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House Bill Would Legalize 'Charlotte's Web' Medical Marijuana

Mon, 2014-07-28 18:38
A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday would legalize a compound in marijuana used to treat severe epilepsy.

The legislation, called the "Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014," would exclude "therapeutic hemp" and "cannabidiol," or CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana used for medical purposes, from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana, including therapeutic hemp and CBD, is illegal under current federal law.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.), says therapeutic hemp and CBD "shall not be treated as controlled substances." Both treatments contain little of the psychoactive substance that generates a marijuana high.

"This bill in no way changes my stance on marijuana -- I still disagree with the recreational use of marijuana," Perry said in a statement. "However, these children and individuals like them deserve a chance to lead a healthy and productive life and our government shouldn’t stand in the way."

The bill takes its name from 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, a Colorado girl with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Her parents are successfully treating her debilitating seizures with a strain of high-CBD, low-THC medical cannabis called "Charlotte's Web." Traditional pharmaceuticals failed to help.

“It’s a huge day, we’re celebrating, we’re very excited," Paige Figi, Charlotte's mother, told The Huffington Post. "It’s a step in the right direction -- it’s not full medical, but the success we’ve had in showing this is a working therapy, state to state, has come through and now federally they are taking notice." Figi volunteers at Realm of Caring, a nonprofit Colorado Springs organization that developed the Charlotte's Web strain of cannabis for her daughter.

The introduction of the House bill comes after 11 states have legalized CBD for limited medical use or research. To date, 23 other states have more broadly legalized medical marijuana. But because federal law considers all forms of marijuana illegal, people who use, possess, sell or grow marijuana for medical use -- even in states where it's legal -- face potential federal charges.

Some have argued that CBD-specific legislation, like the new House bill, is too narrow and should be expanded to include marijuana for all medical uses.

"We fully understand that, and are pushing for" full legalization of medical marijuana, Figi said. "But with politicians, you negotiate down to what they are comfortable with and what will or will not pass. How do you stand by and say we’re not going to help anybody?"

Figi said the Realm of Caring has about 9,000 patients on its waiting list for epilepsy treatment with Charlotte's Web. "It’s so painful to see people waiting and dying," she said. "My friends -- the Conte family -- just lost their daughter in New York. They fought for New York’s medical marijuana law and she’s probably the reason that bill passed, and then she lost her daughter while on the waiting list. And there’s many more that are dying every week.”

Anna Conte, 9, who suffered from seizures, died last week due to complications from her disorder. New York lawmakers passed a medical marijuana bill last month, but it won't take effect for a year and a half. Since its passage, two other children with seizure disorders similar to Conte's have also died.

The House bill must successfully pass multiple House committees before it reaches the floor for consideration.

The bill is among several recent moves in Congress to change longstanding federal marijuana policy. The House recently voted to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from targeting medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws -- a vote that surprised even longtime supporters of marijuana policy reform. In May, House lawmakers also approved a measure that would prohibit the DEA from using funds to crack down on state-legal industrial hemp programs.

Turns Out Booking R. Kelly To Play Your Music Festival Is Bad For Business

Mon, 2014-07-28 17:19
An Ohio music festival has found itself in a difficult position on the heels of its booking of controversial R&B singer R. Kelly as one of its headliners.

The Fashion Meets Music Festival, slated for Aug. 29-31 in Columbus, Ohio, has run into a number of troubles since they announced last month that Kelly would be playing their inaugural fest alongside jam band O.A.R. and Destiny's Child alum Michelle Williams, among others.

Since then, two Ohio-based bands -- Damn the Witch Siren and Saintseneca -- have dropped out of the lineup since Kelly's booking was made public and Sunday Columbus Alive reported that radio station WCBE 90.5 FM has withdrawn from sponsoring the festival, also due to Kelly's participation in the event.

As WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis notes, ticket sales for the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer's performance at the festival -- which start at $58.50 plus fees -- also appear to be selling very slowly.

The pushback stems from Kelly's past allegations of child pornography and sexual assault, a story DeRogatis helped break and Jessica Hopper detailed in a viral news story for the Village Voice in December 2013.

"We feel [R. Kelly's] selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault," Saintseneca said in a statement explaining their decision. "We feel it is an affront to all survivors, who are already often overlooked and forgotten in our society." The band plans to host an alternative concert benefiting victims of sexual assault.

In response to the criticism, Fashion Meets Music Festival co-founder Bret Adams defended the booking to Columbus Alive, noting that Kelly was acquitted of the allegations in 2008, saying, "we're not the morality police."

Kelly also headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago last year, a booking DeRogatis lashed out against but which was not met by any bands or sponsors dropping out from the event. Kelly also played the Bonnaroo and Coachella festivals in 2013.

$15: The New Eight-Hour Day

Mon, 2014-07-28 16:44

When 200 New York City fast-food workers walked off their jobs in November 2012, their demand of $15 an hour seemed like a fantasy.



But over the weekend, as more than 1,000 fast-food workers from 50 cities gathered in Chicago for the first-ever nationwide fast-food workers convention, the workers' call for $15 looked prescient.



In a little less than two years, the call for $15 per hour has spread far beyond the fast-food industry -- indeed, in its power to inspire all low-wage workers, the "Fight for 15" is akin to the movement for the 8-hour day roughly two centuries ago.



While it's commonly taken for granted, today's standard 8-hour workday did not arrive by accident -- it began as a near-utopian demand from workers in industries like mining, construction, and manufacturing, where 15-hour days were the norm.



But under pressure from strikes that gradually spread across the country, a growing number of cities and companies began granting 8-hour workdays near the end of the 19th century -- and eventually, this standard 40-hour workweek was extended to workers nationwide. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1938.



The call for a $15 per hour wage similarly began as an over-the-horizon demand from fast-food workers stuck in jobs that offer no benefits, limited hours, and a median hourly wage of only $8.69 per hour. Today, however, following nearly two years of strikes by fast-food workers, low-wage workers of all types have taken up the call for $15 per hour -- and this growing movement is already getting results.



For example, in Baltimore earlier this month, service workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital reached a tentative agreement, after the threat of continued strikes, for a groundbreaking pay raise to $15 per hour. If finalized, this pay raise would substantially boost the wages of hundreds of low-paid janitors, cooks, housekeepers, and technicians, many of whom earn just above $10 per hour today.



In Michigan, hamburger chain Moo Cluck Moo raised wages to $15. And out west, workers in the Los Angeles Unified School System--the nation's second largest--just won a near doubling of their wages, to $15. Also in Los Angeles, a proposal to establish a $15 per hour minimum wage for hotel workers throughout the city won unanimous approval from the City Council's Economic Development Committee earlier this year, setting the stage for a vote in the full City Council in the coming months. Local leaders in LA credited the "tremendous energy" created by striking low-wage workers across the country in spurring progress on this proposal.



In November, voters in SeaTac, Washington approved the nation's first $15 minimum wage. And in June, the city of Seattle officially answered the rallying cry of fast food workers, approving the nation's first $15 citywide minimum wage. This historic development was followed just weeks later by the announcement of an agreement in San Francisco -- backed by local businesses -- to refer a measure setting a $15 citywide minimum wage to the city's voters this November.



It's not hard to understand why the Fight for 15 would inspire workers across the economy to take action. Much like the 15-hour days that characterized America's 19th-century industrial economy, stagnant wages and low pay are the "new normal" for millions of workers in the U.S.



For four decades wages have flat-lined even as worker productivity has continued to grow, and low-wage jobs now form the core of America's economy, comprising 8 of the 10 occupations with the largest projected growth over the next decade.



Looking ahead, we can ask: Which state will be the first to set a $15 minimum wage? Which big fast-food company will be the first to guarantee a minimum hourly wage that is double the industry standard? When can we expect to see a living wage become a core labor standard guaranteed to all workers across the country?



As fast-food workers gathered in Chicago to plot their next steps, one thing was clear: Their $15 demand could soon be as ordinary as the 8-hour day.



Jack Temple is a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.

Goodman Theatre's <i>Brigadoon</i> Offers a Delightful Romp in the Heather

Mon, 2014-07-28 16:41
"Isn't Brigadoon the one with the leprechauns?"

No, that's "Finnian's Rainbow," clarified my theatre companion as we walked into Goodman's suprisingly delightful new production of the Scottish-based Lerner and Loewe tuner.

Brigadoon is a show that I'd firmly dismissed. Many of those warhorse musicals often feel so steeped in schmaltz, by the time you're done, you feel like you need a root canal to eradicate all the manufactured sweetness. So a show about a pair of strapping men who happen upon a magical land that appears once very 100 years and fall in love with the lonely lasses who live in the misty hills didn't really capture my fancy.

But then I heard Goodman was producing a revival helmed by revolutionary musical theatre director Rachel Rockwell, and my interest piqued considerably. Maybe it was worth revising a show I hadn't seen since my community theatre dusted it off when I was 16?

Well, color me tartan: Upon the first few chords of this charming revival, I found myself swept up into a world of kilts, bagpipes and heartfelt ballads. Yes, this 1947 musical, while updated with some script tinkering (by Brian Hill), still relies on old-school musical theatre tropes, it's far from musty. In fact, I'd be so bold as to say it's blissfully charming.


The cast of Goodman Theatre's "Brigadoon"

Leading this unapologetically romantic show, Jennie Sophia lends her warm presence and shimmering soprano to Fiona -- the leading lady who captures the heart of a hunter who wandered into the mysterious land (the evening I saw the show, Rod Thomas, who typically plays the sidekick friend, stepped in for Kevin Early, and was outstanding). Offering up some blowzy comedic relief, the ruddy cheeked Maggie Portman as Meg does well with two tongue-twisting numbers.

In fact, Rockwell, a rockstar director tapped by the Goodman to lead this rare revival, often succeeds because she casts shows extremely well, and here she's assembled a fresh-faced ensamble, many of whom are making their Goodman debuts along with her. In addition, many double as dancers, pulling off lively jigs also choreographed by Rockwell, including a thrilling sword dance to close out the first act.

It also doesn't hurt that the show looks delicious. Kevin Debinet's lush sets find a way to make green moss seem exotic, and Mara Blumenfeld dots the stage with bursts of color, while remaining authentic to the timeless period.

"Brigadoon" plays through August 17 at Goodman Theatre. More info here >

Rahm Emanuel Wants To Bring More Child Migrants To Chicago

Mon, 2014-07-28 15:55

CHICAGO, July 28 (Reuters) - Chicago will set up additional shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children to be funded by the federal government and run by local charities, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday.

Increasing numbers of children, mostly from crime-plagued Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, are crossing into the United States from Mexico, and shelters near the border are strained. Some of the children are immediately flown home to Central America, but immigration authorities send most of them to temporary shelters in cities around the United States until they are placed with family members while they await deportation proceedings that can last for years.

While some cities - such as Escondido, California and Oracle, Arizona - have resisted efforts to set up temporary shelters for unaccompanied minor immigrants, officials in other cities are more welcoming. Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins has offered federal authorities empty buildings in a risky political move as he faces re-election in November.

Increasing shelter space for minors is not seen as putting Democrat Emanuel in any political jeopardy, although some community groups in Chicago have criticized President Barack Obama's proposal to increase spending on immigration measures rather than on programs for struggling neighborhoods in Chicago.

"The influx of unaccompanied child migrants is a growing humanitarian crisis that we can no longer ignore," said Emanuel in the statement. "While we have our own challenges at home, we cannot turn our backs on children who are fleeing dangerous conditions. We will do our part to ensure that these children are given access to services and treated fairly and humanely."

Chicago already has nine shelters that house several hundred immigrant children on a short-term basis.

One of the most pressing needs for the children is legal aid as many of them try to argue that they should be granted asylum because they would face danger or persecution if sent back home. Without a lawyer it can be difficult to establish grounds for asylum or for special immigration status for neglected children.

Emanuel said that Chicago would expand legal aid services - through a network of pro bono lawyers from big firms - to meet the demands of the rising population in the new shelter. (Reporting by Fiona Ortiz)

RIP, Anita Moore-Hubbard

Mon, 2014-07-28 14:28
I made these comments during a memorial service for Anita Moore-Hubbard, who died on July 12.

Good evening. My name is Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, and I had the privilege to know Ms. Anita through Sonja for close to a decade.

I'm honored to be here tonight with my wife Dunreith and on behalf of our son Aidan to stand and express our condolences to Sonja, the rest of the Moore-Hubbard family and to all of us who cared for and whose lives were touched by, this gracious, graceful and powerful woman.

We've been checking in with Sonja and following, with smiles and sadness, the pictures she's been posting on Facebook.



I want to talk for just a minute about one of the images.

It was taken shortly before that moment where Ms. Anita was called to rest after a rich, loving and contributory life.

It's the last picture ever of mother and daughter together.

In it their cheeks are touching.

In fact, they're smooshing up against each other.

They are so close that there is literally no space between them.

And they're smiling.

If you've looked at some of the other pictures Sonja has posted, there is one of Ms. Anita at one of Sonja's many graduations. (I'm going to be honest and say that Sonja has more degrees, credentials and letters after her name than almost anyone I've ever met.)

In that image, Ms. Anita is beaming with pride and joy at her daughter's accomplishments. Their cheeks connect, and Ms. Anita is slightly behind her and to the side, letting Sonja have the moment and glory she has labored so hard to earn.

In the final picture of the ailing mother and the daughter into whom she poured every fiber of her soul, the two women are next to each other and looking directly at the camera.

Ms. Anita's head is covered by a white wrap.

She's still elegant, of course, with a roundish earring resting perfectly on her left shoulder and her glasses framing her face just so. She always had style.

You can tell that her body is weakened, though, and that she very well may have known the end was near.

But her head was high, and in her smile was acceptance and gratitude and love.

Her arm is on Sonja's right shoulder, just as it was when Sonja was a young girl and when she was an impressive scholar about to receive her diploma.

Ms. Anita was giving that last little bit of nurture and security and protection to the daughter she raised, the daughter who in turn she was leaning on and who was giving her that that same ceaseless and tireless and fearless care.

The unconditional kind of do-anything-it-takes care that showed Ms. Anita that her most significant life lessons, lessons that she learned in the South and taught in the North, universal lessons of compassion and character and family and service and education grit and grace and faith had been learned and acted on by the woman to whom she had given life.

I just spent some time thinking about and feeling and admiring the aching beauty contained in that picture, about Ms. Anita's physical frailty and unvanquished light within, about the fatigue and weariness and pain around the rims of Sonja's eyes, yet also the resolve in her smile that shows her commitment to see it through to the end.

I felt the power of that picture in part because my wife went through the same process with her mother just shy of three years ago. I watched with awe as Dunreith did one of the most important and excruciatingly painful things that I believe she will ever have to do.

I have gradually come to feel that being there to see your mother through to the other side, whatever that is in our belief system, to truly be there for the woman who brought us into the world in an unflinching and courageous and indescribably tender way, is both a gift and a privilege, even as it's also heartbreaking.

For Ms. Anita, that end came a little more than a week ago.

We are grateful for her abundant gifts, her courage, her gracious humor, and her gentle strength,

We are also grateful for the life she gave and nurtured to us and to the world in Sonja.

We will miss you, and we know you are still with us through the memories we shared and the daughter you raised and loved so deeply and so totally.

Thank you, Ms. Anita, for all that is encapsulated in that last picture.

May your example inspire us.

May you help us believe that we can conduct ourselves with the same dignity and fortitude and compassion as you did.

May we be as clear-eyed, as nurturing and as cared for when our times come are you were.

We respect you.

We will miss you.

We love you.

Illinois turbulent love affair with government entities

Mon, 2014-07-28 14:22
Illinoisans have a reluctant love affair - or perhaps an unhappy arranged marriage -- with government. With more than 8,400 government taxing bodies, Illinois tops the nation. The city of Chicago on its own has almost 2,000 units of government. There is a government entity for nearly every part of civic life.

No other state comes remotely close to Illinois' tally for government taxing bodies.

If you are a Chicagoan, name every position and person who you elect to the city council, the Illinois House and Senate, Congress, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Cook County-wide offices, the Board of Review, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. If you are in the suburbs, add to this list your school board or boards, the community college board, the library board, the park district board, the township, and maybe one or two other special districts.

Many of these governments overlap each other, so it's hard to know where the authority lies or who to talk to when there's a problem. Plus, having so many different governments can be expensive. Taxes from various entities add up, and the variances within and among municipalities make the particulars confusing.

But these government units employ a lot of people and, historically, have been used as patronage havens by politicians who have favors to return. That makes eliminating these micro-bureaucracies a tough task, no matter how much taxpayers might save.

Perhaps the state's high government count has helped Illinois consistently secure a place near the top of just about every "Most Government Corruption" lists. This doesn't just cost the state in damage to its reputation. There's a dollar amount, according to this study by Public Administration review. Every Illinoisan pays roughly $1,300 annually to cover government abuse.

21 New And Improved Names For Boring, Everyday Stuff

Mon, 2014-07-28 12:24
Words are hard. Whether it's due to a language barrier, a post-op haze or something else entirely, we've seen your struggle with the English language. And we feel for you!

In fact, we'd like to toast your occasional memory lapse, since linguistic slip-ups can result in some pretty ingenious new words and phrases for everyday things. Feel free to start using these ones immediately.



Shoutout to XKCD for always being relevant.


Shoutout to Aziz Ansari's alter ego, who'd want us to treat ourselves.


Shoutout to slimydog for quick thinking.


Shoutout to RexErection, who struggled more than most.


Shoutout to us, because we're sometimes creative.


Shoutout to disguisenburg for being neighborly.


Shoutout to EnragedPorkchop for having weird friends.


Shoutout to the Redbull that allowed us to think up this one, too.


Shoutout to banana_antlers for mocking the infirm.


Shoutout to iminclinedtopursue52 for befriending a German person.


Shoutout to Clown_Prince_Of_Web for sharing.


Shoutout to iwannaelroyyou for changing how we view dairy.


Shoutout to Murrello for proving that mornings are often difficult.


Shoutout to kittymissles for perpetuating misinformation.


Shoutout to innosins for not making up lame excuses.


Shoutout to Boondoggle for such descriptive prowess.


Shoutout to doctor_jeff for publicly humiliating his friend.


Shoutout to MSeltz for loving burritos.


Shoutout to miss-apple-pie for having good ideas.


Shoutout to Aziz again because we like him a lot.


Shoutout to UniverseProjects for sparking this post.

Shoutout to Getty for background images.

Footage Of Rachel Dratch And Tina Fey's Second City Show Exists, And It's Glorious

Mon, 2014-07-28 12:19
Before they blew up on "SNL," Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey were tearing it up at Second City with their two-woman show -- or rather, their two simultaneous one-woman shows.

Unearthing footage of famous comedians is a rare and beautiful thing. Digital video is a helluva drug. So, anyway, let's all enjoy this 47-minute heaping helping of Dratch & Fey from 1999.

Via The Comic's Comic

Your Life in Weeks

Mon, 2014-07-28 11:20

This is a long human life in years:





And here's a human life in months:





But today, we're going to look at a human life in weeks:





Each row of weeks makes up one year. That's how many weeks it takes to turn a newborn into a 90-year-old.



It kind of feels like our lives are made up of a countless number of weeks. But there they are -- fully countable -- staring you in the face.



Before we discuss things further, let's look at how a typical American spends their weeks:




Sources: 1 2 3 4 5



There are some other interesting ways to use the weeks chart:









But how about your weeks?





Sometimes life seems really short, and other times it seems impossibly long. But this chart helps to emphasize that it's most certainly finite. Those are your weeks and they're all you've got.



Given that fact, the only appropriate word to describe your weeks is precious. There are trillions upon trillions of weeks in eternity, and those are your tiny handful. Going with the "precious" theme, let's imagine that each of your weeks is a small gem, like a 2mm, .05 carat diamond. Here's one:



If you multiply the volume of a .05 carat diamond by the number of weeks in 90 years (~4,680), it adds up to just under a tablespoon.





Looking at this spoon of diamonds, there's one very clear question to ask: "Are you making the most of your weeks?"



In thinking about my own weeks and how I tend to use them, I decided that there are two good ways to use a diamond:



1) Enjoying the diamond



2) Building something to make your future diamonds or the diamonds of others more enjoyable



In other words, you have this small spoonful of diamonds and you really want to create a life in which they're making you happy. And if a diamond is not making you happy, it should only be because you're using it to make other diamonds go down better -- either your own in the future or those of others. In the ideal situation, you're well balanced between #1 and #2 and you're often able to accomplish both simultaneously (like those times when you love your job).



Of course, if a diamond is enjoyable but by enjoying it you're screwing your future diamonds (an Instant Gratification Monkey specialty), that's not so good. Likewise, if you're using diamond after diamond to build something for your future, but it's not making you happy and seems like a long-term thing with no end in sight, that's not great either.



But the worst possible way to use a diamond is by accomplishing neither #1 nor #2 above. Sometimes "neither" happens when you're in either the wrong career or the wrong relationship, and it's often a symptom of either a shortage of courage, self-discipline, or creativity. Sometimes "neither" happens because of a debilitating problem.



We've all had Neither Weeks and they don't feel good. And when a long string of Neither Weeks happens, you become depressed, frustrated, hopeless, and a bunch of other upsetting adjectives. It's inevitable to have Neither Weeks, and sometimes they're important -- it's often a really bad Neither Week that leads you to a life-changing epiphany -- but trying to minimize your Neither Weeks is a worthy goal.



It can all be summed up like this:





The Life Calendar



One of the ways we end up in NeitherLand is by not thinking about things hard enough -- so one of the most critical skills is continual reflection and self-awareness. Otherwise, you can fall into an unconscious rut and waste a bunch of precious diamonds.



To help both you and ourselves stay conscious and avoid NeitherLand, we've created a Life Calendar that lays out every week of your life on one sheet of paper. We don't typically bring products into posts, but in this case, they go hand-in-hand.



The calendar is a 24″ by 36″ poster on high-quality blueprint-style paper, made to be written on and last for decades. It costs $15 and you can buy it here.



Besides the purpose of encouraging regular reflection, we hope the calendar can help you feel more oriented in your life, help you set goals and hold yourself to them, and remind you to be proud of yourself for what you've accomplished and grateful for the diamonds in your spoon.



How you use the calendar is totally open for creativity. Some possibilities:




  • Highlight the weeks in the past in different colors to segment them into "life chapters" -- i.e. High School, College, Job 1, Job 2, New City, Engagement, Marriage, etc., or maybe a whole other conception of what a life chapter means to you. You can also mark special boxes where key turning points happened.

  • Write something in each week's box as it goes by -- the boxes are about a square centimeter, which I was able to write six words in when I used a sharp pencil.

  • Plot out goals for the future by making a mark on a future box and visually seeing exactly how many weeks you have to get there.

  • If you're a new parent, it might be fun to make one for your child so they can look at it later and have some info on what happened in the first few years of their life.

  • Or maybe you'd rather leave it totally untouched.



Both the week chart above and the life calendar are a reminder to me that this grid of empty boxes staring me in the face is mine. We tend to feel locked into whatever life we're living, but this pallet of empty boxes can be absolutely whatever we want it to be. Everyone you know, everyone you admire, every hero in history -- they did it all with that same grid of empty boxes.



The boxes can also be a reminder that life is forgiving. No matter what happens each week, you get a new fresh box to work with the next week. It makes me want to skip the New Year's Resolutions -- they never work anyway -- and focus on making New Week's Resolutions every Sunday night. Each blank box is an opportunity to crush the week -- a good thing to remember.



The Calendar:





More ways to put life in perspective from Wait But Why:



Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel



Putting Time in Perspective



The Fermi Paradox



Your Family: Past, Present, and Future



Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)



Why You Shouldn't Care What Other People Think of You





If you liked this article, you can subscribe to Wait But Why to have our once-a-week posts sent to you by email. Never any spam or anything else.



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A Brief Guide To The NSFW History Of Penis Art

Mon, 2014-07-28 10:13
Back in March, while everyone was celebrating the triumphs of the ladydom, we gave you an overview of the art world's apparent obsession with vaginas in the name of art, culture, feminism, etc, etc.

Since we're equal opportunists, we'd like to present you another brief explanation of artists' fascination with our naughty bits. This time, we're going to talk about peen! Why's that? Hasn't the male sex organ received enough attention? Because the patriarchy? Because male privilege? Because it's hilarious to draw all over your friend's anthropology notes in college?

Perhaps. But we're going to do it anyway, because art, culture, feminism, etc, etc. To understand this wholly academic topic, we've got to go back in history and wrap our heads around the fact that d*ck pics have been around way longer than Snapchat, starting with…



The Ancient Greeks: Masters of teeny peen.



Earlier this month, an unsuspecting team of archeologists working on an island in the Aegean Sea happened across “tantalizingly clear” penis drawings dating to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, which are thought to be some of the oldest on Earth.

Depictions of penii were common in ancient Greece -- but particularly small ones, which adorn many of the marble sculptures that survive the period. Were the men of the time really so poorly endowed? Or did they prefer to feel superior to hunks of marble? Nope. Large penii, actually, were associated with the grotesque. The ideal aesthetic, explained by Aristophanes, was "a gleaming chest, bright skin, broad shoulders, tiny tongue, strong buttocks and a little prick." Ha.

Later, we moved on to…



The Middle Ages: Rivaling that one kid from "Superbad."



Life must have been pretty boring for the person copying out line after line in the pre-printing-press world. Penises show up in the marginalia of several medieval manuscripts from flying green penis monsters to sun-ripened penises dangling from penis-laden tree branches.

In some contexts, one art historian suggested, such dong drawings existed only for luls. "A tree with phalluses is funny throughout the ages," she explained. And while that’s undeniably true, an alternate interpretation suggests a negative connotation. It’s thought that a Tuscan penis tree mural uncovered ten years ago was all political, commissioned by one Tuscan faction to associate the other with "heresy, sexual perversion, civic strife and witchcraft."

After one too many plagues, we got into…



The Renaissance: Era of erotic snacks.



So by this time, people were opening up to the idea that the sun might not move around the Earth, but sculpting a foreskin-covered assault rifle as art still would've been far from kosher. So when an artist wanted to paint some dingaling doodles, he might resort to symbolism -- using food. Yum!

Raphael's "Cupid and Psyche" was a veritable fruit salad of salacity. One corner features a suggestively shaped gourd, with suggestively shaped eggplants at its base, piercing an extra-ripe fig splitting open with juiciness. *Blushes.*

Straight-up male genitalia was also seen -- Michelangelo's "David" is of course one of the Renaissance's most well-known pieces -- but mainly in the context of religious and historical subject matter. It was also still teensy and uncircumcised, because there was a time when people didn't just cut off foreskin (which is probably good, because they might not have realized the importance of sterilizing sharp objects before they come into contact with infant genitals).

Skipping ahead a bit, we run into a…



Scandal in the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood!!!



Those Victorian goody-two-shoes were hiding dirty pictures this whole time! We see that shadow! We know what that is! Pish-posh.

Continuing on, we move into…



The Late 1800s: When art became harder and harder to define.



In the wake of the Impressionists' audacity to make their brushstrokes totally obvious and push the boundaries of "art" -- which caused a hullabaloo because people were like, "We know what 'art' is, it's pretty pictures of famous white people, okay?" -- came a variety of new schools of thought, including some that combined colorful Impressionist techniques with more definitive outlines, for example. So we got Koloman Moser's "Le Printemps," which features a fairly well-defined member. Other artists, like Egon Schiele, focused on expressionist moodiness in works like "Standing nude man" and "Masturbation 2,” and later wondered why the townspeople didn’t like him very much.

Prior advances in anatomy had begun to influence how art students learned about the human body, too, encouraging them to strive for accuracy. They tried less to recreate Classical proportions (read: teeny peen) than to represent the model’s true figure.

Then, not long after came…



Modernism: Is that...?



Basically, the Modernists didn't really give two shits because World War I knocked whatever connection they felt to traditional definitions of "art" as loose as Franz Ferdinand's security detail. So when art collectors were "shocked" at the way a guitar could be represented by a collection of geometrical figures, they were like, "Whatever, we're going to paint a train sailing out of a fireplace" and stomped away. Also, they made some d*ck art.

In 1920, Constantin Brancusi scandalized everyone at the Salon de Indépendants when he unveiled a shiny, curved gold sculpture called "Princess X." Supposedly, when Picasso said it looked kind of phallic, Brancusi got all pissy and denied it. But we should note that this was the era of Freud’s whole “subconscious mind” theory that had some artists exploring dreams and symbolism of form. (The subject's long neck in Magritte's "The Rape," above, suggests a phallus piercing its torso-face.) So maybe Brancusi didn’t consciously mean to make a phallic symbol? Maybe? No?

Later, we saw…



Post-Modernism in the mid-1900s: That's a penis.



As art became more brash, like the music of that one shaggy-looking male quartet, artists -- including lady artists -- created even more explicit works shaped by new-ish technologies (photography!) and popular culture (movies! music! canned goods!).

Herman Makkink's fiberglass "Rocking Machine," which bears a clear phallic likeness during its appearance in Kubrick's 1971 "A Clockwork Orange," helped the artist gain notoriety. Drawing on decades' worth of fancy psychoanalysis, Louise Bourgeois coined her slogan, "Art is a guarantee of sanity," and went on to create the monument to reason dubbed "Fillette" -- a giant penis-slash-female-torso. And, among his many representations of household names like Monroe and Campbell, Andy Warhol printed his self-described "dirty art" featuring a dude standing with his legs crossed, fully exposed, and -- and -- full-sized!

Of course there was also Robert Mapplethorpe's "Man in Polyester Suit," famous for delving into LGBT and race issues. It features -- that’s right -- a black man in a polyester suit, with his dongalong casually sticking out of his pants like he forgot about it or something, as one does.

Finally, we arrive at...



Contemporary Art: Male anatomy becomes practically passé.



Since only a rare few things will shock the art world these days, there are penises seriously everywhere. Examples abound!

“We don't sit down and say, 'This will piss so-and-so off.’ We make the work we instinctively feel like making,” explained punk artist Sue Weber, who, along with Tim Noble, created a mass of phalluses in the mid-1990s that makes a shadow of the couple’s heads leaning back-to-back when light hits it just so. Fellow sculptor Jamie McCartney cast myriad genitalia -- male and female -- to complete his works, which tile together private parts like the world’s most X-rated backsplashes. McCartney says he uses humor to “break down barriers and encourage public engagement with tricky subjects.” Like their nether regions.

Meanwhile, Kristen Fredericks continues to knit more penile creations down in Australia, where they sprout eyes, hang out in packs and, inexplicably, grow breasts. Fredericks, who definitely looks like somebody’s mom, formerly worked as a knitwear designer before she put her considerable needlework skills to better uses.

But in the Contemporary sphere, there’s also...



Performance Art: Penii in the name of politics.



For whatever reason, the Russians are big on the kind of weird art you struggle explaining to your friends. A few months after that one guy stapled his scrotum to the cold Moscow cobblestones in the name of “apathy” and “political indifference,” an art collective known as Voina (or “War”) wreaked havoc on a St. Petersburg drawbridge. In an impressive 23 seconds, nine of the group’s members grabbed some paint cans and splattered a giant penis on the bridge before being apprehended by authorities. Seconds later, when the bridge was raised to allow a passing ship through, a massive dong stared back at the Russian Federal Security Service building.

“It is monumental, heroic, romantic, left-radical, an act of protest,” explained hooligan Aleksei Plutsner-Sarno. “I like it as a piece of work, not just because it is a penis.”

And let’s not forget...



Internet Art: "Pexting" is now a thing.



Should you like an unbiased third-party opinion of your budding photography skills, Madeline Holden, who runs the site Critique My D*ck Pic, will* deliver**! Promising “100% ANON, NO SIZE SHAMING,” the New Zealander sheds her lawyer alter ego to pass judgment on some of the many, many, many penis portraits sent to her, saying it’s shown her how “fragile” the male ego is. Maybe you wouldn’t guess anyone wielding civilization’s most time-honored symbol of power and dominance might ever feel “fragile” about it. Yet Holden says the blog has been “an anonymous outlet for them to share their deepest vulnerabilities (and to swing their d*cks around).”

And, finally, who could forget Snapchat, which has truly democratized penis art, allowing anyone to improve photographs with crude sketches.

So that's it. We make penis art, we used to make penis art and, as shown by eighth grader Eliot Ratray on a school trip to a site of 35,000-year-old historic cave drawings, we will always make penis art.

"My friend Ian dared me to draw a wiener [on the cave wall] so I did,” said the youth. “I was going to make it peeing but Mrs. Wiser started walking over.” And an artist was born.

*Maybe
**Depending on level of effort given the submission

LinkedIn Groups You Should Join if You're Looking for a Job

Mon, 2014-07-28 10:04
The Internet has spawned a new era of job searching. LinkedIn groups have further refined the online job search process.

Unless you're old school and believe in scouring the local newspaper's classified section, online job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder and Indeed have changed the way people look and apply for positions.

While such websites bring thousands of job openings to your computer screen, hiring companies are now inundated with applications because of how easy it is to send them electronically, which is compounded by the fact a lot of people are looking for work.

But, there are also new tools at job seekers' disposal to network and find a career that suits them, notably LinkedIn.

Scott Kane, founder and partner of the career coaching and networking services firm Gray Hair Management, couldn't stress enough just how important LinkedIn is in today's job market during a June 26th interview.

"I would tell you that 99.5 percent of all recruiters will look at your LinkedIn profile before they even call you," Kane said. "Everybody told me they used LinkedIn to not only search for candidates, but to review candidates credentials. So by the time they call you, they already know about you."

Kane also noted those who do not utilize LinkedIn are at a "big disadvantage."

Here are some of the top job seeker groups you should join if you're hoping to expand your network and find a career.

1. Job Openings, Job Leads and Job Connections! - 1,798,501 members

One of the largest groups for job seekers on LinkedIn.


2. Linked:HR - 900,173 members

This group, which is run by Next Dimension Media, is one of the largest groups for hiring managers, corporate recruiters, headhunters, HR consultants and also one of the most active for "group discussions."


3. The Recruitment Network - 355,688 members

Aims at bringing people together who are dedicated to "open networking with innovation, integrity and transparency."


4. Executive Suite - 274,827 members

Operated by ExecuNet, this group provides insight from and connects you with U.S.-based business leaders, career coaches, executive recruiters and corporate hiring decision makers.


5. JOBS 2.0 - 159,569 members, or for Jobs 2.0 - Midwest - 4,779 members

Job Search 2.0 helps members find work by utilizing the latest in social and professional network technology.


6. Next Dimension Careers - 122,425 members

Next Dimension Careers is one of the largest recruiters' groups on LinkedIn and helps top candidates find jobs quickly and efficiently.


7. A Job Needed - A Job Posted - 51,670 members

For any and all LinkedIn members searching for employment, as well as recruiters who help members find opportunities.


8. Indeed.com - 40,577 members

indeed

The official job search group on LinkedIn for Indeed.com.


9. Career Central (sponsored by reCareered.com) - 33,965 members

If you're in the midst of a career transition, this group networks you with recruiters, hiring managers and career coaches who can make the transition easier.

10. Talent HQ - 27,183 members

A group for job seekers, recruiters and HR professionals interested in expanding their professional networks.


11. Looking for a Job? - 21,330 members

This group allows job seekers to share ideas, network, provide advice on job market trends, post jobs and help individuals find meaningful work.


12. Jobs Alert - 20,936 members

A global job search group specifically for for middle and senior-level managers.


Check out the 13 other LinkedIn groups at Reboot Illinois to see who you should be networking with if you're looking for a job.



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Jenny Lewis Doesn't Want To Be An 'Old Little Girl'

Mon, 2014-07-28 09:10
Jenny Lewis lives in California but her home is somewhere deep in the cosmos. Thirty-eight years old, with a lifetime of memories already in her past, Lewis now operates with the universe in mind. A few different careers and battles with insomnia and grief have taken her a long way away from the being the child actress who traded mix tapes with Corey Haim. For a while, she was best known for roles in "Troop Beverly Hills" and "Golden Girls." Then she became an indie music darling as the frontwoman for Rilo Kiley and singer with The Postal Service. As a solo artist, her first two albums were anthems to millennials who were just a little too young (and cool) to embody the Lilith Fair spirit. "The Voyager," her first solo album in six years, isn't a comeback. Calling it that would be rude because Lewis doesn't need a reentry, but it is a tipping point in her life, a moment that will sling her forward.

Two years ago, Lewis' father died and she stopped sleeping. "The Voyager" is a project from that time: a dive into aging, loss and those crazy cosmos she loves to reference. It took five years to complete. Due out July 29, it's peak Jenny Lewis: sad and sweet and funny, with jokes about her biological clock and a night of candy flipping.

Lewis spent a little over 10 days recording most of "The Voyager" in Ryan Adams' Pax-Am studio in Hollywood. "We were just going to record one song together," she told HuffPost Entertainment over the phone from Grand Rapids, Michigan. "And one song became two, and then by the end of the day he asked if I wanted to recut the whole record there." Working with Beck, Mike Viola and Johnathan Rice, her collaborator and boyfriend whom she also tours with as Jenny and Johnny, to put together the 40-minute album, she then embarked on an expansive summer tour, playing festivals and shows in the Lisa Frank-like rainbow suit featured on the cover of "The Voyager."

Last year, after she beat her insomnia, Lewis toured with Ben Gibbard and the Postal Service for the band's 10-year-anniversary, but on her own, Lewis is electric. She traded her short shorts from tours past for the multicolored suit, but isn't trying to be an adult in the grown-up sense of that word. All of this -- the rainbows, the jokes about pregnancy tests, the real talk about the cosmos -- is just what she's doing now, and it's working. She spoke to The Huffington Post about Leslie Feist's unlikely influence on her wardrobe, directing Anne Hathaway in a music video -- for the record, the rat tail was Hathaway's idea -- and, you know, the universe.

The first line of your album is, “I’ve been wearing all black,” and, well, you’re clearly not with that rainbow suit. Why did you decide to start the album there?
I think “Head Under Water” lyrically was, for me initially, the mission statement of the record, that line in particular. But throughout the process of making the record, it was less the case. The record starts out in a dark place, but it ends with “The Voyager” out in the cosmos. I thought the rainbow suit really represented in a way the arc of the record. The idea that it gets real, but you kind of journey through it. I thought about for the live shows, starting out in all black, then somehow having some sort of Velcro thing where I could reveal the rainbow suit. I’m working on that.

Where did the suit come from?
The actual suit itself has been hanging in my closet for years. It’s from this place called Aritzia and my friend Leslie Feist was on tour years ago opening up for Rilo Kiley, believe it or not. She was so very sweet to me and we were in Toronto and she said, “Oh I have a hook up at this shop called Aritzia if you want to go pick something out.” I went and, on Feist’s dime, picked out this white suit that hung in my closet for many years. When I was discussing the album cover with Autumn De Wilde, we were talking about this graffiti Gram Parsons idea, this idea of the nudie suit, but updated. Her friend Adam Siegel had been revisiting his airbrushing skills from the ‘90s and he airbrushed on this Canadian suit.



Have you been able to wash it?
Yeah, I haven’t yet. It’s weird to tell everyone. I’ve been wearing a very dirty suit. It’s pretty fresh considering I was in Florida last week.

Where did you get the idea for the "Just One Of The Guys" video?
Well, it’s my directorial debut. I wanted to reference Robert Palmer initially and put together an amazing backing band. But you don’t know exactly at first who’s in my backing band. When you realize who it is, it’s a surprise. Then, just playfully commenting on gender and equality, doing it with a sense of humor. That’s the most effective thing.

Why did you choose Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson and Kristen Stewart specifically?
Well, they’re my friends. Annie and Brie in particular were some of the first people that I played my record for months ago when I first mastered it. Kristen I don’t know as well, but got to know her on the day of the shoot. Tennessee Thomas, who plays drums, is one of my best friends as well. We dressed them in track suits and they were so open and great to watch. They’re just so good that it made my job really easy. We had a blast. We were laughing all day long.



What was it like directing for the first time when the actors were your friends?
It was pretty easy, I have to say. When you’re working with someone like Annie who has an Oscar for a reason, it’s pretty easy. She came up to me at one point very seriously to ask if it would be okay for her to wear a rat tail.

Wait, so that was her choice?
Yes! One hundred percent. How could I possibly have come up with that?

Good point. The media has responded so passionately to your album. What has it been like to be back in the spotlight in such a big way?
It’s so weird how quickly things move. The last time I put out a record it was very different how people shared music and I’m on Twitter now, which is strange for me. I was on Friendster when I was single for a couple of months. Then I committed Friendster suicide. "I’m gone!" I said and I wrote a speech. It’s weird because I am accessible to people on Twitter and I can choose to read good things or mean things and people can reach out to me directly and tell me how much they hate me or love the song. It’s a very strange new paradigm as an artist to find yourself among this kind of connectivity. It’s weird.

What's it been like for you to read the mean stuff?
If you’re going to accept the good stuff in, then you have to accept the bad stuff in a way. It cancels it out. Dare I go slumming it in the comments section. I mean are you kidding me? It’s so negative down there in the comments! I made the mistake of doing that on Yahoo, on the video link. It was like a bunch of anti-gay slurs in the comments section in regards to my video. It felt so inappropriate. I guess when a couple million people see your videos, they’re going to have varying opinions on it.

The internet is an evil place.
It can get pretty dark. For me, I can stay above the line with the comments.

You’ve talked so much about your insomnia and grief from the past few years. Could you have come out with “The Voyager” without having gone through all that?
I would like to think so. Insomnia is a very prevalent issue. It’s a women’s health issue and I chose to talk about it because so many people have experienced it to varying degrees. For me, I’m doing great now but it took a lot of work to figure out how to get back to sleep. I had to change some of my habits. I developed some pretty bad sleep ritual habits. It took me a little while to correct that behavior. It certainly informed the songs but I hope to God I never have to go through that again. It was very disruptive.

Is that why you bring up the cosmos in terms of “The Voyager”?
I mean, I’m always … I can’t say I’m always considering the universe. That would be the weirdest! Like, "I’m always considering the universe!" But certainly, we all wonder what is beyond and when you lose a loved one, I think part of the grieving process includes where that person might have gone or if you’ll ever see them again. I think it forces you to look up to the sky, to the cosmos.

Maybe that's why the characters in this album seem different than in your earlier solo work. They're like grown-up versions of the ones in your last album.
I’ll say this: I don’t want to be one of those old little girls. I’m just writing about different things. I’m 38 years old. I’ve chosen to write about the things that feel relevant to me as a woman in her -- dare I say -- late-30s.

Yeah! Your career has gone through so many different stages. What do you get approached about the most?
It varies. When I think people like one record more than the other, then someone will surprise me. But, in the end it all comes back to "Troop Beverly Hills."



And that was my next question...
Regardless of my creative output, it always goes back to "Cookie Time," my proudest work.

What’s your favorite memory from filming that movie?
I don’t remember a whole lot from that movie, but I did end up with a couple of Wilderness Girls T-shirts that I still wear on special occasions.

You could wear that under your rainbow suit.
Exactly. I should. I will. It’s my secret superhero, superpowered shirt.

What are you wearing now, if not the suit?
Two days ago in Louisville, Kentucky I bought a purple kimono robe and matching thongs, like shoes. So I’m considering wearing that on stage tonight, adding the purple robe to my ensemble ... it could be a disaster.

Jenny Lewis' "The Voyager" is out July 29 and is available to stream right now on NPR.

The Disturbing Link Between Sleep Deprivation And False Memories

Mon, 2014-07-28 07:31
Sleep deprivation is a serious safety issue and has been implicated in everything from oil spills to plane crashes to nuclear power plant explosions.

It turns out that getting a healthy amount of sleep could also be a justice issue.

A novel study out of University of California, Irvine suggests that sleep deprivation could partly be to blame for false memories -- a phenomenon in which people absorb incorrect information after an event and end up misremembering the incident.

"We already know that sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your health and cognitive functioning," said lead researcher Steven Frenda, who specializes in human memory at the department of Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine. "It seems another consequence may be that it makes our memories more easily manipulated and more pliable."

"Sometimes memory distortions are trivial and don't matter, but there are contexts (e.g., eyewitnesses in court, clinicians making medical decisions) where errors have serious consequences, so we need to be concerned about factors that make memory less reliable, and more vulnerable to distortion," Frenda continued in an email to The Huffington Post.

Frenda's study, published recently in the journal Psychological Science, is made up of several experiments designed to test participants on their susceptibility to false memories, and compare their results according to how much sleep they had gotten the night before.

In one experiment, researchers asked 193 participants if they had seen video footage of Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania on 9/11 -- footage that researchers claimed had been circulated widely, even though no such footage actually exists.

Participants who had gotten five hours or less of sleep the night before ("restricted" sleepers) were more likely than the normal sleepers to claim that they had seen the footage. Fifty-four percent of those with restricted sleep claimed to have seen it, whereas only 33 percent of normal sleepers claimed to remember the non-existent footage.

"One parallel [to this experiment] might be witnesses who are present at the scene of a crime but don't actually see everything," explained Frenda. "They might hear other witnesses talking, or learn more about the event in the aftermath. After learning about things they didn't actually see, they might come to believe they have a more complete memory than they really do."

In another experiment, the same participants were told to keep a sleep diary for a week, reporting on things like length of sleep or the number of times they woke up during the night. After a week was up, the participants reported to the lab, where researchers showed them two sets of photographs depicting a crime in action: one of a man breaking into a parked car and another of a thief stealing a woman's wallet.

After viewing the photographs, participants read narratives that recounted the photo slideshow with several misleading details. Researchers then tested participants to see how many false details from the written narrative they had incorporated into their memory of the photos.

Those who reported sleeping an average of five hours or less every night that week were more likely to incorporate the misinformation into their re-telling of the photo slideshow. The sleep-deprived group did so about 18 percent of the time, while the rested group relayed misinformation 13 percent of the time.

"The misinformation task is meant to parallel a very common situation in the real world: We see an event, later we may encounter suggestive or misleading information, and finally, we are asked to recount the memory," Frenda explained. "The three stages of the misinformation procedure (encoding, misinformation, test) were designed to model this real-world process."

In the last and most compelling experiment, researchers performed the misinformation task on a new group of 104 participants. Participants reported to the sleep lab and were randomly divided two ways: They would either have a full night's rest or stay awake all night. But researchers also randomly split the participants again between those who saw the crime photo slideshow the night they reported to the lab, when they were completely rested, and those who saw the photos the next day, after they either had a full night's sleep or were completely sleep-deprived.

After feeding everyone breakfast the next morning, researchers conducted the misinformation procedure on all the participants. For those who had already seen the photos when they were well-rested, they read the misleading written narrative and then retold the photo stories to researchers. For those who hadn't done any of the procedure, they completed all three parts.

Which group had the highest false memory rate? Those who had stayed awake all night and did all three parts of the photo experiment in the morning. Interestingly, those participants who had "encoded" the slideshow while they were rested had comparable false memory rates, whether or not they eventually went on to sleep or stay awake all night.

"In other words, sleep deprivation seemed most harmful when it was present during all of the processing related to memory -- the 'encoding' of the initial experience, the processing of post-event information, and the recollection of the memory," explained Frenda.

Assistant professor Henry Otgaar, an eyewitness and false memory expert at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, praised Frenda's study for how its experiments approximated real-world situations.

"This study shows that another risk factor for false memory formation is sleep deprivation," wrote Otgaar in an email to HuffPost. "Although this was an expected result, it is troubling -- not only for witnesses, but also for suspects."

Based on research like Frenda's, Otgaar thinks that the legal system should be very interested in how many times suspects or witnesses were interrogated, as well as how much sleep they had gotten before and after the incident. Simple exhaustion, not criminal culpability, could be to blame for someone cracking under the pressure of an intense interrogation, explained Otgaar.

"Consider the following: a suspect is sleep-deprived and interrogated by a police officer," Otgaar hypothesized. "Two days later, he is asked about what they discussed during the first interrogation. It is highly possible that the suspect gives inconsistent answers (because of false memories) and then is seen as unreliable."

But researchers still need to do a lot of work before making any recommendations about changing the process of eyewitness collection and testimony, said Frenda.

"For example, it might be tempting to think that maybe we should send witnesses home to rest before collecting their testimony," said Frenda. "But as more time passes, memories fade and become more vulnerable to distortion. So while you're addressing one risk factor, you might be introducing others."

There's no way to estimate how many people have been wrongfully convicted because of false eyewitness testimony, simply because the total number of wrongful convictions isn't known. But according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a database of every known exoneration in the U.S. since 1989, 36 percent of exonerees were convicted partly because of mistaken eyewitness identifications.

And according to the Innocence Project, an organization that uses DNA evidence to reverse false convictions in the U.S., eyewitness misidentification has contributed to an estimated 72 percent of the 317 convictions that were eventually overturned thanks to DNA.

Which View of Christianity Does the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby Ruling Defend? What About Sharia Law?

Mon, 2014-07-28 02:55
Injecting the Bible into politics inevitably turns lawmakers into theologians. For example, Tea Party Congressman Stephen Fincher declared last year that, "The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country." Needless to say, not all Christians share Rep. Fincher's opinion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Also, as with any topic that merges politics and religion, there's the muddled issue of interpretation. Do Christians throughout the United States view birth control or abortion as a "substantial burden" to their faith? What about Muslims American citizens who adhere to certain principles of Sharia law? With so many versions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other faiths within the U.S., it might prove impossible to balance everyone's various "religious liberties" alongside laws meant to protect the rights of all Americans.

Religious freedom, if applied to future legislation by the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby verdict, must also now be correlated to religious interpretation. Contrary to GOP pundit Erick Erickson's tweet ("My religion trumps your 'right' to employer subsidized consequence free sex."), Hobby Lobby apparently already "subsidized free sex." According to the Christian Science Monitor, the corporation agreed to pay for all but "four of 18 methods required to be provided to female employees under the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate." The Supreme Court decided that there were certain methods that "substantially burdened" Hobby Lobby's religious beliefs, thus its owner's were not compelled to provide four methods of birth control. The day after the ruling, other cases involving all methods of birth control sought to expand the Hobby Lobby decision. As with all religiously inspired verdicts, the blurry demarcation from four methods to all methods is now subject to whether one's expression of faith is "substantially burdened."

Although Hobby Lobby viewed some of the ACA birth control methods objectionable because they were linked to abortion, not all Christians necessarily share such a view. According to Presbyterian Church USA.org, not everyone in the Presbyterian Church views the Supreme Court's decision in a favorable manner:

The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Office of Public Witness, has expressed dismay at the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

"In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we affirm that each person is created in God's image, and that each woman is endowed with God-given moral capacity and authority to determine whether or not to become pregnant," Nelson said. "Denying any woman the right to exercise that moral agency is wrong. It is because of our faith that we view access to contraception, and all forms of health care, as a human right."

...Presbyterians further profess that God alone is Lord of conscience and that individuals must make decisions in personal and public life that are consistent with their own values, without seeking to coerce others.


As stated by Rev. Nelson, all forms of health care should be provided to women. Also, Presbyterians believe that it's not theologically necessary to impose religious views upon others.

Other Christian groups are even more vocal regarding birth control and the recent ruling. The United Church of Christ views the Hobby Lobby decision as an "affront to the religious liberty of women across the country." Catholics for Choice has declared in How Hobby Lobby Killed Religious Liberty that, "The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision is a disaster for women, and we can lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Obama administration." Red Letter Christians.org explains in You Can Be Pro-Choice Politically and Be A Pro-Life Advocate In Your Community that, "You see, for many of us who are Christians and support choice it is because we believe that it is unfair to try and make people who are not Christians live their lives based on our beliefs." In addition, the Unitarian Church of Texas feels that, "Birth control information and devices ought to be readily accessible to all adults, so that they can make their own responsible decisions about whether and when to have children."

But these organizations and churches aren't real Christians, right? A horrifying chapter in U.S. history shows what happens when people cast such judgment upon other Christians. As described in a CBS St. Louis article, Missouri's 1838 extermination order against Mormons highlights the tragic consequences of allowing government to favor one faith over another:

For 137 years, it was technically legal to kill a Mormon in Missouri. The law was on the books until 1975, when Governor Bond rescinded what was known as the extermination order...

...It declared the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State. Many Mormons left Missouri for Illinois after the order.

When Christians in the 1800s were ready to annihilate and force out another group of Christians in the U.S., the dangers of allowing government to decide the validity of one's faith is supremely evident. Sadly, even Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid was mired with certain pastors denouncing his faith and saying he wasn't a true Christian.

Furthermore, the Hartford Institute for Religion Research estimates that there are around 350,000 church congregations in the U.S. and about 12,000 non-Christian congregations. If religious liberty is truly protected by the Hobby Lobby ruling, then it should apply to everyone, including the 2,595,000 Muslims living in the U.S. According to The Southern Poverty Law Center, many Muslim Americans adhere to versions of Sharia law that are perfectly compatible with American society and laws:

Is Sharia compatible with American law and values?

Many aspects of Sharia or Islamic law are consistent with modern legal rules found in American law. For example, both legal systems allow rights to personal property, mutual consent to contracts, the presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings, and the right of women to initiate divorce proceedings.

How do American Muslims follow Sharia?

Many American Muslims, like other religious communities who rely on scriptures and religious principles to guide their life, look upon Sharia as a personal system of morality and identity.


If the Court had ruled 5-4 in favor of a Muslim family's corporation, the paranoid uproar from conservatives would be heard around the world. Republicans in more than a dozen states have already introduced legislation banning state judges from considering Sharia law. According to the Hobby Lobby decision, however, a Muslim-American owned corporation's expression of Sharia law should be treated just like the Christian principles protected from ACA mandates.

Finally, the other day I had the pleasure of appearing on the Jesse Lee Peterson Radio Show to debate immigration reform. Interestingly, Rev. Peterson's first two questions were, "Are you a Christian?" and "Do you believe in God?" I eventually explained that I was Jewish, but wasn't certain of God's existence or the relevance of such questions. My answers, however, didn't highlight that I was also in support of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York and wrote a Jerusalem Post article in 2010 defending Muslim Americans. I was there to debate immigration and nothing else, so I didn't explain that although I support Israel, I am still horrified by the loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza and I'm also in favor of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

So what does my radio appearance have to do with the Hobby Lobby decision? One's view of their own religion doesn't always conform to the views of others within that religion, nor should it influence the public arena in regards to the rights of other human beings. One American's faith (or lack of faith) should never interfere with another American's desire to receive birth control, or any other mandate under a health care law.

Until God comes down from heaven to advise the Supreme Court on which religious interpretations are truly expressed correctly, it's best to keep "religious expression" away from laws affecting the lives of all Americans; especially if you invest in birth control while denying it to your employees. Also, if you applaud Hobby Lobby, remember to jump for joy when other Americans of faiths different from yours have their religious expression protected at the expense of your health care. As stated by Justice Ginsberg's dissent, "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

Walgreens May Face Consumer, Political Backlash if it Elects to Become a 'Corporate Deserter'

Sun, 2014-07-27 21:23
Within the next several weeks Illinois-based Walgreens drug store chain is set to decide if it will become what President Obama referred to last week as a "corporate deserter" by - in essence - tearing up its U.S. Citizenship in order to cut its corporate taxes.

Walgreens recently bought a 45 percent stake in the Swiss drug chain, Alliance-Boots. It is now considering whether to complete a merger with the Swiss firm, so it can move its official corporate headquarters to lower-tax Switzerland, while maintaining most of its operations in the United States.

Forty-seven American corporations have used this this tax trick - known as an "inversion" -- over the last decade and the maneuver is increasingly favored by corporations that apparently have no loyalty to the United States - and instead have pledged allegiance entirely to their own bottom lines.

In Walgreens' case, projections are that the company could save over $4 billion over the next five years in taxes that would otherwise go to finance many of the functions of government that have allowed it to prosper. U.S. taxpaying citizens make up the vast majority of its customer base and a quarter of its revenue comes from taxpayer-financed Medicare, Medicaid and Affordable Care Act. The company benefits every day from the infrastructure, educated work force and stable business climate provided by the U.S. Government - not to mention the U.S. courts, the criminal justice system and the U.S. military that protects those freedoms.

The major reason that the firm could buy a huge stake in a foreign drug chain was its profitability -- $2.5 billion last year alone - most of which resulted from its U.S. operations.

Now, after benefiting from its status as an American corporation for decades, a status that has enabled it to begin expanding its operations around the world, the firm is basically saying to America and American taxpayers - "see you around, chumps."

Senator Dick Durbin parodied the Walgreens slogan last week by asking if the "intersection of happy and healthy" turns out to be in the Swiss Alps.

Another Illinois-based corporation - Abbvie - is in the process of executing the same maneuver. Durbin pointed out that Abbvie had become profitable using basic research funded by the taxpayer-funded National Institutes of Health, and afforded legal protection by the U.S. Patent system and what he called the "gold standard" of drug approval agencies provided by the taxpayer-financed Food and Drug Administration.

The "inversion" scheme generally involves profitable U.S. corporations buying smaller overseas firms in lower tax countries and then declaring that their headquarters for tax purposes is in the low tax country - even though most of its operations remain in the United States.

This trick is exactly the kind of move that is intended to drive down the fraction of overall taxes that are paid from big corporations and other owners of capital and raise the share paid by working people from income earned through their labor.

The "inversion' loophole is one of scores that dot the tax code - like rates on "capital gains" for investors that top out at 20 percent while the top rate on so-called "ordinary income" - income earned on your labor - top out almost twice that. There is, of course, zero reason why someone who makes money by working for a living should pay a higher tax rate than those who earn their money by owning something - but the one percent thinks differently.

Or there is the fact that hedge fund managers pay this capital gains rate on the fees they earn, from their management of the hedge funds - with the result that multi-billion dollar incomes of hedge fund managers often pay a lower effective tax rate for their work than their secretaries.

All of this is just wrong. It flies in the face of any common definition of fairness or justice. And it is about to cause a major political - and potentially consumer --backlash.

The "corporate deserter" issue is likely to become a major issue in the fall political campaign. And consumer-facing companies like Walgreens will face a fortune in bad publicity if they tear up their citizenship to lower their taxes.

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has already brought anti-outsourcing legislation to the Senate floor and the Senate Finance Committee has held hearings on the issue at which the Treasury Department warned of more "inversion" deals to come.

And to those who excuse the actions of these companies by saying that these companies are just making a "smart" use of the American tax code there are two answers:

• Change the tax code to eliminate this outrageous loophole;

• Punish the "corporate deserters" who have built their companies with the benefit of American support and know-how and now want to abandon America so they can avoid paying their fair share of our tax burden.

How do you punish "corporate deserters"? Government can do it by cutting off access to federal subsidies and contracts. Consumers can do it - especially with companies like Walgreens - by voting with their dollars and refusing to shop there.

Walgreens might be a good place to start, since the company is still contemplating whether the value of its status as an American corporation is worth the money it would forgo by paying its fair share of taxes in the United States.

Send Walgreens a message. Tweet your views -- #WalgreensCorporateDeserter.

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

Watch Every Induction Speech From The Baseball Hall Of Fame Class Of 2014 (VIDEOS)

Sun, 2014-07-27 17:29

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.


Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.


Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.


"I'm speechless. Thanks for having me in your club," Thomas said, getting emotional as he remembered his late father. "Frank Sr., I know you're watching. Without you, I know 100 percent I wouldn't be here in Cooperstown today. You always preached to me, 'You can be someone special if you really work at it.' I took that to heart, Pop."


"Mom, I thank you for all the motherly love and support. I know it wasn't easy."


The 46-year old Thomas, the first player elected to the Hall who spent more than half of his time as a designated hitter, batted .301 with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBIs in a 19-year career mostly with the Chicago White Sox. He's the only player in major league history to log seven straight seasons with a .300 average, 20 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 walks.



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Ever the diplomat as a manager, Torre somehow managed to assuage the most demanding of owners in George Steinbrenner, maintaining his coolness amid all the Bronx craziness while keeping all those egos in check after taking over in 1996. The result: 10 division titles, six AL pennants and four World Series triumphs in 12 years as he helped restore the luster to baseball's most successful franchise and resurrected his own career after three firings.


Torre, the only man to amass more than 2,000 hits (2,342) and win more than 2,000 games as a manager, was last to speak, and in closing delivered a familiar message.


"Baseball is a game of life. It's not perfect, but it feels like it is," said the 74-year-old Torre, who apologized afterward for forgetting to include the Steinbrenner family in his speech. "That's the magic of it. We are responsible for giving it the respect it deserves. Our sport is part of the American soul, and it's ours to borrow — just for a while."


"If all of us who love baseball and are doing our jobs, then those who get the game from us will be as proud to be a part of it as we were. And we are. This game is a gift, and I am humbled, very humbled, to accept its greatest honor."



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The day was a reunion of sorts for the city of Atlanta. Glavine, Maddux and Cox were part of a remarkable run of success by the Braves. They won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and made 15 playoff appearances, winning the city's lone major professional sports title.


"I'm truly humbled to stand here before you," Cox said. "To Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and I have to mention the third member of the big three — John Smoltz — I can honestly say I would not be standing here if it weren't for you guys."



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Smoltz, part of the MLB Network telecast of the event and eligible for induction next year, flashed a smile in return for the compliment.


Glavine was on the mound when the Braves won Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series, pitching one-hit ball over eight innings in a 1-0 victory over Cleveland. And the slender lefty was one of those rare athletes, drafted by the Braves and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League.


"I had a difficult choice to make, and as a left-handed pitcher I thought that was the thing that would set me apart and make baseball the smartest decision," Glavine said. "Of course, I always wondered what would have happened had I taken up hockey."


"In my mind, since I was drafted ahead of two Hall of Famers in Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull, that obviously means I would have been a Hall of Famer in hockey, too," Glavine chuckled as the crowd cheered. "But I'm positive I made the right choice."



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The 48-year-old Maddux went 355-227 with a career ERA of 3.16 in 23 seasons with the Braves, Cubs, Padres and Dodgers and ranks eighth on the career wins list. He won four straight Cy Young Awards in the 1990s and won 15 or more games for 17 straight seasons with his pinpoint control.


"I spent 12 years in Chicago, 11 in Atlanta, and both places are very special," Maddux said. "Without the experiences in both cities, I would not be standing here today."



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La Russa, who ranks third in career victories as a manager with 2,728, behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw, was chosen manager of the year four times and won 12 division titles, six pennants and three World Series titles in stints with the White Sox, Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals.


La Russa spoke from the heart. There was no written speech.


"It's uncomfortable because I didn't make it as a player. Not even close," said La Russa, who made his big league debut as a teenage infielder with the 1963 Kansas City Athletics and appeared in just 132 games over six seasons, hitting .199 with no home runs. "Since December, I have not been comfortable with it. There's no way to mention everybody, and that bothers me."



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"From managing parts of two years in the minor leagues, after thinking about all the other young managers who paid a lot of dues in the minor leagues and I get a chance and then I go into the big leagues with three organizations," he said. "All that equates to me is I'm very, very fortunate. I've never put my arms around the fact that being really lucky is a Hall of Fame credential."




___


Follow Kekis on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Greek1947

Fast Food Workers Vow Civil Disobedience

Sat, 2014-07-26 18:11
VILLA PARK, Ill. (AP) — Comparing their campaign to the civil rights movement, fast food workers from across the country voted Saturday to escalate their efforts for $15-an-hour pay and union membership by using nonviolent civil disobedience.

More than 1,300 workers gathered in a convention in center in suburban Chicago to discuss the future of a campaign that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years. Wearing T-shirts that said "Fight for $15" and "We Are Worth More," the workers cheered loudly and said they would win if they stuck together. "People are just fed up," said Cindy Enriquez, 20, of Phoenix.

The $8.25 an hour she makes working for McDonald's is not enough to go to college and become a police officer and barely enough to pay her rent, Enriquez said.

While the vote didn't list any specific worker job actions, Enriquez said perhaps more strikes or blocking stores could be considered.

"We're going to keep on going," she said.

The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial and organizational support to the fast-food protests. They began in late 2012 in New York City and have included daylong strikes and a loud but peaceful demonstration outside this year's McDonald's Corp. shareholder meeting, where more than 130 protesters were arrested after stepping onto company property.

Saturday's convention in Villa Park, Illinois, included sessions on civil disobedience and leadership training. Kendall Fells, an organizing director for the campaign and a representative of SEIU, said when and what actions happen next will be up to workers in each city.

The Rev. William Barber II, head of the North Carolina NAACP, said the movement is young but as important as when civil disobedience efforts began during the early years of the civil rights movement.

"People should not work and be willing to work and then be denied living wages and be denied health care because of greed," Barber said.

"This movement is saying that America is less than she promises to be, morally and constitutionally, by denying living wages," Barber said. "If you raise wages for workers, you buoy the whole economy."

The campaign comes as President Barack Obama and many other Democrats across the country have attempted to make a campaign issue out of their call to increase the federal and state minimum wages.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, translating to about $15,000 a year for someone working 40 hours a week, though many fast-food workers get far fewer hours. Obama and others have called for increasing it to $10.10.

Fast food workers say even that's not enough because most people working in the industry now are adults with children, rather than teenagers earning pocket money. The restaurant industry has argued that a $15 hourly wage could lead to business closings and job cuts, though the Seattle City Council recently voted to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased in over several years.

The National Restaurant Association said last week that increasing wages to $15 will not solve income inequality and that the campaign was an attempt by unions to boost dwindling membership. Scott DeFife, the association's executive vice president of policy and government affairs, said protesters were "demonizing" an industry that employs workers of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, when the focus should be on policies that increase education and job training.

But many people now are staying with fast-food restaurants for years, because they're often the only ones available, workers said.

Latoya Caldwell, a mother of four from Kansas City, Missouri, who earns $7.50 an hour at a Wendy's restaurant, said she works six days a week to get 40 hours and earn a $435 paycheck.

"I might pay the mortgage, but then not be able to pay the light bill or pay the gas bill. Then I have to wait until the next check and not able to buy shoes or not able to buy diapers," Caldwell said. "I just want to make sure we are able to live decent."

Barber said workers such as Caldwell, who's participated in three strikes, are putting a face on the campaign for better wages.

"This movement is intensifying and it is going to shake the moral consciousness of this country," he said.

Pitchfork Music Festival: Up Close (PHOTOS)

Sat, 2014-07-26 13:34
Pitchfork Music Festival takes place in Chicago every summer and is known for having an array of musical guests -- some larger and more established acts like Beck or Neutral Milk Hotel, some more newer hype bands such as punk outfit Perfect Pussy, or the long awaited reunion of the incredible English shoegaze band Slowdive. Here is a look at some of these performances close up.

All words and photographs by Lindsey Best.

Pitchfork Music Festival, Day 1:

Beck



Giorgio Moroder



Sun Kil Moon



SZA



Sharon Van Etten



Neneh Cherry



Factory Four



Hundred Waters



Pitchfork Music Festival, Day 2:

St. Vincent



Kelela



Tune Yards



The Range



Empress Of



Wild Beasts



Circulatory System



Twin Peaks



Pitchfork Music Festival, Day 3:

Grimes



Slowdive



Real Estate



Jon Hopkins



Dum Dum Girls



Deafheaven



Perfect Pussy



DIIV



FKA Twigs



Speedy Ortiz

Reddit Users Share 'Wow, We Were Poor' Memories, Highlight Reality For Struggling Families

Sat, 2014-07-26 11:57
One in six people is struggling with hunger in America right now.

Last year, the number of single-mother families living in poverty increased to 4.1 million, or 41.5 percent, according to a U.S. Census report. College grads are facing the highest unemployment rate this country has seen in 20 years.

While these grim rates help put the U.S.’s economic situation into context, they don’t do much in the way of painting realistic pictures of what it means to live day-in and day-out in with enough funds to barely get by.

To find out what poverty truly looks like for struggling families, reddit user Luizeef sparked a stunning conversation on the site on Thursday. Luizeef asked users to share “what memory from your childhood makes you think wow we were poor?'"

The responses show use more about low-income living than any stat could.



"My dad breaking down and crying after realizing he didn't have enough money to buy all the school supplies we needed."


"Realizing that we were living in my aunts backyard, in a tent, and not camping for three months. then getting kicked out and living in a car."


"I remember opening presents at 4 AM by candlelight one year because we had no power and my dad was going to work a half hour after that."



I remember going dumpster diving with my dad when I was a young child. He would hold me up so I could describe what I saw inside the dumpster. If there were soda cans or glass bottles, he would lower me into the dumpster and I would throw the cans and bottles out onto the ground, where he would collect them. Then he would get me out. I received one of those "grabber" tools as a Christmas present, and we used it to grab cans easier. I suspect the only reason I was given the grabber is so we could collect cans more efficiently. I thought it was great fun at the time, but now I realize we were poor. My dad died when I was 14 and these are some of my most treasured memories of him.



"Mayonnaise sandwiches"

"Ketchup sandwiches"



"I remember begging to go to McDonald's, where I would have a happy meal and my parents would have nothing and watch me eat. I didn't realize it at the time, but they couldn't afford to order a meal for themselves."


"My 2 brothers and I ate toast for breakfast, top ramen for lunch, and popcorn for dinner, for a entire summer while our amazing mother worked 3 jobs to keep a roof over our heads."



"My 12th birthday cake was just a big rice crispy square with little gummy candies that spelled my name out."

Living in a garage with a dirt floor, bathing in a kiddy pool with the holes duct taped up while my mom cooked on a oven rack supported by cement blocks.

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