nursing home story I first broke back in January involving the elderly. Now we learn about Rauner-linked mistreatment involving the developmentally disabled living in long-term care homes.

This time it's American Habilitation Services (AHS) at issue - a company formed by Rauner and his fellow GTCR partners in 1996. AHS operated a chain of long-term care facilities in multiple states.

Erickson writes:

"Among the problems outlined in court cases, state records and multiple media reports are the deaths of developmentally disabled residents in bathtubs, 'deplorable' living conditions, sexual assaults and a failure by employees to stop residents from harming themselves."

At an AHS facility in Houston, Texas things got so bad "the state was forced to take over the facility after the March 2005 death of an 11-year-old resident."

Erickson also reports that AHS "was sued by the Texas attorney general in 2003 for failing to protect a female resident of a home in Austin from sexual assaults by an employee."

Things went downhill fast with AHS - just as they did with Rauner's foray into the nursing home business.

In a March 1996 press release, Rauner's firm crowed about AHS: "GTCR specializes in industry consolidation investments which should prove useful in the highly fragmented industry of care-providers for those with mental retardation/developmental disabilities."

Rauner isn't crowing about AHS now. Just like with the nursing home chain Rauner's firm ran into the ground, we get the same lame excuse when it comes to the developmentally disabled. Rauner's campaign claims the candidate was not involved in "the day-to-day management" of the company.

Unfortunately for Rauner his "I know nothing" shtick only makes this scandal worse. Rauner is essentially admitting he functioned just like an absentee landlord. He was happy to be an owner of these deplorable facilities and to gorge on the cash flow where he could - but there is no evidence to date to suggest he ever personally lifted a finger to alleviate the suffering of innocent people within the direct scope of his control.

Just like with the elderly in the nursing homes, when it came to the developmentally disabled, Rauner's business philosophy was apparently "churn and burn."

Some will no doubt want to cut Rauner some slack. After all it's time consuming securing an extra $100,000 parking space and engineering one's taxes so as not to pay into Social Security or Medicare despite tens of millions of dollars of income. Given those kinds of demands, can Rauner really be expected to worry about how his companies treat the elderly and the developmentally disabled?

In case anyone is wondering, Thursday, August 21 is the last day for an established political party to replace a nominee prior to certification of the ballot.

Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.

6 Things You Need To Know About The Nation's Strictest Medical Weed Law

Tue, 2014-07-15 18:32
Patients awaiting access to medical marijuana in Illinois may have it by early 2015 after rules for the state's restrictive pilot program were approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Tuesday.

More than seven months after Illinois' medical marijuana law went into effect, Tuesday's approval outlines the steps and approximate timeframes qualifying patients and prospective entrepreneurs can expect before they get the green light to use, cultivate or dispense the drug.

The law that created Illinois' pilot program -- already more than halfway into the first of its four years -- is among the strictest in the nation, in part due to limits on medical conditions that qualify for treatment and the steep fees and startup costs required of medical marijuana businesses. Twenty-three states, including Illinois, have passed medical marijuana laws and legislation is pending in three others.

More than 10,000 qualifying Illinois patients may eventually sign up, Medical marijuana reform group The Marijuana Policy Project estimates, according to the Associated Press.

Here are six more things to know about the newly approved rules for Illinois' medical marijuana:

Patients have to wait just a little bit longer for approval: Prospective patients with last names beginning with letters A through L can apply to use medical marijuana in September and October. People with last names that start with M through Z can apply in November and December. According to WGN, it's expected that applications will take 30 days to review.

... And even longer for the actual drug: All medical marijuana must be grown in-state; since the crops take roughly four months to grow, state officials told the Chicago Tribune they expect it will be spring 2015 before the drug is available.

Businesses will be waiting, too: Medical marijuana entrepreneurs are expected to be able to apply for licenses to grow and sell pot by September, the Chicago Tribune reports. Once approved, businesses would have six months to get their operations up and running.

There's "sick" and there's "eligible for medical marijuana" sick: Patients are only eligible for a medical marijuana registry card if they suffer from one or more of roughly 30 qualifying conditions that include cancer, HIV and glaucoma. The state only recently passed a bill that would grant minors suffering from conditions that include epilepsy access to a cannabis-derived oil.

Medical weed won't be growing (or selling) like crazy: The approved rules uphold the limits on the number of cultivation centers and dispensaries that can exist around the state. Though most dispensaries will be located in the Chicago area, statewide rules allow for just 60 dispensaries and 21 marijuana cultivation centers (roughly one in every police district around the state) statewide.

The feds can still bust users, growers and cultivators of medical marijuana (but probably won't): Marijuana, medical or otherwise, remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law -- and punishable by fines and jail time. However, the Tribune reports federal prosecutors have indicated "they will not focus on individuals who are following state laws."

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