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Tom Hanks Says Community College Made Him Who He Is Today

Wed, 2015-01-14 10:43
Famed actor and director Tom Hanks penned an op-ed reflecting on his time in community college, crediting it as the "place [that] made me what I am today."

Hanks writes in the New York Times on Wednesday that he applied to some prestigious schools knowing full-well they wouldn't accept a student like him with low SAT scores. He decided to go to Chabot College, a community college that accepted everyone and was free.

Hanks celebrated that Chabot had programs in nearly every discipline, "all free but for the effort and the cost of used textbooks," and his classmates "included veterans back from Vietnam, women of every marital and maternal status returning to school, middle-aged men wanting to improve their employment prospects and paychecks." The op-ed goes on to endorse President Barack Obama's plan to offer free community college nationwide.

The celebrated actor noted one public speaking class at Chabot "was unforgettable for a couple of reasons. First, the assignments forced us to get over our self-consciousness." The other reason was a flight attendant in the class he apparently had a crush on.

Hanks' 2011 romantic comedy starring himself and Julia Roberts, "Larry Crowne," was inspired by his time at Chabot, according to USA Today. Coincidentally, his son, Colin, starred in the 2002 film "Orange County," as the main character who is desperate to attend Stanford University but ultimately decides the community college near his home may be a better option.

Hanks has previously credited his time as Chabot as life-changing.

"I was in junior college because it was my only option -- if I didn't enroll right after high school I would have had no path to any future," Hanks said in a 2011 interview with MTV. "Two years in junior college became the jumping-off point for everything that came later and I think this was the same for others."

Read the entire op-ed at The New York Times.

Our Picks For The Top 10 College Basketball Freshmen

Wed, 2015-01-14 10:15
Blue-chip, five-star freshmen seem to grace college basketball annually. The tricky part is figuring out who the best are, because pedigree clearly does not guarantee success, as our most recent top senior list illustrated clearly. Last year's landscape was dominated early on by Kansas star Andrew Wiggins, but we also saw fantastic performances by Duke's Jabari Parker, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Arizona's Aaron Gordon. That quartet is off to the NBA, and as we start to think about March, let's take a look at the top 10 freshmen of the 2014-15 campaign.





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

Trial Begins For Couple Accused In Woman's Island Resort Suitcase Murder

Wed, 2015-01-14 09:15
BALI, Indonesia (AP) -- An American couple went on trial in Indonesia on Wednesday on charges of murdering the woman's mother last year on the resort island of Bali.

The badly beaten body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found in a suitcase in the trunk of a taxi outside an upscale hotel.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, both from Chicago, are being tried separately at the Denpasar District Court on Bali. The judges and prosecutors are the same in both trials.

Prosecutors charged them with premeditated murder, which carries a possible death penalty. Mack and Schaefer said they understood the charges. They are to enter pleas when the trial resumes next week.

Mack earlier told investigators that Schaefer beat her mother during an argument, according to her lawyer.

They were arrested on Aug. 13, a day after von Wiese-Mack's body was found in the taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort.

In the indictments, obtained by The Associated Press, prosecutors said the couple plotted the murder because von Wiese-Mack did not endorse their relationship.

The prosecutors said Mack, who is now seven months' pregnant, once suggested that Schaefer hire someone to kill her mother for $50,000 before their visit to Bali.

Mack and her mother arrived in Bali on Aug. 4 and stayed in Kuta before moving to the St. Regis hotel in Nusa Dua, where they planned to stay until Aug. 14.

Schaefer arrived Aug. 12 and stayed at the same hotel in a room booked by Mack under her mother's name.

Prosecutors said that made Mack's mother angry and led to an argument in which von Wiese-Mack, who was white, scolded Schaefer, using a racial slur. Schaefer is black, as was Mack's father, James L. Mack, a highly regarded jazz and classical composer who died in 2006.

They said Schaefer then battered her with the iron grip of a fruit bowl.

Security camera video showed the victim earlier having an argument with Schaefer in the hotel lobby.

The indictment said the couple hired a taxi and placed the suitcase containing the body in the trunk and told the driver they were going to check out of the hotel and would return, but never did.

Man Finds Mother-In-Law Elizabeth Lutz's Body While Shoveling Snow

Wed, 2015-01-14 08:46
Police say that a man mistook a body for a garbage bag under the snow outside her home, and later realized it was his mother-in-law.

Elizabeth Lutz, 55, was pronounced dead an hour after she was taken to the hospital near her Niles, Illinois home Monday night, according to the Niles Herald-Spectator.

Cops say her son-in-law was shoveling snow near her home at 5:50 p.m. and saw what he thought was a garbage bag. About 40 minutes later, he realized it was Lutz's body. She was reportedly wearing a winter jacket and snow boots at the time. There was no evidence of foul play, and no noticeable injuries on her body, police said.


Elizabeth Lutz may have suffered from breast cancer, according to friends.

A responding officer tried to perform CPR on Lutz while emergency crews arrived, but she was pronounced dead at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

There are conflicting reports about the victim's relationship to the man who found her. Police reports state that Lutz was the witness' mother-in-law, but a neighbor told NBC that she wasn't.



An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, and results are still pending. Lutz may have had breast cancer and "other issues," according to the New York Daily News.

What the Mayoral Candidates Need to Do to Stop Violence

Wed, 2015-01-14 08:20
Do We Really Need More Cops? -- Part 2 of 2

In yesterday's installment, I discussed the absurdity of all of Chicago's mayoral candidates calling for more police, in a city that arguably has the highest number of metropolitan police per capita of any city in the nation. I also discussed how many community activists get it wrong in their proscriptions for how we can stop civilian-on-civilian violence, and violence of police versus civilians.

Today, I discuss how the evidence shows we can best reduce all kinds of violence in our city, and what the mayoral candidates who are challenging Rahm "1%" Emanuel, should be promising the voters.


It's Poverty & Inequality, Stupid

There are two causes of human violence that probably trump all other factors - poverty, and a related, but not identical cause - economic inequality. While even some left-wing writers dismiss economics as having any relation to violence, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the five most violent American cities (as measured by murder rate) with populations of at least 250,000 people - #1 Detroit, #2 New Orleans, #3 St. Louis, #4 Baltimore, and #5 Newark - are marked by stark impoverishment and inequality.

An unbiased look overseas shows a striking correlation between economic inequality and murder rates. While reporting agencies both here and abroad are notorious for fudging both poverty and crime statistics, the so-called "Gini Coefficient," is internationally recognized as the best indicator of inequality.

A United Nations' calculation of the Gini Coefficient compares countries with the largest difference between their wealthiest 10% by income to their poorest 10%. It puts Honduras, with the world's worst murder rate since a 2009 U.S.-supported coup, as the sixth worst for inequality out of 126 countries listed. The World Bank's listing of 156 countries by Gini co-efficient puts Honduras as eighth worst.

Below is map rendering of Gini Coefficients based upon the 2009 CIA Factbook, and below that is a 2008 map of world murder rates.





It's striking how many countries with poor Gini Coefficients - Brazil, Guatemala and South Africa for example - also have some of the worst murder rates. It's also striking how a country that's culturally similar to the United States - Canada - scores much better than the U.S. in both regards. No doubt Gini Coefficient scores comparing the U.S. as a whole to cities like Detroit or New Orleans, or comparing communities like Wilmette to Chicago's Englewood or K-Town neighborhoods, would also go a long way to explaining their different rates of violence.

Unfortunately, as the maps below show, Chicago's mayor Rahm Emmanuel, his predecessor Richard Daley, and their corporate buddies have already done much to send Chicago in the wrong direction.




Orange areas represent census tracks with the lowest median incomes compared with the overall Chicago median income. Dark green represents the wealthiest median incomes, with gray areas being about even with the Chicago median. Comparing the 1970 map with the 2012 map, we see a huge erosion of the gray areas approximating the median, along with a dramatic growth of both the poorest and richest sections in the city.

What to Do With This Information


First, throw out the prescriptions offered by Mayor Emanuel and his leading challengers, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Bob Fioretti.

If we are going to take down "Mayor 1%," we need opposition candidates worthy of the name. If we're going to put in the shoe leather necessary to offset Rahm's 10-to-1 fundraising advantage, we deserve genuine opposition candidates who reject the tired "hire more cops" claptrap, and instead promote programs that would actually curb violence. You can't do both.

In a city already swimming in red ink, with prospects of even worse to come, wasting more money on an already bloated police force is worse than useless - it's robbing money from programs that actually work.

We live in a city with record high youth unemployment, which in turn feeds petty crime, which in turn feeds the prison-unemployment-prison spiral downwards. The legacy of the Great Recession and much of what animated the Occupy Movement were that 40- and 30-somethings traded down to jobs normally taken by recent college graduates, and college graduates took jobs previously taken by secondary school graduates or those still in school. Screwed most by this were black youth, followed by Latino youth - racism which is not only repugnant in its own right, but which bodes poorly for our majority-minority city.

So first on the agenda to redress our Gini Coefficient/inequality problem should be massive investment by all levels of government to provide jobs and vocational training to youth. Germany, with one of the lowest violence rates in the world, is renowned for having world-leading vocational training programs for youth. In addition, a University of Chicago Crime Lab study published in the journal Science showed that participants in a Chicago youth summer jobs program "had 43 percent fewer violent-crime arrests over 16 months, compared to students in a control group," reported Washington Post columnist Emily Badger.

Second, funding for in-school and after-school programs and student-teacher ratios should be on the same scale as those found in Rahm's home town of Wilmette. Such measures would have the added benefit of increasing socially-useful employment opportunities for working class Chicagoans.

Third, the decades-long destruction of public housing, SROs and other low income housing must be dramatically reversed. While sons and daughters of upper middle class families can get by living in Mom and Dad's basement, the income crash for working class youth and young adults over the past decade has led to doubling up in housing. Historically, immobility in housing choices has led to increases in domestic violence and other social ills.

Finally, TIF funds should either be entirely wound up and given to the aforementioned programs, or spent on genuinely alleviating poverty rather than subsidizing wealthy mayoral friends. Emanuel's and Daley's spending of such "poverty funds" on such outrageous items as $5.2 million in tax dollars for a hotel for the Pritzker family's Hyatt chain in Hyde Park, $55 million in tax dollars for a DePaul University basketball arena near McCormick (when the United Center offered its facilities rent-free), and $15 million in tax dollars for the rehab of the Chicago Board of Trade building for the dirt-poor Chicago Mercantile Exchange, are all moves calculated to send Chicago's Gini Inequality Coefficient spinning wildly in the wrong direction.

Stopping Chicago Police Violence


Levels of police violence track closely to inequality and violence as a whole in a society. Brazil for example, with a much worse Gini Coefficient than the U.S., is infamous for its police mowing down of youth.

The role of the police in societies is to preserve the status quo. The more unequal the society, the more precarious the status quo; the more precarious the status quo, the more violence and intimidation required to maintain it. Where the Gini Coefficient is high, police violence typically is high. So aside from specific policy reforms, such as vigorous criminal prosecutions of police wrongdoing - and not just when protests demand it - the key to curbing police violence is building a more equal society.

This fall and early winter has seen a spate of protests against police violence, here in Chicago and around the nation.

All of Chicago's front-running mayoral candidates, to their shame, have barely addressed the issue of Chicago police violence and racial discrimination. This is a disgrace in a city with as lurid a history of police racism, violence and prosecutorial misconduct as Chicago's. It is a proverbial turning of the backs upon our city's youth, particularly its black and Latino youth.

Modern Puppetry Takes Center Stage At International Festival In Chicago

Wed, 2015-01-14 07:00

By Mark Guarino

CHICAGO, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Puppets aren't just about Muppets, kids and circuses.

Indeed, an international puppetry festival in Chicago aims to redefine the art form and promises theatergoers an experience that, unlike so many in our digital age, can't be swiped, streamed, downloaded, or tweeted.

The first annual Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which opens on Wednesday and runs through Jan. 25, is about the many forms of contemporary puppetry - from marionettes, masking and shadow puppets to tabletop puppets and larger-than-life installation characters that tell stories that are both epic and innately intimate.

Puppet theater is thought to have been around in some form for more than 3,000 years, with recent award-winning stage shows like "War Horse" and "The Lion King" taking the art to new, emotional levels and huge global audiences.

Festival founder Blair Thomas says the low-tech nature of puppetry is what makes it so enduring, especially when people are now inundated with technology in their daily lives.

"Live puppet theater is really just this sculptured object being performed in front of you by someone who has ability to endow it with life," Thomas said.

"That's in such sharp contrast to our media culture where we are inundated with how fast things are edited in film. Our cinematic eye is very sophisticated but also oversaturated. So there's something very real about being in the presence of an animated puppet that is a breath of fresh air," he said.

The 12-day festival takes place throughout Chicago, from storefront theaters to the Museum of Contemporary Art and Field Museum. It will feature about 50 puppeteers from around the world including New York, London, Montreal, the Netherlands, and France.

Chicago is represented by companies like five-year-old Manual Cinema that incorporates multimedia, soundscapes, and storytelling focusing on abstract expressionism.

Puppetry has deep roots in Chicago with the term "puppeteer" credited by etymologists as originating there in 1912 with Ellen Van Volkenburg, a co-founder of the Chicago Little Theater that put on marionette shows on Michigan Avenue.

Van Volkenburg was later profiled in a 1920 New York Times article which first used the term "puppeteering" in print.

Thomas says more theater artists are incorporating puppetry today because they have come to appreciate how it expands their storytelling potential.

The simplicity of the art form, it seems, taps into something inherently primitive that cannot be replicated by human actors reading from conventional scripts.

"Puppet theater is intimately connected to the irrational," he said.

"After several centuries of empirical thinking as the primary way of looking at the world, there's no way for irrational thought to go. So watching a puppet that is animated well can tap into that reptilian brand, which makes it a very powerful experience."

The performances in Chicago (chicagopuppetfest.org) will vary from traditional shadow puppetry by New York's Chinese Theater Works, to the animated drawings of Canadian Daniel Barrow, and what is described as "a live-action three-dimensional cartoon" performed by 15 puppeteers of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater of Minneapolis.

Thomas hopes the festival will become a biannual event.

"One of our goals is to redefine what puppetry is in people's minds," he says. "It crosses a lot of boundaries and borders and cultures and languages that otherwise separate us." (Reporting by Mark Guarino, editing by Jill Serjeant and Gunna Dickson)

Here Is The Most Disproportionately Popular Cuisine In Each State

Wed, 2015-01-14 06:35
When most people think American cuisine, they think pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers.

While these are indeed staples across the country, every state has its own sense of flavor. Now, thanks to a collaboration between The Huffington Post and Yelp, we can see exactly what types of cuisine are most likely to appear in each state.

You may not be surprised to learn that Maine is crazy about seafood. But would you have guessed that Utah has a hankering for Hawaiian?

Yelp figured out which cuisines were most common in each state by examining restaurant listings on its site. The review service uses information pulled by third-party data providers from public records and other sources in order to create its online restaurant listings, according to its website.

To get the data for the map, Yelp first calculated the percentage of total restaurants each cuisine represented in a given state. Then, it compared each percentage with the cuisine's representation in restaurants nationwide. The resulting map, made by HuffPost, shows the cuisines with a disproportionate level of representation in each state.

Restaurants on Yelp can be placed into as many as three categories, so some restaurants may have been counted more than once. For instance, a Kosher vegetarian Chinese restaurant would could as three cuisines.

Check out the map below by HuffPost's Alissa Scheller, using data provided by Yelp, to find out which cuisines are most popular in each state. Below the map is a list of the top five cuisines in each state:




Alabama
  1. Southern -- 256 percent higher than national average.

  2. BBQ -- 145 percent higher than national average.

  3. Cajun -- 96 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 89 percent higher than national average.

  5. Soul food -- 87 percent higher than national average.


Alaska
  1. Filipino -- 208 percent higher than national average.

  2. Fish and chips -- 200 percent higher than national average.

  3. Thai -- 158 percent higher than national average.

  4. Seafood -- 158 percent higher than national average.

  5. Hawaiian -- 90 percent higher than national average.


Arizona
  1. Mexican -- 73 percent higher than national average.

  2. Greek -- 63 percent higher than national average.

  3. Gluten-free -- 57 percent higher than national average.

  4. Buffets -- 54 percent higher than national average.

  5. Mediterranean -- 40 percent higher than national average.


Arkansas
  1. Southern -- 142 percent higher than national average.

  2. BBQ -- 91 percent higher than national average.

  3. Tex-Mex -- 64 percent higher than national average.

  4. Cajun -- 64 percent higher than national average.

  5. Steak -- 53 percent higher than national average.


California
  1. Taiwanese -- 264 percent higher than national average.

  2. Filipino -- 226 percent higher than national average.

  3. Vietnamese -- 143 percent higher than national average.

  4. Korean -- 143 percent higher than national average.

  5. Hawaiian -- 125 percent higher than national average.


Colorado
  1. Gluten-free -- 149 percent higher than national average.

  2. Vietnamese -- 65 percent higher than national average.

  3. Mexican -- 55 percent higher than national average.

  4. Soup -- 40 percent higher than national average.

  5. Breakfast/brunch -- 36 percent higher than national average.


Connecticut
  1. Spanish -- 168 percent higher than national average.

  2. Deli -- 95 percent higher than national average.

  3. Italian -- 89 percent higher than national average.

  4. Irish -- 69 percent higher than national average.

  5. Caribbean -- 56 percent higher than national average.


Delaware
  1. Irish -- 166 percent higher than national average.

  2. Cheesesteaks -- 123 percent higher than national average.

  3. Caribbean -- 122 percent higher than national average.

  4. Seafood -- 101 percent higher than national average.

  5. Gastropub -- 87 percent higher than national average.


District of Columbia
  1. Belgian -- 1,711 percent higher than national average.

  2. Ethiopian -- 1,560 percent higher than national average.

  3. African -- 555 percent higher than national average.

  4. Food stands -- 332 percent higher than national average.

  5. French -- 250 percent higher than national average.


Florida
  1. Cuban -- 757 percent higher than national average.

  2. Caribbean -- 286 percent higher than national average.

  3. Peruvian -- 264 percent higher than national average.

  4. Latin -- 217 percent higher than national average.

  5. Spanish -- 159 percent higher than national average.


Georgia
  1. Southern -- 304 percent higher than national average.

  2. Soul food -- 155 percent higher than national average.

  3. Caribbean -- 113 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 103 percent higher than national average.

  5. BBQ -- 57 percent higher than national average.


Hawaii
  1. Hawaiian -- 5028 percent higher than national average.

  2. Ramen -- 1443 percent higher than national average.

  3. Filipino -- 809 percent higher than national average.

  4. Korean -- 465 percent higher than national average.

  5. Food stands -- 380 percent higher than national average.


Idaho
  1. Gastropubs -- 52 percent higher than national average.

  2. Cafes -- 31 percent higher than national average.

  3. Mexican -- 26 percent higher than national average.

  4. Steak -- 25 percent higher than national average.

  5. Traditional American -- 25 percent higher than national average.


Illinois
  1. Pakistani -- 80 percent higher than national average.

  2. Hot dogs -- 76 percent higher than national average.

  3. Middle Eastern -- 34 percent higher than national average.

  4. Greek -- 25 percent higher than national average.

  5. Indian-Pakistani -- 23 percent higher than national average.


Indiana
  1. Pizza -- 43 percent higher than national average.

  2. Tex-Mex -- 38 percent higher than national average.

  3. Fast food -- 37 percent higher than national average.

  4. Steak -- 30 percent higher than national average.

  5. Burgers -- 29 percent higher than national average.


Iowa
  1. Buffets -- 127 percent higher than national average.

  2. Pizza -- 64 percent higher than national average.

  3. Steak -- 21 percent higher than national average.

  4. Traditional American -- 7 percent higher than national average.

  5. Fast food -- 5 percent higher than national average.


Kansas
  1. BBQ -- 48 percent higher than national average.

  2. Chicken wings -- 38 percent higher than national average.

  3. Tex-Mex -- 35 percent higher than national average.

  4. Mexican -- 33 percent higher than national average.

  5. Fast food -- 31 percent higher than national average.


Kentucky
  1. Southern -- 111 percent higher than national average.

  2. Fast food -- 66 percent higher than national average.

  3. Tex-Mex -- 56 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 52 percent higher than national average.

  5. Burgers -- 50 percent higher than national average.


Louisiana
  1. Cajun -- 1,540 percent higher than national average.

  2. Southern -- 219 percent higher than national average.

  3. Soul food -- 198 percent higher than national average.

  4. Seafood -- 158 percent higher than national average.

  5. Chicken wings -- 75 percent higher than national average.


Maine
  1. Seafood -- 321 percent higher than national average.

  2. Irish -- 135 percent higher than national average.

  3. Gastropubs -- 102 percent higher than national average.

  4. Gluten-free -- 78 percent higher than national average.

  5. Diners -- 77 percent higher than national average.


  1. Maryland

  2. Peruvian -- 200 percent higher than national average.

  3. Cheesesteaks -- 121 percent higher than national average.

  4. Caribbean -- 103 percent higher than national average.

  5. Latin -- 102 percent higher than national average.

  6. Pakistani -- 97 percent higher than national average.


Massachusetts
  1. Portuguese -- 716 percent higher than national average.

  2. Brazilian -- 361 percent higher than national average.

  3. Irish -- 179 percent higher than national average.

  4. Seafood -- 90 percent higher than national average.

  5. Middle Eastern -- 82 percent higher than national average.


Michigan
  1. Middle Eastern -- 184 percent higher than national average.

  2. Diners -- 47 percent higher than national average.

  3. Hot dogs -- 43 percent higher than national average.

  4. Pizza -- 43 percent higher than national average.

  5. Soup -- 40 percent higher than national average.


Minnesota
  1. Buffets -- 53 percent higher than national average.

  2. Traditional American -- 35 percent higher than national average.

  3. Pizza -- 31 percent higher than national average.

  4. New American -- 21 percent higher than national average.

  5. Gluten-free -- 18 percent higher than national average.


Mississippi
  1. Southern -- 371 percent higher than national average.

  2. Cajun -- 189 percent higher than national average.

  3. Buffets -- 135 percent higher than national average.

  4. Soul food -- 106 percent higher than national average.

  5. Chicken wings -- 103 percent higher than national average.


Missouri
  1. BBQ -- 65 percent higher than national average.

  2. Soup -- 46 percent higher than national average.

  3. Chicken wings -- 33 percent higher than national average.

  4. Steak -- 30 percent higher than national average.

  5. Tex-Mex -- 29 percent higher than national average.


Montana
  1. Steak -- 141 percent higher than national average.

  2. Cafes -- 80 percent higher than national average.

  3. Traditional American -- 70 percent higher than national average.

  4. Diners -- 52 percent higher than national average.

  5. Breakfast/brunch -- 34 percent higher than national averag.e


Nebraska
  1. Steak -- 60 percent higher than national average.

  2. Buffets -- 36 percent higher than national average.

  3. Chicken wings -- 35 percent higher than national average.

  4. Comfort food -- 34 percent higher than national average.

  5. Burgers -- 30 percent higher than national average.


Nevada
  1. Filipino - 277 percent higher than national average.

  2. Hawaiian -- 238 percent higher than national average.

  3. Buffets -- 156 percent higher than national average.

  4. Steak -- 84 percent higher than national average.

  5. Vegan -- 66 percent higher than national average.


New Hampshire
  1. Breakfast/brunch -- 95 percent higher than national average.

  2. Irish -- 95 percent higher than national average.

  3. Gluten-free -- 72 percent higher than national average.

  4. Traditional American -- 67 percent higher than national average.

  5. Diners -- 66 percent higher than national average.


New Jersey
  1. Portuguese -- 880 percent higher than national average.

  2. Spanish -- 266 percent higher than national average.

  3. Kosher -- 218 percent higher than national average.

  4. Peruvian -- 211 percent higher than national average.

  5. Delis -- 156 percent higher than national average.


New Mexico
  1. Mexican -- 124 percent higher than national average.

  2. Steak -- 60 percent higher than national average.

  3. French -- 58 percent higher than national average.

  4. Cafes -- 51 percent higher than national average.

  5. Vegetarian -- 45 percent higher than national average.


New York
  1. Kosher -- 414 percent higher than national average.

  2. Halal -- 233 percent higher than national average.

  3. Spanish -- 206 percent higher than national average.

  4. Caribbean -- 158 percent higher than national average.

  5. Delis -- 117 percent higher than national average.


North Carolina
  1. Southern -- 229 percent higher than national average.

  2. Cheesesteaks -- 207 percent higher than national average.

  3. Hot dogs -- 80 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 47 percent higher than national average.

  5. Soul food -- 39 percent higher than national average.


North Dakota
  1. German -- 187 percent higher than national average.

  2. Steak -- 101 percent higher than national average.

  3. Soup -- 68 percent higher than national average.

  4. Buffets -- 62 percent higher than national average.

  5. Salad -- 41 percent higher than national average.


Ohio
  1. Soup -- 57 percent higher than national average.

  2. Pizza -- 57 percent higher than national average.

  3. Fast food -- 40 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 34 percent higher than national average.

  5. Burgers -- 32 percent higher than national average.


Oklahoma
  1. Tex-Mex -- 93 percent higher than national average.

  2. BBQ -- 88 percent higher than national average.

  3. Steak -- 58 percent higher than national average.

  4. Buffets -- 51 percent higher than national average.

  5. Fast food -- 51 percent higher than national average.


Oregon
  1. Food stands -- 404 percent higher than national average.

  2. Gluten-free -- 170 percent higher than national average.

  3. Vegan -- 153 percent higher than national average.

  4. Hawaiian -- 145 percent higher than national average.

  5. Thai -- 127 percent higher than national average.


Pennsylvania
  1. Cheesesteaks -- 260 percent higher than national average.

  2. Pizza -- 60 percent higher than national average.

  3. Italian -- 49 percent higher than national average.

  4. Diners -- 46 percent higher than national average.

  5. Delis -- 45 percent higher than national average.


Rhode Island
  1. Portuguese -- 1,187 percent higher than national average.

  2. Fish and chips -- 193 percent higher than national average.

  3. Irish -- 141 percent higher than national average.

  4. Spanish -- 124 percent higher than national average.

  5. Seafood -- 95 percent higher than national average.


South Carolina
  1. Southern -- 327 percent higher than national average.

  2. Seafood -- 76 percent higher than national average.

  3. Soul food -- 65 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 57 percent higher than national average.

  5. BBQ -- 49 percent higher than national average.


South Dakota
  1. Steak -- 143 percent higher than national average.

  2. Buffets -- 71 percent higher than national average.

  3. Traditional American -- 37 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 30 percent higher than national average.

  5. Pizza -- 27 percent higher than national average.


Tennessee
  1. Southern -- 335 percent higher than national average.

  2. Soul food -- 105 percent higher than national average.

  3. BBQ -- 100 percent higher than national average.

  4. Chicken wings -- 59 percent higher than national average.

  5. Tex-Mex -- 49 percent higher than national average.


Texas
  1. Tex-Mex -- 174 percent higher than national average.

  2. Cajun -- 171 percent higher than national average.

  3. BBQ -- 89 percent higher than national average.

  4. Mexican -- 85 percent higher than national average.

  5. Chicken wings -- 64 percent higher than national average.


Utah
  1. Hawaiian -- 241 percent higher than national average.

  2. Hot dogs -- 54 percent higher than national average.

  3. Mexican -- 50 percent higher than national average.

  4. Comfort food -- 41 percent higher than national average.

  5. Burgers -- 38 percent higher than national average.


Vermont
  1. Gastropubs -- 220 percent higher than national average.

  2. Diners -- 130 percent higher than national average.

  3. Comfort food -- 113 percent higher than national average.

  4. Vegan -- 92 percent higher than national average.

  5. Delis -- 91 percent higher than national average.


Virginia
  1. Peruvian -- 162 percent higher than national average.

  2. Southern -- 104 percent higher than national average.

  3. Latin -- 68 percent higher than national average.

  4. Middle Eastern -- 68 percent higher than national average.

  5. Pakistani -- 67 percent higher than national average.


Washington
  1. Vietnamese -- 181 percent higher than national average.

  2. Fish and chips -- 175 percent higher than national average.

  3. Thai -- 125 percent higher than national average.

  4. Korean -- 103 percent higher than national average.

  5. Japanese -- 88 percent higher than national average.


West Virginia
  1. Hot dogs -- 146 percent higher than national average.

  2. Pizza -- 75 percent higher than national average.

  3. Buffets -- 55 percent higher than national average.

  4. Fast food -- 54 percent higher than national average.

  5. Chicken wings -- 47 percent higher than national average.


Wisconsin
  1. Traditional American -- 52 percent higher than national average.

  2. Soup -- 34 percent higher than national average.

  3. New American -- 25 percent higher than national average.

  4. Sandwiches -- 21 percent higher than national average.

  5. Pizza -- 20 percent higher than national average.


Wyoming
  1. Steak -- 182 percent higher than national average.

  2. Comfort food -- 106 percent higher than national average.

  3. Traditional American -- 50 percent higher than national average.

  4. New American -- 39 percent higher than national average.

  5. Diners -- 28 percent higher than national average.

$340 Million In Federal Funds Awarded To Conservation Projects

Tue, 2015-01-13 23:04

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Projects designed to cut down on fertilizer runoff, expand bird nesting areas and restore native grasslands are among those selected for funding under a new initiative that encourages conservation partnerships between government and private organizations, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.


The federal agency has approved 115 proposals in an initial round of funding under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which was authorized under national farm legislation that Congress enacted last year.


"This is a new approach to conservation," Vilsack told The Associated Press ahead of an announcement scheduled for Wednesday. "We're giving private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in a new era in conservation that ultimately benefits us all."


The projects will share $372.5 million in federal funds, which will be matched by an estimated $400 million from participating groups. Over five years, the USDA expects to spend $1.2 billion and raise at least that much from participants such as businesses, universities, nonprofits, local governments and Native American tribes.


The department solicited applications for funding of locally designed ventures designed to improve soil health and water quality while promoting efficient use of water and creating more wildlife habitat. The typical project has 11 participating groups and agencies but some have dozens. That will boost support at the community level, Vilsack said.


"It's the local folks who know the landscape," the former Iowa governor said. "It's the local folks who will be able to encourage landowners to participate. I learned as governor that if I went out and encouraged a farmer to create a buffer strip between their land and a river or stream, I might not be as successful as a neighboring farmer or someone from Pheasants Forever would be."


The program will support the rural economy, paying contractors and small businesses that will do the hands-on work, he said.


"Some of the largest investments our country will make for land and water conservation are through the farm bill," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who sponsored the measure as former chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee.


Of the federal money, 40 percent went to multi-state and national projects, including $16 million to Vermont and New York for stepping up farming practices to benefit the Lake Champlain watershed and $10 million to help rice producers in six Southern and Midwestern states improve water and habitat stewardship.


An additional 35 percent went to projects in "critical conservation areas," including the Great Lakes region, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the California Bay Delta, prairie grasslands, the South's Longleaf Pine Range and the Columbia, Mississippi and Colorado river basins.


State-level projects received the remaining 25 percent.


A $10 million grant will help improve water quality around Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay, supporting measures to protect wetlands and reduce phosphorus runoff that causes algae blooms.


Researchers will use the grant funding to help farmers better target and plan nutrient management, limited tillage and other conservation practices, said Rich Bowman of The Nature Conservancy, which is leading the effort with the Michigan Agri-Business Association.


USDA received more than 600 grant proposals. Groups that weren't selected can try again for the next round of funding, said Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Ezekiel Elliott Cannot Be Contained By Opposing Defenses Or His Own Football Jersey

Tue, 2015-01-13 18:27
Fear the midriff monster.

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was the breakout performer of the inaugural College Football Playoff thanks to his powerful ground game and his throwback fashion. The 6-foot, 225-pound sophomore bulldozed his way through top-seeded Alabama and No. 2 Oregon as his Buckeyes pulled off a pair of upsets to claim a national championship. Running behind the Buckeyes' "slobs" in the national championship game, Elliott racked up a historic number of rushing yards (246) and rushing touchdowns (4) in 42-20 triumph.

Ezekiel Elliott stands at the top of a prestigious list ... and he's a ways ahead of everyone else pic.twitter.com/2JvhjfUgTz

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2015


Elliott, dubbed a "monster" by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, did much of his damage while rocking what looked like a half shirt, as is his signature style.

“I just don’t like how loose jerseys are at the bottom, so I just tuck it up and roll it,” Elliott told USA Today ahead of the national championship game. “I get in trouble for it every once in awhile. I’ll have to come out at halftime, pull my jersey down and tuck it in.”



After piling up 220 yards and touchdowns against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and 230 yards with two touchdowns against Alabama in a national semifinal, Elliott established himself as a contender for the 2015 Heisman Trophy with his record-setting performance in the national title game.

“It’s something you dream about as a kid when you’re playing NCAA Football and you create your little player, and he wins the Heisman,” Elliott said, via Ohio.com. “Just thinking that I’m going to have the opportunity next year to compete for the Heisman, just it means everything. I’m not going to change, I’m going to keep grinding. I’m going to do all I can to win it.”

He might also be bringing back some football fashion that college football fans will remember from the era when another Buckeyes running back picked up the Heisman.

Mother Of Teen Accused Of Terrorism To ISIS: 'Leave Our Children Alone!'

Tue, 2015-01-13 16:05
CHICAGO (AP) -- The suburban Chicago mother of a 19-year-old American facing a terrorist charge for trying to join the Islamic State militants accused the group on Tuesday of brainwashing youths into joining their ranks via social media. And she declared, "Leave our children alone!"

Mohammed Hamzah Khan's mother cried softly as she read her statement in a lobby at a Chicago federal courthouse. Minutes earlier, her son had pleaded not guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group. It carries a maximum 15-year prison term.

Zarine Khan, flanked by her husband, Shafi, said her family felt compelled to speak out in the wake of "unspeakable acts of horror" in Paris last week that killed 17. One gunman reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, while two others cited al-Qaida.

"The venom spewed by these groups and the violence committed by them ... are completely at odds with our Islamic faith," she said. She added, "We condemn the brainwashing and recruiting of children through the use of social media and the Internet."

Khan, who lived with his parents in Bolingbrook, was arrested in October at O'Hare International Airport as he headed to a flight bound for Turkey. In a notebook found later in his bedroom, Khan had drawn an armed fighter with an Islamic State flag and the words "Come to Jihad," court documents allege.

Adept Islamic State propagandists managed to woo Mohammed Khan into falsely believing they had established a legitimate Islamic government in parts of Syria and Iraq, Khan's lawyer, Thomas Durkin, told reporters Tuesday.

"He's a very devout, committed, thoughtful kid who bought into some very slick advertising," Durkin said.

Khan's mother ended her statement before a dozen reporters and TV cameras by directly addressing the Islamic State group, which she referred to as ISIS, and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"We have a message for ISIS, Mr. Baghdadi and his fellow social media recruiters," she said, raising her voice. "Leave our children alone!"

---

Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm .

Illinois Is the Third-Best State for Teen Drivers

Tue, 2015-01-13 15:15
Something teenagers do every day is also the thing that kills more of them every year than anything else: driving. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for 16 to 19-year olds, with more car accidents among that cohort of drivers than any other. But there is good news for Illinois: a new study by WalletHub finds that the state is the third-best for teenager drivers.

The study says car accidents are the number one cause of death for people in this age group and that an average of 260 teens are killed in car accidents each month. While the consequences of these statistics for teen drivers and their families are clear, having dangerous teen drivers on the road also can cause problems for the state's other motorists.

From WalletHub:

In addition, the financial implications of those statistics are staggering. Although young people aged 15 to 24 represent only 14 percent of the population, they account for about 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries. That's not counting auto maintenance, high insurance premiums, possible traffic citations and other vehicular incidents that can rack up expensive costs over time.

The study looked at state laws that restrict various kinds of teen driving, the average cost of car repairs, accident information, statistics of teens who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the number of teen drivers in a particular state.

Check out this map, which shows each state's ranking:



Check out Reboot Illinois to find out what experts say legislators can do to make driving safer for teens--and all who share the roads with them.

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NEXT ARTICLE: Proposed Illinois eavesdropping law corrects one problem, but invites many others


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If Most Police Officers Are 'Good Cops,' These Ones Are Even Better

Tue, 2015-01-13 15:01
As protesters around the nation continue to call for police reform, they are regularly reminded of an important fact: While some officers abuse their power, the majority are "good cops." For every officer who visits harm on someone or violates the public's trust, there are countless others who follow the rules and who want nothing more than to protect, serve and return home safe at the end of their shift.

It's a point that many activists are aware of. Just as corrupt and racist officers don't represent American law enforcement as a whole, so are the minority of radical protesters who have called for violence against the police not representative of the demonstrators who have gathered again and again since the grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

If bad cops are those who abuse their power, what does it take to be a good cop? Some of those same peaceful demonstrators have suggested the following: professional conduct; good relationships with the community; and the humility, or simply the pragmatism, to admit that calls for accountability, transparency and improved training are not indictments of every police officer, but rather objective critiques of a law enforcement system that has substantial flaws.

Part of what makes reform so difficult is the insular culture that reportedly exists in many police departments. Numerous former officers have described a "blue wall of silence" that compels them to place loyalty and secrecy above all else. This often keeps police from reporting misconduct among their colleagues, due to the risk of retaliation. There is little room for officers, no matter how good they might be themselves, to speak out about individual bad actors or the larger structural issues that enable them.

But not everyone in law enforcement has taken such a rigid stance. Below are a number of police officials who have denounced the idea that cops and protesters need to have a "them or us" mentality. These officers have shown a willingness at least to listen to the criticism and calls for reform, and their approach shows that cooperation and meaningful dialogue are possible as people on both sides of the line work toward solutions. Of course, the fact that there are so few officers publicly expressing this viewpoint also speaks volumes about the complexity of the issue.

Police Chief Chris Magnus, Richmond, California

In December, Magnus joined protesters -- including some of his fellow officers -- and held a sign that read "#BlackLivesMatter," which has become a rallying cry for activists who want to see an end to racial profiling and police discrimination.

Along Macdonald Ave . . . Richmond pic.twitter.com/NBR8p0PxAp

— Allwyn Brown (@brownae) December 9, 2014



The gesture drew immediate backlash from the law enforcement community, with the Richmond Police Officers Association accusing the chief of politicking in uniform, a violation of state law. But Magnus told the San Francisco Chronicle that while he understood the issue is divisive, he didn't see the statement on the sign as political.

“I looked at it for a minute and realized this is actually pretty innocuous,” he said. “When did it become a political act to acknowledge that ‘black lives matter’ and show respect for the very real concerns of our minority communities?”

“It was intended to be a humane statement,” Magnus continued.

The chief, who has been credited with reforming his department's use of force and significantly reducing crime rates since he came to Richmond in 2006, later received support from dozens of community activists at a city council meeting.

Police Chief Steve Anderson, Nashville, Tennessee

In November, when Nashville police greeted protesters with hot chocolate and an open line of communication instead of handcuffs and tear gas, a member of the community took umbrage, listing his grievances in an open letter to Anderson. In response, Anderson posted a letter of his own addressing each one of the citizen's concerns. In his letter, Anderson urged the individual to keep an open mind and be "respectful of all people," even if their views challenged his own:

It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don't agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter. We can still disagree and maintain our opinions, but we can now do so knowing that the issue has been given consideration from all four sides. Or, if we truly give fair consideration to all points of view, we may need to swallow our pride and amend our original thoughts.

You can read Anderson's full response here.

Police Officer Adhyl Polanco, New York City

Polanco, who in the past has publicly criticized the department he works for, appeared on the news show "Democracy Now!" in December to denounce a decision by hundreds of his colleagues to turn their backs on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio while he was speaking at the funeral of Rafael Ramos. Ramos was one of the two officers gunned down in the line of duty as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn last month. Polanco characterized the display as divisive and disrespectful of the calls for peace and unity that had been made by Ramos' family and other activists.

“How come we cannot honor what they are calling for?” said Polanco. “Mayor de Blasio came to the police department that had a lot of issues before he got to this police department. Mayor de Blasio came with the attitude that 'I can fix this police department.' But this police department has a culture that is going to make whoever tries to change that culture, like, impossible, including the mayor.”

Later in the interview, Polanco offered a response to Patrick Lynch, the head of a top NYPD union who'd recently objected to de Blasio's comments about his own son, whose mother is black. The mayor spoke about telling his son to be cautious when dealing with police, and Lynch claimed de Blasio's words had helped incite anti-police violence that led to the two officers' deaths.

“How can a parent who has a black child, how can a parent who has seen millions of kids been stopped by stop and frisk -- and you know the statistic of that -- how can the parents of black kids see kids get killed by police over and over, how can parents that see kids be summoned illegally, being arrested their own building for trespassing, and ... the treatment they get from the police department -- not from all officers, because not all officers are the same -- how can you not responsibly have that conversation with your son?” said Polanco. “I have to have the conversation, and I’m a police officer.”

Polanco also spoke out about his own rough treatment by police during times when he was off-duty. He said officers have thrown up against a wall and frisked him. His comments were similar to those made by a number of other black NYPD officers, some retired and some still serving, in a December Reuters story. In that article, all but one of 25 officers said they'd been a victim of racial profiling while out of uniform. Most chose to speak anonymously.

Watch Polanco's comments below, beginning at the 49:00 mark.




Police Chief Cameron McLay, Pittsburgh

At a First Night parade earlier this month, members of a local activist group known as WHAT'S UP?! Pittsburgh photographed McLay holding up a protest sign. The photo promptly made the rounds on social media.

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Post by Fight Back Pittsburgh.


The president of a local police union was quick to interpret the photograph as a direct affront to the entire force. “The chief is calling us racists," the officer told a reporter. "He believes the Pittsburgh Police Department is racist. This has angered a lot of officers.”

In a letter to the Bureau of Police, McLay said he was sorry if he'd offended anyone in the department. He was, he wrote, simply making a call for awareness.

The sign indicated my willingness to challenge racial problems in the workplace. I am so committed. If there are problems in the [Pittsburgh Bureau of Police] related to racial injustice, I will take action to fix them.

To me, the term "white silence" simply means that we must be willing to speak up to address issues of racial injustice, poverty, etc. In my heart, I believe we all must come together as community to address real world problems; and I am willing to be a voice to bring community together.

I saw no indictment of police or anyone else in this sign, but I do apologize to any of you who felt I was not supporting you; that was not my intent.

The reality of U.S. policing is that our enforcement efforts have a disparate impact on communities of color. This is a statistical fact. You know, as well as I, the social factors driving this reality. The gross disparity in wealth and opportunity is evident in our city. Frustration and disorder are certain to follow. The predominant patterns of our city's increased violence involves black victims as well as actors. If we are to address this violence, we must work together with our communities of color.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has since offered support for McLay and his message.

The Sanford Police Department

In 2012, neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, inflaming local and national tensions. Years later, the country is grappling with different cases but many of the same underlying issues. In November, activists in Sanford held a peaceful march following the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, then a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, in the shooting death of Michael Brown. A number of Sanford police officers led the group through town. Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith also met with organizers before the demonstration and offered his support.

"We're changing who we are. The community is starting to change their perception of law enforcement here in Sanford," he told WKMG.

Smith has also said that his department has stressed communication and cooperation with the community since Martin's death, and that this approach has helped to repair the relationship between local police and the public.

Police Chief Scott Thomson, Camden, New Jersey

Thomson appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" in December to discuss his city's new approach to policing, which was completely revamped about two years ago and has since led to a significant reduction in crime. In the interview, Thomson highlighted the importance of engaging with the community and forging relationships through one-on-one contact.

"We did this without militarizing neighborhoods, without polarizing the community," Thomson said. "We established a culture from very, very early on that the relationship that would bind us with our people was one based on building community first and enforcing the law second."




Thomson also spoke about the need for the law enforcement community to listen to the public in order to regain the sort of trust that's required for police to be effective.

"It's a critical moment for law enforcement for us to not circle our wagons, to get defensive, but to keep our ears and our minds open and move forward in a way that has a collective, universal agreement of how the justice system should operate," he said.

Similarly, in the aftermath of Brown's death and subsequent protests in Ferguson, which were met with a heavily militarized police response, Thomson spoke about the broader problems laid bare by the clashes.

"Ferguson serves as a reminder to all of government the certainty of disaster when the people you serve no longer view you with legitimacy," he said. "The best remedy to prevent this is to maintain a constant, sincere dialogue and inclusion of the public you serve."

Police Sgt. Bret Barnum, Portland, Oregon

When 12-year-old Devonte Hart held up a sign for "Free Hugs" at a November protest in Portland, he probably wasn't expecting a police officer to take him up on the offer. When Barnum saw Devonte crying, however, he called the boy over to ask what was wrong. Devonte reportedly explained his concerns about police brutality and injustice, which turned into a bigger conversation about activism, school and life. After the talk, the sergeant and the boy shared a moment of humanity that immediately spread around the world.




Freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen captured the image above, which has since been shared hundreds of thousands of times across social media. Nguyen told The Huffington Post that he interpreted the hug, as well as the photo's viral popularity, as a sign that there's hope for real change to be made as a result of this debate.

"We all have hurt in our heart, but we have to turn that hurt into hope, hope for humanity," he said. "We need to find a way to come together and find a common ground and find peace."

It's since been pointed out that while the photograph may offer a feeling of hope, the hug between Barnum and Devonte didn't banish systemic racism from the world, nor did it suddenly create a nationwide culture of police accountability. Critics have argued that the significance so quickly assigned to this image suggests that many people are eager to simplify and sugarcoat the difficult issue of race in America.

Others questioned Barnum's sincerity after discovering that he'd "liked" a colleague's post on Facebook that carried a pro-Darren Wilson message. Barnum later said he was showing support for the police profession, not the actions of Wilson, but the controversy illustrates how emotionally fraught the past several months have been, for officers and activists alike. But regardless of Barnum's sincerity or the true significance of the photo, one thing is undoubtedly true: We could all benefit from more "free hugs," especially between police and the civilians they serve.

Have any police officers in your community spoken publicly about the need for reform? Send us an email at openreporting@huffingtonpost.com and let us know. Please include your name and town.

Highest-Earning Presidents of Illinois Universities

Tue, 2015-01-13 14:34
University presidents have big jobs, and many of them have big salaries to match.

The Chronicle of Higher Education surveyed hundreds of the nation's public universities and compiled compensation data on chief executives at 227 state-run institutions.

Nine Illinois college presidents were ranked according to the total compensation they received in fiscal year 2013 (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013). However, not at all institutions responded to the Chronicle's survey, including City Colleges of Chicago, despite "repeated public-records requests." The data contains total compensation and base salary figures for 255 chief executives at 227 public universities.

It's important to note that five of the individuals listed below have left their positions since the survey was conducted. Additionally, two former college presidents served only part of FY2013, which is indicated by an asterisk. While some of the following information is outdated, it still gives you an idea of how much the state's public university presidents make.

Check out four of the highest-earning university presidents Illinois:

9. Sheri Noren Everts, former interim president | Illinois State University
Left position in August 2013



  • Total compensation:33,400

  • Base pay:33,400


8. Geoffrey S. Obrzut, former president | Illinois Community College system
Left position in June 2013



  • Total compensation:229,362

  • Base pay:177,700


7. Rita Cheng, chancellor | Southern Illinois University at Carbondale



  • Total compensation:367,976

  • Base pay:347,976


6. Glenn W. Poshard, former president | Southern Illinois University
Former Congressman Poshard stepped down in November 2014 to join Rauner's transition team. A Better Government Association investigation found Poshard collects four pensions totaling more than $200,000 a year. Click here for more on that report.



  • Total compensation:381,886

  • Base pay:326,820


See the top five highest-earning university presidents in Illinois at Reboot Illinois.

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NEXT ARTICLE: The best overall colleges in Illinois

Do We Really Need More Cops?

Tue, 2015-01-13 14:12
How All the Major Mayoral Candidates Are Getting it Wrong

For decades every Chicago mayoral election has featured calls more for hiring more cops. Emanuel and Daley of course got in on the act, but the most popular non-Machine contenders are calling for the same thing.

When she was a prospective candidate, Karen Lewis repeated the now-familiar mantra, as did Bob Fioretti, and after vacillating with vague mumbling about "community policing," so now, too, has Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

But does Chicago have a dearth of cops compared to other cities? And more to the point, would more cops do anything to stem our civilian-on-civilian violence rate, let alone address the anger over police violence expressed in the continuing protests over the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and several local victims?

Listening to the candidates, you would think that Chicago has a dearth of cops compared to places like New York, which had 79 fewer murders in 2013 despite having more than three times our population, or Los Angeles, which had 163 fewer murders despite having a million more people. But in fact, according to the FBI, Chicago has the third highest cop per civilian ratio in the country. And when extraneous factors are factored in, like the presence of the federal government officers, Chicago arguably has the highest number of municipal cops per civilian of any city in the country.

According to the FBI's 2012 Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which counted officer / civilian ratios in every municipality of over 50,000 people, Chicago ranked #3 in the nation behind only Washington, DC (8th highest murder rate in 2012) and Baltimore (fifth highest murder rate).

The cities of 250,000 or more with the lowest murder rates in 2012 also had some of the lowest cop per civilian ratios -- #1 Plano, TX (cop per civilian ratio, ranked #514 out of a total 697 cities), #2 Lincoln, NE (cop per civilian ratio, #522 out of 697), #3 Henderson, NV (#510 out of 697), #4 Mesa, AZ (#292), Santa Ana, CA (#643) and Portland, OR (#355).

While Chicago is hardly the "murder capital" of the country, our violence rate does compare quite unfavorably to other large, relatively prosperous U.S. cities like New York and LA, and the U.S. violence rate is rightly notorious compared to other developed nations.

So if hiring more cops bears little causal connection to, or even correlation with, stopping civilian-on-civilian violence, let alone ending police violence, how can we most effectively reduce Chicago's violence?

To figure this out, we need to move beyond the scare headlines and politicians' bumper sticker promises. We also need to reject some canards commonly put out by community anti-violence activists.

Besides the "hire more cops" solution offered by politicians and many community anti-violence activists, the other major prescription for ending the violence is gun control. This too has been a failure, and not just because guns can be imported across city boundaries and the courts have taken a broad interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

Internationally there is very little correlation between levels of gun possession and violence rates. Honduras, with by far the highest murder rate in the world -- 80.6% higher than the second place nation -- is way down the list in per capita gun ownership at 88th in the world, tied with England/Wales and Bulgaria.

On the other hand, high gun possession countries can have very low murder rates. In Switzerland, for example, owing to its 19th Century formation as a nation protected by armed militias, virtually all men between the ages of 18 and 42 have firearms in their homes. Yet Swiss murder rates are extremely low by world standards, similar to the quite low rates of other Western European nations where civilians have almost no access to guns.

If Not More Cops & Gun Control, What Does Limit Violence?

Regardless of policing strategy or number of cops, the fact is that the violent crime rate in most U.S. cities has been declining for several years.

This probably has more to do with demographics than anything else - as our overall population ages, younger men are aging out of their more violence-prone years. Some studies also convincingly point to the deleterious effects of lead poisoning on young adult cognition, and its significant reduction over the past few decades, as a major factor in the diminishment of crime.

Then there is the impact of the stunning, decades-long law enforcement failure to stamp out illegal drugs. Illegality serves to hike prices, and thus profit margins, prompting sellers to take ever more desperate, illegal and violent measures to collect those profits. Converse to this, we now have preliminary data suggesting lower violence in Denver due to the end of marijuana prohibition, as well as convincing historical data about the diminishment of violence caused by the ending alcohol prohibition during the Great Depression.

But if these factors contribute to a decline in violence, what are the factors that promote it?

Read about it in our next installment tomorrow.

G-Rated 'Babysitters Club' Meets R-Rated 'Girls' For Some PG-13 Mashup Goodness

Tue, 2015-01-13 13:02
The babysitters are all grown up and now they're on HBO.

It's a long journey from "The Babysitters Club" to "Girls," but the audience has probably made that trip, from Ann M. Martin's dive into the world of four innocent middle schoolers from Stoneybrook, Connecticut, to HBO's tale of four not-so-innocent young women surviving their 20s in Brooklyn.

And thanks to Break's Todd Spence, we know exactly what "The Babysitter's Club" would look like if the cast from "Girls" was involved.

If you like these, go check out the rest on Break. And if you view "The Babysitters Club" as a wholesome nostalgic and untainted look back at your more innocent years, and you'd like to maintain that innocence, proceed with caution:



















Images courtesy of Break.com.

Ohio State Cheerleader Nearly Steamrolled By Football Team During Entrance Fail

Tue, 2015-01-13 12:34
The football players from The Ohio State University were clearly ready for the national championship game. How ready were they? The Buckeyes were so ready to hit the field against the Oregon Ducks that they nearly ran over one of their school's cheerleaders when taking the field for the game.

The near trampling at AT&T Stadium was captured by Getty photographer Tom Pennington.





An Ohio State spokesman told The Associated Press that the cheerleader wasn't injured during the incident.

The stumble was just one part of the team's lackluster entrance. While four flags spelling out O-H-I-O were intended to lead the players onto the field, the flag with the final letter was initially missing.

What happened to the other "O?" pic.twitter.com/sWzojOpY8t

— Louis Ojeda Jr. (@LouisOjedaJr) January 13, 2015


The night ended much better than it began for everyone in red as Ohio State pulled away for a 42-20 win to claim the national championship.

ESPN Sets Cable Ratings Record With First College Football Playoff Championship Game

Tue, 2015-01-13 11:32
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ohio State's victory in the first championship game of the College Football Playoff produced ESPN's highest overnight rating ever.

The network said Tuesday that according to Nielsen the Buckeyes' 42-20 win over Oregon generated an 18.5 overnight rating. That's a 21 percent increase over the 2014 BCS national championship on ESPN between Florida and Auburn, which drew a 15.3 rating.

Monday night's title game also topped the 16.1 overnight rating for the 2011 BCS championship between Auburn and Oregon that had been the previous best in cable history.

Columbus, Ohio, was the No. 1 overall market at 51.2 while Portland, Oregon, was fourth at 37.6.

Overnight ratings measure the country's largest markets. The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. Final ratings are to come later Tuesday.

New Gov. Bruce Rauner calls on Illinoisans to make sacrifices in inaugural address

Tue, 2015-01-13 11:06
Illinois' new Gov. Bruce Rauner began his term with an inaugural address that called on all Illinoisans to work hard to make their state better, even if it requires some sacrifice.

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek wrote about her thoughts on the speech:

Ask not what your state can do for you, ask what you can do for your state.

He chose different words, but that was the sobering message delivered Monday by our new governor, Bruce Rauner.

"Each person here today and all those throughout the state will be called upon to share in the sacrifice so that one day we can again share in Illinois' prosperity," new Gov. Rauner said. Consider yourself served. You have been asked, dear taxpayers, to sacrifice by Illinois' 42nd governor. That sacrifice will be plenty painful.

Illinois is in a world of hurt and the day of reckoning is hurtling toward us. Rauner, a Winnetka Republican, left out the numbers in his first major speech as the first Republican governor in 12 years, but they are staggering:

  • $111 billion in pension debt

  • $6.5 billion in unpaid bills

  • A budget short by $2 billion now because Democrats, who control the Legislature, approved what truly is only a six-month budget.

  • And the next budget will be another $ 4 billion short, at least, because of the drop in the income tax rate to 3.75 percent.


See how Doubek thinks Rauner can lead this call for sacrifice by example, plus more about what Rauner said in his first speech as governor.

Besides the speech, another part of the inaugural festivities included a serenade of the governor and the first lady, Diana Rauner, during their first dance at the inaugural concert. The two eschewed the ballroom dancing tradition and instead went for a more country vibe, with concert performer Toby Keith singing "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This." Check out the video at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Cullerton: "Looking forward to working with Gov. Bruce Rauner

Ralph Lauren's Native American Ads Reveal Sad Truth About The Fashion World

Tue, 2015-01-13 10:25
The clothing company Ralph Lauren released an online advertisement for its RRL line last month that drew scathing criticism from Native Americans.

The ad's imagery harked back to the Old West, with henley jerseys and rustic jeans displayed in faded sepia tones. And while one page touted bandanas and “Western-style” shirts, the opposite page showed a Native American sporting a feathered headdress, holding a rifle across his lap.

Another page depicted a stoic Native American man with dark skin, braided hair and a Western shirt-and-vest combo.

Critics charged that the ads reduced people, and indeed entire cultures, to mere marketing props. Many called for a boycott. Dr. Adrienne Keene, a postdoctoral researcher and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, wrote in a post for Indian Country Today Media Network that Ralph Lauren had reached a "new low."

“Ralph Lauren has been doing this my whole life,” Ruth Hopkins, a writer in her 30s who lives on the Spirit Lake Tribe reservation in North Dakota, told The Huffington Post. “He is a repeat offender. Cultural appropriation is apparently his thing.”

Following the outcry, the company removed the images from its website and apologized.

The episode neatly summed up an issue in fashion and pop culture that has drawn heated debate in recent years. Many people seemingly remain tethered to the idea of a romanticized Old West -- a time of death and carnage for America’s indigenous population.

The “cowboys and Indians” movies of the 1950s did much to solidify these tropes in modern American culture, building on centuries of stereotypes. These films mashed up the traditions of countless tribes indiscriminately, often depicting Native Americans as primitive, even bloodthirsty brutes. At best, indigenous people were depicted as noble savages, piteous characters not yet corrupted by the "civilized" world. Meanwhile, the real-life meanings attached to certain items, customs and historical figures got distorted or lost, and white Americans, for the most part, neither knew nor cared.

Model Karlie Kloss wearing a Native American headdress during the taping of the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York. (Photo credit: AP/Starpix, Amanda Schwab)

Take the war bonnet, a feathered headdress worn by the warriors or leaders of many Native American tribes. Each feather was earned through a sacrifice or an act of valor, making the bonnet a mark of great respect. But at the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, supermodel Karlie Kloss strode down the catwalk in panties, a skimpy bra and a massive war bonnet-like headdress. Chanel put headdresses on the runway in 2013, and Pharrell Williams donned one on the cover of Elle UK in 2014. Each incident was met with swift backlash.

Such cliched images are what many Native Americans in the fashion industry want to transcend.

“Mass society thinks that way,” said Bethany Yellowtail, a 26-year-old fashion designer and member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes. “They think of teepees and headdresses and feathers.”

Raised in Montana on the Crow Indian Reservation, Yellowtail wants to bring authenticity to indigenous fashion with her line B.Yellowtail, which will be released in spring. Her clothes are modern takes on the classic designs of her culture, adapting the work of her ancestors to the 21st century -- for example, designs based on the beadwork of her great-grandmother, who lived in the 19th century.

“Our original designs were purposeful,” she said. “The colors, the designs -- everything has a specific meaning and a spirit connected to it.”

Bethany Yellowtail's "Old style floral elk tooth dress" on the runway at the Santa Fe Indian art market. (Image credit: Lehi Sanchez)

Patricia Michaels, a 48-year-old Native American fashion designer who appeared on Bravo’s "Project Runway" in 2013, told HuffPost that she doesn't consider it her place to police what people can or can't use in their designs. It should come down to thoughtfulness and taste, she said, adding that if the non-Native American designers who have gotten in trouble in the past had simply collaborated with Native American designers who know the culture, everyone would have benefited.

“I wouldn’t take the Pope’s hat and put it on the runway,” said Michaels, who is based in New Mexico. “I think that’s where taste comes in, as far as a designer. Do you really want to put a war bonnet on a female model? If you’re going to be distasteful and have no regard for somebody’s culture, it’s shameful.”

When Michaels describes her designs, it’s clear that everything has a meaning. Her “Elk Antler Cape” strives to portray the beauty and grace of indigenous hunters and the animals that give their lives. An “Ink Drip Top” on silk charmeuse represents contaminants invading once-pure waters. A flowing, hand-painted organza skirt symbolizes the years that Michaels' ancestors spent observing and preserving nature.

Patricia Michaels' hand-felted wool bag is an homage to Navajo weavers. (Image credit: curryimages)



Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren’s “Pawnee jacket” -- an item that appeared in the controversial RRL ads last month, and one that shares a name with a Midwestern tribe -- was described in the ad copy as "a faithful wool/nylon jacket modeled after a 1930s sporting coat.” It’s unclear if any Pawnee people had a role in designing the jacket. A search for "Pawnee" on the Ralph Lauren website now yields no results.

The famed designer behind his eponymous brand built his fashion empire on images of classic Americana, clothes that evoke the idyllic American dream. Many of his brand’s designs succeed in that -- from preppy polos to denim workwear -- and his Navajo prints of the 1980s popularized many indigenous patterns.

But where’s the line between celebration and appropriation? Last year, Ralph Lauren released another collection that raised some eyebrows. It had lots of Native American imagery, like headdresses and totem poles.

A representative for the Ralph Lauren company declined to comment for this article. Lauren himself, though, addressed his love for Native American aesthetics in an interview with the Associated Press last June. The designer reflected on his years growing up in the Bronx, New York.

“I grew up inspired by America, inspired by the West, inspired by the Adirondacks, inspired by African-Americans, soldiers -- life that I saw -- the Native Americans,” Lauren told the AP. “I saw a world that was different, and I was inspired.”

The Native American aesthetic is clearly a big part of Lauren's life. His Double RL Ranch in Colorado is chock-full of tents and artifacts, and there's even a decorative vintage photo of a nameless Native American child. After the ranch was featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2011, Dr. Jessica Metcalfe, writing at the blog Beyond Buckskin, dubbed the photo the "ultimate form of appropriation."

"That little girl is someone," Metcalfe wrote at the time. "She's someone's daughter, sister, antie, niece, mother, cousin, granddaughter, grandmother."

There's a pervasive idea that Native Americans are a thing of the past, said Kim TallBear, a professor of anthropology and Native American and indigenous studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The idea that Native Americans no longer exist makes it easier for society to ignore their voices. Cultural representations of Native Americans are always focused on the past, she said, as seen in sports franchises like the Cleveland Indians and Washington's NFL team.

“There’s a national delusion that we’re all dead and vanished,” said TallBear, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. “We are contemporary, living people.”

Chicago-Area Cop On Trial For Bean-Bag Killing Of WWII Vet John Wrana

Tue, 2015-01-13 09:22
MARKHAM, Ill. (AP) -- A Cook County judge will decide if a suburban Chicago police officer is guilty of reckless conduct in the fatal shooting of a 95-year-old World War II veteran with a bean-bag gun in 2013.

The trial of Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor is scheduled to start Tuesday in Markham before Judge Luciano Panici.

Prosecutors contend the 43-year-old Taylor acted recklessly when he shot John Wrana in the stomach after Wrana confronted officers with a knife and a cane at the assisted living facility where he lived. Officials of the Forest Park police department have said the officers at the scene had no choice but to act as they did.

Wrana's family has filed a lawsuit against Taylor and other officers involved and the village of Park Forest.

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