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Americans Think Chicago Is The Most Dangerous U.S. City, But It's Really Not

Mon, 2014-09-22 16:47
A new poll found that over half of Americans think Chicago is more dangerous than any other large U.S. city. But their perception does not match the reality of the Windy City's crime rate, which is actually falling.

The YouGov poll, published last week, found that Chicago is the only city that a majority of respondents believe to be unsafe, with 53 percent identifying it as dangerous. The next most dangerous major cities, according to respondents, are New York City, Los Angeles, D.C. and Miami.

(Story continues below.)

The opinion poll's findings, which include only the nation's 10 largest cities, conflict with other recent rankings of dangerous U.S. cities. In Forbes' 2013 ranking, based on FBI data, Atlanta came in as the most dangerous of the 10 cities included in the YouGov poll. Detroit, which is not a part of the YouGov poll, ranked first overall on the Forbes list.

The YouGov poll also contradicts overall crime trends in Chicago. Through the end of August, police say the murders in Chicago were down 7 percent, though shooting incidents were up 5 percent. The Chficago Police Department has previously noted that the city's homicide rate is at its lowest point in 50 years.

The Pew Research Center has also pushed back against Chicago's "murder capital" reputation, pointing out in a July analysis that Chicago actually had the nation's 21st-highest murder rate in 2012, the most recent year for which the FBI has released official data. Six other cities -- Richmond, Virginia; Birmingham, Alabama; Flint, Michigan; Detroit; New Orleans and D.C. -- have at some point since 1985 been home to the nation's highest homicide rate.

Still, violent crime continues to disproportionately impact areas of Chicago's south and west sides. Over the most recent weekend, three people were fatally shot and at least 30 were wounded in shootings, according to DNAinfo Chicago. The fatalities occurred in the city's Englewood, East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park neighborhoods.

The YouGov poll also found that most Americans don't recognize that today the national murder crime rate is half what it was 20 years ago and that respondents' perceptions of how safe or unsafe a city is have little to do with whether they've actually been to the city.

YouTube Star Sam Pepper Attempts To 'Prank' Women By Grabbing Their Butts

Mon, 2014-09-22 14:12
There's a (big) difference between a prank and assault, but this YouTube star seems to have confused the two.

Sam Pepper, a British YouTube celebrity with a following of over 2 million, posted a video on Sept. 20 where he walks around grabbing unsuspecting women's butts and films their reactions. The public outcry for the clip to be taken down was so loud that YouTube removed the video this morning.

Pepper is famous for his outrageous YouTube prank videos, however this one not only confused but angered many of his fans and a large portion of the Internet.

The video features Pepper walking up to five different women, starting a conversation and then pinching their butts when they look away. It's painful to watch as these women awkwardly laugh off Pepper's "prank" and walk away, violated and confused. As one YouTube commenter wrote, "Literally the first girl said 'I don't like that.' Line crossed."

The video has received so much negative feedback that people have been reporting the clip to YouTube asking for it to be taken down since it was posted this past Saturday. The hashtag #ReportSamPepper, created by 19-year-old Tumblr user Kara, has been populating Twitter the past few days -- and, thankfully, YouTube listened.

#reportsampepper because calling it a "prank" does not make it ok to go around and sexually harass women

— gomezz (@flavorgomez) September 22, 2014

With a Pepper comes assault. #ReportSamPepper

— mamrie hart (@mametown) September 21, 2014

#reportsampepper because no woman should ever have to be touched without consent

— sarah (@sarahmicheled) September 22, 2014

#reportsampepper just bc you label it as a "prank" doesn't excuse the fact that you're sexually harassing women.

— ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ (@msftxbieber) September 22, 2014

Reminder: Everything online is edited! Just because someone is seen laughing doesn't mean they aren't screaming internally! #reportsampepper

— Liam Dryden (@LiamDrydenEtc) September 21, 2014

#reportsampepper bc having a million subscribers on YouTube does not give you a free pass to grope girls and call it a "prank"

— elita // sept 25th (@woahmerrygold) September 21, 2014

Sexual harassment is not a joke, and women's bodies are not there for your amusement and video views. #reportsampepper

— Daisy (@_daisyporter) September 21, 2014

#ReportSamPepper because he thinks its okay to objectify women

— Brad(◡﹏◡✿) (@breastblackery) September 21, 2014

Many of Pepper's fellow YouTube stars have denounced his behavior, including Laci Green, Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, Hank Green and Charlie McDonnell. Hank Green, one of the founders of the national conference for online video creators called VidCon, also took to Twitter to voice his outrage:

For people asking, it's safe to assume that people who sexually assault women in "prank" videos will not be welcome at future VidCons.

— Hank Green (@hankgreen) September 21, 2014

Sex positive vlogger Laci Green weighed in on the controversy, writing an open letter to Pepper on Sept. 21 on Tumblr: We are deeply disturbed by this trend and would like to ask you, from one creator to another, to please stop. Please stop violating women and making them uncomfortable on the street for views. Please stop physically restraining them and pressuring them to be sexual when they are uncomfortable. Please show some respect for women’s right to their own bodies. While it may seem like harmless fun, a simple prank, or a “social experiment”, these videos encourage millions of young men and women to see this violation as a normal way to interact with women. One in six young women (real life ones, just like the ones in your video) are sexually assaulted, and sadly, videos like these will only further increase those numbers.

And Tyler Oakley, an LGBTQ advocate with over 5 million YouTube followers, took to Twitter as well, stating:

Saddened by @sampepper's new video. Sexually harassing women is vile to begin with, but normalizing it by calling it a prank? So harmful.

— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) September 21, 2014

The Huffington Post reached out to Sam Pepper and YouTube for comment but did not receive a response from either at the time of publication.

The bottom line? Sexism and assault disguised as humor is still sexism and assault.

[h/t Kinja]

Race and the economy: Learning from Ferguson

Mon, 2014-09-22 14:09
Peter Creticos, executive director of the Institute for Work and the Economy, believes discussion about what happend in Ferguson, Mo. last month, reflects a discussion Americans have been having about inequality for decades, but that the question of why it happend extends beyond race.

Since it is in our nature as a country to look through the lens of race whenever there is an issue involving white and black protagonists, we ignore other factors that drive recent events. The events that happened in Ferguson, along with Dearborn Heights, MI, when Theodore Wafer shot Renisha McBride in the face, and when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL, are not confined to race alone, but to a deep-seated set of fears of survival and well-being that transcend this racial construct....

The incessant drumbeat of jobs being outsourced and offshored has challenged the standing of hard-working people regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Wages continue to be pushed down while new demands are placed on workers to simply re-qualify for jobs that they hold now....

African Americans continue to get the worse of it. Those who start out poor not only continue to hit "normal" intractable barriers to greater economic opportunities, they also have to deal with persistent, almost undetectable discrimination - at least undetectable to the people doing the discriminating...

The differences felt in this millennium are that great changes are hitting middle income whites who, for the first time in generations, face the prospect that they will be less well off than their parents, and that their children and possibly their grandchildren may be worse off still. During other times of economic stress, the people exercising the levers of power fought back by holding onto whatever remained in their control.

Read the rest of Creticos' thoughts on race and the economy at Reboot Illinois.

Here in Illinois, the Better Government Association has launched a probe to look into the hiring of a Cook County Sheriff's office emplyee after she resigned. Colleen Haran was found to be logging hours that she didn't work and resigned instead of being fired. But the BGA found something more interesting in the way her employment at the sherrif's office began than how it ended. The BGA found that she had several connections to other city workers. Did her clout help her get the job?

Promo For Morning Show 'Nobody Watches' Is Just Telling It Like It Is

Mon, 2014-09-22 12:51
What does a news station do with all that hate mail it gets telling it how much it sucks and is the worst news station in the world?

Make a video out of it to promote the news station, of course!


var src_url=""; src_url += "&onVideoDataLoaded=HPTrack.Vid.DL&onTimeUpdate=HPTrack.Vid.TC"; if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") { src_url += "&siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category; if (commercial_video.package) { src_url += "&sponsorship="+commercial_video.package; } } document.write('');

Thank you WGN 9 News viewers for that incredibly entertaining material.

And keep an eye out for these billboards:

(h/t: FTVLive)

What We Learned From The NFL's Week 3

Mon, 2014-09-22 12:36
We're now in week 3 of the NFL season, and who would have thought that Arizona -- with Drew Stanton making two starts -- would be undefeated, or that New Orleans and Green Bay would both be 1-2?

Denver and Seattle provided the type of theater that many anticipated during the Super Bowl, giving the NFL precisely what it needed after a catastrophic couple of weeks. But there was plenty more to like during week 3 -- namely, the possible emergence of a new star at quarterback and the continual decline of an old one. Let's take a look at what we learned.

Kirk Cousins Can Ball

No surprises here: Every time Cousins has been thrown into action, good things happen. As I advised during my NBC Sports Radio show Sunday morning, he is a fantasy must-start, throws an excellent deep ball (see: DeSean Jackson) and has real command of what he wants to do with the football. The Philly defense isn't elite by any means, but it shut down Andrew Luck for a half. Cousins threw for 427 yards to go along with three scores and one interception, and was efficient and confident in the pocket. With RG3 out for an extended period of time, Cousins will have a real opportunity for the first time in his career.

The End Of Tom Terrific?

New England fans (and Tom Brady fantasy owners) were hoping that Brady's early struggles this season were a mirage. But after tossing for 234 yards for one touchdown against Oakland at home, it is officially panic mode. "It’s not going to be easy for us," Brady said following the Patriots' 16-9 win. "I don’t think any team plays us and we get -- you know, we get their best." The truth is that the Pats have neither a deep threat nor their top-tier offensive line of old. Logan Mankins' trade is evident, particularly during plays that take longer to develop, when Brady is not afforded the time he needs. In three games, Brady is completing just 58.8 percent of his passes while averaging 5.54 yards per attempt -- both of which would be career lows.

Still Super

The Seahawks don't lose at home, and yet, with a 4 percent chance to win the game heading into his team's game-tying drive, Peyton Manning almost pulled off the impossible. Manning, who was pressured for much of the game, was magnificent when it mattered most, as was Russell Wilson. The 25-year-old Wilson, despite throwing fewer than any other quarterback in the league this year, continues to be one of the most efficient passers in football, and leads the NFL in comeback/game-winning drives since he was drafted. There was a lot to absorb from this game -- a 26-20 Seattle win in overtime, a revamped Broncos defense with nine new starters, the ongoing struggles of feature running back Montee Ball and the dominance of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who thrashed a quality front for 138 total yards, including the game-winning score.

Still Undefeated

Cincinnati should not be flying under anybody's radar. At 3-0, the Bengals boast a plus-47 point differential -- the best in the league -- despite featuring two new coordinators. (Remember that Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden are both gone.) Of course it is very early, but we should also praise quarterback Andy Dalton, who recently signed his mega-deal under stark criticism and has completed 65.5 percent of his passes. While he has just the two touchdown passes and the one pick, he's finally throwing the ball down the field. Incredibly, the Bengals have trailed for a mere 51 seconds the entire season.

They've Got Next?

It took a 0-2 start and a 30-0 halftime deficit for Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley to finally give the keys to Blake Bortles. Bortles made his fair share of mistakes, but he also tossed a couple touchdown passes and kept a slew of plays alive that he had no business doing. It is that athleticism and escape ability that made Bortles the first quarterback to come off the board.

Sunday also marked the debut of Teddy Bridgewater, who entered the game for Matt Cassel after Cassel fractured his foot. Bridgewater is nowhere near the physical presence of Bortles, but he had a tremendous amount of success running a pro-style offense under Charlie Strong at Louisville. During a close game and in a tough environment against New Orleans, Bridgewater made a couple nice throws and scrambled a bit, but also showed the same deer-in-the-headlights look from his dreadful pro day before the draft.

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 9-12 ET, right here.

David Bowie Exhibition Details How An Artist Became An Icon

Mon, 2014-09-22 12:34
There’s never been an artist quite like David Bowie, so it’s only fitting that a major exhibition chronicling the legend’s work is as diverse, expansive and exciting as his career over the past half century.

David Bowie Is,” opening Tuesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, contains more than 300 artifacts selected from an incredible 75,000 items Bowie had archived over the years. With a location-based headset, viewers can hear corresponding interviews, commentary and -- of course -- music as they move through the show.

Along with the immersive audio, the exhibit packs in more than 50 of Bowie’s costumes from personas like Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke, multiple hand-drawn storyboards for his stage shows and music videos, and contextual media like World War II news clippings, the famous 1972 “Blue Marble” photograph of Earth from space, and posters from the film “A Clockwork Orange,” all of which inspired Bowie’s creative process.

“The show is so much about process... it’s about how you make things,” MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling said during a Friday preview of the exhibition. “You can consistently see how [Bowie] was reinventing himself over and over.”

The MCA’s show is the only U.S. stop on the exhibition’s international tour. Below, a preview of the show:

"David Bowie Is" will be on view at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art from September 23, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

White House Continues Pushing Colleges To Tackle Rape Culture

Mon, 2014-09-22 10:41
The White House released guidance on Friday pushing colleges and universities to conduct campus climate surveys to ensure ongoing compliance with Title IX, the gender equity law requiring schools to respond to and prevent sexual violence on campus.

A best practices document presented last week with the Obama administration's "It's On Us" campaign encouraged colleges to conduct the surveys "in consultation with research personnel with expertise in survey design and data collection and analysis." Schools should analyze the data collected "to assess the rates and nature of sexual misconduct, any location hot-spots or risk factors, knowledge of the College’s sexual misconduct policies, procedures and resources, and the consequences of violating such policies," the White House said.

The college's Title IX coordinator should be in charge of these climate surveys, the administration suggested.

The White House first made a push for the surveys in April, releasing a sample survey along with the first report from the administration's task force on sexual assault. It is currently conducting a pilot survey with Rutgers University. Legislation proposed in July by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would create a mandate for colleges to do the surveys annually.

Higher education groups have shown a resistance to implementing the surveys, though the idea of conducting them is widely endorsed by advocates and experts on the topic. Groups like the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators and the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents, started showing opposition to the surveys soon after the White House task force report in April. Since then, they have largely remained reluctant to back the surveys -- though they haven't ruled them out.

However, in a sign that college administrators are warning up to the Obama administration's policy proposals on sexual violence, NASPA created the #SAPledge Friday, pushing campus officials to "talk openly about sexual assault."

Signing the pledge would mean student affairs employees would promise to challenge "negative gender stereotypes, sexism, and rape culture on campus," and to "listen to, believe, and assist victims of gender-based violence."

"We’re supporting the 'It’s On Us' campaign and expanding it to have student affairs administrators pledge their commitment to end all gender-based violence," NASPA President Kevin Kruger said Friday.

7 Things I Learned About Love When My Dad Started Online Dating

Mon, 2014-09-22 08:46
When most 20-somethings have dating questions, they call a single friend. A few might call their moms. But what if your "person" is a 60+ guy who also happens to be your dad?

When I first moved to New York, I was that girl who checked in with Mom back at home most nights; she was hilarious and witty and always interested in my day. Plus, she had stage IV cancer, and therefore a lot of mother-daughter wisdom to impart. Those calls were among the most open of my life. With time against us, we were oddly free with our stories and advice.

The phone calls stopped a few weeks after my 23rd birthday, when my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 56. She left behind two daughters... and her husband of more than 30 years.

For a while, neither Dad nor I felt much like picking up the phone.

Then, two years after we lost Mom, I was home for Christmas and saw installed on Dad's phone.

Uh... Dad? Are you... online dating?

That conversation was among the least open of my life.

A few days later, though, I caught him sitting in the living room, laughing at something on his iPad.



Seriously? What is it?

You have to see this pic.

Dear reader, it was not pretty. While I was not prepared for this dark glimpse into online dating profile pics for the 60+ set (let's just say there were some, uh, questionable props involved), a strange question formed in my brain:

Dad, what does your profile look like?

A beer (or three) later, we had revamped his profile pictures (puppy photo, yes; woman with her arm around you in profile pic; no) and "about me" section (yes, Dad, using the wrong "their" is a deal breaker at any age). I returned from Christmas break feeling like I had helped Dad get closer to moving on with his life... and with the realization that I needed to reexamine certain parts of mine.

Slowly, Dad began calling me with online dating updates. At first, I was appalled. Then, fascinated. Then -- horror of horrors -- I found myself calling him for advice. When I got over the initial mental terror, I realized he was kind of perfect for the job:

  • He knows who I am when I'm 100 percent myself; I can't fool him into thinking I want or am something I'm not.

  • He has seen me cry and knows when it's over something that will make me stronger or just a waste of my time.

  • He has successfully survived the dating scene in his 20s (and landed quite a catch, in my opinion).

  • He has my best interest at heart, because if this guy becomes my family, he becomes Dad's family, too.

Not every man I go out with gets the Dad treatment (and because I know you're thinking it, no, my sex life is off-limits). But here's the thing: My dad found the love of his life, lost her, and was able to put himself out there again after 30 years, a good deal of pain and allow himself to love again. Here are seven things my father taught me about love:

1. Be friends first.
My parents met on a blind date arranged by friends. Dad said when he saw Mom, his jaw dropped. The attraction was instantaneous, mutual... and then the blizzard of '78 happened, blanketing the highways that ran from Mom's home in upstate New York to Dad's outside of Boston in snow. Since they couldn't see each other, they wrote letters. In them, they offered one another support; Mom encouraged Dad's fledging career as a public defender, and Dad was a shoulder to lean on during Mom's search for her brother, who went missing during the Vietnam War.

I met one former boyfriend through mutual friends. The attraction was instantaneous, mutual... and so we jumped right over the friend zone and into exclusivity. Five months later, I realized that while my heart still beat faster every time I looked at him, there were certain topics I'd stopped bringing up around him -- namely, things about my family and feelings -- because he didn't share those parts of his life with me.

"So much of a relationship is mental," Dad told me. "You need someone to keep you positive, who believes that what you do and care about in life is good."

Pick someone you can talk to after a hard day or a happy day. Someone who supports you, no matter what.

2. It's OK to take your time -- the good ones are worth the wait.
Grief is complicated. We had both lost someone we loved, and anyone we'd welcome into our lives was going to have to be OK with taking it slow.

Against the advice of my father (and many friends), I rushed into a new relationship shortly after a long-term one ended, and not long after losing Mom. Spoiler alert: It didn't last.

Dad told a woman he liked he wasn't ready to settle down yet, and the craziest thing happened... she gave him space. They're still together and really, really happy. The time apart let them both realize what they meant to each other and showed them that they could be happy alone -- a crucial first step toward being happy with someone else.

3. Pick someone who makes you laugh.
Let me tell you something: Chemo sucks. But even on her darkest days, Mom would crack jokes about how odd it was that her orthopedist was named Dr. Wack and her dentist Dr. Payne (now THAT is wack).

Given where I came from [see: above], I'm a bit of a sucker for bad puns. If you aren't willing to be silly with me in good times, what's going to keep us going when life gets less fun?

As Dad would say, think of those sleepover parties you had as a kid: Some nights you want to stay up late playing games, but most of the time you just want to laugh and talk until you fall asleep. Now, imagine you could only invite one friend over for a sleepover for the rest of your life. You better pick someone who can make you laugh.

4. Make sure he/she loves you, not just the idea of you.
My dad was hesitant to list his profession as "attorney" on his online dating profile. He said women would contact him and he'd always wonder if they were attracted to him because his job title suggested success or wealth. He wanted to be loved for who he was (a rockin' Dad who also happens to be in a rock band), not the job he held.

I once dated someone who had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and was looking for someone who was "wife material." On paper, I fit everything he was looking for: Ivy League degree, solid job... and blonde hair and blue eyes, just like his ex. He was handsome, successful and charming; I liked saying I was his girlfriend. But when we were alone, we'd have these awful fights where I realized we had very different views on very basic things... like what it means to be in a relationship. We looked good together on paper (and, after some Instagram filtering, I'd argue, in photos), but we weren't good together in real life.

Make sure you are dating a person, not "the person you are supposed to be with."

5. How do they treat you when disaster strikes?
My dad and mom shared a bed for more than 30 years. They made me in it when they were young (ew), they let their two daughters crawl in and watch TV with them in it when they were a bit older, and it became the place my dad would carry my mom to after trips to and from the bathroom after multiple cancer-related surgeries that robbed her of her femur, breast, lymph nodes and dignity.

When Mom died, my boyfriend at the time rushed from New York to Boston and spent his birthday in a funeral home at her viewing. While the relationship didn't work out in the long run, he's still a trusted friend today.

The good ones don't run away when it's hard; they stand by your side and carry you, if necessary.

6. Sometimes (but not always), wisdom comes with age.
I recently dated someone who was... well, let's just say he was significantly younger than I am. My dad offered me the following advice: "At his age, I was dating my college girlfriend. She was great, but I wasn't ready to get married or be serious, so I ended it. Then I met your mother, and everything clicked."

Sometimes, you just aren't at the right stage of your life to be the partner someone else needs. And letting them go means they'll eventually find that right person... which -- bonus -- can lead to some awesome kids.

And on that note...

7. Know when to let go.
"You can go." My dad whispered that to Mom minutes before she stopped breathing, her organs giving out after a three-year battle with inflammatory breast cancer. He wasn't ready. It hurt. But she was in pain and he loved her enough to let her go.

My longest relationship lasted seven years. My ex-boyfriend is a kind, accomplished man, but we weren't right for each other. Since we spent most of our 20s together -- in many ways, grew up together -- the separation was difficult, but we cared enough about each other to want the other person to be happy, and realized the best way to do that was to part ways.

Hard stuff, but if my dad can do it, so can his daughter.

Dating can be exhilarating, and it can be demoralizing. But I have a pretty good role model to remind me that no matter how bad or boring the date, the good guys are out there... somewhere.


'Not Alone' Reminds Us Women Who Have Abortions Are Our Daughters, Mothers, Grandmothers And Friends

Mon, 2014-09-22 08:37
"Not afraid. Not ashamed. Not alone."

That's the tagline of Not Alone, a website that offers women a platform to share their abortion experiences through video testimonies and essays. "We are here to let women who have had abortions know that they are part of a community," the website reads. "We are not ashamed of our experiences; we are not anonymous; and we are not alone."

Not Alone was founded in 2013, after Beth Matusoff Merfish wrote a New York Times column about her mother's experience of getting an abortion in Texas in 1972, where the procedure was illegal. The outpouring of support and appreciation the Matusoff Merfishes received in response moved them to provide a space for women to share their experiences with terminating an unwanted pregnancy.

Emily Letts, a former New Jersey abortion patient advocate, joined the team in the spring of 2014 after her own video documenting her abortion received national attention. Both Letts and the Matusoff Merfishes heard from women all over the world who were eager to share their stories.

"When you see one of our videos you see an actual person testifying to their actual lives," Letts told The Huffington Post. "They are no longer a statistic on a piece of paper that the anti-abortion groups can smear with hatred. They are men and women just like your sisters and brothers."

Emily M
"I now feel so much appreciation of being a woman and what my body can do and I feel a greater appreciation of what motherhood may one day be, should I choose to conceive."

The concept is pretty simple. Anyone, regardless of gender, can share their experiences with abortion. Testimonies are shared through video or written essay.

Not Alone works closely with Provide, an organization that supports women's health and reproductive care in rural areas of the United States. Not Alone donates money to Provide for every video testimony submitted.

Each testimony confronts the stigma that surrounds abortion, encouraging women (and men) to recognize that exercising the right to choose is an experience shared by millions and is nothing to be ashamed of.

With 68,000 women dying worldwide from unsafe abortions every year, Beth Matusoff Merfish argues that it's time to humanize this issue and communicate that abortion is much more than a policy issue debated on Capitol Hill. "When we learn that those who terminate -- 1 in 3 women in this country -- are our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, partners, daughters and friends, this issue gets a human face," Matusoff Merfish told The Huffington Post.

"I am so proud of myself for standing up and doing this."

Abortion isn't a topic that can be brushed under the rug. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Fifty percent of women in the U.S. will have an unintended pregnancy before the age of 45 and 21 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion.

"We need to start realizing that these people are our loved ones and they deserve the freedom to choose what happens to their bodies," Letts said. "They deserve to have accurate information and they deserve to realize that they are not alone."

Research shows that women who terminate unwanted pregnancies come from all walks of life. Almost 60 percent of women who choose to have abortions are in their 20s with white women accounting for 36 percent, black women for 30 percent, Hispanic women for 25 percent and other races for 9 percent. About 61 percent of women who get abortions already have one or more children.

Letts says the feedback she's received from Not Alone's community changed her outlook on her own abortion experience. "When I was sharing my own abortion story the only person I felt responsible for was myself. As more and more women and men submit their stories, bravely disclosing their identities along with their stories, I want to ensure their experiences are positive," Letts said. "I feel very maternal towards the amazing people who join in the fight to destigmatize abortion. For this reason we try to stay in contact with them, letting them know we always have their back if they every feel uncomfortable."

"By the time I got home from the second procedure, which involved surgery, I was near dead."

Not Alone has created a community of about 30 testimonies and just under 100 others who have pledged to share their stories personally with their families.

Letts noted that although a large part of Not Alone's mission is to support women, it is critical that the conversation also include men. "Most of the time the man's perspective is forgotten on this journey," Letts said. "We hope to shed light on their intimate feelings as well."

As Matusoff Merfish put it, "These stories together, in a collective, will change the national conversation around women’s health, and I am deeply proud to be a part of that."

To share your story or read more about Not Alone head over to their website.

Here Are The Most-Googled Brands In Each State

Sun, 2014-09-21 14:56
Wisconsinites love their PBR and tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo reign supreme on the West Coast, at least according to America's Internet search histories.

This map, created by finance company Direct Capital, shows the most-Googled brand in each state. The company analyzed Google Trends' per capita search data for some of the top 200 consumer brands and displayed the most popular company in each state.

Check it out here:

Many of the most-Googled brands in each state are headquartered in that state, such as Home Depot in Georgia, Target in Minnesota and McDonald's in Illinois.

The map can provide hints about the companies' sway on the culture, job market and consumption habits in each state.

A Gay Dad Takes On Laurie Higgins Of The Illinois Family Institute

Sun, 2014-09-21 08:46
By Rob Watson | The Next Family

Laurie Higgins is a Christian grandmother with a limited professional background (according to her bio). She has worked as “cultural analyst” for The Illinois “Family” Institute for six years, and before that was employed in the “writing center” for a high school. I am not exactly sure what the job qualifications are to be a “cultural analyst” but whatever they are, they have not won Ms. Higgins many friends. The Illinois “Family” Institute is one of 23 hate groups in Illinois tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Consider Ms. Higgins dubious honors: She is listed at #764 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons. There, she is described as “an unrepentant, hate-filled bigot.” Q Salt Lake anointed her as “Creep of the Week” for the week of Dec. 4, 2013. The website Reasonable Conversation nominates her for “Human Excommunication.” The blog site Skepacabra defined her in a three-part article as a “Crazy Bitch.” (Skepacabra was referring mostly to Laurie Higgins alleged stalker-like attempts to get atheist Herman Mehta, known throughout the blogging community as the Friendly Atheist, fired from his teaching job for expressing his opinions.)

Her reputation is earned through her own actions and statements, in 2010, for example, she stated that McDonalds is “hell bent on using its resources to promote subversive moral, social, and political views about homosexuality to our children.” It “hoists high the rainbow colors of the homosexual movement that points to the substitution of the worship of man for the worship of God and leads to depravity and destruction.” McDonalds had run an ad in France depicting a young gay man.

This week she publicly explored a new potential avocation—that of theoretical teen book author. J.K. Rowling has nothing to worry about. Ms. Higgins listed out a series of plotlines she proposes Illinois librarians consider having on their book shelves to enhance public intellectual discourse, and because, in her opinion, it will quench some deep unmet thirst within kids in LGBT families like mine.

I googled the plotlines to see if any of these books, or something close to them, actually exist for discussion. It appears that they are only in the frantic mind of Ms. Higgins. Based on the reactions of all I’ve asked, the general hope is that they stay there.

Here is Ms. Higgins proposal, in her exact words: “If librarians really cared about the full and free exchange of ideas and if they really believed that “book-banning” is dangerous to society, they would direct their rage and ridicule at the powerful publishing companies, professionally-recognized review journals, and their own profession, all of which do far more book-banning than does a handful of powerless parents seeking to have a picture book moved… Next year, will the Schaumburg librarians display photos of empty shelves where books that challenge Leftist assumptions about the nature and morality of homosexuality should be (you know, pro-heterosexuality/pro-heteronormativity books)?

Will they ask for young adult (YA) novels about teens who feel sadness and resentment about being intentionally deprived of a mother or father and who seek to find their missing biological parents?

Will they ask for dark, angsty novels about teens who are damaged by the promiscuity of their “gay” “fathers” who hold sexual monogamy in disdain?

Will they ask for novels about young adults who are consumed by a sense of loss and bitterness that their politically correct and foolish parents allowed them during the entirety of their childhood to cross-dress, change their names, and take medication to prevent puberty, thus deforming their bodies?

Will they ask for novels about teens who suffer because of the harrowing fights and serial “marriages” of their lesbian mothers?

Will they ask for picture books that show the joy a little birdie experiences when after the West Nile virus deaths of her two daddies, she’s finally adopted by a daddy and mommy?

Surely, there are some teens and children who will identify with such stories.”

As a gay dad, and a parent at the helm of one of the families Ms. Higgins targets, I feel compelled to respond.

Dear Ms. Higgins,

Thank you for concern over the possible reading material available for the kids in families like mine. Reading is an absolutely vital part of a child’s education. Getting my sons to do it, and finding the books in which they have interest, can be a challenge.

I would say “thank you” for trying to help, but your intent was not to help. It was to apply your very warped and misguided perception of what LGBT families must be like, but universally, in reality, are not. Instead of that thank you note, I thought I would give you some Insight into our actual lives and show you where you have severely missed the mark.

The plots you outlined only exist in your mind of fanciful perversion. You speculate that your plot ideas might have a market since “surely some teens and children will identify with such stories.”

I am pleased to tell you that, no, in fact, none of the hundred-some kids I know from LGBT families would relate. I specifically tested them on my own sons (in terms they could understand.) My eleven year old commented, “those sound like the dumbest books ever,” while my twelve year old looked me in the eye and just said simply, “what is wrong with her?”

I asked them to develop a few ideas for the books that they would like to read about families like ours, and these are what they came up with:

A dad and a papa and their two sons find a trunk with some wizard robes, and when they put them on they are transported to a land where they fight a dragon and find a lost treasure.

A girl and her mom are trapped at the bottom of the ocean to deal with enormous sea creatures, while the girl’s other mother is the head scientist in the ship above trying to help them.

Two brothers are stolen by pirates and hit the seven seas while their fathers search after them with the old pirate map that is left behind in their bedroom.

I believe my sons have a better sense of “good books” than you do. Theirs sound like a lot more fun.

More importantly, they reflect the real dynamics of LGBT families where parents and kids are focused on the happenings in our current lives, not focused on the procreation process that brought the kids into being. I suspect heterosexual families are essentially the same. Their dinner discussions do not start with dad sharing, yet again, how he impregnated mom. Even when we do discuss that aspect of our lives, we are not ashamed of having adopted our kids. They are not ashamed or regretful for being adopted. You need to stop attempting to shame families like mine for the beautiful bonds we have created from situations that were otherwise dire.

The book plots my sons imagined recognize that each person is uniquely individual, and no two personalities exactly alike. Your point of view boils each person down to being solely identified by genitalia. Your mono-vision conflict against your boogey man “The Left”, and its underling “Homosexual Activists” blinds you. I have to note that of all the characteristics you list in your plots from promiscuous gay dads, serial marrying lesbian moms and dying parents, none are accurate descriptions of the real parents I know in LGBT families. The same sex parents I know have stepped up in some of the most super-human situations imaginable, and have accomplished heroic things on behalf of their children. Our families are beautiful, and if you can’t respect that fact, the least you can do is not to spread ignorance about us.

Your plots and point of view imply a foundation assumption that simply does not exist. You hypothesize that for kids in LGBT families, there exists a mother/father family alternative in the wings that have either been robbed of these kids, or are sitting available should they be called upon. Again, in 100% of the families I know, this is not the case. A possible exception could be perceived in cases where the children’s lives were saved by being taken from an existing mother and father who were incapable of keeping them safe. I would not consider such parents as being “robbed” or “sitting available,” however.

That is the case with each of my sons. Both were born to drug addict parents and were exposed to drugs in the womb. All the parents were given the opportunity to show they could responsibly care for my sons, but each failed. At least one of the birth parents was life-threateningly violent. The two birth fathers each spent significant time in prison. All four of the parents have multiple children with multiple partners—in total my sons have twelve birth siblings in the world – none of which are in the custody of their biological parents.

If you think I somehow beat out an eligible mom/dad combo for the adoption of each of my sons, that did not happen either. There are plenty of children in my sons’ situation to go around. The fact is, most heterosexual couples find other ways to start a family, and see our way as an act of desperation were they to do it. I remember when I was talking to a family friend when I first got my oldest son. Born 6 weeks early, my son was 4 lbs and slept on my chest in a sling. She had just finished declaring how adorable he was and then segued into a story about how her sister had “almost” adopted recently. “Really?” I asked. “What happened?”

“It wasn’t right,” she explained. “It turns out the child was ethnic and had drug exposure. You know…” her voice trailed off as she looked at my son whom she had just been fawning over — my son, the beautiful Mexican heroin-exposed infant asleep on my chest. “Oh my God…” she said quietly as the realization hit her. My beautiful baby was just like the one who “would not work out” in her own family.

If you do not believe me about the reality of these fantasy parents of whom you think kids of LGBT families have been deprived, you only have to look as far as the case of the two incredible Iowa moms who lost their baby boy back to the birth mother when she changed her mind. The baby ended up dying a month later at the hands of the teen birth father.

The imaginary land of removed moms and dads is as far fetched as your plot concoctions. Also far fetched is your evil implication that my sons would be somehow relieved to be assigned to a mom/dad family after the death of my partner and me. Should my death occur, my children would be devastated and would not feel solace from being assigned to any new parents same sex, or opposite sex. Your suggestion otherwise is sociopathic.

The meanness and vitriol with which you attack gay families may have an additional unintended consequence that you may want to also consider.

You are a grandmother with a number of grand children, and I assume the number of that clan will grow exponentially over time. The odds of at least one of those kids being gay are high. That may lead to a plot line, more likely to be true to life than any you have suggested, that goes something like this:

The grandson of a highly visible homophobic “cultural analyst” discovers he is gay. He tries desperately to hide his sexuality from his angry grandmother, which leads him to a crisis of faith, depression, drug experimentation and suicidal thoughts. Finally, he can hide it no more and has to tell her….

How that storyline will end will be up to you. Will you hold to your irrational hatred and dogmatic theories? Will you look to see that your beloved grandson is the same as he has always been, and continues to be worthy of your love? Will you reject him or celebrate him?

In your story, you will get to pick the part you ultimately play. You will be the one who decides if you are the prodigal hero, or the unrepentant villain. Choose wisely, a villain’s life rarely ends well.

For LGBT families, you are currently playing the proverbial bad guy, minion of the Dark Force, maniacal Devil’s henchman. Like in any good story, though, you can change.

Nothing concludes a tale better than an affirming resolution with a former evil-doer’s redemption. Do it. Re-write the book. Give us a happy ending.

Rob Watson writes for The Next Family and lives with his husband and kids in Santa Cruz, California.

More on The Next Family:

10 Things You Should Never Say To A Gay Parent

I Was A Gay Kid

To The Homophobic Parents Caught Throwing Their Son Out

Mysterious Fireball Spotted Over The Rockies Was Actually A Russian Spy Satellite, Experts Say

Sun, 2014-09-21 08:40
A mysterious fireball that was spotted moving across the night sky and breaking apart above the Rocky Mountains earlier this month left observers totally baffled.

Some speculated that the blazing object may have been pieces from a meteor or other celestial body, but the science just didn't seem to add up. If it was indeed a meteor, it would have burned too quickly and wouldn't have been seen across such a large area, according to the American Meteor Society.

So what exactly was this fiery object?

Military experts say the so-called "fireball" -- which was spotted in the skies at around 10:30 p.m. MDT on Sept. 2 over Colorado and Wyoming, and possibly as far as New Mexico, South Dakota and Montana -- was likely a piece of a Russian spy satellite that fell from orbit.

Charles Vick, an aerospace analyst with the military information website, told the Associated Press that it was probably debris from Russia's Cosmos 2495 reconnaissance satellite.

Fireball over Rockies was Russian spy satellite, experts say

— CBC News (@CBCNews) September 18, 2014

Cosmos 2495 was a photoreconnaissance satellite designed to take high-resolution images of ground targets, according to It was reportedly launched in May.

The U.S. Strategic Command, a branch of the Department of Defense, confirmed that the satellite re-entered Earth's atmosphere and was removed from their catalog of orbiting satellites in September.

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied any connection with the fireball. Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says Russia's military satellites have all been operating normally.

"One can only guess what condition the representatives of the so-called American Meteor Society must be in to have identified a [fireball] at that high altitude as a Russian military satellite," he told RIA Novosti.

There are an estimated 98 operating spy satellites currently in orbit, the AP reports. Of these, almost 40 are said to be from the U.S. and just three are from Russia.

Bishop Blase Cupich Named By Pope Francis To Be Next Archbishop Of Chicago

Sat, 2014-09-20 08:03
(RNS) Pope Francis on Saturday will name Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash., a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing, to be the next archbishop of Chicago, according to news reports and multiple church sources.

It is the pontiff’s most important U.S. appointment to date and one that could upend decades of conservative dominance of the American hierarchy.

Cupich, 65, will succeed Cardinal Francis George, a doctrinal and cultural conservative who has headed one of the American church’s pre-eminent dioceses since 1997. In that time he became a vocal leader among the bishops and earned a reputation as a feisty culture warrior in line with the Vatican of the late St. John Paul II and retired Pope Benedict XVI.

That track record won him fans on the Catholic right, but George was seen as out of step with Francis’ desire for more pastoral bishops who are less focused on picking fights over sex and more involved in promoting the church’s social justice teachings and sticking close to the poor.

Cupich, who will now be in line to get a cardinal’s red hat, would seem to fit that bill.

Named by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Diocese of Spokane in September 2010, Cupich (pronounced “SOUP-itch”) has steadily staked out positions that align him with Catholics who want the church to engage the world rather than rail against the forces of secularism.

In March 2012, for example, in the midst of the bishops’ nasty battle with the Obama administration over religious freedom and the employer mandate to provide free contraception coverage, Cupich wrote an essay in America magazine titled “Staying Civil.”

In that column, Cupich called for dialogue with the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services rather than constant confrontation, and said the crisis was a chance to find “common ground.”

“While the outrage to the H.H.S. decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact,” he wrote.

The phrase “common ground” also resonated because it was associated with the approach of George’s predecessor in Chicago, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who embodied the hopes of a more progressive church — hopes that seemed to end with George.

George is 77 and has been battling a recurrence of bladder cancer, and he said he expected a successor to be named sometime this fall, though not this quickly. All bishops are required to offer their resignations at age 75.

Word that George’s replacement was to be named began circulating Friday evening and seemed confirmed when the archdiocese announced a press conference at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, but without revealing the topic.

While Cupich had been seen as a long shot to replace George, his name also began surfacing Friday night and was confirmed by multiple church sources and first reported by The Associated Press.

Cupich is a Nebraska native who was educated in Rome and served in a number of church posts before he was first appointed a bishop as head of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D.

As head of the Spokane diocese, which covers the eastern half of Washington state, Cupich was known for reaching out to a largely unchurched population and for promoting the church’s social justice teachings in a region suffering from the effects of the recession.

Cupich also gained notice in 2012 by adopting a moderate line when Washington voters went to the polls to vote in a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage.

In a pastoral letter read from all the pulpits in the diocese, Cupich defended the church’s position against same-sex marriage but he called for a respectful debate and he forcefully condemned any attempt “to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.”

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action,” Cupich wrote. “Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

Cupich also frequently praised the new approach of Pope Francis, who was elected in March of 2013, echoing his call for a more collaborative church and a greater attention to the church’s social justice teaching.

In June this year, Cupich was a featured speaker at a Washington, D.C., seminar sponsored by Catholic University of America convened to question whether one could be a good Catholic and espouse libertarian economic ideas.

The event was headlined by Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, one of Francis’ closest advisers, and in his talk Cupich echoed the cardinal’s powerful denunciation of libertarianism’s effects.

Growing inequality, Cupich said, is creating “a powder keg that is as dangerous as the environmental crisis the world is facing today.”

Cupich said political leaders cannot wage this debate “from the 30,000-foot level of ideas” but must take into account the real-life implications of policies as they play out on the ground.

“Reality,” he said, quoting Francis, “is greater than ideas.”

The move to Chicago will be a big change for Cupich in many ways. He is leaving a diocese of 90,000 Catholics and 82 parishes to take charge of a sprawling and storied archdiocese with more than 350 parishes and 2.2 million Catholics.

Tennis Coach Hopes Chicago Center Will Become A National Hub For Minority Players

Fri, 2014-09-19 16:28
When 33-year-old Kamau Murray first told his parents he wanted to buy out and take over the Chicago tennis center where he himself took up the sport, going so far in the sport as to earn a full-ride college scholarship, they thought he had lost his mind.

But they helped him along the way anyway and today, the gamble has proven fruitful. Murray's program, XS Tennis, occupies a facility in the city's Kenwood neighborhood on the city's South Side and has gradually outgrown its humble five-court space since Murray took over in 2008.

That's because the facility plays host to hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students learning the sport, in addition to collegiate teams and Murray's star pupil, 18-year-old Taylor Townsend, the fast-rising star who captured the nation's eye when she made an impressive Grand Slam debut at the French Open and defeated a player ranked twentieth in the world. Then ranked 205th in the world, Townsend has since risen to 108th over the course of less than four months.

XS Tennis is now recognized as the Midwest's largest minority-owned tennis club.

With all of that happening in a crowded space, not to mention his lease expiring and the building going up for sale, Murray is now working to expand his mission to offer youth on the South Side of Chicago access to the sport he loves through the building of a new $9.8 million 112,000-square-foot, 27-court tennis village to house the expanded program.

"I'm trying to salvage opportunities on the South Side. It was not intended to become this big, but now it's just too good to stop," Murray recently told HuffPost. "If I let it close, there would not be a single place south of Roosevelt [Road] to play tennis in Chicago. I don't think that's fair. That's how it is in the rest of the country, but now how it will be in my city."

The new tennis village, which will be located on the former site of the Robert Taylor Homes in the Washington Park neighborhood, is already very much on the way to becoming reality, despite facing some initial skepticism from outsiders.

The land has been purchased, the zoning has been finalized and tennis legend Billie Jean King has lent her support to the effort. Murray is now working to raise the last $1 million needed before breaking ground on the facility.

(Story continues below.)

Billie Jean King (center) with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Murray at the May 2014 announcement of the new tennis village. (XS Tennis/Facebook)

All of that flies in the face of critics who, like Murray's parents before, questioned the coach's plan to build a giant tennis center focused on minority players where one of the nation's most notorious public housing failures once stood. Some have suggested he focus, instead, on moving his facility to a wealthy part of the Chicago area, a tony suburb like Winnetka or Burr Ridge. But Murray is determined to stay put.

"People think I'm crazy putting tennis courts [there]," Murray explained. "We'd make a lot more money in the suburbs, but the access will be here. Our focus needs to be on creating opportunities for all types of kids."

Others have pointed out that as many as a dozen other tennis programs have tried what Murray is working to accomplish and, largely due to financial issues, come up short.

Of course, Townsend's success has also been helpful in silencing the critics. She splits her training time between Chicago, where she began playing and first met Murray at the age of 6, and Washington, D.C., where she trains with former Wimbledon runner-up Zina Garrison.

Taylor Townsend, who spends part of the year training at XS Tennis and was born and raised in Chicago, faced off with Serena Williams at the U.S. Open last month. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Ranked number one in the world in the junior division in 2012, Townsend burst onto the Grand Slam scene this year, reaching the third round in the French Open and also earning wild-card berths to participate in both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where she lost to Serena Williams, the tournament's eventual winner, in the first round last month.

Another statistics also serve to quiet the critics: a total of 22 XS Tennis players have earned full-ride college scholarships and the organization's free in-school tennis programs serves 2,000 CPS students annually.

Murray compared the impact of his pupil's success to that of the Jackie Robinson West youth baseball team, who earlier this year won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series. Given his program's growth, he hopes other minority tennis clubs across the country will duplicate the model he's created and spread additional access to the sport to black neighborhoods.

"Taylor is a living, breathing example of what is possible if you have access," he said. "And she should not be the last kid to make it out of the city of Chicago [in tennis]."

Besides easing the worries of potential investors, Townsend's rise has also had a major impact on the other young players training at the center.

"Her success makes other minority kids believe in the process they're going through and believe that even if there's not a lot of success early on, they can see what's possible," he said. "They can say, 'Wow, I'm OK with the process. I'm OK with not waking up and being a champion.' It's about showing up every day and putting the work in."

Evanston Township Ceases to Exist

Fri, 2014-09-19 14:44
Until May 1, taxpayers in Evanston supported two governments -- the city of Evanston and Evanston Township.

Evanston became a case study in government consolidation when voters decided in March that one Evanston government was enough and dissolved the township as a legal entity.

The Better Government Association examined the causes and effects of the Evanston Township dissolution. Illinois has by far the most government taxing bodies per capita of any state in the nation, and township governments have become prime targets for reformers who say they duplicate services of county and municipal governments at great cost to taxpayers. Townships also are notorious havens for patronage hiring.

Voters in Evanston decided in March to consolidate the 157-year-old township into the city government to save taxpayer money.

It marked only the fourth time in Illinois history, and the first time since 1932, that voters decided to dissolve a township.

But Evanston taxpayers might not have been given the chance to vote were it not for the efforts of the Evanston City Council and a local state lawmaker, who teamed to battle the powerful political influence of township officials both locally and across the state.

It was an arduous process that required two voter referendums, passage of narrowly focused legislation in Springfield, and the blessing of both local lawmakers and the powerful leaders of the General Assembly.

Read the rest of the BGA's take on this government consolidation on Reboot Illinois.

The vote to eliminate the Evanston Township was a show of democracy in action in Illinois. David Melton, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said he wants to make campaign funding more democratic:

Public opinion research shows that most Americans believe there is a serious problem with money in elections. But they're cynical about the chances of cleansing politics of big money. And with the current U.S. Supreme Court majority equating campaign contributions with free speech, efforts to reduce the impact of big money by simply trying to impose caps on big donations aren't likely to succeed anyway (at least not in the absence of a constitutional amendment, which is not likely to happen anytime soon).

What does Melton suggest as a solution?

The Top 25 Universities To Work For In 2014-15

Fri, 2014-09-19 13:29
"Clean campus, gentle and gracious people...and interesting work," are all things found by employees at Brigham Young University (in addition to shockingly sober undergrads).

Employee review website Glassdoor ranked BYU the best college to work for, bringing the Mormon university in Utah up from the number three spot last year. Carnegie Mellon University falls closed behind in second, with employees saying the Pittsburgh-based institution school fosters a "good work-life balance," and is one where "hard work is rewarded."

The Glassdoor rankings, released Friday, were based directly on employee feedback. Employees ranked their satisfaction with their workplace from one to five, with one being the least satisfied and five being the most. BYU scored an average of 4.4 while Carnegie Mellon, Clemson, Princeton and Cornell universities scored 4.3.

The top ten is a diverse mix of public, private and Ivy League schools. Positive employee feedback tended to focus on the beauty and safety of campuses as well as the support, resources and flexibility provided by the schools and fellow staff.

Check out the top 25 in the graphic below:

20 Photographs By Teens You'd Have To See To Believe

Fri, 2014-09-19 13:14
Whether you're posting the occasional selfie to Instagram or mastering the art of dog portraits, it's a good time to be a young photographer. And now, Flickr's spotlighting the power of young peoples' photography with its first annual 20 Under 20 celebration.

The 20 nominees, hailing everywhere from Australia to Germany, will have their work displayed during a gala event at NYC's Milk Studios on Oct. 1. You can vote for the three Audience Choice Awards by tweeting "#Flickr20u20" along with the name of the photographers you think should win #mostcreative, #besttechnique and #strongestportfolio.

Scroll down for a sampling of photographs taken by the 20 talented young artists.

1. Evan Atwood

This photo, titled "Battle," shows Evan's love of self-portraits and his flair for the cinematic.

2. Rachel Baran

Rachel expresses herself through "conceptual self-portraits," like this one above, which she called "Wild youth."

3. Olivia Bee

This photo, titled "Sunrise Dream" shows Olivia's ability to transform everyday settings into mystical dreamlands.

4. Alex Benetel

Alex's photographs are filled with beautiful oddities, like the one above, which she called, "Once and for all, they abandoned what they knew."

5. Oliver Charles

Oliver's photos are surreal, sometimes dark, images of the natural world.

6. Alex Currie

Alex's photos are often confrontational, creating an instant connection with the viewer.

7. Silvia Grav

Silvia's photos are tinted to perfection in ways that Instagram will only ever be dream of.

8. Zev Hoover

Fifteen-year-old Zev captures the sometimes-terrifying-vastness of the world with a sense of humor.

9. Katharina Jung

Katharina's "guided by a beatin' heart" proves that landscape shots are anything but boring.

10. Lissy Laricchia

This photo, titled "Seeing Clear," turns an average hallway into a dreamland.

11. Brian Oldham

Brian's beautifully surreal photographs will make you do a double take.

12. Laurence Philomene

Laurence has already won the Curator's Choice Award for her ethereal pictures.

13. Greg Ponthus

Greg's photographs capture the vulnerability of the people around him.

14. Berta Vicente Salas

Berta uses photographs to explore the beauty she encounters, whether she's above land or underwater.

15. Nicholas Scarpinato

This photograph, called "The Helpers," is artful yet melancholy.

16. Alex Stoddard

Alex's dramatic shots have a dark magic about them.

17. David Uzochukwu

Also the EyeEm 2014 Photographer of the Year, David often works in surreal self-portraits.

18. Chrissie White

Chrisse loves taking magical shots of the natural world.

19. Vanessa and Wilson, i.e. Wiissa

This duo, Vanessa and Wilson, collaborate to create colorful '70s themed photographs.

20. Lauren Withrow

Lauren was first inspired by the landscapes of her native state, Texas.

Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

WATCH: Calling All Introverts! It's Okay If You're Not A Social Butterfly. In Fact It Could Be A Good Thing

Fri, 2014-09-19 12:08
Why does the world seem to celebrate schmoozers, and what might we be missing when we assume quieter people have nothing worth saying? This persuasive talk from author (and self-proclaimed introvert) Susan Cain will leave you questioning your assumptions about what makes a good leader, and you may see the people in your life a bit differently - yourself included.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at
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Do You Remember? A Micro History Of 'The Happiest-Sounding Song In The World'

Fri, 2014-09-19 11:58
"Do you remember?" is a lyric from the classic Earth, Wind & Fire hit, "September," that is practically impossible to forget. But just in case fans wanted to know more about the wedding staple as it enters its 36th year this fall, the song's co-writer, Allee Willis, spoke to NPR's "Morning Edition" on Friday, and gave something of a mini history of what she called "the happiest-sounding song in the world."

"As a white Jewish girl getting a break, you could not get better than Earth, Wind & Fire," Willis recalled to Dan Charnas for NPR.

As Willis noted, singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams revealed during his tearful interview with Oprah Winfrey in April that Earth, Wind & Fire was among his biggest influences. The "Happy" creator played his inspiration track for Winfrey's audience on his iPad: It was "September."

Willis, who also co-wrote the theme song for "Friends" -- "I'll Be There for You," performed by The Rembrandts -- recalled the one part of "September" that didn't fill her with joy: bandleader Maurice White's nonsense lyric, "Ba-dee-ya."

White's response to the word being gibberish: "Who the fuck cares?"

"September" (which, despite its name, was actually released in November of 1978), went on to sell more than a million copies for the Chicago-based band, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard chart.

As for the specific date mentioned in the song, Willis said the 21st day of September has no special significance.

Still, it's something we all remember.

Listen to full interview at NPR:

Illinois Has 21 of the Best High-Poverty High Schools in the Country

Fri, 2014-09-19 10:10
Illinois had 16 schools in Newsweek's new rankings of the top 500 high schools in the country. But in a different list that focused on low-income students, Illinois placed: 21 high schools in the Top 500.

The magazine's "absolute" list of the 500 best public high schools in the country based on students' college readiness, graduation rates and how many students from those schools were college-bound. Illinois had 16 high schools on that list, and Northside College Preparatory High School was No. 3 among all high schools in the country.

The second list focuses on schools with high percentages of low-income students. Newsweek said the second list was part of an effort to "overcome the obstacles posed by socio-economic inequality."

From Newsweek:

It will come as no surprise that this list is dominated by schools in areas with high average income and low racial diversity. So we produced a second list that takes into consideration how well schools serve students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds -- measured by the percentage of students qualifying for free school lunches. There is almost no overlap in the top 10 schools on each list. Thomas Jefferson was in 14th place in the second list, while the top school serving low-income students, Emma Lazarus High School in New York, was 21st on the absolute list.

Northside College Preparatory High School was named the No. 7 best school in the country when its percentage of low-income students (35.9 percent) was taken into account. There were 20 other Illinois high schools on this list.

Here are seven schools that made it in the top 500 in Newsweek's list for schools with high poverty rates.

494. Dunlap High School

424. Prosser Career Academy High Shool

374. Devry Advantage Academy High School

339. Wheeling High School

330. Elverado High School

288. Lindblom Math and Science Academy

270. Wheaton North High School

See 14 more Illinois schools that made the list at Reboot Illinois to find out if your school was among the top 21 in the state.

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