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This McDonald's Ad Beats Any World Cup Shot So Far

Mon, 2014-06-16 13:23
You'll definitely get a kick out of McDonald's new World Cup ad.

The nearly two-minute video features a number of amateur football players performing some truly astounding soccer trick shots, all of which are completely legit.

That's right, no computer-generated imagery was used in the making of this fun little video, according to DDB Chicago, the agency that created it.

"I can confirm there was no CGI used on the film," a spokesperson for DDB told AdWeek. "It was definitely all trick shots by those people."

What's more, as AdWeek notes, the ad also features no McDonald's food whatsoever. And that's a welcome relief all of its own.

I Don't Diet, I Just Go Vegetarian

Mon, 2014-06-16 10:37
This is part two of a series in which I attempt to take on four different lifestyle diets in four weeks. For the past few years, I've dubbed myself a flexitarian -- I don't eliminate anything from my diet, and enjoy all types of food in moderation. However, I think it's time for me to assess what foods actually work well with my body -- and what foods don't. As always, talk with a doctor before undergoing any rapid change in diet.

There are always a ton of comments made at a vegetarian's expense: "Where do you get your protein?" or "You don't eat meat at ALL?!" and "Why are you doing this? You must be hungry a lot."

Well, here's a little secret: While I still eat meat on occasion, if I buy it, it comes with an organic and grass-fed label or from the farmers market up the street. (While meat labels unfortunately can be flawed due to a bureaucratic government/Big Ag system, it's always good to be aware of what you consume. Being informed is but a mere first step.) However, I wanted to take this a step further, and see if I could actively not eat meat, seafood, and some other animal-tinged products.

I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian for the entirety of last week, so I was able to enjoy dairy products and eggs. (What can I say -- I'm a cheese enthusiast, and after last week's paleo experience, I figured some dairy was in order.) However, like paleo, there is only one concrete rule for vegetarianism: no meat. Some people go lacto-vegetarian, where diary products are consumed, or choose to be an ovo-vegetarian where eggs are acceptable sans diary. There's also pescatarianism where seafood is deemed acceptable. Since there seems to be some flexibility in what 'going vegetarian' actually means, I felt I had to answer some questions in the process.

What does it mean to really be vegetarian?

You likely consume a ton of fruits, vegetables, and grains, but still lack in that wonderful vitamin B12.

No, really, it's true.

Eggs and cheese are also up for grabs, should you choose to accept that mission. However, did you know most cheese contains an animal component known as rennet? In fact, most European cheese is far from being vegetarian-friendly. Depending how strict you are, a lot of cheese produced in the U.S. opts for 'vegetarian' rennet as opposed to regular rennet, which originates from milk in a calf's stomach. And speaking of weird animal inclusions in food, beer is also a product that might contains isinglass, or fish bladder, thanks to the brewing process. Who knew?

Needless to say, I avoided the Guinness and other beers.

If it's vegetarian-friendly, does that necessarily mean it's health-friendly?

Going from eating a lot of meat, vegetables, and fruit last week to shedding my carnivorous skin has been an interesting move. Reintroducing legumes, starches, and grains back into my diet proved to be an interesting and somewhat fulfilling choice. I immediately started gathering any and all vegetarian recipes I could find: black-bean burgers, different takes on pizza and salads, and grain-based dishes. Who knew that going vegetarian would result in some personal culinary innovation?

Black-bean and red pepper burgers with chipotle 'mayo', and a side summer salad with honey mustard dressing

And then came the 'meat substitutes'.

They never sound appetizing -- intriguing, sure, but have you ever met someone who has a sincere craving for tofu? (I'm not sure I have, but I'm certain there's someone out there.) While a lot of vegetarians consume soy byproducts (tempeh and tofu) and wheat gluten (seitan) for protein and other nutrients, this commodity comes at a slight price: They are usually super processed to create density and texture. (And don't get me started with avid eaters of the uber-famous brands that dish out soy dogs, burgers, etc.)

I will admit that I have a soft spot for seitan and its magic ability to mimic the feel of meat in a dish. However, is it any wonder that while giving up meat, vegetarians who choose to eat anything that resembles meat are stuck with ultra-processed choices?

Smoky tofu salad with carrot and broccoli slaw

Of course, comparing meat to processed soybeans and wheat gluten is like comparing apples to oranges (excuse the food pun). In giving up potentially factory-farmed meat in favor of going vegetarian, you might just be taking in factory-revised, ultra-processed soybean and wheat products. Of course, while the benefits of giving up meat run far and wide, the food processing issue still rears its ugly head. Take a look at the ingredients label on your next 'fake meat' or tofu container.

On a personal note, I was a bit lethargic, compared to last week. Compensating for hunger, I found myself snacking a lot more on nuts and fruits in the morning, and throughout the day -- but it didn't prevent the sluggishness. The one thought that jabbed at my brain was when I would eat next.

Still, this change in diet was a lot easier to manage in terms of cooking, going out to dinner, and exploring various options at the farmers market. Plus, I saved a ton of money on my weekly food bill when I replaced buying meat with buying vegetables, fruit, tofu, and seitan. Can't beat that.

My final thoughts on vegetarianism? Dance through the produce section of your supermarket and/or farmers market to buy up seasonal fruits and veggies... and if you choose to enjoy tofu and the like, read, read, read those labels.

Stay tuned for my take on what happens when I become a veggie-blooded vegan next week.

Why You Should Treat Your Feet The Way You Treat Your Face

Mon, 2014-06-16 10:24
It's finally time for our tootsies to see the light after months of hibernation.

With your first pedicure of the season likely booked and your open-toed shoes poised for the occasion, your feet are ready for some serious TLC.

But Dr. Suzanne Levine, celebrity podiatrist and author of "My Feet Are Killing Me," says a pedicure here and there isn't enough when it comes to foot care. Not only can the salon treatment be dangerous, but Levine stresses we really should be pampering our body's foundation more often.

"People seem to neglect their feet," Levine says, noting that the oversight is a big mistake. "From calluses to cracked skin and nail issues, there's no other part of your anatomy that reflects age as dramatically."

Levine has witnessed clients spend thousands of dollars on Botox, lasers and Chanel suits only to look down and spot wrinkles, bunions and fungus south of the ankles. "Beyond beauty, what's even more important is that our feet are also often the first to show signs of more serious problems like arthritis, diabetes and vascular disease," she adds.

So from fashion to function, Levine's mantra is treat your feet the way you treat your face. Here's how:

1. Soak

Levine suggests you kick things off by soaking your feet for 5-10 minutes in warm water and Epsom salt, which helps eliminate toxins in the body. Aim to soak twice a week during sandal season since your feet are exposed to so many elements this time of year.

2. Scrub

In addition to washing your feet from top to bottom, make sure to scrub between your toes and underneath your nails. Levine recommends keeping a pumice stone in the shower and using it at least three times a week to exfoliate the skin and combat build up. "The key is minimizing callus formation," she says. "You'll notice your feet will start to feel as smooth as a baby's."

3. Mask

Levine uses a clay mask every two weeks to help remove oil and impurities deep within the skin, which will leave your tootsies looking and feeling refreshed (and smelling nice). For some extra care, she steps up her routine with a full-on foot facial once a month. The procedure at her New York City office also includes a glycolic peel, microdermabrasion and a collagen-promoting copper cream.

4. Massage

A good rubdown will "bring oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and take away wastes," writes Levine. Massage your feet frequently -- every day if you can -- with motions towards the heart (the direction of circulation) and your whole body will thank you.

5. Moisturize
Levine swears by products that contain at least 20 percent Urea, an ingredient that penetrates the skin to keep it soft and supple. As for nails and cuticles, she opts for olive oil or almond oil for hydration. Her best advice for moisturizing is to lotion up each night, paying special attention to the heels. "Put some socks on, go to sleep and give your feet a good rub with the pumice stone in the morning," she says.

6. Trim

Your nails are arguably the main focus of your feet, so be careful when you're clipping. "Cut them straight across and don't cut into the sides," urges Levine. "Otherwise, you could get painful ingrown nails."

7. Whiten

Last season's dark polish might have left your nails a little dull. Levine applies a mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to brighten them, but if they're really looking yellow, she breaks out a laser for professional-strength whitening.

8. Protect

Levine's final tip is no joke: wear sunscreen! One of the few body parts we rarely remember to apply sunscreen, be sure to slather it on from head to toe when you go out and about this summer.

The 14 Most F#$%ed Up Things About America's Obsession With Putting People Behind Bars

Mon, 2014-06-16 09:40
If being in prison were an occupation, it would be one of the most common jobs in the country. Yup, the U.S. is the world's superpower of incarceration: This country puts more of its citizens behind bars than any other nation. In fact, most states spend more money incarcerating prisoners than educating students. But it wasn't always that way. How did we turn into a nation that addresses its social ills by locking its citizens behind bars... and sometimes throwing away the key? Here's the breakdown of some of the most f#$%ed up things about America's prison obsession.

1. The total prison population has grown by 500 percent over the last 30 years.

The grand result? More than one out of 100 American adults is behind bars (about 2.3 million people, by the end of 2012) -- while a stunning one out of 35 American adults are imprisoned or under probation or parole supervision. That's a total of about 6.94 million people in the U.S. adult correctional systems, and police made nearly double that number of total arrests in 2012.

2. One of the biggest reasons for this spike? There are 12 times more drug offenders in state prisons than there were in 1980.

Drug offenders now make up nearly half of federal inmates and nearly 17 percent of state inmates. As of 2011, there were about half a million Americans serving time for drug offenses, most frequently on low to middle-tier trafficking or possession charges.

Under legal changes like the Rockefeller laws, mandatory sentencing and three-strike rules, America began sentencing thousands of low-income drugs users to decades in prison. These drug crimes don't frequently overlap with homicides: In 2007, FBI reports indicated that 3.9 percent of murders were directly linked to narcotics. What's more, nonviolent crimes are not typically deterred by tougher sentencing laws. While there's a push to lessen the sentences for federal and state drug offenders, many continue to serve the strict sentences of yesteryear. Weldon Angelos of California is just one such example:

In 2003, Weldon Angelos was sentenced to 55 years without parole for selling marijuana, allegedly while carrying a gun. Even the judge who handed down the mandatory sentence called the punishment "unjust, cruel and even irrational," and urged then-President George W. Bush to pardon Angelos. He remains in prison.

3. We lock people up for life like it's not someone's life.

Source: The Sentencing Project 2013 report, "Life Goes On: The Historic Rise In Life Sentences In America."

Life behind bars was once reserved for the most dangerous murderers, for whom rehabilitation did not seem an option. With 159,520 behind bars for life as of 2012, we hand out such sentences with astonishing frequency, and for a wide range of crimes. In 2013, 10,000 Americans were spending their lives in jail for non-violent crimes. Increasingly, these life sentences come without the possibility of being released on parole. For instance, Jeff Mizanskey is just one of many Americans serving life in prison without parole for non-violent drug crimes.

Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced to life-in-prison without the possibility of parole in 1993 under Missouri's "three-strikes" mandatory sentencing policy. All three of his convictions involved non-violent distribution of small amounts of marijuana. His son is petitioning the Missouri governor to grant his father clemency.

4. Currently, one-third of the world's entire imprisoned female population is awaiting trial or serving sentences in the U.S., mostly for nonviolent crimes. Many are mothers.

The rate of female incarceration is increasing at a rate nearly double that of male incarceration. Notably, 85-90 percent of female inmates have a history of domestic and sexual abuse, while nearly three-quarters of women in state prisons have mental health problems. These numbers are particularly disturbing when you consider what women face in prison: high rates of PTSD and a disproportionate rate of sexual assault, very often at the hands of prison staff.

Though the Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed more than a decade ago, only two states are currently in full compliance with the law, and a number of GOP governors across the U.S. have actually fought federal efforts to combat this epidemic, which affects both male and female prisoners at high rates.

5. We lock up more juveniles than any other developed country.

Of the youths under correctional supervision, 40 percent live in "correctional facilities" under prison-like conditions.

Source:Richard Ross,

Research indicates that two-thirds of those juveniles suffer from mental health problems. According to a national survey from 2010, more than two-thirds suffer from substance abuse problems, while seven out of 10 had seen someone killed or severely injured and three out of 10 had attempted suicide. While locked up, many juveniles suffering from these conditions did not receive mental health counseling or substance abuse treatment. Meanwhile, 42 percent live in fear of being physically attacked and 30 percent reported being physically and/or sexually abused. Almost a third say solitary confinement is used as punishment at their facilities. Meanwhile, juvenile inmates lack the educational resources to get prepared for a normal life upon release.

6. And we're one of the only countries that treats some juvenile offenders like adults.

An estimated 10,000 juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails every day. Children of color are disproportionately incarcerated in these facilities. Juveniles held in adult confinement are twice as likely to be violently attacked in prison, more likely to commit suicide and more likely to commit future crimes once released.

Today, an estimated 2,570 Americans are serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles. These crimes are typically committed in group scenarios, often under the direction of an adult. Black juveniles were far more likely to be sentenced to life in prison. It's some consolation that a recent Supreme Court decision discouraged future life sentences for juveniles. That led to the resentencing of some juvenile offenders, such as Kenneth Young.

Kenneth Young was 14 years old when he committed four armed robberies along with his mother's 24-year-old drug dealer in Florida. He received four consecutive sentences of life in adult prison without parole; the 24-year-old received one life sentence without parole. A change in state law gave Young a chance at resentencing, after which his sentence was reduced to 30 years in prison. His story inspired a recently released documentary, 15 To Life.

7. Racism permeates the system: More than 60 percent of those imprisoned are people of color, though they constitute only 30 percent of the total U.S. population.

To put that in perspective, there are currently more black men held within the criminal justice system (prison, jail, parole, probation) than were enslaved at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Much of this is a byproduct of racism in the war on drugs: Black Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana than white Americans -- even though white Americans were just as likely to use marijuana. Similar overall discrepancies occur for the youth population: Black youths are five times more likely to be incarcerated than white youths, while Latino and American Indian youths are two to three times more likely.

A 2003 Bureau of Justice report estimated that at current rates, black men born in 2001 have a 32.2 percent lifetime likelihood of incarceration -- in other words, one in three black men is likely to end up in prison. Meanwhile, some research indicated that black men serve between 14 and 20 percent longer prison terms than white men for the same crimes.

Source: "Imprisonment and Disenfranchisement of Disconnected Low-Income Men" from Race, Place, and Poverty: An Urban Ethnographers' Symposium on Low-Income Men, part of the Low-Income Working Families project.

8. These policies don't only affect those behind bars: One out of every 28 American children has a parent in prison or jail.

And two-thirds of those parents are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. Though research on these children's experiences is scarce, it is clear that having a parent in prison often fractures their home life. (The most recent data shows that approximately half of parents in prison lived with their children before incarceration.) These children often come from at-risk backgrounds of poverty, and research suggests that parental incarceration elevates their risks of drug abuse, school failure, unemployment and mental health problems like depression.

These problems are only exacerbated by the financial stress put on families -- over half of parents incarcerated were the main financial providers for their children. Their families' incomes will continue to suffer even after their parents are released. Federal Judge Mark Bernett reflected on the way the system dooms many of these children to the same fate as their parents, in an interview with the Nation.

"I have seen how they leave hundreds of thousands of young children parentless and thousands of aging, infirm and dying parents childless," he said. "They destroy families and mightily fuel the cycle of poverty and addiction. In fact, I have been at this so long, I am now sentencing the grown children of people I long ago sent to prison."

9. Meanwhile, big corporations are making a killing off of the prison system.

As prison populations grew over time, much of that growth directly fed into privately run, for-profit prisons owned by corporations like the CCA or GEO Group. Between 1999 and 2010, the number of inmates in private prisons grew by 80 percent, while during the same period of time, overall prison populations only grew by 18 percent. As Matt Taibbi wrote in his book, "The Divide," “The big influx of cash impressed investors on Wall Street. Overall, the corrections industry is one of the soundest stock/equity bets in the world, with soaring revenues -- the industry as a whole pulled in more than $5 billion in America in 2011.” Indeed, GEO Group's CEO, George Zoley, has become the wealthiest correctional officer in America, raking in $22 million between 2008 and 2012.

10. This creates financial incentive to put people behind bars... and keep them there.

Most private prison contracts mandate that the state or federal government keep 80 percent to 100 percent of prison beds occupied and institute fines for unused beds. These quotas create financial incentive to keep prisons filled; failure to do so means taxpayers pay the fine.

Private prisons also give lawmakers an easy way out. As Nicole Porter of The Sentencing Project told The Huffington Post, "Private prisons provide a safety valve to state and federal lawmakers dealing with prison overcrowding and prison population issues." Rather than dealing with overcrowded prisons by changing the laws that fill them with nonviolent inmates, lawmakers can funnel these inmates into readily available prison-beds-for-sale.

11. These companies have also discovered another goldmine: building facilities for the mass incarceration of undocumented immigrant detainees.

In recent years, the federal government's "Operation Streamline" policy offers "zero-tolerance" for undocumented immigrants. Under it, the number of non-citizens locked up in the U.S. has skyrocketed. Over 75 percent of those imprisoned have no criminal record.

Source: ACLU Report: Warehoused And Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System, 2014.

In 2009, more prisoners entered federal prisons for immigration violations than for violent offenses, weapon offenses and property offenses combined. Over half of non-citizen detainees, approximately 25,000 people, are living in privately owned facilities.

In private detention centers, detainees face physical abuse and mistreatment, including inadequate health care, threats of physical violence, overcrowding and conditions of squalor. There are sometimes arbitrary quotas for the solitary confinement units which are "reportedly kept so full that some people must sleep on the floor of a small cell they share with two strangers for 23 hours," according to the ACLU report. These facilities are geographically isolated, often far away from their families.

Many detainees lack the money to hire a lawyer and remain trapped in a seemingly endless legal process. As one detainee told the ACLU, "You lose your memory in this place. You keep counting days until you give up hope."

Meanwhile, private prison corporations found another way to profit off these people living in purgatory: They use detainees as cheap labor employing thousands to cook and clean the facilities. Some earn $1 a day; some earn candy bars, and some earn nothing. Last year, at least 60,000 detainees labored at these detention centers.

12. Private prisons try to cut costs by employing less-experienced staff and slashing prisoner resources.

Porter said private prisons make cuts that "compromise public safety, ranging from lower rates of pay, to not investing resources toward training, to reducing programs and rehabilitation efforts for prisoners." As a result, private prisons can have an assault rate double that of what is seen at publicly run prisons. And these facilities disproportionately hold young Americans: Nearly 40 percent of incarcerated juveniles will serve their time in private facilities, which have been plagued by physical and sexual abuse.

This is Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, a privately run juvenile detention center in Mississippi owned by GEO Group. A government investigation of the facility culminated in 2012, when a federal judge deemed it a "cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts" with rampant physical and sexual abuse by the staff. Soon after, GEO Group shut down operations in Mississippi.

13. The system perpetuates a cycle of crime: More than two-thirds of people released from prison will be arrested again within three years.

That's according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Among juveniles released, 70 to 80 percent will be arrested again within two to three years, according to a number of state studies. Contrary to what "tough on crime" politicians of the 80s and 90s once told voters, prison does not reduce crime and may actually produce future criminals.

While crime rates have declined over the past decades, don't thank our prison obsession. When Harvard Professor Bruce Western studied the decline in crime from 1993-2001, he found that just one-tenth of the decline was due to rising prison populations. The rest, he says, stemmed from factors like increased local police force presence.

14. It's become increasingly clear that we're more focused on locking people up than actually rehabilitating them.

As the Women's Prison Association President Georgia Lerner told the Guardian, this stigma lasts a lifetime. "We lock people up, strip them of all authority over themselves, disempower them in a very real way –- and then expect them to be able to function in the community after they are released," she said. "It simply doesn't work. Prisons were designed to confine people and keep them alive, and not much else."

Indeed, while more Americans are spending more time in prison, many lack access to drug education programs and mental health programs, both of which could help address the problems that got them locked up in the first place. And while a U.S. Department of Justice/RAND corporation joint study found that inmates given educational opportunities are 43 percent less likely to commit a future crime, only six percent of inmates were actually enrolled in such programs. Inmates with inadequate education face a daunting challenge of finding employment upon release, a challenge substantially magnified by the stigma of having a criminal record. It's not surprising, then, that former inmates face rampant unemployment and lower wages.

But released inmates face more than just the new financial burdens of the real world: Many leave prison with overwhelming debt due to legal fees. Though rules vary depending on the state, inmates can be charged for everything from court costs to public defender reimbursements, in-prison electricity bills, in-prison telephone bills, drug testing and parole supervision. In Texas, the average cost of being released on parole ranges from $500 to $2,000. Sometimes, the "crime" of not being able to pay off that debt lands former inmates back behind bars.

But Alabama, Georgia, and other Southern states have found a disturbing way to expedite that process: They allow former inmates to literally pay off their debt by spending more time in prison.

As the incomparable Stephen Colbert summed up this outrageous system in a recent segment, "Some may say that jailing people over their debts makes poverty into a crime. Well if that's true, maybe we should just cut out the middle man and put all poor people in jail. Of course, this will require new prison facilities, which we can build using people who can't pay their prison fees. Not as workers, as the bricks."

This Dog Is Deaf And Tilts. She'll Make A Great Pet, And So Will Her 51 Special Needs Friends

Mon, 2014-06-16 09:07
Una the dog was probably born deaf. The tilt in her walk is newer, likely from being hit in the head. Despite the congenital problems and the ones that were inflicted upon her, this young pit -- who was given up by her owners to a high-kill shelter -- is a sweet, loving dog, who is going to make a fabulous pet once someone looks past her challenges.

Each of these 52 animals has something that's making it a little harder for them to find a family: Coda the schnauzer barks when she's left alone; Chim the kitten has a neurological disorder that makes him a little wobbly (he wears an adorable cap to protect that delicate noggin).

Photo credit: Karen Bean

Bring them home, and some of these guys will need you to monitor a tricky medical condition; others will need you to communicate using sign language. Every single one will repay that extra effort, and then some.

"Our goal is to educate our community on the joys and blessings special needs animals can bring to our lives," says Erika Proctor, founder of the Virginia-based group Green Dogs Unleashed, which specializes in rehabilitating and finding homes for deaf and blind dogs. "They offer the same unconditional love, happiness and giggles to their loving families... and in many cases are easier to train!"

Fluffy Gandalf the rooster -- who just had the bad luck to be born a kind of animal most people don't want to keep around -- certainly proves that true: he's already learned to walk on a harness.

Check out Gandolf, Una and all the rest of these special animals below, with descriptions provided by their shelters:

The adoptable animals in this slideshow come from rescue groups across the country:

Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy, Virginia; Noah's Arks Rescue, a South Carolina-based rescue specializing in helping abused animals; Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill sanctuary in Utah; the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, a pit bull advocacy group based in Chicago; Animal Care League in Oak Park, Illinois; Recycled Pits, PAWS Chicago, ALIVE Rescue and Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control, in Chicago; Almost Home Foundation, also in Chicago; It's A Pittie Rescue and Stardust Sanctuary, both in Illinois; the Baltimore Humane Society; Homeless Animals Rescue Team and King Street Cats, in Northern Virginia; the St. Louis Senior Dog Project; San Francisco's Family Dog Rescue; PAWS in Lynnwood, Washington and the Washington Humane Society in Washington, D.C.

We are always looking for stories about animals. Do you know a rescue group doing great work, or another rooster who walks on a harness? Get in touch at

Can You Guess The Disney Movie By Its Emoji Summary? (QUIZ)

Mon, 2014-06-16 08:20
Odds are you've got a working knowledge of emoji at this point in the information age. You know, that pictorial alphabet all the kids use (sometimes nonsensically) with their phones. *Winking face.*

Test your emoji aptitude, or your Disney knowledge, or something -- we're not really sure what we're testing here -- with the quiz below!

Quiz widget by

6 Not-So-Subtle Ways Fast Food Joints Make You Want To Eat At Their Restaurants

Mon, 2014-06-16 07:28
America is still a Fast Food Nation.

According to a 2013 Gallup poll, nearly 30 percent of Americans report eating at fast food establishments on a weekly basis. We know this gut-busting grub saturated in calories, fat and sodium is, in part, contributing to our nation's obesity epidemic. We also know the "food" we ingest sometimes does not seemingly qualify as food at all (also see: this 14-year-old McDonald's hamburger).

And yet, despite the eye-widening facts, we still want those French fries. What witchcraft do big companies like Mickey D's, Wendy's, and others employ that have us dreaming of fast food when hunger hits -- and even when it doesn't? Unsurprisingly, there are many tactics these big corps practice to get us in their doors and put their burgers in our bellies.

1. Fast food companies take advantage of our desire for convenience.

Photo: KFC
According to a 2006 Eating Patterns In America report released by The NPD Group (formerly National Purchase Diary), Americans value convenience over health. This means we'll knowingly spend our money on cheap-to-make, fat-laden food items that are devoid of nutrition, as long as they are tasty and easy to acquire.

So it's no surprise that the ease and convenience of fast food now goes beyond items like KFC's "Go Cup," which is near-irresistible when you're hungry and strapped for time. There are more than 200,000 drive-thru restaurants in America, making our dining choices as simple as, well, a pit stop. In 2011, 57 percent of visits made to fast food hamburger joints were done without stepping out of the car. Gluttony has never been so convenient.

And fast food joints don't just cater to our desire for convenience -- they simultaneously intensify that desire, too. A series of social psychology studies, recently summarized in the New York Times, found that just thinking of fast food made people more hurried, more impatient and less likely to slowly savor experiences. "While the ubiquity of fast food is undoubtedly driven by consumer demand for instant gratification," wrote one of the studies' authors, "it may also play a role in exacerbating that very impatience -- and not just for food, but in many facets of our lives."

2. Fast food companies use "aroma marketing" to tickle your senses and make their product virtually irresistible.

Has the scent of crisped McDonald’s fries ever enticed you to walk through those golden arches? Well, your nose is the victim of a very calculated marketing ploy.

Even if you didn't consider yourself hungry, when your nose catches a whiff of a tempting food like fries or freshly baked Cinnabons, it tells your brain, "I smelled something delicious." Your body, in response, increases the production of ghrelin, which can stimulate your appetite. Your brain then reads this as hunger, and off you go -- following your nose to the trail of food that's nutritionally lacking.

Cinnabon bakery chains, for example, keep the ovens near the front of their stores to lure customers inside (if you've ever been to a mall, this is likely the sticky sweet scent that infiltrates your nasal passages). At Cinnabon, employees will heat sheets of cinnamon (sans the "bon") to keep everything smelling fresh. Panera Bread Company plans to reassign shifts at the majority of their locations to make sure their stores are emitting the scent of freshly baked bread at peak consumption hours, the Wall Street Journal reported in May.

3. Fast food companies use vocabulary to make your mouth water -- quite literally.

Fast food companies make it their prerogative to tell you what to taste. "If you market a hamburger as juicy, people eat it and think, 'Man, this is incredibly juicy,'" Dr. Brian Wansink told Men's Health. The actual taste of the food still has to do some of the lift, but the description of the food can influence what customers taste (think KFC’s "Finger lickin' good," Subway’s "eat fresh," Arby's "slicing up freshness” and Papa John's "better ingredients, better pizza," etc). You are subliminally trained to believe in a taste that has yet to touch your tongue.

Brands use other buzz words that have nothing to do with taste and everything to do with consumer behavior and preference to sell their menu items. As Time reports, "premium" was one of the most persuasive words of 2011:

A 2011 Technomic report found that premium was the most persuasive menu term for getting customers to order an item with beef; 28% of surveyed consumers said they’d be more likely to order beef with the word premium, and they’d be willing to pay a 5% premium for their premium order. Well, surprise, surprise, a study conducted by Mintel for BurgerBusiness last year reported that usage of the word premium on restaurant-chain menus has soared. By its count, there were 138 "premium" offerings on chain menus last year, compared with just 69 in 2007.

4. Fast food companies dress their brands with colors that'll trigger your appetite.

Sure, Burger King, In-N-Out, KFC and the like attempt to distinguish themselves with varying slogans, treats and mascots. But the majority of major fast food chains stick to a similar color scheme in their branding. Studies have shown that these warm colors in particular activate your hunger and grab your attention. Plus, we mentally connect the color red -- the same used in stop lights and traffic signs -- with immediacy, which, again, taps into our desire for convenience. (Even delivery sites like Grub Hub and Seamless have pulled this trick to signify urgency and ease.)

5. Fast food companies promote their products on big, eye-catching billboards, making it hard for you to get their burgers off your brain.

A 2013 UCLA study published in the BMC Public Health journal found a correlation between outdoor food advertisements and modest increased likelihood of obesity. While the research does not conclude that these visible ads cause obesity, it does suggest a connection between billboard marketing and fast food consumption. According to a 2010 report published by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, fast food establishments spent a collective $156 million on outdoor advertising in 2009. Outdoor ads are the second most purchased media type, tying with radio and losing out to TV.

6. Fast food companies target children, and can influence their eating habits and preferences.

Fast food companies target our youth, it seems, from the minute they depart from the womb. According to a report produced by the Yale Rudd Center, children were exposed to an average of 13.1 food ads every day in 2013. The ads were primarily for fast food restaurants. Over the past six years, the report shows, children's exposure to healthy food advertisements has declined, while unhealthy food endorsements have hogged more air time. One 2012 study revealed that adolescents who were familiar with fast food television ads (we've all had McDonalds' "ba-da-ba-ba-ba" stuck in our heads at one time or another) were at higher risk for obesity.

These mega-brands don't just entrust the boob tube to infiltrate the impressionable minds of U.S. youngsters; they've also crept onto the Internet and social media platforms, where kids spend a significant amount of time. Mr. Ronald McDonald has hopped from the small screen to the even-smaller screen: In 2011, McDonald's designed a new campaign in which the clown urged kids to visit his website and share "Ronaldgrams" with their friends.

Even more, fast food meals intended for kids are likely to include toys and giveaways, and these promotions establish an emotional connection to brands, "making children more likely to continue eating at fast food chains and take their own families there as adults." Happy meal indeed.

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Supreme Court Has 17 Cases To Decide By June's End

Sun, 2014-06-15 03:32

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's crunch time at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices are racing to issue opinions in 17 cases over the next two weeks.

The religious rights of corporations, the speech rights of abortion protesters and the privacy rights of people under arrest are among the significant issues that are so far unresolved.

Summer travel, European teaching gigs and relaxation beckon the justices, but only after the court hands down decisions in all the cases it has heard since October.

In rare instances, the justices will put off decisions and order a case to be argued again in the next term.

This is also the time of the year when a justice could announce a retirement. But the oldest of the justices, 81-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has signaled she will serve at least one more year, and maybe longer.

The justices will meet Monday and again on Thursday to issue opinions, and could wind up their work by the end of the month.

A look at some of the cases that remain:

— Contraceptive coverage: Corporations are claiming the right to exercise religious objections to covering women's contraceptives under their employee health insurance plans, despite the new health care law's requirement that birth control be among a range of no-cost preventive services included in health plans.

— Abortion clinic buffer zones: Abortion opponents are challenging as a violation of their free speech rights a Massachusetts law mandating a 35-foot (10.5-meter) protest-free zone on public sidewalks outside abortion clinics.

— Cellphone searches: Two cases weigh the power of police to search the cellphones of people they place under arrest without first obtaining a warrant from a judge.

— Recess presidential appointments: A federal appeals court said President Barack Obama misused the Constitution's recess power when he temporarily filled positions on the National Labor Relations Board in 2012.

— TV on the Internet: Broadcasters are fighting Internet startup Aereo's practice of taking television programming for free and providing it to subscribers who can then watch on smartphones and other portable devices.

— Greenhouse gases: Industry groups assert that environmental regulators overstepped their bounds by trying to apply a provision of the Clean Air Act to control emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants and factories. This case is unlikely to affect the recent proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency to slash carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by nearly one-third by 2030; that plan involves a different part of the same law.

— Union fees: Home health care workers in Illinois want the court to rule that public sector unions cannot collect fees from workers who object to being affiliated with a union.

—Securities fraud: Investors could find it harder to bring class-action lawsuits over securities fraud at publicly traded companies in a case involving Halliburton Co., a provider of energy services.

— "False" campaign claims: An anti-abortion group says state laws that try to police false statements during political campaigns runs afoul of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees such rights as freedom of speech.

The Most Incredible Photos From The 2014 World Cup

Sat, 2014-06-14 19:52
The colors. The passion. The pageantry. The goals.

There's nothing like the FIFA World Cup, and these are the dramatic images that prove no other sporting event has this kind of impact. Some of the world's best news photographers have descended upon Brazil alongside the world's best soccer players, and their work has captured just how big, how magical -- and how controversial -- this year's tournament has become already.

Check out these incredible scenes from across Brazil and around the world as the World Cup gets underway, from the good, to the bad, to the protests:

Here's How To Watch The 2014 World Cup Online

Sat, 2014-06-14 15:30
The World Cup does not care if you've got work to do. The World Cup does not care if it's the middle of the afternoon in your time zone at kickoff. The World Cup is happening, with or without you.

Here is what you need to know to make sure you don't miss out.

The easiest way to keep up with the action in Brazil is to plant yourself in front of a television, perhaps at a bar or restaurant where everyone is feeling the World Cup spirit. All 64 matches will be televised on ESPN (43), ESPN2 (11) or ABC (10).

CLICK HERE for complete television schedule

Thankfully, those unable to get to a television are not out of luck. All matches will be streamed online and for tablets and mobile devices through WatchESPN and WatchABC. Users will need to have a subscription with a participating Internet provider in order to access this streaming content. The WatchESPN app is available via iTunes, for Android, for Windows 8 and Amazon Fire.


For soccer fans unable to access WatchESPN or who prefer Spanish-language "GOOOOOOOOL!" calls, Univision is streaming many games online for free. Only the first two rounds of the World Cup -- the group stage and the Round of 16 -- will be streamed for free by Univision, according to Mediate. Once the World Cup reaches the quarterfinals, users will need service provider information to access Univision's streaming coverage.

CLICK HERE for Univision's online coverage

The Univision Deportes app can be downloaded via iTunes and for Android for those who want to keep up with the action on tablets and mobile devices.

Outside of the United States (and for those in the U.S. who get creative to access international feeds), there are many other streaming options. In Canada, CBC is offering streaming online coverage. In the United Kingdom, BBC is offering streaming coverage.

Anyone with interest in the World Cup but no Internet access or television can try to find themselves a radio. ESPN Radio and SiriusXM will have coverage of the games Brazil.

CLICK HERE to find your local ESPN Radio affiliate

Cat People Way More Likely To Date Dog People Than Vice Versa. Plus Other Fun Facts About Pets And Dating

Sat, 2014-06-14 12:45
If you're single and ready to mingle, run to your local animal shelter. Now.

A survey by and PetSmart Charities released last month shows that the rumors are true -- man's best friend might also be man's best wingman. And getting your pet from a shelter doesn't hurt, either.

According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents would perceive their date as more attractive if they found out he or she had adopted, rather than bought, their pet. What's more, 25 percent of women have been more attracted to someone because of their pet, and almost half put faith in their dog's judgement of their dates!

But things get a little touchy when it comes to mixing cat people with dog people. While those who fancy felines are much more open to the idea -- 97 percent of cat owners would have a relationship with a "dog person" -- just 66 percent of dog owners would be open to being more than friends with a cat person. Ouch.

Here are a few other eye-opening results from the survey:

  • Men are four times more likely to use their pets to attract a potential date.

  • Nearly six out of 10 men think their date's choice in pets says a lot about their personality.

  • 35 percent of single women have been more attracted to someone because of their pet.

Check out other facts about how pets affect the dating world:

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Billionaire's Campaign Contribution Among Biggest In Recent History

Fri, 2014-06-13 18:24
WASHINGTON -- With a $2.5 million contribution to Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, Chicago-based hedge fund executive Ken Griffin has written the largest check to a political campaign in recent history.

Griffin, well known for saying the very wealthy have an "insufficient influence" in politics, is the richest man in Illinois and a top donor in state politics with large donations to both parties. He has made six-figure contributions to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's campaign and funds the state Republican Party.

His contributions to Rauner, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, are stratospheric. Overall, Griffin has given $3.6 million to the Republican's campaign to defeat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. The contributions include the use of Griffin's personal jet to travel the state.

The $2.5 million contribution to Rauner's campaign is the largest The Huffington Post could identify to a political campaign in recent history. A number of states have no campaign contribution limits, but none have seen a single contribution this large in two decades, according to state records. (Individuals and corporations have likely given larger contributions, when adjusted for inflation, in the past.)

It's not as though Rauner was strapped for campaign cash. In fact, Rauner, a wealthy equity executive who lives in the tony suburb of Winnetka, has self-funded his campaign with $6.6 million.

In a perverse twist of campaign finance laws, Rauner's use of his own wealth to fund his campaign unlocked Griffin's giant contributions.

Illinois first enacted campaign contribution limits for state elections after two straight governors -- George Ryan (R) and Rod Blagojevich (D) -- were convicted of corruption. Following the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that opened the door to unlimited independent campaign spending, the state changed those limits to allow them to be waived if a candidate self-funded, or if an independent group spent more than $250,000.

Griffin is not just a partisan who wants his picture taken with political leaders at galas. He has wide business interests in the state and supports policies that promote charter schools, slash public employee pension benefits, loosen regulation of finance, and lower taxes for the rich.

Pando Daily revealed that Griffin's hedge fund Citadel had purchased a large amount of Marriott Corp. stock just as political leaders in Chicago and Illinois approved $55 million in city resources for building a Marriott hotel on coveted real estate.

Quinn, the incumbent Democrat, also has raised large contributions, including a total of $1 million from Fred Eychaner, a Chicago-based millionaire and major Democratic donor.

Universities Turn To Smartphone Apps To Help Sexual Assault Survivors

Fri, 2014-06-13 15:01
Too many victims of sexual assault don't receive the help they need when they need it. Some universities are trying to solve that problem with a tool familiar to tech-savvy students -- the smartphone application.

Loyola University in Chicago has created one of the first such mobile apps tailored to its local community. The "Here for You" iPhone app connects students to gender-based violence services and resources on campus and in the Chicago area, and helps victims to quickly report assaults. It also attempts to dispel myths about sexual violence and gives advice for speaking with friends who may be survivors.

The Chicago school launched its app this academic year, encouraging freshmen to download it during orientation.

"This is not generally a topic that is very easy for students to discuss," Stephanie Atella, health educator at the Loyola Wellness Center, told The Huffington Post. "The app was just a private way instead of walking up to a poster and writing a number down."

Atella said the app was developed with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice aimed at reducing sexual assault on campus. The university wanted to come up with something that wouldn't have ongoing costs. So instead of establishing a new staff position to spread awareness on sexual violence services, Loyola hired a company to build the app for about $10,000.

As for university officials' role in developing "Here for You," Atella said, "I'm not sure we could quantify the number of hours we spent gathering information for the app and kind of figuring out what went into it."

The app's name is the same as that of the university's training program for staff and faculty on how to respond to students who says they have been sexually assaulted. Loyola employees who undergo this training put a "I'm Here For You" sticker on their door or desk to let students they've been trained.

Other colleges are also exploring the use of mobile devices as a way to enhance student safety and distribute information on sexual assault services.

Last month, the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and the University of Texas-Brownsville rolled out the TX Safety U on iOS and Android. The app lets users chose among 174 Texas schools and then pull up contact information for emergency and crisis centers, as well as useful information on sexual violence and related issues.

Connecting students "to assistance when a violent act has occurred is one of the primary purposes of the app," said Campus Sentinel co-founder Gary J. Margolis, whose company has created apps to provide campus safety information.

In 2012, U ASK was launched in Washington, D.C., by the nonprofit Men Can Stop Rape. According to the GW Hatchet, the app allows victims to dial the police, support hotlines and taxi services; locate the nearest medical center with rape kits; and access contact information for support centers at eight area universities.

The idea of sexual assault apps received an early push from the Obama administration, which in 2010 set the "Apps Against Abuse" technology challenge to encourage the development of mobile programs that could help prevent sexual violence. "Circle of 6" and "On Watch," the winners of that challenge, let users send messages to pre-designated contacts in case of emergency or if they are concerned for their safety.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has also created its own app for survivors of any age.

These apps are particularly useful, Loyola's Atella said, not just because college students are comfortable with the technology. They can also be more private than picking up a brochure or browsing a webpage on a computer monitor.

"It's something that if a student was in a violent relationship, they could download it and [later] erase it from their phone," Atella said. "It's just really accessible for them."

Loyola's app is currently available only for the iPhone, but the university is looking into an Android version.

Skip the Hangover: How to Have Fun Without Taking a Sip

Fri, 2014-06-13 15:00
A lot of people may wonder how people who don't drink have fun. I know, it's hard to imagine, but I promise you it is possible. Whether you want to take a break from drinking or just don't drink at all, here are some ways to have fun with your friends without the alcohol.

Go ice skating: The last time you went to the skating rink was probably for a friend's tenth birthday party, so why not give it another go? Ice skating is really fun, especially if you get a bunch of your friends to tag along. It's always good to have someone at the same level as you, so you're not speeding away or clinging to the wall all by yourself.

A lot of rinks have night skating, where they blast music, turn off the lights and have a disco ball. When the employees aren't looking, you can scrape up some "snow" that starts to build up on the ice and throw it at each other. For those of you that never get any snow, I've found this to be a decent alternative.

Tip: Go on a cold day. I know the instinct is to go when it's hot, but that's when the rink will be packed. Going when it's cold means not being packed in with a bunch of people. You can also check online for admission deals and such.

Go to a concert: Who says you need alcohol to enjoy some good music? Concerts are always an awesome way to spend your day/night. If you've never been to a music festival, that is officially on your bucket list. It's always fun to discover new bands that you never would have heard of otherwise, and to see your favorite if they happen to be playing.

You can even make a trip out of it. If the band that you want to see is playing in another city, grab some friends and road trip out. With some junk food, loud music and good people, you're bound to make tons of great memories.

Go to the beach: The beach is free and at your disposal, so why not take advantage of it? Whether you have a knack for surfing, love the water, or simply want to catch some more color, the beach is the perfect place to hang out with people. Some even allow you to have a bonfire, so why not make it a whole day excursion? Pack the marshmallows, the blankets, the guitars and enjoy a day of surf and sand.

Have a dog? Take them to the dog beach! Your pup can meet other dogs and discover how fun the ocean is. Most dogs, even if they don't like water, won't mind getting their paws a little wet.

Go to the movies: I mean, who doesn't like the movies? Movies are great for when you want to hang out but don't really feel like all the talking. Whether you want to see a movie that looks good or bad, both generate some awesome conversation afterwards. My roommate and I will purposely go see the overly cheesy movies and complain about the poor quality afterwards. Or if an ending to a movie we thought would be good sucked, we think up better endings and say how we totally should have written the movie.

Go on a hike: Sound body, sound mind -- getting that fresh air and stretching those legs will do you wonders. Pick a hike that you can manage, but that also pushes you, so when you make it to the finish, you'll be exhausted but so proud of yourself.

If that dog that you took to the beach is up for it, you can bring it on the hike too. I've noticed that pets always make everything better, and will take your mind off the fact that you are doing a 2 hour long hike.

Have a kickback: Kickbacks don't necessarily need alcohol to be fun. Invite some friends, slap some tunes, break out the chips, and ta-da, you have yourself a good time. If you have a pool, tell people to bring their suits and chill in there. That will pass a lot of the time.

You could also set up your Wii and have a dance-off to the Wii dance games; those are always hilarious. Having a big sleepover also makes for some great times, so tell your guests to pack a sleeping bag and sprawl out wherever there is room.

Go to a talent event: There are lots of awesome things on campus where fellow students are performing, and they will definitely be worth your while to check out. Whether it's a talent show, theater performance, art show or dance show, watching those talented students do what they love is always mesmerizing. You can learn about these events on your campus website, or by joining a group on Facebook with your peers in it -- one of them is bound to post about the current events happening.

There are so many things going on that you probably had never heard about, so pick one that looks interesting and get your booty over there. The best part? Most of them are free. You'll be cheering on and supporting your fellow college mates, having a good time and saving money!

And who said you can't have fun if the booze isn't present?

By: Francine Fluetsch, UC Santa Cruz

Mayor Who Freaked Out, Ordered Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account Getting Sued

Fri, 2014-06-13 14:51
Maybe this Illinois mayor just never "got" the joke. And now he's being sued over it.

When Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis found out that he had inspired a parody Twitter account (@NotPeoriaMayor) featuring expletive-laden tweets about drugs, sex and alcohol, he did not take the news lightly.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Ardis and City Manager Patrick Urich ordered a police investigation into who was responsible for the Twitter account within hours of learning of it. That order led police to obtain a search warrant and raid the home of 29-year-old Jon Daniel, who had created the account "as a joke."

Now, Ardis is facing a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which claims the mayor and other city officials violated Daniel's First and Fourth Amendment rights. The lawsuit was announced Thursday.

(Read Ars Technica's detailed report on the city's investigation into the Twitter account.)

“The joke of the account was to have my fictional mayor saying things that no one would possibly think that Mayor Jim Ardis would say,” Daniel said in a Thursday statement. “If the mayor was concerned, all he had to do was tell the public that his was not his account and not his words, rather than involving the police.”

In response to the lawsuit, Ardis said in a statement posted to the City of Peoria's website that the story has been "mischaracterized" by the media "from day one," noting that the account was not identified as parody when it first went public in March. He is reportedly considering suing Daniel for false light and defamation.

"I agree with the foundation of the Constitution granting us all freedom of speech," Ardis said in the statement. "I don’t believe that freedom allows me to say anything I want to say about anyone at any time about anything and attribute those things to another person as their thoughts under their picture. That’s taking away my freedoms."

The Peoria Journal Star reports the account was, indeed, not initially labeled as parody but that text noting it was not an official account was added about a month prior to the April 15 raid of Daniel's home. The account was also suspended by Twitter due to threats of legal action prior to the execution of the search warrant, during which computers and other electronic devices were seized.

Daniel was arrested at his workplace the same day of the raid, according to the Associated Press, but prosecutors announced a week later that he would not face charges because he had not violated a state law against the impersonation of public officials. He has never been charged with any crime.

You Can't Shame Someone For Not Wanting To Be Fat-Shamed

Fri, 2014-06-13 14:37
While many women (and men) proudly call themselves fat, the fact remains that it's is a word with negative connotations. It's associated with laziness, lack of hygiene, stupidity and more.

Fat is still used as an insult -- which is why I don't think it's acceptable to shame someone for not wanting to be fat-shamed.

When "Fargo" actress Allison Tolman responded to Twitter haters who made jabs about her weight by stating that she wasn't "actually fat" and had just been wearing a parka coat for several weeks, some people took issue with it. Anna Breslaw at wrote, under the headline "Female Celebrities Who Insist They're Not Fat Are Part of the Problem": "It's absolutely true that the norm for women on TV is a size 0, but this problem of actresses asserting ownership over their bodies by replying that they're actually average rather than fat, as if being fat were the kiss of death, is hardly new."

Firstly, I don't think Tolman is fat by any means. Images of her on the Internet suggest that she is an average-sized woman. That point aside, I understand Breslaw's argument insofar as the word fat shouldn't be an insult -- because we shouldn't treat women differently because of their size. But we do.

If fat weren't an insult, women who identify as such would likely not have a problem saying so. If referring to someone as fat were the same as referring to someone as a brunette or tall or freckled, a woman's refusal to describe herself as such would be weird. But, collectively, we're not there yet. The word "fat" has power because the word "fat" has consequences.

People have been fired for being fat. Dumped. Divorced. Publicly shamed. While it's within someone's power to control how they react to being called the f-word, there is no shame in being hurt by an insult.

What needs to change is how our culture values people of different weights. Don't shame someone for feeling ashamed.

This Kid Invented A Special Cup So Her Grandpa With Parkinson's Can Drink Without Spilling

Fri, 2014-06-13 14:33
One imaginative little girl observed her grandfather's struggles and was inspired to do something about it.

Lily Born, an 11-year-old from Skokie, Illinois, first thought up the no-spill cup a few years ago when she noticed that her grandfather, who has Parkinson's disease, had trouble drinking from regular cups without spilling.

So Lily designed the Kangaroo Cup that's pretty much spill-proof. It has three legs that help stabilize it and make it harder for people to overturn it.

With the help of her father, Lily went to China to work on the original ceramic cup design and find a manufacturer. Now, the pair are raising funds to create a more durable plastic version of the cup.

"This campaign is not just about bringing a product to production, it is about sending a message to every parent and every kid with an invention (which is just about every kid) that in history's blink of an eye, we suddenly find ourselves living in a world where that dream can be made real," Lily's dad wrote on the product's Kickstarter page.

Check out their Kickstarter page to donate and get more details about the product.

h/t Good News Network

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Here Are 21 Things You CAN'T Bring Into World Cup Stadiums. Seriously, No Cameras?

Fri, 2014-06-13 14:13
The World Cup continues today with three more games. And here are some things FIFA won't let you bring into the stadiums...

1. Guns


2. Any objects that could be remotely dangerous to other fans

No using your umbrella as a sword, sorry.

3. Bottles

4. Fireworks

Or artificial flames of any kind.

5. Drinks

6. Food

7. Drugs

8. Any objects that are offensive to others

9. Flags with big poles attached to them

10. And on that note, huge flags like these

11. Animals

What a buzz kill, FIFA.

12. Promotional clothing of any kind

If it's not FIFA sponsored, it ain't coming in.

13. Spray cans

14. Voluminous objects

Who's trying to bring a suitcase into the stadiums anyway?

15. Toilet paper

16. Objects that make noise

Sorry, no vuvuzelas and caxirolas this year!

17. Laser pointers

18. Flour and all similar powder substances

19. Cameras

20. Tablets

21. And any and all objects that could hinder security or be considered a fire hazard

22. And maybe even... gum?

Had 4 sticks of chewing gum confiscated by security at Maracana: not a foodstuff made by a FIFA Official partner, apparently. Jogo Bonito.

— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) June 11, 2014

Note: This last point has been unconfirmed -- but wow!

For more of things you can't bring into the World Cup stadiums, here's the breakdown from FIFA themselves.

Now back to the games!

h/t Brasil Post

Teen Marijuana Use Remains Flat Nationwide As More States Legalize

Fri, 2014-06-13 14:04
As marijuana's national popularity continues to grow and more states have legalized either medical or recreational use of it, a new federal survey shows that those shifting attitudes have not produced a surge in teen use.

The biennial High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the rate of marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained virtually unchanged from 2011 to 2013. It's also about 3 percent less than the peak of teen marijuana use in 1999, when nearly 27 percent of teens said they had recently used marijuana, according to the CDC data.

In 2013, 23.4 percent of American high-school-aged teens used marijuana one or more times in the 30 days before the survey, the data show. That's nearly even with 23.1 percent in 2011.

From 2011 to 2013, five more states -- Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Hampshire -- legalized marijuana for medical use. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legal medical cannabis programs. Also during that period, Colorado and Washington state became the first two states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

The CDC's findings are similar to those in a recent report published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which compared 20 years of CDC YRBS data about high school teens' marijuana habits in states that have legalized medical marijuana compared with neighboring states that continue to ban the plant. It found that legalization of marijuana for medical purposes did not result in greater illicit use of the substance by high school students.

The YRBS data also showed that the rate of alcohol and cigarette use by U.S. teens has been steadily declining since 1991 when about 50 percent of high school students had at least one drink of alcohol and 27 percent had smoked a cigarette on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey.

Both cigarettes and alcohol are of course legal and regulated for adults, and Marijuana Policy Project's Mason Tvert suggests this data may show that the legal regulation of marijuana could also help curb teen use.

“Rates of teen alcohol and cigarette use have dropped, and we didn’t have to arrest any adults for using them,” Tvert said. “We could see the same results by regulating marijuana. Regulation works.”

Unfortunately, the CDC survey did not report specific Colorado or Washington data in 2013, so a localized look at how recreational marijuana laws are affecting those state populations is not available.

Data was available for Colorado from 2009 to 2011, during a period of rapid medical marijuana dispensary expansion in the state, which ballooned to around 500 shops statewide. That data showed Colorado high school students' marijuana use decreased by nearly 3 percent.

Man Exonerated In 1980 Slaying Faces New Murder Charge

Fri, 2014-06-13 13:57
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who served 32 years in prison before DNA evidence overturned his conviction in the 1980 rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl faces a new murder charge.

Andre Davis was charged Thursday in the 2013 death of Jamal Harmon. The 53-year-old Davis is jailed without bond. Davis was released from prison in 2012 after being declared innocent in the death of Brianna Stickle of Rantoul.

Prosecutors say the 19-year-old Harmon got into a dispute with Davis' nephew over money lost in a dice game. Assistant State's Attorney Robert Mack said the nephew shot and wounded Harmon, and that Davis later cut the man's throat and dumped his body in an alley.

In addition to the 1980 case, Davis has faced attempted murder, aggravated battery and weapons charges.