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Want To Lose Weight? Stop Counting Calories

Tue, 2014-11-25 10:51
On its face, it all seems so easy: Calories are calories, no matter the food. And if you want to lose weight, all you have to do is simply "spend" more calories than you consume, either by exercising more or eating less.

But anyone who has ever attempted to lose weight this way knows that it's not easy at all. And long-term weight management seems downright impossible for most, given the dismal number of those who do manage to keep the pounds off over the years.

The problem, says cardiovascular research scientist James DiNicolantonio of St. Luke's Hospital, is the idea of calories themselves as a weight loss tool.

"Every country around the world is having a problem with obesity, and so far nothing has worked," said DiNicolantonio. "But it's important to note that we're not dying of obesity, we're dying of chronic metabolic disease."

Things like heart disease, diabetes and stroke contribute to about 800,00 annual deaths in the U.S. alone -- and now researchers are hoping to isolate foods that are metabolically disruptive, rather than high in calories, in the hope of lowering the rates of such illnesses.

In a study review published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, DiNicolantonio argues that thinking about the human body as a balance sheet of calories -- keeping a ledger of calories in and calories out -- ignores the very real and negative metabolic effects that certain ingredients, like simple carbohydrates (pastas and white bread, for example) and added sugars, have on the body.

In the review, DiNicolantonio argues that rapidly absorbable carbohydrates -- things like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, potatoes, white rice, cereal and anything made with white flour -- result in weight gain because they spike blood sugar, which causes insulin levels to rise. This leads to a sudden drop in blood sugar, prompting the person to crave still more carbohydrates. He calls this a "reinforcing loop for overconsumption" that, in the long term, could disable leptin (the hormone that makes us feel full), resulting in even more overeating.

This pathway has been investigated and described in previous studies by scientists like University of California, San Francisco sugar researcher Dr. Robert Lustig, who described sugar as a "poison," and Dr. Peter Havel of University of California, Davis, who is investigating the link between fructose and metabolic syndrome.

"Just as we wouldn't blame a child for growing taller if they're going through puberty -- because their hormones are causing that to happen -- hormones also can cause fat storage, and they can promote hunger," DiNicolantonio explained in a phone interview with The Huffington Post.

"Once you know the biochemistry, you realize that it's not your fault, and it's not about willpower. These foods have altered your biochemistry to make you literally feel starved."

Focusing on calories can also create a bias against many healthful foods, particularly high-fat foods. Dietary fat is more caloric than carbohydrates or protein, so low-calorie foods are often low in fat. This leads people to replace healthy fatty foods like nuts with lower-calorie foods like low-fat baked potato chips that aren't as nutritious or filling.

Moreover, accurately estimating calorie intake and expenditure is extremely difficult, even for the most well-informed and dedicated person with the latest gadgets.

More crucially, our bodies will simply not be fooled. If you exercise more, your body responds by prompting you to eat more food. If you eat less, your body will respond by holding back energy that you might otherwise use. And unless you like going to bed hungry, something -- either exercise or eating less -- is going to give. DiNicolantonio described this as the biological coupling of calorie intake and calorie expenditure, and researchers theorize that it may be one reason why people struggle to maintain weight loss over the long term.

DiNicolantonio doesn't endorse any particular diet, but the message from the review was straight-forward: If you want to lose weight, "don't focus on calories," advised DiNicolantonio. "A higher-fat, higher calorie food is generally going to promote more satiety, and you're going to eat less of it."

Earlier this year in an unrelated but influential study, Tulane University nutrition professor Lydia Bazzano conducted a year-long randomized controlled trial of two groups of dieters: those who cut down on carbs and those who cut down on fat. She found that low-carb dieters lost eight pounds more than the low-fat group. The low-carb dieters also significantly decreased their estimated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease, while the low-fat group did not. Her study participants didn't count calories, and her results are corroborated by much of DiNicolantonio's work.

Bazzano praised the new review for pointing out that different foods affect the body differently, in more profound ways than the calories they contribute.

"Acknowledging that not all calorie sources have equivalent effects in the body is crucial, and the 'calorie is a calorie' theory actually prevents this," Bazzano wrote in an email to HuffPost. "These macro-nutrients, carbohydrates, fats and protein, go down different metabolic pathways in our bodies and produce different feelings, trigger different hormones and cellular messengers, producing different outcomes in terms of weight and disease risk."

A decades-long obsession with lower calories (and consequently lower fat) has benefited companies that make low-fat foods but add sugar and salt to make their products tastier, Bazzano continued.

"Food items that are 100 percent rapidly absorbable carbohydrate could add 'low fat' to their labeling and thereby be perceived as 'healthy' and potentially assisting with weight loss, because these items didn't contain that concentrated source of calories: fat," said Bazzano.

According to the World Health Organization's global figures for 2008, the latest available, more than 1.4 billion adults were overweight. In 2013, 42 million preschoolers worldwide were overweight, and overweight children are more likely than normal-weight children to be obese as adults.

Cable News Split Screen Reveals Surreal Contrast Between White House And Ferguson

Tue, 2014-11-25 10:01
Minutes after St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch finished his bizarre press conference, detailing a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who killed an unarmed teenager in August, President Barack Obama gave a short speech. As many watched on cable news split screens, the contrast between the White House briefing room and the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, was utterly surreal:

Splitscreen: president speaks, while riot police face off against those with hands raised. #ferguson

— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) November 25, 2014

As the president says the country has made "enormous progress in race relations," protesters in Ferguson are shown facing off with police tanks amid flashing lights. Obama spoke of preventing crime while a group of protesters attempted to overturn a police car. And while he encouraged a focus on improving race relations, not just preventing violence, tear gas containers are seen shooting through the street.

Violence in Ferguson lasted hours into the night in response to the grand jury's decision. Protesters set fires and looted local businesses, resulting in over 80 arrests, mostly for burglary and trespassing. Around the nation, thousands more took to the streets to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

No indictment for St. Louis County police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, means Wilson will not face state charges. He may still, however, face other consequences through a Department of Justice investigation.

Darren Wilson Wasn't the First: A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook

Tue, 2014-11-25 09:05
The Ferguson grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown is heartless but unsurprising. But it is important to place the case in context with the history of police violence investigations and prosecutions in high profile cases -- and the systemic and racist police brutality that continues to plague the nation. In doing so, there are lessons for the movement for justice in the Michael Brown case, as well as for those who are engaged in the broader struggle against law enforcement violence.

What follows, then, is a brief history of similar high profile cases where public outrage compelled the justice system to confront acts of racially motivated police violence -- with, to say the least, less than satisfactory results.


Over the past 45 years, Chicago has been a prime example of official indifference and cover-up when it comes to prosecuting the police for wanton brutality and torture.

On December 4, 1969, Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were slain in a police raid that implicated the Cook County State's Attorney and the FBI's Cointelpro program. A public outcry led to a Federal Civil Rights investigation. Despite finding that the raiding police fired more than 90 shots to one by the Panthers, the Grand Jury in 1970 did not indict, but rather issued a report that equally blamed the police perpetrators and the Panther victims.

Outrage at this decision led to the appointment of a Special Prosecutor who, in the face of extreme official resistance, obtained an indictment against the police and the State's Attorneys who planned and executed the raid -- not for murder and attempted murder, but rather for obstruction of justice.

The case came to trial in front of a politically connected judge who dismissed the case without even requiring that the charged officials put on a defense. Again, the outrage, particularly in the African-American community was so extreme that the chief prosecutor, Edward V. Hanrahan, was voted out of office a week after the verdict was rendered in 1972.

The Jon Burge police torture scandal provides another stark example. Evidence that had been unearthed over the years demonstrated that a crew of predominately white Chicago police detectives, led by Jon Burge, tortured at least 120 African-American men from 1972 to 1991.

Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley was tendered powerful evidence of this torture as early as 1982, but did not investigate or prosecute Burge and his men. Daley's office continued to use confessions tortured from the victims to send scores of them to prison -- 10 of whom went to death row, though they were later saved by a death penalty moratorium in 2000 and by a grant of clemency in 2003 by then-Governor George Ryan -- during the next seven years.

In 1989, the local U.S. Attorneys' office declined to prosecute, as did the Department of Justice in 1996 and Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine for the five years directly thereafter. In 2001, due to continuing public pressure, a politically connected Special Prosecutor was appointed to investigate the torture. But after a four-year, $7 million investigation, he too refused to indict, instead issuing what is widely considered to be a whitewash report that absolved Daley, Devine, and numerous high Chicago police officials.

Finally, in 2008 the U.S. Attorney indicted Burge for perjury and obstruction of justice, and he was convicted in 2010, and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. However, the U.S. Attorney has subsequently declined to prosecute Burge's confederates for similar offenses.

New Orleans

Chicago is by no means an isolated example of how difficult it is to obtain justice for wanton police violence through the judicial system. In New Orleans, a crew of white detectives responded to the killing of a white police officer in 1980 by terrorizing the black community of Algiers, killing four innocent people and torturing numerous others by "booking and bagging" them: beating suspects with telephone books and suffocating them with bags over their heads.

Seven officers were indicted by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations arising from the torture of one of the victims and three were convicted. No officers were charged for the four killings or for the other acts of torture.

In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, an NOPD officer fatally shot an unarmed black man named Henry Glover, then several of his fellow officers burned his body to cover-up their crime. NOPD officers also shot and killed two unarmed black men on the Danziger Bridge.

After state authorities botched their investigation, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department indicted the officers involved in the two cases and obtained convictions of some of the main police actors. However, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the verdict in the Glover case, and the trial judge, citing government misconduct, took the extraordinary step of granting the convicted officers a new trial in the Danziger case.

New York

In 1997, an NYPD officer sexually assaulted a Haitian-American man named Abner Louima in a precinct station bathroom by shoving a broken broomstick up his rectum. Louima's attacker was subsequently charged with federal civil rights violations, while three of his police accomplices were charged with covering up the crimes.

After Louima's attacker pleaded guilty, his accomplices were convicted, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their convictions on the grounds that the lawyers who represented the officers had a conflict of interest. After they were convicted a second time, the Appeals Court again overturned their convictions -- this time on the basis that there was insufficient evidence of intent.

In 1999, four officers from the NYPD's Street Crimes Unit fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who was reaching for his wallet, hitting him 19 times. The officers were indicted for second degree murder and the case was moved to upstate New York, where a jury acquitted the officers.

In July of this year, NYPD officers arrested an African-American man named Eric Garner, allegedly for selling untaxed cigarettes. They put a prohibited chokehold on him, forced him to the ground face first with his hands behind his back, and shoved his face into the pavement, where he died a few minutes later of a heart attack. The deadly assault, which was captured on videotape, is now under investigation by a Special Grand Jury empaneled by the District Attorney's Office.

Los Angeles

Among the most notorious cases was the brutal 1991 beating of Rodney King by five LAPD officers. A videotape captured most of the brutality and also showed several other officers standing by and doing nothing to stop the pummeling of a defenseless black man.

Four officers were charged at the state level with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. The trial was moved to a predominantly white suburban county, and three of the officers were acquitted of all charges, while the fourth was acquitted of assault with a deadly weapon and other lesser charges. But the jury failed to reach a verdict on his use of excessive force.

After an angry uprising in the African-American community of Los Angeles that left 53 dead and around 2,000 injured, the U.S. Justice Department indicted the four officers, and a federal jury convicted two of them, while acquitting the other two.

This past August, LAPD officers fatally shot an unarmed mentally ill African-American man named Ezell Ford, who witnesses said was shot in the back while lying on the ground. Despite massive protests, there has been no grand jury investigation to date, the autopsy report is yet to be released, and the LAPD has not completed its investigation.


In Oakland, California in the late 1990s, a unit of police officers dubbed the "Rough Riders" allegedly systematically beat, framed and planted narcotics on African Americans whom they claimed were dealing drugs. Four of the "Riders" were indicted by the District Attorney's Office, and the trial was moved to a suburban county. The ringleader fled the country, and was tried in absentia.

After a year-long trial before a bitterly divided jury on which there were no blacks, the officers were acquitted of eight charges, and the jury was hung on the remaining 27 counts. At the urging of then-Mayor Jerry Brown, the officers were not re-tried.

Also in Oakland, in the early morning hours of New Years Day, 2009, a BART officer shot and killed a young black man named Oscar Grant, who was lying face down, unarmed, in a busy transit station. The shooting was videotaped, and led to militant protests in Oakland.

Another jury with no black members rejected the charge of murder and instead found the officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter. As a result, Oscar Grant's killer spent less than a year behind bars. The Department of Justice subsequently opened a civil rights investigation, but no charges were brought.


From 2007-2012 in Milwaukee, a unit of white police officers, spurred on by the Department's CompStat program of aggressive policing, stopped and illegally body cavity searched more than 70 African-American men whom they claimed to be investigating for drug dealing. In conducting these searches, most commonly performed on the street, the searching officer reached inside the men's underwear, and probed their anuses and genitals.

After this highly illegal practice came to light, the unit's ringleader, Michael Vagnini, was indicted by the Milwaukee County District Attorney on numerous counts of sexual assault, illegal searches, and official misconduct, while three of the other unit officers were also charged for participating in two of the searches. The unit's sergeant and several other members of the unit, all of whom were present for many of the searches, were not charged.

The charged officers were permitted to plead guilty to the lesser included offenses of official misconduct and illegal strip searches, with Vagnini receiving a 36-month sentence while the other three received sentences that totaled, collectively, less than a month in jail. By pleading guilty, they also received promises that they would not be charged with federal civil rights violations.

Pattern and Practice Investigations

These high profile cases represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cases where racist police violence has not been subjected to equal justice under the law.

Recently, the Justice Department declined to prosecute Little Rock, Arkansas, officers who shot and killed Eugene Ellison, an elderly African American man who was walking out of his home with a cane in his hand, while there have been documented reports of unarmed black men recently being shot down by the police in Chicago; Houston; San Antonio; Beaver Creek, Ohio; and Sarasota, Florida.

In 1994, the United States Congress, recognizing that police misconduct and violence was systemic in many parts of the country, passed 42 U.S. Code Section 14141, which empowered the Justice Department to file suit against police departments alleging patterns and practices of unconstitutional conduct, and to obtain wide ranging court orders, consent decrees, and independent monitors in order to implement reforms to those practices.

Although understaffed, the Pattern and Practice Unit of the Justice Department has attacked systemic and discriminatory deficiencies in police hiring, supervision, and monitoring in numerous police departments over the past 20 years. A particularly egregious act or series of acts of police violence often prompts the Unit to initiate an investigation, and its lawyers have obtained consent decrees or court orders in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Steubenville, Ohio, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Oakland, and Miami.

Last month, lawyers handling the Little Rock cases requested that the DOJ do a pattern and investigation of the LRPD, and the Unit is reportedly now investigating the practices of the Ferguson Police Department. While these investigations are not a panacea, they offer a mechanism for exposing and reforming blatantly unconstitutional police practices, and have also demonstrated how pervasive the problem systemic police violence continues to be.

In light of this history, the pre-ordained failure of a biased local prosecutor to obtain an indictment against Darren Wilson should not surprise us. But the movement for justice for Michael Brown has brought widespread attention to the nationwide problem of systemic and racist police violence and highlighted the movement that has come together to battle against it.

Just two weeks ago, the Brown case, along with the Burge torture cases, was presented to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva. The movement should now turn its attention to the Department of Justice, demanding a federal civil rights indictment against Wilson, a full scale pattern and practice investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, and, more broadly, an end to systemic and racist police violence.

As the history of the battle against racist police violence so pointedly teaches, the public outcry and agitation must continue not only in Ferguson but across the nation. Because, as Frederick Douglas so rightly stated many years ago, power concedes nothing without a demand.

Taylor is a founding partner of the People's Law Office and has served as one of the lead lawyers in the Fred Hampton, Chicago police torture, Eugene Ellison, and Milwaukee illegal strip search cases.

17 Snarky Someecards That Sum Up Our Feelings On Thanksgiving

Tue, 2014-11-25 08:59
We've finally found the recipe for a perfect Thanksgiving: a scoop of mashed potatoes, a juicy cut of turkey, a slice of pumpkin pie and a big ol' helping of snark.

Since we are highly unqualified to help you prepare any of the first three ingredients for Thanksgiving success, we did our part by rounding up the funniest, most sarcastic Someecards we could find. Just add food and voilà! Perfect Thanksgiving.

Rapper Killer Mike Delivers Powerful Speech About Ferguson

Tue, 2014-11-25 08:20
Run the Jewels' tour had a scheduled stop in St. Louis on Monday night. The rap duo, Killer Mike and El-P, took the stage just after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, reached the decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown.

Killer Mike has written at length about the turmoil in Ferguson, and before the show started, he gave a powerful speech about race and humanity.

I would like to say ‘rest in peace’ to Michael Brown, who will never get to see the next phase of his life," he said. "I would like to give all thoughts and prayers to all those out there peacefully protesting.”

He continued, “Tonight I got kicked on my ass, when I listened to that prosecutor. You motherfuckers got me today. I knew it was coming. I have a 20-year-old son, I have a 12-year-old son and I’m so afraid for them.” He ended his message, referencing El-P, “We know you don’t value my skin, and we know you do value [El-P's], but you know what we’re friends and nothing is gonna devalue that.”

How Should I Feel?

Tue, 2014-11-25 07:33
Angry? Sure. Angry sounds good. Anger is okay -- no, preferred -- when dealing with injustice.

Now, anger doesn't have to -- no, shouldn't -- lead to violence.

But sometimes it does; sometimes anger makes someone do something they will regret in the morning, possibly for the rest of their lives.

Do I think the people that set fire to those businesses in Ferguson will regret it? Possibly. Maybe not tomorrow, or in the next decade. But it's possible that when they're telling their grandkids about this pivotal moment in history they will wish they acted differently. Maybe they won't. I don't know.

Maybe Darren Wilson can't sleep at night; and will forever be haunted by what he saw in his gun sight that day in early August: Michael Brown's head moments before the fatal blow. Maybe he sleeps fine. I don't know.

I don't know -- and who cares? The damage is done. Businesses are smoldering and Mike Brown has been dead for over three months.

So how should I feel? How should we feel?

These things happen all the time, right? They will happen forever, right?

It's nice to think they won't. It's probably best to think life won't always be like this.

Optimism is good.

But I know I'm going to have to tell my future children about this country. What should I tell them? I could tell them Columbus discovered it and police officers are here to protect it from bad people. I could tell them everyone is equal.

So what do I tell my son when his girlfriend's father doesn't want his little girl dating a black man?

Do I tell him what my mom told me? Do I let him know that's just the way things are? Or do I tell him that man is an anomaly? That man is a cancer?

I don't know.

And what should I tell my daughter if she wants to go to school in Missouri because Missouri has the best journalism school in the country?

Do I tell her what my mom told me? Do I pull her aside as often as possible, look her deep in the eyes, and ask: Are you sure? Do I tell her that Missouri is different from Chicago? Do I have faith in her strength, confidence that the world isn't as bad as I think it is? Or do I refuse to let her go? Should I make sure she never leaves Chicago? At least in Chicago there is strength in numbers? Do I let one lie slide into another?

I don't know.

And what if they both want to go to Missouri? What if Missouri is as unkind to them as it was to me? What if my son drinks too much and gets into trouble because a cruel environment drains his self-worth? What if my daughter feels isolated because she wants to love everybody, but nobody wants to love her?

What if they can't take it and want to leave, but I tell them to be tough?

I'll hear them crying over the phone, begging to come back to Chicago, sounding like hollowed out shells. I'll hear this and say: "Toughness and resilience are what make our people great. Focus that fear and put it to work. Become exceptional."

Or will I cry with them?

But what if I start crying too late?

What if they now feel leaving is a sign of weakness?

Do I tell them what my mom told me? Do I pull them aside as often as possible, look them deep in their eyes, and ask: Are you sure?

They'll say, "I don't know." And I'll say, "I don't know."

Who knows how you're supposed to act when the world is set-up against you and you know it and you know you're going to lose no matter what and you're angry and sad and desperate in ways you've never felt but, somehow, you know you'll feel like this forever?

But how do you tell that to your children?

And when I'm in my sixties and another unarmed black teen is killed and no justice is served; when my grandchildren innocently look up at me and ask: "Was it always like this?"

What will I say?

Will I tell them that Emmett Till was worse than Rodney King? That Darrion Albert was worse than Trayvon Martin? That Amadou Diallo was worse than Michael Brown?

Will I tell them that progress is slow? That every time more people seem to care?

Or will I look back at my life and wish I were angrier -- more focused with my anger?

Will I tell my grandchildren that anger is the only thing the world responds to?

Or will I look at them gently and tell the truth?

I don't know...

Thousands Protest Nationwide After Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

Mon, 2014-11-24 22:56
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of people across the nation turned out Monday night to show solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer who shot Michael Brown.

Crowds of people gathered in Times Square, outside the White House gates and in downtown Philadelphia. Many protesters were shouting, "Hands up, don't shoot" -- a phrase that has become linked to protests over the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Ferguson has been on edge in recent weeks, waiting for the grand jury's decision. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) issued a controversial state of emergency declaration before the announcement, in anticipation of possible conflict.

President Barack Obama spoke Monday night after St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury's decision. The president urged calm and restraint from both the protesters and police officers.

Although the scene in Ferguson was chaotic Monday night -- with reports of police cars on fire, windows broken and cops using smoke to disperse crowds -- initial reports of the protests elsewhere were largely peaceful.

Are there protests in your area? Email us your photos at

A look at the nation's reaction:


Silent circle of demonstrators outside City Hall.

— Nestor Ramos (@NestorARamos) November 25, 2014


Dearborn / Adams still northbound

— Peter Nickeas (@PeterNickeas) November 25, 2014

This capitalism. Hundred of riot police protecting rich River North section of downtown as #chi2ferguson approaches

— ⒶNTiCapITAL (@ChicagoRADicals) November 25, 2014

BREAKING: "No justice, no peace!" #Chicago protesters head north on MLK Dr. #Ferguson @WBEZ

— Chip Mitchell (@ChipMitchell1) November 25, 2014

Las Vegas

Police, church civic leaders share moment of silence at MLK statue in North Las Vegas after #Ferguson decision #lvrj

— Kevin M. Cannon (@kmcannonphoto) November 25, 2014

Los Angeles

#BREAKING Protestors blocking traffic in S Los Angeles after NO indictment for Ofc. #DarrenWilson. Peaceful so far.

— Elex Michaelson (@ABC7Elex) November 25, 2014

New York City

Michael Brown protest in Union Square #Ferguson

— Johanna Barr (@JohannaBarr) November 25, 2014

Black Lives Matter in Union Square. #BlackLivesMatter #FergusonDecision

— Elly Park (@ellypark07) November 25, 2014

Protesters march up Seventh Avenue in New York City, following the grand jury decision in Ferguson.

— NYT National News (@NYTNational) November 25, 2014

"Hands up, don't shoot." At 35th and 7th. No sign of stopping.

— Danielle Tcholakian (@danielleiat) November 25, 2014

Oakland, California

Oakland marches for Mike Brown #oaklandferguson

— Matt O'Brien (@mattoyeah) November 25, 2014

Firecrackers at #fergusonoakland protest near Interstate 580

— Matt O'Brien (@mattoyeah) November 25, 2014


Protestors peacefully march from #philly city hall chanting their dismay & outrage with #ferguson decision

— Justin Udo (@JustinUdo) November 25, 2014

#BREAKING: Group of protestors marching in Center City, Philadelphia. #Ferguson

— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) November 25, 2014


Protestors in #Seattle after no indictment in #Ferguson case

— Nick McGurk (@NickKIRO7) November 25, 2014

TV news reporter asks a Seattle demonstrator what he wants. Demonstrator replies: "Revolution." #Seattle #Ferguson

— The Stranger (@strangerslog) November 25, 2014

Washington, D.C.

Several hundred protestors outside White House chanting. "No justice, no peace."

— Dan Friedman (@dfriedman33) November 25, 2014

At least 100 people now lying down in front of the White House. Loud chanting. "No justice! No peace!"

— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) November 25, 2014

Downtown DC is FILLED with people marching and chanting "hands up don't shoot!" #Ferguson

— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) November 25, 2014

Jennifer Bendery contributed reporting.

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The World's Best Marathons

Mon, 2014-11-24 21:14
What makes a marathon worth running? Well, other than the chance to challenge both your physical and mental limits and to prove to yourself that with hard work and determination you can achieve just about anything?

Click Here to see the Complete List of The World's 25 Best Marathons

For starters, a great course with scenic views certainly adds value to an event. And when that course is lined with hordes of enthusiastic fans cheering you on, well that's definitely a big plus, too.

Oh, and don't forget; a race that's organized and well-planned will make a world of a difference. When you're running a marathon you've already got enough to worry about, all of the extra details (starting line corrals, in-race fuel, etc.) should be taken care of by the race and its organizers. (Especially since you probably shelled out some big bucks for an entry fee, right?)

These factors played a big role in helping us rank our list of the world's best marathons. We first began with some simple statistics from Running USA that identified which 2013 marathons were the largest in the United States and the world (largest meaning races with the most finishers).

We also factored in the opinions of our readers. We asked you, the marathon runners of the world, which 26.2-mile races are your favorites of all time.

To tie it all together, we created a scoring system that awarded points for everything from course quality, event organization and fan ratings based off runner reviews on to the number of 2013 finishers and of course, votes and comments from our reader survey.

Now, the results are in and these 25 races have been deemed the best marathons in the world.

Click Here to see the Original Story on The Active Times

- The Editors, The Active Times

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Here's A Much-Needed Reminder About Civil Unrest In Light Of The Ferguson Decision

Mon, 2014-11-24 19:53
As the nation braces for protests following a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury's decision on whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, leaders around the nation, including President Barack Obama, have urged calm. But regardless of what ends up happening, it's important to keep the response in perspective.

Twitter users took the opportunity on Monday to remind that civil unrest comes in all colors, shapes and sizes, and for all sorts of reasons (yes, including relatively bad ones). Sometimes, people seem to forget that the underlying issues are still what matter when tensions boil over, not the skin color of those who are organizing it.

After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series this year, fans began rioting in the city.

To put upcoming events in #Ferguson in context: This is what San Francisco looked like after recent Giants' victory

— Karen Franklin (@kfranklinphd) November 24, 2014

SF Police car smashed in, officers had bottles thrown at them by out of control fans after World Series win #KTVU

— taramoriarty (@taramoriarty1) October 30, 2014

Students also began rioting after Penn State fired football Joe Paterno in 2011.

Early images of the Ferguson riots.
Whoops, my bad. That's State College when the fired Joe Paterno, a football coach

— Script Merch Lover (@TheWillardYears) November 25, 2014

And here's the scene on campus after UConn made it to the Final Four this year.


A video posted by Mike (@donlento7) on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:45pm PDT

UConn students destroyed even more after their team won it all in April.

University of Kentucky played UConn in the championship game. You better believe they also rioted after winning in the Final Four.

Kentucky students would riot again after their school lost the championship.

Fans in Vancouver rioted after their team lost the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Before whatever happens in Ferguson, remember this was Vancouver last time they won the hockey skatey trophy thingy

— Mark Agee (@MarkAgee) November 24, 2014

There were also riots at a New Hampshire pumpkin festival in October. People aren't really sure why.

This is white people at a pumpkin festival, for no reason. So temper your hot takes about mob violence.

— Mark Agee (@MarkAgee) November 24, 2014

For more on the situation in Ferguson, stay up to date with our liveblog:

Restaurant Decides Not To Fire Teen Who Asked For Time Off For Cancer Treatment

Mon, 2014-11-24 17:50
A Chicago-based restaurant chain appears to have shifted into damage control this week following a report that one of its employees was fired after asking for time off in order to undergo surgery as part of his cancer treatment.

In an interview with NBC Chicago that first aired Saturday, 19-year-old Jonathan Larson, a delivery driver at Rosebud Restaurants’ location in Naperville, Illinois, claimed he was fired by his employer after he told the restaurant he would need to take six weeks off from his job for back surgery related to his diagnosis with cancer of the brain and spine.

“[My manager] said, ‘No, by that time I’ll already have another driver hired. Just leave, I have to make some phone calls,” Larson told NBC. “I’m really disappointed and saddened by it. It’s not something I can help.”

The story was shared widely and prompted a backlash, including many individuals leaving negative comments on Rosebud Restaurants’ Facebook page.

On Saturday, the restaurant chain posted a statement acknowledging the Larson report, stating “we want you to know that we’re listening and since learning of the incident have acted swiftly to better understand what transpired.” The restaurant also said it had spoken with Larson about the incident.

In a second statement posted Sunday, the restaurant indicated it had spoken with Larson’s family and confirmed that his job would be waiting for him after his surgery. In a comment posted in response to the statement, Larson confirmed he would be meeting with restaurant chain leadership and the manager who fired him “to try and resolve the situation.”

“Rosebud always strives to treat its employees and customers as family but, in this case, we did not live up to our own expectations,” the statement read. “Like so many, we have been inspired by Jon Larson's personal strength and perseverance in his battle to beat cancer. We hope Mr. Larson makes a full and speedy recovery and returns to his job with Rosebud soon.”

In a comment on the Facebook page of the Naperville restaurant on Sunday, Debbie Sitko, who identified herself as Larson’s mother, said she was initially “angry along with disappointed and sad for my son” but that she is “please[d] with the way Rosebud is handling the situation at this time.”

Larson and Sitko did not respond to requests for comment. Rosebud Restaurants declined to comment for this story, but stood by the statements the company made on its Facebook page.

Several laws protect employees from being fired under similar circumstances, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Huffington Post has been unable to confirm specifics of Larson's situation that would have determined which law was most applicable.

Rosebud Restaurants operates 10 restaurants in and near Chicago. The company was sued last year by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly refusing to employ African-Americans in its restaurants on account of their race. Joseph Taylor, the company's former CEO, filed a separate lawsuit this year alleging that he was fired because he suggested "there may be some merit" to the EEOC lawsuit.

27 Police Officers Were Slain In The Line Of Duty In 2013, The Fewest In More Than 50 Years

Mon, 2014-11-24 17:37
A total of 76 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2013, the FBI reported Monday. Of those, 49 died in accidents and 27 were killed as a result of felonious acts -- the lowest such figure in more than 50 years of FBI reporting, dating back to at least 1961.

The 27 deaths of officers as a result of criminal acts in 2013 were a significant reduction from 2012, when 49 officers were feloniously killed, as well as from 2011, when 72 officers were killed by assailants in the line of duty.

Following the Ferguson, Missouri, killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, by Officer Darren Wilson in August, law enforcement advocates touted the regular and often life-threatening dangers officers face on the job. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics list of the 10 most-dangerous professions doesn't include law enforcement officer. The BLS said law enforcement accounted for 2 percent of total U.S. fatal on-the-job injuries in 2013, with 31 percent of those injuries caused by homicide.

Other studies on the deaths of officers in the line of duty also showed police were far less likely to be killed in 2013 than they had been in decades. According to a count by the Officer Down Memorial Page, which collects data on line-of-duty incidents, there were far fewer deaths last year than in more than 40 years.

A 2013 tally by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund showed 100 officers died in the line of duty last year, the fewest since 1944. Traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer deaths in 2013. The report found that "firearms-related fatalities reached a 126-year low ... with 31 officers shot and killed, the lowest since 1887 when 27 officers were shot and killed."

The FBI data from 2013 said 26 officers were killed by firearms. The discrepancy is likely because the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports on Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted relies on incident reports from police agencies. The Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund are independent non-profit organizations that conduct their own counts. National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund data on police fatalities in 2014 shows total police fatalities are up this year from last, though details aren't yet tallied.

While reports by the FBI and other groups give a good idea of how many officers are killed in the line of duty each year, the number of people killed by officers is far less certain. The unrest in Ferguson reminded the nation that there is no federal database or reporting standard to track of the number of justifiable homicides -- or even total people killed -- by police each year.

Activists have tried to mount independent campaigns to track these so-called officer-involved killings, but so far have been unable to create anything resembling a comprehensive list. Statewide efforts have seen slightly more success. In Utah, for example, the Salt Lake City Tribune recently reported that police in the state were the second-leading cause of homicide from 2010 to October 2014. Over that period, officers were responsible for more of the state's homicides than gang members, drug dealers or child abusers.

Many law enforcement agencies do report "justifiable homicides" to the FBI. A recently released report on these incidents in 2013 found that officers fatally shot 461 felony suspects last year, the most in two decades. Some experts have cautioned that this offers a very incomplete picture of the total number of civilians who die at the hands of police.

6 Illinois Counties With Some of the Highest Sales Tax

Mon, 2014-11-24 15:48
On top of the regular cost of buying everyday things, most Illinoisans also have to pay three different sales taxes on top of the price of goods. That's right, three. Illinois state sales tax is currently set at 6.25 percent, and city sales-tax varies throughout the state. Among the state's 103 counties, there are several different sales tax brackets around Illinois.

Illinois' state sales tax is 6.25 percent -- most goods bought in the state will come with this extra charge tacked on and headed straight for Springfield. (Some things, like food at restaurants, groceries and cars are subject to different rates.) Plus, every county in the state levies its own sales tax and many cities charge their own sales tax on top of that. When all is said and done, that reindeer sweater you bought for Grandpa not only put a present under his tree, but also money in the pockets of the governments in the capitol, your county and your city.

Here's a list six counties in Illinois with some of the highest sales taxes, from the Illinois Department of Revenue.

12. Saint Clair County 7.35%

11. Union County 7.50%

10.Macon County 7.50%

9. Knox County 7.50%

8. Champaign County 7.50%

7. Pike County 7.75%

Check out the top six highest sales taxes in Illinois at Reboot Illinois and a graphic that lays it all out--the top rate probably isn't where you think it is. Perhaps you'll find yourself needing to drive to the next county next time you need to run to the grocery store.

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Northwestern Scraps Plans To Settle With Professor Accused Of Assaulting Students

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:46
Northwestern University agreed Monday to halt mediation efforts that could have resulted in an out-of-court settlement with a professor who was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing students.

Northwestern's legal team had quietly been considering mediation with Peter Ludlow, a philosophy professor who the school determined had harassed two students, though it did not find he had assaulted them. Ludlow sued the two students and the university this year for defamation. The university's mediation attempt could have resolved the lawsuit, over the objections of his accusers, three people with knowledge of the cases separately confirmed to The Huffington Post.

A group of students staged a sit-in at the university president's office on Monday, insisting Northwestern should take a moral stance against cutting a check to Ludlow after finding he had behaved inappropriately.

"At the end of the day, these cases are not about how to rearrange figures in the university budget," said Kathryn Pogin, a philosophy graduate student who led the protest. "They are human beings and have a right to be treated as such."

The accusers would no longer have been liable for defaming Ludlow had the university entered into mediation. But protesters were concerned that it would have denied the accusers the chance to have their names cleared in court.

Alan Cubbage, Northwestern's vice president for university relations, said mediation was only one route the school was considering. Administrators scrapped the plan after receiving an email on Saturday from one of Ludlow's accusers asking them to do so.

"The court case is proceeding, with the University asking for dismissal of the case against all the defendants, including the student," Cubbage told HuffPost in a statement. "Nonbinding mediation was being considered in an effort to avoid having the student and other defendants go through the lengthy and often stressful process of pre-trial depositions and a trial itself."

The university investigated the allegations against Ludlow and did not find him responsible for assault in either case, but did find he had sexually harassed both students.

The first, an undergraduate journalism student, sued the school in February, claiming it had mishandled her case when she first came forward in 2012, shortly after the alleged assault took place.

The second, a graduate student in the philosophy department, came forward in March to formally accuse Ludlow of assaulting and harassing her in 2012 as well. She did not file a lawsuit.

Ludlow responded by suing both students. He also sued Northwestern for defamation, gender discrimination and invasion of privacy, claiming the school had run flawed, biased investigations.

An attorney for Ludlow did not respond to a request for comment. Philosophy professor Jennifer Lackey, who assisted the graduate student's internal complaint and was named in the suit for doing so, declined to comment.

Ludlow is not the subject of any criminal investigation, and he has disputed the accusations against him, claiming that he had consensual relationships with both students. He has also asserted that he denied their advances.

Ludlow's spring classes were canceled when students began protesting them, and he was not selected to teach any courses this fall. The undergraduate student's lawsuit led to Ludlow being denied a raise and losing out on an endowed chair, the university has stated. He was also required to attend sensitivity training.

Jose Navarro Jr. Allegedly Faked 911 Call To Avoid Traffic Ticket

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:28
Nobody likes getting a traffic ticket, but calling in a fake shooting is not a way to get out of it.

But that was the method Jose Navarro, Jr., allegedly used early Sunday morning after being pulled over by police in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Police said that during the traffic stop Navarro called 911 and falsely reported hearing eight gunshots. He also claimed that a man had been shot and was lying on the ground a few blocks away from where the police had stopped him, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The idea, according to police, is that the officers who had pulled over Navarro would leave him to respond to the more serious call.

It sort of worked: Several officers did drive to the scene with their emergency lights on, only to discover it was bogus, according to RedEye Chicago.

Police then asked Navarro about the shooting and he allegedly admitted making it up to avoid getting traffic tickets, Patch Illinois reports.

Navarro was arrested on a variety of charges including a felony charge for the made-up 911 call. He was also cited for illegal transportation of an open alcohol container, speeding, no seat belt, driving without lights and improper lane usage.

He was ordered held on $50,000 bail on Sunday.

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Chicago's Newest Independent Bookstore

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:22
Remember what it was like to walk into a small, cozy bookstore on a rainy or snowy afternoon? You can smell new books. It's like smelling curiosity. And yesterday, Chicago got a brand new independent bookstore, Roscoe Books, just in time for the rain and coming snow.

You walk in to the small space masterfully designed to feel like a large space. There is room to breathe as you browse. Taking in the titles you realize that whoever did the buying for this inventory was brilliant. What kind of books do they sell? Good ones! Sounds simple. But it's not.

I buy a copy of an old Raymond Carver book, one that had gotten lost through the years and really demands to be reread again and again. One that incidentally is NOT available in e-book format. I ask Erika, the smiling and welcoming owner if she knows about Willy Vluautin--a writer carrying on where Carver left off. She says no, and then does something rare. She writes down the author's name and promises to check into that.

Try finding someone who does that at a big box store or through the mail.

So with my Raymond Carver in hand, I say goodbye and walk out into the rain---thinking--this owner gets it. She gets what it takes to make Roscoe Books just sing. To make the little bookstore a neighborhood community center. She is a natural.

Check the place out. Chicago's newest independent bookstore isn't just another retailer. It's a celebration of the neighborhood bookstore. Once again alive and well and with promises of great things to come.

I'll see you there. You'll be glad you stopped by.

Jim Edgar remembers his own time as an Republican governor working with a Democratic legislature in Illinois

Mon, 2014-11-24 12:11
Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will follow in the footsteps of former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar when he takes control of a state in a fiscal crisis with a Democratically controlled legislature.

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek spoke with Edgar about his time in office, Rauner's upcoming term and compromising with Democratic legislative leadership.

From their conversation:

Q: You've been out there talking a lot lately about Gov. Rauner's election and you're serving on the transition committee. You told the story about how, after your election, Mike Madigan wouldn't talk to you for four months after you won the first time. Looks like Rauner's off to a better start.

A: I told him, "You're lucky." Plus, they talked for an hour and a half, which is an hour longer than I thought they'd talk, so that's good.

Check out the rest of the Q & A at Reboot Illinois and read Edgar's advice to Rauner and how he thinks government is or is not like business.

With Rauner's inaguration quickly approaching, the governor-elect may want to soak up as much of Edgar's input as possible. The impending date of the new gubernatorial term has left many Illinoisans with questions about Rauner's plans. Watch Doubek and Matt Dietrich discuss whether or not Rauner's comments Friday about the state's "stunningly bad" assessment of the state's finances offer any clues about where his head is at regarding the state's income tax and budget.

First Lady Michelle Obama Praises Chicago DJ Doug Banks

Mon, 2014-11-24 11:23
It's not easy being #1 in the radio ratings in a town like Chicago. Especially when competing against some 60 other stations.

Yet the Doug Banks Show in the afternoons on WVAZ-FM, gets it done with a mix of rhythm and blues, dusties, soul, slow and sassy, hip and old school, interspersed with hard news and Hollywood gossip.

In the final days leading up to the 2014 midterm elections, Doug Banks, who by the way is featured at, scored an exclusive live interview with President Obama, grilling him about the handling of Ebola cases in the U.S., asking questions rivaling those posed by top television news anchors.

Then on election eve, the president's better half, First Lady Michelle Obama, on-air at WVAZ-FM to get out the vote, revealed she grew up listening to Doug Banks on the radio here in Chicago. "If Doug said do it, I was doing it."

He's been doing it a long time. I first met Doug Banks, shortly after the election of Harold Washington as Chicago's first African-American mayor, taking office on the heels of Chicago's first and only female mayor Jane Byrne, who passed away last Friday at age 81.

When Harold Washington took office, it was at a time when Chicago's City Council was very polarized on race matters with the new mayor at its vortex. Many made a living out of lampooning this political divide. Unforgettable was Chicago standup comic Aaron Freeman's career-making Council Wars, a takeoff on the space opera film franchise of Star Wars creator, George Lucas.

I had been hired to anchor weekend news at WBMX-FM, now WVAZ-FM. Doug was working a 6-day week, including Saturday mornings. I also anchored news on Rev. Jesse Jackson's Sunday Morning Live call-in show. Took two elevated trains and a bus to get to the Oak Park studios from downtown Chicago where I lived, leaving at 6 AM Saturdays and Sundays. Not great for nightlife, when you're young and single. I had met what turned out to be my longtime boyfriend at an after-work cocktail hour for recent grads of the Seven Sisters and Ivy League. He thought it was cool I worked weekends at WBMX, but really, really didn't like my hours. Of course, his hours weren't so great either, working pro bono as Chicago's youngest-ever school board president, appointed by newly-elected Mayor Washington in addition to his law practice.

As the first on-air Caucasian at urban WBMX-FM during a racially challenging time in Chicago's history, I had a tense luncheon interview with a rival news director, who approached me about switching stations. His first interview question was, "Do you date black guys?" Asked by a white news director in the Reagan 80's. I was shell-shocked. I didn't answer his question, and I didn't get the job which would have paid a lot more money than I was making at the time. Doubt he would have asked a male job candidate that question. My Chicago lawyer/politician boyfriend, happened to be of Mexican-American heritage.

Soon after, Doug Banks' morning drive show on WBMX-FM, reached a pinnacle #2 ranking, right behind market leader, WGN-AM. Doug left for Gannett-owned urban WGCI-FM where "fly jock" Tom Joyner flew back-and-forth, doing a Dallas morning show and an afternoon show in Chicago.

I had graduated from doing the news with Doug Saturday mornings at WBMX-FM to representing on-air talent, including four of the six music jocks at WGCI-FM, Chicago's First Lady of Radio Yvonne Daniels (daughter of singer Billy Daniels), Irene Mojica, Chili Chiles and Marco Spoon. I remember telling WGCI-FM General Manager Marv Dyson, if he added my client, WBMX's Marco Spoon to WGCI's lineup, WGCI would beat WGN. Marv made the hire, and WGCI became #1 in Chicagoland, toppling WGN, a feat at one time deemed impossible.

Fast forward, it's great being #1 time and again with Banks back at WVAZ, where it all started for him in Chicago with the call letters WBMX, over 30 years ago. How Doug must have felt to hear Chicago born-and-bred, First Lady Michelle Obama sing his praises election eve for all the world to hear. I felt so blessed to have turned on my radio at just the right time. I'm sure my dear mother, Lillian, was smiling in heaven. She and Doug share a June 9th birthday.

Often times, we don't realize when young people are watching us and emulating what we do. I am so proud of my niece, Jacqueline Ann, for following in my footsteps, when I wasn't looking. I got a call from Jackie asking for help in getting a keynote speaker for Bryn Mawr College's Black History Month. My niece had volunteered to co-chair. I suggested civil rights activist/comedian Dick Gregory. He graciously accepted. Eighty-year-old Gregory did three hours of standup without a bathroom break, bookended by two standing ovations. My interview with Dick Gregory , titled "What I'm Running From", took place a few days before his February 28, 2013 appearance at the all-women Seven Sister school.

As my teen niece Jackie followed in my footsteps when I wasn't looking, Doug Banks gets an on-air recommendation from someone who listened to him as a teen, our First Lady herself.

May I second our First Lady's recommendation?

Doug Banks, a great role model for teens and young adults.

Parents, are you listening?

Lonna Saunders may be reached at

. .

Here Are The 2015 Rhodes Scholars

Mon, 2014-11-24 10:25
The 32 American students chosen as Rhodes scholars for 2015, listed by geographical region:

District 1:

Noam Angrist, Brookline, Mass., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Benjamin D. Sprung-Keyser, Los Angeles, Harvard University

District 2:

Matthew J. Townsend, Chappaqua, N.Y., Yale University

Ruth C. Fong, Somerset, N.J., Harvard

District 3:

Joseph W. Barrett, Port Washington, N.Y., Princeton

Gabriel M. Zucker, Brooklyn, N.Y., Yale

District 4:

Jordan R. Konell, Philadelphia, Yale

Kate I. Nussenbaum, Newton, Mass., Brown

District 5:

Fang Y. Cao, Silver Spring, Md., University of Maryland

Maya I. Krishnan, Rockville, Md., Stanford University

District 6:

Sarah M. Bufkin, Atlanta, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ridwan Y. Hassen, Marietta, Ga., Dartmouth College and Emory University

District 7:

Ameen Barghi, Birmingham, Ala, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Jane Darby Menton, Tallahassee, Fla., Yale

District 8:

Sai P. Gourisankar, Atlanta, University of Texas at Austin

Abishek K. Kulshreshtha, Grapevine, Texas, Brown

District 9:

Jacob L. Burnett, Mishawaka, Ind., Wabash College

Alexander F. Coccia, Columbus, Ohio, University of Notre Dame

District 10:

Rachel V. Harmon, Champaign, Ill., Cornell University

Rebecca A. Esselstein, Dayton, Ohio., U.S. Air Force Academy

District 11:

David S. Moore, Holland, Mich., University of Michigan

Tayo A. Sanders II, Neenah, Wis., University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

District 12:

Anisha N. Gururaj, Chesterfield, Mo., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert A. Fisher, Chattanooga, Tenn., The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

District 13:

Emily E. Witt, Greenwood Village, Colo., Stanford

Peter N. Kalugin, Albuquerque, N.M., Johns Hopkins University

District 14:

Aven P. Satre Meloy, Helena, Mont., Santa Clara University

William J. Rathje, Lake Oswego, Ore., University of Puget Sound

District 15:

Elliot H. Akama-Garren, Palo Alto, Calif., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rachel A. Skokowski, Palo Alto, Calif., Princeton

District 16:

David R.K. Adler, Encino, Calif., Brown

Sarah E. Yerima, Los Angeles, Princeton

Tower Bridge Official 'Gutted' After Beer Bottle Shatters New Glass Walkway

Mon, 2014-11-24 10:14
Part of Tower Bridge's latest attraction, a glass walkway soaring 140 feet above the Thames, has shattered just two weeks after opening, when a tourist dropped a beer bottle on one of the glass panels.

The attraction, which cost London a cool $1.5 million, was part of the Tower's 120th birthday celebration and recently opened on November 10. According to ITV News in London, the November 21 incident occurred when a glass bottle was dropped -- causing the initial cracks to the glass panels -- and further damaged by a woman wearing stilettos.

Visitor Peter Gordon, who was at the Tower at the time of the incident, told HuffPost Travel that a "waitress dropped a bottle on one of the glass panels on the walkways; it smashed the upper, sacrificial layer of the glass that lies over the supporting walkway. It looked a bit scary, but there were no safety issues." After the incident, he said that workers "cordoned off the area and covered it with carpet to stop any fragments [from] spreading."

Gordon's Twitter picture shows the damage to the glass:

Was in tower bridge walkway today, someone dropped a beer bottle; this happened

— Peter Gordon (@the1gordo) November 21, 2014

In a statement to ITV News, Chris Earlie, Head of Tower Bridge said, "We are gutted it's happened in the first couple of weeks when it's been open to the public but it's completely safe. We should have said no glass on the glass section of the floor. It was a bit shortsighted of us."

When asked about danger to visitors trying to go to the attraction, Earlie assured the public that the attraction was not only open, but safe, "The floor has five layers of glass with this sacrificial layer on top -- it's there so we can replace it if it gets scratched. We are still open to the public and if we had any concerns we would have closed."

The incident is not unlike what happened earlier this year at Chicago's Willis Tower Skydeck, when one of the glass balconies on the 103rd floor cracked beneath visitor's feet. Luckily, no one was harmed in either of the incidents.

Members Of Chicago LaSalle Street Church Get $500 Each To Do Good For World

Mon, 2014-11-24 09:48
CHICAGO (AP) — On a very memorable Sunday, Pastor Laura Truax surprised her congregation with a bold announcement: She was about to hand out money to everyone.

Not a huge sum, but the pastor said the LaSalle Street Church had received a tidy $1.6 million from a real estate deal, and $160,000 — a typical 10 percent tithe — would be divided among some 320 regular attendees. Each would get a $500 check to do something positive for anything or anyone, including themselves. It was an unorthodox gesture, but Truax notes, LaSalle is "a gutsy little church" with a history of making waves around socially progressive causes it embraces. In 1972, when it stood in the shadow of the now-demolished Cabrini Green housing project, the church established a criminal defense legal aid clinic for the poor.

Decades later, LaSalle remains an activist church, doing everything from feeding homeless families on Wednesday nights to buying an ambulance for a medical clinic in Niger. The non-denominational congregation is racially and economically diverse: More than 60 percent of members have advanced degrees; about a third live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Not surprisingly, many donations from the congregation will reach far-flung places, including a school in the Himalayas, a health clinic in Uganda and an irrigation project in Tanzania. Closer to home, some checks are going to families and friends in financial trouble.

Church members, Truax says, are doing just what she'd envisioned when she distributed the checks that first Sunday in September.

"I hoped that they would recognize the power they had to bless others and change somebody's life," she says. "I hoped that they would see their connection between their little piece and the bigger thing the church was called to do, that they would feel like they actually had some skin in the game, some prayers in the game. And that has largely happened."

Here's how ...


Jeliner Jordan remembers being young and in debt.

More than 40 years ago, she was a divorced mother of three who couldn't stretch her seamstress earnings far enough to support her kids. She took out a loan of about $4,000 to attend a business college, hoping it would lead to better opportunities — and it did.

But repaying that loan turned out to be hard, and Jordan fell behind, before eventually settling her debt.

She never forgot that pressure.

Aware that her granddaughter, Deitra Holloway, was saddled with college loans, Jordan knew what she'd do with part of her church money: She gave Holloway $300, figuring it might cover a month's payment. She was shocked when her granddaughter revealed her school debt was in the many thousands.

Though her gift to her granddaughter was small, Jordan still felt mighty good. "That's more money than she had in her pockets before," she explains. "Anything I would give would help her."

A grateful Holloway used the money instead to help pay a loan on her 2003 Nissan Sentra. It was just another example of her grandmother's generosity, including taking her on a trip to Paris when she was in college.

"I always thought she was rich because she would do these things for me and it never seemed like money was an obstacle," the 26-year-old says.

Far from it. Jordan, now 71 — her grandkids call her Grandma Jelly — is a meticulous planner who watches every dollar.

"She's a great role model," Holloway says. "She has order and structure and discipline. ... She always makes sure there's adventure. There's never a dull moment with her."

Jordan, who had a long career in the insurance industry but still enjoys sewing, divided her remaining money: $100 to Art on Sedgwick, a neighborhood art center, and $100 to the nearby Manierre elementary school, which the church had supported when it faced possible closure.

Niguel Neal, 13, a budding cartoonist and 8th grader at Manierre who'll likely benefit from both donations, thinks the money will be well spent. "It's good to help people with their dreams," he says.

Jordan is happy to do her part.

"I honestly felt it was God's money for me to pass on to other people," Jordan says. "It's not possible to give without receiving. And what I received immediately is joy."


At first, Jonas Ganz figured he'd go the traditional charity route, helping those with basic needs.

But his friends are trying to raise $25,000 to build the Seven Hills Skate Park in Amman, Jordan — the city where Ganz spent most of his youth — and pitching in to make that happen, he says, seemed "the right thing to do."

As a teen, Ganz whiled away many hours on Amman's Thaqafa Street, darting, weaving and zipping along on his skateboard.

He says he knows there are more urgent needs in life, but doing good is about more than tending to the essentials.

"If I were to put food in someone's mouth for a week, a week later that person would be hungry," he says. "This project has the potential to have a lasting impact on the community. ... It's something they can invest in, have a passion for, cultivate a skill and just enjoy." Park organizers hope to set up a free-loaner program for kids who can't afford skateboards.

Ganz, whose Swiss-German parents were teachers in Jordan and now help Syrian refugees there, also likes what this program says about his church. "They're putting their money where their mouth is," he says. "It really demonstrates the level of trust the leaders have in us."

Ganz donated $450 to the skateboard park — the rest to World Vision, a Christian international relief agency.

Now a junior at Moody Bible Institute, Ganz, 20, is returning to Jordan this winter to study Arabic.

His athletic days are temporarily on hold; he recently had knee surgery for a soccer injury.

But when Ganz packs up his gear, he'll include a favorite possession: his skateboard.


Kristin Hu was inspired by her grandmother, Irene, who died in June.

When Hu received her $500, she remembered how her grandmother worked until she was 80, giving private piano lessons, using her savings to help her eight grandchildren pay for college.

As a political science teacher at Lakeview High School, a melting pot of ethnicities, Hu decided she wanted to help some kids who don't have a guardian angel: the Dreamers, those young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children without legal permission, raised here and now going public, fighting to stay.

Hu, 29, was moved after hearing an impassioned speech by Lucy, a young accomplished Mexican-born Dreamer in her class, who spoke of how she and others like her want to attend college but don't qualify for financial aid because of their status.

"They have amazing potential but our country isn't investing in them the way they should," Hu says. "Many of them are so motivated and such leaders in the school. They've really touched me."

Hu plans to give $500 to a Dreamer organization or start a scholarship foundation for the kids.

LaSalle's program, she says, also made her think beyond this one donation.

"Why can't I contribute more to the causes I care about?" she says. "What's holding me back from being a more generous person? What about next year? There will be the same need then. There's always going to be a need. ... It's important to remember the responsibility of paying it forward and giving back."

She credits her grandmother for setting her on the right path.

"I think this is living out her legacy," Hu says. "I'd like to be there for someone else."


Rosemary Baker stashed her $500 check under a book at home, trying to decide who should get it.

"It felt like just such a big burden to do the right thing," she says.

Baker and her husband, Erik, who had his own $500, were looking for a large charitable organization with a noble cause. "We didn't even want to think about something close to us. We felt it might be too small."

Then two crises changed everything.

One involved a woman Baker calls "my little sister,'" a former student she'd mentored while teaching at a Catholic elementary school.

Baker watched as her friend, now in her 30s, depleted her banking accounts to pay for her grandmother's funeral and worried about the pressures she'd face now that her extended family would be turning to her for support. "I was trying to help her understand not all the responsibilities were hers," Baker says.

Her friend always puts her family first and neglects her own needs, so Baker made her promise to use the $500 to take care of herself. "I felt it was God calling me to give her the money," she says. "She couldn't really deny that."

The Bakers' other $500 went to another friend who'd recently lost his marketing job and has been trying to support his family working at a car-sharing service. "They're really private and didn't want any handouts. ... We kept telling them this isn't our money. It was a gift."

Baker says helping those close to them was the right decision.

"It was powerful just to be able to be the gift-giver," she says, "be part of that moment and see that the impacts of seemingly small gestures were huge."


Randy Dill was almost in a panic to find the right place for his donation — and do it quickly. "I wanted a 100 percent return on my investment," he says.

But then he slowed down to conduct a careful search for a place to help the unemployed and those trying to boost their skills to earn more money.

Dill, a 36-year-old supervisor at a suburban Chicago assembly plant, eventually settled on the Jane Addams Resource Corporation. The nonprofit helps low-income people with worker training, financial coaching and other services so they can be self-sufficient.

Dill's wife, Erika, a human resources manager, had recommended the nonprofit after she'd recruited machinists from there. He visited the program and liked its all-encompassing approach to keeping people out of poverty.

His wife had another idea for using her $500: to help needy families at their daughters' public school buy winter clothes for their kids.

"What the money did for us was help open our eyes to some things that we take granted," Dill says. "This was a not-so-subtle reminder how fortunate we are and those things that we have, such as good health, are blessings that are so easy to ignore."

And that return on investment?

Dill hopes the hundreds of church donations will eventually pay bigger dividends.

"This was a moment that kind of defines the congregation," he says. "I have no idea how this will look five or 10 years from now. I think we're all reading a book and nobody knows how this thing will end."


Sharon Cohen, a Chicago-based national writer, can be reached at National Writer Martha Irvine contributed to this report.