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12 Slogans and Nicknames of Illinois Cities

Mon, 2014-08-04 07:31
Did you know that Chicago is called The Windy City not because of the weather, but because a newspaper article claimed it was full of hot air politicians? Or that the Illinois House of Representatives voted to make Kewanee the official hog capital of the world in 1949? Scroll below to find the origin of 12 Illinois cities' slogans, according to

The Gem of Fox River Valley--Located in Kane and McHenry counties, the village of Algonquin sits in the foothills of the Fox River Valley, which is attributed to in its nickname

The Windmill City--At the turn of the twentieth century, Batavia was the windmill manufacturing capital of the world. To commemorate its history of windmills, Batavia hosts The Windmill City Festival each year, featuring food, music, and a variety of family-friendly activities.

The Evergreen City--Bloomington is located less than 20 miles south from Evergreen Lake.

The Home of Popeye--The famous fictional cartoon character is rumored to be based off of Chester, Illinois resident Frank "Rocky" Fiegel. The town of Chester is currently constructing a "Popeye & Friends Character Trail," consisting of granite statues of the show's characters placed throughout the city.

Chi-Town- A nickname for Chicago, used infrequently amongst the city's residents.
City in a Garden- The translation to the city's motto (Urbs in horto).
The Second City--Although New Yorkers falsely claim this nickname comes from Chicago being a second-rate city, the name actually stems from the ashes from The Great Chicago Fire, as the first Chicago burned almost completely. The Windy City- There are many rumors as to how this nickname came to be, but none of the claims originate in Chicago. One story claims New York Sun editorial writer Charles A. Dana claimed Chicago politicians were full of hot air, although no such editorial has ever been found. Another story claims the name was first used in a Cincinnati Enquirer headline entitled "THAT WINDY CITY. Some of the Freaks of the Last Chicago Tornado."

Crystal Lake
A Good Place to Live--Crystal Lake is the largest town in McHenry County and is considered a suburb of Chicago.

Barbed Wire Capital of the World--Barbed wire was patented by Joseph Farewell Glidden in DeKalb Illinois in 1873.

Pretzel City--In 1895, Daily Democrat referred to Freeport as "Pretzel City," as the Billerbeck Bakery, established in 1881, was the largest producer of pretzels. Today, even though Billerbeck closed over a century ago, pretzels are still an important part of Freeport's identity: the Freeport High School athletic teams are referred to as The Pretzles and the football field is dubbed "Pretzel Field."

The Friendly Village with Country Charm--Huntley is a village located in McHenry and Kane counties and has roughly 25,000 as of 2012, citing rapid growth in recent years. Huntley is considered to be an outer suburb of Chicago

City of Champions--This nickname is given to honor the many successes of Joliet township's bands.
City of Steel--At one point, Joliet's steel mill was the second largest in the United States, with over 2,000 employees.
City of Stone--Joliet was home to a limestone quarry with a bluish-white tinge and in 1890, Joliet shipped three railroad car's worth of stone per month to Chicago and other cities.

Hog Capital of the World--In 1947, The U.S. Department of Agriculture deemed Henry County the top hog-producing county in the United States, and in 1949, Kewanee, located in Henry County, was named Hog Capital of the World by an Illinois House of Representatives Resolution. Although Henry County no longer produces the most hogs in the country, Kewanee still celebrates the accomplishment with Hog Days each Labor Day Weekend.

The Lilac Village--Lombard his home to Lilacia Park, located in the former home of Colonel George R. Plum's lilac gardens. Lilacia Park is also home to the Lilac Time Festival, which takes place in May and is home to a variety of events, such as a craft fair, heritage tour, lilac contests and more.

Check out 11 more Illinois town slogans at Reboot Illinois to find out which town is the bagel capital of the world and why Peoria is sometimes called Whiskeytown.

NEXT: 12 awesome Illinois roadside attractions for your next road trip.
15 Illinois inventions that changed the world
10 amazing Illinois state parks you need to visit
31 Illinois historic sites to visit this summer
29 Illinois restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
10 creepy Illinois roads to travel...if you're brave enough

Proof That Barack Obama Is The Most Stylish President Of All Time

Mon, 2014-08-04 07:13
We've said it before and we'll say it again... President Obama is one stylish man. Whether you agree with his politics or not, one thing is for sure: our commander-in-chief knows how to dress.

Time and again, POTUS has impressed us with his sartorial choices. And while FLOTUS is widely considered the more stylish half of this power duo, President Obama still gets props for managing to pull off some pretty high-fashion looks.

In honor of our HBIC's (Head Barack In Charge) 53rd birthday, Here's proof that he's the most stylish president ever, and our underrated style star of, well, all time:

R. Kelly Showed Up At Chance The Rapper's Lollapalooza Set

Mon, 2014-08-04 00:04
Lollapalooza's final night was Chance the Rapper's for the taking.

He had moved from last year's midday set on a small stage to the festival's latest Sunday night slot on the Perry Stage, which was used mostly for EDM acts. Though he was up against Kings of Leon, Skrillex and Darkside, Chance tweeted that Lolla organizers expected 60,000 fans to see his set. The finals numbers have yet to come in, but those who braved the massive mud pit were greeted by a huge surprise: R. Kelly.

Chance introduced the controversial star halfway through his performance and described Kelly as "the Pied Piper of R&B." Then Kelly launched into a three-song run, playing "The World's Greatest," "Bump N' Grind" and "Ignition (Remix)."

Kelly's appearance was part of Chance's clear love letter to Chicago, his and Kelly's hometown. He also brought out local rapper Vic Mensa, who performed at Lollapalooza on Saturday, did the juke slide and some footwork during the 90-minute set. "This is my city," Chance told the crowd.

Frequent shout-outs to his friends, family and even the Chicago Reader reminded fans that this set was a huge moment for Chance, a homecoming after a monstrous year since his 2013 mixtape "Acid Rap" made nearly every outlet's best-of list.

"I see you turning up this whole time," Chance said before playing his last song of the night, "Chain Smoker." He called out fans watching at home on the livestream. "They know this is our city." After the show he tweeted, "Thank you."

Tonight isn't performing for performance's sake. It's a Chicago thing. I love music and touring. But tonight it's for Chicago

— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) August 3, 2014

The crowd went bananas for Kelly's short performance, but some fans questioned Chance's decision to include him in the show. Just last week Fashion Meets Music Festival in Ohio dropped Kelly from its lineup after festival promoters criticized the event for booking him due to his past allegations of sexual assault and child pornography charges.

Kelly and the organizers reached a "mutual decision" for him to back out, and festival communications director Melissa Dickson told Columbus Alive, "The festival has taken a lot of heat, and we really just wanted to listen to Columbus and really take a stance and move forward."

At the time, Kelly's rep said the singer "looks forward to seeing [fans] in the near future during one of his upcoming tours." That came sooner than expected at this year's Lollapalooza.

Chance also played the hits that earned him the coveted time slot, "Everybody's Something, "Smoke Again," "Cocoa Butter Kisses" and his newly released cover of the "Arthur" theme song, "Wonderful Everyday." (Here's a full setlist.)

See more fan-shot photos and footage below.

See All The Performances From Lollapalooza - Sunday

Sun, 2014-08-03 15:21
Just because you didn't snag tickets to this year's Lollapalooza doesn't mean you have to miss out on the action.

Beginning Sunday afternoon, Red Bull Media will livestream performances and the subsequent replays from acts like Chromeo, Kings of Leon, Chance the Rapper and Skrillex.

You can check out the performances from the comfort of your couch until 6 a.m. (CST) Monday; afterwards, Red Bull will host roughly 40 video-on-demand performances for the next 60 days.

See the full streaming schedule below:

Man Faces Attempted Murder Charge After Fight With Roommate Over Cookies

Sun, 2014-08-03 15:10
There may be no crying over spilled milk, but when it comes to cookies, it's a different story.

After an Illinois woman ate three Chips Ahoy cookies for breakfast, her 23-year-old roommate allegedly tried to kill her for devouring his treat, police said. Allen Hall was arrested in Decatur Wednesday following a dispute at the apartment he shares with a 49-year-old woman, according to The Associated Press. Hall now faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated domestic battery for the cookie incident.

According to police, the 49-year-old victim apparently thought Hall was joking when he pounded on the bathroom door and threatened to kill her.

After she opened the door, "Allen grabbed her around the throat with both of his hands and threw her down into the tub," the affidavit read, according to The Herald & Review. "She hit the back of her head on the tub and this caused a knot on her head."

Hall then began to strangle her, the affidavit continued, until the victim's husband and landlord arrived and separated the two. A search of Macon County inmate records reveals Hall is being held on $7,500 bail for the felony charge. He is due in court in early September.

It's not the first time a dispute over dessert has turned physical. In 2011, a fight between two female roommates in Florida over Girl Scout cookies ended in an assault charge.

Blood Orange's Dev Hynes Says He Was 'Jumped' By Lollapalooza Security Shortly After Giving Speech Against Police Brutality

Sat, 2014-08-02 13:08
British artist Dev Hynes, a.k.a. Blood Orange, says that he and his girlfriend, Samantha Urbani, were assaulted by Lallapalooza secruity shortly after his Friday, August 1, performance at the music festival. Hynes sent out several tweets explaining the situation.

Samantha and I just got assaulted by the security. We are about to press charges

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

They grabbed her I asked what they were doing and they grabbed my neck and threw me to the ground, then two others joined in on me

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

Everyone saw it. We are pressing charges, I can't believe it. I'm so upset. Why is this still happening? I just want to make music

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014


— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

If they're doing this to the musicians playing, then how have they been treating all the attendees throughout the day?

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

Thanks for the support. We are both very shaken and I am pretty bruised up. But blessed to be alive in this world. Others aren't as lucky. X

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

Ps. One of the security guards is claiming that I assaulted him which is insanity. If you saw the incident please get in touch. Thanks.

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

Hynes said that he gave a speech during his set touching on racism and police brutality. He was also wearing a shirt that he and his grilfriend made with the names of several victims of race-charged violence and police brutality, including Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.

Samantha & I made this T-shirt which I'm wearing today. The set is dedicated to these names & more. We remember.

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 1, 2014

I gave a speech on racism and police brutality and then I am jumped by three security guards and my gf is assaulted. @lollapalooza

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

I'm in pain, what the fuck. The irony after my t shirt and message this morning, we are in shock

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

Urbani shared her own account of the events and thoughts on her Twitter page.

Insane how nightmare situations can just come in2 action so suddenly. Being assaulted by security &watching them attack Dev- so traumatizing

— samantha urbani (@SamandudeBITCH) August 2, 2014

Shaking/crying feeling extremely violated &generally unsafe, beyond sad we missed the eminem show we were so psyched 4.

— samantha urbani (@SamandudeBITCH) August 2, 2014

Terrifying thinking about if Dev was attacked like that & had a physical disability- like a heart problem, or ASTHMA #RIPEricGarner

— samantha urbani (@SamandudeBITCH) August 2, 2014

How insanely ironic that I wore a homemade "STOP POLICE BRUTALITY" shirt onstage 2day &begged audience 2take care of eachother &film arrests

— samantha urbani (@SamandudeBITCH) August 2, 2014

Rly not trying 2be 2self victimizing btw- this has shaken me so deeply bc this shit happens 2 ppl on all levels, constantly- feels endless

— samantha urbani (@SamandudeBITCH) August 2, 2014

Thanks 4support guys, rly. We're shaken upset sad etc but ok. Just want 2keep working against violence &abuse of power. Speak up &take care.

— samantha urbani (@SamandudeBITCH) August 2, 2014

Fans came to the couple's defense, writing comments addressing the situation on the festival's Facebook page, but the comments were quickly deleted after having been posted.

Apparently people are tweeting & writing on @lollapalooza Facebook page and they keep deleting the comments

— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) August 2, 2014

@devhynes I wrote on their Facebook asking about it and they deleted my comment.

— Jennifer (@sooosleepy) August 2, 2014

@devhynes @lollapalooza keep in their mentions folks...they are removing the posts as quick as they go up

— a.Bohemia (@ayannabohemia) August 2, 2014

Lollapalooza released a brief statement through Pitchfork acknowledging the "incident."

"Late Friday night, we learned of an incident involving an artist and a security guard on site. Since then, we have been in contact with those involved and the authorities, as we work together to resolve the situation. As always, our top priority is to ensure the safety of everyone at the festival."

We will update this post as more information comes in.

Rihanna Was The Best Thing About Eminem's Lollapalooza Set

Sat, 2014-08-02 09:05
Lollapalooza Day 1 ended with a major dilemma for fans: Festival organizers C3 Presents decided to pit Eminem, Arctic Monkeys, Zedd and Phantogram against each other for the night's closing set. Those who chose Eminem, one of the biggest names on the bill, got a huge treat when Rihanna rose from the stage for a surprise performance. The crowd lost it.

Rihanna joined Eminem for three songs and the duo teased their upcoming "Monster Tour." Together, they played their collaborative hits: "Love The Way You Lie" and "The Monster." In yet another surprise, Rihanna stepped in to sing female vocals on "Stan," Eminem's 2000 duet with Dido, which was the major highlight of her performance (and his whole set).

It was Eminem's first time back at Lollapalooza since 2011, and he played fan favorites like "Without Me," "My Name Is," "Kill You" and "The Real Slim Shady" as expected. He ended his performance with "Not Afraid," accompanied by a guitar solo, and "Lose Yourself."

Eminem and Rihanna's "The Monster" tour kicks off at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on Aug. 7. See fan-shot footage of the Lollapalooza performance below.

Changing Demographics, Bloated Budgets Shape Changing Fair Landscape Across the Country

Fri, 2014-08-01 19:12
Growing up in Delaware, Ohio, I always went to the county fair. Without fail, my little sister and I gorged on elephant ears, played carnival games and were flung about on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Delaware County was country: Three of the four public high schools back then were largely rural. One high school, Buckeye Valley, actually had "Drive Your Tractor to School Day."

But since those days I, along with many of the kids I grew up with, have moved away from our rural hometown to urban environments. And we aren't alone. According to Census Bureau data, U.S. metro areas grew to a population of 269.9 million people in 2013, up about 2.3 million people from 2012. Metro areas grew faster than the U.S. as a whole between 2012 and 2013.

Delaware County has become more urban too. From 2000 to 2012, Delaware was the fastest-growing county in Ohio. Since I was born, Delaware's population has nearly tripled and now is about 180,000.

As the demographics of my hometown have changed, so too has the popularity of Delaware's blowout county fair. In 2010 the fair ran a $176,000 deficit. In 2011 the fair ran a much smaller deficit of $69,000. In 2012 Al Myers, the former county sheriff and a fair board member, told the Columbus Dispatch, "Delaware County, unfortunately, is transitioning from a rural to an urban area. We get less attendance from Delaware County residents than we have before."

Delaware County is not alone. In fact, many state fairs are struggling with low attendance and big deficits too.

Overall, the Ohio State Fair lost more than $4 million in 2013, despite reporting the highest attendance in the fair's history.

After 160 years Michigan canceled its state fair in 2010 after running chronic deficits for years. In 2008 fewer than 220,000 people attended the fair, which needed $380,000 from the state to cover its losses, according to reports from the Associated Press.

In recent years the Illinois State Fair has drawn big crowds with big names, featuring performances from artists such as The Band Perry, Styx and more. In 2013 these performers helped the fair attract 960,000 attendees. But the fair still ran a huge loss last year, with spending at $10 million and revenues of only $6.5 million.

Fairs offer a nostalgic, week-long escape filled with freakish foods and a sense of community that hearkens back to a different time. But Michigan's example proves that their future is -- or should be -- uncertain, especially in states that already can't pay for things such as education and government pensions. ("Entertainment" isn't a core government service.)

Michigan has $598 in per-capita government-worker pension debt. Ohio has $1,695 in per-capita pension debt. And Illinois has a whopping $7,421 in per-capita government-worker pension debt.

As states, their residents and their budgets change, local and state fairs will have to evolve to stay solvent.

If they don't, fairs could go the way of drive-in movies and bowling alleys -- classic pieces of Americana that couldn't quite cut it in a changing world.

To Show Her 'She Was Loved,' 150 Strangers Attend Funeral For Baby Who Was Starved To Death

Fri, 2014-08-01 16:14
A baby who died in a dark, dank apartment was honored on Thursday with a bright service attended mostly by strangers who wanted to at least give the abused 7-month-old a proper burial.

Mya Edwards was found starved to death in January in her Chicago home and her parents, Markisha Jones, 19, and Gene Edwards, 22, face felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment and were held on $250,000 bond, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The abused baby was finally laid to rest in front of about 150 strangers, and one relative, on Thursday.

Joaquin Edwards, 21, the girl’s uncle, was the only person who actually knew Mya while she was alive, according to the Daily Herald.

"I feel very pleased and at ease to know that she is buried," a tearful Edwards told the news outlet.

The grieving uncle was accompanied by about 30 members of the Barrington Police Department and about 100 complete strangers who had learned of the tragedy through news reports, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The funeral was arranged by Rest in His Arms, a nonprofit that petitions for the release of children who were left to die in order to give abandoned deceased babies proper burials. The group has been conducting such funerals since 2005 and Mya’s was the organization’s 33rd, according to the Herald.

The group also educates the public on the Illinois Safe Haven Law, which allows adults to leave babies 30 days or younger at designated places -- without fear of prosecution, as long as the baby isn't injured.

Nearly every aspect of the funeral, including the tiny white coffin and the pink bouquet that lay on top of it, were donated.

According to reports, Mya died after her parents had taken her and her twin off formula and filled their bottles with just water, cereal and baby food. The girl’s twin is being treated for for malnutrition at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to CBS Chicago.

A Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) spokesperson said in January that the agency had not had previous contact with the family. However, it did receive an "unfounded" neglect report in April 2013 and an abuse report from 2002 for other children that were in the Barrington home, the Sun-Times reported.

Deacon Jim Pauwels, a Rest in His Arms board member, delivered a eulogy. He urged the crowd to act in compassionate ways, by helping the hungry and spreading awareness for the Illinois Safe Haven Law, according to the Tribune.

Law enforcement there said they felt the service gave much-needed closure to the first responders and a level of dignity to Mya that she was deprived of throughout her short life.

"We were able to show this young girl who wasn't loved in life and abandoned in death that she was loved," Det. Sgt. Kevin Croke, an investigator on the case, told the Herald.

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Why I'm Finally Sharing the Photos I Hid for Years

Fri, 2014-08-01 15:09

Are you happy with what you see when you look in the mirror?

It's a challenge for most of us to love our bodies and fully embrace our appearances. Kate Fox, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England, claims: "Among women over 18 looking at themselves in the mirror, research indicates that at least 80 percent are unhappy with what they see."

I will admit that prior to being diagnosed with alopecia universalis, I had a pretty strong self-esteem and was satisfied with my physical appearance. When I lost all of my hair, it was difficult to adjust to being bald, but what proved to threaten my confidence even more was the loss of my eyebrows and eyelashes. These features add contrast to our faces, and without them, I suddenly looked drastically different.

I learned how to use eye makeup so that my face would appear more "normal," and to this day, I never leave my house without wearing it. When I'm alone with my family or very dear friends, I'm willing to go makeup-free, but when I'm out in public, I simply can't go without it.

I can't help but think that without makeup, I look sick, almost as if I'm a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. But the fact is, I'm not sick, and I don't want the outside world to assume that I am. So day after day, I throw on my makeup and walk around bald, with pride.

Why I Want To Take It All Off

I feel somewhat hypocritical for blogging and preaching about finding the inner strength to embrace who we are, when I myself am unwilling to show my face without makeup. Although I'm not ashamed of how I look without it, I've just never felt ready to wash it all off and let it all go.

Six months ago, I was cleaning out an old external hard drive and I came across several photos that I almost forgot existed. They are professional photographs that were taken of me when I wasn't wearing a stitch of makeup. I haven't shared these photos with anyone (besides my husband and my mom). I've never printed them, and I rarely look at them. They've lived on my drive and have been tucked away in my office for years.

It's taken me six months to muster up the courage to write this post, but I'm finally ready to share these photos and I hope that in doing so, I'll be able to inspire others to let go of their own personal insecurities.

Where Did These Photos Come From?

About seven years ago, I was on a train heading to New York City for a voiceover audition. I sensed that someone was watching me, and when I looked up, I saw a scruffy, long-haired, middle-aged man checking me out. Unnerved, I turned back to my newspaper, but I couldn't shake the feeling that this stranger was studying me intensely.

When we arrived in Manhattan, the man caught up with me on the exit ramp. He introduced himself as Len Irish, explained that he was a portrait photographer and asked if he might have the opportunity to photograph me sometime. Initially, I wasn't so sure, but he dug into his pocket and presented a small, folded up version of his portfolio. When I saw that he had been responsible for stunning photos of Jennifer Aniston, Anthony Hopkins and Muhammad Ali, I realized I was dealing with a brilliant photographer and it had been a mistake to judge him so quickly.

I was also intrigued by his offer. I have always wanted a photographer to take creative liberties and use my baldness as if it were a blank canvas for an art project or an advertising campaign. Suddenly, I had my opportunity.

The Shoot

Two weeks later, I found myself in Len's photography studio in downtown New York City. Len informed me that he was looking to capture a particularly androgynous look for a project, so he wanted to photograph me without makeup. When I heard this, my nerves kicked into high gear, but I decided to go through with it because it seemed like an interesting opportunity that just felt right.

The shoot was an experience I will never forget and one that I sincerely enjoyed. As Len and I got to know each other, he snapped away on his camera, commanding me to look in different directions and express an array of emotions.

When I first saw the photos a few weeks later, I felt conflicted. On one hand, I thought that the photos were beautiful in their quality and style. At the same time, I was uncomfortable seeing myself portrayed in such an androgynous manner. I often worry that I look overtly masculine, and these photos didn't help to alleviate that particular insecurity.

After I shared the photos with a select few and continued to feel torn about my appearance in them, I saved them to my external hard drive and erased them from my computer. And there they've remained for years.

Why I'm Sharing Them Now

A great deal has happened in my life since these photos were taken. I've battled a major illness, endured several surgeries, suffered through the pain of losing loved ones, experienced a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to my first child. All of the ups and downs have helped me to gain a unique perspective on life, and I now know how truly precious life is and what really matters.

The way I look without makeup is not something I need to hide forever. Although everyone may not be able to relate, sharing these photos represents my willingness to take the next step in accepting myself, as well as the way I look since I lost my hair.

I'm aware that these are professional shots and not exactly post-wake-up iPhone selfies, but it still feels like a good step forward, and one that I hope will inspire others to take steps forward in their own journeys towards self-acceptance.

The Photos

So without further ado, here are the photographs that Len Irish captured of me in his studio seven years ago. Although I was fully clothed, there wasn't a stitch of makeup on my face, and I felt completely naked.


This first shot is very typical of Len's style. It encompasses a darker version of how I actually see myself, but it's also the closest to what I see when I look in the mirror every day.


I have always found this next photo to be the most intriguing of them all. I love that Len created contrast through the angles and shadows of my facial structure, and I think the androgynous look works here.


This side shot has always been my least favorite. I have never loved seeing photos of the back of my head, nor do I love the side of my nose when I smile, and this one highlights both features.


This peaceful photo is my favorite of the bunch. It looks the least human to me, almost like a mannequin or a dove, and I find it to be the most intimate of all of the photos.


Len placed random objects on and around my head. I was hoping he would play creatively like this when I signed on to work with him so I like this one.


At the end of the shoot, Len asked me to wear my wedding jewelry and to apply makeup so he could shoot me for a different project. Looking at these two photos side by side, I find it strange that I could look so different but so similar at the same time.


Raise Your Glass

I want to thank the incredibly talented Len Irish for noticing me on the train that day, and for helping me to see myself in a new light.

I hope that this post encourages you to love yourself despite your flaws, and if possible, to find a way to celebrate them. I'll cheers to that!

Are you happy with what you see when you look in the mirror? Are you too hard on yourself when it comes to your appearance? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Ali's health blog, No Colon, No Worries, for

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The Water of Life

Fri, 2014-08-01 15:05
I'm thirsty. Indeed, I'm overwhelmed by thirst, thinking about those who lack access to clean water. I'm thirsty for a different world.

"In Gaza, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lack water, including those living in hospitals and refugee camps," Sarah Kendzior wrote in Al-Jazeera last week. "On July 15, citizens of Detroit held a rally in solidarity, holding signs that said 'Water for all, from Detroit to Palestine.' A basic resource has become a distant dream, a longing for a transformation of politics aimed at ending suffering instead of extending it."

Water is our common need, our common source of being. In bankrupt Detroit (city of my birth), as the world now knows, the poor and struggling segment of the population -- the people whose overdue water bills exceed $150 -- face water shutoff. The United Nations, for God's sake, has condemned the action by the city's emergency manager as a human rights violation. Thousands of residences -- housing as many as 100,000 people -- have had their water shut off so far, out of a total city population of 700,000.

Ironically, Detroit is surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world. Michigan license plates used to proclaim: "Water Wonderland."

Austerity, austerity, God shed his grace on thee . . .

As with draconian austerity measures elsewhere, those who bear the greatest burden are the poor, the ones who are barely making it anyway and face the daily and weekly choices of paying for food, paying their rent or taking care of utility and other bills. Alas, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department is owed millions of dollars and has to collect. With the city reeling in bankruptcy, it has no choice. Sorry, poor people.

Except, here's the thing. Many commercial entities also owe money to the DWSD: "Joe Louis Arena, Ford Field, Palmer Park Golf Club and half of the commercial and industrial buildings in the city . . . owe roughly $30 million in overdue water fees," Drew Gibson writes at TruthOut. And the State of Michigan itself, according to the Daily Beast, owes $5 million.

The big players may also owe money but they can contest it. They have clout, so they're left alone. Implementing a regime of austerity means squeezing the powerless. And seldom mentioned is the fact that squeezing them costs money. The city's emergency manager has hired a private contractor, Homrich -- for over $5 million, according to The Progressive -- to turn off Detroiters' water.

Last week's Progressive article, by Ruth Conniff, also notes: "The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is a public asset valued at $6.4 billion. Forty-five percent of the utility's annual budget goes to Wall Street banks to service its debt -- a debt the emergency manager has the power to renegotiate."

But water shutoffs for the poor apparently come first. Austerity is in no way meant to interfere with the rich getting richer. Detroit's troubles are framed as straightforward and financial, but that's just part of the game of power and dominance being played here. To the political and corporate sharks in charge of the Motor City right now, the human right to water is not much of a value, not when the possibility of privatizing public resources looms so seductively.

I thirst for a different sort of world, one in which water is not just another commodity, something to be controlled, to one's own advantage and another's detriment.

"There's more blood than water today in Gaza," Palestinian poet Jehan Bseiso wrote this week at Electronic Intifada as the bombardments continued.

And just as the powerful play at austerity, so they also play at war. Brent Patterson, political director at the Council of Canadians, who quoted Bseiso, also cited the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in a recent essay:

"After two and a half weeks of bombardments from the air and ground, roughly two-thirds of the Gaza Strip's inhabitants -- 1.2 million people -- are suffering from severe disruptions to the water and sewage systems, according to Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene, a coalition of around 40 humanitarian groups operating in the occupied territories. In addition to the damage of the central pipeline and the reservoirs -- which affects cities and villages throughout Gaza -- home pipes and water containers on roofs have been damaged by the bombardments."

And an early July article in The Guardian by John Vidal is headlined thus: "Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, experts warn."

While the article focuses primarily on the tactics of the rebel group ISIS, Vidal notes that getting a stranglehold on the water supply is a primary goal of all sides in this desperate conflict -- more important than controlling the oil refineries.

He writes: "Last week Iraqi troops were rushed to defend the massive 8km-long Haditha Dam and its hydroelectrical works on the Euphrates to stop it falling into the hands of ISIS forces. Were the dam to fall, say analysts, ISIS would control much of Iraq's electricity and the rebels might fatally tighten their grip on Baghdad.

"Securing the Haditha Dam was one of the first objectives of the American Special Forces invading Iraq in 2003."

These are the reckless tactics of war -- every kind of war. Revering and protecting our water supply, not merely "controlling" it, is a far better use of our blood, sweat and tears.

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


Illinois is a "Sinkhole State" says new report

Fri, 2014-08-01 13:50
A new report from Truth in Accounting calls Illinois a financial "Sinkhole State" and says it has the second-worst taxpayer burden in the country.

That means that for Illinois to pay all of its debt right now, every taxpayer in the state would have to contribute $43,000 (which is 93 percent of an average Illionsan's annual salary!) to pay for them all. This burden has increased every year since 2009 in Illinois.

The report says that Illinois owes $204.1 billion in total debt. The state has $73.2 billion in assets, but only $28.4 billion of that is available to pay bills, according to Truth in Accounting. Another $48 billion is tied up in land or other restricted assets.

The report listed four other "Sinkhole States," including New Jersey and Hawaii, and five "Sunshine States," where the financial situation is fine, including Alaska and Wyoming.

It's no secret that Illinois is also having a hard time keeping new jobs numbers on par with the rest of the country as well. State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington) says the state must make job creation a bigger priority. He said many Illinoisans are leaving the workforce after searching for jobs long enough that they have become discouraged and given up. To get job creation back on track in Illinois, McSweeney said, the state itself must fix its own budget and roll back both spending and taxes to encourage businesses to want to operate in Illinois.

Chicago Office Shooter Was Reportedly 'Despondent' Over Demotion

Fri, 2014-08-01 13:49
Police say Tony DeFrances was "despondent" over being demoted when the 60-year-old allegedly walked into his office in downtown Chicago Thursday morning and shot his boss -- a married father of three who was also DeFrances' longtime friend -- before fatally shooting himself.

Family friends say victim Steven LaVoie, the 54-year-old CEO of foodservice supply chain technology company ArrowStream, was "stable" after surgery but remained in critical condition as of Thursday night, the Tribune reports. He was shot in the head and stomach.

DeFrances had reportedly requested a one-on-one meeting with LaVoie Thursday morning, less than a week after DeFrances had been demoted as part of a company-wide downsizing. Just before 10 a.m., ArrowStream employees told the Sun-Times they heard several shots from LaVoie's office; the two men reportedly struggled before DeFrances turned the gun on himself.

Various reports listed DeFrances as the company's chief technology officer who according to the its website had been with the company "virtually since its inception." (As of Friday afternoon, his name and bio had been removed from the company's website. )

According to the Sun-Times, a statement issued Thursday by the LaVoie family read in part:

“A horrific personal tragedy has happened today to two families... Our thoughts are also with Steven’s extended family, the employees of ArrowStream, who mean so much to Steven. Finally, our prayers are with the other family affected by this tragedy.”

The Bank of America building where the shooting occurred was not evacuated during the incident. Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy told NBC Chicago the incident was "a workplace violence issue," adding, "I can’t see how this could have been a security issue.”

DeFrances was not legally licensed to carry the gun used in the shooting. Police say the married father of three didn't have a state Firearm Owners Identification Card and did not say to whom the gun was registered, if registered at all.

Jes Baker's TEDx Talk Tells You To Change Your World, Not Your Body

Fri, 2014-08-01 13:01
"We put our life on hold, we stunt it, because of our bodies."

That's the startling truth blogger and speaker Jes Baker shared in a May 2014 TEDx talk. Speaking on the topic of body love and self-acceptance, Baker reveals that most 10-year-olds are more afraid of getting fat than getting cancer or losing both of their parents. People put off things as small as buying new jeans and as important as asking for a raise until they've lost that weight, believing their bodies aren't good enough as is. Her conclusion? Something's gotta give.

"The creation of this presentation happened the moment I realized that loving your body could have international impact," Baker told The Huffington Post in an email. "I spend countless hours researching the larger issue of bodies, talking to medical professionals, and getting my statistics straight. And the beautiful thing that [comes] out of it [is] a clear understanding that body love [is] a global necessity."

Baker's reasoning? That body insecurity hinders personal and professional productivity -- and so the world is a better place without it. In her own words, "the way we view our bodies determines the way we participate in the world."

Baker began blogging as a way to share her personal journey of acceptance, with the hope of creating an inclusive body-love community.

"We are definitely in this together, no matter your size," Baker told HuffPost. "Every single one of us resides in a society that profits from telling us that we are not enough. It's powerful to know that you share in this; it makes it easier to refuse the status quo."

As for what you can do to start your self-love journey, watch the full video above to find out.

Why The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Should Matter To Black Americans

Fri, 2014-08-01 12:50
The recent explosion of the Gaza War, rooted in a long feudal history between Israel and Palestine, has sparked international debate.

The 25-day conflict may be halfway across the world from United States, but it is not far from the minds of black Americans. HuffPost Live hosted a discussion on Thursday, about where black American allegiance should fall on the sides of this conflict, especially in light of recent comparisons drawn to the American Civil Rights Movement.

Kristian Davis Bailey, a research assistant at the Martin Luther King Institute at Stanford University, asserted that black Americans should oppose Israeli attacks of Palestine on the premise of the nation’s “colonial” ambition.

“I think that first and foremost what’s important to note is that Israel is a colonial project and as black people, we have a tradition, a right, and an obligation to oppose colonial projects."

He further tied the struggle of black Americans to that of Palestinians in highlighting “material connections” between the oppression of both peoples. These he described in terms of police brutality and civilian interaction with law enforcement.

“The Israeli military will train with police units across the United States, the same private prison companies that detain Palestinians in Israel -- which is illegal -- also have youth detention facilities in the United States, South Africa, and around the world.”

Lawfare Project fellow Chloé Valdary, alternatively framed a case for siding with Israel’s right to act in Gaza based on the terminology of Bailey’s position. She first affirmed that Zionism is, by definition -- according to W.E.B. DuBois -- an anti-colonialist movement.

Valdary also blamed the use of terms such as “colonize” and “occupy” for “perpetuating colonialism” in the discussion of Israel, based on the origins of the term “Palestine” itself -- originally coined by a roman imperialist.

However Dr. Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of the Humanities at Rice University, finds fault in discussing the current crisis in Gaza through ideology rooted in “biblically based claims.”

“You can’t resolve political economic and social dilemmas through an appeal to metaphysical claims that are theologically grounded.”

He acknowledged the logic for which black Americans could theoretically side with either nation, but ultimately condemned the violence of Israel’s attack in defense of Palestine.

“African Americans know well the desire to preserve personhood and to do that within the context of community, we understand that on the part of Israel and Palestine, but this appeal to religion allows for brutalization, dehumanization, extreme violence that should not be tolerated.”

What do you think? Tell us in the comment section below.

13 Illinois Private Schools That Could Cost You an Arm and a Leg

Fri, 2014-08-01 12:34
In 2013, Illinois public schools spent an average of $11,842 per student in total expenses ($7,000 if measured strictly for classroom expenses), according to the Illinois State Board of Education's State Report Card. That cost is spread across the state and individual school districts through income taxes and, especially, property taxes.

But private school students (or more precisely in most cases, their parents) cover those costs themselves.

To help you get a sense of the cost of some of the private schools in the state, along with the differentials that exist between some private schools, we've got a list of the 13 most expensive Illinois private schools below. To keep continuity, we took the highest possible cost (which for some schools included boarding) for grades 9-12. All schools were found using Private School Review and the tuition rates were found on each school's respective website, which are linked with the school's name.

1. Lake Forest Academy - $51,400
Located in Lake Forest, Ill., Lake Forest Academy is a coeducational, independent boarding school.

2. Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart - $47,200
Also located in Lake Forest, Ill., Woodlands Academy is a Roman Catholic, all-girls high school.

3. Francis W. Parker High School - $31,830
Francis W. Parker High School is an independent, co-educational school located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, close to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

4. The Latin School of Chicago - $29,985
The Latin School of Chicago is a coeducational, independent school located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, just south of Lincoln Park.

5. University of Chicago Laboratory School - $29,424
The University of Chicago Laboratory School is a coeducational school affiliated with the University of Chicago and is located on the University of Chicago's campus.

6. The British School of Chicago - $28,250
The British School of Chicago is a coeducational, independent British international school located in the southwest part of the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago.

7. North Shore Country Day High School - $27,250
North Shore Country Day is a coeducational, independent school located in Winnetka, Ill.

8. Roycemore High School - $26,550
Roycemore High School is a coeducational, independent school located in Evanston, Ill.

9. Chicago Academy for the Arts - $24,720
The Chicago Academy for the Arts is located in the River West neighborhood of Chicago and is a coeducational, independent school devoted to the performing and visual arts.

10. Chicagoland Jewish High School - $22,900
Chicagoland Jewish High School is a coeducational, Jewish high school located in Deerfield, Ill.

11. Morgan Park Academy - $22,300
Located in the Morgan Park neighborhood on Chicago's south side, Morgan Park Academy is an independent, coeducational school.

12. Elgin Academy - $20,800
Elgin Academy is located in Elgin, Ill. and is a coeducational, independent school.

13. Beacon Academy - $19,900
Beacon Academy is located in Evanston, Ill. and is a coeducational, independent school that's teaching practices reflect Montessori principles.

Check out 12 more ultra-pricey private schools in Illinois at Reboot Illinois.

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Top 25 counties with the highest and lowest median income and percentage of college-educated residents.
What do you think of the state of our government? Use our Sound Off tool to tell your local representatives. It's easy and efficient.
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WATCH: He's Related To Obama, Clinton And Einstein.. Here's How To Know If You Are Too

Fri, 2014-08-01 12:01
Could you be cousins with Barack Obama? What about Gwyneth Paltrow or Albert Einstein? It's entirely possible. Find out why we're all more connected than you might think.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at
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You'll Never Believe Why This Employee Is Suing Taco Bell

Fri, 2014-08-01 10:17
In a painfully ironic twist of fate for a faux-Mexican fast-food chain, a former Taco Bell manager is suing the company, saying she was canned for hiring Hispanics.

As Courthouse News first reported, Juanita O'Connell, who is Mexican-American, is suing Taco Bell for back pay and damages in federal court. In a complaint filed Wednesday, O'Connell claims that one of her superiors saw a Latino employee working at the Indianapolis restaurant she managed. The superior then allegedly said to O'Connell: "Didn't I tell you not to hire Hispanics?"

O'Connell, 60, had worked at Taco Bell since 1987, eventually attaining the title of general manager at her restaurant, according to the complaint.

Taco Bell, which serves meals loosely inspired by Mexican cuisine, denied the allegations in a statement to The Huffington Post.

"While we haven't been served with the complaint, these are very serious allegations and if true, are not a reflection of our culture or standards," Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch told The Huffington Post in an email. "We've launched an investigation to get the facts."

"My client was working at one of the Taco Bell stores here in Indianapolis and her area coach basically came up to her and told her she needed to quit hiring Latinos," O'Connell's attorney Joel Paul told HuffPost. "And she continued to hire Latinos, because she thought that was discriminatory."

Paul said that two weeks after the initial incident, O'Connell's supervisors came to the store to punish her for an E-Verify violation that Paul said she may have incurred when hiring an undocumented worker. E-Verify is an online system maintained by the U.S. government for identifying undocumented immigrants who attempt to work illegally.

"They wrote her up, and two or three hours later that same day, they fired her," said Paul.

O'Connell's lawsuit is one of a number of eyebrow-raising complaints brought against Taco Bell in recent years. In 2011, an Alabama firm filed a class-action suit alleging that the beef in Taco Bell meals contained too much filler to be called "meat," according to NPR. The suit was dropped after Taco Bell changed its marketing practices.

Last year, Gary Cole, a prisoner serving a 25-year sentence in a Colorado facility, also sued the chain, saying he had invented the Doritos Locos taco, ABC News reports. The courts later dismissed the case, which Taco Bell said was meritless.

Teacher Time

Fri, 2014-08-01 09:27
Every profession measures time differently. Doctors and lawyers measure time in hours or vague lumps. Teachers measure time in minutes, even seconds.

If a doctor (or his office) tell you that something is going to happen "at nine o'clock," that means sometime between 9:30 and noon. Lawyers, at least in my neck of the woods, can rarely be nailed down to an actual time. Anything that's not a scheduled appointment is "sometime this afternoon." Even a summons to jury duty will list a particular time which just represents the approximate time at which things will start to prepare to begin happening. Further up the Relaxed Time Scale, we find the delivery and installation guys for whom "Between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday," means "Not at all on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, in teacher land, 9:00 means exactly 9:00. Other professionals may round off, saying 9:00 when they really mean 8:57 or 9:08, but we mean what we say. If a class starts at 9:00 and ends at 9:51, we are getting our 51 minutes of class.

This is one of those things that non-teachers don't entirely get. If you work in an office, time is pretty flexy. If a meeting can benefit by running an extra 10 or 15 minutes, you just do it. But in most schools, when the bell rings, you're done. There is no little extra bit of time you can just throw into the work.

Consequently, we tend to measure out our time in coffee spoons. One minute and forty-three seconds left in class? OK, I can totally get three more practice sentences about participial phrases in before I remind them of tomorrow's assignment. Which is better than realizing that you've got two minutes and twenty seconds left for a three-and-a-half minute piece of business.

Nobody in the business world feels any real difference between a 42-minute meeting and a 51-minute meeting, but most teachers feel a whole world of difference in that nine-minute gap. That's why the phrase "It'll just a take a couple of minutes," doesn't mean a thing to civilians, but makes a teacher's heart sink. I think it's also part of why civilians don't really understand what they're asking when they request or require that teachers add "just one more little" thing to the teaching day.

Other than the fact that it gives some teachers the uncanny ability to act as human egg timers, I'm not sure we benefit much from this heightened time awareness. Yes, teachers learn to be punctual, which is a virtue, I hear. But doctors and lawyers and other folks are fast and loose (well, loose) with time because for them, a task takes as long as it takes, whereas in teaching, a task takes as long as we get to do it.

It's a fantasy of mine to imagine a classroom in which I say, "OK, class. We're going to work with dependent clauses today, and we're going to keep at it till everyone gets it." I understand that problems that go with that (Mrs. Numberwhacker is up the hall wishing I would be done with clauses so she can get started with quadratic equations), but one of the screwy things about how we're set up in this country is that the most fundamental organizing principle is The Clock. Not the students, teachers, or lessons, but The Clock. I know it's hard to think of another way to manage several hundred humans working on a hundred tasks under one roof, but a guy can dream. And if your school figured out a way to be student- or task-centered, I'd be fascinated to hear about it.

Cross-posted from Curmudgucation.

These Are All The States Where It's Legal To Breastfeed In Public

Fri, 2014-08-01 08:47
We often hear about, report on, and share stories about moms who are given a hard time for breastfeeding in public. In some cases, these women are asked to leave restaurants, stores, even churches because they’re nursing. In others, moms are told that they must “cover up.” The constant in all of these anecdotes is that employees and bystanders are unaware of one thing:

The law explicitly protects moms who breastfeed in public in almost all 50 states.

Forty-six states, DC and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow moms to breastfeed in any public or private location. Three of the remaining states -- Michigan, South Dakota and Virginia -- exempt breastfeeding moms from public indecency or nudity laws, and Idaho is the only state that has yet to pass any similar laws.

Currently, the only protection nursing moms have in Idaho is jury duty exemption. The Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition started a petition in effort to bring the state up to speed with the rest of the country, but despite its 1,400 signatures, there's no indication Idaho is close to passing legislation.

So, the next time you're in public and see someone sneering at a breastfeeding mom, show them this map:

This article is part of HuffPost Parents' World Breastfeeding Week series. For more from the series, click here.