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Marking the 14th Anniversary of September 11th

Fri, 2015-09-11 08:35
Today, on the 14th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we honor the thousands who lost their lives in this devastating terrorist attack on our country. We will never forget that horrifying day; even now we still grieve for the innocent lives that were taken away or changed forever.

We must also remember the first responders who rushed into buildings to save lives. Some of them are facing health challenges to this day because of their valiant actions. I believe we should devote all resources necessary to ensure they get all the medical attention they need and certainly earned through their heroic actions.

Our thoughts and hearts are also with our military who serve us abroad and protect us here at home. The United States and our allies across the world are working every day to fight terrorism. We must continue those efforts and we must promote peace and freedom.

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Does LA DWP Billing Scandal Extend to Sweetheart Settlement With Over-Billing Attorney?

Thu, 2015-09-10 18:45
The LA Department of Water and Power's overbilling scandals are epic. They include an elderly couple who are Soviet emigrees and lived in fear because DWP issued a $50,000 bill to them. When they complained, they were told to check for a leaky toilet.

DWP is one of the least accountable agencies in the city. When it said it was cleaning up its act, it reached out to a Chicago attorney and cut a deal to allegedly pay ratepayers back.

Legal objections to the settlement filed by plaintiffs in 3 out of 4 ratepayer class actions against DWP for massive overbilling cast questions about whether the settlement is real, and why the this out-of-state attorney is being paid $13 million by ratepayers for his 87 days of work. The legal papers claim that the settlement is riddled with problems and wrongly allows DWP to solely determine who has been overcharged and how much they get back, when DWP cannot be trusted because it got it wrong in the first place.

Friday a LA Superior Court judge will decide whether the DWP settlement goes forward and whether the $13 million this attorney billed ratepayers for his less than three months of work is reasonable.

It would be a shame if one overbilling scandal would lead to another involving an overcharging attorney and a DWP that doesn't want a third party determining what it did wrong and who it owes how much.

If the Judge sides with the objectors, it's time for Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer to set the always arrogant and recalcitrant managers at DWP straight. LA ratepayers deserve an objective process to get their money back and real oversight of their renegade utility.

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Hate Hits the US: Another American Sikh Targeted

Thu, 2015-09-10 18:29
On Wednesday evening, yet another Sikh American was assaulted by someone yelling racial slurs. A teenager beat 53-year-old Inderjit Singh Mukker, a father of two, while shouting hate speech like "Terrorist!", "Bin Laden!", and "Go back to your country!"

Mr. Mukker was beaten unconscious and hospitalized with a facial fracture and lacerations. With blood still staining his white-collared shirt, Mr. Mukker courageously stated to the press: "No American should be afraid to practice their faith in this country."

Mr. Mukker is right to stand by the ideals of this nation. He is right that none of us should live in fear because of what we believe or how we look.

The challenge, though, is that for so many of us who live as religious minorities in America, living fearlessly is not always easy. We are constantly reminded of this through daily interactions that exhibit subtle discrimination in our society. Attacks such as the one on Mr. Mukker are eye-opening -- though not surprising -- in that they remind us the violent potential of the veiled racism we all experience.

So long as innocent members of our community are targeted in brutal acts of hate violence, how are we to live without fear in modern America?

I am not saying that I am afraid. My Sikh faith teaches me "a truly wise person neither fears nor frightens anyone." With that said though, how am I supposed to feel when people I know -- and who look like me -- continue to be violently attacked because of how they look?

Yes, America offers us the opportunity to practice religion freely -- but let's be clear that some communities continue to pay a sizable cost to secure this freedom. Let's also acknowledge that we as a society are not entirely free as long as we continue persecuting one another.

The pattern of violence against minority communities in America does not emerge in a vacuum. It can directly be tied to xenophobic statements our public leaders make against minority and immigrant communities. The negative rhetoric has real consequences for real people; it fans the flames of xenophobia and sends the message that it is okay to speak and act on the basis of bigotry.

Racism and bigotry are not in line with the values of this nation, and we cannot afford to wait for a hate crime to happen in our communities before stepping forward. It may help them win votes, but it also comes at a real cost -- our freedom and our security. As a public, we have the right and responsibility to protect these basic American values -- freedom and security -- and it is up to us to hold our leadership accountable when they threaten these values.

One way we can do this is to ask our elected officials to send the right messages to the American public. Congress is currently considering a resolution (H-Res. 413) that would acknowledge and honor those who have been targeted in hate crimes since 9/11.

Those looking to honor and support Mr. Mukker can do so by reaching out to their member(s) of Congress to seek their support on the resolution. Certainly this resolution alone would not resolve the problem, but at least it will force our leaders to acknowledge publicly the seriousness of this problem and to have the right conversations about hate violence in our nation. This may be an important first step toward achieving a world where we can all live freely and without fear.

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Falls Kicks Off With an Incredible Visual Arts Lineup

Thu, 2015-09-10 14:44
Fall is always culturally rich in Chicago. However, beginning September 14, the city comes alive with an unprecedented lineup of nationally interesting exhibits and performances centered around the visual arts. Many of these are curated by or connected to the fourth annual Expo Chicago, the international exposition of contemporary and modern art.

Not to be missed, here is a short list of exceptional events. Keep up if you can! It is a very special time to be in or to visit Chicago.

Vernissage, The MCA's opening night party for Expo Chicago
The Art Institute David Adjaye Exhibit
Renaissance Society's 100th Anniversary Bash
Kerstin Bratsch exhibit at the Arts Club
The Dinner Party with famed pop artist, Hebru Brantley, Kickstarter Co-Founder Charles Adler, Rolling Stones Photographer, Carinthia West, and Chef Michael Taus
Special programming: The School of the Art Institute's 150th Anniversary Celebration
Keren Cytter at the MCA
Images of a Magic Time: Iconic photographs of the music and culture of the 60s and 70s by Patty Boyd, Carinthia West and Henry Diltz at the Hilton Asmus Gallery
Geof Oppenheimer at the Block Museum
Fifth Star Awards including architect and award winner Stanley Tigerman
Hank Willis Thomas's Truth Booth
Charles Ray exhibition at The Art Institute
Jessica Stockholder opening (with additional artists) at Kavi Gupta Gallery
IN/SITU Inside and Outside curated by Luis Grachos
EXPO Video in partnership with Columbia College, curated by Alfredo Cramerotti
/Dialogues: discussions at Expo Chicago in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Opening Night at the gallery districts

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America's Craziest Food Challenges

Thu, 2015-09-10 14:23
By the Blog Editors for the Orbitz Travel Blog

If you look into the eyes of someone who's just eaten one of the world's hottest peppers, you will likely see excitement and confusion mingled with a hint of pain and regret. But what about someone who's about to finish the world's biggest bowl of soup?

Culinary daredevils have long demanded outrageous dishes and serious portion sizes, and American restaurants continue to devise diabolically delicious ways to challenge their taste buds. If you count yourself among the growing population of adventurous eaters--or just want to see someone dig into some mega-spicy Indian food--here are America's craziest food challenges worth a trip.

Photo courtesy of cyclonebill | Flickr Creative Commons

Get your fill of pho in Dallas

If you've got 90 minutes to spare, swing by Bistro B in Dallas for their aptly named Giant Bowl of Pho challenge. Pho is a popular Vietnamese dish known for its amazing refreshing taste, but this 7-pound bowl of noodles might leave you feeling a little exhausted after 400 mouthfuls. Your first tentative spoonfuls, however, will be a delight, rich with the fresh flavors of basil, lime, bean sprouts and jalapeños. The reward for completing this super-human challenge is a $200 gift card.

Photo courtesy of Joey | Flickr Creative Commons

Sample some seriously spicy Phaal in New York

"Let's go to that Indian restaurant near me," we hear you cry, "I'm in the mood for some spice!" If hot food is your thing, take a trip to Manhattan and enter the big leagues. Served up by The Brick Lane Curry House in New York, the Phaal Challenge is a fiery sensation.

The fact that the chef has to wear a mask while preparing your meal is probably a sign that a serious adventurous streak is needed to try this one. Make it to the end of this blazing-hot, chili-laden curry and you'll be rewarded with a beer and a certificate with your name on it--and, of course, a tongue on fire.

Photo courtesy of Nitally's

Test your spice tolerance in St. Petersburg, Florida

If at this stage you've found that soup isn't a problem, and neither is spice, try them together at Nitally's in St. Petersburg, Florida, where you can face The Inferno Soup Challenge. This devilish bowl of broth contains 12 fiery varieties of peppers from around the world, packing a serious eye-watering kick. Be warned, though: The restaurant is so confident you won't be able to finish that they're willing to pony up $100 to anyone who does. If you win, we suggest investing in an ice cool milkshake (or, for that matter, a dozen).

Still hungry? Check out some more food challenges on the Orbitz Travel Blog

More from the Orbitz Travel Blog:
Where to eat in New York City now
The world's most jaw-dropping Ferris wheels
America's 10 best brewery tours

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Even paying $500 million extra in property taxes won't save Chicago from its junk credit rating

Thu, 2015-09-10 13:30
Taxpayers were shocked last week when news leaked of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to raise $500 million with the largest Chicago property tax increase in modern history.

But with $30 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and its municipal bonds rated as junk, a $500-million cash infusion is weak medicine for what ails Chicago, a panel of experts said at the City Club of Chicago panel discussion Tuesday.

"The half-billion dollar property tax increase... would be the largest in modern history for the city of Chicago but it's not the full answer. It's not going to be enough... because we've dug the hole so deeply," said Civic Federation President Laurence Msall. "And that's all of our responsibility, right? We can look to our City Council which did or did not act in a way to protect the city financially, we could look to the Legislature which created much of the pension statutes that allow for benefits greater than we can afford, that allow for statutory underfunding.

"But I think we have to look at ourselves as Chicagoans that let this condition get to such a horrible place. And now the answers are not politically attractive. They are not politically easy."

But Wall Street will look for more than just more tax money before it raises Chicago's credit rating, said Matt Fabian of Municipal Market Analytics.

"Part of what makes a good and strong financial profile is not just being resilient in your ability to sort of absorb shocks but it's also in being predictable. Investors are looking for this, it's not just financial but also political stability...," Fabian said. "The market doesn't want just higher taxes and lower spending. It wants a politically sustainable and stable government so that volatility in management doesn't just arise and volatility in policy doesn't arise."

Unfortunately for politicians and taxpayers alike, fostering a "stable and sustainable government" often means doing things that voters don't like -- like raising taxes or cutting services to make pension payments -- or not doing things that make good re-election campaign slogans but cost a lot. Neither of those options have been significant parts of Chicago city government's recent history.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

The specter of unpaid bills is not just hanging over the city of Chicago. The state of Illinois has plenty of its own problems in that area too. Comptroller Leslie Munger warned the rest of the government that the state currently owes $6 billion and that without a budget agreement by the end of the year, the state will owe nearly $13 billion by New Year's. Read Mark Fitton's report of both calculations at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Editorial: Let Rauner do what he was elected to do

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Humanity Washed Ashore

Thu, 2015-09-10 13:00
Who are all these people?

Here's another global problem -- this flow of refugees -- that national governments are apparently incapable of dealing with in a long-term, cooperative, globally responsible way. As with climate change, as with war and disarmament, they retreat into insularity in the face of such matters and become protective of their short-term, individual "interests," which mostly concern the bureaucratic sacredness of their borders and an obsessive distinction between us and them.

"The European Union, (French President François Hollande) said, needed to create 'hot spot' reception centers at those borders under the greatest onslaught -- in Greece, Italy and Hungary -- to register new arrivals and turn back those who do not meet the requirements for asylum," reports the New York Times.

And: "(British Prime Minister David) Cameron said Monday that Britain would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees, but they would most likely be limited to those who apply for asylum from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The British government is wary of giving migrants any incentive to make the dangerous journey into Europe, officials said..."

Of course, it gets a lot worse than that: razor wire, brute force, big walls. Desperate people risk their lives. Boats capsize. Children die as racist slogans reverberate. Families flee war and poverty, hell on earth. They need new homes. What a nuisance.

The photo of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed up on a Turkish beach after his family's boat capsized as they tried to escape Syria -- his mother and 5-year-old brother also died -- has turned the refugee crisis, at least temporarily, into something more than an abstraction. "Within hours," Jamie Fahey wrote at the Guardian, which initially published the photo, "the image had gone viral and become the top-trending picture on Twitter with the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore)."

Humanity washes ashore, but does anything change? There's only one way for real change to happen: The value of human life must supersede citizenship. Refugees -- people forced by terrible circumstances out of their homes -- shouldn't have their escape routes blocked, either by barbed wire or bureaucratic minutiae, because they have been rendered "stateless."

For instance, while Aylan's family had relatives in Canada and, therefore, could legally have entered that country, his parents "had been unable to get family reunification visas that would have given them a legal route out of Turkey," the Washington Post reported. "Instead, they tried to reach Greece by boat, with tragic consequences."

The arguments defending border restrictions concern the sanctity and necessity of maintaining national order. But these arguments begin to crumble when one considers the extent to which potential host nations bear responsibility for much of the chaos in those broken parts of the world -- such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan -- from which most of the world's refugees are fleeing.

This phenomenon isn't usually included in news stories about refugees. Thus they are portrayed either as pitiable unfortunates who need our benevolence or would-be freeloaders trying to get a good deal for themselves in some wealthy country with generous benefits.

But as Robert Parry, who as a reporter for the Associated Press in the 1980s helped expose the Iran-Contra fiasco, wrote recently: "The refugee chaos that is now pushing deep into Europe . . . started with the cavalier ambitions of American neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks who planned to remake the Middle East and other parts of the world through 'regime change.'"

"Instead of the promised wonders of 'democracy promotion' and 'human rights,'" he continued, "what these 'anti-realists' have accomplished is to spread death, destruction and destabilization across the Middle East and parts of Africa and now into Ukraine and the heart of Europe. Yet, since these neocon forces still control the Official Narrative, their explanations get top billing -- such as that there hasn't been enough 'regime change.'"

The neocons, who began their "cult of regime change" in Central America during the Reagan era, reclaimed control over American foreign policy when Bush Jr. was elected president and used 9/11 to cohere support for their long-sought invasion of Iraq. This action, of course, shattered the country and let loose the howling chaos of civil war. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have perpetrated similar disasters in Libya, Syria and elsewhere, as they've continued to impose regime change on select Middle Eastern countries they hope to control.

But today's global refugee crisis goes deeper than the neocons. The colonial powers of the Western world conquered and exploited the whole planet. Even when these powers relinquished their control over the Third World, they left behind a patchwork of states with randomly drawn borders that were in many cases deeply ungovernable.

As Gurminder K. Bhambra wrote recently in the Australian publication The Conversation: "The failure to properly account for Europe's colonial past cements the political division between legitimate citizens with rights and migrants/refugees without rights...If belonging to the history of the nation is what traditionally confers membership rights upon individuals (as most forms of citizenship demonstrate), it's incumbent upon us to recognise the histories that would see refugees as already having claims upon the states they wish to enter."

There should be no such concept as stateless migrants, left to the mercy of the weather and the tides, the smugglers of human cargo, the border bureaucrats. There should only be global citizens.

This is all of us, equal to one another in our humanity, equally deserving of the chance to live and prosper. The photos of a 3-year-old boy washed ashore in Turkey make this clear.

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


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Drink up: 5 of the drunkest cities in Illinois

Thu, 2015-09-10 12:27
Chicago is known for its numerous and varied bars, and a lively drinking culture to go along with it. But the rest of Illinois also has its fair share of drinking establishments, college campuses and residents who like to partake. Taking all of that into account, it's not super surprising to hear that Illinois is the state with the 6th-highest propensity for binge drinking in the country, according to NPR.

But what about within the state? Which areas have residents who are most likely to knock back one or two (or three or four) regularly? The website RoadSnacks took a look at different cities within Illinois and picked the 10 they think are the "drunkest."

The site used the less-than- scientific method of calculating the drunkest spots by looking at how many places there are to buy alcohol within a specific area as well as how often people talk about drinking on social media in that area. Possibly less telling, they also added in the criterion of how many divorced people live in certain locales. A description of the drinking culture of each city was included in their list.

The 10 cities tended to big mid-to-big-sized cities though Chicago does make an appearance. They are scattered throughout the whole state:

10. Schaumburg

Population: 74,276
Divorce rate: 9.7%
Liquor stores per capita: 18th in Illinois
Bars per capita: 15th in the state

Schaumburg, another Chicago suburb, is apparently full of drinkers. Or at least people who drink a lot. They have a high number of both bars and liquor stores in the state.

We saw a high number of tweets coming from Schaumburg for people going to 'parties'. Several were birthday parties for kids.

Any chance to throw a few back, right Schaumburgers?

9. Lisle

Population: 22,483
Divorce rate: 9.6%
Bars per capita: 21st in the state
Liquor stores per capita: 6th in Illinois

Lisle was ranked as one of the best places for the rich and single by Money Magazine. That means, according to the data, there are tons of drunk, rich white kids running around Lisle looking to make their mark on the community.

The divorce rate is low here. You can tell why - either no one is settled down yet (why would you - you can hook it up without having to tie the knot) or, no one divorces because of money.

Hey, if your man is drunk at the bar all the time, but he's loaded, you just look the other way, right Lisle ladies?

8. Springfield

Population: 115,982
Divorce rate: 15%
Bars per capita: 9th in the state
Drunk tweets per capita: 25th in Illinois

Springfield is the capital of Illinois, but not the capital of drunken people. That's good.

Anyone who has been to Springfield can attest to the fact that tons of people are out getting wasted here. And Twitter proves it. In fact, there were almost as many drunken tweets coming from Springfield as there were from Chicago.

"Either these people are homeless, and Illinois is heartless, or they are drunk, and Illinois is lawless. Either way, Springfield sucks."

And these are the people who can only afford a 40. Think of how the people in the bars are acting here.

7. Chicago

Population: 2,702,471
Divorce rate: 8.7%
Bars per capita: 4th in the state
Liquor stores per capita: 13th in Illinois

Okay, so obviously there are tons of bars and liquor stores in Chicago. But we're measuring places to get booze per capita, and there are certainly millions of people in Chicago who don't drink a drop.

That is until football season. Every Bears fan needs to have a beer or 12 to get through another frustrating Sunday.

Seriously though, the divorce rate in Chicago is really low. Good for you, Chicagoans. While many, many, many of you are completely wasted every night of the week, a majority of you are responsible members of the Chicago community.

6. Blue Island

Population: 23,460
Divorce rate: 11%
Bars per capita: 4th in the state
Liquor stores per capita: 28th in Illinois

Blue Island is south of Chicago, but not in south Chicago. Here, 1 in 10 residents are divorced, and when you have the 4th highest number of bars per capita, there are probably lots of desperate bleary-eyed people working on their second marriages here.

Here's to that!

Check out the five "drunkest cities" in Illinois at Reboot Illinois, plus find out which Illinois cities are the least drunk in the state.

NEXT ARTICLE: Emanuel's proposed property taxes and garbage fees could pump up Chicago's budget by $600 million


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  2. State Rep. Avery Bourne Q & A: Meet the General Assembly's youngest member

  3. How dependent are we on Illinois' sin taxes?

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Dems Say GOP Has Learned Nothing With Shutdown Looming

Wed, 2015-09-09 15:17

WASHINGTON -- Less than three weeks before the government runs out of money, Democrats charged Wednesday that Republicans have learned nothing from past crises and have not even begun to talk about how to avoid a shutdown.

The federal government will run out of funding at the end of the month unless Congress acts before then to pass stalled spending bills or some sort of stopgap resolution to continue funding.

Democrats also vowed to stand firm if Republicans wait until the very last second and try to force Democrats to accept a spending plan that embraces only GOP priorities.

"Two years ago, families across the country watched as Republican leaders promised they were not going to shut down the government," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), reminding reporters in a Capitol Hill news conference of pledges that GOP leaders made in 2013 and have renewed this year to keep the government open.

"Well, we all remember what happened next. Republican leaders let the tea party take over, and they pushed us into a completely unnecessary shutdown in a bizarre and failed attempt to derail health care reform," Murray added. "Unfortunately, Republican leaders don’t seem to have learned any lessons from 2013, and once again we are just weeks away from an artificial crisis that could hurt our economy."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said before Congress went on its summer break that he would back a short-term continuing resolution to keep Uncle Sam in business if it were needed to buy some time. But when asked earlier Wednesday what his plans are to bring such a measure forward, he told reporters they are still to be determined, as are the elements that should go into such a stopgap bill.

Asked if Republicans had brought any proposals to Democrats since work on Capitol Hill restarted this week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said they hadn't. "We've heard nothing," he said.

Murray noted that in 2013, when GOP leaders thought they had a way forward, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and like-minded House members balked and tried to use the moment to defund the Affordable Care Act. It failed but led to a shutdown.

This time, Cruz and others are threatening to link funding for Planned Parenthood to broader government spending.

Reid said Democrats would not accept any such measure laden with controversial riders, nor would they agree to a funding bill that reflects only a GOP desire to boost defense spending while cutting domestic programs. 

"I cannot for the life of me understand what the Republicans expect," Reid said, adding that there must be a bona fide negotiation to get Democrats on board. "They better consider how they’re going to fund the government. They can’t just jam us with something, 'cause it just won’t work."

Democrats also insisted they would not cave.

"I think the resolve of the Senate Democrats is there," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters. "I think it has been throughout this process and I think that this resolve has strengthened by the position of the president. The president is not going to sign this bill. We know ultimately there has to be a better way."

Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

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The 7 NFL Storylines You Need To Know

Wed, 2015-09-09 15:13

One of the many great parts about the NFL is its endless cycle of storylines entering each season. And that's what this piece is all about: FOOTBALL storylines, not Roger Goodell's ridiculous level of deception and incompetence. Quarterback debates, new coaches every year and endless controversial fodder. (Sorry, we are not touching the Geno Smith/New York Jets mess in this column either).

2015, to be sure, is no different. Here are seven of the top stories to follow as we get set for another year of football. In other words, buckle up.

Will Miami's Big Spending Pay Off?

Considering that New England has won the AFC East 11 out of 12 years, we can't blame the Dolphins for making a huge free agency splash. Ndamukong Suh is an elite weapon who plays both the pass (8.5 sacks amid constant double-teams) and the run. His main job is to make life miserable for Tom Brady while playing alongside fellow All-Pro Cameron Wake. 

Perhaps just as importantly, the front office showed its dedication to $100 million quarterback Ryan Tannehill as well. His new quartet of weapons includes wide receivers Greg Jennings, 31 -- who quietly amassed 742 yards and six touchdowns in Minnesota -- big play threat Kenny Stills, first-round draft pick DeVante Parker and tight end Jordan Cameron, who will provide a huge lift within the seams and inside the 20s if he remains healthy. In other words, Joe Philbin -- 23-25 as the head coach -- has run out of excuses.

The SEC Of The NFL

The SEC just became the first college football conference to ever boast 10 teams in the Top 25. Ten teams! And that includes the entire SEC West division. The NFC West, meanwhile, isn't much different in terms of the gauntlet it presents.

Back-to-back NFC champion Seattle drastically improved itself when it landed All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, far and away the best pass-catching threat Russell Wilson has ever had. The defense remains virtually intact -- cornerback Byron Maxwell (signed with Philadelphia) is the only starter not returning on the league’s top-ranked unit other than All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor, whose holdout may span the entire year. I recently attended a practice in Seattle and spoke one on one with head coach Pete Carroll afterward. Make no mistake: There is no Super Bowl hangover plaguing this team. Dion Bailey -- who has had a strong camp -- will replace Chancellor, and will do just fine.

Other than Green Bay, though, Seattle's stiffest competition comes from the NFC West. Arizona was the league's final undefeated team last season and, had Carson Palmer not gotten hurt, the Cardinals likely would have kept rolling. Perhaps the biggest question mark is how the defense -- elite by most measures -- responds to the departure of coordinator Todd Bowles, who takes over the head coaching gig with the Jets. The Jim Harbaugh era ended in San Francisco -- not to mention the Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and Chris Borland eras -- but the 49ers can still be competitive nevertheless. Newly minted lead man Jim Tomsula has in the backfield Carlos Hyde, who is in line for a breakout campaign, and the addition of a true burner in Torrey Smith on the perimeter will help Colin Kaepernick's struggling deep ball. St. Louis is interesting for a whole lot of reasons, namely a potentially dominant defense and, as you'll see below, a new duo in its backfield.

Rookie Backs

For the first time since 2012, we had a duo of running backs drafted in the first round. That would be former Georgia superstar Todd Gurley -- whom St. Louis nabbed with the 10th pick -- and All-World back Melvin Gordon, selected by a San Diego team in "win now" mode. Both are on track for significant touches as rookies, because of their robust talent as well as the fits. The Nick Foles-LeSean McCoy connection won't be entirely dissimilar from Foles (now a Ram) and Gurley, whose freakish talent and dynamic runs made waves in college. Assuming he's healthy after the ACL tear, the league will be on instant notice. Gordon will benefit immensely from Philip Rivers' screen passing ability and an offense that loves its running backs inside the 20s. Aside from these two, however, there are several other rookie running backs who might become household names.

Former Nebraska star Ameer Abdullah (above), in Detroit, brings a physical running style and a fluid pass-catching presence (20-plus catches in three straight collegiate seasons) to Matthew Stafford and a Detroit offense that loves to incorporate its backs in multiple ways. He's not a burner (4.55 40), but he will earn snaps immediately, especially if Joique Bell isn't 100 percent. Then there is Tevin Coleman -- a third-rounder from Indiana with size and speed who rushed for 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior -- tasked to supplant second-year man Devonta Freeman in Atlanta.

Coleman has game-breaking ability, precisely the type Matt Ryan never received from the lumbering Steven Jackson. Don't forget about former Alabama standout T.J. Yeldon either. After rushing for over 3,300 yards and 37 touchdowns during college -- in a pro-style offense, mind you -- he heads to Jacksonville, and to a head coach, Gus Bradley, who likes to employ multiple backs. Last season's rookie wide receiver class was arguably the greatest of all time. This running back class may not be as supremely talented, but its abundance of gifted runners makes it worth keeping a keen eye on.

Winston And Mariota

Not since the 2012 draft class with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have we seen quarterbacks go 1-2 in the draft and in turn, enter their rookie seasons with this much hype.

Let us start with Jameis Winston, whom Tampa Bay will trot out Week 1 against Marcus Mariota and Tennessee. Surely, Winston has been in the headlines for some not-so-good things, but reports out of camp throughout August were that he was mature, he was a worker and that he grasped the playbook very well. Throw in his cannon of an arm, football intellect and prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 231 pounds, and you begin to understand why he won a Heisman Trophy and why the Bucs believe he can eventually develop into a superstar and franchise cornerstone. Winston is not to be confused with Luck in terms of mobility, but he is a better athlete than you think and he's a tank to bring down.

Tampa's offensive line was miserable last year and after drafting two linemen in the second round -- both of whom will start -- we can expect to see growing pains from the unit in 2015. If the line can simply be adequate, though, this offense will a.) have success with the seemingly written-off running back Doug Martin, who has lost weight and looks very good and b.) allow for Winston to find his three massive receiving talents in the 6-foot-5 duo of Mike Evans (1,052 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie) and Vincent Jackson (four straight 1,000-yard seasons), and the 6-foot-6 tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Winston, to be sure, will fill his rookie quota of errant throws and mistakes. After all, he threw 18 picks in college just last year. But he's also going to have some wonderful "ah, I see it now" moments where we simply cannot deny his robust talent.

The same can probably be said about Marcus Mariota, the second pick in the draft. The Titans don't have a viable running game, and like the Bucs, have glaring concerns up front. Mariota, for his part, is a world-class athlete with a quicker release than Winston and the ability to be extremely accurate with the short and intermediate ball (67 percent career competition percentage at Oregon).

His issue stems from the fact that he ran a spread offense for three years in college, predicated off of tempo and quick reads. We also know the Titans don't want him to endure too many hits, but a major part of his brilliance -- and why he too won a Heisman -- is his remarkable running ability. Akin to Winston, Mariota has a slew of really talented, really big targets: rookie second-rounder Dorial Green-Beckham is a freakish talent at 6-foot-5 who is consistently compared to Calvin Johnson. Justin Hunter is 6-foot-4 with a massive catching radius and -- if he's on the field -- can become one of Mariota's best friends in the red zone. Then there is the undersized tight end Delanie Walker and slot man Kendall Wright (215 catches in three seasons), both of whom resemble the type of pass-catchers Mariota loved employing at Oregon: shifty, reliable guys who constantly get open and move the sticks. 

Full Control In Philly

2015 is year one with Chip Kelly in the position of total control. McCoy is gone, as is 1,300-yard, 10-touchdown receiver Jeremy Maclin and the former Pro Bowler Foles. In comes Sam Bradford, the former top overall pick who is perennially injured and yet highly effective when healthy. He will be throwing to tight end Zach Ertz, a rising star in his own right, along with diminutive rookie wideout Nelson Agholor, the first-rounder and former USC standout who Kelly hopes can assume a DeSean Jackson type of role.

The Eagles also return 23-year-old receiver Jordan Matthews, who amassed 847 yards last year and appears on the verge of much more. In other words, the talent is still there for this offense to put up strong numbers. Kelly -- like him or hate him -- has touched a nerve in this league for his oddities and brilliance. He's won 10 games each of the previous two years, but one has to think a playoff run needs to happen sooner than later.

Brady's Ballad

The reigning world champs have been embroiled in controversy since before beating Seattle, and the messy "Deflategate" situation continues to intensify.

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Par for the course, however, is a nonchalant Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and, of course, Brady, who at 38 years old, shows no signs of slowing down. Forget about being tarnished! These guys couldn't care less. Circumventing the rules? Legacies? Immaterial. How about four Super Bowl titles and six appearances? That is the only thing that matters to them. However, as noted earlier, the AFC East is the most formidable and perhaps the deepest its been in quite some time, and that includes a Buffalo team whose defense should thrive under new head man Rex Ryan.

As I highlighted in a previous column detailing how the Pats can repeat, the biggest question mark entering 2015 is a secondary that lost cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. But rarely, even in the six Super Bowl seasons for Belichick, has he had a top-5 defense across the board. 


Adrian Peterson is going to have a monster year, but when one of the game's best says he's gunning for 2,000 yards, you have to pay attention. After essentially an entire season removed from pro football, AP enters 2015 as fresh as he's ever been, and finally has a decent quarterback to alleviate pressure and take extra defenders out of the box. Remember, he eclipsed the 2,000-yard clip in 2012, and at his core, Mike Zimmer loves to establish the run. Moreover, Peterson has extra motivation: he wants to be the greatest of all time.

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram at @Schultz_Report.

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16 of the Best Community Colleges in Illinois Ranked by Wallethub

Wed, 2015-09-09 11:49
The cost of four-year colleges is climbing, and many students and parents have therefore been looking at community colleges as a financially sound option. Illinois has some great community colleges, and they come at an affordable price.

Two-year community colleges long have fought the stereotype that they don't stack up academically to traditional universities, but with college costs rising faster than the rate of inflation, attending community colleges has become a more practical choice for prospective students. Community colleges in 22 states now offer four-year bachelor's degree programs in high-demand fields, according to a recent WalletHub report.

The report ranks states with the best community college systems in the nation and is coupled with another analysis that ranks individual community within each state. Illinois ranked 32 overall, though six states (Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont) were not included in the rankings.

WalletHub compared a total of 670 community colleges in the U.S. and ranked them using 17 key metrics, including the cost of in-state tuition and fees, student-faculty ratio and student loan default rate.

Here are 16 of the best community colleges in Illinois that were ranked by WalletHub. Following the graphic is a plain text version with the school's national rank in parenthesis, location and individual ranks for the four main criteria. WalletHub's methodology can be found here.

31. Wilbur Wright College (#664) | Chicago 

  • Cost & Financing - 640

  • Classroom Experience - 437

  • Education Outcomes - 545

  • Career Outcomes - 668

30. Harold Washington College (#655) | Chicago

  • Cost & Financing - 635

  • Classroom Experience - 382

  • Education Outcomes - 614

  • Career Outcomes - 527

29. Joliet Junior College (#639) | Joliet 

  • Cost & Financing - 593

  • Classroom Experience - 611

  • Education Outcomes - 459

  • Career Outcomes - 411

28. College of DuPage (#624) | Glen Ellyn

  • Cost & Financing - 615

  • Classroom Experience - 626

  • Education Outcomes - 320

  • Career Outcomes - 390

27. Richard J. Daley College (#594) | Chicago 

  • Cost & Financing - 635

  • Classroom Experience - 209

  • Education Outcomes - 628

  • Career Outcomes - 39

26. Moraine Valley Community College (#587) | Palos Hills 

  • Cost & Financing - 663

  • Classroom Experience - 529

  • Education Outcomes - 153

  • Career Outcomes - 60

25. Heartland Community College (#561) | Normal 

  • Cost & Financing - 503

  • Classroom Experience - 450

  • Education Outcomes - 368

  • Career Outcomes - 467

24. Triton College (#559) | River Grove

  • Cost & Financing - 644

  • Classroom Experience - 544

  • Education Outcomes - 425

  • Career Outcomes - 139

23. Parkland College (#555) | Champaign

  • Cost & Financing - 525

  • Classroom Experience - 354

  • Education Outcomes - 238

  • Career Outcomes - 576

22. Kaskaskia College (#513) | Centralia

  • Cost & Financing - 625

  • Classroom Experience - 582

  • Education Outcomes - 118

  • Career Outcomes - 292

21. Waubonsee Community College (#508) | Sugar Grove

  • Cost & Financing - 597

  • Classroom Experience - 614

  • Education Outcomes - 74

  • Career Outcomes - 340

20. Oakton Community College (#498) | Des Plaines

  • Cost & Financing - 536

  • Classroom Experience - 380

  • Education Outcomes - 267

  • Career Outcomes - 463

19. Lincoln Land Community College (#494) | Springfield

  • Cost & Financing - 414

  • Classroom Experience - 642

  • Education Outcomes - 85

  • Career Outcomes - 426

18. Truman College (#488) | Chicago

  • Cost & Financing - 647

  • Classroom Experience - 125

  • Education Outcomes - 595

  • Career Outcomes - 1

17. Highland Community College (#481) | Freeport 

  • Cost & Financing - 217

  • Classroom Experience - 619

  • Education Outcomes - 91

  • Career Outcomes - 621

16. Prairie State College (#460) | Chicago Heights

  • Cost & Financing - 578

  • Classroom Experience - 178

  • Education Outcomes - 548

  • Career Outcomes - 346

To see the 15 best community colleges in Illinois, including College of Lake County and Harper College, check out Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: 17 best colleges in Illinois, as ranked by Forbes

  1. Newsweek ranks the top 30 high schools in Illinois

  2. This Illinois college will give you the biggest bang for your buck

  3. The top 20 most challenging high schools in Illinois

  4. Guest: Chancellor severance episode another example of University of Illinois' financial cluelessness

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Could union veto loss be surprise win for Madigan?

Tue, 2015-09-08 13:07
Failing to secure the votes of all 71 Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives, Speaker Michael Madigan didn't get the political victory he hoped for over Gov. Bruce Rauner in the union arbitration bill veto override. But perhaps the "strategic master" of Illinois politics can find a way to turn this into a win, says Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek:

What is Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan thinking? Why in the world would he allow a vote on a critical labor union bill when he knew it would fail? And how could he not know how all his members would vote?

Madigan is known for being a strategic master. He's kept his grip on the Illinois House for more than 30 years because of it. And yet, he knew he didn't have the 71 votes he needed to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a bill pushed by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 that would ban a strike or a lockout of state workers if one side or the other declares an impasse. Still, Madigan allowed Senate Bill 1229 to be called.

He knew it would fail because one of his members, state Rep. Ken Dunkin of Chicago, was in New York. He said afterward he believed other Democrats would have been persuaded to vote with AFSCME if Dunkin were present. State Reps. Jack Franks of Marengo and Scott Drury of Highwood dispute that. Franks voted "present" and Drury voted not to override because he opposed the union giving up its right to strike. And Drury said last week neither Madigan nor his staff knew how he'd vote.

That just doesn't sound like masterful Madigan. It was a rare, high-profile defeat for Madigan and a win for Rauner, but perhaps it's not that simple?

Madigan thinks and strategizes ahead. In allowing this public loss, Madigan still can turn to the union and say he did all he could. He can say the Democrats and their union backers still are in the epic battle of their lives against Rauner, a Republican with never-before-seen resources to wage election warfare. And in so doing, Madigan secures maybe even more money, manpower and loyalty from AFSCME and other public unions.

Calling the vote when he knew all Republicans had pledged to back Rauner also gives Madigan and Democrats campaign fodder because there are a few Republicans in Central Illinois who have strong union membership in their districts. Those Republicans just endangered their political futures for Rauner.

Madigan cares most about maintaining his majority and defeating Republicans.

Is that really all that's going on here? Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

Madigan's loss in this round, especially with his super-majority of House Democrats, could be a major wake-up call for him and his allies. Capitol Fax's Rich Miller took a look at the lineup of Democrats who weren't present at the union arbitration veto override vote, Democrats who voted against the party line and one Democrat who wanted to be there so badly she arrived in a wheelchair. Read the column at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Editorial: Let Rauner do what he was elected to do

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How Much Could Chicago's New Taxes Cost You?

Tue, 2015-09-08 11:10
In order to help Chicago and its public schools face a severe fiscal crisis after years of borrowing, mayor Rahm Emanuel is preparing to reveal some significant new Chicago taxes. Because the state is trying to deal with its own budgeting and revenue crises, the mayor can't rely on help from Springfield to shore up the city budget. Instead, Emanuel has turned to taxes and fees to help pay for the fire, police and teacher pension deficits and to give the city some breathing room when it comes to cash--its credit rating remains at junk status.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that Emanuel will propose a $500 million increase in property taxes, a new garbage pick-up fee and a few other tax increases: a $1 ride-hailing surcharge, an e-cigarette tax and $0.01 per ounce sugary drink tax will add up to a total of about $600 million in new cash for the city.

Emanuel first must get City Council approval. He is scheduled to unveil his budget at a Sept. 22 meeting. During his mayoral campaign in the spring, Emanuel had promised he would avoid any property tax increase for the city's portion of the shortfall.

So what do these huge numbers mean on an individual scale for an average person living in the city?

Check out this chart, which breaks down a year's worth of the cost of the new taxes and fees for a person living in an average home in the city, who needs his or her trash picked up, and smokes e-cigarettes:

To see the rest of the infographic, which breaks down a year's worth of the cost of the new taxes and fees for a person who rides in an Uber-type car twice per week and drinks one, 12-ounce sugary drink every day, check out Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Emanuel's proposed property taxes and garbage fees could pump up Chicago's budget by $600 million


  1.  5 fast facts you should know about Illinois taxes

  2. State Rep. Avery Bourne Q & A: Meet the General Assembly's youngest member

  3. How dependent are we on Illinois' sin taxes?

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14 Years Later: A Mantra for 9/11

Tue, 2015-09-08 10:57

Mantra for 9/11
Fourteen Years Later, Improbable World
By Tom Engelhardt

Fourteen years later and do you even believe it? Did we actually live it? Are we still living it? And how improbable is that?

Fourteen years of wars, interventions, assassinations, torture, kidnappings, black sites, the growth of the American national security state to monumental proportions, and the spread of Islamic extremism across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa. Fourteen years of astronomical expense, bombing campaigns galore, and a military-first foreign policy of repeated defeats, disappointments, and disasters. Fourteen years of a culture of fear in America, of endless alarms and warnings, as well as dire predictions of terrorist attacks. Fourteen years of the burial of American democracy (or rather its recreation as a billionaire’s playground and a source of spectacle and entertainment but not governance). Fourteen years of the spread of secrecy, the classification of every document in sight, the fierce prosecution of whistleblowers, and a faith-based urge to keep Americans “secure” by leaving them in the dark about what their government is doing. Fourteen years of the demobilization of the citizenry. Fourteen years of the rise of the warrior corporation, the transformation of war and intelligence gathering into profit-making activities, and the flocking of countless private contractors to the Pentagon, the NSA, the CIA, and too many other parts of the national security state to keep track of. Fourteen years of our wars coming home in the form of PTSD, the militarization of the police, and the spread of war-zone technology like drones and stingrays to the “homeland.” Fourteen years of that un-American word “homeland.” Fourteen years of the expansion of surveillance of every kind and of the development of a global surveillance system whose reach -- from foreign leaders to tribal groups in the backlands of the planet -- would have stunned those running the totalitarian states of the twentieth century. Fourteen years of the financial starvation of America’s infrastructure and still not a single mile of high-speed rail built anywhere in the country. Fourteen years in which to launch Afghan War 2.0, Iraq Wars 2.0 and 3.0, and Syria War 1.0. Fourteen years, that is, of the improbable made probable.

Fourteen years later, thanks a heap, Osama bin Laden. With a small number of supporters, $400,000-$500,000, and 19 suicidal hijackers, most of them Saudis, you pulled off a geopolitical magic trick of the first order. Think of it as wizardry from the theater of darkness. In the process, you did “change everything” or at least enough of everything to matter. Or rather, you goaded us into doing what you had neither the resources nor the ability to do. So let’s give credit where it’s due. Psychologically speaking, the 9/11 attacks represented precision targeting of a kind American leaders would only dream of in the years to follow. I have no idea how, but you clearly understood us so much better than we understood you or, for that matter, ourselves. You knew just which buttons of ours to push so that we would essentially carry out the rest of your plan for you. While you sat back and waited in Abbottabad, we followed the blueprints for your dreams and desires as if you had planned it and, in the process, made the world a significantly different (and significantly grimmer) place.

Fourteen years later, we don’t even grasp what we did.

Fourteen years later, the improbability of it all still staggers the imagination, starting with those vast shards of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, the real-world equivalent of the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand in the original Planet of the Apes.  With lower Manhattan still burning and the air acrid with destruction, they seemed like evidence of a culture that had undergone its own apocalyptic moment and come out the other side unrecognizably transformed.  To believe the coverage of the time, Americans had experienced Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima combined.  We were planet Earth's ultimate victims and downtown New York was “Ground Zero,” a phrase previously reserved for places where nuclear explosions had occurred.  We were instantly the world’s greatest victim and greatest survivor, and it was taken for granted that the world’s most fulfilling sense of revenge would be ours.  9/11 came to be seen as an assault on everything innocent and good and triumphant about us, the ultimate they-hate-our-freedoms moment and, Osama, it worked. You spooked this country into 14 years of giving any dumb or horrifying act or idea or law or intrusion into our lives or curtailment of our rights a get-out-of-jail-free pass. You loosed not just your dogs of war, but ours, which was exactly what you needed to bring chaos to the Muslim world.    

Fourteen years later, let me remind you of just how totally improbable 9/11 was and how ragingly clueless we all were on that day. George W. Bush (and cohorts) couldn’t even take it in when, on August 6, 2001, the president was given a daily intelligence briefing titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” The NSA, the CIA, and the FBI, which had many of the pieces of the bin Laden puzzle in their hands, still couldn’t imagine it. And believe me, even when it was happening, I could hardly grasp it.  I was doing exercises in my bedroom with the TV going when I first heard the news of a plane hitting the World Trade Center and saw the initial shots of a smoking tower. And I remember my immediate thought: just like the B-25 that almost took out the Empire State Building back in 1945. Terrorists bringing down the World Trade Center? Please. Al-Qaeda? You must be kidding. Later, when two planes had struck in New York and another had taken out part of the Pentagon, and it was obvious that it wasn’t an accident, I had an even more ludicrous thought.  It occurred to me that the unexpected vulnerability of Americans living in a land largely protected from the chaos so much of the world experiences might open us up to the pain of others in a new way. Dream on. All it opened us up to was bringing pain to others.

Fourteen years later, don’t you still find it improbable that George W. Bush and company used those murderous acts and the nearly 3,000 resulting deaths as an excuse to try to make the world theirs?  It took them no time at all to decide to launch a “Global War on Terror” in up to 60 countries.  It took them next to no time to begin dreaming of the establishment of a future Pax Americana in the Middle East, followed by the sort of global imperium that had previously been conjured up only by cackling bad guys in James Bond films.  Don’t you find it strange, looking back, just how quickly 9/11 set their brains aflame?  Don’t you find it curious that the Bush administration’s top officials were quite so infatuated by the U.S. military?  Doesn’t it still strike you as odd that they had such blind faith in that military's supposedly limitless powers to do essentially anything and be “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known”? Don’t you still find it eerie that, amid the wreckage of the Pentagon, the initial orders our secretary of defense gave his aides were to come up with plans for striking Iraq, even though he was already convinced that al-Qaeda had launched the attack? ("'Go massive,' an aide’s notes quote him as saying. 'Sweep it all up. Things related and not.'")  Don’t you think “and not” sums up the era to come?  Don’t you find it curious that, in the rubble of those towers, plans not just to pay Osama bin Laden back, but to turn Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly Iran -- “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad.  Real men want to go to Tehran” -- into American protectorates were already being imagined?

Fourteen years later, how probable was it that the country then universally considered the planet’s “sole superpower,” openly challenged only by tiny numbers of jihadist extremists, with a military better funded than the next 10 to 13 forces combined (most of whom were allies anyway), and whose technological skills were, as they say, to die for would win no wars, defeat no enemies, and successfully complete no occupations?  What were the odds?  If, on September 12, 2001, someone had given you half-reasonable odds on a U.S. military winning streak in the Greater Middle East, don’t tell me you wouldn’t have slapped some money on the table.

Fourteen years later, don’t you find it improbable that the U.S. military has been unable to extricate itself from Iraq and Afghanistan, its two major wars of this century, despite having officially left one of those countries in 2011 (only to head back again in the late summer of 2014) and having endlessly announced the conclusion of its operations in the other (only to ratchet them up again)?

Fourteen years later, don’t you find it improbable that Washington’s post-9/11 policies in the Middle East helped lead to the establishment of the Islamic State’s “caliphate” in parts of fractured Iraq and Syria and to a movement of almost unparalleled extremism that has successfully “franchised” itself out from Libya to Nigeria to Afghanistan? If, on September 12, 2001, you had predicted such a possibility, who wouldn’t have thought you mad?

Fourteen years later, don’t you find it improbable that the U.S. has gone into the business of robotic assassination big time; that (despite Watergate-era legal prohibitions on such acts), we are now the Terminators of Planet Earth, not its John Connors; that the president is openly and proudly an assassin-in-chief with his own global “kill list”; that we have endlessly targeted the backlands of the planet with our (Grim) Reaper and Predator (thank you Hollywood!) drones armed with Hellfire missiles; and that Washington has regularly knocked off women and children while searching for militant leaders and their generic followers?  And don’t you find it odd that all of this has been done in the name of wiping out the terrorists and their movements, despite the fact that wherever our drones strike, those movements seem to gain in strength and power?

Fourteen years later, don’t you find it improbable that our “war on terror” has so regularly devolved into a war of and for terror; that our methods, including the targeted killings of numerous leaders and “lieutenants” of militant groups have visibly promoted, not blunted, the spread of Islamic extremism; and that, despite this, Washington has generally not recalibrated its actions in any meaningful way?

Fourteen years later, isn’t it possible to think of 9/11 as a mass grave into which significant aspects of American life as we knew it have been shoveled?  Of course, the changes that came, especially those reinforcing the most oppressive aspects of state power, didn’t arrive out of the blue like those hijacked planes.  Who, after all, could dismiss the size and power of the national security state and the military-industrial complex before those 19 men with box cutters arrived on the scene?  Who could deny that, packed into the Patriot Act (passed largely unread by Congress in October 2001) was a wish list of pre-9/11 law enforcement and right-wing hobbyhorses?  Who could deny that the top officials of the Bush administration and their neocon supporters had long been thinking about how to leverage “U.S. military supremacy” into a Pax Americana-style new world order or that they had been dreaming of “a new Pearl Harbor” which might speed up the process?  It was, however, only thanks to Osama bin Laden, that they -- and we -- were shuttled into the most improbable of all centuries, the twenty-first.

Fourteen years later, the 9/11 attacks and the thousands of innocents killed represent international criminality and immorality of the first order.  On that, Americans are clear, but -- most improbable of all -- no one in Washington has yet taken the slightest responsibility for blowing a hole through the Middle East, loosing mayhem across significant swathes of the planet, or helping release the forces that would create the first true terrorist state of modern history; nor has anyone in any official capacity taken responsibility for creating the conditions that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, possibly a million or more people, turned many in the Greater Middle East into internal or external refugees, destroyed nations, and brought unbelievable pain to countless human beings.  In these years, no act -- not of torture, nor murder, nor the illegal offshore imprisonment of innocent people, nor death delivered from the air or the ground, nor the slaughter of wedding parties, nor the killing of children -- has blunted the sense among Americans that we live in an “exceptional” and “indispensable” country of staggering goodness and innocence.

Fourteen years later, how improbable is that?

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Tom Engelhardt

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My Q and A With Michael Breus, aka The Sleep Doctor

Tue, 2015-09-08 10:30
Dr. Michael Breus is a clinical psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is the author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. In answer to my questions, he shared his thoughts on the major obstacles to getting a good night's sleep, the steps you can take to improve your sleep, and the future of sleep technology.

What are the major challenges Americans face in getting a good night's sleep today?

I think that there are two major challenges Americans face in getting a good night's sleep: stress and making sleep a priority. People stress about things going on in their lives, and they also stress about sleep, and both of these make sleep more difficult. When it comes to making sleep a priority, a lot of people engage in sleep procrastination, which is to say they put sleep off, thinking they simply have too much to do to sleep. It's the I'll-sleep-when-I'm-dead syndrome. The number one complaint I hear patients say in my office when we talk about an inability to fall asleep is: "Dr. Breus, I can't turn off my brain"

And it is true. Just think about it for a minute. Throughout your day, you are constantly being bombarded with people asking you questions, expecting you to do things, running non-stop from here to there. But when you get in bed at night, and your turn off the light, and your bed partner is not talking, and you finally have just a little alone time, your brain kicks into overdrive.

· What do I need to do tomorrow?

· What did I do wrong today?

· What things did I not get to today that now need to be on my list for tomorrow?

This list can go on forever. But then, in many cases, something else happens. After you've spent some time with these stressful thoughts rolling around in your mind, and you think that you might have a handle on tomorrow, you look at the clock, and then you get stressed about your sleep.

· Oh no, it is 1:00 a.m., and I have not fallen asleep.

· Here we go again, I am going to be exhausted tomorrow.

· Maybe I need to take a sleeping pill, is it too late?

I call this situation Wired and Tired, and it is usually due to stress and anxiety. People tend to forget that sleep is not an on/off switch. It is more like slowly pulling your foot off the gas and slowly putting it on the brake. There is a process that needs to occur and we need to give ourselves the time and tools to reduce stress before trying to sleep. Our lifestyles, in many cases, do not support our own sleep needs. Working to the point of exhaustion, only to do it over and over again, is a vicious cycle and cannot lead to true rest.

Making sleep a priority over work, fun, or other responsibilities, will actually help someone perform better at all the tasks they were doing before bed! This is easy to give lip service to, but putting sleep high on our list compels us to change our behaviors.

We get much of our health information from our doctors. For the past 15 years, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has worked incredibly hard to educate non-sleep physicians about all of the sleep disorders, but specifically sleep apnea. It's been a great effort, but it is just not enough.

Sleep is the only topic that is absolutely and immediately relevant to everyone's lives. Sleep education needs to be taught in schools and as general education to the masses. I am suggesting a nationwide campaign to the general public. Sleep is the foundation of all wellness. No researcher, educator, politician, or celebrity ought to talk about any aspect of wellness, without also acknowledging that good-quality sleep affects all aspects of health. There is not an organ system or disease state where sleep is not critical. When I post my blogs, do national television appearances, see patients, and write books, I am trying my best to get the word out about the importance of sleep. While this does help change some minds, the true motivator is often personal to each individual. Looking at your story, you actually had your "Wake-up Call" when you smacked your head so hard after falling asleep that you needed stitches. Pain appears to have been a great motivator for you, as it is for most people. But it does not have to be that way. We can all avoid the physical and emotional pain often required to change, and simply open our eyes to the importance of sleep, and integrate it into our own lives as well as the lives of our children, family, friends, and employees. It merely requires us to all take a good long look at our sleep, have credible resources to guide us, and commit to make a positive change.

What trends are you seeing in the sleep industry today? What do you see as the future of sleep technology?

Looking at sleep medicine I see a few really amazing things happening. The current research environment is fast-paced and exciting. We are continuing to learn more and more about all of the sleep disorders. Innovation has infiltrated sleep medicine.

For example, Merck has just completed development and launched a new medication for insomnia, with a completely unique mechanism of action from anything else the research community has ever seen. Historically, most of the pharmaceutical interventions for insomnia have worked in an area of the brain called the VLPO (the sleep switch) and tried to increase GABA (a.k.a, the brakes of the brain). This new medication actually turns off the "wake switch" by decreasing a neurotransmitter called orexin. Orexin turns out to be a neurotransmitter scientists identified when researching the idea of balance, or homeostasis, in the brain. People with narcolepsy have fewer orexin receptors. And orexin influences the wake switch. How amazing is it that we are learning about insomnia from narcoleptics!

Another real breakthrough comes in the area of Restless Legs Syndrome. RLS occurs when a person has a disruptive feeling in their legs -- a sensation of crawling under the skin -- which often prevents sleep. These sensations can only be relieved with potent anti-Parkinsonian medication or by getting up and moving around, something that's hard to do when you want to go to sleep. A small group out of San Clemente, California (Relaxis) has discovered that by using a counter-stimulus not only could they reduce the length of the attack, but in many cases reduce the frequency of attacks. They developed a vibrating pad that is placed under the legs of someone suffering from an RLS attack. The hypothesis is that RLS is a misfire from the brain, and by sending a counter signal (like a noise-cancellation headphone) it helps the brain cancel out the misfiring signal.

In the world of sleep apnea we have seen a technology surge with the rise of the Home Sleep StudyTest(HST). The excuses that many people have for not being evaluated for sleep apnea are that they: 1) do not have time, 2) don't want to spend the night in strange place, or 3) feel confined by all the wires. With the home evaluation, those excuses no longer apply. These small units do an excellent job of measuring sleep apnea, and will allow for diagnoses in more of the supposed 24% of men and 18% of women with sleep apnea. In addition, the number-one treatment for sleep apnea, the CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine) has become significantly more sophisticated. These machines help push air gently to open a collapsed throat. But now these machines have become "smart." They can tell when an airway needs increased or decreased pressure based on sleeping position, sleep stage, even compromised lung function. People can also wake up each day to see how well they slept, as can their doctors, who can make changes to their devices remotely. For those who do not tolerate CPAP, the world of oral or dental appliances to treat sleep apnea is also getting more and more sophisticated. These appliances are molded by board-certified dentists and can open an airway without the need for a CPAP. While they tend to work best with more mild cases, these can work well for many people. Finally, the use of EPAP (Provent) has really been nothing short of amazing. Provent is a small band-aid type of valve that is placed on the outside of the nose. While it lets 100% of air in, it closes a little bit when a person exhales and causes a negative pressure system to open up the airway without a dental device or a CPAP. It is also disposable and can be disposed of after every use. Most of the most common sleep disorders have seen breakthroughs in treatment and diagnosis.

In the consumer world of sleep the list is endless for new products but I see new trends in two areas: self-monitoring devices and solutions through invention. I went to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) this year and in health you could not turn a corner without seeing a device to monitor health-related signals, including sleep. There is a sincere interest by consumers to learn more about their sleep. The quality of the devices, and signals being monitored, seemed to vary significantly. Everything from an app (the least accurate) that measures movement and data that the consumer will enter manually to a wearable (more accurate, but can be bothersome) that can measure movement, heartrate, blood pressure, and sleep stages. These devices can also monitor more than just sleep, and can give a comprehensive look into a person's overall health through metrics. There were also a few bedside or inside-the-bed devices that, while only measuring sleep, are very easy to use and very accurate. My only real complaint is that very few devices actually tell a person what to do with their data, to improve sleep.

I also saw an increasing trend of new sleep-related comfort devices on Kickstarter! It has been impressive to see how many inventors are looking into the wonderful world of sleep. I have seen devices to make people sleep warm or cool, have light only on their side of the bed, help parents with night terrors, and help women sleep better based on their menstrual cycles. I am trying, as quickly as possible, to learn more about each of them and their technology. The trend and future is in people wanting to increase the sleep experience. Interest in sleep is growing, and I personally am thrilled to see it. Sleep is on the cutting edge of technology in so many ways.

You treated everyone from athletes to celebrities -- what steps can even the busiest of people take to improve their sleep today?

While most people do not like this answer, the truth is it will depend upon several factors. Genetics play a huge role in sleep improvement. Many people are simply born with the genetic gift of good sleep, while others are not. For example, there is research suggesting that many people with insomnia actually have a significant amount of underlying autonomic arousal, which can prevent them from getting good sleep. Autonomic arousal is like the RPMs that the engine of your body is running while moving around and trying to sleep. We also know that whether you're a morning person (an early bird), or a night person (a night owl) is based on genetics. Furthermore, we know that some people are born with certain genes for sleep disorders like narcolepsy, and other people are born with specific anatomy that can lead to sleep apnea.

But genetics alone will not entirely determine your sleep quality or quantity. Our environment is important as well. I believe that sleep is a performance activity, and the better equipment you have the better you are likely to perform. For example, if you are a genetically gifted runner you can likely enter just about any race. In fact, you could probably race with flip-flops, cut-off shorts, and an old tee shirt, with a radio in your hand and still cross the finish line is decent time. But if you have the right running shoes, dry-fit wear, a heart monitor and some great music, your time, or performance, would be even better!

The same holds true for sleep. We can all benefit from setting up an environment for better sleep. Researching the right mattress and pillow can be a daunting task. I teach people how to do it, and I even go shopping with them to help them find the right bed. It is not about how much money you spend, but rather about understanding your body and your needs and matching those needs to the right equipment. For example, one of the simplest things a person can do is to make sure that they are using the right pillow, understanding that the pillow they need at the beginning of the week may be different by the end of the week. Reducing exposure to light, since it is the biggest disruptor of melatonin, can be a huge factor in improving sleep. Companies like Lighting Sciences have special bulbs that filter out blue light at night, so a person is not reading in bed while telling the brain it is morning out. Reducing sound by using a sound machine is also quite helpful. (Consumer Reports did a study to find sound machines work better than sleeping pills.)

I often tell my busiest patients these five steps for sleep improvement (as detailed in my book: The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan):

1) Maintain a similar sleep schedule. This is really the number one issue. When a person stays roughly on the same schedule, sleep drive is higher and the circadian rhythm is on track. As it turns out, bedtime is not as important as wake-up time. If you stay up late, or cannot fall asleep, that could actually help increase sleep drive in the case of an insomniac. But if you are a regular sleeper, staying within a 30-minute window each evening and morning (even on the weekend) will be the easiest way to improve sleep quality.

2) Eliminate caffeine after 2:00 p.m. (and stay away from energy drinks in the afternoon or evening). While tough, it really makes sense. Most people do not know it but caffeine can have anywhere from a 6-9 hour half-life. This means that it takes this long for about half of the caffeine to leave your system, which is about when it will stop affecting your sleep. Not everyone is the same. Different people have different sensitivities to caffeine. Stop by 2 o'clock and you will be able to get to sleep around 10:30 p.m. Energy drinks in general should be considered a sign to the user that there could be something that they are missing that's making them need an energy drink. While I understand using these drinks under certain circumstances, such as for a long car trip, if you are using them regularly, this is a real sign that something else may be going on.

3) Stop drinking alcohol three hours before bed. It takes the average human about an hour to digest a single alcoholic beverage. That said, if you want a beer, wine or mixed drink with dinner, even two, that is fine, but make sure that you also drink one glass of water for each beverage, and wait one hour after the last sip (per beverage) before lights out. So if you have two drinks and end your meal by 8:00 you will not want to go to bed before 10.

4) Exercise daily -- but stop about four hours before bed. One of the quickest ways to improve sleep quality is with daily exercise. About 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day will improve sleep. But be careful and do not exercise too close to bedtime otherwise it may disrupt your ability to "wind down" for bed.

5) Get 15 minutes of sunlight every day. Most people do not know this, but sunlight re-sets your circadian rhythm, since it stops the production of melatonin. Getting just 15 minutes of direct light in the morning is a great way to burn off the "morning mental fog," get some much needed Vitamin D, and re-set your clock.

Looking at the challenges represented by a busy schedule it doesn't matter if you are a celebrity, a mother, a business person, a professional athlete or the president, following a few of these simple steps can make a huge difference.

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What It Means To Be Authentic: Chef Michael Taus

Tue, 2015-09-08 09:04
I often wonder what is more important to chefs these days. Is it the food or is it stardom?

With the proliferation of food festivals, social media blitzes and reality TV deals, it seems that being a celebrity might be the highest priority. However, with Chef Micheal Taus of Taus Authentic, it is refreshing to experience a chef that hasn't succumbed to celebrity chef mania. "I care about every table. I care about every detail," Chef Taus told me while filming the videos below in preparation for the September 14 Dinner Party. "I talk to every table. This is a mom and pop place. I care about every person who walks through." And he means it. Authentic is right!

Chef Taus is smart to be so in-tune to his clientele. The dining world has changed and restaurant competition is tougher than ever. The diner has also changed. Distracted by cell phone pictures and proving to their friends that they are in the right place at the right time, one has to be at the top of their game to keep the diner's attention.

To make sure every dish is perfect, Chef expressed to me the importance of not doing too much to the food. "Timing and exceptionally fresh ingredients are everything," he said during filming breaks. And after 20 years of offering fine dining at his previous restaurant, Zealous, Taus wanted to bring his kind of attention to detail to causal dining. Voila Taus Authentic! Attention to detail is also why Chef Taus is such an ardent supporter of The Trotter Project and grateful for all that he learned from the master himself while working at Charlie Trotter's restaurant early in his career.

At Taus Authentic, Chef Taus makes food that is near and dear to his heart, the sort of food he learned how to make growing up. Hence, on The September 14th Dinner Party, Chef Taus will be making his grandmother's secret recipe for a Ricotta Tart with Heirloom Tomatoes, Olives, Walnut Pesto and Lavender Honey and Slagel Farm Flat Iron Steak in his special Chimichurri Sauce. Enjoy the videos below and tasting Chef's incredible dishes at the September 14th event.

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Why We Celebrate Labor Day

Mon, 2015-09-07 09:33
This Labor Day, Americans across the country will be heading to the beach, barbecuing with their families, or spending some hard earned dollars at the local mall. However, it's important that we take the time to remember what today is all about -- a recognition of the achievements of the labor movement and a celebration of the strength and resiliency of the American worker.

The modern labor movement that began around the mid-19th century has given us many of the basic working rights that we now take for granted. Thanks to the relentlessness and courage of our unions, workers now enjoy the 40 hour work week, minimum wage, sick leave, workers compensation, overtime pay, and child labor laws, among a host of other rights. In addition, unions have long been the foundation of our middle class and helped create the most competitive workforce in the world -- a workforce that made America the economic power it is today.

But as union memberships have shrunk, so has the share of income going to middle class families. This is no coincidence. Unions have long championed measures to reduce social and economic inequality and efforts to weaken the labor movement at both the state and federal level have successfully stalled any progress.

Between 1948 and 1973, when union representation was at its highest, workers who produced more were adequately compensated for their efforts. Over that period, productivity rose by almost 97 percent and hourly compensation of a non-supervisory manufacturing worker rose by a little over 91 percent. But the erosion of collective bargaining, beginning in the 1970's, quickly caused wages to lag behind productivity. Between 1973 and 2013, productivity rose by over 74 percent, but wages only grew by a paltry 9 percent.

Instead of focusing on attacking unions and the labor movement, we need to find ways to strengthen and empower workers so we can put more money in the pockets of middle class families. But what does it mean to strengthen and empower workers?

It means promoting more unionization and the use of collective bargaining; not less, as many states have tried to do through so called right-to-work laws.

It means paying workers a fair and livable wage, starting with increasing the minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 for the last six years despite prices rising by 11 percent over the same period.

It means providing workers with equal pay for equal work and ending years of wage discrimination suffered by women who on average earn 78 cents for every dollar that men earn.

And it means promoting policies that encourage a proper balance between work and family through access to paid sick leave, affordable child care, and paid parental leave.

So by all means, kick back, relax, and enjoy this time spent with family. But also take a moment to remember why we observe Labor Day and just how much more we need to do to strengthen and empower workers throughout our country.

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Guy Has World's Loneliest Bachelor Party After Friends' Flights Get Canceled

Fri, 2015-09-04 16:16

There are three words no man should ever have to say at a bachelor party: "Table for one."

Thanks to a handful of canceled flights Thursday evening, that's been the reality of Robbie* Chernow, a New Yorker who flew into Chicago for his friend Jake's bachelor party this weekend, then ended up carrying the torch alone.

 *("Too immature for Robert and not cool enough for Rob," he told HuffPost.)

"The original plan was for me to get here a few hours earlier, but when I got here I found out that the two other flights with the bachelor and others in the party had both been canceled," Chernow explained to The Huffington Post, sending along a photo of a canceled ticket as proof of the mishap, "and they couldn't rebook in a timely fashion -- thanks Delta!"

Despite his friends' absence, Chernow, who does improv, determined to push on through each of the planned events, documenting the hilariously sad trip on Instagram with the hashtag #chicagoforone.

"I've been sticking to our planned agenda pretty much step for step -- just alone," Chernow added. "I've also changed some little things ... since the scheduled "get ready" time is much shorter for one person than 10."

So far, he says, the highlight has been meeting Chicagoans, whom he describes as "encouraging and accommodating." Once he got over the initial shock, he's had a pretty great time -- despite his apparent sadness in every photo.

Here's what Robbie has been up to so far:

He went to a Bears game! (They lost 24-0.)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 5:15pm PDT

"Apparently everyone in my section also tried to take Delta to get here."


He went on a boat ride!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 3:50pm PDT

"I have so much room on this boat for all my friends who's [sic] flights to Chicago got canceled."


He set up a Tinder profile! (In search of friendship)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 4:50pm PDT

Things got "real weird, real quick."

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 7:14pm PDT

He grabbed one of Chicago's famous Italian beef sandwiches!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 3, 2015 at 8:51pm PDT

"This is Theresa. She works at Portillo's. According to Theresa, 'these sandwiches are normally meant to be shared, but you seem sad enough to finish one by yourself.' Thanks, Theresa!"


He visited a spa! (Well, kind of...)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 4:57am PDT

He went to 360 Chicago to take in the view! (It was foggy, a fact the ticket agent had warned him about.)

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 6:52am PDT

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 7:15am PDT

He saw The Bean!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 5:47am PDT

"Both my hotel concierge Alex and new friends on Tinder agree -- The Bean at Millennial Park is a must for a great photo-shoot. 'It's the perfect for spot for a wacky photo with all your friends in front of the Chicago Skyline.' Thanks, Alex!"


He visited a park!

A photo posted by Robert Chernow (@rwchernow) on Sep 4, 2015 at 12:12pm PDT

Chernow told HuffPost his friends should be landing in Chicago sometime Friday afternoon, leaving plenty of time to celebrate before the group's planned departure on Monday. 

Until then, visit Chernow's Instagram page to follow along on what just might be the world's loneliest bachelor party.

Also on HuffPost:

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Poor Kids In Chicago Have More Options For Where To Go To School, But That's Not Necessarily Good

Fri, 2015-09-04 14:26

Long gone are the days when poor children in Chicago got trapped in failing neighborhood schools. Nowadays, families from low-income neighborhoods are more likely to send their kids to a greater range of types of schools than families from affluent areas, according to research from a Johns Hopkins University professor. But that doesn't necessarily mean these kids always get a richer educational experience. 

Using 2008-2009 data from Chicago eighth-graders about to enter high school, Johns Hopkins University professor Julia Burdick-Will tracked where students chose to attend school and compared it to the median income in their neighborhood. Burdick-Will, who presented her findings in late August to the American Sociological Association, found that children in affluent neighborhoods were more likely to go to school close to home, while lower-income students were more likely to leave their neighborhood by way of charter and open-enrollment schools.

Over the past few decades, Chicago has been at the forefront of education reform efforts, opening a sizable number of new charter and magnet schools that allow students to get an education outside their neighborhoods. In the fall of 2009, Burdick-Will found, 32 percent of students in the Chicago Public Schools decided to attend schools in their neighborhood. Most of these students came from affluent families, whose parents could afford the luxury of being deliberate in where they chose to live. Poorer children, on the other hand, typically chose to travel farther distances for school. 

This phenomenon is displayed in the graphic below. 

The idea that poor Chicagoans frequently leave their neighborhood for education contradicts the perception that low-income kids are often "trapped in underperforming local schools," according to Burdick-Will's paper on the subject. This perception often drives the arguments of school reform advocates in Chicago who push for greater school choice options.

"These findings suggest that there is room for much more heterogeneity in educational experiences within poor neighborhoods than is generally acknowledged," according to Burdick-Will's paper on the subject. "In poor neighborhoods school choice and parent resourcefulness combine in ways that break the link between residential and educational sorting."

Still, the fact that low-income families are more likely to exercise school choice should not be seen as a positive. The ability to not have to search for schools outside your neighborhood is the real privilege, said Burdick-Will. 

"Not having to participate in this complicated system is really a privilege. The most advantaged people really don’t have to figure out how to read the Chicago high school book. They don’t have to gather the information or spend a lot of time figuring out if charter school A is better than charter school B," she said.

She continued, "We tend to think of more money as more options and the problem with poverty as having less options. But some of it is reversed. Part of having resources is not having to. Life is simpler. There aren’t as many tradeoffs between finding a good housing unit and a good school."

Of the kids who exercised school choice to go to institutions outside their neighborhoods, many of them ended up in better schools. But not all of them.

Fifteen percent of students who chose to leave their neighborhood for school went to an institution that was objectively worse than the one they lived by, according to "freshman on-track rates." Seventy-two percent of kids end up in schools with higher test scores. 

When kids live in areas where most people opt not to attend a neighborhood school, they are more likely to choose poorly and attend a school that is worse than the one to which they've been assigned, Burdick-Will found. 

"I think there’s a sense of 'anywhere but here,'" said Burdick-Will of neighborhoods with high rates of educational heterogeneity. "You don’t know how what’s better and what’s not. Everyone is scattering so there’s no clear information about where to go."

The implications of how increased school choice impacts community bonds are still unclear. 

There is "potential for less social interaction among neighbors," said Burdick-Will. "Also, kids traveling long distances to school maybe less likely to participate in a late after school program. [They are] possibly just more socially isolated in general." 

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Video Could Be Key To Finding Alleged Killers Of Cop Charles Gliniewicz

Fri, 2015-09-04 13:24



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Hundreds of law enforcement officials on Friday pressed on with their search in northern Illinois for three suspects in the fatal shooting of a veteran policeman while police called a home security video among the most important pieces of evidence in the case.

The officers scoured the region of Fox Lake, located about 60 miles (97 km) north of Chicago and close to the Wisconsin border, for the men suspected in Tuesday's shooting of Fox Lake Police Lieutenant Charles Gliniewicz, 52.

 This undated photo provided by the Fox Lake Police Department shows Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Fox Lake, Ill.

The video was turned over to authorities by a police officer, Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko told CNN. The officer was told that images on the video matched the description of the two white men and one black man suspected in the case, Filenko said.

Filenko said it is still not known whether the video is relevant to the case "but at this point it's probably one of the most significant ones we've recovered."

The video was turned in Wednesday night, officials said.

A public viewing and funeral service for Gliniewicz have been set for Monday at Antioch High School in Antioch, Illinois, the sheriff's office said.


(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Will Dunham)

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