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Veterans Still Can't Discuss Medical Marijuana With Their VA Doctors

Thu, 2014-05-01 09:08
On Wednesday evening, the House voted down an amendment that would allow veterans the opportunity to discuss medical cannabis as a form of treatment in states that have legalized the substance for medical purposes.

Introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), the amendment would have altered the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to allow qualified veterans easier access to medical cannabis in the 21 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana.

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently bans physicians from recommending state-legal medical marijuana to veteran patients.

Blumenauer’s amendment wouldn't have allowed VA doctors to prescribe or provide medical marijuana to veteran patients, but it would have allowed for the physicians to have open discussions with their patients and kept VA funding from being used to implement medical marijuana prohibition. The amendment text, via Blumenauer's office, read:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement Veterans Health Administration directive 2011-004 with respect to the prohibition on "VA providers from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a State marijuana program."

The amendment was killed by a 225-195 vote. However, Blumenauer said that despite the loss, the vigorous debate and close vote was a signal that progress was being made on medical marijuana issues.

"There was a spirited and very strong floor debate in support of the amendment," Blumenauer said. "The move toward making marijuana reform less of a partisan issue was underscored as there were more Republicans voting for the amendment than Democrats voting against. And, with probable votes of members who were absent, it’s very likely the vote total in favor or my amendment would’ve been 200 or more."

Twenty-two Republicans joined the 173 Democrats who voted in favor of the amendment, while 18 Democrats joined the majority of Republicans who voted against it.

"It’s inexplicable and inexcusable that VA doctors can’t answer their patients’ questions and give their best advice," Blumenauer added.

The VA estimates that as many as 20 percent of soldiers who recently served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to The Associated Press. Scientists have speculated that marijuana could help veterans suffering from PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression.

Earlier this year, the federal government signed off on a historic study looking at marijuana as a treatment for veterans with PTSD. The study will examine the effects of five different potencies of smoked or vaporized cannabis on 50 veterans suffering from PTSD.

Currently, there are nine states that allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for PTSD-related symptoms.

How To Never Get Hangry Ever Again

Thu, 2014-05-01 07:48
Hanger, the treacherous combo of hunger and anger, is no joke. If you're one of those people who always seems to be hangry, you know it can make you super irritable and ruin a perfectly good day. You can blame your hanger on low blood sugar -- a drop in your sugar, or glucose, levels means a drop in your energy and self-control, fueling those moody, food-seeking binges.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) even linked being hangry to a rise in aggression amongst spouses, specifically when a spouse's blood sugar/glucose levels were too low. Or, as Vox put it, "low blood sugar makes you a monster."

Fortunately, hanger can be stopped. The Huffington Post reached out to registered dietitian and blogger Dawn Jackson Blatner for a few tips on warding off hanger.

As the research from the spousal study tied being hangry to dipping levels of glucose (a type of sugar), we wondered if simply eating snacks from this list of glucose-rich foods could be a quick solution. Could ketchup packets be used as a hanger super cure?

Unfortunately, no (and luckily, Blatner dissuaded us before we tried it out). The key: snacks. But there are right snacks and wrong snacks.

Despite the lack of glucose, don't just stuff your mouth with sugar to fight off hanger.

Simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars, are broken down quickly by the body, meaning you won't stay satisfied for long. So what should you do if you feel hanger coming toward you like a wrecking ball, hours before your next real meal?

Eat the right snacks, specifically ones with a combination of...

"High water content and fiber for fullness," notes Blatner. Focus on fiber.

These are the foods with "staying power," she notes. Check out "healthy proteins."

Here are a few combinations Blatner specifically suggested:

Mango + Pistachios

Apple + Almonds

Bananas + Walnuts

Cherry Tomatoes + String Cheese

But Blatner also notes that you shouldn't just wait for the hanger to hit you to start problem solving. Before you get to the tipping point where snacks are required, you can take some preventive measures. Extinguishing the hanger fire unfortunately isn't as easy as "stop, drop and roll" (although hangry people may feel like collapsing and rolling on the ground), so instead, focus on timing your meals to avoid the feeling altogether.

Blatner says it's important to consider food "ratios," or choosing meals that are going to keep you full and prevent you from the dreaded sugar crash. In her words:

Aim for balanced meal ratios. Each meal should have protein, whole grains and colorful produce with healthy fat. When you eat this way, energy and fuel are like a time-released vitamin, slowly trickling into your system for hours. When you don't eat balanced ratios, energy levels are more like a roller coaster of a quick up and crash down. This works for satisfaction and energy because the grains give immediate fuel/energy, protein and fat have staying power, and the water and fiber in the vegetables give fullness and much-needed vitamins and minerals.

Timing is also critical, says Blatner. If you plan three solid meals roughly four to six hours apart into your day, then you're well on your way. As she explains, "meal-skipping or going too long between meals is why you see hangry people!" So don't skip meals or you're going to have a hangry time.

Image background for "Protein" slide: Flickr user mrlins. All other images Getty unless otherwise noted.

7 Gripes I Have With The World

Thu, 2014-05-01 05:50
Life, overall, is pretty sweet. Aging turns out not to be the demon I feared. Largely, I'm happy and healthy and know how to throw the car in reverse for those times when I'm not. But on a recent nasty commute home, I thought of 7 things that would so sincerely improve life for midlifers (at least this midlifer):

1. Enough with the tip jars.
I'm an original member of the Big Tippers Club. I like good service and believe that rewarding it encourages it. I'm less interested in my waiter's name than I am his knowledge of the menu but nevertheless, I believe that competence is worth tipping. I also understand that restaurant owners have convinced us that it's our responsibility to make up the difference when they underpay their staff.

What I don't understand is tip jars. What "service" is being provided exactly? No one is refilling my water glass, replacing my fork when I drop it, asking me if everything is OK. All they are doing is, well, the job they were hired to do at the salary they agreed to do it for.

I encountered a tip jar recently at a taffy shop in Newport Beach, California. When you walk in the store, you take a little basket and fill it with as much taffy as you want. Then you bring it to the one cashier who weighs it and tells you how much you owe. What service did this unsmiling clerk who couldn't muster so much as a "thank you" think I should be tipping her for? Yet there was a tip jar with a little happy face on it and a couple of bills sticking out to shame you into feeding it. What exactly is the difference between tipping Miss Un-smiley Face and tipping the guy in the 7-Eleven when I buy a quart of milk? Same exact principle.

2. Starbucks needs an express lane.
I understand that Starbucks is selling you a lifestyle, not a cup of coffee. They basically are charging you rent for parking at a table with your laptop for an hour and sipping your overpriced drink that went cold long ago. I'm actually OK with the overpriced part -- it is what it is -- but I don't ever get to linger.

I catch my coffee on-the-go, usually when I'm running late and didn't have time to make it myself at home. On those days, I would like the barista to actually hustle it up a bit. No need to greet me, ask me how I'm doing, inquire if the sun is out, etc.

Starbucks needs to recognize that not everyone comes in for the community. Some of us are there for the caffeine. An express lane that gets you in and out in under five minutes, please.

3. Free shipping (both ways) should be the law.
I love for many reason,s but chief among them is that they offer free shipping both ways. I order multiple pairs of the same shoes in different sizes and send back the ones that don't fit. I have availed myself of this service so often that my UPS driver claims if I actually knew my shoe size, he'd be out of a job.

4. Parking should be a right, not a privilege.
Neighborhoods should not be allowed to issue permits to residents and then tell the rest of us tough noogies. Unless those residents want to take on the costs of street repairs and street cleaning, I want to be able to park there. They bought a house, not the public street in front of it.

5. All beaches must be free and accessible.
This is actually a variation on neighborhoods that issue parking permits to residents. Good for you for being able to afford a beachfront house. Please don't assume you own the beach, though. I want to be able to put my blanket down on the sand right next to your deck and if you don't like it, I think what should be moved is your deck not my blanket.

Where the real crime comes in, though, is when storms mess things up for you around the old homestead and then you come crying to the rest of us taxpayers to help you out.

I'll go one better: Why shouldn't everyone just be able to drive up, park and walk out on the beach? I hate paying $12 to park at a California state beach. I pay enough in taxes to maintain the beaches. Charging high fees like that accomplishes just one thing: it means the families for whom $12 is a lot of money can't come to the beach.

6. Hotels need to stop charging those silly resort fees.
A hotel recently charged us $25 a day as a resort fee. The place wasn't actually a resort and the fee, they explained was for "free" WiFi, "free" self-parking and a "free" daily newspaper that we had to go to the front desk to retrieve. Since we were paying $25 a day for it, I'm not sure why they considered it free. And had we said we didn't care about the WiFi, were fine parking in the street, and that they could keep the newspaper, would the fee have been waived? Nuh-uh. My husband says the fee was also for "breathing the air in the room."

If a hotel wants to charge more, just raise the room rate instead of burying an extra bite in the fine print. Tell me the price upfront and let me decide if your hotel is worth it to me.

7. Memorials on the road.
I am sorry for the pain survivors experience when a loved one dies in a car accident. But what exactly is accomplished by erecting a makeshift memorial on the side of the road? How is marking the spot of death a way of remembering a life? Isn't a cemetery or scattering ashes along the deceased's favorite lake a more fitting place for a memorial?

I admit that handmade roadside memorials -- crosses, flowers, photos of the deceased in happier times -- kind of creep me out. I don't like to think that I am standing right next to where the angel of death visited. So yeah, this one may just be me, but I don't think these memorials serve as a reminder to slow down or don't drink and drive. To me, it feels more like grieving survivors are struggling. And I'm not sure that dealing with that grief in a roadside memorial honors the dead or helps the living.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

How Much Fracking Will Remain Unregulated in Illinois?

Wed, 2014-04-30 18:59
Fracking has begun in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn's Department of Natural Resources issued a permit for a test well at a site where oil fracking is planned. The well isn't subject to Illinois fracking rules due to loopholes in the law passed last year.

By utilizing methods that require a lower volume of water, and exploiting other loopholes, oil frackers can avoid new regulation. As Illinois State University emeritus professor William Rau writes, that will deny the state tax revenue from those operations, along with other consequences.

Public notice requirements, baseline water testing, insurance provisions, modest environmental protections and setbacks, earthquake mitigation, bans on open pit storage of frack waste water, etc., are all gone. Illinois will become the wild and woolly west of fracking.
The public doesn't yet know how much horizontal fracking will occur outside compliance with the law. Illinois residents are facing a major public safety crisis and state politicians don't seem to notice.

Opposition continues as people learn more about the inadequacy of a law that was written behind closed doors and rushed through the legislature with very little public scrutiny. A recent day of action saw citizens in Chicago and southern Illinois bring accountability to those responsible for the dangerously weak fracking law.

"For sale" signs were placed at the campaign office of state representative Mike Bost, who co-sponsored the law while claiming it would "keep our air clean, protect our water supply and maintain our environment." In fact, the law contains no provisions to limit toxic air emissions that harm the health of those living nearby.

Bost is running for U.S. Congress in Illinois' 12th district. Like many legislators, he mistakenly believed the fracking law was a consensus issue. Now, he's confronted with the reality of people in his district outraged at seeing the law-making and rule-making process up for sale to the oil and gas industry.

Anna, Illinois resident Tabitha Tripp said:

People want clean renewable and sustainable jobs. Illinoisans will be left holding the tab when the boom and bust cycle of fracking and dirty extraction is gone. Politicians like Mike Bost are stuck in the last century. They need to get with it.

In Chicago, a "tour de frackers" visited offices of politicians and organizations responsible for bringing the fracking crisis to Illinois. A notice of violation against people and our environment was issued to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, which spent over $20,000 to mislead voters about a fracking ballot referendum in rural Johnson county.

Next, the Heartland Institute was cited for producing embarrassingly offensive attacks against the scientific reality of climate change. And of course, they stopped at the offices of Governor Pat Quinn, who bragged of bringing fracking to Illinois to create jobs and solve the state budget problem.

Quinn isn't bragging about his fracking law anymore. He clearly wishes the issue would go away as he faces frequent public embarrassment during a difficult re-election campaign. But, environmentalists and many southern Illinois residents aren't going to forget Quinn's betrayal before election day. He'll have to stop fracking if he hopes to win back their support.

Historic Mansion Is Shockingly Cheap -- But There's A Big Catch

Wed, 2014-04-30 16:50
An elegant suburban Chicago mini-mansion has hit the market at an almost shockingly low price. But, of course, there's something of a catch.

The Hiram B. Scutt Museum in Joliet, Illinois was built in 1882 and designed by architect James Weese for Scutt, who held a number of early patents for barbed wire. The three-story, 4,960-square-foot red-brick mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been listed at $159,000 after the property was foreclosed on.

The Hiram B. Scutt Museum in Joliet. (Anna Aaron)

The home has something of a dark history, however, and some say it is haunted. In 2004, a 19-year-old man named Steven Jenkins was fatally shot during a party in the home. A few years later, a John Wilkes Booth impersonator named Seth Magosky bought the home and died suddenly there in 2007, just six months after he began work on turning the mansion into a Victorian museum, Patch's Joseph Hosey reports.

Real estate agent Marcia C. Cronin told Patch an energy reader she had come to the home said it was not haunted, but paranormal investigators who have flocked to the mansion over the years would likely disagree. One paranormal group claims the spirits of children, as well as the home's two original owners, can be encountered there.

Inside a parlor room of the home in 2012, when the mansion was still decked out in a Victorian style. (Anna Aaron)

Spiritual observer and psychic reader Edward Shanahan also wrote in 2010 on his Chicago Paranormal and Spiritual blog that the mansion, which also came to be known as "Barb Villa," is very haunted and pointed to compelling videos from multiple paranormal groups as alleged proof.

The home's third floor "doll room" has allegedly been a particular hotspot of paranormal activity.

Inside the mansion's infamous "doll room" in 2012. (Anna Aaron)

Another look inside the "doll room" in 2012. (Anna Aaron)

Whether there's any truth to the haunted rumors, we're thankful all those dolls are out of there today, as evidenced by the listing's photos -- even if we still can't get their creepy little faces out of our heads.

Is It Time for Term Limits in Illinois?

Wed, 2014-04-30 16:39

A proposal from Illinois' top two GOP lawmakers to have a constitutional amendment instituting term limits for the executive branch on the November ballot failed to make it out of the Illinois Senate this week. But while that was going on, a citizen-led and Bruce Rauner-backed initiative to institute legislative term limits was approved by the Illinois State Board of Elections and placed on the November ballot.

All of this raises the question, should Illinois have term limits for our politicians? We have a survey where you can make your view on the topic heard.


And if you're curious about this week's stories, we have a roundup on them plus a look at the shelving of a progressive income tax amendment by the measure's sponsor.


The Most Racist Part Of Donald Sterling's Legacy Can't Be Solved With A Lifetime Ban

Wed, 2014-04-30 16:27
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life on Tuesday after he was caught on tape saying he didn't want his girlfriend bringing black people to games.

But as ESPN host Bomani Jones eloquently pointed out, this is hardly the worst act of racism that has been attributed to Sterling -- that title goes to his alleged acts of housing discrimination, for which he was sued twice, in 2003 and 2006, the second time by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The first suit, brought by 19 tenants with the help of the nonprofit Housing Rights Center, accused Sterling of forcing blacks and Latinos out of his rental properties, and ended in a confidential settlement in 2005. The second accused him of refusing to rent to African-Americans in Beverly Hills and to non-Koreans in LA's Koreatown. It ended in a record $2.725 million payout to the Justice Department. Sterling denied wrongdoing in both cases.

The charges made against Sterling were stomach-turning. In response to the 2003 suit, one of his property supervisors testified that Sterling said all blacks "smell" and are "not clean," that he wanted to "get them out" of his properties to preserve his image, and that he harassed tenants and refused to make repairs until they were forced to leave, according to depositions obtained by ESPN The Magazine.

But as alarming as the claims against Sterling are, housing discrimination as a practice is alive and well in America, and can't be solved with something as simple as a lifetime ban.

"For individuals and families, it limits their housing choices, it dictates where you can and cannot live, and that means limited access to other opportunities: educational opportunities, employment opportunities, health care services, other amenities," Fred Freiberg, director of the nonprofit Fair Housing Justice Center, told HuffPost. "It sustains and enforces patterns of racial segregation and poverty concentration, and it creates a whole host of inequalities that we could, frankly, do without."

A 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that overall, minority home-seekers are still told about and shown fewer units than white applicants. In a series of paired tests in 28 metropolitan areas across the country, HUD compared the treatment of a non-white person and of a white person of the same gender and qualifications when each applied for an apartment. The study found that, compared to whites, Blacks were told about 11.4 percent fewer rental units and shown 4.2 percent fewer; Hispanics were told about 12.5 percent fewer and shown 7.5 percent fewer; and Asians were told about 9.8 percent fewer and shown 6.6 percent fewer.

The authors of the study cautioned that their findings have probably understated the problem -- and Freiberg pointed out a number of the study's blind spots in a 2013 response. For one thing, the study only focused on publicly advertised housing. These days, Freiberg says, housing providers looking to discriminate might just rely on word of mouth, or advertise only on websites or in newspapers that target certain ethnic or religious groups. Another issue is that the study only looked at who was shown more units -- in some cases, the minority home-seeker might be shown a greater number of apartments, but only those located in minority neighborhoods.

The government did make an effort to ban housing discrimination with the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act (the law that Sterling was sued for violating). But as ProPublica's Nikole Hannah Jones found in a 2012 investigation, the government has repeatedly failed to punish communities that violate the law.

And even though it's been nearly 50 years since the Fair Housing Act was adopted, segregation is still a reality in American cities. A 2010 analysis of census data by Brown University found:

With only one exception (the most affluent Asians), minorities at every income level live in poorer neighborhoods than do whites with comparable incomes. Disparities are greatest for the lowest income minorities, and they are much sharper for blacks and Hispanics than for Asians. Affluent blacks and Hispanics live in poorer neighborhoods than whites with working class incomes. There is considerable variation in these patterns across metropolitan regions. But in the 50 metros with the largest black populations, there is none where average black exposure to neighborhood poverty is less than 20 percent higher than that of whites, and only two metros where affluent blacks live in neighborhoods that are less poor than those of the average white.

Bottom line: Donald Sterling's racism has been roundly rejected by everyone from Snoop Dogg to the president -- but when it comes to everyday acts of insidious, life-ruining racism, there are many more like him out there.

Disaster Capitalism Takes On Chicago

Wed, 2014-04-30 15:58
Whether it is union organizing, the mafia, gang violence, riots, police brutality or race relations, Chicago has a long history when it comes to violent behavior.

Despite what most media outlets worldwide have been saying, violence in the Windy City isn't exactly breaking news.

Over the Easter holiday weekend, 45 people were shot. The count includes six children. One of those kids, Tymisha Washington, begged for her life, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

"Please don't let me die. I'm only 11 years old. Don't let me die," she told a neighbor.

Predictably, the mayor and the police, along with the people in the communities where the violence is happening, are asking themselves what can be done to stop the violence.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel questioned the values of the people who are hurting their communities with violence.

"It's whether you have values. Values do not matter only in warm weather," the mayor told reporters. "They matter every day."

The mayor is correct in questioning the values of gangbangers, drug dealers and such. However, some of his own "values" can be questioned as well.

Last week, the mayor called a press conference announcing plans to build a college prep high school named after President Obama. The proposed site, which is near where the Cabrini Green Housing Projects once stood, is less than one mile from Walter Payton College Prep.

One can ask why yet another college prep high school is being built north of Roosevelt Road.

The placement of the school is yet another slap in the face to the city's African-American community.

Why can't a school named after the nation's first African-American president reside in the neighborhoods he represented in the state senate? Or nearby where he was a community organizer?

The moves the mayor is making can get people thinking about a term called disaster capitalism.

Disaster capitalism occurs when profits are generated based on the occurrence of a disaster.

Some might say that public housing, along with public education, has been an abject failure in our city. A colleague of mine went as far as to say that "The North Side gets college preps while the South Side gets charters."

Are all options exhausted when the mayor makes these decisions regarding the city?

"Boots on the ground" might be a term that most Chicagoans will have to get familiar with.

Some say the National Guard should get involved to quell the violence. That won't work. Just like the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East, the people here won't stop the violence because the military says so. How is a kid from downstate going to know the difference between a gangbanger and a law-abiding citizen? All the mistakes that the military made during Operation Iraqi Freedom will most likely be repeated if the National Guard is brought to Chicago.

After all, we've already seen how that turned out.

The problems the city is having are systemic in nature. These problems will not go away overnight.

Some say the lack of jobs is at the root of the violence. That is a plausible argument. For instance, look no further than the east side of the city where the steel mills once were. When an industry goes down, so does the neighborhood.

For that reason alone, Chicagoans should lay off the Detroit jokes. That might be us if we don't get our s--t together.

Substandard education, the lack of political power and minimal resources are other reasons people like to use when getting to the bottom of the city's problems. However, these conversations are starting to get redundant.

Remember, the city's citizens have had this conversation in the past when things were worst.

According to a 1998 article written in the Chicago Tribune:

"Since 1965, Chicago averaged 768 murders each year. In 1988, the number dropped to 660, but then rose steadily until it reached 940 in 1992, second only to the total in 1974, when 970 were slain. That 1992 figure was even more distressing because, in 1974, the population of the city was significantly larger."

Even though there were more murders way back when, the shootings these days get more attention because of the amount of children shot.

Especially ones from African-American communities.

According to a study done by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center, during the years of 2000 to 2010, over 29,000 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 19, were killed by a firearm in the United States. The study goes on to say:

"For intentional non-fatal firearm injuries due to assault, black children and adolescents in Chicago are 21 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized and 15 times more likely to visit the ED. For unintentional non-fatal firearm injuries, black children and adolescents in Chicago are 23 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized and 19 times more likely to visit the ED."

Mayor Emanuel may have had all the best intentions when he participated in the docuseries Chicagoland. He knows what certain images can do. The show has scenes of African-Americans, from the teachers' union to community activists, yelling at him. The next scene shows the mayor hugging or a patting a kid on the head. One episode showed the mayor attending a basketball tournament in Auburn-Gresham. What the show left out was that the mayor was roundly booed.

The cherry-picking of images can lead someone to believe that a "white savior" complex is taking place on the show.

Although the CNN show does a good job of showing the effects of institutional racism, some still believe that isn't the problem.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, and several of his colleagues, seem to believe that racism no longer exists.

Chief Justice Roberts once said this about school segregation: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor used Chief Justice Roberts' words when she wrote her dissent expressing her disappointment in the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision last week: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination."

Justice Sotomayor's comments can be applied to what is going on in Chicago.

Racial discrimination is at the root of most of the city's problems. Detractors of that premise often say, "Why can't they get over it?"

In most cases, people haven't been allowed to do so.

Former Illinois State Rep. Facing Child Porn Charges Is Released On Home Confinement

Wed, 2014-04-30 15:43
A former Illinois state representative who allegedly bragged about sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl has been released from jail on home confinement, two days after he was charged with possessing child pornography.

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Keith Farnham to pay a $4,500 bond and remain on house arrest with an electronic monitoring bracelet, WGN reports.

He has not yet entered a plea, according to to ABC Chicago.

The former Democratic state representative from Elgin, Ill. is also prohibited from using the Internet or having any contact with anyone under the age of 18. The Tribune reports that Farnham's wife, who did not appear in court Wednesday, is responsible for alerting the court if he violates his bond restrictions.

The 66-year-old abruptly resigned his seat on March 19 due to what he claimed were serious health issues; Farnham's attorney told WGN his client needs a lung transplant and is being treated for Hepatitis C.

Farnham's resignation came less than a week after federal agents removed several computers and electronic storage devices from his home and office while acting on a search warrant.

The FBI said the devices were later found to have "hundreds of [pornographic] images" on them, and a federal complaint alleges the former state representative used a phony email account to send and receive videos and images of children as young as six months old being sexually abused.

Federal prosecutors say Farnham was ultimately brought down when he emailed videos of young children being abused to an undercover Homeland Security investigator posing as a pedophile, the Sun-Times reports.

While Farnham has not been charged in relation to the alleged molestation of the 6-year-old girl he reportedly bragged about online, he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possessing child pornography.

Incidentally, two pieces of legislation Farnham co-sponsored last year were aimed at strengthening penalties for people convicted of possessing child pornography.

Chicago Approves Ban On Plastic Shopping Bags

Wed, 2014-04-30 15:28
Chicago has become the latest U.S. city to approve a ban on plastic shopping bags.

The City Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of a partial plastic bag ban in Chicago on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports. The proposal was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and passed with a vote of 36-10.

The new ordinance will first go into effect in August 2015, when retailers occupying stores that are more than 10,000 square foot will no longer be allowed to offer plastic bags. The ban will be extended to smaller chain stores and franchises in August 2016, while small independent or non-franchise stores and restaurants will not be affected by the legislation.

Fines run between $300 and $500 each time the ordinance is violated.

Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st), the ordinance's lead sponsor, said a yes vote for the bill was in the best interests of both the environment and the economy, DNAinfo Chicago reports.

Other aldermen didn't see it that way.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) opposed and voted against the ordinance because she was concerned about how the additional costs associated with providing paper bags -- which cost three times the amount of plastic -- may impact her efforts to attract a new grocery store tenant for an empty space in her South Side district, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Grocers are already reluctant to come to my community, and we’re gonna give them more reason by banning plastic bags," Hairston said Wednesday, the Sun-Times reports. "I’m tired of focusing on things that hurt people instead of helping people."

Some retail groups also fear the ban will impact the economy negatively.

"The city council has approved an ordinance that will raise the cost of doing business in Chicago and nothing for the environment," Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said in a statement reported by ABC Chicago. "Driving up expenses for retailers and forcing customers to pay more at the store while not helping the environment flies in the face of the city's goal to make Chicago one of the nation's greenest cities and support companies that have invested significantly in Chicago's neighborhoods."

Supporters of the ordinance estimate that 3.7 million plastic bags are used citywide daily and that between 3 and 5 percent of them become litter, getting stuck in drains and causing flooding, clogging landfills and jamming recycling machinery.

Chicago, NYC, LA and San Francisco Implementing New E-Cigarette Laws

Wed, 2014-04-30 15:26
Residents in Chicago can breathe a little easier. Effective April 29, 2014, E-cigarettes have been added to the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Act. Smoking an e-cigarette is no longer allowed in areas where smoking is banned.

Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago was the first of the 20 largest U.S. cities to propose legislation to include e-cigarettes in their clean indoor air law. Following Chicago's lead, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco also introduced and subsequently passed, legislation to add e-cigarettes to their smoke-free laws. All of these cities implemented their laws together -- in April 2014.

It is unprecedented for the three largest cities in the U.S. -- New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- to implement an important new health law at the same time. Substantial support and technical assistance was also provided by Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Big Cities Health Coalition, the National Association of City and County Health Officials and of course, our colleagues in other cities.

As of April 2014, a total of 172 jurisdictions have now passed similar laws. Across the country, that number represents more than 38 million residents and hundreds of millions of tourists and visitors being protected by these laws. These numbers continue to increase each week as more cities and towns take action.

Not allowing e-cigarettes to be used indoors is a smart move for cities and towns that want to preserve the health of their community. Laboratory tests have found that the so-called "water vapor" from some e-cigarettes can contain nicotine, benzene, toluene, nickel arsenic, carbon, formaldehyde, acrolein and carcinogens that are only derived from tobacco. Until more is known about these products, limiting their use in indoor areas is just good common sense.

Adding e-cigarettes to smoke-free laws is also practical. People who want to smoke e-cigarettes can continue to do so in the same places where regular cigarettes are smoked, while everyone else can continue to breathe clean air wherever they work, learn and play.

In addition to ensuring everyone has the right to breathe clean indoor air, smoke-free laws create an environment that encourages smokers to quit and discourages kids from ever picking up a nicotine addiction. Legislation to include e-cigarettes in Chicago's smoke-free law will preserve these benefits at a time that e-cigarettes are exploding in popularity among kids.

Use of e-cigarettes among youth has doubled between 2011 and 2012. A rapidly growing body of evidence suggests these new devices could be acting as a "starter kit" for youth -- leading a new generation into a lifetime of nicotine addiction and increased use of traditional cigarettes, which would reverse decades of progress. As the New York Times reported last week, the e-liquids behind e-cigarettes are "powerful neurotoxins... [that] can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal."

Even with this new evidence, manufacturers are allowed to market these products directly to youth. While traditional cigarette manufacturers can no longer sponsor auto racing or other events, e-cigarette makers can. Even worse, e-cigarettes come in dozens of flavors that are attractive for our children, like cotton candy, bubble gum, gummy bear and Atomic Fireball.

Last week, the FDA finally proposed new rules regulating e-cigarettes for the first time. This is a step in the right direction, but the proposals will likely be tied up in reviews and possible litigation for months or longer before they will be enacted. And they don't go as far as they should. There are no restrictions on advertisements to youth and no restrictions on the flavors they peddle. Fifty years ago, the Surgeon General issued a landmark report connecting traditional cigarettes to lung cancer -- but it still took decades until Washington passed the necessary laws to protect our children from these products.

We all know it takes a long time to get things done in Washington, D.C. and here in Chicago we aren't waiting. That is why we have been proactive and taken every measure we can to protect our children from the grips of big tobacco and their more modern companion, e-cigarettes.

Under Mayor Emanuel's leadership, Chicago acted, creating innovative policies to protect kids from e-cigarettes. For example, in addition to added e-cigarettes to our smoke-free law, Chicago has moved e-cigarettes behind store counters, out of the reach of kids. Retailers will be required to have a tobacco license. If a retailer in Chicago is caught selling e-cigarettes to children, they will be fined and can have their license revoked. And, uniquely, Chicago is currently the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that has passed legislation to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes within 500 feet of schools.

Chicago is using every possible strategy to help keep our young people tobacco free -- and that effort is paying off. After several years of stagnation in the fight against tobacco, we're starting to see progress again here in Chicago. In 2013, only 10.7 percent of Chicago high school students reported smoking within 30 days -- a historic low, down from 13.6 percent just two years ago. But local jurisdictions can only do so much. The FDA must also do its part, not only by prohibiting sales to kids nationwide but also restricting advertising to youth. This is why Mayor Emanuel has called on the FDA to act with a sense of urgency. The health of our children depends on it.

But in Chicago we don't wait for others to act. We lead. In 2000, one-quarter of all CPS high school students smoked. Today, that number is just above 10 percent. That's leadership. That's Chicago. Today is no exception.

Let The Men Of Online Dating Show You How To Really Woo A Woman

Wed, 2014-04-30 13:47
Courtship in cyberspace demands more than compelling emojis and a self-proclaimed "passion for gourmet cooking." Internet dating is a delicate art of seduction that requires strategy, timing, and not being a "creep."

How does a Nice Guy expect to navigate these choppy waters and stand out among the sea of Internet weirdos, anyway? Don't worry -- we've got some tips.

First, if you want a quality lady, know you have to put in some effort.

You can't be scared to tell her that you think she's special.

And that you'd like to spend time getting to know her.

Wishy-washy gents finish last, so let her know exactly what you're looking for.

Even if your needs are a bit... unusual.

Never hesitate to assert yourself.

Because every woman likes a straight shooter.

After all, confidence is key.

But remember -- a good relationship is rooted in common interests.

So make sure to ask her about herself, too.

Even a simple question can give you amazing insight into her personality.

Or just start off with something more open-ended.

When in doubt, compliment her best assets.

And learn how to showcase your own.

Open up, and tell her what makes you special.

Let your sense of humor shine through!

Don't worry about trying to write the "perfect" message -- just be yourself.

Vulnerability can be a turn-on.

Describing precisely why she caught your eye can show off your romantic side, too.

If you're after a brainy girl, show her you value her intellect.

Or cater to her '90s nostalgia.

In a pinch, just appeal to her most basic animal instincts.

Don't keep your passion a secret, let her know you’d go to the ends of the Earth for her.

Like, literally the ends of the Earth.

Or forgo the drama, and just ask her out already!

Remember, rejection is inevitable in the online dating game. Learn to handle it with grace.

The Onion Is Tired Of Click Bait, And What They're Doing Next Will Explain Everything

Wed, 2014-04-30 13:28
For those tired of skewering the annoyingly successful formulas of listicles and feel-good cliffhanger headlines -- perfected by Buzzfeed and Upworthy, respectively -- it's okay. The Onion plans to take over the heavy lifting with a new site designed to intentionally satirize viral "clickbait."

On Tuesday, The Onion announced the upcoming launch of "Clickhole", a website "putting content and sponsored posts side by side, with barely any distinction between them," the New York Business Journal reports. The site is scheduled to launch in June.

"People will climb into this click hole and find content so interesting they won't be able to keep it to themselves," said "Jim Haggerty," the Onion News Network host played by journalist-actor Brad Holbrook, according to the Journal. "Every post is engineered to be as shareable as possible, so it spreads like a deadly wildfire on social media."

With readers unable to resist stories that will melt your heart (much of it stuff that they'll never believe, but definitely stories only people interested in life-changing news will understand), Gawker notes Clickhole posts will include:

- Quizzes like "Which pizza should I have for dinner tonight? (presented by Pizza Hut)"

- Uplifting personal tales in list forms: "Seven pricks that defied the odds and didn't go into finance."

- The aww factor: A video titled "What this adorable little girl says will melt your heart." (It's actually a cogent explanation of how brands monetize adorable little kids, as spoken by an adorable little kid.)

- And finally, photo slide shows with no words: "Six kinds of hay."

All joking aside, The Onion's move to encroach on the turf of successful viral content creators comes just months after the comedy site ended its print run nationwide.

(And yes, we fully expect Clickhole to come after us too, particularly for headlines like this).

Though Clickhole won't go live until June, the preview site has a feature to help readers prime their trigger finger. Ready. Set. Click!

How 'American' Are You? Let This Quiz Be The Judge.

Wed, 2014-04-30 13:26
When you see a survey proclaiming that a "majority of Americans" do this or that, how often does it accurately describe you? Sometimes, these findings are used to paint a picture of the "average American," a term tossed around in Fox News specials, presidential stump speeches and everywhere in between. But what does it actually mean, and are you one of them?

While no study or figure can truly define one's overall American-ness, we've cobbled together a short checklist of characteristics that describe the majority of the country's residents on a wide range of issues. Some are political, some are personal, some are flat out random. Take the quiz below and find out just how much you have in common with your fellow compatriots. Then, check the answer key at the bottom to find out how we got your score.

Quiz widget by

Find out what made you less American in the answer key!

All photos in slideshow are Getty Images.

Chicago Bulls Face Important Offseason Decisions

Wed, 2014-04-30 13:14
It wasn't long ago that the Chicago Bulls were poised to be the challengers to the big, bad Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. It was a natural rivalry full of star power. The Bulls had one of the game's most devastating young players in homegrown MVP Derrick Rose, flanked by a terrific two-way wing in Luol Deng and rising stud at center in Joakim Noah. They had a mastermind head coach in Tom Thibodeau, a defensive guru who played a key role in Boston's championship run under Doc Rivers. But that was three years ago -- before Rose had two catastrophic knee operations and sat out the entire 2013 playoffs, and before Deng was traded.

There comes a time in the NBA when you need to move on. Start over. Cut your losses. And for the Bulls, that time has come. After its second premature postseason defeat in a row (last year's team beat Brooklyn in the first round), the payroll remains bloated with Carlos Boozer's albatross of a deal (he will make $16.8 million next season), and with Rose, who will make more than $60 million over the next three years. While Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf still has his amnesty clause available, he has appeared hesitant to invoke it and send Boozer somewhere else.

Very few coaches, if any, could have kept a team afloat as Thibodeau has without Rose. But there's still a strong chance he will not be retained. While Thibodeau has another two years on his deal, both he and the players may be in need of a change. And plenty of other franchises would be interested in Thibodeau, who remains one of the most respected coaches in the league.

Perhaps the most challenging question for Chicago's front office is whether or not to keep Rose. Are his health concerns too serious? Coming back from a torn ACL is certainly doable, but for a player like Rose -- who relies so greatly on his explosion, torque and powerful leaping ability -- there's good reason to think he will never again be the dynamic talent he once was. Is this roster good enough to survive if Rose proves to be a different kind of player once he returns?

Here's one way to think about it: There are two immovable players. One of them is Noah. The other is third-year man Jimmy Butler, who will likely get a contract extension this summer. Both are superb defensive weapons -- Noah is an elite big man passer, and was just named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year -- and both have yet to play their best basketball, since Butler is just 24 and Noah is 29. Chicago can even trade Rose for young assets or draft picks. Both of the next two drafts appear loaded with star talent. Rose will be 26 when the 2014-15 season begins, and even if he doesn't come back playing at the height of his powers, he should still command a high pick.

Another viable option is to pursue New York Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony. While it would take some creative financial moves -- perhaps shedding Boozer's contract -- it is certainly possible, especially with Rose as a selling point to be Melo's point guard of the future. The salary cap is expected to increase by $5 million next season, bringing it to a total $63 million (and the luxury tax to $77 million), which will provide more flexibility. Anthony's presence would instantly change Chicago's long-term fate. It's extremely difficult to acquire a superstar in his prime, and to have two, along with Noah and sound ancillary components Butler and Taj Gibson, would be lethal.

The NBA is not a league that rewards teams for being stuck in the middle. It's best to be either a front-runner or in total rebuilding mode. Since the former isn't an option right now and we don't know whether signing Anthony is actually feasible, rebuilding might be the best way to go. It worked for once-lowly Washington (drafted John Wall and Bradley Beal), Golden State (drafted Stephen Curry) and even Portland (drafted Damian Lillard). Chicago has two first-round picks currently projected at Nos. 16 and 19. The Bulls have been able to remain afloat despite Rose's injuries, but now is the time to decide where this franchise is going to go in the next several years.

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 Sunday mornings from 9 to 12 EST, right here.

Half Of The Residents In These 2 States Wish They Lived Somewhere Else

Wed, 2014-04-30 12:16
Would you relocate if you had the choice?

A new Gallup report shows that residents in some states are more apt to leave than others, with the most residents in Illinois and Connecticut saying that they would move if they could.

Meanwhile, Montana, Hawaii and Maine had the fewest residents who said they would leave their states if they could. Not surprisingly, residents in Montana were also the most likely to say that their state is the "best or one of the best possible states to live" in another recent Gallup survey.

Overall, about one in three people in the Gallup survey said they would want to move out of their state.

The findings are based on interviews with at least 600 adults in each of the 50 states. The participants were asked, "Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?"

As for whether people were actually planning to move, the most people in Nevada -- 20 percent -- said that they were extremely, very or somewhat likely to move within 12 months, followed by 19 percent of people in Illinois and Arizona each, and 17 percent of people in Maryland, Louisiana, Idaho and South Carolina, each.

Meanwhile, the fewest residents in Maine, Iowa and Vermont -- 8 percent -- said that they were extremely, very, or somewhat likely to move within 12 months.

Overall, the biggest reasons people gave for wanting to move were work or business (31 percent), family/social reasons (19 percent), weather/location (11 percent), and seeking improved quality of life or a change (9 percent).

So which residents are happiest with where they're living now, and who would leave if they only had the chance? Check out the findings from Gallup below:

The states with the most residents who said they would move if they could:
1. Illinois - 50 percent
2. Connecticut - 49 percent
3. Maryland - 47 percent
4. Nevada - 43 percent
5. Rhode Island - 42 percent
6. New Jersey - 41 percent
6. New York - 41 percent
6. Massachusetts - 41 percent
9. Louisiana - 40 percent
10. Mississippi - 39 percent

The states with the fewest residents who said they would move if they could:
1. Montana - 23 percent
1. Hawaii - 23 percent
1. Maine - 23 percent
4. Oregon - 24 percent
4. New Hampshire - 24 percent
4. Texas - 24 percent
7. Colorado - 25 percent
7. Minnesota - 25 percent
9. South Dakota - 26 percent
10. Wyoming - 27 percent

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly said in one reference that residents in California were apt to leave their state; that reference has been corrected to say Connecticut.

Chicago Bulls Mascot Holds Up Sign Mocking Donald Sterling

Wed, 2014-04-30 12:15
Benny the Bull, the mascot of the Chicago Bulls, took a shot at Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling during Game 5 against the Washington Wizards at the United Center on Tuesday. Hours after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced a lifetime ban for the Los Angeles Clippers owner for his racist comments heard in recordings released by TMZ and Deadspin, Benny held up a sign that let the crowd know he feels color-blind love from Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

7 Reasons Your Body Wants You To Plan A Beach Trip Right Now

Wed, 2014-04-30 11:49
Ah, the beach. Is there anything better? There's just no place quite as relaxing, beautiful or pleasant, and no place that combines the simple pleasures of unplugging and enjoying nature in our otherwise tech-heavy and work-driven realities. The beach helps us recharge -- and we need to be making A LOT more use of it.

We know most jobs already offer vacation time, but considering these specific health benefits of the beach, maybe it's time they carved out days for their employees to spend in the sun and sand.

Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D.

Sure, that milk your drinking is fortified with vitamin D, but the truth is most people get 80 to 90 percent of their daily dose from sun exposure. According to information provided by the Harvard Medical School, the most natural and substantial source of the vitamin depends on how much UVB light gets through to you. That light reacts with a cholesterol-related compound and metabolizes into vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, creates healthy skin and may even help improve mental health.

The sun's role in both health-promoting vitamin D and in the sun damage that can lead to skin cancer makes things confusing. Since sunscreens block the vital UVB rays needed for Vitamin D production within the body, most doctors advocate "responsible sun exposure" to get what you need. About 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure does the trick for most people, after which protection in the form of a sunblock with 30 SPF or higher (along with additional preemptive measures) is essential for the skin's longterm health. That said, everyone's needs are different and it's best to talk to your doctor about a sun plan that best benefits you.

Sand is a natural exfoliant.

Do you ever wonder why it feels so good to walk on sand? It's because there are somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 nerve endings in each foot that awaken when you walk across those tiny grains. Wet sand acts as a natural exfoliant and peels off dead skin cells from your feet (and really, anywhere else on your body), leaving them renewed and much softer.

To take full advantage of sand's rejuvenating qualities, take a walk near the water where the sand is "looser" and can wash over your feet. If you're thinking exfoliation is a luxury and not a health essential, think again. Your skin sheds about 50,000 skin cells every minute and sometimes they stay attached to your body, which can cause your pores to clog and lead to blackhead and acne. Exfoliation keeps the skin clean, healthy and rejuvenated.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a walk on the beach, if only to get rid of all those dead skin cells. Actually, you'll probably want to just start rolling around in wet sand at this point.

It could help rheumatoid arthritis patients feel better.

The minerals in the ocean could help reduce symptoms for those with rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study, patients who used bath salts made from Dead Sea minerals also experienced fewer symptoms, like morning stiffness and trouble with hand gripping. You know what else can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? Getting enough vitamin D, that's right.

Also, sunlight has been shown to decrease depression.

Common sense would tell us that people tend to be happier in the warmer months and less so in the gloomier months, but it's been scientifically proven that sunshine can make us happier. A study conducted by the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that the amount of sunlight participants' received directly affected their mood. The team also noticed that with increased sunlight exposure, their levels of serotonin increased, having a positive effect on factors such as stress, sleep and appetite.

Now, we're not claiming that a lack of beach outings in your life will lead to symptoms of depression. However, as with the previous points, the beach has got a lot of what your body needs, all in one beautiful place.

In the study's own words: "More sunlight meant better moods; less sunlight lead to symptoms of depression."

Seawater preserves elasticity of skin.

The ocean is full of anti-aging minerals that can counter the decline of your skin's elasticity among other things... this is great, great news!

As we grow older, our skin, as well as other things, tends to lose its tightness and suppleness. And while some people will do almost anything to look young, what we're recommending is far less invasive and expensive. Treating your body to a little bit of saltwater every now and again will obviously not have the same dramatic effect as cosmetic intervention, but it can aid in the process of keeping everything a little bit tighter.

A day at the beach gets you moving without even trying.

We're chalking this one up to probability more than scientific fact, simply because going to the beach usually involves some sort of physical activity, right? Whether you're swimming, jogging, surfing, playing soccer or beach volleyball or simply walking through the sand to find a nice spot to lay out, rare is the day when you go to the beach and do absolutely no exercise. Walking on the beach is already a better workout than walking on concrete, "walking on sand requires 1.6-2.5 times more mechanical work than does walking on a hard surface at the same speed."

Plus, it's not like you're just sitting pretty when engaging in some of these activities -- you're burning major calories by just going for a swim, for example. A leisurely swim can burn about 200 calories. Surfing? Just over 100. Frisbee? About the same. And beach volleyball is nearly 300. So ditch the gym -- the beach is your new fitness friend.

And with a much, much prettier view.

And perhaps most importantly, the beach decreases your stress level by helping you unplug.

Unplugging is good for the mind, body and soul. According to a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, staying constantly plugged in has been associated with stress, loss of sleep and depression.. Let go of the tablets and smartphones and allow yourself a technology-free escape to this oasis every once in a while to help you re-center. Seriously, don't even try to bring your devices to the beach -- as everyone knows, sand gets everywhere.

A study conducted by the University of Exeter took it a step further and found that simply living near the beach can also be beneficial to your health and well-being. They took into account people's proximity to the beach and their self-reported health to conclude that living seaside may actually result in better health.

A short walk (on the beach, or anywhere else) is also known to decrease stress and help you reset. So, if you'd really like to feel at ease, unplug AND go for a leisurely walk on the beach -- you've just treated yourself to the ultimate de-stressing combination.

The beach is a magical place that can recharge you and help you stay fit physically, mentally and spiritually. For those reasons, we conclude that beach visits are seriously healthy, not to mention pretty pleasant. Just remember to wear your sunscreen.

All images Getty

Wizards Twitter Account Trolls ESPN 'Experts' In The Best Way Possible (PHOTO)

Wed, 2014-04-30 11:17
After the Washington Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night 75-69 to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, the team's twitter account slammed ESPN's "experts" with an ultimate burn.

The Wizards tweeted out a picture that shows 17 of 18 ESPN analysts who chose the Bulls to win. Well played.

"experts" #dcRising

— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 30, 2014

Clayton Lockett's Botched Execution Is Sick And Depressing, But Not Surprising. Here's Why.

Wed, 2014-04-30 10:22
The execution of Clayton Lockett, a convicted murderer in Oklahoma, ended in distressing fashion Tuesday, when he was declared dead from a fatal heart attack a full 43 minutes after being administered the first injection in what was supposed to be a lethal three-drug cocktail.

Witnesses reported seeing Lockett breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and struggling to lift his head and even speak during the ordeal. Officials with Oklahoma's Department of Corrections say the execution was complicated when Lockett's vein "exploded," which some have said suggests an improper injection -- not necessarily the drugs themselves -- was to blame for the botched process.

Reviewing a detailed account of someone's killing is never likely to be comfortable, but the sordid details of Lockett's execution are particularly difficult to read. While the cruel manner in which Lockett died is upsetting, it's sadly not surprising. As the New Republic reports, if the difficulty with the execution was caused by an improper injection, that wouldn't have been the first time.

During a 2006 execution in Ohio, an inmate took 86 minutes to die after attending medical staff had difficulty finding a vein. In a 2009 incident in Ohio, an EMT tried and failed 18 times to make a successful injection to administer the drugs. The inmate's execution was eventually postponed, and he is still alive today.

And those incidents took place when prisons had access to effective drugs. The companies that sell those compounds are now increasingly cutting off the supply of traditional lethal injection drugs over their opposition to capital punishment. Without them, states have been forced to innovate, sometimes to disastrous effect.

In January, Ohio executed convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire by lethal injection, using a combination of untested drugs that took 25 minutes to kill him. The case led to backlash and concern among inmates and criminal justice proponents alike, both of whom fought for information into the source of the drugs, as well as their efficacy. But with states still showing a willingness to proceed with executions even when the process hasn't been thoroughly vetted or perfected, there was always a possibility that it could go horribly wrong again. The infographic below, which first appeared earlier this month before Lockett's execution, explains some of the reasons why:

Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.