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House Gives A Raise To DEA As Congressman Asks Why

Thu, 2014-05-29 20:15
WASHINGTON -- Members of the House of Representatives from both parties took aim at the Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday, even as the House voted to give the agency $35 million more than it requested.

Members from both parties were set to offer amendments on an appropriations bill that would restrict the DEA from obstructing state industrial hemp programs, and from cracking down on medical marijuana facilities. As of Thursday evening, the only amendment that would have curbed DEA spending was defeated by a vote of 339-66. The amendment by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) would have reduced DEA's budget by $35 million, to the amount of the agency's original request.

"What has the DEA done to deserve a $35 million raise?" Polis asked on the House floor Thursday afternoon. "Why are we singling out the DEA to receive funds above what the DEA itself requested in the president's budget? The DEA has demonstrated time and time again that it can't efficiently manage the resources it already has. It's diverting funds to ridiculous things like impounding industrial hemp seeds, which have no narcotic content, intimidating legal marijuana businesses in states like mine, wasting money on marijuana infractions that are legal in states where they occur."

Polis called DEA chief Michele Leonhart "a terrible agency head" who has embarrassed herself and her agency.

But the DEA has a strong defender in Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that funds the agency. Wolf, who is retiring from Congress, gave the DEA a boost it didn't ask for on his way out the door.

In a House appropriations subcommittee hearing last month, Leonhart said the agency was "on track" after a hiring freeze and would add agents graduating from three training academy sessions this year. Wolf asked whether she could use additional funds, telling Leonhart he "would like to [help]" increase the budget. After consulting with an aide, Leonhart tossed out a $175 million figure that would allow the DEA to expand, saying the agency was only hiring one agent for every two who retired or left.

On the House floor on Thursday, Wolf suggested that House members questioning the DEA budget sent the wrong message to a hypothetical DEA agent watching on C-SPAN in Afghanistan. Wolf also gave personal support to Leonhart, saying she "has given her life to law enforcement for the last 30 years."

"I think she's represented the DEA well," Wolf said. He previously defended Leonhart in a letter to her boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, after HuffPost reported that Holder had asked Leonhart to clarify a previous statement that seemed to be out of line with the administration on sentencing reform.

"I think there's been an effort by some in the administration to attack her in a way, it almost reminds me of the Nixon administration," Wolf said Thursday. "I was in the Nixon administration, they had policies whereby they would go after civil servants and career people."

The House is likely to vote on three other amendments Thursday night, including those that would prohibit the DEA from spending money to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers, and to block states from importing hemp seeds for industrial hemp research programs made legal in the latest federal farm bill.

Deputies Knew About Santa Barara Killer's Videos During Check

Thu, 2014-05-29 20:03
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office deputies checking on Elliot Rodger three weeks before he killed six college students were aware of, but didn't view, disturbing videos that prompted calls about his well-being, the agency disclosed Thursday.

A statement from the sheriff's office provides new details on the sequence of events during that pivotal visit, a time when Rodger was planning the rampage that would also leave 13 wounded. The guns he would use in the killings were stashed inside his apartment at the time. The office was not aware of and did not receive his manifesto and final video, in which he details plans to kill people, until an hour after the shooting, the statement said.

On April 30, four deputies, a police officer and a dispatcher in training were sent to Rodger's apartment after being informed by the county's mental health hotline that Rodger's therapist and mother were concerned about videos he posted online.

The visit lasted about 10 minutes, during which officers found him shy and polite. The deputies questioned him about what the statement described as "disturbing" videos, but Rodger told them he was having trouble fitting in socially and the videos were "merely a way of expressing himself," the statement said.

Because the deputies concluded he was not a threat to himself or others, they never viewed the videos.

That sequence of events is different from a statement Sunday from spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, who said "the sheriff's office was not aware of any videos until after the shooting rampage occurred."

In a typical mental health check, only two deputies would be dispatched. But deputies who were familiar with Rodger as a victim in a January petty theft case also went to his apartment.

Teen Tennis Star's Success Is A Powerful Argument Against Body-Shaming

Thu, 2014-05-29 16:47
When 18-year-old tennis sensation Taylor Townsend beat 21st-ranked Alize Cornet in the French Open on Wednesday, she did more than simply extend her thrilling Grand Slam debut by advancing to the third round.

The 205th-ranked Townsend's feat -- it made her the youngest U.S. woman to advance to the third round at the French Open since 2003 -- is even more impressive considering just two years ago, the U.S. Tennis Association attempted to keep her out of competition at the U.S. Open. It was suggested they would not restore their support until the teen, then the top-ranked junior player in the world, lost weight.

"Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player," Patrick McEnroe, general manager of the USTA's player development program, told the Wall Street Journal's Tom Perrotta at the time.

Then-16-year-old Townsend went to the tournament anyway -- without USTA's support, her mother was forced to pay their travel costs -- and she won the junior doubles title and advanced to the quarterfinals in the singles division. That same year, Townsend also won the singles and doubles titles at Junior Australian Open, the junior doubles title at Wimbledon.

The comments caused tennis superstar Serena Williams, who has also been criticized for her weight at times, to call the situation "obviously a tragedy, because everyone deserves to play."

"For a female, particularly, in the United States, in particular, and African-American, to have to deal with that is unnecessary," Williams told the Associated Press. "Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors and everything. I think you can see that more than anywhere on the tennis tour."

After the USTA controversy, Townsend stopped working with coaches from the association and now splits her time training with former Wimbledon runner-up Zina Garrison in Washington and former collegiate player Kamau Murray, whom she's known since she was 6 years old, in Chicago.

Both Townsend and Garrison say her negative experience with the USTA over her weight and fitness level have helped her improve -- both on and off the tennis court.

"It’s made her tougher. She’s very good now at taking that negative and turning it into a positive. You can’t help but grow up in that situation," Garrison told the New York Times this week.

It helped me believe in myself more,” Townsend told ABC News of the criticism. “It also opened my eyes to say, ‘You know, you’re not going to look like everyone else.'"

The USTA reimbursed Townsend's mother for their travel costs to the 2012 U.S. Open, and Townsend and the organization have since reconciled.

Townsend, who entered the French Open as a wild card, was born in Chicago and her family still lives in the city's Englewood neighborhood. She will next face off with 14th-ranked Suarez Navarro of Spain in Friday's third-round matchup.

Army of One

Thu, 2014-05-29 16:36
The world withheld love and he went to war. He was an army of one -- another army of one, laying out his plans in secret torment, plotting his "day of retribution."

"The rampage shooters see themselves as moralistic punishers striking against deep injustice," Peter Turchin wrote a year and a half ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. In his essay, ominously titled "Canaries in a Coal Mine," which was published at Social Evolution Forum, he notes the upward trajectory of mass murders. Since the '60s, they've increased more than tenfold. Something's going wrong in the world we've created.

The killers are always described as loners . . . monsters, psychopaths. They're not like us, and so the motives for the killings are sought only in the rubble of their lives -- in the left-behind writings and YouTube videos, the psychological reports, the fragmentary reflections of acquaintances -- and they're nothing more than sterile curiosities, with a sort of reality-TV entertainment value.

So it turns out that Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six UC Santa Barbara students, then committed suicide, last week in Isla Vista, Calif., was shut out of human connection, nailed into a coffin of isolation. He wrote in his journal some years earlier:

"I was desperate to have the life I know I deserve; a life of being wanted by attractive girls, a life of sex and love. Other men are able to have such a life . . . so why not me? I deserve it! I am magnificent, no matter how much the world treated me otherwise. I am destined for great things."

Unlike most lonely people -- but like all the others who make screaming headlines out of their loneliness -- he sought a military solution to his troubles. His enemies were wrecking his life, so he armed himself and went after them. He "went to war" and, in so doing, dignified his predicament and justified his course of action. Calling it "war" is a nearly airtight justification for violence -- for murder.

The distinguishing characteristic of mass murder -- the coolly impersonal killing of strangers -- is not that the victims are random, but that they are in some way symbolic of the imagined "deep wrong" the killer wants to eradicate. The victims Elliot Rodger sought, after first stabbing to death two roommates and a visitor in his apartment, were the members of a local sorority: symbols of the women who had rejected him all his life. When he couldn't get into the building, he started shooting at people in the vicinity, who were all college students.

In his essay, Turchin described the "principle of social substitutability": seeing a particular organization, institution, race, nationality, community -- or whatever -- as a threat to one's well-being and, therefore, holding anyone associated with that organization as part of the malevolent "other," thus requiring extermination. This is what mass murder is. This is what terrorism is. This is what war is.

"On the battlefield," Turchin wrote, "you are supposed to try to kill a person whom you've never met before. You are not trying to kill this particular person, you are shooting because he is wearing the enemy uniform. It could easily be any other individual, but as long as they wear the same uniform, you would be shooting at them. Enemy soldiers are socially substitutable. As they say in gangster movies, 'nothing personal, just business.'"

The point of all this is that it's time to stop calling mass murderers "loners," even though that's what they no doubt call themselves. It's time to stop seeing them in isolation from the larger society -- our society -- of which they are a part, whether they know it or not. It's time to acknowledge and begin examining the complex interconnectedness of good and evil, right and wrong. It's time to reach for a deeper wisdom with which to understand, and begin healing, our intensifying social problems.

"Driven by the forces of love," Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote at the dawn of World War II, "the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being."

Something has gone wrong. The fragments of the world are turning on each other. They're killing each other.

The killings in Isla Vista took place just before Memorial Day, a day of notorious short-sightedness about whom and what we're supposed to remember. The convention of remembering "the sacrifice of our troops" requires us to maintain remembrance, as well, of a perpetually lurking enemy from whom we were protected. Subbing for enemies of the past, who are now (perhaps) our allies, are the enemies of the future.

It might just as well be called Social Substitutability Day, unless we deepen and widen its meaning and allow the day's remembrance to include the crimes against humanity every side in war commits -- unless we remember that militarism, like racism and misogyny, are the real enemies.

"The definition and practice of war and the definition and practice of mass murder," I wrote last year, "have eerie congruencies. We divide and slice the human race; some people become the enemy, not in a personal but merely an abstract sense -- 'them' -- and we lavish a staggering amount of our wealth and creativity on devising ways to kill them. When we call it war, it's as familiar and wholesome as apple pie. When we call it mass murder, it's not so nice."

And armies of millions beget armies of one.

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

An NPR Story About Chicago's Gun Problem Was Interrupted By A Shooting

Thu, 2014-05-29 16:09
A routine interview took a grimly ironic twist when a National Public Radio reporter covering guns in Chicago found himself not just close to the action, but virtually in the thick of it.

While visiting the Englewood neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, David Schaper's interview with community activist Asiaha Butler was interrupted by a flurry of gunfire that sent some bystanders running and left others simply "bewildered."

Describing a scene he later called "surreal," Schaper said a man was "standing outside a car firing a large semi-automatic rifle at a target around the corner" about 30 or 40 yards from Butler's porch.

Schaper had initially visited the South Side neighborhood to report on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recent proposal to require all gun sales in the city be videotaped to help combat illegal gun sales and transfers.

Butler can be heard in the audio exclaiming "Oh my Jesus!" as multiple shots ring out.

Schaper notes an ice cream truck playing "cheerful" music rolled by as police rushed to the scene.

Demond Drummer, another neighborhood leader, told Schaper he was "embarrassed" by the timing of the shooting, and insisted it wasn't a typical occurrence.

"It's far too common, but it's not normal," Drummer told Schaper.

The shooter was apparently aiming for a nearby van, and struck a 28-year-old male passenger inside, DNA Info reports. The victim, reportedly a documented gang member, was left with a bullet lodged behind his ear.

Galvanized by the incident, Butler later took to social media pledging her dedication to improving the neighborhood's safety, and calling on others to do the same.

Illinois Rejects Fracking Sacrifice Zones in Latest Victory

Thu, 2014-05-29 15:46
Illinois scored a victory this week against an attempt to sacrifice parts of the state to poorly regulated fracking. State Representative John Bradley introduced a bill to cut short the process of writing new regulation while also creating a fracking moratorium only in the Chicagoland area. The response showed that many Illinoisans are still strongly opposed to fracking.

The fracking debate has many southern Illinois residents talking about the region being a sacrifice zone. Like the Hunger Game's District 12, a sacrifice zone is a place where people are expected to shrug their shoulders with defeated acceptance as the cycle of boom and bust poverty and destruction continue generation after generation. Southern Illinois is sacrificed to an extraction economy that breeds poverty, offers dangerous jobs with high mortality rates while green jobs are created elsewhere, and exposes the public to deadly pollutants.

Rep. Bradley's bill is the first attempt to codify that sacrifice zone into law by exempting some parts of the state from fracking while rushing a badly regulated environmental crisis downstate. Thankfully, legislators announced today that Bradley's bill doesn't have the votes to pass. The push-back, including from the district he claims to represent, confirms that Illinoisans remain determined to stop fracking.

Southern Illinois residents joined with groups from across the state at a press conference in the Capitol Tuesday to show that one year after the weak fracking law passed, we continue to fight against the impending fracking boom.

Angie Viands of Ban Fracking Chicago delivered a letter signed by 25 local, state and national organizations in support of a ban on fracking. The letter states:

"Illinoisans need jobs, but providing jobs that threaten the health and safety of workers and result in more pollution and social problems is not an acceptable solution. It will be impossible to adequately regulate the hydraulic fracturing industry so as to not harm people and natural areas. Instead of focusing on bringing a dirty, destructive fossil fuel infrastructure to Illinois, we urge you to promote local renewable energy and provide safe jobs."

"We will not stand by as Bradley and other greed mongering legislators and state agencies like the Office of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sell out rural Illinois while saving northern Illinois," said Southern Illinois resident Tabitha Tripp. "This fracking law and the proposed amendments are a death sentence to Illinois. We will not be sold down the river and we will not be silenced."

Tripp delivered a pledge of support for nonviolent direct action to resist fracking in Illinois signed by more than 600 people. The fracking industry won't find passive acceptance in Illinois, no matter how many campaign contributions they make to politicians.

After the press conference, the group held a procession to John Bradley's office to deliver two Fracking Fighter petitions, the coalition letter to support a fracking ban, and a coffin to represent the death sentence he issued against downstate Illinois. Following a die-in, the coffin, tombstone and flowers were left in Bradley's office.

It's no hyperbole to talk about death. North Dakota now faces the highest workplace death rate in the nation after their fracking boom began. Illinois' inadequate fracking law does nothing to protect residents from toxic chemical spills after truck and rail accidents that will inevitably become much more frequent if fracking begins. It does nothing to protect residents who live near fracking fields from toxic air pollutants. Drilling can be paused only after multiple significant earthquakes have occurred in the state's major seismic zones, after it may be too late to prevent more.

And since the fracking law was written with natural gas fracking in mind, we may face a massive oil and coal bed methane fracking rush that can exploit loopholes to avoid complying with any new regulation.

The oil and gas industry placed a number of articles and editorials in state media whining about the slow pace that rules are being finalized. The public relations campaign culminated with Bradley's bill to cut the process short. But, many of his constituents would rather see no fracking at all, as a group said at another press conference Tuesday outside Bradley's district office in Marion.

Janet Donoghue said, "Democracy is not being served by ramming through legislation that leaves out tens of thousands of citizens' voices and renders their valuable time useless. Tens of thousands of citizens of Illinois took part in hearings and provided comments on rules that are shaky at best."

The fracking law was negotiated in secret with industry lobbyists and rushed through the legislature without meaningful debate. The hearing process for the rules was the public's chance to finally make their voice heard. They responded with packed public hearings of speakers overwhelmingly opposed to fracking and over 35,000 comments. It's no wonder why Bradley and his allies are intimidated by that glimmer of democracy during their attempt to force fracking on unwilling residents.

This victory is the first time Illinois environmentalists worked together on fracking since four Chicago-based organizations chose to support a flawed regulatory bill over the loud objection of people in potentially impacted regions. It's a glimpse of what power the movement could achieve by uniting around environmental justice principles in opposition to fracking.

Texas Has Executed So Many Inmates, There's Now Art Made Entirely Out Of Their Last Words

Thu, 2014-05-29 15:24
The state of Texas has executed 515 inmates since 1982, when it reinstated the death penalty years after a landmark Supreme Court decision. That's more than any other state over this period, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has suggested in the past that this ever-growing figure doesn't concern him.

Each of these inmates was offered a chance to give last words before their execution. Their statements have been meticulously recorded by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and released to the public. Reddit user arthurloin recently posted a word cloud visualization he created, which shows the most commonly occurring words used in these statements.

The prominence of certain words creates a haunting, yet strangely uplifting portrait of the men and women who would be executed a short time after their statements, many of them as punishment for heinous crimes. Love, forgiveness, faith and family are all prominent themes. The word "innocent" also appears in the right-center of the image.

With hundreds of inmates still on death row in Texas, this picture could change in the future.

It's not the first time art has been used to give life to death row inmates. In her series, "Parting Words," photographer Amy Elkins has compiled a visual archive of executed inmates in Texas, recreating their mugshots using excerpts from each prisoner's last words.

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh Must Not Be Allowed to Continue the Violence

Thu, 2014-05-29 14:42

In the five years since her passing, I have missed my Safta (grandmother) deeply. When I am in a moment of struggle, I often imagine the wise words she might have offered; I think of the joy she would feel from the accomplishments of my children; and I miss her 6:00 a.m. birthday calls from Israel for every member of my family.

Today, however, I am grateful she is no longer with us. The thought of my Safta having to relive the worst nightmare of her life -- as Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, one of the women who planted the bomb that killed her son, has resurfaced -- is not something I could bear. It's not something my dad and his two siblings should witness. That Odeh has resurfaced after years of hiding her true identity and now has hundreds of followers and supporters who are unaware of (or worse, don't care) what she did is sheer agony. That she served only 10 years of her life sentence before being part of a prisoner swap was always painful for us. That she moved to the U.S. and became Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network, an organization which does many things including trying to combat stereotypes of Arabs, all while hiding her past is ironic and hypocritical. That she is now being called an "icon" and a "pillar of her community" by her supporters is alarming. That these supporters plan to flock to her trial on Wednesday as she is prosecuted for concealing her past criminal record in her U.S. immigration and citizenship application is deplorable.

To her supporters I ask: At what point will you acknowledge her past and her crimes?

Ayesha Oudeh, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh's sister or "comrade," has spoken about both of their involvement in the bombing at the Supersol in Jerusalem that killed my dad's brother, Edward Joffe and his best friend, Leon Kanner. She has spoken about it in detail in front of cameras for all of us to see in the documentary Women in Struggle. Ayesha Oudeh even had a smirk when describing her clever plan. She said, "Rasmiyeh Odeh was more involved than I was [in the grocery store bombing] ... I only got involved during the preparation of explosives. We wanted to place two bombs to blow up consecutively. I suggested to have the second bomb go off five or six minutes after the first bomb so that those who get killed in it would be members of the army and secret service, but it did not explode. They diffused it 20 seconds before it exploded." The two women also planted two other bombs at the British Consulate in Jerusalem. One was found and detonated and the other only caused structural damage.

To Odeh's supporters I ask again: Do you condone this kind of violence?

I long for peace in the region and believe in a two-state solution. I know that there is tremendous pain on both sides. Many people on both sides have lost loved ones as we have. If Rasmieh Yousef Odeh was tortured in prison as she claims, I find that horrific and unacceptable. I do not condone that kind of violence. The turmoil in the region, the complexity of the history and the stories of the Palestinian and Israeli people are not black and white. But this particular story is black and white.

On Friday, Feb. 21, 1969, my dad's brother, Edward Joffe, and his best friend, Leon Kanner, went to the supermarket Supersol at the intersection of Agron and Hamelech George in Jerusalem to make some purchases for a botany department excursion. As they approached the meat counter, an explosive device, a biscuit can filled with five kilograms of dynamite, which had been placed there by Rasmieh Yousef Odeh and Ayesha Oudeh, was suddenly detonated, and Eddie and Leon were both instantly killed.

And so again I ask the supporters of Rasmieh Yousef Odeh: At what point will you stop defending her?

Which College Received The Most Applications In Your State?

Thu, 2014-05-29 13:23
If there is one thing we know about colleges in Illinois, it's that attending them is quite costly. Perhaps a lesser known figure is which university in the state is the most sought after by prospective undergraduate students?

Using the National Center for Education Statistics database, eCollegeFinder created a map of the "most desirable" college in each state based on the number of undergrad applications received last fall for the 2014-15 academic year.

Since many Illinois high school graduates apply to in-state colleges or to those in our five bordering neighbors -- Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky and Iowa -- in case you needed quick geography refresher, here is a breakdown of universities that received the most applications.

*The number of applications received presumably does not include ones received earlier this year. Additionally, some university websites include estimated costs for 2014-15, whereas others only had 2013-14 tuition expenses available.



University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

  • Applications received - 33,203

  • Acceptance rate - 62 percent

  • Total undergraduates - 32,281

    • 56 percent male / 44 percent female

  • Total estimated costs for 2014-15 academic year:

    • Residents - $30,150 - 35,154

    • Non-residents - $44,776 - 49,780

  • Application deadline - Jan. 2

  • Location - Champaign, Illinois


Indiana University:

  • Applications received - 37,826

  • Acceptance rate - 72 percent

  • Total undergraduates - 32,371

    • 50 percent male / 49 percent female

  • Total costs for 2013-2014 academic year:

    • Residents - $23,832

    • Non-residents - $45,974

  • Application deadline - Nov. 1 (priority deadline for maximum scholarship consideration) & Feb. 1

  • Location - Bloomington, Indiana



Marquette University:

  • Applications received - 23,432

  • Acceptance rate - 57 percent

  • Total undergraduates - 8,293

    • 50 percent male / 50 percent female

  • Costs for 2013-2014 academic year:

    • Tuition - $35,480

    • Typical room and board - $11,000

    • Fees - $450

    • Total - $46,930

  • Application deadline - Dec. 1

  • Location - Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Washington University in St. Louis:

  • Applications received - 30,117

  • Acceptance rate - 16 percent

  • Total undergraduates - 7,259

    • 48 percent male / 52 percent female

  • Costs for 2014-2015 academic year:

    • Tuition - $45,700

    • Student activity fee - $457

    • Student health and wellness fee - $310

    • Average university room and board - $13,888

    • Total cost - $60,355

  • Application deadline - Early/Regular decision (Nov. 15/Jan. 15)

  • Location - Saint Louis, Missouri


University of Kentucky:

  • Applications received - 19,810

  • Acceptance rate - 69 percent

  • Total undergraduates - 20,827

    • 50 percent male / 50 percent female

  • Tuition for 2013-2014 (per semester):

    • Lower Division Resident - $4,983

    • Lower Division Non-Resident - $10,526

    • Upper Division Resident - $5,127

    • Upper Division Non-Resident - $10,677

    • Mandatory fees - $549

  • Application deadline - Feb. 15

  • Location - Lexington, Kentucky


University of Iowa:

  • Applications received - 21,642

  • Acceptance rate - 80 percent

  • Total undergraduates - 21,999

    • 48 percent male / 52 percent female

  • Total estimated costs for 2014-15 academic year:

    • Residents - $20,861

      • Tuition and fees - $8,079

    • Non-residents - $40,191

      • Tuition and fees - $27,409

  • Application deadline - Nov. 15

  • Location - Iowa City, Iowa


While tuition alone for non-residents is daunting -- as is cost of attending the "most desirable" school in Illinois --  there are plenty of other higher education options that won't be as strenuous on your bank account. Either way, applying for college should not be based on a popularity contest, but what institutions can offer prospective students to be successful in the real world.

Shifting to a nationwide overview, here are the top five universities with the most and fewest applications received.

Top 5 Most:

  1. University of California - Los Angeles - 72,676

  2. New York University - 57,552

  3. Pennsylvania State University - 47,552

  4. Northeastern University - 47,364

  5. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor - 46,813

Top 5 Fewest:

  1. University of Alaska - Anchorage - 3,062

  2. University of Wyoming - 4,181

  3. South Dakota State University - 4,851

  4. North Dakota State University - 5,812

  5. University of Hawaii at Manoa - 6,901

Also, eCollegeFinder created this map below that shows each state's most applied-to college by undergrads.

Next article: Check out these report card grades Illinois' teacher and state employee pension plans received

  1. Best colleges in Illinois, according to U.S. News & World Report.

  2. These are the top 10 liberal arts colleges in Illinois.

  3. CPS taking hostages and you'll be paying the ransom.

  4. Every child deserves an excellent education. Use our Sound Off tool if you agree!

Hemp Amendments Could Block DEA From Interfering With Programs Legalized By States

Thu, 2014-05-29 12:29
The U.S. House will vote on two amendments Thursday that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering with industrial hemp programs and cultivation that have been legalized by states.

One hemp-related amendment would prohibit the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from blocking states from importing hemp seeds to grow for state industrial hemp research programs made legal by the recent passage of the federal farm bill. The amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which controls the DEA's budget, was offered by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

The other hemp amendment, offered by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), would prohibit the DOJ from spending funds to prevent a state from implementing its own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of industrial hemp.

The hemp amendments come in the wake of a high-profile DEA seizure earlier this month of a 250-pound shipment of industrial hemp seeds intended for use in Kentucky's hemp-growing pilot program. Kentucky sued the DEA for release of the seeds. They were released a little more than a week later, after the state's agricultural department obtained a special permit.

The DEA action incensed Democratic and Republican lawmakers involved in the new industrial hemp laws, drawing condemnation from Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (R), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), his Democratic challenger and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

DEA chief Michele Leonhart is known to be a foe of hemp. She previously told a group of sheriffs she was upset by a flag made of industrial hemp that flew over the U.S. Capitol on July 4, 2013, at the behest of Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

Currently, 15 states have legalized industrial hemp production, and about two dozen others have introduced legislation that, if passed, would authorize research, set up a regulatory framework or legalize the growing of industrial hemp.

Hemp is the same species as marijuana -- Cannabis sativa -- but it contains little to no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana associated with the "high" sensation.

Hemp, sometimes called marijuana's "sober cousin," has a long history in America and has been used in a wide range of household products, including paper, cosmetics and textiles. In the 1700s, American colonial farmers were required by law to grow the plant, and it was used for hundreds of years in the U.S. to make rope, lamp oil and much more.

American industrial hemp production peaked in 1943, with more than 150 million pounds from 146,200 harvested acres. Production dropped to zero in the late 1950s as a result of "anti-drug sentiment and competition from synthetic fibers," according to The Associated Press.

Julia Collins Continues Historic 'Jeopardy' Streak

Thu, 2014-05-29 12:07
Julia Collins just keeps winning.

The 31-year old supply-chain specialist added more money to her pile of "Jeopardy" earnings on Thursday, picking up $18,900 for an 18-day total of $391,600.

With a win on Thursday, Collins, who predicted her own "Jeopardy!" success way back in eighth grade, would enter into a tie for second with David Madden on the list of most regular-season victories in the show's history. (Before 2003, contestants were limited to five consecutive regular-season victories.) First place is still a long way away, though: Ken Jennings holds the record with 74 straight games.

Collins wasn't quite as dominant Wednesday as she had been in some of her previous games, though she still managed to make the game a "runaway" -- meaning that her opponents could not catch her going into the Final Jeopardy round -- as she had in her previous five appearances.

And while the 18-time champ hasn't received as much media attention as the divisive "Jeopardy" champion Arthur Chu did earlier this year, she was interviewed by "Good Morning America" on Thursday. “I was a pretty nerdy kid,” Collins told the show. “I liked to shout out the answers to the TV like everybody else does.”

The 21 Best Southern Restaurants Outside the South

Thu, 2014-05-29 11:34
The South has some of the most enviable foods in the country, and it's not just because nearly everything seems to be deep-fried or cheese-topped... or both. The regional cuisine is the culinary melting pot of America, melding African, Appalachian, and Cajun flavors into a cast-iron pot of simmering, distinctive comfort foods. But just because the South lays claim to fried chicken, BBQ, and mac & cheese, doesn't mean the rest of the U.S. isn't doing it right, too.

But, what is the South? Geographically, that famed Mason-Dixon line isn't a bad starting place. But the food map tells a different story, ranging from the tasso ham and Andouille sausage-filled edges of Louisiana and Eastern Texas over to the shrimp-loving lowcountry of Carolina. Kentucky snags a Northern border, while most of Florida is out of luck. Outside of those borders, chefs have taken the classics and melded them with their own regional cuisines and flavors. These are the 21 best Southern joints outside the South.

More: 16 Southern chains the rest of the country needs

CREDIT: ACME Southern Kitchen

ACME Southern Kitchen (San Diego, CA)

What you're getting: Any Southern pie (peach, lemon ice box)

It's only been open a few months, but San Diego's ACME has already made a stake in the lard-filled world of Southern food. While it may be in competition with taco shops, rather than other mom-and-pop luncheries, this line-up would feel astonishingly at home at a Mississippi roadside with impossible-to-leave-off plates, like fried pork chop on a roll and chicken pot pie.

CREDIT: Flickr/Heather Sperling

Big Jones (Chicago, IL)

What you're getting: Boucherie Board (tasso, boudin rouge, and tete de couchon)

Another Chicago spot dabbles in lowcountry flavors, but also includes New Orleans and Gulf inspiration, intermingling the diverse flavors of the South's coastal regions. Big Jones also has an impressive selection of whiskies, from E.H. Taylor Barrel Strength to Four Roses. Join their Bourbon Society and get a complimentary pour of the whiskey of the month during every meal, plus gain access to special dark-liquor events once you fill up your 46-list "passport" of whiskies. Shouldn't take you more than a week.

Boxing Room (San Francisco, CA)

What you're getting: Crispy boudin balls (deep-fried balls of rice-filled Creole sausage)

Justin Simoneaux nails the spice and seafood of his native South Louisiana at this Fillmore Cajun temple. A "Classic Louisiana" section is filled with reliable favorites like duck gumbo, red beans + sausage, and regular gumbo, but the rest of the menu - like crawfish pie and oysters Rockefeller -- would feel equally at home. The Louisiana taste extends towards the drinks, which include plenty of Abita.

CREDIT: Brenda's Soul Kitchen

Brenda's (San Francisco, CA)

What you're getting: Oyster flight

Another SF-Southern spot that dives into Creole foods, Brenda's does oysters right, broiling the briny beauts in styles ranging from Tchoupitoulas (cayenne butter, garlic, herbs) to Orleans (voodoo BBQ sauce). A few deep-South and soul dishes, like hushpuppies and BBQ Pork Ribs with collard greens sneak onto the menu, too.

There's still 17 more of the best Southern restaurants outside the South to drool over -- and they're all on!

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School Releases Diplomas Withheld Over Cap-tossing

Thu, 2014-05-29 11:13
NORRIDGE, Ill. (AP) — Administrators at a suburban Chicago high school have had a change of heart after withholding diplomas from an entire class because some students defied instructions not to toss their caps in the air at graduation.

Ridgewood High School in Norridge initially posted a message on its website saying it would only release diplomas if representatives of the graduating class apologized in person at the next school board meeting. It referred to the cap-tossing at Tuesday's ceremony as "disrespectful and insubordinate behavior." Some parents and students expressed disbelief.

By Thursday morning, officials had reversed course and replaced the announcement with one saying it had "re-thought" its policy and would be sending out diplomas immediately.

Ridgewood High School is known as the home of the Rebels.

Chicago's Skydeck Ledge Cracks Beneath Tourists 103 Stories Up

Thu, 2014-05-29 10:38
Mind the glass.

A family from California stepped out onto one of the glass boxes jutting out from the 103rd floor of Chicago's Willis Tower on Wednesday night when they reportedly heard an odd cracking sound. When they looked down, they realized the iconic Skydeck Ledge had cracked beneath their feet, NBC Chicago first reported.

Ledge of Willis Tower's Skydeck cracks during tourists' visit

— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) May 29, 2014

Opened in 2009, the Ledge allows visitors to step out onto one of four glass balconies that extend 4.3 feet out from the building and look down at the city from a height of 1,353 feet. Each box is composed of 1,500-pound panels that include three layers of half-inch thick glass.

It appears that it was the top layer of the glass enclosure that cracked beneath the tourists' feet.

However, representatives for the tower assured local publications that the top, protective layer was made to crack, adding that the visitors were never in any danger.

"Occasionally this happens, but that’s because we designed it this way," spokesman Bill Utter told The Chicago Sun-Times. "Whatever happened last night is a result of the protective coating doing what it’s designed to."

All four Skydeck Ledge enclosures are currently open for the public. Building management reportedly covered the cracked glass with a carpet but plans to repair the layer Thursday.

"It's perfectly fine, you can go on it now," Willis Tower spokesman Randy Stancik told Chicago. "But nobody wants to go on it."

Got a Few Days Free This Summer? Check Out These Illinois Destinations

Thu, 2014-05-29 09:32

Memorial Day has come and gone and the summer season is officially underway. As the temperatures rise, you may be planning out the calendar for the next three months before autumn makes a return. Perhaps that calendar is filled with summer camps, yardwork or pool parties.

But there are bound to be some days with nothing planned, and those are the days primed for an opportunity to travel to a different part of Illinois. Visit the Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois, catch the Cubs' minor leaguers playing for the Kane County Cougars, or spend the day checking out the animals at the Brookfield Zoo.

We excluded Chicago from this list of 25 summer trips you need to take in Illinois this year because, frankly, there's a lot out there around the Land of Lincoln that is just waiting to be explored. All you need is a nice summer day and a sense of adventure.

But before you go, get in the know with some of these useful apps for Illinoisans. Specifically, you'll want the traffic and weather apps, but in case of an overnight trip, the Illinois campgrounds guide will come in handy as well.

The Dark Side Of The College Game

Thu, 2014-05-29 05:50
We are now in the meanest time of a high school senior's life. A few weeks ago they had to commit to a college and by now, word has trickled out about who is going where, who got in where, and more importantly, who didn't get to go where they wanted.

It's a rough time for kids who live in competitive climates. They have spent four years pushing their treadmill into overdrive, scrambling to ace AP classes, taking and retaking their SATs or ACTs, perfecting their "resumes" to include just the right balance of sports participation, cultural exposure, and community service. Nothing they've done in high school was by accident and the day of reckoning has arrived: They are either going to their first-choice college or they are not and everyone -- everyone -- knows it.

But here's what everyone doesn't know: A whole bunch of them who are going to their "dream" schools will be coming back within the first year. Right now in kitchens across America, kids completing their freshman year are telling their parents, "Sorry Mom and Dad, but I don't want to go back to that school." All that hard work and studying, all that time and effort spent in applying, all that anxiety while waiting to hear, the drama of waving goodbye at the dorm and the money -- all that money!! -- and here is Junior sitting at the table saying he just can't go back. Say what?!

Probably the most overlooked number on every college website is the one that says how many freshmen leave after the first year. For parents, it's much easier to focus on how many of that school's graduates go on to great jobs or advanced studies, or how many spend their junior year abroad, or how many are involved in athletics, get scholarships, live on campus. But how many come high-tailing home after the first semester or year? Those numbers we prefer to overlook because they must be talking about someone else's less-committed daughter, not ours, right? Wrong.

I was sitting at a track meet a few weeks ago talking to someone I affectionately call Supermom. Corinne Le has four sons, all of them great kids. (Four sons and in her "spare time," she brought a child from Kenya into her home for months, tending to him as one of her own during his difficult surgery and recovery.) Corinne's umbrella is big and many seek safe haven under it, and there are many kids -- friends of her kids -- who feel comfortable talking to her.

Her eldest son chose to go to college locally although many of his friends did not. She began ticking off on her fingers how many from his high school graduation class are returning home as transfer students. She ran out of fingers.

"OK, kids talk to you," I said. "Why do you think it happens?"

In some cases, she opined, they only think they are ready to live away. It's a "grass is always greener" on the other side of the country thing. They believe it until they get there and then they learn otherwise.

In other cases, living on their own gives them a better sense of the financial sacrifice their parents are making and they see a less expensive way to reach their goal: by living at home or going to a community college -- or both. They've grown up in that year spent away and return home with a newfound sense of responsibility, maybe even gratitude.

But in other cases, there is this reality: The academic pressure has built to the point that they implode. They are bright kids who simply need a break from the stress and rigors they've lived under and they've mustered the courage to have "the talk" with their parents. The ones to worry about are the kids who aren't able to have that kitchen table talk.

Without question, the peer and family pressure to get into the Brand Name University can wind up disastrously. And yes, some parents freak out at that kitchen table talk. What they lose sight of is the underlying message: Your kid is unhappy and needs to figure things out. So help him if you can because this isn't really about you or what the neighbors will say when they learn he isn't returning to Yale.

The truth is, there are many routes that lead to the same place in life. And the country is already deep in the throes of reexamining how we see college educations. Zac Bissonnette led the charge in in 2010 with his seminal book, "Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents." He challenged us to see college as a return on our investment -- and that it isn't always a good investment. It makes sense: Why graduate with $150,000 in student debt when your degree will get you a job that pays $30,000?

There are many other paths to take once you and your child stop caring what other people think of as the best or only route. I happen to love the idea of my kids taking a gap year after high school. While it's been a long tradition in Europe to spend time traveling around and volunteering before you enter college, the rat race in the United States expects our kids to jump in straight away. Maybe it's time to regroup on that one. I'd rather see my daughter volunteering in a Chinese orphanage and having a foreign living country experience than worrying about whether the TA to her professor knows her name. What's the big rush to launch on a career anyway?

Oddly, I think Moms of special ed kids have a leg up on the whole college race thing. We are used to our kids being the square pegs in a culture of round holes. We are used to them being the different ones and we long ago figured out that our energy was better spent teaching them that what others thought of them was less important than what made them happy. My kids will have no problem deviating from the so-called "norm" because they do so every day.

And for everyone else, maybe it's best to clear off the kitchen table in case a talk is coming your way.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Biggest Starbucks Drink Ever? Behold The 60-Shot Frappuccino

Wed, 2014-05-28 17:25
60 shots, one cup.

No, that's not the title of the latest shock viral video; it's a description of a recent Starbucks order that has the Internet buzzing. A Starbucks customer going only by Andrew reportedly set the record for the most expensive drink ever ordered at the chain at $54. Its name? The Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino, according to The Consumerist.

Andrew racked up the hefty bill by ordering 60 espresso shots as well as a number of additions. The icing on the cake? Because Andrew is a Gold member of the Starbucks loyalty program, he got the whole bucket-sized beverage free.

Behold the massive, super-American, 60-shot drink:

Here's the receipt if you're into that sort of thing:

The coffee colossus, which Starbucks confirmed to The Huffington Post was the real deal, bested last year's 40-shot “Quadriginoctuple Frap," which came in at $47.30.

Because of the size of the drink, Andrew needed to bring in his own 128-ounce glass, Starbucks told HuffPost. Andrew also differed from his predecessor by not putting in more random ingredients like bananas and pumpkin spice, The Consumerist reports.

For its part, Starbucks said that while it does allow customers to customize free beverages earned through its reward program, this one "was excessive and something that we do not encourage."

"We want to ensure our customers receive the highest quality and most delicious tasting food and beverage products from us," Starbucks told HuffPost over the phone. "We don’t believe that this particular beverage choice was reflective of that."

Andrew, apparently, disagrees. "I gotta say, it was delicious," he told The Consumerist. By the looks of it, it sure was:

Chicago Group Pushing For $15 Minimum Wage

Wed, 2014-05-28 17:15
A coalition of Chicago aldermen on Wednesday introduced an ordinance that would increase the minimum wage for many workers in the third-largest U.S. city to $15 an hour.

The ordinance calls for corporations with more than $50 million in annual sales to increase worker pay to at least $15 an hour with a year of the law's effective date. Smaller businesses would be allowed more than five years to raise pay. Twenty-one of the council's 50 members have signed on as cosponsors, Crain's Chicago Business reports.

The current minimum wage in Chicago is $8.25 an hour, a dollar more than the federal minimum wage.

Several aldermen joined low-wage workers at a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday, before the meeting where the ordinance was filed. Home care worker Darlene Pruitt, a 55-year-old mother of three and grandmother of 22, said she earns $10.65 an hour after five annual raises of a dime an hour working for the Help at Home agency. It's not enough, the West Side resident told The Huffington Post.

Darlene Pruitt speaks at a Wednesday morning press conference at City Hall.

Pruitt said she has sometimes turned to a food pantry to make sure her family has enough to eat. "It's hard out there," Pruitt said. "The cost to live in Chicago and meet your basic needs -- rent, utilities, food, medication, clothes -- is high."

Pruitt said she is not afraid of retribution from her employer from speaking out because she is optimistic her efforts will help other workers like her who are in a similar position. If she earned more money, much of it would go right back into her community, she said.

The Center for Popular Democracy, in partnership with Raise Chicago, an advocacy group pushing for the higher wage, released a study Wednesday claiming the higher wage would decrease worker turnover and stimulate the local economy.

The study said the higher minimum wage would be responsible for $616 million in new economic activity and would help create 5,350 new jobs in its first phase. The higher wage also would add $45 million in sales tax revenues, but would raise consumer prices about 2 percent, according to the study.

Voters overwhelmingly backed the $15 minimum wage in a non-binding ballot question on about 5 percent of the city's ballots in the March primary election.

Business groups, however, have yet to be swayed.

Doug Whitley of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce told DNAinfo Chicago the proposed ordinance is "a ridiculously excessive reach on the part of a local government to try to instruct private-sector employers how to manage their businesses." The chamber said in a previous statement with other business groups that employers "cannot afford another minimum-wage increase" of any amount.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced his support of a higher minimum wage, but for less than $15 an hour. Emanuel last week trumpeted the creation of a minimum wage "working group" tasked with creating a plan for increasing worker wages in the city and previously said he backed President Barack Obama's push for a $10.10 federal minimum wage.

If Obama Is Actually Coming For Your Guns, He's Really Terrible At It

Wed, 2014-05-28 17:10
Conservatives have said President Barack Obama is "coming for your guns" and had a "strategy" to get reelected and then "erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights."

But with gun policy again in the news after the Isla Vista shooting, it's worth considering that Obama's legacy on gun control may ultimately be defined by the executive orders he issued in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. And absent any concerted effort by Congress, the fear that encouraged a spike in gun sales after Obama's election and reelection may have all been for naught.

Indeed, the president said after last September's massacre at the Washington Navy Yard that voters should pressure Congress to initiate gun control legislation, since he had already "taken steps that are within my control" after Newtown. In an election year in which Republicans need to pick up only six seats to retake the Senate, the prospects for a push on guns may seem dim to even the most optimistic supporter of reform.

And with that, a list of all the actions Obama has taken on guns. You'll notice he hasn't done much to restrict access:

That time he signed a bill allowing concealed loaded firearms in national parks.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment in 2009 permitting concealed, loaded guns in national parks to a bill about credit cards, saying differences in state and federal laws inhibited gun owners from travel between state and federal lands.

And signed a bill allowing Amtrak passengers to store handguns in their checked baggage.

Advocates of the bill, also introduced in 2009, said it gave train riders rights comparable to those possessed by plane passengers. Amtrak had allowed firearms to be carried on trains before 9/11, so the bill represented a victory for gun rights activists.

After Newtown, Obama assembled a task force to address gun violence.

Obama charged Vice President Joe Biden in December 2012 with overseeing an administration-wide process to develop proposals for Congress to take up. He urged lawmakers to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, close loopholes that allow buyers to avoid background checks and restrict high-capacity ammunition clips.

Then unveiled proposals to combat gun violence…

Obama's legislative proposals, released in January 2013, touched upon not just access to firearms and ammunition but school safety and mental health care.

And issued 23 executive actions.

A high point for the the White House on gun control was when Obama announced a flurry of executive actions accompanying his legislative proposals. The actions included requiring federal agencies to hand over relevant data for a background check system, providing more training for responders in shooting situations and restarting research on gun violence.

Only to see Congress take up just one of those proposals... and quickly shoot it down.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey's (R-Pa.) legislation on background checks fell short by five votes in April that year, even though nearly 90 percent of Americans favored strengthening such measures. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last month that he'd need more support from senators to revisit the bill.

But he did get to sign a renewal of an existing bill banning plastic firearms.

It appears that all Congress is capable of doing when it comes to gun control is authorizing an extension of a prohibition against guns that can avoid detection by metal detectors and X-ray machines. Republicans went along with renewing the ban in December, but resisted tightening the restrictions.

<i>Thrive</i> Live Recap: Takeaways From Our <i>Thrive</i> Conference

Wed, 2014-05-28 16:32
Last year we held the first-ever Third Metric conference in my living room. We wanted it to be cozy, but so many people showed up that it was downright intimate. But it was a sign of how widespread the longing to redefine success and make room in our lives for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving really is.

So this year we knew that either we'd have to move to a new location or I'd have to get a much bigger apartment. We chose a new location. But happily, one thing that didn't change was my co-host, Mika Brzezinski. And as we said as we opened the conference, our purpose this year was to move from knowing what changes we needed to make to actually making them.

To help the more than 2,000 attendees make those changes, over two days we heard from neuroscientists, doctors, musicians, writers, teachers, comedians, artists and a yoga instructor who led what was probably Manhattan's biggest yoga class.

I hope all those who attended were able to take home some tools to make those changes in their daily lives. But for those of you who weren't able to make it, here are some highlights from the conference.

Jon Kabat-Zinn on the low-tech benefits of meditation:

"The real meditation practice is how we live our lives from moment to moment to moment.... You don't need the iPhone; you've got the most exquisite apparatus in the known universe sitting right in your head and the rest of your body -- the most complex organization of matter in the entire universe. And here we are, a little depressed and feeling like we're not getting where we need to be instead of realizing you may be exactly where you need to be...."

Julianne Moore on setting yourself up for success:

"Don't say, 'I want to be President of the United States.' It's too hard to get there! But if you say, 'I'd like to think about becoming involved in local politics,' you keep your goal close to you. Always keep your goal right in front of you. If you say to yourself, 'I want to write a story,' don't say, 'I need to publish a story.' Just write the one page that day, then write the second page, then write the third page. But do it in little bits so you always feel like you have achieved something."

Mark Bertolini on employee well-being and the bottom line:

"Since 2010 we've in essence been down almost 8-percent in our health-care costs as a company by focusing on our employees. And I think that's a message for the whole country, in that if we work on reducing stress, making sure people are taking care of themselves, giving them the time to do it, I think that is a huge opportunity for us to bend the curve and reduce the impact of health-care costs on our nation's deficit."

Richard Davidson on the science of kindness:

"There are changes in the body that occur when we generate compassion and warm-heartedness, and there are parts of the brain that are involved in monitoring what's going on in the body that also correspond to the change."

Laurie David on the moral urgency of addressing our obesity epidemic:

"There was a stunning stat that came out recently that this is the first generation of children that are going to lead shorter lifespans than their parents. That's unheard of and completely unacceptable."

Alicia Menendez on securing our own mask first:

"Sometimes it's easier to see in the people that we care about than it is to see in ourselves, but you are of no service to anyone else if you don't take care of yourself."

Randi Zuckerberg on setting a healthy technology example for our children:

"A lot of people always ask me what my rules are for my son, but no one ever asks me what my rules are for myself. And I have found that he copies and emulates a lot of my behavior, so it's unfair for me to tell him 'No, you can't play with Mommy's phone right now' if I'm texting under the table."

Cindi Leive on her digital detox:

"The main thing I learned is that it really helps to have a partner in crime when you're trying to force yourself to step away from your to-do list and focus on you and take some time for yourself."

Alanis Morissette on cultivating an inner life:

"I think a lot of what's happening in this sort of distraction age, if we can call it that, is that we're running from ourselves, in a way, because there's these existential questions of: Who are we spiritually? Who are we emotionally? Are we our past?"

Dr. Dan Siegel on embracing uncertainty:

"I think people are realizing that the life that we've been living is just not working, but that's going to require for us to go inward to a place that, for some people, is very frightening, and they avoid it, but it's certainly full of uncertainty."

Panache Desai on living an authentic life:

"We must be willing to inform our lives from the inside out."

Federica Marchionni on how she relaxes and recharges:

"I need to sleep. I exercise. I like active things: I run, bike, swim, skate and do Bikram yoga. But most importantly, I need to kiss my son. He's 6."

Andy Puddicombe on a piece of advice he's never forgotten:

"It might sound pessimistic, but I remember one teacher saying to always live life with death on the side, the idea of remembering how precious life is. I think about it every day, like, 'Wow, life will end for all of us.'"

Lucy Danziger on true character:

"True character is how you are when things aren't going your way. When you're down or get kicked down -- or get fired, in my case -- how you act in those moments, the resilience you find ... is the most important thing you can do. I believe that personality is destiny, because when you have these bumps in the road, you have to rely on your character and strength to get back out there."

Adam Grant on a little-discussed way of giving back:

"Busy people can easily give back by making introductions. A well-done introduction can be life-changing for the people who receive it."

Maysoon Zayid on getting past the "busy" trap:

"You're never too busy to find one hour a week that you dedicate to giving back."

Tory Burch on the support she received on the way to success:

"My whole career I've been helped by women, and I think that was really something that really affected me in a very positive way."

Ali Wentworth on the importance of having a support group:

"Having lived in Hollywood for many years, I actually found that women did not help women in that business at all. I sort of figured, 'I want one place where women are genuinely 100-percent helping and supporting each other and not judging each other.'"

Charles Best on the mission of his company, DonorsChoose:

"Anybody can now be a philanthropist. Even if they just have one dollar to spare, they can search for classroom projects that match their passion, see exactly where their money's going and hear back from the classroom they chose to help."

Dr. Dean Ornish on the mind-body connection:

"When you change your lifestyle, it changes your genes, over 500 genes, in just a few months."

Dani Shapiro on the connection between our inner and outer lives:

"The older I get, the hungrier I am for these moments of authenticity, connection. An authentic connection begins with permission to be ourselves."

Finally, our thanks and gratitude go out to our sponsors: Bliss, IPG Mediabrands, Ipsos, the Girls' Lounge, JPMorgan Chase, Kenneth Cole, Performance Lifestyle and Westin. Our event would not have been such a success without their support.