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Chicago Is Putting Subway Rats On Birth Control

Tue, 2014-12-23 16:50
The nation's "rattiest city" is putting subway rodents on birth control.

Egg loss and testicle problems await Chicago's rat population once the Chicago Transit Authority rolls out a rodent-specific birth control program next year, RedEye Chicago reports.

The CTA's new pilot program will use a semi-liquid bait that eventually makes rats infertile when ingested multiple times. Arizona-based rodent control company SenesTech, which makes the bait, says on its website that the non-lethal product is "specifically formulated for rats and does not affect other animal species or humans."

The bait, which reportedly tastes like egg cream, can decrease a rat's litter size "as early as 2 weeks after ingestion," according to the company.

RedEye reports that rats usually become sterile within eight to 12 weeks of exposure.

Last year, SenesTech's bait was tested in several Manhattan subway stations and Grand Central Terminal as part of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Biologist Loretta Mayer, CEO of SenesTech, told The Wall Street Journal that the results of the study were "extremely compelling" -- roughly half of the rats in the small-scale study took the bait, leading to a 43 percent decline in the rat population of tested facilities.

"It could cut it down to the point where New Yorkers won't see rats," Mayer said.

CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski told The Huffington Post via email that the agency does not actually have a rodent problem, but that the pilot program is a way of staying ahead of the pests.

"[I]f there are ways we can do even better, we want to look at them," Hosinski explained. "This pilot is simply the latest measure we’re looking to test in our ongoing, pro-active efforts to protect health and safety of customers and employees."

Chicago has turned to alternative rat abatement strategies before, including a "Cats At Work" program in which feral cats from a local Humane Society are used to curb the rat population.

Banning Homeless Camps Just Disperses The Issue, Won't Solve It: Experts

Tue, 2014-12-23 16:42

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - For Teresa Sigerson, a former waitress who has lived under a Chicago expressway bridge for three years, the camp she shares with eight others provides shelter, companionship and some measure of security.

"There's safety in numbers," said Sigerson, 51, who begs during the day and sleeps between concrete bridge pillars under a highway northwest of downtown. "Everything's convenient here - you're by the stores, the highway."

This year, Sigerson almost lost her space when construction began on tall concrete barriers on the raised slabs where the homeless were make their beds. The project, which was halted this summer, was meant to dislodge the decade-old camp in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood.

Across the United States, local governments are moving to prevent outdoor camping by the homeless, according to advocates for the nation's nearly 600,000 homeless, estimated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Government officials say they are trying to limit outdoor camping for the health and safety of the homeless and other residents. But homeless advocates say the bans are not a solution to homelessness and further stigmatize the poor.

Over a third of U.S. cities impose citywide bans on public camping, a 60 percent increase in such ordinances since 2011, according to a 2014 survey of 187 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

More than half the cities surveyed, 57 percent, prohibit camping in certain public places. Such bans have climbed by 16 percent over the past three years, the study found.

Rather than being exposed to bad weather and crime in camps, city officials say, the homeless are better served in city shelters, where they can sleep in beds and eat regular meals.

One of the most visible moves against camps occurred earlier this month in San Jose, California, where a site known as the "the Jungle" was cleared out for safety and environmental reasons. Before the city took down the camp, however, a $4 million program was established to help find housing for 200 former residents, said Ray Bramson, the city's homelessness response manager.

"The best long-term solution is to get people the support they need - then they won't be outside," Bramson said.

But Dr. Robert Okin, a psychiatrist and homelessness expert, said the camps are a symptom of the lack of affordable housing and other services. Disbanding them doesn't solve the problem, it just disperses it, he said.

"It may be a solution to an eyesore, but it's not a solution to homelessness," he said.

Others say the bans or barriers are part of an effort to criminalize behaviors associated with the poor, such as panhandling.

"We basically think what's driving this is that visible poverty is bad for business and bad for tourism and detracts from efforts for cities to revitalize their urban cores," said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Chicago, which estimates it has about 6,300 homeless, doesn't ban outdoor camping but tries to connect people sleeping outside with services, said Matt Smith, spokesman for the city's Department of Family and Support Services.

In the case of the camp where Sigerson sleeps, local officials were concerned about the health of the homeless, while also aware that the site could make some passersby uncomfortable, said Martha Ramos, chief of staff for Alderman Rey Colon.

Construction of the barriers began in May but was halted in June after police complained that it had created a hazard because the sidewalk could no longer be seen from the street.

Some of the homeless wound up leaving the camp. Others stayed, including Sigerson, who said shelters kicked people out as early as 5 a.m., leaving the poor with nowhere to go at that hour.

Sigerson said her underpass community has rules of behavior, including keeping the area clean and not talking to passersby unless they speak first.

"We don't want to scare people," she said.

(Editing by Douglas Royalty)

Cuddly Comfort Dogs At Airport Help Passengers De-Stress During Ruff Holiday Travels

Tue, 2014-12-23 15:48
Stressed-out holiday travelers at one of the country's busiest airports are getting a dose of comfort and joy, thanks to a crew of lovable, huggable golden retrievers.

Half a dozen goldens from the Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 ministry recently set up in Terminal 1 at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. United Airlines, apparently aware of how awesome golden retrievers are, invited the pups to greet travelers from Dec. 20 - 23.

“At Christmas, for a lot of people it’s a difficult holiday. It’s a stressful time for some travelers," Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, told The Huffington Post. "If you’ve ever [flown] out of those terminals, you know the need for stress relief.”

(Story continues below photos.)

"Because of the stress of travel and family and all that, [travelers] see the dogs and they stop," Hetzner said. "It’s a stress-relief in the midst of their travels. They look stressed and tense and then they pet the dogs, take a few deep breaths, hug them and move on. ...Unless their flights are cancelled, then they’ll be there for hours."

A blog post on the charity group's website lists a number of reactions from people who stopped to play with the dogs. "We have been traveling 30 hours from India these dogs are helping us on the final leg," said one. "I was late to the airport and missed my flight but I don't care since the dogs are here," said another.

Hetzner also said that this is the first year the K-9 ministry dogs have been deployed to O'Hare, though they make regular trips both near and far from their Addison, Illinois, home base. Most recently, several of the dogs were sent to Pontiac, Illinois, to help comfort a school community that had lost three students in five days to both illness and suicide, Hetzner said.

In 2013, the dogs were sent to help comfort survivors of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and the deadly Oklahoma tornadoes.

The charity is also developing a Kare-9 military ministry to help veterans who have returned from service.

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Your Last Minute Christmas Shopping As Told By '90s Game Show 'Supermarket Sweep'

Tue, 2014-12-23 15:43
What day is it?! It can't be... Christmas already?!

If you're celebrating the holiday and haven't bought any presents yet (and you're familiar with 1990's game show "Supermarket Sweep") you're definitely going to relate to this.

Aaaaaand GO!

Oh, hey, Bob! Yes, the family's great, no time to talk!

So many people! No room to maneuve-AHHHHHH!

Don't panic, don't panic, NOBODY FREAKING PANIC! Maureen, you're dead weight, I'm going it alone!

Don't fail me, cart! Not you too!

Normally I would put fallen merchandise back on the shelf, but today? Merchandise, you can go straight to hell!

F--k it, everyone's getting the same thing!

Stay focused!

You're right! I'm not leaving my secret santa high and dry--GET THE F--K OUT OF MY WAY! I own these aisles!

Oh, God, I'm lost! Did I just transport into Narnia?!

Oh, no, delirium is setting in ...


Forget carrying bags to the car! Bring the car to the bags! Do your worst, mall security! I'm in a magical bright green car surrounded by a protective neon glow, mwahahahaha!

I can see the finish line! Cart, old friend, take me away from this nightmare!

The end of the check-out lane! So beautiful!


The Official Biggest Losers Of 2014

Tue, 2014-12-23 15:33
WASHINGTON -- Sometimes one's best effort is just not good enough. It's at those times that one is a loser.

In no particular order, here are the biggest losers of 2014.

DEMOCRATS -- Lost so bad in November President Barack Obama wouldn't even give it a gerund -- no shellacking, no thumpin', no nothing. Republicans just wanted it more.

(Note: Obama never actually did this. On camera at least.)

BOBBY JINDAL -- Guy is trying to gain weight so he can seem presidential, then absolutely panics when Ebola comes nowhere near his state. The nation expected more from Kenneth.

DRUG WARRIORS -- Legal bud in Colorado and Washington didn't break society.

SHISMAREF, Alaska -- Climate change takes a village.

No bueno.

THE CIA -- So much lying and torturing and murdering pixelated peoples with flying robots.

CHRIS CHRISTIE -- Picked a fight with the wrong nurse.

CHRIS DODD -- The former Democratic senator from Connecticut turned movie lobbyist took his sweet time speaking out after the movie industry basically capitulated to threats from a rogue dictator.

JOURNALISM -- Rolling Stone set back the campus sexual assault movement about 30 years, and Mark Zuckerberg’s former roommate accidentally destroyed The New Republic.

LIBERAL ZIONISM -- Not really a thing anymore. With another war against Gaza and pending legislation that would basically end Israel’s democracy, it’s hard for liberal Zionists to cling to much hope. It's not even clear whether their favored 2016 presidential candidate is with them on the issue. And the year ended with the theater director for the Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Center getting canned for performing a play that was critical of Israel. A play written by an Israeli. That was first performed in Tel Aviv. Molotov!

MARK PRYOR -- After his shellacking in Arkansas, he got sanctimonious. "Let's take off the red jersey and take off the blue jersey and let us all put on the red, white and blue jersey. Our nation's challenges -- large and small -- require us to get on the same team. Team USA."

Okay, whatever, Mark. Just send us your Wal-Mart government relations contact info when you've got it. Go team!

CHRIS CHRISTIE -- He's lost what, like 80 pounds? Way to go.

THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS -- They've never faced louder demands for a name change and the team seems more dysfunctional than ever.

SYKES-PICOT -- These ill-fated borders aren’t holding up so well in the post U.S.-occupation era. Iraq, like liberal Zionism, isn’t really a thing anymore, nor is Syria.

GABBY GIFFORDS -- Her gun safety group sunk nearly a third of its fortune into re-electing Giffords' former top aide Ron Barber (D) in her former Arizona district. Yet Barber, who is more or less the nicest guy south of Santa Claus (and might even be him), lost in a nail-biter recount. And Democrat Mark Udall, whom Giffords' group also supported, went down in his Senate race in Colorado.

Meanwhile, the gun safety agenda is stalled at best. In late December, when a mentally ill man shot and killed two police officers in New York City, gun control was barely mentioned; blame was heaped on liberals instead.

CHRIS CHRISTIE -- Oh yeah, Bridgegate. That was bad.

WAR OPPONENTS -- We’re bombing all over Iraq and Syria, yet the streets are not filled with antiwar protesters. All that skeptical lawmakers wanted was a note from the president spelling out whom he can and can’t bomb, and they couldn’t even get that. In the meantime, we've spent more than $1 billion bombing Islamic State militants since August and there's no end in sight.

BLISSFUL IGNORANCE OF TERRIBLE POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS -- For years, the debate over police brutality, militarization and immunity was confined to the comments section of a Radley Balko blog post. But it's no longer possible to believe the Mayberry model prevails.

STEVE STOCKMAN -- You suck, Steve! Goodbye to America's worst congressman.

Click HERE to see last year's losers.

Where To See 'The Interview'

Tue, 2014-12-23 14:51
Merry Christmas! After one major Sony hack, a studio flip flop and a petition organized by some of the country's most prominent independent movie theaters, "The Interview" is back in theaters. Here's where you can see it:

This list will be updated if and when more theaters announce showtimes.

The Loft Cinema, Tucson

Riverdale 10, Little Rock

Alamo, Littleton

Penn Cinemas Riverfront, Wilmington
Westown Movies, Middleton

Plaza Theater, Atlanta

Hollywood Blvd. Cinema, Woodbridge

Jasper 8 Theatres, Jasper

Eastpoint Movies 10, Baltimore

Alamo, Kalamazoo
Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor

Alamo Main Street, Kansas City
MX Movies, St. Louis (Starting Jan. 2)

New York
Alamo, Yonkers

Tower City Cinemas, Cleveland

Southside Works, Pittsburgh

South Carolina
Terrace Theater, Charleston
Nickelodeon Theatre, Columbia

Franklin Theatre, Franklin

Alamo, Richardson
Alamo Vintage Park, Houston
Alamo Mason Park, Katy
Alamo, Lubbock,
Alamo Marketplace, New Braunfels
Alamo Park North, San Antonio
Alamo Westlakes, San Antonio
Alamo Lakeline, Austin
Alamo Slaughter, Austin
Alamo South Lamar, Austin
Alamo Ritz, Austin
Look Cinemas, Dallas

Alamo Drafthouse, Ashburn

All Alamo locations were confirmed by the theater company.

After Topinka, who will keep Illinois politicians honest?

Tue, 2014-12-23 13:51
Illinois government still is experiencing a void where the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's frank voice used to be. Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek wonders whether any other politicians will be able to bring the same honest rhetoric to Illinois politics.

Doubek writes:

In the aftermath of the death of Judy Baar Topinka, this question gnaws at me. I suspect the answer is no, not really. I strongly suspect all of us will suffer as a result.

Sure, politics, particularly nationally, is as hyper-partisan and hyperbolic as ever, but much of that seems staged and stunt-like.

Topinka was called a "truth teller" at her memorial service last week and that was the truth. We need truth tellers in Illinois government, politics and in public service, but modern-day campaigns and plain old fear seem to have snuffed out the blunt speakers.

Topinka was beloved because she was genuine. Anyone who met her could sense she was real and plain-speaking. She was unafraid of sharing unpopular views.

Read why Doubek worries Illinois doesn't have another such truth-teller waiting in the wings at Reboot Illinois.

Even as Illinoisans remember Topinka's career, another politician is just starting his time of public service. Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has deviated from inauguration tradition to host an inauguration concert to ring in his administration. Headlining the concert will be country music singer Toby Keith and Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy. Check out all the details and learn more about these performers at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Stantis cartoon: Oh what a year it was!

Here's Who You Can Thank For Not Having To Work This Christmas

Tue, 2014-12-23 13:05

If you're not in the office on Christmas Day, thank your company. But government policy may have played a role in that as well, even if you aren't a federal employee.

Congress declared the first federal holidays in the 1870s -- a handful of observances, with Christmas Day among them, according to a 2014 Congressional Research Service report. However, those holidays applied only to federal workers in the District of Columbia. By 1885, Congress had extended the holidays to federal workers across the country.

Even today, Congress' edict doesn't apply to anyone else. Congress and the president have never tried to establish holidays that apply to the states, the CRS report says. Instead, states determine their own holidays -- though most adhere (more or less) to the 11 federal holidays declared by Congress, meaning that employees of those states' governments receive time off work.

According to the Council of State Governments' Book of the States 2014, all states have adopted New Year's Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. All states also honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday in some way, although a few celebrate it with a more general name, such as Civil Rights Day. Only nine states don't celebrate Washington's Birthday, also known as Presidents Day.

"The federal government sets a benchmark," Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told The Huffington Post. He noted that most private employers, but not all, give extra compensation to employees who work on federal holidays.

These federal holidays were created at different times and in response to different movements. Here's how they each came to be.


Fireworks light up the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2014.

These federal holidays, three of the first to be established, were created in 1870. In discussing the rationale for the creation of the holidays, members of Congress implied that most states were observing the holidays already, the CRS report says.

"They always call the states the laboratories of democracy, and quite often things do begin at the state level and then percolate their way up to the national level," Senate Historian Don Ritchie told The Huffington Post.

Members of Congress probably wanted to be in their home states during those holidays, according to Ritchie, which would have contributed to the push for a national observance. Having people off on the same days in neighboring states also made more sense when it came to interstate commerce, as well as metropolitan areas that straddled a state line.

The dates of these holidays were tied to the traditional celebrations of New Year's Day on Jan. 1, Independence Day on July 4 and Christmas Day on Dec. 25.


"Any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fasting or thanksgiving" was also included in the original 1870 legislation. Although President George Washington had issued declarations for a day of thanksgiving a few of the years he was in office, the idea wasn't celebrated annually until 1863. That's when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation setting its date for the last Thursday of November.

For decades after that, each president issued a yearly proclamation designating Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November. In 1939, however, the final Thursday fell on Nov. 30, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt worried that wouldn't allow enough time for holiday shopping, so he moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November. Confusion ensued as some states followed his lead and others opted to still observe the holiday a week later. In 1941, Congress permanently declared Thanksgiving Day to be the fourth Thursday of November. Many workplaces also take the following Friday off, and some states have even designated that day as a holiday, but it's never been recognized as such at the federal level.


The federal holiday many Americans know as Presidents Day still officially goes by its original name of Washington's Birthday, referring to the country's first president. It was established by Congress in 1879 and set for Feb. 22, the date in 1732 when George Washington was born.

Washington's birthday had been recognized before that, though, with celebrations across the country, including many recitations of his farewell address, the Center for Legislative Archives says. To this day, the Senate maintains its tradition, which began in 1862, of an annual reading of the address.

The date for celebrating Washington's Birthday changed in 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. That law set the commemoration of Washington's Birthday as the third Monday of February, and shifted the commemorations of some other holidays to Mondays as well. Congress said the move would "bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation," according to the Archives. Congress reportedly considered the new law an opportunity for increased time for family, travel and leisure, as well as an end to workweek interruptions from midweek holidays.


A soldier places flags at gravesites during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, May 22, 2014.

Memorial Day, initially called Decoration Day, was created in 1888 for federal workers in D.C. The holiday was already celebrated in many Northern states to honor Union Civil War casualties, and was likely designated a federal holiday because many government employees had served in the war and would want to commemorate it.

The holiday now commemorates dead service members from both sides of the Civil War, as well as other wars, and is celebrated in all states.

The holiday was shifted from May 30 to the last Monday of May with the 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act.


The creation of Labor Day in 1894 was also a case in which Congress was influenced by the states, since 23 had already established their own Labor Day holidays by that time.

The House Labor Committee noted that time off was important to make an employee "more useful as a craftsman," according to the CRS.

The CRS report also says: "By honoring labor with a holiday, the committee report suggested, the nation will assure that the nobility of labor [will] be maintained. So long as the laboring man can feel that he holds an honorable as well as a useful place in the body politic, so long will he be a loyal and faithful citizen.'"


In 1938, Armistice Day was designated an annual holiday on Nov. 11 to commemorate the end of World War I and serve as a "national peace holiday," according to the CRS. The day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and broadened to honor service members from other conflicts as well.

The 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act initially applied to Veterans Day as well, stipulating that it be observed on the fourth Monday of October. However, veterans groups opposed the change and most states kept their Veterans Day commemorations on Nov. 11, the date in 1918 when World War I fighting ceased. In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law that moved the holiday back to Nov. 11, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Inauguration Day was named a permanent holiday in 1957 for those in the Washington, D.C., area. It applies every four years on Jan. 20 when a new president is sworn into office.


Columbus Day was created in 1968 as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act and set for the second Monday in October. At the time, Christopher Columbus was already honored with a holiday in 45 states.

Today, Columbus Day is the annual federal holiday most disputed among states. For many, the focus has shifted to the fact that people had been living in the Americas long before Columbus "discovered" them, and the arrival of Europeans led to widespread disenfranchisement and death for these people. According to the Council of State Governments, at least a dozen states don't observe Columbus Day at all, and some states and municipalities celebrate it under a different name: It's Native Americans' Day in South Dakota, and Indigenous People's Day in Seattle and Minneapolis.


Fifth-graders from Watkins Elementary School in the District of Columbia take turns reciting from memory excerpts of the "I Have a Dream" speech to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Jan. 18, 2013.

In 1968, the year Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, members of Congress began introducing bills to create a holiday honoring the civil rights leader. Yet the holiday wasn't established until 1983. Many fiscal conservatives had argued the holiday would cost the government too much money, the House History, Art and Archives website reports. In the end, the observation was set for the third Monday of January, as opposed to King's actual birthdate of Jan. 15, to avoid the burden on federal offices that a midweek holiday might create.


In recent years, frustration with low voter turnout has led to a push to designate Election Day -- the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November -- as a national holiday. A number of bills to this effect have been introduced in recent years, though none has made it through the legislative process. In November, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation to create the holiday, though it didn't go anywhere in the 113th Congress.

Another proposed holiday is Cesar E. Chavez Day, which would honor the labor leader's contributions to civil rights and education. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring March 31, 2014, to be Cesar Chavez Day. However, Congress would have to pass an act, signed into law by the president, for any commemoration to become a permanent federal holiday.

Local News Inaccurately Reports On 'Kill A Cop' Chant, Calls It 'Honest Misunderstanding'

Tue, 2014-12-23 13:02
Sunday evening in Baltimore, with the nation still reeling from the shooting deaths of two NYPD officers the previous day, Fox affiliate WBFF aired a story claiming that law enforcement officials were facing increased threats amid nationwide, largely nonviolent protests against police brutality and misconduct. To make the point, WBFF included a clip of a local woman leading a protest chant allegedly urging others to "kill a cop." As WPYR reporter P. Kenneth Burns was quick to point out, however, this claim was completely inaccurate. (Gawker was also among the first to report WBFF's error.)

The clip was taken from video filmed at the National "Justice For All" March in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. Tawanda Jones is the woman in the video leading protesters in the following chant: "We won't stop! We can't stop! Till killer cops are in cell blocks!" But when WBFF aired the clip -- or at least a version of it that cuts off midway through the chant -- this is how an anchor interpreted Jones' words: "We won't stop, we can't stop, so kill a cop."

(Here's the original video of Jones' chant, which a confused YouTube poster uploaded with the title "Sharpton's 'Go Kill A Cop' march in Wash DC." In the video description field, the user wrote: "Did I really hear this right?" As it turns out, no.)

On Monday, WBFF apologized to Jones, whose brother, Tyrone West, died in police custody in 2013. WBFF characterized the incident as an "honest misunderstanding."

“Fox45 is apologizing for an error made on Fox45 News at Ten last night. We aired a clip from a protest in Washington, D.C. where we reported protesters were chanting 'kill a cop,'" the station said in a statement. "We here at Fox45 work hard every day to earn your trust and bring you fair and comprehensive news from around the country. Although last night's report reflected an honest misunderstanding of what the protesters were saying, we apologize for the error."

WBFF also apologized to Jones on the air, and has since removed the story from its website. A reporter later interviewed West for a follow-up segment.

"You'd have to be an idiot -- someone that hates -- to say 'kill somebody,' especially some cops that I need to protect my family," Jones said in that interview. "We need the cops. My community needs the cops."

Jones has been holding weekly nonviolent days of action since her brother's death in July 2013. She and other activists use those occasions to call for justice and accountability in the Baltimore Police Department.

Some are now asking about the editorial process that led to WBFF's decision not to air the clip in full, and wondering how the station managed to interpret the footage so inaccurately.

"'Honest misunderstanding' would seem to warrant such an explanation rather than asking viewers to accept it on faith," David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun wrote on Monday. He went on to argue that none of the station's apologies did a sufficient job of clarifying how "such an outrageous change in meaning finds its way on air with all its potential to further inflame passions at this emotional time."

Just hours before the erroneous WBFF segment aired on Sunday, the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore released a statement on the deaths of the two NYPD officers. In it, the group condemned "politicians and community leaders from President Obama, to Attorney General Holder, New York Mayor de Blasio, and Al Sharpton," claiming that they had "created the atmosphere of unnecessary hostility and peril that police officers now find added to the ordinary danger of their profession."

"Sadly, the bloodshed will most likely continue until those in positions of power realize that the unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation," the statement continued.

The Baltimore FOP's response is similar to those offered by other police groups around the nation, including the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which has blamed protesters for the deaths of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

Liu and Ramos were fatally shot Saturday by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a Brooklyn native with a history of mental illness. Brinsley killed himself shortly after shooting the officers.

There have been occasional extremists in the demonstrations that have swept the U.S. since the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown this year. But the majority of protesters have loudly denounced violence against police, and have done so even more emphatically in the wake of this weekend's killings.

Many, including The Huffington Post's Paul Raushenbush, have pointed out that the protest actions of recent months have been almost entirely aimed at reforming the criminal justice system and eliminating racial imbalances -- not calling for anyone to "kill a cop," or do anything similar.

Federal Government Sues Chicago Schools For Pregnancy Discrimination

Tue, 2014-12-23 13:02

(Adds comment from CPS, details from lawsuit, in paragraphs 5-8)

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that it discriminated against pregnant teachers at a northwest side elementary school.

The suit, filed in federal court in the third largest U.S. city, alleges that starting in 2009, Scammon Elementary School Principal Mary Weaver subjected female teachers to lower performance evaluations, discipline, threatened firing and firing because of their pregnancies.

The suit also alleges that the board approved the firing of six recently pregnant teachers at Scammon and forced two others to leave the school.

"No woman should have to make a choice between her job and having a family," said Vanita Gupta, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division. "Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of discrimination on the basis of sex."

Weaver, who won a Chicago Public Schools principal achievement award last year, made negative comments to and about pregnant Scammon teachers, the suit said. She responded to one teacher's pregnancy announcement with "I can't believe you are doing this to me. You are going to be out right before testing," the suit said.

It said Weaver asked another teacher who was nursing and expressing breast milk: "That isn't over yet?" and "When will you be done with that?"

In a statement, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said CPS will defend against the suit.

"Chicago Public Schools is strongly committed to creating a workplace that values and respects all employees and will not tolerate the kind of discrimination or retaliation that is alleged to have taken place at Scammon Elementary school," McCaffrey said.

Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator Jackson Potter said Weaver has a "pattern of retaliation" against teachers for union activity and standing up for their rights.

"This is symptomatic of a district-wide problem where there is not an effective way to rein in out-of-control principals," Potter said. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

One Chart Shows The White Christmases 'We Used To Know' Are A Lie

Tue, 2014-12-23 12:24
Were Christmases of yore actually more merry and bright? Or were Grandpa's tales of walking uphill both ways through five feet of snow to drag home the family Christmas tree a wee bit embellished?

Over at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, experts set out to settle that score. With help from the Rutgers Snow Lab, they analyzed satellite images of Christmas weeks over the past five decades. And they discovered our memories might be a little more rose-tinted than we thought.

The map below shows the percent change in snow-covered days over the week of Christmas between 1990 to 2013 and 1966 to 1989. The color blue indicates areas where the ground was more frequently snow-covered in recent years. Brown indicates areas where Christmases in longer-ago decades were indeed whiter.

As you can see, fans of glistening tree tops have had a better time in the past few years -- there seem to have been more white Christmases between 1990 to 2013 in the U.S. Take that, beloved elderly relatives.

The folks at NOAA would also like you to know that this chart indicates nothing about broader trends in climate change. It is still, unfortunately, getting warmer.

15 Times We Broke Down Stereotypes To Build Progress This Year

Tue, 2014-12-23 10:59
By all accounts, 2014 was a difficult year to follow the news.

Despite the year's innumerous divisive stories that often centered around hate and fear, we stood undivided to create progress on major issues including gender rights, racial justice and mental health. And to arrive there, we first had to break down some harmful stereotypes.

Though it may have felt like your news feed was constantly filled with pointless bipartisan bickering, we did major work tearing down walls and advancing on these important issues below.

President Obama Protected Millions Of Undocumented Immigrants

After Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama said felt he had no choice but to act alone. The November executive order prioritizes deporting criminals and recent arrivals and will protect an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. "What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach," Obama said. "If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law."

Following The Ferguson Shooting, The Nation Realized 'Everyone Has A Stake In This'

From Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, the country took to the streets to speak out against racial profiling and to stand in solidarity and say, "Black lives matter."

After Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in November for shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown, protesters skipped work and classes to march in protests, staged "die-ins" in major cities and held rallies to speak out against police brutality and racial injustice nationwide.

As one protester in Oakland, California told HuffPost: "This is a wonder, wonderful protest for a horrible, horrible cause."

#YesAllWomen And #WhyIStayed Changed The Way We Think About Violence Against Women

Shortly after gunman Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree targeting women in Isla Vista, California in May, a hashtag response took off. Women took to social media to discuss experiences of harassment, assault and a culture of fear using the #YesAllWomen hashtag. Social media users pointed out: "Not ALL men harass women. But ALL women have, at some point, been harassed by men. Food for thought. #YesAllWomen"

Then in September, after a video was released showing former Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice assaulting his wife, Janay Palmer, questions as to why victims stay with their abusers arose. Author Beverly Gooden started a hashtag conversation that exploded, exploring why "just leaving" isn't so simple. She tweeted: "I had to plan my escape for months before I even had a place to go and money for the bus to get there. #WhyIStayed"

The Transgender Community Made Major Inroads

Transgender advocates continued to make their mark across all sectors of society this year. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 will now be interpreted to also protect transgender government employees from discrimination, Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier this month. A bill also passed in December will allow transgender New Yorkers to change their birth certificate designation without proof they have had gender confirmation surgery.

Robin Williams Death Helped Start A National Conversation About Mental Health

Across the globe, 350 million people live with depression and in the U.S. alone, a person dies by suicide every 12.9 minutes. But it was in the wake of Robin Williams’ death in August, that we were moved to lift the suffocating veil surrounding talk of mental health issues. In HuffPost’s ongoing series, “Stronger Together," we’ve addressed the stark realities of living with mental illness, consequences of perpetuating dangerous myths and how to effectively talk to a loved one who is living with a mental health issue.

Our Idols Made Gender Equality Go Mainstream

This year, major A-listers unhesitatingly took vocal stands for gender equality and considering that Queen Bey and Tay were involved, it’s definitely a thing that's here to stay. Beyonce left little to the ideological imagination during her legendary 17-minute number at the MTV Video Music Awards. Taylor Swift opened up about her feminist awakening, and in her role as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson called on men to help women achieve equal rights and opportunities.

We Recognized Dads For All They Do At Home

Gone are the days of dads bragging about never having changed a diaper, and fathers don’t seem to miss that era one bit. HuffPost and Daddy Doin’ Work blogger Doyin Richards showed us what fatherhood is truly like, proving to us this year that dads are just as comfortable slinging swaddles, getting pedicures and snuggling as they are suiting up for corporate America.

The Whole World Fought ALS, A Disease Previously Seen As 'Unsexy'

When Pete Frates, 29, was diagnosed with ALS two years ago, he vowed to get the debilitating disease –- which hadn’t made headlines since Lou Gehrig left baseball –- in front of major philanthropists, including Bill Gates. By August, the billionaire activist joined the growing Ice Bucket craze, which went on to raise more than $100 million. Getting such major names behind the viral campaign was critical for advocates who felt that the disease, which eventually paralyzes the body, was too depressing and hopeless to talk about on a grand scale.

The White House Took On College Rape

One in five women is the victim of sexual assault in college, and the White House isn’t letting that statistic hold steady any longer. In January, the Obama administration established a task force dedicated to the issue and the group released its exhaustive report and recommendations three months later, which advocates heralded. Many were particularly heartened by the calls for greater transparency and for clearer guidelines on filing federal complaints.

And Many Fraternities Spoke Up For What's Right

A spate of high-profile rape cases on college campuses around the country this year exposed some dark fraternity practices. But instead of just defending their brothers, a number of organizations stood up for survivors. In the fall, eight major fraternal organizations launched a new education effort to prevent and intervene against sexual misconduct, and frat members at Indiana University issued 21 powerful statements pledging to combat sexual assault, which could serve as the blueprint for every college campus.

More People Adopted Shelter Pets

Well, this is certainly a treat. According to a recent PetSmart report, 66 percent of people considering bringing home a new pet say they would adopt instead of going to a breeder or other source. (That's up from 58 percent in 2011). Adopting helps reduce pet overpopulation, and protests against pet stores that typically support puppy mills, where dogs are often raised in inhumane conditions and not bred for good health.

Americans Did More Giving And Less Shopping

Thanksgiving has always been about stuffing our faces and our shopping carts –- until this year. The number of consumers scooping up deals and the amount of money spent over the four-day holiday dropped year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. But, Americans willfully opened up their wallets on Giving Tuesday, the daylong charity event that follows Cyber Monday. The campaign raised $45.7 million, a 63 percent increase from last year.

Ebola, A Disease Previously Seen As 'Remote,' Changed U.S. Hospitals For The Better

After all that shaming of Ebola health workers, it turns out that the U.S. health system may actually be stronger after taking on those few cases. Initially, the U.S. was ill-prepared to care for victims of the disease that has claimed more than 6,000 lives. Now, the country has developed a regional network of hospitals ready to treat Ebola and other rare infectious diseases and keep tabs on future threats.

We Recognized Female Vets Have Specific Needs And Deserve Better Care

More women are serving in the military than ever before, yet an overwhelming number are coming back to homelessness, joblessness and subpar medical services. Aware of the need to meet the new demand, the Department of Veterans Affairs vowed to install a "one-stop" health care model so that women can go to one provider for a range of services. And First Lady Michelle Obama continued to spotlight the specific unemployment crisis women veterans face.

More States Got Rid Rid Of Laws That Discriminate Against Pit Bulls

Fewer states are allowing breed specific legislation, a practice that regulates dogs based on breed and is often directed at pit bulls and dogs that resemble pit bulls. The National Canine Research Council points out that the trend symbolizes greater understanding that dog owners are responsible for controlling and caring for their pets and that regulating based on breed does not reduce dog bite incidences.

The Council wrote in June: "The tide has turned against BSL and communities are implementing policies that hold all dog owners responsible for the humane care, custody, and control of their dogs, regardless of breed or appearance."

Here's to a year that gives us hope for the next!

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Mariachi Is Helping To Connect Schools, Hispanic Parents And Communities

Tue, 2014-12-23 10:19
CHICAGO (AP) -- Jose Torres smiles as he thinks about how his 12-year-old daughter has embraced learning the same mariachi music he plays at home during a new Chicago Public Schools program that teaches the Mexican songs, linking the family's culture with the classroom.

"She's asking questions about her family, her background," Torres said, sitting outside Alexa's music classroom at Richard Edwards Elementary School, a largely Hispanic arts magnet school on Chicago's South Side. It's one of five Chicago schools with 1,100 students in the third through seventh grades that the nonprofit Mariachi Heritage Foundation debuted in this fall.

Chicago joins dozens of schools districts nationwide in cities like Las Vegas, San Antonio and Tucson, Arizona, that teach students how to sing and play mariachi music. It's a way to connect schools and parents from Hispanic communities, foundation president Cesar Maldonado said.

A traditional Mexican music, mariachi often is performed by groups of musicians playing stringed instruments and trumpets and wearing brightly colored costumes. The songs are both ballads and fast tempo reflecting different, often rural regions of Mexico.

"It gives parents the opportunity to have a topic they can speak on," Maldonado said. "Let's use that as a platform to bring parents into the conversation of everyday academic life."

That was evident to music teacher Maria Pulido when the line was out her classroom door at this year's parent-teacher conferences.

"Last year, I never had any parents come talk to me," she said.

Pulido teaches mariachi students basic music skills on violins along with how to play Mexican folk songs. The program eventually will incorporate mariachi singing instruction.

"That's something the parents can say `Wow, I know that song. I used to sing that song when I was young,'" she said.

It's something Alexa Torres, 12, said she appreciates about mariachi music now too.

"I find it more interesting because I understand now what goes into it," she said.

But starting a mariachi program in a school isn't without challenges.

Marcia Neel, who helps organize mariachi programs in school districts around the country through her company Music Education Consultants, Inc., said one issue is earning the same respect for mariachi music as orchestra or band programs.

"It should be offered with the same amount of weight," she said. "It just needs to be recognized as the legitimate art form that it really is. The key was to take mariachi from being an out of school thing and put it into the school day."

Finances also are a concern, said Maldonado, who started this first year in Chicago using $300,000 in private and corporate donations. He bought 450 violins with the money. In January he hopes to buy more mariachi instruments, like trumpets and guitarrons, or bass guitars, and expand to seven more schools. Nearly 40 Chicago schools are on a waiting list.

"Until we get it to every school in the district that wants it we won't stop," he said.

7 of the Best Overall Top Colleges in Illinois

Tue, 2014-12-23 10:16
When students are looking for their best fit in a university, there are dozens of metrics to consider, such as specific academic programs, sports teams, location. But it's good to have an overall picture of the best schools too--the whole experience ranked the "best overall" colleges in Illinois for 2015 using 50 sets of statistics from various government and public sources; the website's own "proprietary data;" as well as nearly 12 million opinion-based survey responses covering 20 topics from roughly 300,000 current and former students.

Check out which schools are considered the best overall based on Niche's methodology, which you can read more about following this list.

Here are seven of the top overall colleges in Illinois.

36. Chicago State University

  • Academics: C

  • Campus quality: C

  • Diversity: C+

  • Health and safety: C-

  • Local area: B-

  • Party Scene: B-

  • Average net price:12,355

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.7/5 (45 respondents)

35. Northeastern Illinois University

  • Academics: C+

  • Campus quality: C

  • Diversity: A-

  • Health and safety: B+

  • Local area: B

  • Party Scene: C-

  • Average net price:14,895

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.6/5 (73 respondents)

34. Aurora University

  • Academics: C

  • Campus quality: C+

  • Diversity: C+

  • Health and safety: B-

  • Local area: B-

  • Party Scene: C

  • Average net price:17,406

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.7/5 (54 respondents)

33. Northern Illinois University

  • Academics: B-

  • Campus quality: B-

  • Diversity: B

  • Health and safety: C-

  • Local area: C+

  • Party Scene: A-

  • Average net price:18,552

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.7/5 (146 respondents)

32. Dominican University

  • Academics: B-

  • Campus quality: C

  • Diversity: B-

  • Health and safety: B+

  • Local area: B

  • Party Scene: C+

  • Average net price:17,124

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.6/5 (34 respondents)

31. Benedictine University

  • Academics: B-

  • Campus quality: C+

  • Diversity: B

  • Health and safety: B+

  • Local area: B-

  • Party Scene: C

  • Average net price:18,383

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.7/5 (37 respondents)

30. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

  • Academics: C+

  • Campus quality: B+

  • Diversity: B-

  • Health and safety: B

  • Local area: B

  • Party Scene: B-

  • Average net price:14,294

  • Student Survey on overall experience: 3.8/5 (86 respondents)

Check out 29 more best schools at Reboot Illinois and find out how each school was ranked.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date on all things Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: The top 30 hardest Illinois colleges to get accepted into for 2015, according to Niche


9 Uses For That Sad Fruitcake You're Never Going To Eat

Tue, 2014-12-23 08:55
Here's how to turn the gift that no one wants into the gift that keeps on giving:

Use it as a door stop.

Turn it into a beer coozie.

Fix that wobbly kitchen table leg.

Scrub your bathroom down with it.

Use it as a pillow.

Give your cats a fun, new perch to sit on.

Slap them on the ends of your dumbbells for extra resistance.

Carve some pockets in there and boom! Instant hand warmer.

No extra cannonballs lying around? No problem.

You can thank us later.

Animations by Eva Hill

Illinois elves have some gift ideas for your favorite politicians

Tue, 2014-12-23 00:43
Still trying to check off your last gift-buying errands on your holiday list? Not sure what to get your favorite (or least favorite) politicians this year? The Reboot Illinois elves have come up with a few suggestions:

8. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin: A new flavor of Oberweis Dairy ice cream to commemorate his decisive defeat of the creamery's namesake: Landslide Lemon.

9. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk: A box of Cuban cigars he can deploy to annoy anti-tobacco activist Dick Durbin for pushing a return to normal relations with Cuba.

10. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: A jumbo size bar of Ivory soap. It's election time, also known as spring-cleaning season. Time for Rahmbo to clean out his profanity-spewing mouth so as to impress all of us sensitive-eared voters in Chicago. And hey, big, pure soap? So much the better to wipe away all those pesky opponents, including Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Check out Reboot Illinois to see what the elves have suggested for other Illinois politicos, including Gov. Pat Quinn, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

Beyond the Reboot Illinois elves' ideas, Scott Stantis has drawn a cartoon of Quinn's list he has compiled for himself, based on his lame-duck experience. Quinn's calling a special session of the General Assembly to find a way to appoint a success for the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has caused some controversy. Check out the cartoon at Reboot Illinois to see how Quinn might ask Santa to fix his problems.

NEXT ARTICLE: Top 15 new laws for Illinois in 2015

'Exodus: Gods and Kings'

Mon, 2014-12-22 23:12
Just back from seeing most of Exodus: Gods and Kings.

I walked out after the parting of the Red Sea, which was depicted more as if an iffy forecast by Tom Skilling missed a low pressure system forming over Lake Michigan, than God majestically parting it to let his people go. Curious title, too, if the producers were trying to attract Jews and Christians, whom, one would think, would be the movie's natural audience. But, a surefire call out to polytheists everywhere.

The plural hinting that a familiar Old Testament testament had become an exercise in postmodernism. And, the movie itself, made funny by its close resemblance, in style, substance, and casting to Monty Python's brilliant, Life of Brian.

Starring Christian Bale (one of my favorite actors) seemingly channeling various members of the Brian cast as the need arose, and, hopefully with tongue firmly in cheek, purposely putting us all on as he spouts preposterous Anarcho-syndicalist pap to the Pharaoh, just as the Python crew did to the Romans.

I really went to see the spectacle of Ancient Egypt created by the magic of CGI, and was not disappointed. But, not thrilled either, in that, this director, Ridley Scott (another of my favorites), had already done the same quality of work with Ancient Rome in Gladiator (the capitals to make both Ages seem as important as the next CNN Breaking News Story). And, Peter Jackson, a decade ago, created an equally believable, with no historical record to base it all on, Middle Earth through the same technology. It made me realize that in today's rapidly changing world of movie special effects, and exploding visual game design, a pyramid or two, or a fully realized Memphis (not Elvis'), does not a good movie make.

The basic outlines of Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments (1956, Oscar for Best Picture) are there, but addled by our age's insistence on infusing even ancient Biblical tales with contemporary news and political issues. It was a bit much, to this viewer, when the Egyptians storming the Pharaoh's granary, in the middle of bespoke plagues delivered by a vengeful Old Testament God, held 'Hillary '16!' signs as the Palace Guard mowed them down with unlicensed bows and arrows. Or when Ridley deliberately skimps on the Burning Bush's CGI as a broad indictment on Republican cutbacks of social programs. Or were these figments of a demented imagination?

Sidebar: curiously, the Pharaoh's son, dead, of course, after Passover, looks less like a terminated tyke than an American Girl 'Tutankhamen Collection' doll as he is cradled in Pharaoh's arms. Rosemary's Baby looked more real.

A, dimly remembered, pre-NRA Charlton Heston, playing Moses, demanding, 'Let My People Go' is transmogrified and brought up to date as a union-esque negotiator asking for better working conditions, including paid maternity and paternity leaves, longer lunch breaks, a smoking area, and a higher minimum wage for the Hebrew slaves.

It was about at this point that Life of Brian comparisons overwhelmed the eye candy of Sphinxes and palaces, and I wondered if it was all purposeful or post-ironic or something. I hope so.

Set pieces from when Hollywood knew how to do Biblical epics (circa 1956): the plagues; the Jews' expulsion from Egypt; God talking to Moses; the entire Egyptian army caught by the Red Sea doing what seas do when commanded by a wrathful Old Testament you know who... remind that Hollywood once knew how to tell a tale, even one as hoary and/or holy as this one. I would bet that Exodus: Gods and Kings will be forgotten in a year despite its reported $150,000,000 cost. DeMille's The Ten Commandments, by comparison, is still top of the tree despite a budget that wouldn't have paid for this movie's catering ($13M).

Which brings one to apologizing for discussing a movie that one did not see to completion.

Maybe something that would have proven to be my 'Paul on his way to Damascus' moment occurred after Moses patted the sand wet from the Red Sea receding next to him, to invite his long lost brother to sit with him, because that was the precise moment when I left.

Perhaps, to be au fait with the In crowd, they talked of the recent legalization of marijuana in several states, sharing a joint, with dialogue that reached across the millennia: Wow, my man, Pharaoh's Army got drownded! Let's go to Zion, and set the stage for reggae music.

Or, discussed insurance deductibles on the loss of equipment left on the wrong side of the Red Sea. Or, really livened things up by analyzing what health exchange they might, as a recently freed people, join.

I'd ask my other movie going friends about what happened next, but all of them exodused before I did. None lasting longer than the scenes of ravenous crocodiles tearing Egyptian fisherman limb from limb in a plague not noted in the Bible.

But, hey, you might say, why not a little crocodile rock, what with an unlimited budget, state of the art CGI, and imaginative screenwriters wanting to go that extra plague?

Why not, indeed.

Chicago Artists Took Over A Whole Train Line With A #BlackLivesMatter Protest

Mon, 2014-12-22 17:25
As Black Lives Matter protests have captivated the nation over the past month, artists in Chicago used a different kind of medium to shed light on America's racial divide.

And they took over a whole train line on Friday to do it. A group of more than 100 artists gathered at a downtown train station just before the 5 p.m. rush hour commute, boarding every Red Line train in both directions to demonstrate with signs, chants, and performances.

According to spoken word artist and activist Ayinde Cartman, the protesters were met with a range of responses. Some train riders simply put in their headphones or avoided eye contact, while others took part in chants and a few even asked how they could be a part of future demonstrations.

The goal of organizers, according to a news release, was to “creatively and peacefully engage train riders who may otherwise be distracted our checked out, particularly as many move onto their holiday break.”

“The intention was to disrupt, and in the most productive and constructive way possible,” Cartman told HuffPost. “We were trying to include you, rather than separate you from the movement. On the train, folks didn’t have a choice but to experience it.”

Photos by Katie Graves and Ryan Scholl.

This young poet blew my mind!! #traintakeover #thorndaleisnext #blacklivesmatter

A video posted by Kristen Kaza (@kristenkaza) on Dec 12, 2014 at 4:20pm PST

Cartman was joined by other artists and organizers including event producer Kristen Kaza, playwright Ike Holter, musicians Rico Si and Charlie Coffeen and activist Kay Hubbard.

The demonstrations weren't just related to police-involved civilian deaths. Cartman performed two pieces as part of the protest, one commenting on how a lack of access to fresh, affordable food impacts black communities on the south and west sides of Chicago. In another piece, he addressed the prison-industrial complex.

“Most people are suffering and some people are not, and we can’t let that slide, like this isn’t a part of what our society is designed to be like,” Cartman said. “Our goal was to bring the things we love to the table to demand and strongly, strongly suggest a societal transformation.”

The demonstration was peaceful, and organizers say they plan to organize another similar event to take place sometime in January.

Below, more photos of the Friday demonstration:

He had so much dope stuff to say. #TrainTakeover #blacklivesmatter

A video posted by Tiffany Renee Johnson (@tiffanyreneej_) on Dec 12, 2014 at 10:44am PST

The Obama Library Might Look Like Something Out Of A Sci-Fi Fever Dream

Mon, 2014-12-22 17:23
If Hawaii gets its way, the future Barack Obama Presidential Library will resemble a futuristic oceanside retreat more than a traditional government archive.

Universities in Chicago, Honolulu and New York City are vying for the right to host the Obama library. Earlier this month, committees from each school submitted proposals, and details and renderings are starting to emerge. One of the plans submitted by the University of Hawaii, located in the president's birthplace of Honolulu, includes detailed renderings of a teardrop-shaped structure on the edge of a coral reef. Stunning images from that architectural plan can be seen below.

(Story continues after images.)

From Chicago -- which has long been the favorite for host city, since it's where Obama built his political career, started his family and keeps his private residence -- proposals depict potential land use more than finished building concepts. Both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago are finalists. U of C, where Obama formerly taught at the law school, is viewed as the most likely winner.

U of C's plan is not to house the library on its Hyde Park campus but to build a park-heavy site in a bordering South Side neighborhood that needs the economic boost. Here are some images the school included in its proposal:

UIC has proposed a two-site model: a library in the city's economically depressed North Lawndale neighborhood and an institute at the University Village campus. The latter would stretch canopy-like over the expressway.

Columbia University in New York City, where Obama was an undergraduate, has been largely mum on plans, though in a statement, the school told The Associated Press it wants to put the library in Manhattanville (also known as West Harlem) at the school's satellite campus.

Though only one city can host the library, the AP notes that Obama could follow President Bill Clinton's lead and place the library in one city and a presidential foundation or institution in another.

This '80s-Inspired Video Might Be The Goofiest NHL All-Star Bid Yet

Mon, 2014-12-22 17:07
“Original Canadian dream” Jonathan Toews sure knows how to rock a sweatband and a pair of white short-shorts.

The Chicago Blackhawks captain stars in a new, ‘80s-inspired video released by the team, urging fans to "exercise your right to vote" for players to be a part of the NHL All-Star Game.

“Vote for him, don’t make him frown!” the video proclaims of the Winnipeg native.

The clip goes on to feature players Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Duncan Keith in their own Jane Fonda-approved getup. Kane deserves bonus points for his inspiring, winky turn on a Gazelle Glider.

Voting for the All-Star Game, which takes place on Jan. 25 in Columbus, Ohio, continues through Jan. 1.