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Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman Who Lost Legs In Iraq, Announces Pregnancy

Tue, 2014-09-02 17:27
Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), the first female Iraq combat veteran to win a Congressional seat, has publicly announced she is pregnant.

"I am so thrilled that I'm going to be a mother here in just four months," Duckworth, 46, said on a Monday segment of the "Today" show.

Through a form of in-vitro fertilization, Duckworth said she and husband Army Maj. Bryan Bowlsbey are expecting a daughter in December.

The suburban Chicago native lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm in 2004 when the Blackhawk helicopter she was co-piloting was shot down during a combat mission in Iraq.

Joining Duckworth during the Monday announcement were Dawn Halfaker, Melissa Stockwell and Danielle Green-Byrd, all Chicago-area veterans of the 2003 - 11 Iraq War. Halfaker, who lost an arm in Iraq in 2004, was the first to welcome a child four months ago. Green-Byrd, a former Notre Dame basketball star who lost an arm while deployed in Iraq that same year, welcomed a son in late August. Stockwell, who lost most of her right leg in Iraq, is now expecting a son just one month before Duckworth.

The Congresswoman recalled waking up at The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. , after her accident and subsequent surgeries and hearing her husband tell her that Stockwell, Halfaker and Green-Byrd -- who had already undergone amputations -- had visited to reassure her she would be alright.

"We do share a special bond," Halfaker told "Today." "And then being able to share sort of the war stories of motherhood or of pregnancy. That's kind of the new chapter, I think, for us."

"These women were there for me as the band of sisters when I went through the greatest pain, the greatest trauma in my life," Duckworth said on the show. "And now we get to be together for the time of greatest joy."

Duckworth also said in a partial statement that she looks forward to "continuing my work in Congress to make sure that all my constituents have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” per the Chicago Sun-Times.

Outdoor Public Art to See Now (PHOTOS)

Tue, 2014-09-02 16:29
Once upon a time, public art meant bronze or marble war memorials, and landscaped public plazas were their settings. The works, often tied to important events, were expected to remain in place forever.

Nowadays, new materials and methods are allowing for bigger and brighter (and some might say gaudier) art. Budgets have increased as the art world has become a global business, allowing for sculptures that take armies to create and for high-tech systems that intensify and multiply effects.

Also multiplying are the possible locations--places like highway underpasses, billboards, country roads and grassy nooks in public parks. And yet, many new artworks aren’t designed to stay put: Some are world travelers, having already been exhibited in places like Hong Kong and Basel, Switzerland.

Explore 10 of the coolest outdoor public artworks on view now, from New York to Chicago to Seattle. —Fred Bernstein

More from Departures:
On the Wall: Murals at New York Restaurants and Bars
Hotels with Live Music
10 Foreign TV Shows to Watch Now
10 Beach Reads by International Authors
U.S. National Parks without the Crowds

President Obama, Let's Make History! Create Our 402nd National Park and Chicago's First at Pullman

Tue, 2014-09-02 16:01
Labor Day isn't just a day for barbecues and being with family and friends. The holiday has ties to the South Side of Chicago in the Pullman neighborhood -- a place with deep roots in the labor and civil rights movement and one that may soon become our 402nd national park site.

Traveling back in time, the story begins with George M. Pullman, an American industrialist who founded the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1867 to manufacture luxury passenger railcars. In 1880, he developed the town of Pullman in what is now the city of Chicago to provide a community where his employees could work and live. But during the economic panic of 1893, Pullman reduced wages without reducing rents. The famous Pullman Strike of 1894 followed, disrupting freight and passenger rail service nationwide. The strike turned deadly when thousands of U.S. marshals and U.S. Army troops clashed with striking rail-car workers, outraged by the loss of jobs and a cut in wages. Later that year, when the strike was settled, Congress unanimously passed legislation creating a national Labor Day holiday.

In the 1920s, led by well-known civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph, the Pullman porters organized to create the first African-American union with collective bargaining rights. Pullman porters were instrumental in advancing the black middle class, bring news of jobs and better conditions to the southern states. Pullman's industrial past and labor history is not known far and wide and it should be.

Fast forward in time. Earlier this year, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Representative Robin Kelly (IL-2) introduced legislation to create Chicago's first national park at Pullman (#NPforPullman). These pieces of legislation provide a historic step toward bringing new stories to the National Park System, and many benefits to the City of Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn have pledged their support, and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been joined by more than 150 organizations and businesses along with more than 3,500 enthusiastic people supporting this new national park. While many voices have joined the chorus, the legislation has not moved. But, there is another option.

The National Park Service recently heard loud and clear from nearly 600 people at a public meeting in Chicago: "We want Pullman to be in the National Park System." And according to the park service, the enthusiasm for a Pullman national park was unparalleled -- a powerful statement for an agency that has hosted many public meetings over its near century of existence. At the end of the meeting and in an interview with the Associated Press, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis indicated that his next step would be to recommend an Antiquities Act designation at Pullman, making the site our 402nd national park.

For more than 100 years, an equal number of Republican and Democratic presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect some of our country's most amazing landscapes and cultural icons: from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, the towering redwood forest at Muir Woods to the first national park honoring a contemporary Latino at Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. Antiquities Act designations are only permitted on land already owned by the federal government and provide incredible returns, both in priceless memories and more tangible financial benefits. Creating Chicago's first national park would attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, support hundreds of jobs, and generate tens of millions of dollars in local economic activity from visitor spending. A recent economic report by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives found that by its 10th year of full operation, a national park at Pullman is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors each year, create 350 jobs annually, $15 million in annual wages, and sustain $40 million in economic activity, mostly due to visitor spending.

On behalf of our more than 850,000 members and supporters, the National Parks Conservation Association strongly urges the President to use the Antiquities Act to create Chicago's first national park -- a designation NPCA has advocated for the last two years. As we look to the 2016 centennial celebration of our National Park System, diversifying our national parks to more adequately reflect our shared history and cultural heritage, and connecting urban populations to our national parks are important goals that the National Parks Conservation Association shares with the administration and the National Park Service

The designation of sites like Pullman help ensure that America's best idea -- the National Park System -- keeps getting better at fully telling our shared stories, now and for generations to come.

Man Allegedly Threw A Baby From A Moving Car, Then Ran Her Over

Tue, 2014-09-02 14:18
A 46-year-old Chicago man is facing two misdemeanor charges after he allegedly beat his girlfriend and her young son, then threw the woman's 8-month-old daughter out the window and ran her over.

Joseph Fults has been charged with misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor domestic battery in the incident, which took place about 2:45 a.m. Monday morning on Chicago's South Side, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Police say Fults and his 23-year-old girlfriend were arguing inside the vehicle when he began to beat the woman and her 7-year-old son. He then threw her baby from the car and ran over the infant as he sped off, NBC Chicago reports.

Both children sustained bruises and were taken to an area hospital, where they were last listed in stable condition. Neither child belongs to Fults, the Sun-Times reports.

Fults remains in jail, with bond set at $100,000.

Christian Marclay's 'The Clock'

Tue, 2014-09-02 12:48
Dear Chicago museums and galleries:

Would one of you please show "The Clock"?

It's hard to believe this work of art from 2010 -- celebrated by critics, unbelievably ambitious and staggeringly impressive -- has traveled to at least a dozen cities but has yet to appear in Chicago.

Last week, I followed the advice of the Chicago Tribune's Christopher Borrelli and took a trip to Minneapolis, where the Walker Art Center was showing "The Clock." Christian Marclay's 24-hour-long video collage pulls together thousands of clips from movies throughout history, most of them showing a clock or watch displaying the same time at that very moment of the day in the world outside the video screen. In other words, if you're watching "The Clock" at 11:15 a.m., you'll see a scene from a movie in which it's 11:15 a.m.

That's the gimmick, but "The Clock" is far from gimmicky. If you saw just a few minutes of it, you might think, "Well, that's clever." But then, if you keep on watching, the experience becomes strangely compelling. Somehow, even though "The Clock" lacks anything resembling a traditional narrative, it keeps you glued to the screen.

After a while, it becomes deeply moving and resonant, feeling like a portrait of humanity, of people from scattered places and eras, all progressing through the rhythms of one day. And it also functions like a history of filmmaking and acting styles, a commentary on how editing plays with our perceptions -- and a masterful job of editing, too.

In 2012, the New Yorker published an excellent article about Marclay and "The Clock" by Daniel Zalewski, which explains the painstaking process Marclay used to create this stunning piece.

In some cities where "The Clock" has been shown, people waited in lines to get into the screening room. There were no lines at the Walker during my three visits, though the room frequently got crowded, with people standing in the back or sitting on the floor. Shortly after arriving in Minneapolis on a Thursday, I went to the museum and watched "The Clock" from 6:22 p.m. until shortly before the museum closed for the night at 9 p.m. The following day, I returned and watched from 11:35 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. and 2:25 to 5 p.m. -- when the museum closed for the night. Saturday was one of the days when the Walker kept the gallery open around the clock, so I returned around 8:30 p.m. (watching the next half-hour or so for the second time) and stayed until 1:30 a.m.

So, all together, I ended up watching slightly more than half of "The Clock." And now I regret not staying for longer, as the film continued to reel into the early-morning hours. And I wonder: When will I get a chance to see it again?

In his Tribune story, Borrelli reported that a curator at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, which represents Marclay, "told me there have been no serious negotiations with any local museum or gallery to bring it to Chicago." Really? If it doesn't come to Chicago, I hope it gets a showing in another city I can visit. How about a permanent installation somewhere?

"The Clock" is, as other critics have proclaimed, one of the most incredible works of remixed art -- art that takes elements from old sources and mashes them together into something new. (A strict adherence to copyright law would make an artwork like "The Clock" impossible, though I'd argue that Marclay's technique qualifies as fair use.)

It doesn't seem quite correct to label "The Clock" as a film; it certainly isn't a traditional example of a movie. But the act of watching "The Clock" inside the dark gallery is essentially a moviegoing experience. However it is categorized -- as video art, an installation or as a film -- "The Clock" is one of the definitive artworks and most amazing viewing experiences of our time. Do not miss it if you get the chance.


Demonstration, Legislation: Hand-in-Hand Towards Progress

Tue, 2014-09-02 12:39
As I stood and gave the eulogy for young Michael Brown last week, I kept thinking about the fact that this child should have been in college instead of laying in a coffin. I looked towards his parents and saw the pain in their eyes from such a heavy loss; a life so tragically cut short and with so many questions surrounding the incident still left unanswered. This emotional funeral took place just two days after our rally in Staten Island for NYPD chokehold victim Eric Garner. Thousands marched and chanted through the streets with us as we demanded justice for the father of six whose death was ruled a homicide by the city's own medical examiner. From Ferguson to NYC, to California and in between, demonstrations continue calling for police reform and accountability. We must get federal intervention immediately. We must challenge Congress to deal with police brutality and misconduct. We must see federally implemented standards in precincts and jurisdictions across the country. During the civil rights struggle, it was the federal government that intervened when states failed to deliver equality and fairness. We require the same now. It was persistent, peaceful demonstrations that brought about that change. We will continue marching today until we see results.

In 1999, I was in St. Louis with Martin Luther King III as we led protests against the state's failure to hire minority contractors for highway construction projects. We went at dawn on a summer day with over a thousand people and performed acts of civil disobedience. At morning rush hour, we shut down Interstate 70, a major artery in the St. Louis area. I was even arrested along with others for our nonviolent march. But as a result of our push, not only were Blacks hired, they were also trained for these construction jobs and projects. Fifteen years after that moment, people came up to me in Ferguson this summer and said they still had construction work. So don't tell me that demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience do nothing when history continuously shows us the opposite.

It has been years, literally decades, since I have been fighting against police brutality and misconduct. I cannot continue to look into a mother's eyes as she buries her child because an overzealous officer made a mistake or fired over and over again on an unarmed person. We need federal guidelines immediately, and we need Congress to take action without delay. We need a bill that includes requirements for cameras on police officers, rules on aggressive policing, treatment of low-level crimes and more. We need the Justice Department to take over excessive force cases so that they are out of the hands of local prosecutors and so that the appearance of conflict doesn't shake the community's trust in the system. If candidates running for the 2014 midterms want our votes, they must be ready to take concrete steps to address our concerns. Until we see change, we will continue to march.

All across this country, we are seeing Blacks, Latinos and the poor suffering under repeated incidents of harsh policing tactics. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, not all police officers are bad; in fact, most are doing their tough work in the interest of keeping us all safe. But when cops violate their own procedures or break the law themselves, they must be held accountable. When the culture of police departments is sometimes infused with bias or preconceived ideas against certain groups, there needs to be reform and retraining throughout. And unfortunately, we cannot rely on local departments to police themselves; we need intervention from the top. This is a national problem and it requires a national solution.

Whether it's Ferguson, Staten Island, New Orleans, Oakland, or anywhere in the United States, we know that change will only occur when national standards are implemented and enforced. Our job is to continue raising our voices, continue hitting the pavement, continue registering people to vote, continue to elect people who represent our interests and continue demanding change until justice prevails. Even in the direct area where we find ourselves in following Michael Brown's tragic death, I know that if you sustain your indignation, you must resolve things with concrete solutions. This is why we continue to march. This is why we cannot stay silent. This is why our work remains.

Demonstrations, legislation will go hand-in-hand towards progress. March onward we will and march forward we will. Don't let anyone ever tell you to sit down; we stand up so that no one falls behind.

For The Most Memorable Wedding Photo Ever, Just Add Snoop Dogg

Tue, 2014-09-02 12:15
Something old, something new, something borrowed something... Snoop?

Snoop Dogg turned out to be the unexpected guest star of what's sure to be newlyweds Joseph Scheller and Neesha Ghadiali's most memorable wedding photo.

As the lanky, laconic rapper was in Chicago Sunday to headline the North Coast Music Festival, he passed through the Hard Rock Hotel, where Scheller and Ghadiali's Hindu wedding reception was underway, according to ABC Chicago.

The groom's mother, Mary Rose Frank, told wedding photographer Chris Seibel "she was Snoop's biggest fan" and spurred him to find a way to get the newlyweds and superstar together for a photo.

Seibel approached what he later described to NBC Chicago as the "biggest security guards I've ever seen in my life" to snag the shot.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));
Post by Allusion Photography.

Seibel's employer, Allusion Photography, explained in a Facebook update that the photographer was able to sweet-talk a member of Snoop Dogg's entourage who was open to making the connection. Some time after, the rapper went looking for the photographer and the couple.

Snoop Dogg was apparently so into the moment, he asked Seibel to capture a snapshot for a keepsake of his own.

"He took his phone out of his pocket and was like, 'Hey dog, can you take a couple of photos for me?'" Seibel told NBC Chicago. The rapper later shared the snapshot on his Twitter and Instagram accounts with the caption, "Jus got married."

"They had a great conversation and a ton of laughs inside the bar," Allusion Photography president Sherry Hagerman told ABC Chicago. "Snoop was a blast to be around."

Study Links Polar Vortex Chills To Melting Sea Ice

Tue, 2014-09-02 11:55

WASHINGTON (AP) — Remember the polar vortex, the huge mass of Arctic air that can plunge much of the U.S. into the deep freeze? You might have to get used to it.

A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of that cold air. Researchers say that's because of shrinking ice in the seas off Russia.

Normally, the polar vortex is penned in the Arctic. But at times it escapes and wanders south, bringing with it a bit of Arctic super chill.

That can happen for several reasons, and the new study suggests that one of them occurs when ice in northern seas shrinks, leaving more water uncovered.

Normally, sea ice keeps heat energy from escaping the ocean and entering the atmosphere. When there's less ice, more energy gets into the atmosphere and weakens the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that usually keeps Arctic air from wandering south, said study co-author Jin-Ho Yoon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. So the cold air escapes instead.

That happened relatively infrequently in the 1990s, but since 2000 it has happened nearly every year, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. A team of scientists from South Korea and United States found that many such cold outbreaks happened a few months after unusually low sea ice levels in the Barents and Kara seas, off Russia.

The study observed historical data and then conducted computer simulations. Both approaches showed the same strong link between shrinking sea ice and cold outbreaks, according to lead author Baek-Min Kim, a research scientist at the Korea Polar Research Institute. A large portion of sea ice melting is driven by man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, Kim wrote in an email.

Sea ice in the Arctic usually hits its low mark in September and that's the crucial time point in terms of this study, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. Levels reached a record low in 2012 and are slightly up this year, but only temporarily, with minimum ice extent still about 40 percent below 1970s levels, he said.

Yoon said that although his study focused on shrinking sea ice, something else was evidently responsible for last year's chilly visit from the polar vortex.

In the past several years, many studies have looked at the accelerated warming in the Arctic and whether it is connected to extreme weather farther south, from heatwaves to Superstorm Sandy. This Arctic-extremes connection is "cutting edge" science that is hotly debated by mainstream climate scientists, Serreze said. Scientists are meeting this week in Seattle to look at the issue even more closely.

Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, is skeptical about such connections and said he doesn't agree with Yoon's study. His research points more to the Pacific than the Arctic for changes in the jet stream and polar vortex behavior, and he said Yoon's study puts too much stock in an unusual 2012.

But the study was praised by several other scientists who said it does more than show that sea ice melt affects worldwide weather, but demonstrates how it happens, with a specific mechanism.

Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech climate scientist in Lubbock, said the study "provides important insight into the cascading nature of the effects human activities are having on the planet."



Nature Communications:

National Snow and Ice Data Center:


Seth Borenstein can be followed at

The NFL Storylines Of 2014 That You Need To Know

Tue, 2014-09-02 11:37
The 2014 NFL season is upon us, which is about the greatest news we can ask for after the dog days of summer. That means the annual speculation about the season has begun. Let's take a look at the best storylines heading into kickoff.

RG3 To DeSean Jackson

On paper, Washington's combination should morph into one of the deadliest duos in the league. Both guys are lightning fast with the ability to instantly change a game. The question marks are equally robust. Will Robert Griffin III's knee hold up and will he be the same type of explosive runner he was in 2012 when he broke the all-time rookie mark for rushing yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry? Plus, Jackson has been known to challenge coaching staffs -- even the laid-back Andy Reid struggled to contain his personality. Newly minted Washington coach Jay Gruden is known as an offensive guru, though, and this duo -- along with running back Alfred Morris, receiver Pierre Garcon and emerging tight end Jordan Reed -- could give Washington its first playoff win in nine years. Maybe RG3 summed up his new situation best at a recent news conference: "It's really just a good thing to have two coaches that believe in you."

The Chip Kelly Experiment: Year Two

Chip Kelly took Philly to the playoffs in his first season and helped spark the emergence of a star in quarterback Nick Foles, who put up fantastic numbers, including a seven-touchdown game against Oakland. DeSean Jackson has gone to Washington, so Kelly will have to develop new, creative ways to generate big plays. "We were just OK," Kelly told the Delaware County Daily Times. If "OK" means 10 wins and ranking second in total offense, we can't wait to see what Kelly will do for an encore, even without Jackson.

Impact Rookies

Johnny Manziel will supplant Brian Hoyer at some point, but with All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon suspended for the season, expectations should probably be lowered. Part of what makes Manziel so special is his swashbuckling, all-out style. But that style tends to extend off the field as well. Will he stay the course or go awry? New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan may have been the impetus to RG3's rushing success with Washington and will ultimately give Manziel the freedom to be the great improvisational playmaker we have all seen. Hoyer was 3-0 as a starter, and the Browns have cycled through 20 starters since 1999, the most in the league.

How about first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney? The Texans passed on more proven commodities to team him up with J.J. Watt with the hope of creating the most disruptive defensive line in the game. Clowney's questionable work ethic and propensity to take plays off will not fly at this level. Houston, who compiled an NFL-worst 2-14 record one year ago, can only improve.

Dynamic receiver Sammy Watkins gives Buffalo its best pass-catching threat since Andre Reed and Eric Moulds -- a decade ago. Watkins lit up college football last season for almost 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns, but second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel still has a lot of growing up to do. Watkins is going to become a star, but he isn't the only young wideout to watch.

New Orleans traded up to nab Biletnikoff Award-winner Brandin Cooks with the 20th pick -- Cooks is a mere 5-foot-10 but ran a lightning-fast 4:33 40-yard dash and is my pick for Rookie of the Year. With Drew Brees, Cooks could conceivably catch 70-plus balls. And what about Jacksonville's Marqise Lee? The former University of Southern California star slid into the second round after a less-than-stellar junior year and a knee injury, but he has a sensational ability to make big plays.

Young Quarterbacks

Speaking of the Jags, rookie Blake Bortles -- the first QB off the board in the draft -- has both the arm and athleticism to become a star, but Jacksonville is keenly aware of the dangers that rushing a young signal caller can produce. Um, Blaine Gabbert, anyone? In their second year with the franchise, general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley will surely not make the same mistakes. With receiver Justin Blackmon dealing with an indefinite suspension and receiver Ace Sanders dealing with "personal issues," there is a serious lack of talent on the perimeter.

Michael Vick is a New York Jet now, so the pressure is firmly on second-year man Geno Smith to prove he should keep his starting job. Smith was either pretty good or downright awful (12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions) as a rookie, but looked unfit to be a consistent starter for Rex Ryan, who has now missed the postseason three consecutive times.

Derek Carr, the second-round pick out of Fresno State, didn't receive a ton of preseason hype but has nonetheless been very impressive in earning the starting nod over Matt Schaub for Oakland. NFL Network analyst and former head coach Steve Mariucci told me that he loves Carr's maturity and arm talent. The Raiders don't have a ton of offensive talent, but Carr's quick-triggered ability should make them entertaining at the very least.

Mike Glennon appeared to be the man in Tampa Bay, until the Bucs signed veteran free agent Josh McCown. New head coach Lovie Smith knows him well from their Chicago days, but don't forget Glennon started 13 games and tossed an impressive 19 touchdowns. McCown is a career backup, but has three major weapons in Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin and rookie Mike Evans.

Minnesota's latest quarterback experiment comes at the hands of rookie Teddy Bridgewater, who fell to 32nd pick in the draft despite rattling off gaudy numbers at Louisville. The 21-year-old ran a pro-style system in college and has a rising star in receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at his disposal. The Vikings have shuffled through a litany of quarterback failures such as Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman, to name a few, but new offensive coordinator Norv Turner is the ideal fit for Bridgewater.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill -- an athletic former wide receiver -- heads into his pivotal third year, coming off a solid 24-touchdown season where he amassed almost 4,000 yards. He will have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor, who is best known for having worked with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Better yet, the Dolphins possess a revamped offensive line. The "leap year" for Tannehill may be right now.

The New Eli Or The Old Eli?

Eli Manning has two rings and yet, after a disastrous 27-interception season (the most in the league), we were left wondering just how much is left in his 33-year-old tank. This season, Manning has a new OC, a reworked offensive line, a healthy ankle, rookie tailback Andre Williams and another playmaker at receiver -- rookie speedster Odell Beckham Jr. (if he ever plays). The pressure is on him and coach Tom Coughlin to return to the playoffs, because another seven-win season might cost Coughlin his job.

Same Ol' Cowboys

We can talk about 34-year-old Tony Romo (and his second back surgery) all we want, but love him or hate him, what cannot be ignored is the abysmal Dallas defense that last year ranked dead last in yards allowed (415.3). Just recently, it lost star linebacker Sean Lee to a torn ACL. Also gone -- albeit to free agency -- is Pro Bowl stalwart DeMarcus Ware, who signed with Tampa Bay. New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli should be a noticeable improvement from Monte Kiffin, but he simply doesn't have the horses in what's become a loaded offensive NFC East. Romo may very well have another big year, but expecting him to win a second playoff game seems unrealistic.

The Dominance Of The NFC West

Seattle and San Francisco are the obvious juggernauts of the division, but both Arizona and St. Louis have quietly amassed well-rounded, highly talented rosters. The Rams, with consecutive years of two first-round selections, may have the best front seven in the league. The big question was whether former top pick Sam Bradford could deliver the goods under center. Now that he's out for the season, veteran Shaun Hill becomes the guy.

The Cardinals possess rising stars on both sides of the ball: Second-year receiver Michael Floyd is the Robin to Larry Fitzgerald's Batman, while young corners Patrick Peterson (24 years old) and Tyrann Mathieu (22) can shut down the perimeter. Don't forget that this team missed the playoffs last year despite totaling 10 wins.

Seahawks Repeat?

Since I picked Super Bowl champion Seattle over Denver this time a year ago, I feel extra special. (Note: This is not a common theme.) The Seahawks re-signed All-Pros Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, along with defensive end Michael Bennett, but let slot receiver Golden Tate walk. Bottom line? The league's most dominant defense remains intact and will lean more on rising cornerback Byron Maxwell, who fully assumed the role alongside Sherman last season when Brandon Browner was cut. Pro Bowler Russell Wilson is coming off a 26-touchdown, nine-interception campaign and has fellow Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch at his disposal. Perhaps the three key questions for the Seahawks are how they handle a brutally challenging schedule, how they work with a somewhat-patchwork offensive line and whether this team will be the highly motivated unit of a year ago. Then again, head coach Pete Carroll has proved that he knows how to handle success, and if they become the league's first repeat champ since New England a decade ago, it would not be a surprise.

Denver's Unfinished Quest

Nobody has forgotten about the Broncos' embarrassing Super Bowl performance (a 35-point loss) and their rapidly closing window. Peyton Manning is one year older and lost one of his favorite targets in receiver Eric Decker. However, he has the highly explosive Emmanuel Sanders. To put it simply, the Bronocs must be a lot better defensively: The DeMarcus Ware signing will help, as will gifted corner Aqib Talib, free agent acquisition in safety T.J. Ward and a healthy Von Miller. But this will still not be an elite defense, and that is concerning.

Breakout Team

Nothing is guaranteed in this league: The Texans and Washington both won their divisions in 2012. Last year, they combined to go 5-27. And, though last season's big surprise was Kansas City, perhaps this season's will be Tampa Bay. With the aforementioned Lovie Smith at the helm, the Bucs made a colossal upgrade at several crucial positions in free agency, including the signing of defensive end Michael Johnson, offensive tackle Anthony Collins and cornerback Alterraun Verner. It all comes back to McCown, though -- a veteran coming off a career season in Chicago, totaling a 66.5 completion percentage with three consecutive 300-yard passing games. Tampa was a four-win team a year ago and even with the rugged NFC South, this may just be a playoff team in 2014.

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure and catch my NBC Sports Radio show, "Kup and Schultz," which airs 9-12 ET on Sunday mornings, right here.

Fast Food Strikes Coming To 150 Cities, Organizers Say

Tue, 2014-09-02 09:17
If Irvin Ortega doesn't show up for his scheduled shift at an Oakland McDonald's this week, it will mark the third time in the past year and a half that the 25-year-old has taken part in the nationwide fast food strikes.

"My manager was telling me, 'It's your right to go on strike. But if you can tell me when you will, I can cover your hours,'" said Ortega, an Oakland native. "I said, 'That defeats the purpose. The purpose is so you realize you need me and I'm a valuable worker.'"

Over the past two years, low-wage strikers like Ortega have helped fuel the national discussion on income inequality and have pressured lawmakers to consider raising the minimum wage. With the backing of the Service Employees International Union and a coalition of community groups, the workers are demanding a wage floor of $15 and a union.

Now, organizers with what's known as Fight for $15 say they're planning an escalation in the protests scheduled for Thursday. Though they couldn't offer estimates on how many workers are expected to take part, organizers said the strikes would take place in roughly 150 cities and include workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC, among others.

Terrence Wise, a Burger King worker and a member of the coalition's organizing committee, said in a statement that workers are ready to get arrested in acts of civil disobedience.

"Thirteen hundred workers unanimously adopted a resolution at our convention in July to do whatever it takes to win $15 an hour and union rights, including participating in non-violent, peaceful protests in the tradition of the civil rights movement," Wise said. "On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing Fight for $15."

The Fight for $15 campaign got a boost on Monday during President Barack Obama's Labor Day speech. Speaking to a crowd of union members and supporters in Milwaukee, Obama argued that the risks taken by fast-food workers underscore the need to raise the minimum wage.

"All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said. "There is no denying a simple truth. America deserves a raise."

The president is backing a Democratic proposal to hike the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and tie it to an inflation index, though congressional Republicans have blocked the proposal from moving forward.

In a nod to one of the fast-food workers' explicit demands, Obama also made a rare call for more collective bargaining in the U.S. economy, arguing that union membership would raise standards for lower-wage service workers.

"You know what? If I were looking for a job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union," Obama said. "If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union."

With a few exceptions, the fast food industry is a union-free world. Coordinated by SEIU and its allies, the Fight for $15 campaign signifies organized labor's most concerted and sustained effort to draw fast-food workers into its ranks.

The strikes and protests have been credited with helping to push through minimum wage raises on the local and state level over the past year. They've also brought a stream of negative publicity to fast food companies like McDonald's, which acknowledged in its annual report earlier this year that the "increasing public focus" on income inequality could pressure it to raise wages.

Although the campaign hasn't yet led to union membership for Ortega, the three-year McDonald's veteran said taking part in the strikes has changed the way he sees his job. He has a 3-year-old daughter, and said he now earns $9 per hour, the California minimum wage. Unhappy with his pay, Ortega said the protests have given him and his colleagues an outlet to voice their dissatisfaction, as well as the hope that working standards in the industry will rise.

"I felt like my manager gave me more respect," Ortega said of the strikes. "And that's something I want to give to my other coworkers. I know people who've been working [in fast food] for 15 years. You can show them you're not happy."

School Starts In Chicago With More Safety Guards

Tue, 2014-09-02 08:52
CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago children returned to school Tuesday walking past even more guards than last year, when concerns about safety prompted the city to line the streets with 1,200 adults every day.

Thanks to an infusion of $1 million from the city, another 100 "Safe Passage" workers were lining routes that students walk through crime-ridden neighborhoods to get to school. And after Gov. Pat Quinn pledged $10 million, officials said another 600 of the workers would be hired and on the streets over the next several weeks.

When they're all in place, said Jadine Chou, the chief safety and security officer for the Chicago Public Schools, more workers will be assigned along existing routes and some routes will be extended farther from schools. The district has added 27 schools to the 93 for which there will be Safe Passage workers.

"It was good last year, but I don't think it stopped the violence none," said mother Tiffany Davis, who was walking her 7-year-old son to Dulles School of Excellence on the city's South Side. "Maybe it calmed things down a little."

There is far less publicity about the first day of school than a year ago, when the closure of some 50 schools by Mayor Rahm Emanuel had parents and others worried that forcing children to walk through unfamiliar and dangerous neighborhoods to new schools would put them at greater risk of crossing gang boundaries and being caught in gang conflicts.

But the worst fears of violence against children walking to school never came to pass.

"It didn't happen, to the glory of God, and I think there were very few if anything happened to children on their way to and from school," said Bishop Larry Trotter of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church on the city's South Side, one of several pastors who had urged Emanuel to reconsider the closings. "The mayor and his team did a wonderful job."

Chou said not one student was seriously injured along a Safe Passage route during the hours that the guards were on duty last school year.

Since school ended in the spring, the city has witnessed spasms of violence such as one over the July 4 weekend that left 14 dead and dozens injured. In one tragic incident, an 11-year-old girl inside a house at a slumber party was killed when a bullet fired outside at someone else pierced a wall and struck her in the head.

Some worry that the city is not doing enough to keep students from harm, particularly high school students who are going to and from school for extracurricular activities before or after the Safe Passage workers are on duty.

Last December, a 15-year-old girl who left her home before dawn to get to a school on the city's North Side was beaten and raped less than a half block from a Safe Passage route.

"She had to get to school earlier than the Safe Passage (workers) were on duty," said state Rep. LaShawn Ford, who noted that Safe Passage workers were not on the street at 6 a.m. Ford has pushed for the hours of the guards to be expanded this year. Guards start less than an hour before classes begin and stay up to an hour after school ends, according to Chicago Public Schools.

There's also a political risk for Emanuel, who's up for re-election next year. His most-talked-about potential rival, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, has criticized Emanuel for closing neighborhood schools and dubbed him the "murder mayor" because of the city's violence.

Any violence that occurs on a student's walk to and from school could become fodder for Lewis - or any other opponent - to use against Emanuel, whose popularity has fallen over the last year.

Your Friends Affect Your Health A Lot More Than You Think

Tue, 2014-09-02 07:26
A new study asserts that interpersonal dynamics deserve our attention, not only because friendships make us feel good, but because they actually play a large role in our health, well-being and even survival.

In addition to being under-appreciated, friendships may be misunderstood, according to the new paper, a summary of all the literature to date on the effect of relationships on health, published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Review.

Typically, we think of "good" and "bad" friends -- meaning, toxic people, one-uppers, frenemies, leeches and unsupportive friends -- as separate types of people. But what if those so-called bad friends -- people who don’t come through for you in your time of need -- are simply good friends who got overextended, or are hurting too?

Having a better sense of why friendships matter and how we can understand the underlying factors that influence friend interactions could help enable us to thrive, physically and mentally.

“We have so little knowledge about why relationships are so important,” said Brooke Feeney, lead author and a social psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon in an interview with The Huffington Post. "We emphasize [in the paper] the role of relationships in supporting individuals -- not only its ability to help people cope with stress and adversity, but also to learn and grow and explore and achieve goals and cultivate new talents.”

While that may seem intuitive, research on relationships is dwarfed compared to the outsized impact good relationships can have on our lives. For example, Feeney pointed out, a 2010 meta-analysis of 148 mortality studies published in PLoS Medicine journal found that the mortality risk associated with a lack of a strong social network was comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes every day, or more than 6 alcoholic drinks a day.

Yet, while cigarettes and alcohol are recognized as major risk factors for death, and awareness campaigns about obesity and physical activity are given special consideration, the importance of good friendships enjoys almost none of this attention in the public health arena.

Feeney thinks that public health campaigns about friendship and the importance of social networks could have a major impact on the health of the nation. "Our hope is that work like this could provide a foundation for the development of relationship-based interventions aimed at promoting public health,” she said.

Dr. Juliette Holt-Lunstad, who was the lead author on the 2010 PLoS Medicine study and was not involved in Feeney’s research, praised the new study for highlighting the positive things relationships produce, as opposed to simply describing the bad things that happen when someone doesn’t have enough social support, which is the focus of most research on this topic.

Holt-Lunstad also agreed with Feeney on the need for public health campaigns about relationships, but cautioned that much more research needs to be done first.

“Not only do social relationships influence behavioral pathways, like getting more sleep or going to the doctor, but there’s also direct physiological pathways that have been studied,” Holt-Lunstad told HuffPost. “We do have quite a bit of evidence — we just don’t have as much evidence, nor do we have a good understanding on how to intervene. That I think it our biggest challenge.”

People generally turn to primary relationships -- a significant other, best friend, sibling or parent -- for these two critical kinds of support: Source of strength support (SOS), in which friends provide comfort, protection and soothing; and Relational Catalyst (RC), which challenges, encourages and celebrates. Read on for Feeney's Tips On Being A Good Friend:

  • Acknowledge your friend's perspective. If you’re sensitive to your friend’s point of view, they’ll feel understood, validated and cared for, writes Feeney.

  • Make sure you have the mental and emotional (and perhaps material) resources to actually provide support. Without these resources, even the best of friends may struggle to remain patient, non-intrusive and uncritical.

  • Accept the responsibility to support your friend in the first place. Do you even want to be a source of support, e.g. a friend, to this person? Without accepting responsibility for the role, you’ll lack the motivation to care for someone sensitively and effectively.

  • People who need support should reach out for help instead of withdrawing and express their needs clearly. The person receiving support also has an active role to play. If you need help, it’s better to be direct about the kind of support you need instead of making people guess.

  • Express gratitude for the support, and return the favor when needed. There are major benefits to giving support and then seeing the help was successful and appreciated. When a friend helps you, let them know you’re grateful. And when it’s your turn to care for them, you’ll reap similar emotional rewards — like a sense of meaning in life.

  • Take care not to over-tax your support network. If a friend isn't supportive enough, it may be that you were relying on her too much -- and that should be a signal to widen the social circle and seek support elsewhere.

Russell Wilson Got Some Advice From Michael Jordan During The Offseason

Mon, 2014-09-01 12:36
By Chris Yuscavage, Complex Sports

It's good to be a champion. Just ask Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

A season ago, Wilson was a second-year NFL quarterback trying to find his place in the league. But after securing his first Super Bowl win back in February, Wilson made an appearance on Late Show With David Letterman. He sat courtside at a Nets game with Jay Z and Beyoncé. And according to him, he spent some time speaking with Michael Jordan at MJ's golf tournament—and received some excellent advice from the NBA legend.

"The thing that he said is being able to lead, being able to bring the others with you and, also, being the one that's always the first one there and the last one to leave, to take the extra shots, to help the young guys and do all the things that you can," he said. "I think you just have to do that much more. Human nature wants to fight against that. Human nature wants you to naturally relax and not improve. One of the things I'm trying to do—and our team collectively—is to fight that and to continue to improve and continue to stay focused on one mission, and that's going 1-0 every week."

It's pretty cool to see how far Wilson has come in the span of just a year. Now it'll be interesting to see whether or not he and the Seahawks can repeat as Super Bowl champs. Their journey to another title starts in three days when they help kick off the new NFL season with a game against the Packers.

[via USA TODAY Sports]

This Loving Pit Bull Made A Man Out Of Her Buddy With This Kiss

Mon, 2014-09-01 11:33
These two rescue pit bulls are just like any best friends -- inseparable, loyal and sure to ham it up in front of the camera.

Mike Coffey told HuffPost that he and his wife, Brandi, adopted their blue-eyed pit bull, Flex Pride, two and a half years ago using Petfinder. The pup had been wandering the streets of Chicago. Keva Joy, the big kisser in that photo below, came into the family more recently.

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Post by 4 Paws 4 Rescue.

"Flex is my best buddy and even stood with me as one of my best men at my wedding," Coffey says. "Flex showed us what a pit bull is like and I have loved the breed since then."

Keva joined the family "at a pretty low time in life," says Coffey. "We had two fur-kids pass away in 13 days. Brandi and I were devastated. It was the first time I ever had to deal with this -- but Flex was so sad as well. He completely shut down. He was not himself at all. He needed a buddy."

Kiva (right) with Claude, one of the Coffeys' foster dogs. Photo credit: Mike Coffey

This was about nine months ago. The Coffeys soon met Keva through a rescue group that took in the affectionate pit bull after she was found alone in Kansas City. As soon as the Coffeys saw her, it was clear that Keva was the buddy Flex needed.

"She ran right at you and immediately kissed you all over, only stopping long enough to smile, then start kissing you again," Coffey says. "We brought her home and Flex took to her right away. She brought him out of his funk. More importantly, she made our family whole again."

Brandi Coffey and Flex share a tender moment in the sunshine. Photo credit: Mike Coffey

Since then, there have been a ton of smooches, a heap of goofiness and loads of laughs, plus a couple more foster dogs through 4 Paws 4 Rescue, the group that first shared on Facebook the magical photo of Flex and Keva above.

And through all that, Coffey says, he has discovered new meaning in his life.

Mike Coffey snuggles up with Flex Pride. Photo credit: Mike Coffey

"Rescue is full of hard times for sure, yet it is the most rewarding thing we do," says Coffey. "I, personally, had wondered for a long time what I was meant to do. It wasn't a certain job. I wasn't here to save the world. I am here to help those animals who can't help themselves."

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Mark Wahlberg Missed Donnie Wahlberg And Jenny McCarthy's Wedding This Weekend

Mon, 2014-09-01 10:02
When Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy tied the knot on Sunday, at least one famous relative was not on hand for the nuptials.

Mark Wahlberg tweeted his congratulations and posted an Instagram video for the new couple the day before. The actor's rep said his daughter Ella's 11th birthday was scheduled to take place in Los Angeles over the weekend. (The McCarthy/Wahlberg wedding was at Hotel Baker in St. Charles, Illinois, minutes from McCarthy's childhood home.)

Congratulations @DonnieWahlberg and @JennyMcCarthy, so happy for you both today.

— Mark Wahlberg (@mark_wahlberg) August 30, 2014

TMZ has another story, though. The site reports that Mark Wahlberg and his wife are not especially close with Donnie and are not particularly fond of his new bride. TMZ also wrote that another Walhberg brother, Bobby, wouldn't be an in attendance either, nor would Donnie's mother, because she's afraid of flying. Brother Paul, on the other hand, was expected to attend. HuffPost Entertainment contacted a representative for Mark Wahlberg for comment on the TMZ report; this post will be updated if and when they respond.

Donnie didn't seem too distraught by his brother's absence, returning his well wishes on Twitter.

Thank you @mark_wahlberg. Thanks to you & @rheadur for the adorable video for me & Jenny! Please wish a Happy B-Day to my god daughter Ella!

— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) August 30, 2014

The Daily Mail reports McCarthy and Wahlberg's ceremony was an intimate affair with their closest friends and family members, lasting just 20 minutes. Famous faces in attendance included former "View" co-host Sherri Shepherd and New Kids on the Block bandmates Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood.

A Straight Person's Guide to the Coming-Out Conversation

Mon, 2014-09-01 08:58
Having combed the Internet for 10-plus years for relevant content, I know that there is more than enough material about coming out as gay and how to do it: live videos of people coming out to friends and family, support forums and news articles with both uplifting and soul-crushing stories, and countless networks to help people who are about to take the plunge.

But what there is not is a good, comprehensive FAQ that prepares the receiver of the coming-out conversation to respond. Well, that's just a bit unfair! So, from the mind of a gay guy to the straight world around him, here is a guide to what I'm thinking, how I hope you'll react, and what this all means for me in the context of our (platonic) relationship.

Not all gay people are the same, but having waited until 29 years old to come out, I have a lot of experience in the mentality of a gay guy pre-coming-out through the lens of actually, finally, coming out. Here is a compendium of thoughts that have been running between my ears in the years, months, days, minutes, and seconds prior to telling you that I'm gay.

My hope is that, when a friend does finally choose to come out to you, the notes below will help you be more comfortable with it, and that you'll understand what he or she has been going through up to this day that shapes the conversation in his or her head.

And if you've already had that conversation with someone and it didn't go well, feel free to use this piece and just say, "I didn't know!"

Here goes....

1. My biggest fear is that you'll walk away. Or, worse, that you'll say to my face, "It's cool," and then slowly walk away over the next couple of days, weeks, or months. This is the reason that I haven't told you until now. I love you to death as a friend/brother/sister/mom/dad/other, and I couldn't imagine confronting a reality like this head-on if everyone walked away from me. The worst-case scenario in my head was too awful to fathom ever subjecting myself to it.

2. I'm coming out now because it's finally too much to handle alone. I have been agonizing over this for years, but always inside. Finally I've reached my boiling point. Whether you're the first person I'm telling or the last one, you're hearing about this not because I have to tell you, and not because I want to. Who wants to tell someone something like this? I need you to know this so that it's not a barrier to my ongoing relationship with you. I need you to know this about me because I cannot stand not sharing the whole truth with you, changing pronouns in the stories I share with you, making up excuses for not hitting on that girl in the corner for yet another decade, and never really being able to take my whole guard down around you. I am coming out to you because I want you in my life -- my complete life -- as a friend/brother/sister/mom/dad/other.

3. I have suffered this a lot. Remember your first "thoughts" about the opposite sex? Yeah, since that same day in my life, I've known I'm gay. And yes, relationships have pretty much sucked since that day. It was easy to fake or ignore for a while. Then it wasn't, and every day of my life it has taken more effort. It has kept me up nights. If I turned the channel on the Matthew Shepard story, it was out of fear, disgust, pain, and absolute agony at what the world around me was telling me about who I was. If I made a homophobic comment, it was a moment of rock-bottom in self-defense. If I didn't tell you for a decade or more, it was because I've spent every day since I've known you, at least once a day, wondering what you and others would do if you knew. The stress has sucked more than I can explain.

4. I am certain about this. Please don't ask me if I'm sure I'm not just bi. Trust me: I've tried. And trust me: If it were in my power to choose my sexual orientation, this clearly wouldn't be the road I'd take! I wouldn't just blurt out something like this that could cause me to lose my job, lose all my friends, estrange me from my family, make me a social pariah, and make me uncomfortable in public for fear of being a target, if I weren't really damn-sure about it. I'm telling you now because I've finally come to terms with who I am in this area.

5. It's not about you. I haven't kept this from you until now because of you. It was because of me, because of everything that I just listed above: the fear, the pain, the shame, the questioning, the attempt to change it, the desire to be normal, etc. The only part that was about you was that I didn't want to lose you. Please don't be angry with me for not being open about this. Every day that I didn't tell you was a day I wished I could tell you but was too afraid of what you would say, or how far you would walk away, or what would happen if this fact got out beyond your own ears.

6. This isn't a gender-identity issue. Just because I'm attracted to people of my same gender does not mean that I want to be the opposite gender. For some this may be the case, but homosexuality and gender-identity issues are two very different things. Some people just have to deal with one, some people both, most people neither. Mine's just the gay thing.

7. I am not a pedophile, and I'm not into incest. I'm just gay. I like people of the same gender. Don't lump all this other stuff into it. Don't ask me if I'm now attracted to your kids of my same gender. That's just creepy. That's like asking you, as a father or mother, if you're attracted to your own son or daughter. Please be sane about this, and think a bit before responding with something like this.

8. Just about any response is OK. When I tell you I'm gay, any response will do that is not (A) leaving, (B) berating me for being gay, (C) lecturing me on why it's wrong to be gay, (D) asking me when I chose to be gay, or (E) hitting me in the face. Feel free to make a joke, laugh, cry, say it's cool with you, tell me you had suspicions before now, tell me you never would have guessed, share a story of your own along the same lines, order another round of drinks and toast my newfound freedom, give me a high five or a fist bump, joke about sex, introduce me to the nearest hot guy (after we've chatted it through a bit!), ask about my current relationship status -- anything! I'll be thrilled with just about anything that shows me that you understood it, and that it's not a deal breaker in our relationship. And the more fun you make it, the more chill I'm going to be about it. You having any relatively positive reaction will take a 1,000-pound weight off my shoulders, and you may well notice the change in my posture right away.

9. It's never easy to come out. I may be as straight as an arrow in your eyes, or I may be the most feminine-acting guy on the planet, but it's not easy for me either way. And although it may be easier now than ever before to come out, it wasn't always this way. We've watched kids get killed for being gay, kids around us be bullied under suspicion of maybe being gay, employees be fired for being gay, an entire nation debate whether or not I am human enough to be allowed to get married, live with someone of the same gender, or raise a child. So even though now it's a lot better, please don't cheapen this process by not recalling that it has not been an easy decade or two for this type of thing.

10. I have gay friends you don't know about. Hell, I may have even been in long-term relationships that you didn't know about. If I've told you about relationships in the past, I may have changed the pronoun and told you anyway because I needed your input, wanted your advice, just needed to talk to someone, or wanted to be as close a friend as possible without giving away my secret.

11. This has been on my mind every day of my life for as long as I can remember. I've lost sleep over this more nights than I haven't. This isn't an issue that I'm going to ignore after I come out to you. If you're uncomfortable with having a follow-up conversation about this, I may seek that elsewhere, because I need to talk this through. That's fine; just don't disappear and never talk to me again. Tell me it's going to take you some time, take your time to talk it over with others or just think it through, and we'll have another chat when you're ready.

12. I'm not any different than what I was before, minus this one thing. If I waited this long to say something to you, it was because I didn't want something that I see as such a small part of who I am to overshadow everything else about me. My sexual orientation is just that and nothing more. It's not my personality, it's not my character, it's not my heart or soul. Those things, if we're close, you already know. This is only about whom I date, whom I sleep with, and whom I'm going to fall in love with.

13. I may not do this whole coming-out thing perfectly. Please be forgiving with me over the next few months. It's a new reality to try to keep relationships on the even keel while I update people on this aspect of my life. I might need few days to myself, maybe a few successive nights of late-night chats, or maybe even to talk it through with you several times over the next few months. What I would really appreciate is if you'd just be willing to be there for me and check in on me occasionally to make sure things are going OK. Coming out isn't just the day I tell you; it also involves adapting to the reality that my whole world now knows about this, and coming around to new public realities.

14. Don't worry about the gay jokes. I've been hearing them as long as you have. Yes, up to now each one stings a little bit. But just like you remember everything that your massive crush has ever said, I remember everything that has been said around me about gay people prior to coming out. So I know some great gay jokes myself. And now that I'm out, I will probably laugh at the good-humored, non-vicious ones, and that'll be a moment for us to connect. Don't cringe when something comes on TV around me; remember, I'm not new to this! Now more than ever, I can just laugh it off or have a real chat about it. I won't make it weird if you don't, I promise. Oh, and my new response to "You're so gay" is "Yeah, and?" And that's always going to be funny to me now.

15. Thank you. For not walking away. For being an amazing friend/brother/sister/mom/dad/other for caring about me up to now, and for years to come. For listening to me now. For understanding. For caring enough about me for this small part of me to not define who I am in your eyes.

19 Reasons You Should Be Happy That Summer Is Ending

Mon, 2014-09-01 07:43
Summer, we've had enough. Here's why we're looking forward to Fall this year.

The Bloody Origin Of Labor Day

Mon, 2014-09-01 06:30
WASHINGTON -- Most people know Labor Day as an extra day off of work. Fewer know the holiday comes from a time when the government was offing workers.

It all started with a bad recession in the early 1890s that reduced demand for railway cars, prompting Chicago railway magnate George Pullman to lay off workers and reduce wages. Many of his workers went on strike. The sympathetic American Railway Union refused to handle Pullman cars, hampering commerce in many parts of the country.

"The boycott tapped the deep and pervasive alienation of labor in general," historian David Ray Papke wrote in his 1999 book The Pullman Case: The Clash of Labor and Capital in Industrial America.

"Workers were mad about their situation," Papke wrote. "They were angry about their limited opportunities and about what they took to be the mean and arbitrary treatment they received from the distant owners of the industries in which they worked."

Pullman workers started their strike in May 1894. The following month, Congress passed legislation making the first Monday of September a day to recognize workers. (Such a holiday had already been a demand of the labor movement, though commentators have described the Labor Day legislation as an attempt to "appease" angry workers.) In July, President Grover Cleveland sent federal troops to Chicago to crush the strike.

Illinois Gov. John Altgeld (D) resented the president's decision, as there had not yet been any large-scale rioting. "I protest against this uncalled for reflection upon our people, and again ask the immediate withdrawal of these troops," Altgeld wrote to the president.

Within a day of the troops' arrival, mobs started tipping railroad cars and setting them on fire. Troops cracked down with bayonets and bullets; the rioting and property destruction worsened. Dozens of people ultimately died in Chicago and elsewhere. The government restored order by the fall, and American Railway Union leader Eugene Debs was eventually convicted of defying a court order and sent to prison.

The U.S. Department of Labor's page on the history of Labor Day notes the holiday "is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers." It doesn't mention the Pullman strike or labor strife in general. Throughout American history, workers had to fight to get better pay and shorter hours -- evenings and weekends weren't just handed over by lawmakers and benevolent managers.

"I think most people consider Labor Day an end-of-summer three-day weekend," Papke, a law professor at Marquette University, said in an interview. "Very few Americans stop to reflect on the working man, on labor, on the union movement or any of those things."

11 Reasons College Students Absolutely Need Coffee To Survive

Mon, 2014-09-01 06:00
College is an awakening time in a young person's life, in which they really figure out who they want to be and what exactly they want to do with their life. But what if you discover that all you want to do is drink coffee? And who you want to be is a coffee addict?

It's okay. That's what college is for. It's a time for understanding that the only thing that motivates you to get up and face another day (literally) is the promise that coffee will be there to guide you through the tough times that encompass "being on your own." Behold, 11 reasons every college student must have coffee in their lives forever and ever.

1. First and foremost, because it keeps you awake. And you're somehow always tired.

And without coffee, there are just not enough hours in the day to balance studying and partying.

2. Because it's probably the only time in your life you're going to have the privilege of having a Starbucks coffee truck follow you around campus all day.

Yes, really. If you're lucky enough to be a student at Arizona State University, James Madison University or Coastal Carolina University, this coming school year Aramark will be introducing Starbucks coffee trucks that will "follow students from dorm to lecture halls" and provide you with your much-needed caffeine. Scary or awesome? We'll let you decide.

3. Because coffee shops are where all your studying and socializing gets done.

You learn quickly that the coffee shop is where all your friendships are made and where you cram all that information into your brain. Your addiction to the stuff follows suit.

4. Because you just keep "forgetting" to go to the gym and the antioxidants in coffee will keep your body healthy.

So, you don't have time to go to the gym because you're too busy binge-watching Law and Order SVU all day. Thankfully coffee provides you with enough antioxidants to make you feel better about yourself. It's the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet!

5. Because it makes procrastinating on that final term paper much more fun.

When your coffee gets cold, it's time for you to get creative with your note doodling.

6. Because you stayed up until 4 am watching "Chopped" re-runs on Food Network and you have class at 8 am.

And it's proven that when you're tired and you drink coffee, all of your senses will be heightened, including your attention and logical reasoning.

7. Because it's the only thing that motivates you to do your laundry.

The inspiration to be clean can be found inside that coffee cup.

8. Because when you've been living in the library for the past two days, just the smell of coffee will revive you from your zombie state.

This is proven to be true. A study at the Seoul National University examined the brains of rats who were stressed with sleep deprivation and discovered that those who were exposed to coffee aromas experienced changes in brain proteins tied to that stress.

9. Because coffee is the best hangover cure after drinking too many PBRs out of red Solo cups.

Coffee can also help your liver out (since we know it probably needs some serious flushing). One study showed that those who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop liver cirrhosis -- an autoimmune disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

10. Because you forgot to put sunscreen on when you laid out on the quad, but coffee will help prevent you from getting skin cancer (if you're a girl).

A study done by the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that women who drink three or more cups of coffee a week are less likely to develop skin cancer than other women.

11. Because the only form of organization right now in your life is this daily schedule:
1.Wake up.
2. Put on clothes
3. Get or make coffee.

Aint no shame in your coffee game.

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Dumped? 6 Ways to Save Face on Facebook

Sun, 2014-08-31 21:29
When you're in love, social media is very good to you. Every encounter -- date night, food fight, and strolls in the park -- becomes a selfie photo shoot, and you just can't wait to upload those images to your page. There you are, the Facebook Couple of the Day, and you're so cute and loving and full of promise. The Like gods rain down on your every post.

Your Facebook life is good.

But when you're dumped, social media can be a really, really bad place.

There you are, sitting in your cotton jammies, feeding on your cookies and ice cream when your ex-boo and the new chick invade your Facebook timeline.

You're hypnotized by the endless updates: There they are, checking in at the movies. There they are, hanging out with friends -- your former friends -- at the basketball game. There he is rocking that shirt you bought him; there she is rocking that new pack of hair extensions.
Finally, there it is -- his relationship status update that confirms your worst nightmare -- he's now claiming her on Facebook. It's official, he's moved on.
What. The. Hell?

Dumped? 6 Ways to Save Face on Facebook

1. Don't disappear from your social network. After a breakup, it's normal to want to unplug, run and hide. Being suddenly single doesn't make you less of a woman. Making up and breaking up are just facts of life, and although you can't control the course of love, you can control how your breakup plays itself out online.

If you've built your identity into being a couple, reclaiming yourself as a single person may take more time, but it still can be done.

2. Update your relationship status. After the breakup, change your status to reflect that you're now single. This simple change will alert your followers of your life change and it will kick-start the healing process. Announcing the breakup first also helps you to save face when/if your ex posts pictures with his new chick.

The announcement also avoids the disaster of mutual friends tagging and emailing you about your ex's "infidelity" because they don't know that the two of you are no longer together.

3. Lead the conversation. This is your breakup; no one should be authorized to speak on your behalf about it but you. If friends post "you're better without him," or "keep your head up," delete it immediately. Thank your friends for the post in a direct message and politely tell them not to post such sentiments on your wall again because this chapter of your life is painful and you don't want things to get ugly.

4. Take new photos for Facebook. Update your profile pic with a spanking new makeover or take funny pictures with your children, pets or friends. Your pictures should reflect the truth about falling in and out of love: Life goes on. Warning: Don't post lingerie or booty pics to make your ex jealous, it can backfire and make you appear to be desperate for attention.

5. Remove the cutesy couple photos gradually. Remove the cutesy couple pictures (within 72 hours) that are no longer relevant. Hastily erasing the person, say, within 15 minutes of the breakup, signals that the breakup was an emotional affair for you and that you're hurt or overreacting. Besides, your NEW photos will generate the majority of the buzz and the couple pics won't be missed as much.

6. If all else fails, block your ex-lover and his loudest cheerleaders. Don't invite the opportunity for others to rub your nose your ex's brand new life. Also, if your ex is posting nasty comments or racy photos about you, report it to Facebook immediately and the offensive posts will be removed. In extreme cases, his/her page can be disabled. If the ex harasses you online, you have options to press charges or to sue for defamation. Never engage in an offensive exchange online. Remember, your posts are forever, even if you delete them. (Likely, someone will save a screen shot of the drama.)

Also, install privacy controls so that any posts made about you must be approved by you before they appear on your timeline.

Polite society says that you should remain online friends with your ex; we're all adults, right?
However, only you know if that's the truth. If it pains you to know about what he's up to now that you're no longer together, please just un-friend the guy. Don't put your mind and heart through the pain of seeing his new life without you.

Shift your focus to the new fish in the sea.