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Best Bacon Burgers in the U.S. (PHOTOS)

Wed, 2014-05-14 08:21
Chefs across the country are upgrading their amazing burgers with the ultimate finishing touch: incredible bacon that's smoked in-house or is sourced from cult producers like Allan Benton and Nueske. Here, F&W names the Best Bacon Burgers in the U.S.

-- F&W Editors

More from Food & Wine:

32 Incredible Burger Recipes

Amazing Veggie Burgers

Crazy Over-the-Top Burgers

25 Greatest Burgers in the Country

Amazing Seafood Burgers

There's A Glow-In-The-Dark Beach In The Maldives. Yes, Really.

Wed, 2014-05-14 07:00
There's a beach way down in the Maldives that looks like something out of a science-fiction fairytale. It's gorgeous, to say the least.

Taiwanese photographer William Ho was able to catch these phenomenal images on a recent honeymoon trip -- and we're so glad he did.

Ho was traveling through Mudhdhoo Island, and these particular photos were captured during his stay at luxury resort Dusit Thani.

The glowing specks are actually millions of bioluminescent phytoplankton, a "natural part of the ecosystem" that appears during a beach's red tide, according to Michael Latz, a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

Latz further explains that red tides are very easily seen during the day, when the water takes on a sort of red-orange hue. At night, however, the phytoplankton carry a different effect.

The organisms react to any type of stress or change in tension, emitting light from their cells anytime something breaks the water: a wave, a kayak or even your hand. We're calling it, informally, the "firefly effect."

And here's some good news: This incredible Pixar-esque view doesn't only happen in the Maldives. There are a few other places where you could occasionally catch sight of this unpredictable occurrence, such as Puerto Rico, Jamaica and even Belgium.

But stateside, your best is sunny San Diego. You know, if you camp out long enough and consider yourself generally lucky, you may find yourself uttering...

Is this real life?

Clearly, no.

We're living in a dream.

And nothing is as it seems.

Note: This is TOTALLY real life -- may we suggest getting down to San Diego as quickly as possible?

Chicago Airports Cancel 1,120 Flights After Electrical Problem In Radar Facility

Wed, 2014-05-14 01:59
CHICAGO (AP) — About 1,120 flights were canceled Tuesday at Chicago's two major airports after an electrical problem sent smoke into a regional radar facility's control room, forcing officials to temporarily halt all air traffic at one of the nation's busiest aviation hubs.

The Federal Aviation Administration said all personnel were evacuated from the radar facility in suburban Elgin at about 11:30 a.m. They were allowed to return about three hours later. The Chicago Department of Aviation said a limited number of landings and departures had resumed by late afternoon.

Elgin Fire Capt. Anthony Bialek said a bathroom exhaust fan in a ceiling overheated and melted insulation on some wires, and smoke was pushed through the facility's ventilation system and into the control room.

Bialek said it took about an hour to find the source of the smoke at Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON. There were no injuries.

Controllers at the TRACON facility are responsible for managing the region's air traffic as it leaves and approaches all of the area's airports. Once an aircraft is within about 5 miles of an airport, TRACON workers hand over control to that airport's tower.

Inbound flights already in the area at the start of the shutdown were handled by a backup air traffic facility in the city of Aurora, just west of Chicago. Some flights were diverted to other airports.

Aerial TV footage Tuesday afternoon showed a large backup of aircraft along taxiways at O'Hare International Airport. Inside the terminals, people trying to rebook on later flights formed long lines.

David Winter of Sarasota, Florida, said he and his wife, Denise, would stay overnight in Chicago after their flight was canceled.

"My wife hates to fly ... so she literally asked me if we could rent a car and drive," Winter said, adding that they ruled it out and were rebooked on a Wednesday flight.

Instead, the retired couple stopped off at an airport cocktail lounge.

"So, obviously, we're not in dire straits," he said.

As of about 3:30 p.m., arrivals at O'Hare were about 75 percent of normal — 72 an hour compared with the normal of about 106 per hour, said Doug Church, a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union that represents controllers. Departures were operating normally, he said.

O'Hare is the second-busiest airport in the country by numbers of passengers and is a major hub. Around half of passengers there are connecting to other flights.

Any disruption to its operations has an enormous ripple effect on the nation's aviation system.

The Chicago Aviation Department said departures were delayed about 90 minutes late Tuesday at O'Hare and 2½ hours at Midway International Airport.

A computer glitch at a similar facility last month forced a 45-minute shutdown at Los Angeles International Airport.

8 Elevator Rides That Were Way Crazier Than Solange And Jay Z's

Tue, 2014-05-13 17:48
Smashed beer bottles. Cocaine. Sex. Defecation. Survival.

While the Solange-versus-Jay Z altercation has taken the world by storm this week, it's definitely not the craziest thing that has ever happened in an elevator. Below are eight elevator rides that are almost too insane to be true.

1. Hall and Oates first met in an elevator after escaping from a gang-related gun fight.

In 1967, the now-famous musicians were performing separately at a Philadelphia radio station music showcase when a gunfight broke out between rival gangs attending the show. It just so happened that the two, Daryl Hall and John Oates, both ran into the same elevator to avoid getting shot, and pop history was made.

In John Oates' words:

There was a teenage record-hop held by one of the local R&B stations. We were both independently invited to go to this thing and lip-synch our singles. That's what you did in those days. You go onstage, they play the record, you pretend to sing. We were actually in the backstage area of this hall. It was in West Philly, bad neighborhood. It was the Five Stairsteps, Howard Tate, Daryl's group, and my group. We were all kind of waiting to go on. And this fight broke out. Guns. Chains. God knows what. Everybody running. And Daryl and I just went down the big service elevator. We got in and we went down to the bottom together.

2. A beach-goer got high on cocaine and then couldn't stop biting a hotel elevator door. He later fought a cop.

A 24-year-old staying at a hotel in Virginia Beach got so high on cocaine that he started biting an elevator door, before fighting the cop that tried to apprehend him. The cop described him as "out of control" when he found the man with his teeth locked to the door.

After being arrested, the beach biter admitted that the cocaine he injected was "crazy and bad."

3. A brother and sister were caught having sex in a Scottish train station elevator. Twice.

A 21-year-old man and his 17-year-old sister were caught having sex in the elevator of the Motherwell train station in Lanarkshire, Scotland. According to surveillance footage, the two had sex, left the elevator and then went back in shortly after to have sex again. Both of them avoided jail time, but had to go to court, where the man was sentenced to two years of probation and his sister was sentenced to one year.

The brother and sister have both blamed each other for the act. The sister later claimed she was drunk at the time and didn't remember the incident. The brother claimed she initiated and he "went along with it."

4. A serial elevator flasher couldn't stop showing his man bits.

Maryland was plagued by a serial elevator flasher in 2013. The man would reportedly follow women onto a lift and then expose himself. Apparently, he had a consistent routine of dressing like a business man with draped laundry over his shoulder, which he'd remove to show his crotch parts.

Thankfully, the flasher ended up being caught by the police.

5. A woman allegedly took a dump in an elevator during a visit to a Florida courthouse.

While at the St. Lucie County Courthouse in Florida earlier this year, a 49-year-old woman allegedly defecated in the corner of an elevator. Security cameras caught the act and the woman was apparently seen fiddling with her pants after exiting the elevator. This, of course, did not help her impending court cases.

Using elevators as bathrooms isn't all that rare, apparently. In 2013, a woman was arrested for allegedly urinating in a hotel elevator. After being confronted about the incident, she claimed her friend "had told her a funny joke that made her urinate onto the floor of the elevator."

6. A New York food delivery person was stuck in an elevator for 80 hours. Unfortunately, he'd already delivered his last order at the time.

Ming Kuang Chen, a New York City delivery person at the time, was stuck in an elevator for 80 hours back in 2005 without food and water. Unfortunately, Chen had already delivered his last meal before the incident. Security workers claimed they didn't realize there was a problem because Chen couldn't speak English over the emergency intercom. When he was eventually saved, Chen was apparently in fine condition and was only treated for mild dehydration. That said, the whole ordeal was a mentally taxing experience which caused Chen to claim, "I'm afraid to go anywhere dark now."

A similar thing also happened in New York City in 1999, when a 34-year-old production manager at Business Week named Nicholas White was trapped in his office building's elevator for 41 hours. White was just trying to go on a smoking break and ended up having to pee by prying the elevator doors open slightly. Although he could pry the doors open, he was stuck on a floor where the doors opened to a solid concrete wall instead of an actual opening.

7. Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had a beer bottle smashed against his head in an elevator and responded by throwing punches.

During the 1981 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was assaulted in a Los Angeles hotel elevator. The night of the assault, the Yankees had just lost their third straight game to the Dodgers. Steinbrenner was alone in the hotel elevator with two drunk men when they began insulting him, which led him to respond with some sort of obscenity. After Steinbrenner spoke, he was hit in the head by a beer bottle. The 51-year-old then threw three punches and apparently knocked down the Dodgers fans.

Steinbrenner held a midnight press conference that day, saying, "I clocked them. There are two guys in this town looking for their teeth and two guys who will probably sue me." He was never sued.

8. A woman survived a 75-story fall down the Empire State Building's elevator shaft after a plane smashed into the building.

A U.S. Army B-25 bomber smashed into the side of the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945. The crash left 14 people dead, including the pilot, who had accidentally flown into the then-tallest building in the world due to intense fog. One person who didn't die, however, was a 19-year-old elevator operator named Betty Lou Oliver, even though the crash caused the elevator cables to snap, plunging her 75 stories to the sub-basement. Her pelvis, back and neck were all broken, but she was alive.

Oliver ended up surviving until 1999, living to the age of 74.

BONUS: A "hunk" becomes a human chair with a heart of gold.

Earlier this year, "Hunk" Cesar Larios, an employee from the College Hunks Moving Junk, got stuck in an elevator with an elderly woman who said she couldn't stand for long periods of time. Larios offered himself as a human chair to help her make it through the ordeal.

Talking to HuffPost, Larios said:

The response to the picture is mind blowing. Thousands of people are sharing it and posting it on social media," Friedman told HuffPost. "I think what's great about it is that it's a genuine moment caught on camera. A lot of people say the younger generation has lost certain values. But one small picture shows that chivalry and hard work are still very much alive in our youth.

Image: Facebook of College Hunks Hauling Junk

10 Things You Should Never Ask During a Job Interview

Tue, 2014-05-13 14:20
Finding work is tough these days. Whether you'll be a new graduate, are a recent grad or someone who was laid off after 30 years in the workforce, the job market is as competitive as ever.

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the national unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.3 percent in April. However, when you take into account the 806,000 working-age people who stopped looking for jobs altogether -- an increase from 503,000 in March -- it brings the civilian labor force participation rate to a measly 62.8 percent.

Even more disheartening for Illinoisians, the state's unemployment rate sits above the national average at 8.4 percent, pending the release of April's jobless report.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 estimate, the total population of Illinois is roughly 12.88 million, and just over 6.5 million people make up the entire labor force.

With this in mind, nailing any upcoming job interviews you may have is crucial. For those who already have work experience, you probably know the do's and don'ts during an interview.

As for soon-to-be grads who will just be entering the job market, preparing, researching and asking good questions will put you in a better position to receive an offer. But, there are also plenty of bad questions that could ruin your chances.

Forbes came up with a list of 10 questions you should never ask during an interview. Some of these may seem like no-brainers, but even accidentally asking one of these questions could cause your resume to end up in the trash -- or recycling if they're environmentally friendly.

Next Article: No March unemployment luck for these Illinois cities

  1. How does Illinois' unemployment rate compared to the rest of the country?

  2. Illinois cities with the lowest unemployment rates.

  3. Tell your politicians what you think about a minimum wage increase using our Sound Off tool.

  4. Jack Franks: Quinn's tax plan sure to hurt Illinois business, jobs outlook.

  5. Cartoon: Illinois falling off the U.S. map

Don't forget to like Reboot Illinois on Facebook!

Shape Magazine Will Feature Blogger's Shirtless Post-Weight Loss Picture After All

Tue, 2014-05-13 13:21
Brooke Birmingham refused to put a shirt on for Shape magazine -- and now she won't have to.

Birmingham, who lost 172 pounds over four years, chronicled her weight loss journey on her healthy living blog, "Brooke: Not On A Diet." In early May, a representative from Shape magazine reached out to her about featuring her success story on the publication's website -- but things went south when the magazine allegedly refused to post an image of Birmingham in a bikini top, citing an editorial policy.

(Story continues below)

Birmingham took to her blog to voice her frustration and disappointment at Shape's decision. "If anything, they should want my picture on their site," she wrote. "My body is real, not photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed. This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini."

The story went viral, and Birmingham was invited to share her story on "Good Morning America," "HLN" and "The Today Show" in Australia. Representatives for Shape magazine claimed that the editorial policy requiring Birmingham to wear a shirt does not exist, and that the whole situation stemmed from a misunderstanding on the part of a freelance writer.

"I never thought that when I posted about me deciding to pull out from a story with Shape that it would go completely viral on the internet," Birmingham wrote in a May 12 blog post. "I just felt like I owed my readers an explanation and wanted to start a conversation."

Birmingham's mission to have her body accepted was finally accomplished when she appeared with Shape editor Bahar Takhtehchian on "The Today Show" on May 9 -- and Takhtehchian revealed that Birmingham and five other "real" women will be featured in the print magazine, with nothing to hide.

“We want to start a larger discussion about what happens after you lose a significant amount of weight,” Takhtehchian said. “Because truly, there is a journey after the weight-loss journey, and those are the questions and the issues that we want to talk to Brooke and the other ladies about.”

In her most recent blog post, Birmingham reports being pleased with Shape's decision, and writes that she and looks forward to inspiring other women:
When I posted the blog post, I wanted a conversation to happen and wanted to spark a change in magazines today. That is exactly what happened. I’m excited to now be working with Shape to feature women who have gone through an extreme weight loss and showing their readers what can happen not only physically, but also mentally when doing just that.

We're thrilled that Brooke stood her ground, and that Shape magazine is committing to presenting women's bodies just as they are -- no cover-ups required.

Patrick Kane's Playoff Mullet Is Inspiring A Mullet Revolution

Tue, 2014-05-13 12:54
There's a good reason you might be noticing a sudden influx of mullets walking around the Windy City these days.

When the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane continued his playoff tradition of getting his hair shaved into a mullet-inspired cut -- complete with the requisite racing stripes shaved into the side -- last month, it wasn't long before others followed suit.

Carmelo Preiti, general manager and barber at the 316 Club in Chicago, is responsible for Kane's signature cut and told WGN this week that between 20 and 30 people -- from adults to small children -- have come into his shop to get the Kane mullet since the playoffs began. He told the National Post he's noticed other mullets being sported at United Center games, proving he's not the only barber in town who's getting the request.

"It’s become a regular thing," Preiti said.

Among the latest adopters of the Kane mullet is teammate Brandon Saad, who also went to Preiti to get a playoff mullet for the second consecutive year.

The Hawks have won the Stanley Cup two of the three previous times Kane has sported the mullet. They will face off with the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Here is the 2014 edition of the Kane mullet in all its glory:

If I learned anything from making a C4-powered wooden car in shop class, it's that racing stripes make it go faster.

— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 17, 2014

Patrick Kane mullet update. #Blackhawks

— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) April 22, 2014

Global Issues Are Connected to Local Issues

Tue, 2014-05-13 12:15
Being a mom is a tough job here in America, and according to a recent report, it is only getting harder. According to Save the Children's 15th annual State of the World's Mother's Report, the U.S. ranks 31st in the rankings of the best and worst countries in the world for moms to live. Notably, since 2000 the U.S. has dropped down from its place in the top 10. While reading the report, I could not help but ask, "How have we backslid so significantly and what can be done to change this trend?"

The report references natural disasters such as hurricanes Sandy and Katrina as causes for the descent, as well as a surge in high-risk pregnancy among obese mothers and those with high blood pressure. Another contributing factor to the lower ranking is the limited participation of women in our government. That's because, when women have access to resources and the power to allocate those resources, they direct them to improving the lives of families and communities.

There is no doubt that global issues are connected to local issues. Both internationally and domestically, maternal health is at the center of concern, especially as we near the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals that focus on preventable child and maternal deaths. According to the report, the risk that a 15-year-old girl will die during her lifetime from a maternal cause has increased by 50 percent in America, from one in 3,700 to one in 2,400 today. We are going in the wrong direction.

The increase in maternal mortality can be attributed to women entering pregnancies in poor health (hypertension, diabetes, obesity), the lack of well-women care, and women having short birth intervals. African-American mothers are more than three times as likely to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts. It does not have to be so. We have models that address these very challenges in our own community.

Locally, EverThrive Illinois is an organization that is working to decrease maternal mortality in Illinois. EverThrive works to improve the health of women, children and families over the lifespan through community engagement, partnerships, policy analysis, education and advocacy. EveryThrive's Executive Director, Janine Lewis says:

The causes of maternal mortality are multifaceted -- in the U.S. and Chicago, risk factors include chronic disease, obesity and short birth intervals. A sustained focus on preconception and interconception care is important to improve the health of women before they become pregnant.

The solutions here in Chicago are the same as those around the globe. Chicago Foundation for Women is supporting all of them. Whether it is advocating for policies against the shackling of pregnant prisoners (CLAIM), or funding services that help teen moms with parenting and staying in school (Teen Parent Connection), or ensuring that single working mothers have opportunities to earn living wages with career ladders (the Eleanor Network at Chicago Foundation for Women); or the community health workers/doulas who work with pregnant women to ensure healthy deliveries and breastfeeding (HealthConnect One), the investments we make have a lasting impact on improving the lives of women and girls. We are working to create a city safe for mothers so their children have a chance to reach their full potential. I hope you'll consider joining us or one of the local solutions I've identified. Together we can move Chicago, and the United States, back at the top of the rankings for the best places for mothers -- where it belongs.

Availability Of State-funded Pre-K Varies Widely

Tue, 2014-05-13 11:25
WASHINGTON (AP) — The availability of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs varies widely from one part of the country to another, says a new report.

For example, more than 9 in 10 4-year-olds in the District of Columbia attended such a program during the 2012-13 school year, while 10 states have no such program. A number of states had fairly high enrollments, according to the report released Tuesday, though slightly lower than the District. More than 7 out of 10 4-year-olds in Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont were in such programs, while about 6 in 10 in Iowa, Georgia, West Virginia and Wisconsin were enrolled.

In fact, even as lawmakers from both parties have embraced the idea of expanding early childhood programs, the number of children enrolled in state preschool programs saw a modest decline of about 9,200 children in the 20-2013 school year — the first such reduction since 2002, when researchers at Rutgers University started tracking pre-K trends. Even as funding increased from a year earlier, more than half of states with programs made cuts. California alone, for example, lost nearly 15,000 slots.

Overall, $5.4 billion was spent by states on pre-K funding for about 1.3 million preschoolers.

The report is from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers in collaboration with the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics.

Given announcements of support by politicians for preschool, Steven Barnett, the director of the institute at Rutgers, said he expected more growth to be reflected in the findings, and yet, "the numbers aren't there."

"We were very surprised," Barnett said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the data is a "reminder of how much work we still have to do to ensure that every child gets a running start."

President Barack Obama has advocated for universal preschool for America's 4-year-olds. He's found Democratic allies in the effort on Capitol Hill, but Republicans such as Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education Committee, have said improving existing federally funded early childhood programs should be the priority.

Outside of Washington, governors from both parties have advocated for creating or expanding preschool. In Indiana, GOP Gov. Mike Pence, for example, signed into law in March a new pilot program for low-income children. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, recently successfully pushed through an expansion of about 1,000 preschool slots.

Those changes aren't reflected in the report's findings, nor are program expansions passed in New York that could have New York City alone add tens of thousands of children to state-funded preschool programs, possibly as soon as the fall.

Supporters say preschool programs help level the playing field for young children who enter kindergarten well behind their peers and never catch up, and members of the business community are among those advocates for preschool expansion. But the quality of such programs varies.

No states require preschoolers to attend school. Some states seek to offer it universally. Others base eligibility on family income. Under some setups, a community-based program receives public dollars. Other programs are within elementary schools.

While some states offer state-funded preschool to 3-year-olds, the programs are much more popular for 4-year-olds.

The District of Columbia serves about three-quarters of 3-year-olds. New Jersey and Vermont serve about 1 in 5 3-year-olds.

Public preschool programs can cost thousands of dollars per child annually. The District of Columbia — the highest spender — spent $14,690 per child in the 2012-13 school year, according to the report.

Barnett has said previously that about half of U.S. children attend any kind of preschool program at ages 3 and 4, and for about a third of these children it is a publicly supported program.

A separate study by the Education Commission of the States finds that in the current fiscal year, 30 states and the District of Columbia increased appropriations for state-funded preschools.

2 Florida Health Workers Ill After Exposure To MERS Patient

Tue, 2014-05-13 10:43

May 13 (Reuters) - Two health workers at a hospital in Orlando, Florida who were exposed to the second patient in the United States with a confirmed case of MERS have now begun showing symptoms, and one of the two healthcare workers has been hospitalized.

Officials at the Dr P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando said on Tuesday the two healthcare workers were exposed to the patient in the emergency department before it became clear that the patient might have the Middle East Respiratory Virus or MERS, an often deadly virus that was first discovered in the Middle East in 2012. The second healthcare worker is being isolated in his home and watched for signs of infection. (Reporting by Michele Gershberg and Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

How I Met Edward Snowden

Tue, 2014-05-13 06:57
“I Have Been to the Darkest Corners of Government, and What They Fear Is Light”

Cross-posted with

[This essay is a shortened and adapted version of Chapter 1 of Glenn Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State, and appears at with the kind permission of Metropolitan Books.]

On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.

The contact came in the form of an email from someone calling himself Cincinnatus, a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who, in the fifth century BC, was appointed dictator of Rome to defend the city against attack. He is most remembered for what he did after vanquishing Rome’s enemies: he immediately and voluntarily gave up political power and returned to farming life. Hailed as a “model of civic virtue,” Cincinnatus has become a symbol of the use of political power in the public interest and the worth of limiting or even relinquishing individual power for the greater good.

The email began: “The security of people’s communications is very important to me,” and its stated purpose was to urge me to begin using PGP encryption so that “Cincinnatus” could communicate things in which, he said, he was certain I would be interested. Invented in 1991, PGP stands for “pretty good privacy.” It has been developed into a sophisticated tool to shield email and other forms of online communications from surveillance and hacking.

In this email, “Cincinnatus” said he had searched everywhere for my PGP “public key,” a unique code set that allows people to receive encrypted email, but could not find it. From this, he concluded that I was not using the program and told me, “That puts anyone who communicates with you at risk. I’m not arguing that every communication you are involved in be encrypted, but you should at least provide communicants with that option.”

“Cincinnatus” then referenced the sex scandal of General David Petraeus, whose career-ending extramarital affair with journalist Paula Broadwell was discovered when investigators found Google emails between the two. Had Petraeus encrypted his messages before handing them over to Gmail or storing them in his drafts folder, he wrote, investigators would not have been able to read them. “Encryption matters, and it is not just for spies and philanderers.”  

“There are people out there you would like to hear from,” he added, “but they will never be able to contact you without knowing their messages cannot be read in transit.” Then he offered to help me install the program.  He signed off: “Thank you. C.”

Using encryption software was something I had long intended to do. I had been writing for years about WikiLeaks, whistleblowers, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous, and had also communicated with people inside the U.S. national security establishment. Most of them are concerned about the security of their communications and preventing unwanted monitoring. But the program is complicated, especially for someone who had very little skill in programming and computers, like me. So it was one of those things I had never gotten around to doing.

C.’s email did not move me to action. Because I had become known for covering stories the rest of the media often ignores, I frequently hear from all sorts of people offering me a “huge story,” and it usually turns out to be nothing. And at any given moment I am usually working on more stories than I can handle. So I need something concrete to make me drop what I’m doing in order to pursue a new lead.

Three days later, I heard from C. again, asking me to confirm receipt of the first email. This time I replied quickly. “I got this and am going to work on it. I don’t have a PGP code, and don’t know how to do that, but I will try to find someone who can help me.”

C. replied later that day with a clear, step-by-step guide to PGP: Encryption for Dummies, in essence. At the end of the instructions, he said these were just “the barest basics.” If I couldn’t find anyone to walk me through the system, he added, “let me know. I can facilitate contact with people who understand crypto almost anywhere in the world.”

This email ended with more a pointed sign-off: “Cryptographically yours, Cincinnatus.”

Despite my intentions, I did nothing, consumed as I was at the time with other stories, and still unconvinced that C. had anything worthwhile to say.

In the face of my inaction, C. stepped up his efforts. He produced a 10-minute video entitled PGP for Journalists.

It was at that point that C., as he later told me, became frustrated. “Here am I,” he thought, “ready to risk my liberty, perhaps even my life, to hand this guy thousands of Top Secret documents from the nation’s most secretive agency -- a leak that will produce dozens if not hundreds of huge journalistic scoops. And he can’t even be bothered to install an encryption program.”

That’s how close I came to blowing off one of the largest and most consequential national security leaks in U.S. history.

“He’s Real”

The next I heard of any of this was 10 weeks later. On April 18th, I flew from my home in Rio de Janeiro to New York, and saw on landing at JFK Airport, that I had an email from Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker. “Any chance you’ll be in the U.S. this coming week?” she wrote. “I’d love to touch base about something, though best to do in person.”

I take seriously any message from Laura Poitras. I replied immediately: “Actually, just got to the U.S. this morning... Where are you?” We arranged a meeting for the next day in the lobby at my hotel and found seats in the restaurant. At Laura’s insistence, we moved tables twice before beginning our conversation to be sure that nobody could hear us. Laura then got down to business. She had an “extremely important and sensitive matter” to discuss, she said, and security was critical. 

First, though, Laura asked that I either remove the battery from my cell phone or leave it in my hotel room. “It sounds paranoid,” she said, but the government has the capability to activate cell phones and laptops remotely as eavesdropping devices. I’d heard this before from transparency activists and hackers but tended to write it off as excess caution.  After discovering that the battery on my cell phone could not be removed, I took it back to my room, then returned to the restaurant.

Now Laura began to talk. She had received a series of anonymous emails from someone who seemed both honest and serious. He claimed to have access to some extremely secret and incriminating documents about the U.S. government spying on its own citizens and on the rest of the world. He was determined to leak these documents to her and had specifically requested that she work with me on releasing and reporting on them.

Laura then pulled several pages out of her purse from two of the emails sent by the anonymous leaker, and I read them at the table from start to finish. In the second of the emails, the leaker got to the crux of what he viewed as his mission:

The shock of this initial period [after the first revelations] will provide the support needed to build a more equal internet, but this will not work to the advantage of the average person unless science outpaces law. By understanding the mechanisms through which our privacy is violated, we can win here. We can guarantee for all people equal protection against unreasonable search through universal laws, but only if the technical community is willing to face the threat and commit to implementing over-engineered solutions. In the end, we must enforce a principle whereby the only way the powerful may enjoy privacy is when it is the same kind shared by the ordinary: one enforced by the laws of nature, rather than the policies of man.

“He’s real,” I said when I finished reading. “I can’t explain exactly why, but I just feel intuitively that this is serious, that he’s exactly who he says he is.”

“So do I,” Laura replied. “I have very little doubt.”

I instinctively recognized the author’s political passion. I felt a kinship with our correspondent, with his worldview, and with the sense of urgency that was clearly consuming him.

In one of the last passages, Laura’s correspondent wrote that he was completing the final steps necessary to provide us with the documents. He needed another four to six weeks, and we should wait to hear from him.

Three days later, Laura and I met again, and with another email from the anonymous leaker, in which he explained why he was willing to risk his liberty, to subject himself to the high likelihood of a very lengthy prison term, in order to disclose these documents. Now I was even more convinced: our source was for real, but as I told my partner, David Miranda, on the flight home to Brazil, I was determined to put the whole thing out of my mind. “It may not happen. He could change his mind. He could get caught.” David is a person of powerful intuition, and he was weirdly certain. “It’s real. He’s real. It’s going to happen,” he declared. “And it’s going to be huge.”

“I Have Only One Fear”    

A message from Laura told me we needed to speak urgently, but only through OTR (off-the-record) chat, an encrypted instrument for talking online securely.

Her news was startling: we might have to travel to Hong Kong immediately to meet our source. I had assumed that our anonymous source was in Maryland or northern Virginia. What was someone with access to top-secret U.S. government documents doing in Hong Kong?  What did Hong Kong have to do with any of this?

Answers would only come from the source himself. He was upset by the pace of things thus far, and it was critical that I speak to him directly, to assure him and placate his growing concerns. Within an hour, I received an email from Verax@******. Verax means “truth teller” in Latin. The subject line read, “Need to talk.”

“I’ve been working on a major project with a mutual friend of ours,” the email began. “You recently had to decline short-term travel to meet with me. You need to be involved in this story,” he wrote. “Is there any way we can talk on short notice? I understand you don’t have much in the way of secure infrastructure, but I’ll work around what you have.” He suggested that we speak via OTR and provided his user name.

My computer sounded a bell-like chime, signaling that the source had signed on. Slightly nervous, I clicked on his name and typed “hello.” He answered, and I found myself speaking directly to someone who I assumed had, at that point, revealed a number of secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs and who wanted to reveal more.

“I’m willing to do what I have to do to report this,” I said. The source -- whose name, place of employment, age, and all other attributes were still unknown to me -- asked if I would come to Hong Kong to meet him. I did not ask why he was there; I wanted to avoid appearing to be fishing for information and I assumed his situation was delicate. Whatever else was true, I knew that this person had resolved to carry out what the U.S. government would consider a very serious crime.

“Of course I’ll come to Hong Kong,” I said.

We spoke online that day for two hours, talking at length about his goal. I knew from the emails Laura had shown me that he felt compelled to tell the world about the massive spying apparatus the U.S. government was secretly building. But what did he hope to achieve?

“I want to spark a worldwide debate about privacy, Internet freedom, and the dangers of state surveillance,” he said. “I’m not afraid of what will happen to me. I’ve accepted that my life will likely be over from my doing this. I’m at peace with that. I know it’s the right thing to do.” He then said something startling: “I want to identify myself as the person behind these disclosures. I believe I have an obligation to explain why I’m doing this and what I hope to achieve.” He told me he had written a document that he wanted to post on the Internet when he outed himself as the source, a pro-privacy, anti-surveillance manifesto for people around the world to sign, showing that there was global support for protecting privacy.

“I only have one fear in doing all of this,” he said, which is “that people will see these documents and shrug, that they’ll say, ‘We assumed this was happening and don’t care.’ The only thing I’m worried about is that I’ll do all this to my life for nothing.”

“I seriously doubt that will happen,” I assured him, but I wasn’t convinced I really believed that. I knew from my years of writing about NSA abuses that it can be hard to generate serious concern about secret state surveillance.

This felt different, but before I took off for Hong Kong, I wanted to see some documents so that I understood the types of disclosures the source was prepared to make.

I then spent a couple of days online as the source walked me through, step by step, how to install and use the programs I would need to see the documents.  

I kept apologizing for my lack of proficiency, for having to take hours of his time to teach me the most basic aspects of secure communication. “No worries,” he said, “most of this makes little sense. And I have a lot of free time right now.”

Once the programs were all in place, I received a file containing roughly twenty-five documents: “Just a very small taste: the tip of the tip of the iceberg,” he tantalizingly explained.

I unzipped the file, saw the list of documents, and randomly clicked on one of them. At the top of the page in red letters, a code appeared: “TOP SECRET//COMINT/NO FORN/.”

This meant the document had been legally designated top secret, pertained to communications intelligence (COMINT), and was not for distribution to foreign nationals, including international organizations or coalition partners (NO FORN). There it was with incontrovertible clarity: a highly confidential communication from the NSA, one of the most secretive agencies in the world’s most powerful government. Nothing of this significance had ever been leaked from the NSA, not in all the six-decade history of the agency. I now had a couple dozen such items in my possession. And the person I had spent hours chatting with over the last two days had many, many more to give me.

As Laura and I arrived at JFK Airport to board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, Laura pulled a thumb drive out of her backpack. “Guess what this is?” she asked with a look of intense seriousness.


“The documents,” she said. “All of them.”


For the next 16 hours, despite my exhaustion, I did nothing but read, feverishly taking notes on document after document. One of the first I read was an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, which had been created by Congress in 1978, after the Church Committee discovered decades of abusive government eavesdropping. The idea behind its formation was that the government could continue to engage in electronic surveillance, but to prevent similar abuse, it had to obtain permission from the FISA court before doing so. I had never seen a FISA court order before. Almost nobody had. The court is one of the most secretive institutions in the government. All of its rulings are automatically designated top secret, and only a small handful of people are authorized to access its decisions.

The ruling I read on the plane to Hong Kong was amazing for several reasons. It ordered Verizon Business to turn over to the NSA “all call detail records” for “communications (i) between the United States and abroad; and (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” That meant the NSA was secretly and indiscriminately collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, at least. Virtually nobody had any idea that the Obama administration was doing any such thing. Now, with this ruling, I not only knew about it but had the secret court order as proof.

Only now did I feel that I was beginning to process the true magnitude of the leak. I had been writing for years about the threat posed by unconstrained domestic surveillance; my first book, published in 2006, warned of the lawlessness and radicalism of the NSA. But I had struggled against the great wall of secrecy shielding government spying: How do you document the actions of an agency so completely shrouded in multiple layers of official secrecy? At this moment, the wall had been breached. I had in my possession documents that the government had desperately tried to hide. I had evidence that would indisputably prove all that the government had done to destroy the privacy of Americans and people around the world.

In 16 hours of barely interrupted reading, I managed to get through only a small fraction of the archive. But as the plane landed in Hong Kong, I knew two things for certain. First, the source was highly sophisticated and politically astute, evident in his recognition of the significance of most of the documents. He was also highly rational. The way he chose, analyzed, and described the thousands of documents I now had in my possession proved that. Second, it would be very difficult to deny his status as a classic whistleblower. If disclosing proof that top-level national security officials lied outright to Congress about domestic spying programs doesn’t make one indisputably a whistleblower, then what does?

Shortly before landing, I read one final file. Although it was entitled “README_FIRST,” I saw it for the first time only at the very end of the flight. This message was an explanation from the source for why he had chosen to do what he did and what he expected to happen as a result -- and it included one fact that the others did not: the source’s name.

"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end. I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed for even an instant. If you seek to help, join the open source community and fight to keep the spirit of the press alive and the internet free. I have been to the darkest corners of government, and what they fear is light.

Edward Joseph Snowden, SSN: *****
CIA Alias “***** ”
Agency Identification Number: *****
Former Senior Advisor | United States National Security Agency, under corporate cover
Former Field Officer | United States Central Intelligence Agency, under diplomatic cover
Former Lecturer | United States Defense Intelligence Agency, under corporate cover"

Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and a Guardian columnist until October 2013, has earned numerous awards for his commentary and investigative journalism, including most recently the 2013 George Polk Award for national security reporting. In early 2014, he cofounded a new global media outlet, The Intercept. This essay is adapted from his new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State (Metropolitan Books), published today.

Excerpted and adapted from No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State by Glenn Greenwald, published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story.

Court Rules We Should Have A Say In What Comes Up When We're Googled

Tue, 2014-05-13 03:13

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Google and other search engines were thrust into an unwanted new role Tuesday — caretaker of people's reputations — when Europe's highest court ruled that individuals should have some say over what information pops up when their names are Googled.

The landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union will force search engines to decide when to censor computer users' search results across the 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people.

The decision — which cannot be appealed — was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in the Internet age. Others warned it could lead to online censorship.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing.

It has no immediate impact on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

But it could create logistical headaches for such companies by forcing them to make judgment calls about the fairness of information published on other websites.

In its ruling, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

"This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general," the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google's biggest markets, the decision isn't expected to have much effect on the company's earnings. That's because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren't worried. Google's most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It's unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company also has set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google's street-level photographic maps.

What Google and other search engines have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

These companies rely on formulas, or algorithms, and automated "crawlers" that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

"There's not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests — they just know they have to weigh the public interest," said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain's National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google's robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

"It's a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It's a joy," Costeja said.

He said that "ordinary people will know where they have to go" to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja's case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google's results.

Debates over the "right to be forgotten" — to have negative information erased after a period of time — have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and "quite a blow for Google."

"It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the 'right to be forgotten'," said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of "The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet."

Some limited forms of a "right to be forgotten" exist in the U.S. and elsewhere — for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government — not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU's top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that "data belongs to the individual" and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, "an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure."

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

"We need to take into account individuals' right to privacy," he said. "But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain ... it could lead to online censorship."




Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

These Historic Homes Look Like They're Out Of A Storybook. BP Is Demolishing Them.

Mon, 2014-05-12 16:44
Nearly a century of history appears at risk as an unusual enclave of historic, tudor-style homes is facing demolition at the hands of a bordering BP oil refinery.

Demolition of several buildings in the historic Marktown district of East Chicago, Indiana, began Monday.

The district, known for homes and narrow streets that recall a somewhat rundown village in rural England, is home to about 200 buildings. According to the Marktown Historic District's website, it was first built in 1917 by Clayton Mark to provide housing for workers at his nearby steel mill and other area factories.

The streets are so narrow that residents park their cars on the sidewalks and walk on the streets.

The town was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and all the homes originally built as part of the town were still standing. Until now.

Although Marktown was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, BP is going forward with a plan to demolish several Marktown buildings it has purchased with the intention of expanding the green space surrounding its Whiting refinery -- as well as adding another parking lot.

In an interview with WBEZ, BP spokesman Scott Dean defended the company's demolition plans because all of the buildings are privately-owned, telling the station the buildings' owners "have a right to sell their properties."

Any future demolitions have not yet been scheduled. Still, some Marktown residents wishing to continue the district's legacy fear their neighbors will begin to feel pressured to sell once some of the buildings face the wrecking ball. Ten buildings, all of which were vacant, were slated to be demolished Monday, WBEZ noted. Among them was the former site of the Marktown Hotel.

"They can’t make people leave," longtime Marktown resident Kim Rodriguez told the Chicago Sun-Times last month. "BP is waiting for the last homeowner to sell. How dare they try to take it away from us? And it angers me they can do what they want to people."

Below, photo evidence of the pastel-hued real-life storybook land -- or what once was a real-life storybook land:

Expanding IB Programs in Chicago Public Schools Helps Improve School Performance and Foster Collaboration

Mon, 2014-05-12 16:24
Recently, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) made a landmark announcement to expand the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in five Chicago public schools benefiting more than 1500 students and creating the largest IB Network in the nation. The goal of the expansion is to help increase global mindedness and enhance academic rigor so students are better prepared to problem solve in a real world setting. This progress and continued expansion is commendable and I am proud of CPS for this pledge.

I founded the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), a charter school on the southwest side of Chicago, with the dream to reimagine public education. I had a vision that every one of our students would learn and apply concepts like math, science and history into the context of globally relevant lessons and challenges. I wanted to integrate competencies like critical thinking, independent learning, intercultural understanding and creativity into their everyday school experience. I was committed to ensuring that our students were prepared with the skills necessary to be the greatest inventors of solutions to today's most pressing global challenges. To do this, AGC adapted the IB framework as part of our core philosophy and is an authorized IB primary school program.

Over the past six years, we have demonstrated that the IB Program is a solid framework for all types of learners, not just the academically advanced. When we adopted the IB Program, we knew it needed to work within our unique student population. Our student demographics mirror CPS averages almost perfectly: 79 percent low-income, 91 percent minority, and 20 percent SPED and 30 percent English language learners. And the results to date have been dramatic.

Through global partnerships with schools in countries like Uganda and Peru, students have had the opportunity to communicate with other students around the global to explore similarities and differences among cultures, helping to further put their learnings into context. Expanding the IB Program within Chicago allows us to provide students and families with another opportunity for a high-quality public education and a pathway to succeed in this growing international marketplace - studies have shown CPS students in IB Programe are 40 percent more likely to attend a four-year college with an almost 90 percent college retention rate. It is exciting to see Chicago examining its approach to education in order to move the needle on progress as well as better prepare our students for an increasingly global, interdependent future. If we do this right, together, we can reimagine public education.

Sarah Elizabeth Ippel is the founder and executive director of the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC). AGC is hosting its second annual celebrity chef-centered Chefs' Playground gala on May 15, where 20 culinary greats will gather to celebrate good food and AGC's vision to reimagine public education. Visit us at to learn more.

It Doesn't Get More '90s Than This Oprah Episode Devoted To The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Mon, 2014-05-12 15:41
On one totally tubular, very strange day in 1990, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took over Harpo Studios for an entire episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Before an audience of mostly 6- to 10-year-olds, plus one adult woman wearing a full-on TMNT costume, actors wearing denim-vested turtle suits portraying Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo spent the hour being interviewed by Oprah -- whom they call "babe" -- taking questions from their young fans and dancing to prerecorded songs off their (somehow) double-platinum, Pizza Hut-sponsored album "Coming Out of Their Shells."

The whole bizarre scene plays out in a video posted Sunday to YouTube by New York-based comedy writer Brett White.

Actors portraying television reporter and turtle buddy April O'Neil ("not bad for a girl," according to the turtles) and, yes, the evil Shredder ("like a bad can opener") also made appearances in the episode.

The turtles' revealed their three favorite flavors of pizza -- pepperoni and jelly bean, peanut butter and tuna fish, and extra cheese and Jujubes -- before ending one of Winfrey's 14 "most unlikely" episodes with an on-stage, Oprah-inclusive dance party to "Pizza Power."

Cowabunga, dudes! This happenin' clip is totally worth your time.

Anti-Marijuana Group Excitedly Rushes To Fundraise Off 3-Year Old Obama Quote

Mon, 2014-05-12 15:26
Monday morning, anti-marijuana group Project SAM sent out a fundraiser email exclaiming that big news had just occurred with regards to President Barack Obama's drug policy stance.

"Huge News!" the letter signed by SAM chairman and co-founder former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) opens. "At a YouTube Town Hall, the President just stated, plainly and emphatically, that he is 'not in favor of legalization.'" The email then linked back to a YouTube video clip of the president saying those exact words.

However, as Reason's Jacob Sullum first pointed out, while it is true that Obama did express those thoughts, what isn't true is that he "just" said them. The president actually said them more than three years ago, during a January 2011 YouTube town hall -- hardly the "huge news!" the fundraiser letter suggests in its opening.

The email goes on to say that Project SAM "continues to keep up the pressure", which, as Sullum note,s suggests that SAM is taking credit for something Obama said two years before the anti-marijuana group was founded.

When pressed about the fundraiser email by Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell on Twitter, Project SAM responded with this:

@tomangell It was a simple mistake. We apologized. @jacobsullum has never made one? @KevinSabet We're making strides. @ChristineTatum

— Project SAM (@learnaboutsam) May 12, 2014

But Angell told The Huffington Post that the fundraiser email is an example of something more than just a "simple mistake."

"It reveals an embarrassing inability or unwillingness to check simple facts before engaging in public cheerleading and shameless fundraising," Angell said. "The fact is, when President Obama made these remarks in 2011, it signaled just how mainstream the legalization debate has become, as it was the first time a sitting president had ever said that ending prohibition is a legitimate topic for debate. Fast forward a few years and, despite SAM's protestations, the president has clearly said that it is 'important' for marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington to go forward, and he's instructed his Justice Department to stand out of the way. With that in mind, it's easy to see why Kevin Sabet and SAM are so desperate to latch on to anything they mistakenly think will help their side."

Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser to the Bush and Obama administrations and representative for Project SAM, told HuffPost that it was an "honest mistake" and that the group was told by a supporter that the quote was from 2014.

As of Monday afternoon, SAM updated the video description on YouTube, properly citing that it was from 2011, and also disabled the comments on the video.

In a headline-grabbing January interview with the New Yorker's David Remnick, Obama said he believes marijuana is no more dangerous to individuals' health than alcohol. In that same interview Obama also expressed a much more nuanced view on drug policy than the Project SAM email, mistake or not, was suggesting. Of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, the president said it was "important for it to go forward" because of the selective application of U.S. drug law.

“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” Obama said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties. We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”

While black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rate, blacks are nearly four times as likely than whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession, according to a recent American Civil Liberties Union report.

Most of the people being arrested aren't drug kingpins either. Fifty-two percent of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana, and according to the ACLU's analysis, most of the arrestees were in possession of small amounts of the drug.

Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, with the first sales beginning in Colorado on Jan. 1 2014.

Why Is Illinois' Unemployment Lagging Behind the Rest of the Nation?

Mon, 2014-05-12 15:21

According to data released for March 2014, Illinois' unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, which was the third-worst rate in the country. You can see a map of all 50 states' unemployment rates here.

Illinois lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of unemployment is nothing new... it has been that way since the recession. But why can't the Land of Lincoln catch up? Why does it have to be stuck in the pack at the back?

Crain's Chicago Business columnist Paul Merrion believes he has some answers to that question. Merrion writes:

Illinois' stubbornly high unemployment is the result of several factors, including the severity of the state's housing slump, which has badly hurt the construction industry. The decades-long decline in manufacturing has continued, while neighboring states like Indiana and Michigan have a larger share of the rapidly improving auto industry, the only part of the sector that is rebounding. Meanwhile, jobs in retailing and financial activities in Illinois also continued to decline here while the rest of the nation recovered.

We've got more of Merrion's thoughts, along with the possible future of the income tax hike in Illinois and what Chicago voters want instead of a property tax (hint: it affects commuters) in today's lowdown.

Take This Quiz To Find Out How Badly You've Been Duped By Snapple 'Facts'

Mon, 2014-05-12 13:18
Is a goldfish's attention span really three seconds?

No doubt you've heard some version of this statement -- it pre-dates the Internet -- but just because Snapple says it's true doesn't make it so. Three seconds? Definitely not! The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, a British charity, found the little fishes can store at least 24 hours' worth of memory in their smaller-than-a-pea-sized brains. And yet this is the very first "Real Fact," which began appearing on bottle caps in 2002.

Giving people incorrect information about goldfish brains is just the beginning of Snapple's problems with the truth. With a name that's either intentionally ironic or sadly unaware, many "Real Facts" are simply untrue, despite the company's claim to go through "a process every year of looking over the facts," as the company's vice president of marketing told The Atlantic in October 2013.

Take the quiz below to test your bullshit-o-meter and answer the question: Are you smarter than Snapple?

At the end, click the key icon to see the answers!

Quiz widget by

While many Snapple facts are straight up false, a few more are just too absurd to pin down without some pretty extensive research. Professor Richard A. Davis, chair of the Department of Statistics at Harvard University, believed "Real Fact" #824 ("On average a man spends about five months of his life shaving") might have been verifiable "through various studies," for example. But the inherent vagueness of "average" would make it quite hard to confirm.

Most of the incorrect statements showed up earlier in the list, suggesting Snapple's fact-checkers got more thorough over time. Some of the facts have also been "retired" -- so it's possible the false statements are out of circulation -- but the website offers no way to tell which are still being printed.

Unfortunately, Snapple declined to comment.

Man Fed 1-Year-Old Child Marijuana Laced Cake: Cops

Mon, 2014-05-12 12:14
A Chicago man fed a 1-year-old boy and his mother some marijuana-laced cake, then lied about its contents, police say.

Emmanuel Ekaette, 23, was arrested Saturday and charged with aggravated battery and child endangerment, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Ekaette allegedly showed up to the victims' home holding a cake, but the mother was skeptical.

"She asked several times" why there was leafy green material in the cake, "and he told her it was spices," Assistant State's Attorney Sean Brady said in court, ABC reports.

The woman felt "hazy" and took the boy to the hospital for a drug test. Both tested positive for marijuana, prosecutors said. The woman later said that the marijuana exacerbated her anxiety disorder, according to The Chicago Tribune.

When Ekaette was confronted by police Saturday, he turned the cake over and reportedly admitted to knowing it was full of marijuana.

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Betcha Didn't Know These 10 Famous People Were From Illinois!

Mon, 2014-05-12 10:57
Illinois is known for a lot of things: corruption, debt, taxes, wasteful spending. But, I think it would be beneficial for our collective mental well-being to take a quick break from depressing you with another top 10 list about Illinois' serious problems.

There's actually a decent amount of famous native Illinoisians, most of whom don't live here anymore -- if they are in fact still living. From writers, movie stars and politicians to notorious criminals, here are 10 famous people you may or may not have known are from Illinois.

Next article: Top 5 weirdest laws in Illinois.

  1. Illinois brought in record tax revenues last year and still can't find a way to ease the deficit. How will raising taxes help? Use our Sound Off tool to tell your politicians no more!

  2. Why it'll cost you because Illinois is drowning in debt.

  3. This infographic provides a snapshot of the scope of Chicago's pension trouble.

  4. Rauner could help state GOP in Nov., but don't expect miracles.

  5. Democrats approve $100 million Obama presidential library; moves to the House.

Don't forget to like Reboot Illinois on Facebook!