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Living Fully and Doing Business Differently With Richard Branson

Wed, 2014-06-25 15:33
All day today at my apartment, I've been hosting a meeting of the B Team, which Richard Branson co-founded last year to change the values that drive businesses, to prioritize people and planet alongside profit, and to move beyond our obsession with quarterly earnings and short-term growth. And before we started the day, I interviewed Richard at AOL's Brand Camp leadership meeting, which reminded me of a conversation he and I had in 2009, on board Virgin America's inaugural flight from San Francisco to Orange County, covering everything from space travel and global warming to marijuana and the music business. Here is the video, along with the full transcript:

Arianna Huffington: So here we are, on the inaugural flight from San Francisco to Orange County, and we've had hundreds of questions submitted to Digg, and out of those the community chose the top 10. So let's start with the first one, which is from "dlprager," with 503 diggs: When does money become immaterial? Having $1 million is different from being broke, and I imagine having $10 million is different from $1 million. Is $1 billion significantly different from, in terms of lifestyle impact and implications, $250 million?

Richard Branson: Well, first of all, welcome to Virgin America. I've never done an interview at 35,000 feet, so it's a pleasure. And I've actually just been reading one of [your] books [On Becoming Fearless], and it's fantastic, so I'm looking forward to finishing that. I think one has to be careful, when you've got money, answering questions about money, because, well, some people will say, "It's easy for him," but my own personal feeling is that you don't need that much money to be happy. You know, I think I've learned that if you have a house, you end up living in the kitchen, so if you have one big kitchen and then enough bedrooms for your family, that's about all you need for a home. A car -- you know, as long as it's got four wheels, it's environmentally friendly, gets you from A to B, you don't need a big, flashy car to be happy. On a personal basis, I think as long as you can have one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner, as long as you can sort out for your family if they're ill, the personal needs are not that great to be happy. Having said that, if you are lucky enough to create a successful business, and with that successful business comes extreme wealth, there are a lot of fantastic things you can do with that wealth. And extreme responsibility comes with that wealth, because you're no more successful than, you know, a successful doctor or nurse or dentist or journalist, you know, but you've got this extreme wealth. And I think you can get happiness through making a real difference in other people's lives by setting out to make other people's lives better and setting out to right the wrongs in the world. If you're lucky enough to have a few hundred thousand dollars in the bank account, that should be sufficient for your own personal needs, and anything more than that you've got to put to good use.

AH: So the next question is from "bratterscain," with 440 diggs, who asks: What is it like to be rich enough to wear naked babes as a clothing accessory?

RB: [Laughs.] Well, I think he's referring to a photographer that came with his rather beautiful girlfriend to Necker Island, which is our rather beautiful island out in the Caribbean, to do a photo shoot for Italian Vogue, and one of the shots he asked me to do was to take his girlfriend on my back kitesurfing, which is one of my favorite sports, and he said to me that it would be much better if she wasn't wearing clothes. And you know me: Being an English gentleman, I decided not to object.

AH: And also you proved you have a strong back, right?

RB: Yeah, well, she was quite a tall girl, but, you know, she clung on for dear life, and somehow I got it up.

AH: You know, it was a very popular news story on The Huffington Post. It was clicked through many times.

RB: I'm a great believer in life to saying yes and not saying no, and hopefully making people smile and just having fun in life.

AH: And not holding back because of what other people might say, right?

RB: And not holding back because of what other people say. And I'm certainly not embarrassed by having a beautiful nude woman, certainly one of the more beautiful women I've ever seen, on my back.

AH: The next question is from "Chewie67," with 423 diggs: When do you believe an "average," middle-class family will be able to take a trip into space?

RB: I saw the Moon landing and thought in my lifetime I would go to the Moon and my children would go to the Moon. The problem is that space travel has been run by governments -- the Russian government and the American government -- and they've never been interested in you, me, or middle-class families going into space, and so in 1990 I formed a company, Virgin Galactic Airways, and I went out looking for engineers who could build a reusable space rocket to take ordinary families, one day, into space. And I think most people would want to go into space if it were affordable, and if we could guarantee them a return ticket. Now, initially it's going to be expensive. It's going to be about $200,000 a ticket, but those people who are paying that are going to be pioneering the possibilities of middle-class families generally being able to go into space, and I'm absolutely certain that in my lifetime most middle-class families will be able to afford to have a trip into space. We're building a wonderful spaceport in New Mexico. We've got genius engineers working on it. We're going to make the experience absolutely magnificent. And I really hope that we will be able to get the price down so people can say, you know, "Do I want to go to Australia for this holiday, or shall I go into space?"

AH: And you've already had about 100 people who have paid and signed up?

RB: Well, we actually have about 300 who've signed up to go into space. But I won't let you off this plane until you say you're willing to go into space!

AH: I'll go into space when you go into space!

RB: Well, OK, I'll get you on the first flight. We'll get [you] into space!

AH: OK, so from "Bisquick," with 353 diggs, your next question is: Your net worth is currently estimated in the billions. What is the most valuable thing in your life?

RB: Well, I think there's no question that the most valuable thing in most people's lives are their family, friends, and, you know, that ends up being the most important thing in all our lives. Having said that, if there was one material possession that our family really loves, it's a tiny little jewel of an island that we have in the Caribbean called Necker Island. I bought it when I was in my 20s. It cost $120,000; there was nothing on it. It's a little jewel. It's the place we escape to. It's the place where we pull up the drawbridge. It's the place where I have time to think. It's the place where I think about global-warming issues. It's the place where The Elders come to meet to talk about conflict-resolution issues. It's the place where we can talk about setting up Centers for Disease Control in Africa. It's a wonderful magnet to get people together.

AH: And also you were telling me that you haven't had anything to drink in six weeks?

RB: Six weeks ago I actually was in Australia, and we just sponsored a team for the Grand Prix, and we came in first and second, and we celebrated, and I drank so much that the next morning I couldn't remember anything after 9 o'clock that night. I literally couldn't remember anything. And it shocked me, you know. I just thought, "While it was fun and a great party, you can't go four hours just not remembering a thing." And I woke up, and I thought, you know, "I'll try a month or two of just cleansing my body," and I haven't drank a drop since. I feel like I'm getting three or four more hours in a day of really quality time.

AH: And you really love the feeling?

RB: Yeah. I'm a true believer, you know, in working hard and partying hard. I'm fortunate to be one of those people who can have just as much fun partying without alcohol, and I only just realized that in the last six weeks.

AH: When you started, you started with Virgin nightclubs, then Virgin health clubs, and you predicted at some point there will be Virgin funerals.

RB: I think you should do in life what you think you'll make a real difference at. And generally, as a businessperson, you do things you don't really have experience in. And you know, the only reason we started an airline was that I hated the experience of flying on other people's airlines. I wanted the kind of airline I would fly on. And so, 25 years ago today, we started Virgin Airlines with one 747.

AH: I love the purple that you say changes every couple of hours!

RB: Yeah, well, you know, airlines that travel domestically in America have really not cared about the passengers that travel with them. I mean, it's just been like a cattle truck to date. So if you come on this plane, immediately you feel comfortable, because the color schemes are lovely; they make you feel relaxed. You don't have the same color schemes for the whole journey; they change depending on the time of day outside. The seating is really comfortable; you know, in economy there are lovely leather seats, and fantastic entertainment systems, you know. If you want to be on the Internet the whole flight, you can. If you want to watch films, you can. If you want to play games, you can. If you want to chat with the passenger four rows back, you can send them a message, and if they want to go to the loo and have a quick look at you, they'll respond.

AH: So you already told us about giving up drinking for six weeks. Now "braddaniels," with 351 diggs asks: Do you still smoke marijuana? If so, how often? If pot was legal, would there be Virgin joints?

RB: That's a good question, and, personally, I think that marijuana should be legalized. I think the only reason it isn't legal is because politicians who smoked it when they were young men or young women just don't have the courage when they become politicians to legalize it. Smoking marijuana, as long as you leave the nicotine out of it, is certainly no more damaging than having a drink, and I suspect better for you than having a drink. It just seems absolutely wrong that young people -- most young people -- either smoke the occasional spliff or they smoke quite regularly and they risk having a criminal record and all the problems that come with having a criminal record. All the customs' time, the police's time, the court's time is wasted having to prosecute these young people, and it's a war that the authority is never going to win. They might as well accept it and legalize it. As far as smoking myself is concerned, I don't, personally, because, you know, I'm not even drinking at the moment. I like to get high on life, and I don't really need to smoke, and it doesn't give me the nice high that it gives most people.

AH: The next question is from "digsdigs," with 275 diggs: Do you feel that with bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead releasing their own music without a label, the traditional record label no longer has its place in the digital age?

RB: Yes, unfortunately, I think that the death knell of record labels is upon us. I had a wonderful time running Virgin Records many years ago and discovering bands. It was tremendously exciting. Culture Club, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones, Boy George -- lots of great bands. But I think that time has moved on, and record companies are almost a thing of the past. Live music is now really important, and at Virgin we put on these great festivals around the world, the Virgin Festivals, and people love live music now, and that's largely replaced where a lot of people get their music from. I think bands will actually make more money without record companies; a much bigger share of the money will go to the bands. You won't have record shops taking 40 percent of the money. You won't have record labels taking 40 percent of the money. So they don't have to sell as many albums as they used to in the past. So it's not necessarily a bad thing if record companies disappear.

AH: When you sold Virgin Records, it was a kind of bittersweet experience. You know, you got a billion dollars, but it was like giving up a big part of your life and what it had meant?

RB: Yes, well, I run our companies in a very personal way, and if you sell a company, it's like selling a child. I built Virgin Records as a teenager, and I was in my early 30s, and British Airways was trying to drive our airline out of business, so we needed the financial clout to stop them from driving our airline out of business. It was strange, sort of bursting into tears and running down the street, having just sold my record company, and passing a sign that said, "Branson Makes a Billion Dollars Selling His Company."

AH: But then you cry easily, right?

RB: I do cry easily. My children, when we go to the cinema, will bring a box of Kleenex, whether it's a happy film or a sad film.

AH: So when was the last time you cried? Do you remember?

RB: Most weeks I cry over something, but often it's tears of happiness, and actually in my life it's most often tears of happiness than tears of sorrow -- very rarely tears of sorrow.

AH: From "TxnDigital," with 253 diggs: Is Virgin Media ever going to stop BitTorrent throttling?

RB: Yes. We only do it in absolute peak times of the day in order to try and encourage people to go on in the non-peak times of the day. But Virgin Media is actually introducing 50 MGs. We'll be the only people with that capacity in the UK, and then we should be able to stop it altogether, and people will be able to use it as much as they like.

AH: OK, from "owaters," with 236 diggs: Is there anything you would have done differently in your career, even if it meant not reaching the level of success you have today?

RB: I don't think there's anything I would have done differently. I've had lots of failures, but that's all part of life's learning process. I've been incredibly fortunate. It's been great fun, and there's nothing I would change. I'm sure I've learned from some of my mistakes in the past, but there's nothing I would change.

AH: From "xthpsgodx," with 228 diggs: What historical figure would you most like to fistfight?

RB: Maybe Mark Antony, because at least if I beat him, I might get Cleopatra. Yeah, you know, maybe Stephen Colbert. He's not really historical yet, but, you know, we named a plane after him, and now he already wants a spaceship named after him. He's getting far too big for his boots, but we'll have a fistfight the next time I see him.

AH: Well, I'm doing his show next week, so I'm going to tell him to be prepared to fistfight Richard Branson.

RB: Well, the last time I was on his show, he ended up getting a cup of water after each sentence, so next time it will be the fists. Say hello to him for me.

AH: I will. From "mrSimon," with 211 diggs: You've handled everything from music to cola, from trains to space travel. What's next in store for the Virgin brand?

RB: Well, most of my energy now is going into tackling issues, sometimes using the Virgin brand, and sometimes just using the financial resources of Virgin. For instance, all the profits from our airlines now are going into trying to develop clean fuels, clean energy. And hopefully soon, you know, this plane will be running on something called isobutanol that one of our companies has developed -- a company called Gevo -- which is sugar-based fuel, completely clean, and, with global warming coming, very important to be able to do. We're also working with a wonderful group of elders, headed up by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu, looking at conflict-resolution issues, and they're using their moral authority to go in and address conflicts. And one of our newest ventures is setting up a Center for Disease Control in Africa so that all of the wonderful organizations in Africa can be coordinated in their attack on diseases, and if new diseases -- say, TB in Africa or bird flu or whatever -- crop up, they can jump on it as quickly as in America, where you've got a Center for Disease Control in the States. So I think more of our time and energy is using our entrepreneurial skills to try and address some of the intractable problems of the world.

AH: Thank you so much. Thank you, Richard.

RB: It's been a pleasure.

'Straight White Boys Texting' Is The Tumblr Of Our Time

Wed, 2014-06-25 14:56
The surprise explicit text: a peril of the modern dating world.

You swipe right with someone cute on Tinder. You're chatting away about normal things, like puppies and what you do for work. When suddenly, out of nowhere:

This phenomenon, known colloquially as "straight white boy texting syndrome," led one Tumblr user to compile submitted screenshots of the worst offenders in one hilarious, gross place. Enter "Straight White Boys Texting."

The blog's FAQ page explains: "The name of this blog is based off of the phenomenon of the 'straight white boy text' aka asking 'hey what's your bra size ;)' in the middle of a conversation, or things like 'what would you do if you were here haha lol ;)'"

Of course, non-white straight men send ridiculous texts too -- and their "contributions" are welcome on the site. Check out some of the most hilarious attempts at seduction below, and check out the Tumblr for more.





These Are The Saddest World Cup Fans On Earth

Wed, 2014-06-25 14:13
Listen, world: we feel you. We remember the terrible, growing hole of sadness that gnawed away more and more of our soul while the U.S. crashed out of the World Cup in 2006. It felt like it would take at least two days before emotional eating (cheese pizza, mostly) would help us feel whole again! So we've been there, and we know how much it hurts -- but we're also not above collecting these photos of you in various stages of emotional distress, from despair to public tears. Better luck next time.

Thanks to Yelp, We've Assembled Your City-by-City Illinois Restaurant Travel Guide

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:58

If you're having a hard time figuring out where to take the family for dinner, or maybe that hot date of yours, there's a list for that.

Do you often check consumer reporting websites like Yelp, OpenTable or Google reviews before you try out a new restaurant? Since eating out is expensive, it's probably wise to know what past patrons have said about the food, atmosphere and service at a particular eatery.

Another nice feature about these sites is they use an average star-rating system and price filters so you know what to expect, especially when the check comes. Plus, it's a handy tool to scour for new, high-rated places to splurge and have a little more assurance your money will be well spent.

Here is a list of the best-rated restaurants that are medium-priced ($$) in Yelp's system, which means dishes cost between $11 and $30. Reviews are hyperlocal and restaurants are grouped by city: Peoria, Springfield, Rockford, Champaign, Chicago and its suburbs.

While we're on the topic of quality establishments in Illinois, take a look at which hospitals are considered the most and least safe in the state.

Chicago Lawmakers Approve Tough Gun Shop Restrictions

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:43

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, June 25 (Reuters) - The Chicago City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a law that would allow the resumption of gun sales in the city but with restrictions that require videotaping of purchases and limiting sales to one per month per buyer.

Forty-eight council members voted to approve the ordinance proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after a federal court invalidated the city's long-time ban on gun sales in January.

The law also requires a 72-hour waiting period to purchase handguns in the nation's third largest city and a 24-hour waiting period to purchase rifles and shotguns.

Chicago has been plagued by a gun-related homicide rate that is three times higher than New York's and twice that of Los Angeles.

The court order had given the city six months to come up with its own gun store policies.

Under the new ordinance, gun store employees have to undergo background checks and sellers need to prepare quarterly inventory audits and make store records available for police inspection. Gun sales are prohibited within 500 feet of schools.

Emanuel called the ordinance "tough, smart and enforceable."

Emanuel has stressed the need to strictly control gun sales within the bounds of the court order.

"The level of violence is unacceptable in this city," Alderman Bob Fioretti said in support of the ordinance.

The Illinois State Rifle Association, a gun rights group, has said the restrictions will make it too difficult for anyone to open a Chicago gun store. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jim Loney and Bill Trott)

Our Shared Immigrant History

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:31
This month we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month. Thanks to a new non-profit called, from now on, June will be dedicated to celebrating immigrants and recognizing the achievements and contributions that immigrants have made to our country.

I am Polish American. Both my paternal and maternal grandparents came to the United States from Poland in the early years of the last century with no possessions or assets to speak of and only a dream of a better life. My grandparents worked hard to achieve their American dream; they loved their adopted country and celebrated America. It is with this same commitment to hard work, patriotism and love that many of today's immigrants come to the United States, hoping to remain here.

After establishing themselves, my grandparents all took jobs to support their families. One grandmother was a seamstress who sewed the lining into caskets, the other was a baker, rising before the sun each day to make bread for the bakery in which she worked. One of my grandfathers worked for the rail-road his whole life, while the other was a carpenter who carved some of the finest altars in the Catholic churches in Chicago. Both grandfathers proudly served America during World War II. Throughout their lives, blind to the obstacles they faced, my grandparents remained strongly committed to their faith, their community and their adopted county.

Twenty-eight percent of all new businesses in 2011 were started by immigrants. Twenty-five percent of high tech firms launched between 1995 and 2005 have been founded by immigrants. Seventy-five percent of agricultural workers in the U.S. are foreign born. Nearly 90 percent of patents associated with the University of Illinois involved at least one immigrant inventor.

The innumerable contributions of immigrants to American commerce, industry, culture, and politics are historic and legendary.

America was built and is fueled by immigrants every day, and no one can dispute that the immigrant experience is the foundation of America as we know it. Whether you're a 1st generation American, or a 5th generation American, someone in your family immigrated to this country for a better life.

For many, the promise of America is extinguishing. Immigrant families are being separated from one another. Immigration reform is a priority for me because I recognize the immigrant background and experience in our history, as well as the suffering in immigrant families who are being torn apart.

Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country. What we do today will determine the next chapter of the immigrant history and immigrant experience in America -- these 11 million people are already part of that chapter. America needs leaders who have the courage to fix a broken system. America needs Republicans in Congress to work together with President Obama to realize that reform -- for the benefit of America's economy and for immigrant families.

Although I didn't make the journey from Poland myself, I cherish my heritage while honoring my American spirit. During Immigrant Heritage Month we celebrate our different cultures but also our shared values. I urge you to go to the website and share your immigrant story with America.

Think You Know Your Sh*t? Here's What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:15
I know you'd like to think that your shit don't stink, but if you lean a little bit closer, you might learn a little bit more about your health.

It's true: While you might be the type to flush it and forget it, the next time you hit the loo to do your business, check out what's in the bowl. The texture, shape and color of your dung can hint at things like dehydration, undetected illnesses and dietary deficiencies. If you're excreting hard, pebbly poops, for example, you may be lacking in the fiber and fluid departments.

Take a look at the infographic below from to learn more about what your poop can tell you about your health.

(Click to enlarge)

Infographic by Jolene Foo is Malaysia's leading health community that inspires people to make better choices for their health, fitness and happiness

Explorer Convinced The Remains Of A Mysterious 17th Century Shipwreck Have Been Found

Wed, 2014-06-25 12:46
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A debris field at the bottom of Lake Michigan may be the remains of the long-lost Griffin, a vessel commanded by a 17th-century French explorer, said a shipwreck hunter who has sought the wreckage for decades.

Steve Libert told The Associated Press that his crew found the debris this month about 120 feet from the spot where they removed a wooden slab a year ago that was protruding from the lake bottom. Libert believes that timber was the bowsprit of Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle's ship, although scientists who joined the 2013 expedition say the slab more likely was an abandoned fishing net stake. "This is definitely the Griffin — I'm 99.9 percent sure it is," Libert said. "This is the real deal."

He described the bottomland area as littered with wooden planks that could belong to a ship's bow, along with nails and pegs that would have fastened the hull to the rest of the vessel and what appeared to be sections of a mast.

He acknowledged his dive team had found no "smoking gun" such as a cannon or other artifacts with markings identifying them as belonging to the Griffin. But the nails and other implements appeared similar to those from La Belle, another of La Salle's ships that sank near the Gulf of Mexico, Libert said.

He said his organization has sent images of the debris to three French underwater archaeologists who took part in last year's search, and that he hopes state and federal permits can be obtained to excavate in the area in September.

The French team was led by Michel L'Hour, director of the Department of Underwater Archaeological Research in the French Ministry of Culture and an authority on shipwrecks. L'Hour told the AP by email Tuesday that the latest findings were "encouraging" but that more evidence was needed to determine the origin of the items.

"The wooden remains that have been observed could correspond to a wreck," L'Hour said.

They include treenails with wedges and square nails that have some similarity with La Belle's fasteners "and a few other details already observed on wrecks dated in the 17th century," he said.

But he said the artifacts that have been seen could be dated as late as the 19th century and that items such as ceramic shards are needed to provide more certainty.

"We are always interested in participating to assess the site," L'Hour said, adding that the U.S. and France would need to approve any new involvement in the project by his team, which comprises civil officers of the French government.

Dean Anderson, Michigan's state archaeologist, said Monday he hadn't been notified of the find and could not speculate about whether the Griffin had finally been located. Anderson supports the theory that the timber discovered earlier was a fishing apparatus.

The area strewn with debris is roughly the size of a football field, said Brian Abbott of Nautilus Marine Group, who joined Libert's search this month and took sonar readings of the bottomlands. It is near tiny Poverty Island in northwestern Lake Michigan and about 50 feet below the water's surface.

The Griffin is believed to be the first ship of European design to sail the upper Great Lakes. It disappeared with a crew of six on its maiden voyage in 1679 after La Salle had disembarked near the mouth of Wisconsin's Green Bay.

These Quotes From Students Nail Everything That's Wrong With School Dress Codes

Wed, 2014-06-25 12:06
Earlier this month, two dozen Georgia middle school students were suspended with the hefty charge of making "terroristic threats" via Facebook. Their cause? Taking down the dress code.

This clash over the school's three-page code outlining items banned from its halls, including flip-flops and tank tops, is just one of many to have made national headlines in recent months. Administrators claim they are preparing their young scholars for "the real world," but students and parents question whether targeting female and LGBT students is legitimately helpful.

Few disagree that some clothing is not conducive to a classroom setting. But many students are hitting back at schools with incisive critiques over how their schools are failing them. Here, in the students' words, is what's wrong with their school dress codes.

"Too distracting for boys' is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do."

In March, over 500 students at Haven Middle School in Evanston, Ill. signed a petition opposing what they'd been told was a full ban on leggings and yoga pants. Seventh grader Sophie Hasty explained to local news that teachers said the clothing was distracting for other students -- rather, the boys.

"We just want to be comfortable!" Hasty wrote to the Evanston Review in a letter that also included the above quote. Students at Wauwasota West High School in Wisconsin voiced similar feelings. "I understand that girls shouldn't be coming to school with their butts or chests hanging out, but there has to be a happy medium," sophomore Elizabeth Kniffin told local news.

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"It's almost teaching us that if any guys harass us, it's the girl's fault."

Anna Angrick, a student at Lawrence Central High School student in Indianapolis, Ind., writes a column for her school's newspaper called "Own That Look," a photo of which recently went viral on social media and included the statement above. "Schools ... are neglecting to think in a more liberal way to teach boys to respect girls and control themselves around them," she wrote.

"We [female students] have all these restrictions on our clothing while boys didn't have to sit through it at all."

In April last year, an administrator at Kenilworth Junior High in Petaluma, Calif. gathered all the school's female students during their last class for a very important announcement: Girls were forbidden from wearing tight pants.

Student Brittany Kruljack gave the quote above to local news, and other students, like senior Jestine Langlas, who attends Wauwasota West High School in Wisconsin, claimed that singling out girls for their sartorial choices blows the dress code issue out of proportion. "It makes a scene, and a spectacle of the girl," she said. "It makes it way bigger of a deal than it needs to be."

"The school is making [boys] out to be uncontrolled horny monsters."

In May, 30 female and male students were sent home after protesting the dress code at their school in Canada by wearing tank tops on a hot day. It was a teachable moment -- one student told the International Business Times that teachers used the incident to explain how boys can be distracted by just a bare shoulder.

Student Maddie Pynn disagreed, giving the quote above and saying that "a shoulder shouldn't make anyone uncomfortable, and if it does, you're the problem.

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"[I was called out] because I had a different body type than my friend."

Lucy Shapiro, a student at Haven Middle School, described an incident in which she and a friend wore the same type of shorts that illustrated how girls aren't even treated equally among themselves at times. A teacher "dress-coded" Shapiro, but not the other girl. "With all the social expectations of being a girl, it’s already hard enough to pick an outfit," Shapiro told The Evanston Review.

"I’ve been told that even though my skirts were technically acceptable, they were still too short for me to wear."

In a protest at New York City's Stuyvesant High School in 2012, senior Lucinda Ventimiglia said that due to her curvy body type, "once it was suggested that I should follow a separate dress code" with longer hem requirements. Indeed, the Richmond, Virginia, student kicked out of her prom by a chaperone who said a group of dads had been ogling her at the dance followed all the dress code rules.

"I'm not responsible for some perverted 45-year-old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager," she wrote on her sister's blog. "And if you think I am, then maybe you're part of the problem."

#yesallwomen when was the last time you heard a mother say to her son "don't wear that outside of the house girls will get the wrong idea"

— Niall Horan Fans (@nialljameshoran) May 26, 2014

"I felt very attacked... and I wanted to tell them how I felt."

Some students complain administrators aren't willing (or perhaps able) to explain the reasoning behind the rules. After an embarrassing dress code check in one of her classes at Beaconsfield High School in Canada, eleventh grader Lindsay Stocker tried asking about the dress code. But "they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to say, and it was in front of my entire class," she said. "They don’t really care what guys wear. They just kind of target the girls first."

"I feel judged by what I’m wearing and what I do on Sundays."

Sophomore Kimberly Montoya expressed the above sentiment to the Salt Lake Tribune after her school's failure to properly communicate dress code expectations sparked an uproar. Administrators of Wasatch High School in Utah recently doctored yearbook photos to cover revealed skin -- without telling students. "It made us out to be something we weren't," Montoya said.

"Whenever the excuse 'boys will be boys' is used, it's just an exercise of male privilege."

Other times, dress code rationale simply isn't good enough. Marion Mayer, a junior at Lakeland Senior High in Lakeland, Fla., blasted her principal's use of the phrase "boys will be boys" in explaining the school's dress code in a recent blog post.

"It's this 'boys will be boys' mentality, culture and attitude that condone sexual assault," she wrote on The Huffington Post. "You are telling them that it's okay for them to be sexually violent."

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"If you are sexualizing me, you are the problem."

This phrase, written by one Tumblr user, is just one of the many examples showing how students are expressing their feelings. A search for "dress code" on Tumblr or Twitter will return countless text posts and photos with lines such as the one above. "I just got sent home because my skirt was a centimeter above my knees and if you don't think there's something wrong with that then wow [sic]," reads another.

When educators use shame as a tool to enforce a system of rules that singles out one group of individuals, they miss an opportunity to encourage positive self-image and equal respect for others. And while there's always room for healthy debate in a learning environment, it seems all the time that goes into squabbling over the dress code could be better spent, you know, actually learning.

R. Kelly Speaks Out About Transgender Son

Wed, 2014-06-25 11:10
R. Kelly spoke out for the first time about his transgender son, saying that when it comes to having kids it's about offering support.

When the rapper sat down Sunday for an interview with Chicago's WGCI at Summer Jam 2014, host Nina Chantele asked him about his 14-year-old son, Jay. Earlier this month, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender blogs began reporting that Jay had come out as transgender on his page.

"There [are] reports of your daughter becoming, you know, your son," Chantele said. "Would you like to address that? Because ... a lot of blogs are saying that you're not addressing it."

"You don't wanna really open it up with saying my daughter's becoming my son," Kelly replied. "You know what I'm saying? ... Always believe what you see, with your own eyes, that is. Always believe what you see. That's the best way to go about this business. I've heard a lot of things about a lot of people, and it was never true."

(Story continues below.)
R. Kelly's son Jay.

"You save money so your kids can go to college," he said later in the interview. "No matter what they are or who they are, they're still your kids, you love them, you know? You've got to support them. You want to support them. ... At the end of the day it's not about me no more. It's about three lovely, lovely kids that I am in love with and that's in love with me."

When co-host Tony Sculfield asked about his son again, Kelly responded: "Even when you see it with your own eye, you gotta know [there's] a backstory, [there's] a background. You can't judge nobody that you don't understand."

Chantele later tweeted about why she asked Kelly about his child.

Had to ask. Wanted to give Kells a safe space to share his thoughts RT @tbella12: @PerezHilton @NinaChantele looks at ya! #chitown

— Nina Chantele (@NinaChantele) June 24, 2014

On Tuesady, Jay took to his page to answer some questions, including one about the recent media focus on his life. He responded: "Because i'm transgender and the son of r.kelly. I don't know why that is such a HUGE deal."

Watch R. Kelly's full interview with WGCI below.

Things You'll Learn About Colleges From Watching The 'Ivory Tower' Documentary

Wed, 2014-06-25 10:42
The new documentary "Ivory Tower," by filmmaker Andrew Rossi, explores the growing student debt crisis, and how colleges got to a point where they're spending millions to put in country club-like facilities on campus.

The film is thought-provoking, to say the least, but we thought we'd pull out just a few takeaways from the movie:

Harvard's Influence And What It Does Right
Harvard University, the first American college, is the "source of DNA" for all colleges. It influences every single higher education institution in the country. But one thing that Harvard does that few other schools do is provide full need scholarships to anyone it deems to need financial assistance. As such, a middle class student can expect to pay more at a public university than at Harvard. Harvard is among only 1.25 percent of colleges in the nation to offer full need-based scholarships, according to the film.

Country Club Colleges
Why are there so many rock climbing walls on college campuses these days? Because when one school offers an amenity, the rest follow. So when the University of Missouri and the University of Alabama have swimming pools, others think about adding them to their campus, and to top that, some schools even have tanning beds available for students.

This is actually at the University of Missouri. It's a 28-person hot tub and a heated vortex pool in the new $50 million student recreation center on campus in Columbia.

But can you blame students for demanding those things though when they're already spending so much money to attend school? "You give momentum the student is the customer when you charge them so much money," Wesleyan University President Michael Roth says in the film.

Michael Roth

Who Are The Swimming Pools For?
So who are the students that public colleges want to attract with country club-like amenities? "Ivory Tower" suggests it's out of state students, who pay twice as much in tuition. Out of state students have doubled in the past 20 years at public universities nationwide, according to the documentary.

ASU As A Party School
What does Arizona State University think about its reputation as a party school? "We literally laugh about it," ASU President Michael Crow says. Crow suggests part of that image is based on the fact that they live in a warm climate with palm trees and sunshine covering the campus. "The whole party school thing is just bogus," he adds.

This party in the video takes place at a luxury student complex at ASU.

The End Of The Old Cooper Union
The film spends a fair amount of time on Cooper Union, which will charge students tuition for the first time in its 150 year history this fall.

The filmmakers confront Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha about his $750,000 salary and free home. They note it's above average for a college president and close to Harvard University President Drew Faust's salary of $899,734, who manages 12,000 faculty, 21,000 students and more than $30 billion endowment. Bharucha's quick and immediate response: "She doesn't have a fraction of the problem we have," referring to Faust. "Not a fraction of the problems we have."

Cooper Union professor Peter Buckley jokes in response to Bharucha's statement, "Apparently we are the Harvard of Astor Place."

By the way, cutting Bharucha's salary in half could pay for the full annual tuition cost of at least 9 students, out of an average freshmen class consisting of roughly 200 students.
Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha

What Every Millennial Can Relate To
And finally, a Hunter College graduate Stefanie Gray, who has a master's degree and is struggling to find a job, sums up how many recent grads buried in student debt feel:

"The value of my education is priceless but the value of my education is also not $140,000 in debt. I feel bad talking about any dreams I have these days because there's all this talk that Generation Y is entitled and selfish, just for wanting the same opportunity as our parents."

This Simple Mental Trick Can Keep You From Sabotaging Your Workout

Wed, 2014-06-25 09:14
You're absolutely spent after a crushing workout class -- and now you're going to reward yourself with a big plate of fries and the juiciest burger in town.

Sound familiar? Overcompensating for an intense workout with extra food is a known phenomenon, and it's the culprit behind the dreaded weight-loss plateau if the point of the exercise is to shed pounds.

But a new study shows a simple shift in perspective could be all it takes to keep from packing in too much food after a workout: Instead of focusing on how tough your workout is, focus on how fun it is.

The study, published in the journal Marketing Letters and led by Carolina Werle, an associate professor of marketing at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France, included several experiments. In the first, she asked 56 women to walk the same mile-long path at individual times at their own pace. Half of the group was told the purpose of the walk was to exercise, while the other half of the group was told the goal of the walk was to "do something fun" and test the music-listening quality of a new MP3 player.

After the women went on their walks, they were invited to eat a buffet lunch that included pasta with meat, green beans and bread. They were also asked to make two choices for a dessert and drink: applesauce or chocolate pudding, and water or Coke.

Werle found that both the "fun" group and "exercise" group ate about the same amount of calories for their main course from the buffet lunch; they were also equally split in choosing between the healthy drink and dessert options. Where the two groups did differ, though, was in the amount of drinks and desserts. Women in the "fun" group served themselves fewer calories' worth of drinks and desserts, compared with those in the "exercise" group. In fact, the "exercisers" served themselves 42 percent more pudding and Coke than those who were told they were just on a fun walk.

Similar results were shown in subsequent experiments included in the study, including one that involved having participants either exercise or take a "fun" sightseeing tour of a campus, and then serve themselves M&M candies. Just as in the first experiment, those who were told they were exercising served themselves twice as many M&Ms after the walk than those told they were just sightseeing.

"I think we can frame our workouts in different ways, focusing on whatever we consider fun about it (listening to our favorite music while running or chatting with a friend during a brisk walk) instead of focusing only on the effort that will be performed," Werle wrote in an email to HuffPost. "The more fun we have during the physical activity the less we'll feel the license to indulge or the need to compensate for the previous effort."

Need some advice for staying positive about your workout to make it less of a chore? Here are three tricks:

Take time to remember one positive thing about your workout that day.
A small study from the University of New Hampshire found that people who were asked to think about positive exercise memories actually worked out out more than people who had no memories about their exercise. In fact, people who had negative memories meant to inspire them to exercise also worked out more than the zero-memory participants -- but not as much as the positive memory participants.

Don't make it a competition! Think about exercise as a game.
In a study of Division 1 soccer players, researchers found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol and anxiety rose after playing a match, but not after practice. With that in mind, since most exercisers aren't actually playing an official game, there's no real reason to stress yourself out as if you were playing in one, according to celebrity trainer Lacey Stone, who likes to emphasize sociability and fun at her classes instead of rivalries (no matter how friendly they are).

"Don't go against your friend, play with your friend," Stone told HuffPost. "We're trying to have fun together, which gives you an endorphin rush rather than a cortisol rush."

Transform exercise into social events.
This concept goes way beyond accountability buddies, who can sometimes guilt or pressure you into working out. Instead, gather a group of people who have the same passion for fitness as you do, and then pick new activities for all of you to try together. The idea comes from Australian fitness expert Michelle Bridges, creator of the 12 Week Body Transformation. She suggests taking turns having one person be responsible for coming up with the group's weekly physical activity, whether it be a workout class, hike, or group run. The only condition: it has to be something social, new and exciting. "Through creating a social community and environment for adventurous physical activity, you'll regard your exercise as an ever-changing activity with friends, not a chore," Bridges wrote in an email to HuffPost.

27 (More) Photographers You Need To Follow On Instagram Right Now

Wed, 2014-06-25 07:44
Earlier this year we gave you a list of 27 highly talented photographers who make your Instagram feeds look like cave art. That compendium of jaw-dropping artists only scratched the surface of smartphone beauty, so we've gone back into the depths of social media and put together another round-up of truly beautiful Instagram photography. Behold, 27 more people you need to follow right now.

1. Vivien Wei Wei Liu: Making Hong Kong look as hypnotic as ever.

2. Oveck: A darkly surreal take on Instagram.

3. Kat Irlin: Warning -- you will fall in love with NYC.

4. Roy Potterill: Stylized travel photography abounds.

5. Jeanette Hägglund: For your fix of angular architecture.

6. Janske: From fruit to birds, the images here are as dreamy as they get.

7. Brock Davis: Photographing beauty with a sense of humor.

8. Marta: There are a fair amount of luxurious cats on this feed.

9. Michael O'Neal: Filled with stunning street photography.

10. Dirk Dallas: If you can't get your road trip in this summer, check out Dirk's feed.

11. Sarah Palmer: Where craft meets Instagram.

12. Pei Ketron: With over 800,000 followers, this one's a no-brainer.

13. Alice Gao: We love a woman with a soft spot for mundane organization and symmetry.

14. Theron Humphrey: Because this dog is a star.

15. Jared Chambers: Lots, and lots and lots and lots, of green spaces.

16. Jordi: A glimpse of monochromatic Barcelona.

17. Palomaparrot: For a taste of the whimsical daily happenings in Germany.

18. Levon Lock: All of his photos are taken on an iPhone, and it's sufficiently amazing.

19. Michael Christopher Brown: A look at the world through the eyes of a photojournalist.

20. Ofentse Mwase: To live vicariously through a South Africa native.

21. Gigi Stoll: Everything black-and-white.

22. Danny Last: We didn't know it was possible to make football (read: soccer) look this beautiful.

23. Brad Mennemeyer: A self-described "opportunist photographer," these are the landscapes that make you want to trek the globe.

24. Joe Greer: Think beautiful people in beautiful places.

25. Ravi Vora: For ethereal shots of Los Angeles and beyond.

26. Abbas W: "My photos are meant to show the beauty of our religion: Islam."

27. Scott Borrero: From a rising sun to a setting sun, this feed is full of light.

Teen Tennis Prodigy Taylor Townsend: 'My Body Is A Total Gift'

Wed, 2014-06-25 07:33

By Michael Roddy

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - Taylor Townsend's hopes of repeating her French Open success at Wimbledon were snuffed out by Klara Koukalova but for her, the first round defeat had nothing to do with the issue that has made her a poster child for heavier-set women.

The 18-year-old Chicago native, who beat 20th-seeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet at Roland Garros last month before losing to Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round, said she was definitely "not pleased" with her 7-5 6-2 defeat on Tuesday.

"I'm just going to take what I've learned over the past two slams, I'm going to go back home," she told reporters after losing to her Czech opponent. "I'm going to work extremely hard and get ready for the U.S. Open Series."

She disputed claims that have dogged her since the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) asked her to sit out the 2012 U.S. Open junior tournament because of her weight, that extra poundage had anything to do with it.

"I mean, as far as fitness is concerned, I have a great team and staff on my side that have pushed and helped me and helped me understand and realize that my body is a total gift," Townsend added.

Veteran coach Nick Bollettieri, who founded a famous tennis academy in Florida that helped launch the careers of many grand slam winners, said players like Townsend were helping to modify the old tennis rule that you had to be "slim and mean".

"Here's what I think - this rule still applies today but what you have to do is take a look at each student and their body type," Bollettieri told Reuters on Wednesday.


"Overall, when you carry a big frame I would say 99 out of 100 times it's going to take a toll eventually, but remember, some people are built this way, they inherited that way."

The 82-year-old American gave the example of Boris Becker who he said had skied and worked out so that in the end "he didn't carry a lot of excess weight".

He also noted that appearance is important to sponsors who want a person to represent "not only the sport, but life, physical fitness, the impression we give to children".

"I would say that my dealings over 60 years is that not carrying any excess weight is probably considered the way to go," he said. "But I would say it's got to come from her."

Townsend countered that physical strength was a positive aspect of her game and not something that hindered her.

"I realize that I'm very strong and I can do a lot of things athletically that probably many people can't do. I train with 250-pound (113 kg) football players and we do the same stuff," she added.

Townsend, who split from her USTA coaches after the snub and now trains with 1990 Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison, said she had received "a lot of positive commentary and feedback from a lot of people saying that I am an inspiration, someone that they're looking up to and that they're proud of". (Editing by John O'Brien)

Chicago Lands George Lucas Museum

Tue, 2014-06-24 17:50
George Lucas can't resist the gravitational pull of the Windy City.

Chicago has reportedly emerged the winner of a three-way battle with San Francisco and Los Angeles over which city would be home to the legendary filmmaker's museum of art and movie memorabilia.

Citing "reliable" City Hall sources, The Sun-Times broke the news late Tuesday. Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed the decision to several media outlets shortly after.

Mayor Emanuel's office confirms Chicago selected as home for George Lucas' museum. Proposed location is Soldier Field south parking lots.

— Ben Bradley (@BenBradleyABC7) June 24, 2014

"I am humbled to be joining such an extraordinary museum community and to be creating the museum in a city that has a long tradition of embracing the arts and architecture," Lucas said in a statement released Tuesday, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

An announcement from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts is expected Wednesday, when the museum's board makes the official vote.

Sorry, West Coast:

San Francisco was considered a likely winner for the museum, given that Lucas is a native Californian who keeps his visual effects division in San Francisco, and that the headquarters for LucasFilm and Skywalker Sound are in nearby Marin County, The Associated Press reports.

Emanuel lobbied aggressively for the museum, which is predicted to become a popular tourism draw. Currently, the proposed location is the parking lot near Soldier Field

Lucas, who now lives part-time in the Windy City, has previously called Chicago his "second home." Lucas wed Chicagoan Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, in 2013.

FDA To Evaluate Marijuana For Potential Reclassification As Less Dangerous Drug

Tue, 2014-06-24 17:44
The feds could actually soften their stance a little when it comes to weed.

The Federal Drug Administration is reviewing the medical evidence surrounding the safety and effectiveness of marijuana, a process that could lead to the agency downgrading the drug's current status as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous classification.

FDA Press Officer Jeff Ventura described the review process, which is being completed at the request of the Drug Enforcement Agency, to The Huffington Post.

"FDA conducts for Health and Human Services a scientific and medical analysis of the drug under consideration, which is currently ongoing," Ventura said. "HHS then recommends to DEA that the drug be placed in a given schedule. DEA considers HHS’ analysis, conducts its own assessment, and makes a final scheduling proposal in the form of a proposed rule."

The FDA could not confirm how long the review process would take.

The U.S. has five "schedules" for illegal drugs. Schedule I is reserved for drugs that the DEA considers to have the highest potential for abuse and no "current accepted medical use." Marijuana has been classified as Schedule I for decades, along with other substances like heroin and LSD. Rescheduling marijuana would not make it legal, but a lower schedule could potentially ease restrictions on research into the drug and make banks less wary of offering financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses. It could also allow those businesses to make some traditional tax deductions.

"While DEA is the lead federal agency responsible for regulating controlled substances and enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, FDA, working with NIDA, provides scientific recommendations about the appropriate controls for those substances," Deputy Director Doug Throckmorton said Friday in testimony delivered during the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing.

"To make these recommendations, FDA is responsible for preparing what's called an eight-factor analysis, which is a document that is used to assess how likely a drug is to be abused," Throckmorton said.

Here are the eight factors the FDA will consider about marijuana when deciding which schedule it should go under, according to the CSA:

  1. Its actual or relative potential for abuse

  2. Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known

  3. The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance

  4. Its history and current pattern of abuse

  5. The scope, duration, and significance of abuse

  6. What, if any, risk there is to the public health

  7. Its psychic or physiological dependence liability

  8. Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter

A DEA spokeswoman told HuffPost that the agency was required to order the FDA to review marijuana's scheduling status because of two public citizens' petitions that asked the agency for a review. A change could put marijuana in the company of cocaine and methamphetamine, two other Schedule II drugs.

This isn't the first time the DEA has asked the FDA to reconsider marijuana, Throckmorton said Friday. In 2001 and 2006, the DEA requested an analysis of the drug after receiving other public petitions requesting that the agency reschedule it. But both times, federal regulators determined that marijuana should remain a Schedule I substance. At the time, the FDA said there simply wasn't enough research about marijuana's efficacy in treating various ailments.

Part of the lack of cannabis science in the U.S. has to do with the federal stranglehold on marijuana research. There's only one federally legal marijuana garden in the U.S., at the University of Mississippi. The National Institute on Drug Abuse oversees the operation, and it's the only source of marijuana for federally sanctioned studies on the drug.

To date, NIDA has conducted about 30 studies on the potential benefits of marijuana. Since 2003, it has approved more than 500 grants for marijuana-related studies, with a marked upswing in recent years, according to McClatchy. In 2003, 22 grants totaling $6 million were approved for cannabis research, McClatchy reported. In 2012, that number had risen to 69 approved grants totaling more than $30 million.

Federal authorities have long been accused of only funding marijuana research that focuses on the potential negative effects of the substance. The DEA has also been accused of not acting quickly enough when petitioned to reschedule marijuana, and for obstructing science around the drug.

Meanwhile, a number of recent studies have added to the growing body of research showing the medical potential of cannabis. Purified forms may attack some forms of aggressive cancer. Studies have tied marijuana use to blood sugar control and slowing the spread of HIV. One study found that legalization of the plant for medical purposes may even lead to lower suicide rates.

To date, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, with New York state poised to be the 23rd. About ten other states have also legalized CBD-oil, a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana frequently used to treat epilepsy, for research or limited medical purposes.

According to a recent CBS News poll, a vast majority of Americans -- over 80 percent -- approve of medical marijuana legalization.

While the FDA isn't ready to get on board with legalization, it does seem more interested in the medical benefits of the drug.

"The FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication," the FDA stated in its latest guidelines regarding marijuana, posted Friday. "The FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in its use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders."

Why the Obama Library Should Be at Chicago State But Will Probably Go to the University of Chicago

Tue, 2014-06-24 17:01
The first step of the Barack Obama Presidential Library sweepstakes is complete.

Monday, June 16, was the deadline for all interested parties who want to host the library to submit initial bids as to where they would put it, how it would serve as an economic engine in the suggested location, and how local organizations would work in partnership with host organizations.

The first part -- who wants it -- was easy. Everybody wants to benefit from the chunk of change and enormous prestige that will come from sponsoring the library of America's first African-American president.

As far as the economics, a University of Chicago-commissioned study shows that if the library lands on the South Side, Chicago annually would see a $220 million economic impact primarily because of increased tourism. About 1,900 permanent jobs would be created that would generate wage earnings of $56 million.

The city would see at least 800,000 visitors at the library each year and they would spend $31 million on food and retail nearby. That would be enough to support 30 new restaurants, 11 retail outlets, a new hotel, and mean an additional $110 million for Chicago that would not have been spent at all without the library.

The construction would make a $600 million economic impact, create almost 4,000 jobs and produce $156 million in wages paid over the course of the building. The facility alone would cost $380 million and a myriad of associated taxes would add $5 million annually to Chicago's coffers.

The study suggests that Obama's library would receive twice the number of visitors as Ronald Reagan's, which is currently the most visited presidential library.

Location, Location

With those kinds of numbers involved, it's no wonder that prominent groups from everywhere Obama has spent significant stretches of his life have jumped into the bidding process, which is more complicated than decisions about other presidential libraries have been in the past.

Most of those have been built in the state -- practically all in the very city -- that the particular president came from. The two Bush's and Lyndon Johnson's libraries are in Texas; Reagan's in Simi Valley, California; Bill Clinton's in Little Rock, Arkansas; Jimmy Carter's in Atlanta, Georgia; John Kennedy's in Boston, Massachusetts -- places readily identifiable with those presidents.

But Obama was a vagabond of sorts: born and raised in Hawaii; higher educated in New York; married, worked, community-organized, and began his political career in Chicago -- so all three of those locations are claiming him as its native son with hopes of luring the library to their site.

At the close of business for the first set of proposals on Monday, prospective hosts from Chicago, New York and Hawaii offered bids listing 13 potential sites for the coveted library.

Sticking Point: Involving the Neighbors

The parts of the bid request that are trickier for potential hosts to navigate involve projecting how the library is going to be an economic engine for its location and how local organizations will fit in. In other words, the bid is asking -- how about finding an area that could use an economic boost... and involve Black folks in the planning?

Trying to address those considerations has made for some strange bedfellows. New York's Columbia University in its bid, for instance, said, hey, let's put it in Harlem.

The University of Illinois/Chicago bid three spots, including the "real" West Side around the North Lawndale area, partnered with a group called the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee, and sent a group of its "diverse" students to Washington D.C. on Monday to meet with some of the Obama Library Foundation staffers, though that was not required in the bid.

The developer of the former U.S. Steel site at 79th and Lake Michigan, who is trying to build a whole new $4 billion city there over the next three decades, wants the library to spiff up the far east South Shore community.

A Bronzeville group wants to put it at the site of the old abandoned Michael Reese Hospital at 29th and Ellis. Great location near McCormick Place and the expansion of McCormick will make it a hot tourism spot.

The University of Chicago, in its unending quest for South Side land annexation, has offered several sites, including next to the South Shore Cultural Center at the other end of the lagging South Shore community. Its bid also includes vacant lots near the Green Line trains at 55th and King Drive, and on Stony Island near Hyde Park High School.

The hypocrisy of some of these groups now making nice with and acknowledging their nearby minority neighbors and community organizations borders on audacity. Can you remember any previous efforts they've shown to economically revitalize surrounding communities that they have no real estate or other investments in?

And the Winner Might Be...

The next step in making the Obama Presidential Library a reality is for the foundation and the Obama family to decide which bids advance, which should take a couple of months, and then indications are that a finalist will be picked early in 2015, so that money-raising plans and such can get underway.

More than likely, the library will land in Chicago, with the Illinois General Assembly ready to commit $100 million of seed money to the project, and Honolulu preparing an oceanfront presidential center, whether it gets the library or not. New York is considered a very long shot.

A reality check and probably Las Vegas odds makers would tell you that the well-endowed University of Chicago will more than likely win the bid.

Not to say the fix is in, but... Barack lectured at U of C before he became president and Michelle worked at the hospital before she became First Lady. Valerie Jarrett and other Obama cohorts have sat on the university's board, or worked there, like Barack pal Eric Whitaker. And the Obama daughters, as well as pal Mayor Emanuel's children, attended the University of Chicago Lab School.

The Obamas have a residence in Hyde Park, in the district that Barack represented in the Illinois State Senate. Leading the university's bid for the library is Susan Sher, former White House chief of staff to Michelle Obama and now senior advisor to U of C President Robert Zimmer.

Nearly all indicators point to the University of Chicago because it satisfies a lot of issues and who wouldn't take that bet? Even though the U of C could economically revive the sites it's proposing single-handedly without winning the library bid -- if it wanted to. (Just like the University of Illinois could put a charge in North Lawndale's economy without the Obama Library...if it wanted to.)

The Obama Complex at Chicago State

I have publicly argued that Chicago State University (CSU) is the best place for the library because it is in the neighborhood where Obama started his "community organizing" work on the South Side in the Roseland area.

If the purpose of community organizing is to develop a neighborhood, what greater gift of development could Obama give to his old community than plopping a presidential library down in its midst? It would serve the constituency that Obama directly worked with and add to the library's historical significance.

Chicago State in 2006 created The Illinois African American Legislative Archival, which recognizes and memorializes the state's Black legislators. It begins with the "Republican Era" from 1877 to 1943 and continues with the "Democratic Era" from 1943 to the present.

The Archival is one of the most advanced in the world, with robotic functions, and goes beyond honoring the legislators to also house the papers from one of America's first African-American hospitals -- Provident. The Obama Library would be a logical extension to the Archival.

The Obama Library at CSU would be politically and historically correct. This state school -- compared to the privately owned University of Chicago, and there is a difference -- graduates 60 percent of all African Americans receiving a bachelor's degree in Chicago. So the Obama mission is fulfilled nicely.

Another primary reason the Obama Library should be located at Chicago State is to honor former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Barack's political godfather. And indeed he was. Without Emil Jones, there would never have been a President Barack Obama.

Emil jumpstarted Obama's national political career. As an Illinois state senator, Barack told Jones that he had the power to make a United States Senator. Jones said, "Really?" and asked who might that be. Barack said, "me." Against all political odds, Emil went to work to advance and network Barack Obama and took him under his legislative wing in the Illinois General Assembly, to the consternation of other Black legislators. The rest is history.

Chicago State University was Jones' pet legislative project. He made darn sure that when other Illinois universities got hefty state appropriations, Chicago State would get its own piece of the pie. No one had done that before him and no one fought as hard to build that school.

CSU was the only state university that did not have a Convocation Center, and Emil made sure to get the legislative funding to make that happen. Now the Convocation building on the campus is named after Emil Jones and his late wife, Patricia.

However, since Barack became president, Emil Jones has been all but forgotten by the Obamas. The political thought suggested that President Obama would have made Jones an ambassador to Jamaica or perhaps the Bahamas. And as a master of consensus politics, Jones certainly could have helped his protégé navigate the gridlocked Congress that Obama has been unable to overcome for most of his time in office, yet Jones has never been given a call.

The Obama Library would bring significant uplift to the economically depressed, long neglected South Side community where CSU is located, near 95th and King Drive, with an immediate uptick of real estate and retail investment.

Chicago State submitted a bid for two locations on its campus. One site would have a Metra Electric station directly within the library building. The Dan Ryan Red Line extension project would also add a station on the campus. Having the library at CSU would hasten the development of both projects. The 95th Street Red Line Station is due for a remodeling upgrade and is already one of the most used stations in the city. It is where the politicians meet and greet and shake hands with Black people when running for office.

A Big Idea

Now, here's my latest addition to the library scenario that will heighten the already significant economic impact of the new institution:

Why not include the proposed Obama High School with the Obama Presidential Library, making it the Obama Complex, and put them both on the Chicago State University campus?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a college prep Obama High School on the Near North Side that is about four blocks from the Walter Payton School and also near the North Side Prep School. All of these high schools are selective institutions and will primarily serve White, North Side students.

Those three high schools in such close proximity would provide a cluster of selective enrollment schools that does not reflect the geographic makeup of Chicago's student population.

The site that has been proposed for the $60 million institution -- the old Cabrini-Green housing development land -- is being discussed as too small and other sites are currently being considered.

The South Side of the city is the natural habitat for the Obama High School. The South Side lost a massive number of schools in Mayor Emanuel's historic closing of 50 schools last year -- so why not build a new world-class school in the area where the old schools were closed.

This would be an educational boon alongside the economic boon that is so necessary for the development of the South Side.

The Obama Library won't be built for several years after the president leaves office, but the location is being decided now. The location of the Obama High School is being decided now.

I am hoping that the decision makers -- including you, Barack -- will see the logic of the Obama Complex that would combine the school and the library on the grounds of Chicago State University.

I am hoping the citizens of Chicago, from teachers to students, will make an appeal to the powers that be regarding the school and its South Side location.

This single effort would be a statement that City Hall recognizes the South Side as an equal part of the city -- closing the North Side-South Side economic gap -- and allowing the Obama legacy to live where it began and for those who could benefit from it the most.


(N'DIGO Editor David Smallwood contributed to this report.)

Contact Hermene Hartman at or

One Of The World's Oldest Paperboys Dies After One Final Paper Route

Tue, 2014-06-24 16:55
Getting the mail just won't be the same for some southern Illinois residents, after the death of one of the world's oldest paperboys. Just shy of his 91st birthday, Benton Evening News paperboy Marvin Teel passed away Saturday, but not before finishing off one last route.

Teel was taken to the emergency room two weeks ago after he said he felt ill, but refused to go to the hospital before finishing off his route. "So even the day he went into the hospital, he delivered. He had a real work ethic. He believed if you said you were going to do something, you did it," his daughter Sherry Bullock told The Southern Illinoisan.

A WWII vet, Teel had dabbled around in other careers, from teaching to being a chemist, but had spent around 45 years as a mail carrier.

At 90, Teel believed he deserved the title of world's oldest paperboy, telling The Southern just last year that he was the rightful owner of the title, as he delivered five days a week, without fail on his Schwinn bike. The former Guinness Book record holder retired last year in England. That paperboy, who had been delivering papers since 1942, retired after 70 years on the job.

Though he would have been 91 next month, Bullock said Teel felt working kept him active and alert.

Teel is survived by his wife, Marilyn, four children, seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and one sister.

Mama Duck Teaches Her Ducklings Life Lessons With Some Tough Love

Tue, 2014-06-24 14:52
There comes a time in every mama duck's life when she must trust her ducklings to take a leap of faith; when she must watch as her young 'uns spread their wings and try to jump up a flight of stairs.

All it takes is a little bit of encouragement and a whole lot of motherly patience.

The video above was uploaded by YouTube user Jason David, who filmed the scene in Red Bank, New Jersey, in front of a local school. A fitting setting, indeed, for these darling ducklings to learn an important life lesson in hard work and perseverance.

Mom sets her expectations high, and waits for her ducklings to meet the Herculean challenge.

This could take awhile ...

Then, the most acrobatic of the bunch makes it up the stairs:

The future Olympian of the family, no doubt!

Slowly but surely, the rest follow suit:

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Until there's just one little guy left.

Oh, the indignity!

Finally, he lands the jump. And then the happy family runs, in a row, off into the sunset!

Next time, though, they'd just as soon take the elevator, thanks.

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Chaz Ebert, Wife Of Deceased Film Critic Roger Ebert, 'Used To Like Gene Siskel Better'

Tue, 2014-06-24 14:18
Chaz Ebert, wife of the late film critic Roger Ebert, is hailed in the upcoming documentary "Life Itself" for having softened up her notoriously brash husband. What fans of the "At The Movies" host might be surprised to know, however, was that his wife originally preferred his co-host --and sometimes enemy -- Gene Siskel.

"Before I met him, when I just knew him on TV -- it's difficult to say this, but I used to like Gene better," she admitted to HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri on Tuesday.

The sentiment changed as soon as she met Roger offscreen, she remembered.

"I saw what a quick mind and how funny he was -- how kind he was to people, [and] I just fell in love with him," she said. "And I also liked that he was so confident. He was fat, but he was confident. I loved that! He was a great guy."

While Chaz brought out a more placid side of Roger, she felt their relationship transformed her as well.

"I know I had a moderating influence with him," she recalled. "He [started] to give people time, which was something maybe he didn't do as much before because he was such a workaholic, so I did see [a change]. I think love transformed him, and love transformed me too."

Watch the rest of Chaz Ebert's HuffPost Live conversation below: