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Timon Kyle Durrett Talks Love, Sex and Marriage

Tue, 2014-11-04 08:44

Actor Timon Kyle Durrett -- a Chicago native -- has enjoyed guest starring and recurring roles on television shows such as Girlfriends, The Young & The Restless, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Heroes, Samantha Who?, The Ghost Whisperer, and Castle. Durrett's breakout role was that of Quinn Davis on VH1's first-ever scripted series Single Ladies.

Now fans can see Durrett as a leading man in Christopher Nolen's 72 Hours playing for a limited engagement at the Studio Movie Grill in Chatham on Thursday, November 6 and Friday, November 7.

In 72 Hours, ex-playboy Von (played by Durrett) suffers a heart attack and finds himself face-to-face with God, (portrayed by The Blacklist's Harry J. Lennix).
God gives Von 72 hours to atone to the women he's hurt in the past, or he'll die.

Here, Timon Kyle Durrett shares his views about love, sex and marriage. (Thank goodness he doesn't have that 72 hours ultimatum to worry about.)

What is the first thing you notice about a woman?

Durrett: I first pay attention to the way she's dressed. To me, the way a woman presents herself in public is an expression of how she values herself. That's vital. Then, I pay close attention to her behavior; the way she speaks, interacts, etc. If you watch long enough, most people will reveal themselves without you asking a single question.

How soon is too soon for sex (if a woman desires a relationship)?

Durrett: Too soon? It's hard to say.
I believe it depends on the people involved and the circumstance. If two adults are in agreement and clear about what they want--as well as when, where, why, and how they want it--then who else [outside of their agreement] can put a timeline or deadline on their desires?
If it's not hurting anybody, to each his/her own.

Is marriage appealing to you?

Durrett: That's a tough one. It's not appealing to me...not right now. I've never been married, so I can't say definitively if it's the thing for me or not at this point in my life.

What is the one thing you wish women understood about men and love?

Durrett: That most men are simplistic by nature. I'm very straightforward and communicative. I don't mince words, hint, beat around the bush, etc. I say what I mean and I mean what I say, all the time. Truth without compassion can, at times, come across as brutality. So, I know how to soften things up, but it will still be a softened truth.

TImon Kyle Durrett is on Twitter @TimonKDurrett, and Facebook: TimonKyleDurrett.
Photo: Ctsy. of Timon Kyle Durrett.

5 Common Illnesses College Students Should Know About

Tue, 2014-11-04 08:18
While you really shouldn't be worrying about catching Ebola on your college campus, there is a higher probability you'll get a certain sexually transmitted infection if you don't get vaccinated.

In case you zoned out when your mom bugged you about staying healthy when you went off to college, or you totally didn't pay attention during orientation about some of the things you'd be at risk for on campus, we've rounded up some common illnesses you may encounter.

Here's a quick guide to five common illnesses college students should be especially aware of:

Go Get Vaccinated For Meningitis
Meningitis occurs when membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord become swollen, which can lead to headache, fever and neck stiffness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Most cases are due to infection from a virus, but infection via the meningococcal bacteria is the most dangerous: It can lead to hearing loss, brain damage or even the loss of a limb, ABC News reported. Freshmen seem to be at a higher risk for meningitis, possibly because of the close contact typical of dorm life, NPR reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that preteens first get vaccinated around age 11 or 12, with a booster shot at age 16. Freshmen who received the vaccine before their 16th birthday should get a booster before going to college. And students who have never before been vaccinated can get the shot for the first time: The vaccine is recommended for anyone ages 19 to 24 and is even required by some colleges.

Athlete's Foot, OR Why You Need To Bring Flip Flops For The Dorm Shower

There’s a reason why “shower shoes” are a dorm room must. Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is the name for an itchy fungal infection that’s caused by the same fungus responsible for jock itch — and yes, that fungus can live in dark, damp environments like the dorm room shower. Athlete’s foot usually occurs when your sweaty feet are confined in tight shoes, and it leads to a rash that typically starts between the toes (though there can also be ulcers or blisters).

So what’s the best way to prevent an infection with athlete’s foot? Air out your feet and avoid keeping your feet enclosed in sweaty socks and shoes. And wear shower shoes or sandals when you use communal showers, public pools and the like. It’s also a good idea to avoid sharing shoes with others. And if you’ve already been plagued by athlete’s foot, go to see your doctor, who may direct you to an over-the-counter product you can use to combat it. Severe infections may require treatment with antifungal pills.

Get A Simple Shot To Prevent The Flu, It's Easy To Spread On Campus

The seasonal flu spreads from one person to another by coughing, sneezing, or just talking. According to the CDC, a person with the flu can spread it to another person up to six feet away from them. In a college lecture hall, that six-foot radius includes a lot of classmates. People also spread it before symptoms develop -- i.e., before they realize they should stay home. College students are physically around each other in classrooms, dining halls, libraries, dorms, and parties, allowing for viruses to spread quickly and widely.

Although college-age people aren't the most at-risk group for serious flu complications, they can still easily get the illness. And it's not just a bad cold, it can seriously decrease a person's productivity and actions for up to two weeks. In the course of a semester, being slowed down like that -- or missing all those parties -- has a major effect.

The good news? You can protect yourself with an easy, and often on-campus, flu shot.

Keep Your Strep Throat Away From Lecture Class

There is no vaccine for strep throat, yet. Strep is a bacterial throat infection that anyone can get, usually through person-to-person contact through saliva, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It mostly results in severe pain when swallowing, but sometimes includes a fever, nausea or body aches. You can treat it with warm liquids, hot tea with honey, gargling, sucking on throat lozenges and taking over-the-counter medications, not to mention antibiotics from your doctor. It can also spread through coughing or sneezing so that's why this is one sickness where if you get it, you should skip class. Seriously, just stay home and watch some Netflix while you drink away your strep with some tea.

There's A Good Chance You'll Get HPV, Unless You Get Vaccinated

Human papillomavirus (HPV) predominantly gets transmitted between sexually-active people under the age of 24. According to the CDC, it's most commonly transmitted during vaginal or anal sex, and can be passed "even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms." Most of the time it goes away without much issue, but sometimes can cause genital warts or even cancer. (However, the type of HPV that causes genital warts is not the same as the kind that causes cancer.) Up to four in five adults will have HPV at some point.

The good news though is there is a vaccine available, and the Harvard Global Health Review notes that "research on the HPV vaccine has proven that no serious side-effects could be attributed to the vaccine." Women up to the age of 26 can get the vaccine, same with men up to the age of 21 or men ages 22 to 26 who have sex with men.

Election Day 2014: Follow Along As Results Come In From Around The U.S.

Tue, 2014-11-04 08:15
The 2014 midterm elections are taking place around the U.S. on Tuesday.

In addition to gubernatorial and congressional races, HuffPost will be following the results on ballot measures around the nation dealing with the minimum wage, marijuana legalization and more.

See below for the latest updates:

How An Election Night Loss Can Be Your First Victory

Tue, 2014-11-04 07:41
To all the candidates across the United States: tonight's the night, good luck. After a long day of pep talks and get out the vote efforts you're going to get the only set of poll numbers that matter. The people will speak and the verdict will be final.

Some of you may outperform your models and expectations; some may underperform.

But many of you will lose.

Losing is not fun. I've been there; standing center stage at the most depressing "election night celebration" you'll ever attend. However, just as there's a wrong way to win, there's also a right way to lose. As I said in my 2006 concession speech, "Even though the results are not what we wanted, there is no shame in defeat."

Knowing what to say and how to act in your campaign's lowest moment can be the spark that helps you kick-start your next successful run for office. It's an audition for the role you didn't know you were up for. In short, people are watching. Make it good.

In those first moments after the check mark appears on the television screen next to the other person's name, a candidate should take steps to show that they are a viable choice for the next election, which for some offices is just two years away.

That starts with a thank you to all of the voters, a bit of grace and an appropriate level of humility. You hear the electorate and you accept their judgment.

What a candidate should not do is follow in the footsteps of Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel and deride the voters who participated in the election and attempt to win in a courtroom rather than at a ballot box. McDaniel's unprofessional behavior has probably disqualified him from another chance at the seat when Senator Thad Cochran retires or any other elective office in Mississippi that might be available in the next six years.

In the following weeks and months, motivated losing candidates will seize the opportunity to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and why he or she decided to get into politics in the first place. These reflections are what enable political losers to become "the inventors" of electoral politics according to political scientist Kenneth Shepsle. "(I)t is losers who provide a political dynamic in public life -- innovating and strategizing to become winners on the one hand, and energizing the incumbent winners to anticipate and try to deflect the losers' maneuvers on the other," Shepsle proposes.

Finding the right lessons from defeat will give today's losers a better shot at becoming next cycle's victors.

Our last three presidents lost U.S. House races early in their careers. Those failures allowed each man to determine what kind of candidate he was going to be, and showed him how a loss could turn out to be a better outcome in the long run.

After losing to Democrat Kent Hance in 1978, George W Bush learned the value of authenticity, after being caricatured on the trail as a privileged product of Yale University and Harvard Business School. According to Hance, after losing Bush decided, "He wasn't going to be out-Christianed or out-good-old-boyed again." After that initial defeat, Bush never lost another run for office.

President Clinton, in his autobiography My Life, noted that he spent the first days after his 1974 loss "in a funk," but eventually saw a silver lining. "(I)t would be a good while before I realized that the congressman had done me a favor by beating me," he wrote. "If I had won and gone to Washington, I'm sure I never would have been elected President."

It will be a while before we know which of tonight's losers will be able to turn the tables in the next campaign.

Until then those that come up short should remember some of the most useful words on failure from Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly... and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

In time, it is possible for today's losers, through careful contemplation, to begin to see the path to future greatness through tonight's wounds.

Hon. Mark R. Kennedy (@HonMarkKennedy) leads George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management and is Chairman of the Economic Club of Minnesota. He previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was Senior Vice President and Treasurer of Federated Department Stores (now Macy's).

What Time Do The Polls Close?

Mon, 2014-11-03 19:55
Tuesday is Election Day in America, so here's a roundup of when the polls close in each state.

If you still haven't figured out where you have to go to cast your vote, use this tool to find your polling place.

Colorado and Washington voters are participating in a mail-in election -- while Colorado voters are still able to submit their votes at ballot drop off locations on Election Day, Washington state voters will not have the opportunity to do so, and are thus excluded from the below list.

NOTE: All times are listed in Eastern Time. States designated by * have multiple closing times, as they span more than one time zone.

6 p.m.

7 p.m.
New Hampshire
South Carolina

7:30 p.m.
North Carolina
West Virginia

8 p.m.
New Jersey
Rhode Island
South Dakota*
Washington, D.C.

8:30 p.m.

9 p.m.
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota*
South Dakota*

10 p.m.
North Dakota*

11 p.m.
North Dakota*

12 a.m. & 1 a.m.

For the latest from our polling team, check out HuffPost Pollster's Senate forecast. For live updates on the election, follow our live blog.

New Cubs Manager Ordered A Round Of Drinks At His Press Conference, Will Fit In Just Fine

Mon, 2014-11-03 18:32
The Chicago Cubs have a new manager: Joe Maddon. Judging by his introductory press conference, he's going to fit in just fine.

At the conclusion of his excitable press conference held Monday afternoon at the Cubby Bear bar near Wrigley Field, Maddon ordered a round for everyone in attendance, clarifying:

"That's a shot and a beer. That's the Hazleton way," referring to his Pennsylvania hometown.

Maddon, who replaces Rick Renteria, will be the Cubs' fifth manager since the start of the 2010 season. After leaving the Tampa Bay Rays with a record of 754-705 after nine seasons, Maddon inked a five-year, $25 million contract with the Cubs, the Associated Press reports.

Despite enthusiasm from Cubs brass and Maddon, the acquisition of what Deadspin calls "one of baseball's few rock-star managers" is not without controversy. The Rays are reportedly mulling filing tampering charges against the Cubs, alleging they enticed Maddon to opt-out of the final year of his contract.

Cubs President Theo Epstein denied the allegations and said the Cubs reached out to Maddon immediately only after learning he was opting out from the Rays.

The fantastically quotable 60-year-old was beyond optimistic about the Cubs' prospects for the coming season.

“I'm gonna be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon said during the press conference. “I'll tell you that right now. I can't go to spring training and say anything else. You have to set your goals high, because if you don't set them high enough you might hit your mark, and that's not a good thing. We're gonna talk World Series this year, and I'm gonna believe it. It's in our future.”

In addition to resembling a more youthful Harry Caray (Caray definitely would have ordered a round at a press conference) the 60-year-old Maddon was also exceptionally enthusiastic about Chicago: He vowed to live downtown and not in some "country club" cloistered community (subtle burn on the suburbs?) while praising the energy and life of the city.

“The challenge is so outstanding, how could you not want to be in this city?"

Feds: Teen Siblings Of Islamic State Suspect Also Tried To Join Terrorist Group

Mon, 2014-11-03 17:26
CHICAGO (AP) -- A younger brother and sister left their suburban Chicago home and were detained at O'Hare International Airport along with their 19-year-old brother last month - all of them intent on traveling to Syria to join Islamic State militants, a prosecutor alleged on Monday while pushing for the older brother to remain behind bars.

The jailed Mohammed Hamzah Khan was the only one charged, but prosecutor Richard Hiller said Khan's 16-year-old brother and 17-year-old sister were also passionate about the Islamic State. Hiller said the girl once used the Twitter handle (at)DeathIsTheeNear to send a favorable tweet about a video of beheadings - even placing a smiley emoticon in the text.

Authorities announced Khan's Oct. 4 arrest at O'Hare several days after it happened. On Monday, they revealed for the first time that his siblings were detained with him that same day, all three with airplane tickets to Istanbul, Turkey, which borders Syria.

At the end of the 2 1/2-hour detention hearing in federal court in Chicago, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox ruled the government amply showed that Khan poses a potential threat and a flight risk and therefore shouldn't be released.

"He was prepared to abandon his home, his family, his country and his citizenship to join (the Islamic State)," Cox said.

Defense attorney Thomas Durkin had called on Cox to grant Khan supervised release so he could get counseling.

"There is time to modify this behavior ... which is, I think, needed here," he said. "We can't give up on these kids."

Khan is charged with seeking to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. Prosecutors gave no indication they are even contemplating charges against his siblings, who they never referred to by name.

Hiller described Khan as the instigator of the plan to join the Islamic State. He said Khan's meticulous planning included landing a job at a Chicago-area store to earn money for the three plane tickets.

"He tried to take his high school-aged siblings halfway around the world to a war zone," Hiller said.

The prosecutor said all three spoke of acts of violence, with the sister writing about "preparing for death."

"He and his siblings not only had barbaric rhetoric ... they tried to carry it out," he said.

Prosecutors have previously said Khan left his parents a handwritten letter in his bedroom that expressed anger over his U.S. taxes being used to kill his "Muslim brothers and sisters."

His siblings left similar letters, Hiller told the court Monday. He said the girl sounded determined but also saddened she was leaving the family's home in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, writing, "My heart is crying for the thought I left you."

At Monday's hearing, Durkin called the case against his client "hopelessly weak." He said Khan and his siblings appeared to have fallen under the influence of "slick" Islamic State propaganda.

Durkin has previously said the parents did not know of their son's plans to travel to Syria.

Pit Bull Saves Owner's Life, Proves Dogs Are Part Of The Family

Mon, 2014-11-03 17:03
A rescue pit bull named Tiger has been credited with saving his owner's life.

In late October, Tiger's adopted dad of 10 years, Todd Kibbey, passed out on the front porch of their Toledo, Ohio home.

Tiger then walked to a nearby house, where he cried until catching neighbor Tami Michalak's attention, according to Toledo News Now.

"He was whining," Michalak told the news outlet. "So, me and Tiger went to go find his owner, and when we got there we found his owner in distress...If we wouldn't have found him, I don't think the owner would've made it through the night."

For being such a good boy, Tiger is receiving a Heroic Mutt Award from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group said in a press release that Tiger will be honored with "a framed certificate, a letter of congratulations, and a 'doggie bag' containing an eco-friendly squeaky toy, a Nylabone, a comfortable harness to wear on walks and a box of vegan dog treats."

"We give awards to animals like Tiger because their actions remind us that dogs are family members," PETA spokesperson Alexis Sadoti said to The Huffington Post. "They show concern and love and even perform acts of heroism. We hope Tiger's story will inspire people to treat their dogs like members of the family."

Just to make this all a little sweeter: Folks from Toledo's animal rescue community took care of Tiger while Kibbey, who'd been treated for heart problems earlier in the year, recuperated.

"In the future if he ever needs us again, we're going to be there," Maylissa Bell of Ford's Angel Paws Foundation, told Toledo News Now.

Kibbey told the Toledo Blade that all he remembers about the night of October 25 is smoking a cigarette, then waking up a few hours later in the hospital.

He said he is happy to be back home with his beloved Tiger, whose companionship has become even more precious in recent years since Kibbey went through a divorce on top of his health problems.

“Every pet owner thinks their kid is special, and when I say kid, I mean Tiger,” he said. “Tiger has been my everything."

Do you know a heroic pit bull? Have another animal story to share? Get in touch at!

Color of the Year

Mon, 2014-11-03 16:05
The Color of the Year!

Did you know that the first impression of your home is on average worth $24,000? According to Century 21, the first impression a buyer has of your home can impact the perceived value by up to 8 percent. This means that on the average home valued at $300,000, that initial first glance is potentially worth $24,000.

So what makes a good first impression? Truth is, the color of your home is often the very first thing potential buyers notice when looking at a prospective house. Paint has never been so important.

Recently, I attended a big media launch by Benjamin Moore talking about the trending paint colours for 2015. So what are the hot picks for paints? Good news! There are a few different color stories that work very well for your outdoor spaces. I also found it very interesting that all three of these color stories are based on nature.

Blue's are back! For 2015, lighter and brighter shades that have lots of personality like Harbour Fog 2062-70 and Blue Hydrangea 2062-60 are being shown with crisp whites and greys to give homes visual pop! Think about a bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds; a perfect backdrop for all of your outdoor gardens and plants.

Also look for some of the deeper, darker blues like Blue Danube 2062-30 to add drama. These intense darker blues are being used as accent colors on single walls or on front doors to evoke the feeling of the ocean or deep water.

Blushes are also making their way to the outside. As a departure from tans, blush tones are the new choice for neighborhood homes. These lush taupes like Cinnamon Slate 2113-40 and Soft Sand 2106-60 are still grounded in the tan family, but have a soft undertone of pink. They work exceptionally well paired with dark grey stone pathways and patios because they add warmth to the rock. I'm pairing Cinnamon Slate with a walling veneer like Rinox's Lordana collection. It allows me to use the horizontal lines that the homeowner wants and add warmth to make the home inviting.

Finally, my favourite colour for the outdoors is back in the spotlight. What could be better than green for the outside? Green's are definitely Nature's neutral. The greens that are going to big popular for 2015 were inspired by botanical gardens with various shades in a monochromatic palette. These are the colors of cacti or of silver sage like High Park CC-620 and Jack Pine CC-660. They look amazing with your front yard gardens and deciduous trees all spring and summer long. Just make sure you accent these shades with silvers and greys to make your curb appeal all-season.

So what is officially the color of the year? "Guilford Green HC-116."

This silvery heritage inspired green is absolutely perfect for the outdoors because it's a color found all around us. What could be better for making your home visually feel like it belongs?

Women With Ph.Ds Review Amazon's 'Sexy Ph.D' Costume

Mon, 2014-11-03 14:50
Halloween is over, but this "sexy Ph.D costume" will keep your fear alive.

The "Delicious Women's Ph.D Darling Sexy Costume," available on Amazon, features a "micro mini graduation robe" and cap, but you'll have to provide your own high heels.

Only $50.00 on Amazon!

Women who actually hold Ph.Ds have started reviewing the costume, and their responses are nothing short of incredible. Here are eight of the best responses:

1. This costume doesn't live up to its name. -- Alyssa Picard

Sleeves are too short & have no stripes. Costume does not feature a hood. This is a "sexy BA" at best.

2. This product definitely helps women with Ph.Ds feel sexier. -- Dawn Rouse

Like all lady Ph.Ds, I frequently ask myself: "How could I be sexier?"

Delicious costumes has come to my rescue! I can now lecture in my 5 inch gold spiked heels and "barely there" regalia while giving nary a thought to the male gaze and its implications on the prevalence of rape culture in our society.

I fully expect my chili pepper rating on RMP to go through the roof once I begin to greet my students in this costume. Hopefully I can keep my "post structural hegemonies" from engaging in some wardrobe malfunctions. Then again, who cares?

I'm sexy! Forget about the 7 years I spent sweating out a dissertation and engaging in innovative research!


3. The perfect outfit for showing off one's accomplishments. -- Mary from MN

When I left my nursing job for graduate school, I was so distressed. I mean what was I going to wear? There were plenty of sexy nurse costumes that I could wear to honor my accomplishments in that profession, but after I attained my PhD there was something missing. I was better educated, but not sexy. Until now. Thank you, Delicious Costumes, for filling the void. You've given women like me who have worked our asses off earning our degrees a way to show our asses off, too. Keep it classy, Amazon.

4. Why wasn't this available in the '90s? -- Elizabeth P. Mackenzie

I got my Ph.D. in 1997. If only I had known about this costume. I would have worn it to liven up my doctoral defense. Instead of my committee focusing on the boring experiment they made me do over the course of several years and giving me a three hour long exam, I could have worn this, popped out of a cake, batted my eye lids asked adorably, "Puwease let me have a Ph.D.? I've been so good."

Also, math is hard.

5. Perfect for all graduate student activities! -- Tracy L. Brock

Wow! Super-slinky yet surprisingly comfortable for those long nights lounging around grading poorly organized undergrad essays. Thanks to my five-year diet of ramen noodles and caffeine pills, the xs/s size fits me like a glove. I've never felt sexier--or smarter!

6. This outfit failed to get me tenure. Would not recommend. -- PassionPhD

I spent 6 years working hard to get my PhD, which was extra hard because I am a lady, and it hurt my ovaries to think so much. After obtaining this advanced degree, the only position I could secure, like the majority in my field, was an adjunct position teaching for less than $2000 a course. Then I got this LadyPhD regalia and my life immediately changed! My department, full of esteemed and very prestigious senior male tenured faculty, saw me walking in the hall, invited me into the department meeting, and right there on the spot, immediately voted to make me a TENURED FULL PROFESSOR.

Sadly, the next morning, I found out it was NOT a faculty meeting that I had wandered into, just professors having an office cocktail party and I was not tenured after all. I WANT MY MONEY BACK. I have student loans to pay off!!!

7. Not pink, won't be buying. -- Debjani Chakravarty

As a lady PhD who has researched other lady PhDs I am appalled that this is not in pink, a color all ladies like irrespective of degrees held. You've neglected to make this in the appropriate lady color.This is also not short enough for me to show off my real delicious assets to which my PhD is just garnish- "darling adornment" -if you will. Make this in fulsome Pepto-Bismol, or darling-newborn-baby pink and you'll have me hooked.

8. Total validation of my life choices. -- Barbara Quimby

As a PhD student, I'm so glad to see my goals come to life this way. I tried for so long to become a sexualized being appreciated for my breasts and hollow smile, and finally I will be realizing that dream when I receive my doctorate and don this socially acceptable outfit. Thank you for confirming that my training and education will help me to be appreciated for what I can really give back to society- great legs and tight buns!

H/T Salon

FEC Hunts Political Ghosts On Halloween

Mon, 2014-11-03 14:41
This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Election Commission went ghost hunting on Halloween.

The agency on Friday blasted out hundreds of letters to campaign committees that failed to file campaign finance reports on time, including some tied to candidates who are dead, imprisoned, or who have long been out office.

Recipients of the Oct. 31-dated missives include the campaign committee of former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., which has missed every filing deadline since the Illinois Democrat pleaded guilty to a count of felony fraud in February 2013. He was later sentenced to 30 months in prison.

The campaign committee of the late Rep. Bill Janklow, a South Dakota Republican, received a letter, as did that of former Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-La.) — he of the bricks of bribery cash in his freezer — who a jury convicted of corruption in 2009.

The FEC, a small agency with a $65 million budget, is the primary watchdog in charge of overseeing elections — and has been dogged in recent years by ideological gridlock and internal inefficiencies. Campaign committees must regularly file reports with the FEC until they officially terminate, a process that takes some campaign committees years.

The agency sends out letters to active committees that miss a filing deadline. There’s no exception even if the candidate is, well, dead, or has a forwarding address of a federal prison.

An FEC press officer confirmed the agency sent out 372 such letters last Friday.

FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann Ravel explained that the FEC is required by law to post the names of committees that don’t file campaign finance disclosures on time. Therefore, the commission’s regulations require that the letters be sent to make sure no committee name is posted in error.

“With respect to issues of FEC priorities, obviously it would be so much better were we to be able to utilize our resources and also come to agreements on the commission itself to be able to enforce against the most serious violations that have an impact on public trust in the electoral system,” Ravel said, alluding to the commission’s frequent deadlocks on enforcement cases.

FEC Chairman Lee Goodman, a Republican, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The only way to save the FEC the trouble of going after such committees would be for Congress to give the agency permission to terminate campaign committees if they don’t respond over a certain period of time, says Brett Kappel, counsel with the political law practice at Arent Fox, though there would still be issues when campaign committees have unsettled debts.

“It’s a waste of scarce resources,” he said of many of the letters.

Debts can drag out for decades. Among the letter recipients: the campaign committee used by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s 2004 presidential bid, which still owes more than $900,000 a decade later — including $208,000 in unpaid civil penalties owed to the FEC itself.

Two videos to help you navigate Illinois' Election Day

Mon, 2014-11-03 12:38
The Illinois gubernatorial candidates are making their final cases to voters before Tuesday's election with social media, speeches and television ads. But how much can voters trust these ads? Are the candidates trying to manipulate us with their messages?

From Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek:

Who's winning the game to spin you through both paid media and by spinning debate panelists and media?

What can you do as a voter to be more aware and combat this? Where do you go to find facts?

These were among the many topics I had the pleasure of tackling along with several other esteemed panelists at a recent event at the Chicago Theological Seminary...

That mix of perspectives plus a perfect selection of key clips and messages from the governor's race made for what I found to be a fascinating discussion. I hope you agree. Check out the video below. If nothing else, perhaps you'll enjoy hearing us and audience members vent about all the money and effort spent on all the nasty ads this season. It's cathartic!

Check out the video at Reboot Illinois:

Want to get past all the spin of the campaign ads? Watch this week's Spin Cycle video, where we explain what every Democratic and Republican candidate for every statewide contest outside the governor's race in Illinois. Do you know which incumbent might be elected to his fifth term in office? Which challenger is against Quinn's proposed tax increase? Watch to learn all you can before casting your vote this Tuesday.

Things Conservative Pundits Say About Young Voters

Mon, 2014-11-03 11:50
Young voters are more likely to skip the midterm elections this year than the general population. That is typically bad news for Democrats: Research from Harvard University shows that even though they lean Democratic overall, a large share of young voters who are likely to turn up say they're interested in voting Republican.

But if you track how conservative pundits speak about young voters, you can't help but get the feeling they're happy to think that fewer people under the age of 30 will be at the polls.

Jonah Goldberg: Young Voters Are Too 'Frickin' Stupid'
In 2012, National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg said young people are "too frickin' stupid" to vote.

"It is a simple fact of science that nothing correlates more with ignorance and stupidity more than youth," Goldberg said at the time. "We're all born idiots, and we only get over that condition as we get less young."

He further asserted young voters want to live in a socialist rather than a capitalist society. "That's something that conservatives have to work hard to beat out of them, either literally or figuratively, as far as I’m concerned," he said.

Ann Coulter: Raise The Voting Age To 40
Ann Coulter went on record in 2009 to say raising the voting age to 40 would be a good idea.

In 2010, Coulter argued for repealing the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18. Part of her explanation stated that because young people didn't know how their "precious cars run," they are "most likely to oppose offshore drilling." She wrote:
As we have learned from ObamaCare, young people are not considered adults until age 26, at which point they are finally forced to get off their parents' health care plans. The old motto was "Old enough to fight, old enough to vote." The new motto is: "Not old enough to buy your own health insurance, not old enough to vote."

Kimberly Guilfoyle: Doesn't Want Young Women Voting, Or On Juries
Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle said last month that young women shouldn't vote because they "don't get it."

"It's the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea," Guilfoyle said. "They don't get it!" She added that they are "running around without a care in the world. They can go back on Tinder or"

Joel Gelernter: 'Let's Suppress Them'
"By and large, 18-year-olds know nothing and shouldn't be voting. Let’s suppress them," wrote Josh Gelernter, a scribe at the National Review and The Weekly Standard.

Gelernter was talking about whether or not voter ID laws suppress voter turnout, and to him, considering the intelligence of young college students, that wasn't a bad thing.

John Stossel: If Random Students Can't Identify This Photo, They Shouldn't Vote
John Stossel explained on ABC's "20/20" in 2008 that because young voters couldn't identify a photo of then-Sen. Joe Biden, they probably shouldn't vote. "So maybe instead of telling people things like 'Rock the Vote,' these groups should say 'Rock or Vote,'" Stossel said.

Conservative economist Bryan Caplan, a member of the Cato Institute, backed up Stossel when was asked, "Isn't it our civic duty to vote?"

"This is very much like saying, 'It's our civic duty to give surgery advice,'" Caplan responded.

Except, there's no Constitutional right to give surgery advice. Stossel has since joined Fox News.

Fox News Hosts: We 'Absolutely Don't' Want Young People Voting

In October, a group of Fox News hosts agreed that having young voters show up at the polls isn't a good idea.

"Do we want [young people] to vote if they don't know the issues?" Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner asked her co-hosts.

"No!" Lisa Kennedy Montgomery answered. "You absolutely don't!"

What prompted this discussion? A "liberal Hollywood" video encouraging young people to vote.

29 Things You Can Send To Your Friends Who Say They Aren't Voting This Year

Mon, 2014-11-03 11:15
Election Day is nearly upon us, and candidates in elections across the country are making last-minute pitches for votes. But many of these pitches are falling on deaf ears, as many people around the nation -- particularly in the less politically active youth demographic and among people who are already registered to vote -- have already decided they won't be exercising their civic duty this cycle, according to key voter engagement indicators.

There's plenty at stake on Tuesday, from control of the U.S. Senate to the dynamics of your state's legislature or the fate of a number of statewide ballot initiatives. And your vote matters, for a number of key reasons.

Feel free to use any of the previous links to try to convince your friends to vote, but if that doesn't work, maybe it's time to shame them with some of these GIFs.

Daredevil High Wire Artist Nik Wallenda Walks Between Chicago's Skyscrapers

Mon, 2014-11-03 09:40
CHICAGO (AP) — Daredevil Nik Wallenda wowed Chicago and the world Sunday with two hair-raising skyscraper crossings on high wires without a safety net or a harness, and performing one blindfolded.

"I feel incredible," Wallenda said at a news conference in a nearby hotel after completing the tightrope walks. He entered wearing his blindfold, drawing laughter from reporters. Recalling what made him nervous during his aerial performances, he said strong winds and the steeper-than-expected angle of the first high wire caused him to hurry his performance. Wallenda had practiced at a 15-degree angle but said the wire was actually at 19 degrees.

"That cable looked like it was going straight up," he said.

Thousands of cheering fans packed the streets around the city's Marina City towers to watch the 35-year-old heir to the Flying Wallendas' family business complete the back-to-back walks.

Wearing a bright red jacket, Wallenda tested the tension of the first wire. It took him about six and a half minutes to walk the 454 foot stretch from the Marina City west tower to the top of a building on the other side of the river. The tightrope began at 588 feet from the ground and ended at 671 feet.

"I love Chicago and Chicago definitely loves me," said Wallenda as he walked that wire, with the crowd below him screaming in support. "What an amazing roar!"

The next stage of Wallenda's high-wire event he undertook blindfolded — a 94-foot walk 543 feet from the ground between the two Marina City towers. At a fast clip, he made the stretch in little more than a minute.

As he stepped from the wire, he tore off his blindfold and waved; the crowd erupted in cheers.

The Discovery Channel used a 10-second delay for the broadcast, which would have allowed producers to cut away if anything went wrong. Chicago city officials ignored a state law requiring safety nets for aerial acts higher than 20 feet, saying the law wasn't intended for "elite" performers.

Journalists covering Sunday's event signed waivers relinquishing their right to claim emotional distress if they witness a catastrophe.

Two of his previous televised tightrope walks — over the brink of Niagara Falls in 2012 and across the Little Colorado River Gorge in 2013 — drew about 13 million viewers each.

At around 6:40 p.m., just minutes before the anticipated start of his high-wire feat, Wallenda, who lives in Florida, said the chilly conditions in Chicago would not stall him.

"Yes there's some wind, yes it's cool, but it's not unbearable," he said. Just two days earlier, the city had been beset with gusty winds, snow, hail and driving rain.

Months of preparations have meant helicopters lifting cable to the rooftops, road closures and clearances from the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Coast Guard. Residents of Marina City were asked not to use laser pointers, camera flashes or drones that could interfere. Even grilling was prohibited.

Cynthia Garner traveled 90 miles from Belvidere, Illinois, with her husband Johnny to watch the event.

"It was amazing. I saw it with my own eyes," Garner said afterward. "I was afraid when he first started, but once I saw that he didn't hesitate and just walked, I wasn't scared for him no more."

A year before Wallenda was born, his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda fell to his death during a tightrope stunt in Puerto Rico. He was 73.

What's next? Wallenda has said he next wants to recreate a 1,200-foot-long high-wire walk made famous by his great-grandfather. The stunt at Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia included two headstands on the high wire.

"I've trained a bit to do a headstand on the wire, but I've never done it publicly because I've always said if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it on that walk with him," Wallenda said, explaining that he wants to use vintage film of Karl Wallenda's walk to create the illusion of the two of them sharing the high wire.

"My dream is to actually walk the wire with my great-grandfather," he said. "I get goose bumps and chills thinking about it."

Watch: Bernie Sanders on Breaking Big Money's Grip on Elections

Mon, 2014-11-03 09:11
Previously published on

Bernie Sanders, Vermont's independent senator, is angry about what he sees as big money's wholesale purchase of political power. It's a grave threat, he believes, not only to our electoral process but to democracy itself.

Two weeks ago, Sanders visited a town hall meeting in Richmond, California, to fire up supporters of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and a slate of progressive city council candidates. They're running against a ticket backed by the energy giant Chevron, the third largest corporation in the United States. Chevron owns an enormous refinery in Richmond and is spending $3 million to defeat the progressives, who have charged the oil company with damaging the city's economy and environment.

Chevron's Richmond money -- they're spending more than $100 per voter -- is just a fraction of the billions being spent this year on the most expensive midterm elections in history, money unleashed by Citizens United, McCutcheon and other court decisions that have turned voting into what feels more like an auction than 'one person, one vote.' Because the Supreme Court says money is speech and big business can buy all it wants, corporations are trying to drown out the voice of anyone trying to speak out against them, whether in Congress or a state legislature, on a judge's bench or in city hall.

"Apparently for these guys, owning and controlling our economy is not enough," Sanders told the rally. "They now want to own and control the government. And we are not going to allow them to do that. Not in Richmond, not anywhere."

Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television. Explore more at

Here's What Your Zip Code Says About You

Mon, 2014-11-03 08:05
Neighborhood-specific maps based on all manner of stereotypes are a thing now. (Have you met the bassist-for-hire, self-proclaimed amateur gynecologist living in Manhattan, or the part-time nanny, full-time daddy's girl living in San Fran?) But Esri, a mapping technology company, is attempting to put some science behind where people live. Esri has released a "ZIP Lookup" where people can plug in their zip code and find out such things as the population density, the age range and the median household income.

Pretty basic stuff, yes. The most interesting thing Esri calculates, however, are their own "Tapestry" classifications, a series of "68 unique segments based on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics." The profiles are broken into two sections: "Lifemode groups," which are "markets that share a common experience—born in the same generation or immigration from another country—or a significant demographic trait, like affluence," and "Urbanization groups," which are "markets [that] share similar locales, from the urban canyons of the largest cities to the rural lanes of villages or farms." The classifications are based on data from the 2010 Census, the American Community Survey (ACS), The Doublebase consumer survey from GfK MRI and the Esri's most Updated Demographics.

The segments each have very specific titles. For example, you'll find groups titled "Boomburbs" (young professionals with families who live in the suburbs and own minivans) and "Trendsetters" (people who "live life to its full potential").

We were curious how Esri might describe the people living in some of the most popular zip codes in the country, so we went back to our list of 2013's most-searched zip codes to find out.

1. Old Town Chicago, I.L., ZIP: 60610

Credit: Embedded from Flickr user: Aaron

What Esri says:

Median Household Income:$59,000
Median Age: 35

37 percent are "Metro Renters" Tapestry defines these people as young and educated who most likely live in an apartment with roommates near the center of the city. They are "willing to take risks to get to the top of [your] profession," and aren't intimidated by long hours at their job. While most of their income goes towards rent and the latest fashion and technology, they do make sure to buy their groceries at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and they buy their clothes at Nordstrom, The Gap or Banana Republic. They also apparently like Pilates and skiing.

27 percent are the "Laptops and Lattes" group The other chunk of people living in Old Town Chicago are part of a group who are the more affluent types of young people. They usually hold jobs in finance or business and are "cultivating [their] nest eggs instead of feathering [their] nests," which is a fancy way of saying these people actually save up their money for retirement and investments. Apparently these people spend their money on "nice clothes, traveling and treating [themselves] to lattes at Starbucks or treatments at spas."

7 percent are "Trend Setters" These are usually single people who live by the motto, "You only live once." They "live life to the fullest" and spend most of their money on rent and entertainment. Therefore, they must be connected at all times and text a lot. They eat organic meals and they are "dressed head to toe in the most current fashions."

2. McKinney, T.X., ZIP: 75070

Credit: Embedded from Flickr user: Traeg

What Esri says:

Median Household Income: $107,000
Median Age: 35

41 percent are "Boomburbs" These are "affluent young families" who have traded in life in the city for "new housing in the suburbs." They've got their eyes on the futures and make sure to have a financial planner to "ensure security." Their driveways are full of "late model, imported SUVs, luxury cars or minivans." These people also support charities.

21 percent are "Up and Coming Families" These are groups of people who are "more diverse and mobile than previous generations." These are the young people who had it rough during the Great Recession but are determined to bounce back. So this means that even though they deal with student debt and mortgage payments, they are still "saving for retirement and donating to charities," all while shopping for the "best deals."

17 percent are "Soccer Moms" These are families who feel that "any minutes [they] can save is crucial" since their schedules are so hectic. They use a "variety of mobile devices such as iPods and tablets to keep [them] connected," and they frequently partake in outdoor activities like jogging or boating.

3. Wellington -- West Palm Beach, F.L., ZIP: 33414

The International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida

What Esri says:

Median Household Income: $81,000
Median Age: 40

18 percent are "Savvy Suburbanites" These are "empty nesters or empty-nester wannabes" who may still have adult children living in their "established, owner occupied suburban" home with them. They are not afraid of debt and may have "a line of credit." They research everything before buying things because they value quality over price. They are also "foodies" who enjoy cooking and wine.

18 percent are part of the "Home Improvement" group These are very busy married families who paying down student loans and second mortgages. Since they are so busy, they frequently eat out at fast-food or fast-casual restaurants, such as "Chili's, Panera Bread and Chick-fil-A." Their weekends are filled with home improvement projects and trips to warehouses clubs.

11 percent are "Up And Coming Families" See previous description in subhead #2.

4. Ballantyne -- Charlotte, N.C., ZIP: 28277

Credit: Embedded from Flickr user: Eric Badis

What Esri says:

Median Household Income: $92,000
Median Age: 38

29 percent are "Boomburbs" See previous description in subhead #2.

17 percent are "Enterprising Professionals" These are married couples who are young and ambitious. They are likely to have STEM jobs and live in rented townhouses or condos in diverse neighborhoods. "Trendy clothes and name brands" and technology are "major" for these types of people and they are "happy to discuss and advise peers about technology." They like to shop on Amazon and their favorite restaurants are "The Cheesecake Factory, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks for coffee." They also like to gamble and watch movies on demand on their high-speed Internet connection.

10 percent are "Soccer Moms" See previous description in subhead #2.

5. Pembroke Pines -- Hollywood, F.L., ZIP: 33029

Credit: Embedded from Flickr user: paulbmichaels

What Esri says:

Median Household Income: $100,000
Median Age: 37

57 percent are "Soccer Moms" See previous description in subhead #2.

22 percent are "Boomburbs" See previous description in subhead #2.

18 percent are part of the "Professional Pride" group These are married couples who are "goal-oriented professionals" who became very successful during the Great Recession. Both parents work to support their kids in school and they are "experts on their devices." These people are extremely proud of their "picture-perfect homes" and will invest a lot of money on upgrading their home. Every member of the family uses technology and tablets, yet they still "prefer hard copies of epicurean, home or sports magazines."

h/t Fast Company

7 Tried-And-True Ways To Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Mon, 2014-11-03 07:11
Is there anything more stressful than taking care of a sick or dying loved one? It's a burden, no matter how willingly borne, that often comes with a price tag of sacrificing the caregiver's quality of life in order to meet the needs of another. It's a formula for high stress, exhaustion and even developing health issues. Here are some tips to help caregivers avoid burnout:

Don't fly solo.
Get help. There are some life tasks that just shouldn't be attempted alone and caregiving is one of them. If the person being cared for is a parent, all siblings -- regardless of where they live or their financial state -- need to step up. A more typical dynamic that emerges among adult siblings though, is that one generally bubbles to the surface as the primary caregiver and the others let her -- yes, it is most often a woman (66 percent), according to the National Center on Caregiving.

Resentments ensue when siblings don't share the job and things can quickly get messy in the family relationships department. Old conflicts are revisited, claims of poverty are challenged, and statements such as "Mom always liked you better anyway" are heard. For the record, only 10 percent of primary caregivers feel the burden is distributed evenly. And 50 percent of primary caregivers say they never wanted the job in the first place; it just sort of fell to them.

So what's the solution when one sibling lives a great distance away, another claims poverty, and a third has her own plate full of health and financial woes? Eldercare expert and author Barbara McVicker says you just put your foot down. "Just state your position clearly: Hold a family meeting and say 'here are five tasks that need to be done this week. Now which ones will you do [or pay to have done]?'" The negative part of not pitching in is that it can result in long-term rifts, said McVicker, who stars in the PBS-TV special "Stuck in the Middle: caring for Mom and Dad." Her advice: Let your adult siblings know what's at risk -- which is your entire future family structure.

By the way, for the son who lives 1,000 miles away and wants to contribute money: There's nothing wrong with using some of that money to hire someone to stay with Dad while the principal caregiver gets a few hours off. If the son lived locally, he could come and stay with Pops himself.

Remember that your work has value.
We are a nation of people who associate our value to what we earn and caregiving is often an unpaid job. According to an AARP Public Policy Institute report, caregiver services were valued at $450 billion per year in 2009. How much is $450 billion? It's as much as the total sales of the three largest publicly held auto companies combined (Toyota, Ford, Daimler: total $439 billion) and almost as much as the 2009 gross domestic product of Belgium, the 20th largest economy in the world.

Don't quit your day job.
One very real issue caregivers face is that their employer may be pretty clueless about what caregiving actually demands. You need time to take Mom to the doctor and wait with her while she gets an MRI. You use your lunch break to pick up prescriptions. You may need to make calls during the day to see how Dad is doing, talk to his doctor, argue with Medicare. Without the support of an employer who allows flex time, some workers have no choice but to walk away from their jobs. Three out of four caregivers either do not work or had to change their work situation because of caregiving, according to

The National Alliance for Caregiving and Center for Productive Aging found employees who were dealing with eldercare issues need substantial time away from work to do so: 81 percent of caregivers used part of the workday to arrange care or check on their loved one; 70 percent took days off for caregiving; and 64 percent arrived late or left work early because of caregiving duties.

But McVicker urges everyone to think hard before you head for the office exit. "Being a "good child'" may not be the wisest choice," she said, adding, "and know that there are consequences." You will putting your own retirement at risk by stepping out of the workplace early. According to a study by Metlife Mature Market Group and National Alliance for Caregiving, women who leave the workplace early for caregiving lose an estimated $324,000 in lost wages, pensions, retirement funds and benefits.

As for those employers, the smart ones realize that losing seasoned workers to what is a personal crisis isn't a great option. Some companies give workers greater flex time or allow them to work from home as they need to to care for an elderly relative. And there is always the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. FMLA also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. One company known for its outstanding benefits across the life stages is the tech company SAS, which has a dedicated social worker in its Work-Life department to assist employees who are taking care of mature family members. Employees can also check out equipment (free of cost) from the company's Caring Closet stocked with wheelchairs, crutches, shower seats, and walkers.

Join a support network -- and also find a mentor.
While it's great to be able to get out and see your friends, using them to unload or vent sometimes defeats the purpose. Your time with them should be about you having some fun and taking a break from caregiving; talking about how awful things can put a damper on the outing. We're not suggesting that you don't confide in your friends or use them as sounding boards, but maybe save the whine about how your brother won't help or how crazy Medicare makes you for a support group. Do your best to enjoy your evening out, not bring the stress along for the ride.

A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. Look for a mentor, someone who has walked down this path before you and knows which shortcuts to take. Being prepared for what is ahead goes a long way toward keeping things from spinning out of emotional control.

Learn what care actually entails.
Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Alzheimer's Association offer classes on caregiving, and local hospitals may have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. McVicker suggests finding a group of experts before a crisis occurs -- people who you have vetted and established a relationship with. This should include financial, legal, and medical professionals, a geriatric care manager, a provider of in-home care and local resources within your community that you can call on for errands, meals, rides.

Come up with ways to mass communicate.
Sure everyone wants to know how Mom's surgery went and how she is recovering. But you don't have time for a lengthy phone call with each and every interested person. Plus repeating the same story over and over again is exhausting. Use a site like CaringBridge to communicate with everyone all at once. And when you catch your breath you can scan the well wishes and comments on your time.

Look for the silver lining. says that 75 percent of caregivers report having a sense of pride in the fact they are making the difference in the quality of life of a loved one. Cherish the moments you have with your elderly relative, look for ways to include him/her in daily routines and gatherings. Make as many memories as you can.

They Hope You Won't Wake Up

Mon, 2014-11-03 06:34
Here's the bottom line. The Tea Party Republicans and their Big Business and Wall Street allies plan to grab what they want while ordinary people sleep through this election.

They want ordinary Americans to stay home on Election Day.

To them, high voter turnout is like daylight to a burglar -- or for that matter to a vampire. It stops them cold.

The corporate CEO's and Wall Street bankers together with Tea Party extremists control the Republican Party. They see this traditionally low-turnout mid-term election as the perfect opportunity to take over the United States Senate, Governors' mansions and State Houses with politicians who represent their interests.

They don't want Senators from Iowa, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alaska, South Dakota or Michigan. They want Senators from the Koch Brothers and their corporate and Wall Street allies -- Senators who actually represent them and will do whatever they are told.

They want to know that when the chips are down they can count on government officials to continue rigging the economic game so they can continue to siphon off all of the economic growth for wealthiest one percent of the population.

That's why, at the beginning of this cycle, the Koch Brothers' network vowed to invest $300 million to smear Democratic candidates for office. That's why Wall Street has redirected most of its giving to the GOP. And that's why Republicans have spent the last two years passing laws to suppress voter turnout -- especially among African Americans and Hispanic voters.

In order to continue taking our money, they need to take our votes. Where they can, they've passed "voter ID" laws that disenfranchise hundred of thousands -- and impose what amounts to a poll tax -- allegedly to stop the non-existent problem of voter identity fraud. Where they can, they've curtailed early voting periods and access to mail ballots.

In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State has gone so far as to refuse to process 40,000 new voter registrations.

The smaller the turnout, the better for the plutocrats who want to continue to have unfettered access to virtually all of the economic growth generated by the American economy -- just as they have for the last 30 years.

The fact is that over the last three decades our Gross Domestic Product per person has gone up by 80 percent. That means we all should be 80 percent better off than 30 years ago. But instead, wages have stagnated for most Americans because the rules of the game have allowed the CEO's and Wall Street speculators to take all of that growth in income for themselves. They want to keep it that way.

But that requires that ordinary people stay away from the polls, because when most Americans vote, the electorate represents the whole population of the United States. And the fact is that most Americans support a progressive program that would change all of that.

Bottom line: they want to steal your family's security while you sleep through the election.

There's only one problem with this strategy: you don't have to go along. Ordinary Americans can stop them by going to the polls.

It's really up to us.

If you don't have an ID, get one.

If they don't have enough voting machines, camp there. Stand in line as long as it takes.

In 2012, thousands of people stood in line for hours - even after Barack Obama was declared the winner for President - because they were unwilling to allow the Republicans to steal their votes. If necessary, join them and do the same.

Don't let them steal your vote.

Of course, in many places they can't try these kind of overt voter intimidation tactics. Instead, they try to lull ordinary people to sleep by trying to convince us that the elections don't matter anyway.

Tea Party extremists masquerade as moderates. Politicians who owe everything to rich plutocrats parade around in old cars and workshirts to look like they understand the "common man."

They come out with mushy position papers on issues that are overwhelmingly popular -- like raising the minimum wage. But they never mention that if you elect enough Republicans for them to control the House or Senate, the leadership in those bodies will simply refuse to call a minimum wage bill for a vote -- just like John Boehner did this year.

Want to pass immigration reform? Then get out and vote against Republicans, who blocked an up or down vote in the House on comprehensive immigration reform -- a bill that would have passed the House if the Republican leadership had simply called the bill to the floor.

Want to restore long-term unemployment compensation benefits? A bill passed the Senate that would have been signed by the president, but the House Republican leadership refused to call it for a vote.

Want to cut the cost of student loans? The Republican leadership in the House refused to take up the very popular measure sponsored in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren. If Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, the Senate won't call it for a vote either.

Want to stop cuts in Social Security and Medicare? The House Republicans passed a budget that would end the Medicare guarantee and replace it with vouchers for private insurance that would raise out-of-pocket costs for retirees by thousands of dollars.

Want tax policies that shift the burden from ordinary working people to the one percent that has received all of the benefits of our growing economy? It won't come from Republicans -- ever.

In fact, elections matter enormously to the economic well-being of every American. And no one's vote counts more than yours -- unless you don't vote. Because if you don't vote, everyone's vote counts more than yours. In political terms, if you don't vote, you don't count. And we know that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.

If nothing else will convince you to vote, think about this. If millions of ordinary middle and working class Americans sit this election out and let the Koch Brothers of the world have their way, can't you just imagine how they will yuck it up over drinks in their exclusive private clubs, or onboard their private jets?

They have no respect for working people -- or the value of hard work. Many of them disdain ordinary working people. To them, it will just confirm their view that ordinary people can be sold a bill of goods if they just spend enough money and repeat enough lies.

In the end we will prove them dead wrong. The moral arc of the universe does in fact bend toward justice. But don't give them the satisfaction -- even for a few fleeting months at the end of 2014 -- to think that their money can buy our democracy and there is nothing we are willing to do about it.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rb

Chef Daniel Patterson Reveals How To Cook A Feast In Your Sleep

Mon, 2014-11-03 06:00
Over the past few years, the twin ascents of sous vide cookery and serious barbecue have sent restaurants into an arms race of cooking times. Menus now routinely boast of lamb's necks roasted for 19 hours, short ribs braised for 36 hours and whole pigs smoked for three whole days.

But ultra-slow cooking is nothing new to chef Daniel Patterson, of the world-renowned Coi restaurant in San Francisco. He started doing it in 1994, at home. And unlike barbecue and sous vide, his technique requires no special equipment. Indeed, it's so easy that you can literally do it in your sleep. Here's his secret: set the oven to a very low temperature.

"There's low temperature and there's low temperature. Normally, between 250 and 300 would be considered low-temperature cooking; that's what you'd set the oven at if you were making a traditional braised dish, for example, and you'd keep it in for three hours," he said. "But I like to drop it down to 180 -- and then cook it overnight."

180 degrees Fahrenheit is just about the lowest temperature setting most ovens can reach. It's not all that much hotter than a dehydrator! Which is why you have to cook the meat for so long.

"When you set the oven that low, it just extends the cooking time, but you also get a deeper flavor and the texture of the meat is a little juicier," Patterson explained. "It retains more of its natural structure. The breakdown of collagen and gelatin is slower."

Patterson first experimented with this radically low cooking temperature using a whole pork shoulder, but he also regularly uses it for braised meat, like oxtail or short ribs.

"It could be duck confit. It could be braised beef. It could be anything," he said. "The idea is that you put it in before you go to bed, and when you wake up, it's done."

I tried the technique out at home -- and it produced some awesome, and surprising, results. I put half of a boneless pork shoulder in a 180-degree oven during "How To Get Away With Murder" on Thursday night, and then when I woke up on Friday, my entire apartment was perfumed with the smell of pork fat, and a deliciously tender hunk of meat was waiting in the oven. I had expected it to have the taste and texture of either carnitas or bo ssam, but in fact, it was something else altogether: the meat kept essentially the same shape throughout the cooking process, and it didn't have the flaky texture of either of those pork dishes. Instead, it had a kind of gelatinous bounce to it. It reminded me a little of fatty barbecued brisket, but even that's not quite right. It was a truly novel experience.

Here are step-by-step instructions if you want to try it out yourself:

Start with a piece of boneless pork shoulder slightly smaller in all directions than the Dutch oven or roasting pan in which you plan to cook it; in my case, this was almost exactly half a whole shoulder.

If there's a twine net holding the piece of shoulder together, remove it, then open up the cavity and sprinkle a healthy dose of salt and pepper on all sides of the meat.

Put a generous layer of chopped garlic and fresh thyme leaves in the cavity of the shoulder, where the bone once was.

Seal the shoulder back up so it's basically the shape it was before you stuffed the cavity and place it in a Dutch oven or a roasting pan with high sides. The height of the sides is crucial, because a great deal of fat and juice will emerge from the meat as it roasts. Patterson learned this the hard way the first time he experimented with this technique; he used a cookie sheet, and so much fat rendered off the meat that he was awoken the next morning by the sound of his dog licking it off the floor.

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're using a Dutch oven, put the lid on; if you're using a roasting pan, cover it with aluminum foil. Put the meat in the oven and leave it alone for 11 or 12 hours. While it cooks, feel free to go to bed.

Wake up the next morning and take the pork out of the oven. When you open the lid (or remove the aluminum foil) you should have something that looks kinda like this.

Carefully remove the meat from the juices and place it on a cutting board. You should probably keep the juices; if you refrigerate them, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, allowing you to harvest it for potato roasting or lard bread making.

Finally, chop the meat to your satisfaction using a big knife. If you followed our advice and let it cook while you slept, you probably don't want to eat it for several more hours, in which case, you can put the meat back in the Dutch oven, topped with a little juice, and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to serve. Just reheat it for a few minutes in a 250 degree oven.

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