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Pope Francis Holds 'Virtual Audience' With ABC's David Muir Ahead Of U.S. Visit

Wed, 2015-09-02 11:24

ABC's David Muir moderated a first-of-its-kind discussion this week between Pope Francis and several people scattered across the U.S. who were able to interact with the pope via satellite.

Muir traveled to the Vatican to moderate the pope's interaction with what ABC called a "virtual audience." The Monday event connected the pope to a group of students in Chicago, church congregants from McAllen, Texas, and individuals from homeless shelters in Los Angeles.

Chicago high school senior Valerie Herrera had the opportunity to speak with the pope about the years of bullying she's experienced because of her vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that causes white spots on the face and body.

Herrera told the pope that after she joined her church choir, she learned to be more comfortable with herself. Francis then made a request she hadn't expected.

"May I ask for you to sing a song for me?" he asked Herrera. "Be courageous." 

A release from ABC News says the pope used the "virtual audience" as a way to reach people in cities he'll be unable to visit during his highly anticipated trip to the U.S. later this month.

During that trip, his first to the U.S. as pope, Francis will meet with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., and deliver an address to Congress. He will then travel on to New York City and Philadelphia. Many more details about his visit are available here.

The "virtual audience" event will air during a special edition of ABC News’ "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. EST.

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David Bowie Loves Spongebob So Much He's Writing Music For His Broadway Show

Wed, 2015-09-02 07:36

For all you simpletons who said Spongebob Squarepants was lame, let me tell you, revenge is oh. so. sweet.

The Bob himself is headed to Broadway where he'll star as the subject of his very own musical, aptly titled, "Spongebob Squarepants! The Musical." And that's not all. Glam rocker (and potentially the coolest person alive) David Bowie will be writing some of the music

Bowie. Spongebob. Music. Magic. Picture it. Just picture it. 

The musical, directed and co-created by Tina Landau with a book by Kyle Jarrow and music supervision by Tom Kitt, is slated to show at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre from June 7 to July 3, 2016, before heading to Broadway for the 2016-2017 season. 

And that's still not all! Bowie is not the only first rate musical force signed on to tell the age old tale of a sponge living in a pineapple under the sea. The Dirty Projectors, the Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s and They Might Be Giants are some of the other big deals on board. 

Who's laughing now, Spongebob haters? Who is laughing now???


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Rep. Mike Quigley: A Better Deal Could Not Have Been Negotiated

Tue, 2015-09-01 16:35
On Monday, August 31, I went to the City Club of Chicago to see a speech by Democrat Mike Quigley, who represents Illinois' Fifth Congressional District in Congress. I went for three reasons: to support a vigil outside the talk by supporters of the Iran deal, urging Quigley to back it; to deliver petitions to Quigley signed by more than 2,000 of Quigley's constituents urging him to support the deal; and to hear what Quigley would say about how he planned to vote on the deal.

Quigley did not address the issue during his prepared remarks. But the first question after the talk was: "What is your position on the deal?" A moderator later said something like: there were 34 questions, and 30 of them were on the Iran deal. (This was like the National Press Club where you have to write your question on a card beforehand.) The fact that so many questions were on the Iran deal certainly reflects engagement and interest from the City Club of Chicago audience; it may also reflect the fact that people who came to the event were greeted by people with "No War With Iran" and "Defend Diplomacy" signs.

Quigley said the following. This is verbatim, I recorded it on my phone. Interested reporters can contact me for the video.

"I believe -- and I believe our intelligence community, and internationally, overall, the intelligence community believes, that we will know more about what's happening in Iran if we do the deal than if we don't."

Quigley is on the House Intelligence Committee, so presumably he is in at least as good a position as any other member of Congress, if not better, to judge what the intelligence community believes.

"Also, I will say this, and I know that this upsets people because they disagree, but I don't believe a better deal could have been negotiated. Which is not to say that there is not something we would have preferred, right? Total elimination of any nuclear material in Iran. But given our dance partners -- and I'm not just talking about the Iranians -- I think that Secretary Kerry probably did the best job anyone could. And with all due respect, if we go back to the table, I don't think they all come back to the table."

I will leave it to The Hill to judge whether they should change their assessment of Quigley from "Unclear/Undecided" to "Leaning Yes" based on these remarks. To me, the logic is clear and strong: if you support diplomacy, and if you think this is the best deal possible, what else is there to say about whether you are likely to vote yes or no? We're not voting on whether to fall in love with the deal and live happily ever after. We're voting on whether this is the best possible course of action among the realistic alternatives.

Regardless of that, I think the following is beyond reasonable dispute: Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, just refuted two key claims of Republican opponents of the deal: the claim that Obama and Kerry could have gotten a better deal, and the related claim that if Congress were to blow up this deal, we could go back to the table and negotiate a different one. No, Quigley said. Kerry got the best deal possible, and if Congress were to blow up this deal, some of our "dance partners" -- countries without whose participation international sanctions cannot meaningfully hurt the Iranian government -- are not coming back to the table.

With Senator Casey and Senator Coons coming out for the deal, the Washington Post is all but calling game over on Republican efforts to block the deal in Congress. But that still leaves the question of how individual Democrats who have not declared yet will vote. If we want to turn a corner in U.S. foreign policy, if we want to show the world and show ourselves that we think we learned something important from the Iraq fiasco, it would be a very good thing if we can tell the story that when the chips were down, Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly supported diplomacy and that Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez were marginalized.

So it still makes a difference what Mike Quigley does. So far not one Illinois Democrat in Congress has come out against the deal. Perhaps this shouldn't surprise us much: from the point of view of many Illinois Democrats, who are overwhelmingly Chicago-area Democrats, Obama is our guy, our gift to the world. And Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, organizing Senate Democrats in support of the deal? That's our other guy. And Jan Schakowsky, organizing House Democrats in support of the deal? Also one of ours. Saying the Iran deal is no good is saying that Obama is no good. Saying that Obama is no good is saying that Chicago is no good.

And when some people say that Chicago is no good -- well, Chicago Democrats don't like that.

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Illinois Manhunt Underway After Officer Is Shot And Killed

Tue, 2015-09-01 14:37

A massive manhunt for three suspects in northern Illinois is underway after a Fox Lake police officer was shot and killed early Tuesday. 

The suspects are considered armed and dangerous, according to police.

The slain officer was identified Tuesday afternoon as Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a 32-year veteran of the force. Gliniewicz, who went by the nickname "G.I. Joe," was married with four children, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing a police source and family.  

Canine units, choppers and a "large number" of officers on foot have been deployed near where Gliniewicz died, roughly 50 miles north of Chicago, Lake County spokesman Detective Chris Covelli said during a morning news conference. Area SWAT teams and the U.S. marshals have also joined the search. 

Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose told the Tribune that Gliniewicz died at the scene and had been stripped of his gun.

"At this point, this is a tw0-pronged investigation. We're looking into the apprehension of the three suspects at large," Covelli said. "In connection with that, we're working the investigation on the officer who was injured. Lake County Major Crimes Task Force is heading up that investigation."  

Gliniewicz contacted the police department via radio around 8 a.m. to say he was on foot and pursuing three suspicious subjects, Covelli said. Contact was lost shortly thereafter. When backup arrived on the scene, Covelli said they discovered the downed officer had suffered a gunshot wound.

During a press conference, Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit said the town not only lost an officer, but that he personally had "lost a very good friend."
“G.I. Joe was a father of four boys, a decorated police officer and a devoted member of this community,” an emotional Schmit said. 

The area surrounding the shooting, near U.S. Route 12 and Sayton Road, is a mix of wooded, marshy land and industrial space. Police have blocked off several main thoroughfares east of the shooting area, and some local businesses were closed earlier on Tuesday, area publication the Daily Herald reports. 

Schmit also noted that students in area schools that were put on lockdown earlier in the day were dismissed at 4 p.m. and that parents were asked to pick up their children from school. 

Police asked area residents on Tuesday morning to stay in their homes and to report any suspicious people or activity. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Chicago's Plant-Based Bucket List

Tue, 2015-09-01 13:26
When I tell people that Chicago offers incomparable vegan food, I often get side-eye or smile-and-nod responses.

You mean the city with a hot dog under its namesake? The city whose deepest dish is cheese- and meat-riddled pizza? The muckraked, meat-packing Jungle itself?

Yes, yes and absolutely. I love Chicago's approach to cruelty-free palates because it is one of contradictions. This city doesn't preach, but it won't apologize. Instead, it surprises with unbeatable comfort food and Chicago classics, all free of animal products.

Where to start? Fear not and read on. It took nearly six years and an impending Seattle move to curate, but here you have it: my Windy City Plant-based Bucket List (#PBBL).

The Chicago Diner
Obviously. I call the cookie dough peanut butter shake at this world-renowned "meat-free since '83" diner a religious experience, and that's putting it lightly. Even veal and Velveeta lovers adore the menu. With two locations in Lakeview and Logan Square and yearly showings at Pitchfork Music Festival, this place defines Chicago veganism. Cozy up in a black pleather chair and dig into a dining experience as hip as your waiter and water: chill, no ice. Don't worry, Sriracha's already on the table.
#PBBL must: Gyro and CDPB shake
#PBBL budget: $$

Hema's Kitchen
You know those times -- say, Christmas Eve -- when your family shows up to Restaurant That Shall Not Be Named with a confirmed reservation only to find lights off and chairs up? Hema's will save the night with unforgettable Indian food in the heart of Lincoln Park (they're on Devon, too). Take it from chef and owner Hema Potla: "I'm not afraid of spice." Hot okra? Fried Greens? This menu packs a punch (a cruelty-free knockout, of course).
#PBBL must: Bhendi masala (extra spicy) and spinach pakoras
#PBBL budget: $$

Dimo's Pizza
Pizza because, Chicago. Dimo's vegan 'za tastes as fierce as their Instagram 'grams. Hawaiian? Philly? Mac? "Artichoke Heartthrob"? I'll take it. I'll eat it. I'll love it. (The menu also makes for great Tinder description inspiration.) No meat? No cheese? No problem: Chorizo seitan, a slew of table-side sauces and crushed red pepper flakes make for a hot slice that stops you in your tracks.
#PBBL must: Hawaiian, any vegan special and, if it's Tuesday, a $2 PBR tallboy
#PBBL budget: $

Medici on 57th
I don't solo dine often, but when I do, I take myself on a #selfdate to the Medici just east of UChicago's campus. And then I realize I'm not alone. Fellow diners sit solo, as if to say: "Fun didn't die; it's just shy, but you can find it here." You can also find a continuously rotating statue, spectacularly spiced vegan soups and a dairy-free café au lait of Kickapoo, the city's best coffee (by way of southwest Wisconsin). I kid you not: The city's. Best. Coffee.
#PBBL must: Moroccan ragout and multiple cups of Kickapoo
#PBBL budget: $$

Speaking of caffeine, it's time for a...

If there's one thing this vegan is more addicted to than peanut butter, it's coffee. Chicago teems with caffeine and cruelty-free creamers. At delicious, you'll find wonderful chai, tasty scones (that texture, tho) and my favorite kombucha (Arize's ginger and black pepper brew confirms that there's no such thing as too spicy). Dollop sits a hop, skip and a jump away from The Chicago Diner, roasts Metropolis and boasts local vegan baked goods. Sol Café's baristas make me feel welcome as a vegan (dare I say expected?) with blueberry cornbread and cardamom-spiced coffee in the heart of Rogers Park.

Mug down -- back to the menu.

Original Soul Vegetarian
"Served with cornbread and a fresh smile" tops my list of possible memoir titles and favorite entree descriptions at this soul food restaurant on Chicago's South Side. Here, food is social. Food is medicine. Food is over 30 years strong, family-owned and family-operated. This place creates comfort food that cares for mind, soul and stomach. With plant-based BBQ and an in-house juice bar, Soul Vegetarian proves "your health is your wealth."
#PBBL must: Down Home Greens
#PBBL budget: $$

First Slice Pie Cafe
The first time I saw this gem, I drove by so fast that I just barely grabbed the cross street. "Ashland and Balmoral, remember that!" Its stunning bay window grabbed my attention, and its patio, ridiculously well-stocked salad selection (beets on beets and mango jicama, all '70s-style) and vegan-izable everything stole my heart. The best part? First Slice's flavor reaches far beyond the plate: It fights hunger in Chicago by providing local, organic meals to the homeless.
#PBBL must: Black bean and mushroom tamales (just order them without queso fresco!)
#PBBL budget: $

Ras Dashen
I love Ethiopian food, but I'm obsessed with Ras Dashen. Why? Because it's positively vibrant. Jewel tones throughout. Plum wine. Pumpkin in berbere sauce. Extensive and clearly labeled vegan options. I consider food a true-and-tried Chicago staple if it tastes delicious in every season, and Ras Dashen meets the mark: spicy, pureed shirro stew has me sweating during unforgiving winters, and chilled, tangy yeqaysur salata saves me from the August heat.
#PBBL must: Pumpkin (Dupa) Wat and Misserana Bowmia
#PBBL budget: $$

Green Zebra
When I hear "flavor of love," I think of Green Zebra (fine, and a little Flavor Flav). All it takes is one slice of their flatbread, and you'll want to replace all marinara and cheese with crimson lentil dahl, curried eggplant and roasted cauliflower. The menu's seasonings have me head-over-heels for seasonal ingredients. Plus, the walls are plum. Palate and palette on point.
#PBBL must: Foraged maitake mushrooms and country flatbread
#PBBL budget: $$$

I also adore Upton's Breakroom, Urban Vegan, The Growling Rabbit and Green Corner. What's on your plant-based bucket list?

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These 11 Illinois Counties Have More Registered Voters Than Eligible Residents

Tue, 2015-09-01 12:54
Because of Illinois' rocky political past, people sometimes make jokes about deceased residents voting, and Chicago and Cook County are generally cited as the epicenters of such fraud. According to a report by The Public Interest Legal Foundation, however, 17 counties in Illinois have more registered voters than residents who are eligible to vote, and Cook County isn't even on that list.

The organization sent out statutory notice letters to the 17 Illinois counties, plus 124 others nationwide, informing them of the discrepancies and warning them that if the records weren't rectified, the foundation could sue the counties after 90 days for a violation of the National Voter Registration Act. The Public Interest Legal Foundation also says they are asking for more information in the letters.

A representative for the organization said:
"Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud," said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of PILF.  "Close elections tainted by voter fraud turned control of the United States Senate in 2009.  Too much is at stake in 2016 to allow that to happen again."
There are 21 states with over-registered counties. Michigan has the most with 24, though Illinois' 17 is not far behind, in third place. A few of Illinois' other neighbors also show too many voters: Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri were also on the list put on notice by the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

These are 7 of the 17 Illinois counties found to be harboring possibly fraudulent voting records along with their percentage of over-registration (where available), according to WJBC Radio:

  • Franklin County, 190 percent

  • Pulaski County, 176 percent

  • Washington County

  • Henderson County, 148 percent

  • Union County, 138 percent

  • Rock Island County, 133 percent

  • Alexander County, 130 percent

To see 10 more of the 17 counties with more registered voters than eligible residents, check out Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Think voter fraud is imaginary? Think again. 

  1. I got my 20-something friends to vote early, and here's what we learned

  2. Yes, you should vote. Here are 5 reasons why.

  3. Here are 6 things that should be on your voter checklist

  4. Chicago's plan for boosting affordable housing is vacant

  5. Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool. 

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

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10 Ways Men Can Still Be MEN In Today's Society ... GRRRRR!

Tue, 2015-09-01 12:09

There were a lot of things that used to be considered manly that society has since taken away from dudes. Spitting, shooting randomly into the air, poking a wasps' nest with a stick, taking turns tasing each other for fun -- just let us be guys again!

Well, here are the manly things you can do as a guy that are still manly, according to the funny folks at The Other Stuff!



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Illinois lottery winners won't get their money till after budget is passed

Tue, 2015-09-01 11:56
The Illinois State Lottery's motto is "Anything's Possible."

Recent big winners, though, are getting a different message: "Anything's Possible As Soon As We Get a State Budget."

The Chicago Tribune reports today that winners of prizes of $25,000 and up have been told there's no money to pay them because the state has no budget to authorize prize payments. From the Tribune:

Under state law, the state comptroller must cut the checks for lottery winnings of more than $25,000. And lottery officials said that because lawmakers have yet to pass a budget, the comptroller's office does not have legal authority to release the funds.

Prizes of $25,000 or less will still be paid at lottery claim centers across the state, and people who win $600 or less can cash in their ticket at the place where they bought it.

But the bigger winners? Out of luck, for now.

The situation stems from the ongoing budget standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly. Rauner in May vetoed the budget sent to him by Democrats, saying it was $4 billion out of balance. Since then, Rauner has refused to negotiate on a budget until Democrats act on several economic and political reforms he says are necessary for the state's long-term financial health.

The state constitution says the comptroller can't issue any payments of any kind without a budget that authorizes those payments.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

So lottery winners can be added to the list of people in whose best interest it is for the budget standoff to end as quickly as possible. But with so many conflicting personalities and policies in Springfield, a quick solution can seem less and less likely as the weeks drag on. Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association spotlights a column by Charlie Wheeler, a long-time Illinois public affairs reporter and journalism professor. Wheeler shared four steps to getting the state's budget talks back on track--check them out at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Editorial: Let Rauner do what he was elected to do

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A Thank You to Urban Prep Charter Academy's Fired Teachers

Tue, 2015-09-01 11:34

As a new school year is beginning at Urban Prep Charter Academies, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my time as an educator at Urban Prep's Englewood Campus. As I reflect on some of the people that have been so formative in my growth as an educator and as a person, my thoughts immediately go to the students and the faculty both past and present at Urban Prep. One of the students I got to know is now a college graduate, and a few months ago I saw something that he wrote on social media that really hurt me. In response to the firing of several teachers across the three Urban Prep campuses he wrote, "I thought Urban Prep wanted to help Young black men?" This student's comment stung because it struck a chord with my own feelings of pain and concern. I too was taken aback by the actions of Urban Prep in June.

Many of the educators who were let go were critical to my development as a teacher, and many of them were actively involved in the unionization efforts at Urban Prep. The vast majority of these teachers were black educators that were highly invested in Urban Prep. Of the 17 people that were fired at the end of the year, 13 of them were African-American. The average years of service at Urban Prep between the educators that were fired was about three years of service. Some of these teachers consistently pushed their students to achieve the highest growth on standardized testing across the Urban Prep network. A consistent theme among the highest performing teachers at Urban Prep is that they make strong relationships with their students. The student whose comment I mentioned earlier told me that he wrote this comment because he felt that the relationships he had built with those teachers were pivotal to his success. He felt that losing those teachers would greatly disadvantage his younger brothers at Urban Prep not being exposed to the educators that had built great relationships with him. The black educators that mentored me in my time at Urban Prep were some of the most competent in the skill of relationship building.

In my research of Urban Prep before applying for a teaching position, I came across a video clip, which may be removed as soon as this post becomes public, of Tim King, our founder and CEO, discussing the importance of black educators to the work of Urban Prep. I know that I have been profoundly shaped by all of my colleagues at Urban Prep, but none more so than the dedicated black educators of Urban Prep.

One of the black educators to whom I will forever be in debt is Natasha Robinson. Natasha was especially talented at building relationships with the students of Urban Prep. The relationships that students have to their teachers have been critical to the ability of Urban Prep to fulfill its mission. The students that I teach our wary of new teachers because these new teacher have not yet demonstrated a commitment to them. However, these same students are fiercely loyal and intensely invested in the educators that they have seen year after year. Natasha was the freshman lead teacher the year that I came to Urban Prep. She was the epitome of excellence in teaching. She took no nonsense from her students and challenged them academically. She is quite possibly one of the most efficient people that I know. When I was struggling to figure out a day's lesson within a unit, Natasha had already developed the summative assessment and created a detailed unit plan that she executed with precision. Had it not been for Natasha's guidance and support I would never have made it to six years of teaching English. She was my role model.

As a 7-year veteran of Urban Prep, I witnessed Natasha Robinson sacrifice endlessly for her students and the school. She went to the school on Saturday mornings to provide nourishment to our athletes, she invested countless hours in training our students in leadership classes, and she has donated of her time and money to support our school store. Urban Prep has always said that they value relationships; in fact, it is one of the 4 R's that is at the core of Urban Prep's work. Yet on June 19th, I was informed that Natasha Robinson's employment at Urban Prep had been terminated. Not only had her position been terminated, but several other black educators had been fired that same day.

Natasha taught me what it takes to educate black boys from marginalized neighborhoods. We had tough conversations about race and education by which I have been fundamentally changed. Natasha is just one of many black educators that have been formative in my understanding of how to effectively teach black children. As an Asian-American man, there is much that I will never fully understand about the challenges faced by African-Americans on a daily basis in this country. It was thanks to black educators like Natasha with her on-the-ground, informal professional development that helped me to grow into an educator that could capably reach my students.

Despite Urban Prep's rhetoric of gratitude to its teachers, dedicated educators -- including several African-American educators -- were fired on one day. What did they do to thank Natasha Robinson? They told her that she was not wanted at Urban Prep. It seems suspicious that a dedicated educator like Natasha would be asked not to return shortly after our vote to determine whether we should have a union. They fired Natasha Robinson, who suffered for seven long years as she wanted to do more for her students but was held back by the administration of Urban Prep. They fired Natasha Robinson, who defended her students that were marginalized and bullied because of their sexual orientation. They fired Natasha Robinson, whose impact as a black educator reaches beyond the impact on the students that she teaches because she invested in non-black educators like me so that they can best serve the young men of Urban Prep.

Unfortunately, Natasha is not the only teacher that was fired in June whose impact on Urban Prep is immeasurable. I could go on about LaTroy Farrow and how he developed a brand new Basketball program at Urban Prep-West into a team that competes at a high level in CPS. I could tell you about Mathias Muschal who essentially built the English department at Urban Prep-Bronzeville and helped to shape the english curriculum across the network. This is seemingly what Urban Prep does to educators that want to have a union. So Natasha Robinson, I need to say thank you. To all the educators, and especially the black educators, who were unceremoniously fired in June, I say thank you, because clearly the administration of Urban Prep won't.

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Creating Your Fall Eco-Minimalist Wardrobe

Tue, 2015-09-01 10:09
The arrival of cooler temps often signal a reassessment of our wardrobe from light, breezy pieces to keep cool in, to heavier, cozier items that insulate better. Being an eco-minimalist style maven means not only choosing materials that are fairly traded and sweatshop free, but also choosing well made apparel that needn't be replaced often, as well as retooling what you already own.

Minimalist-style blogger Caroline Rector, who coined the term "capsule wardrobe" posts photos of her seasonally changing 37-piece wardrobe on her blog "Un-Fancy". Every 3 months, she refreshes her minimalist wardrobe, and in doing so provides a wealth of mix and match styles to take her through the next season.

Rector explains her reasoning behind the 37-piece capsule wardrobe:

"To me, a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters (less time spent deciding what to wear/less time spent shopping/less time doing laundry or caring for clothes) more money for our dreams and helping others (less money spent on clothes that never get worn) and more contentment and happiness."

A capsule wardrobe can easily accommodate various styles and colors and both casual wear and office wear. If 37 pieces of clothing sound a bit constraining to you, here are some examples of just how varied a capsule wardrobe can be.

The majority of pieces that anchor the capsule wardrobe include loose tops and tanks in neutral colors, comfortable and stylish jeans and twill pants, soft sweater coats and vests, and classic footwear such as oxford shoes, riding boots, and pumps.

Accessories, (not included in the 37 piece count), provide extra pizzazz, color, and sparkle. Universally appealing shades like blush and nude, classic cuts with nautical stripes and boat necklines, chambray, washed denim, and charcoal knits provide the blank canvas. Just think: there's a reason the crisp, white shirt never goes out of style.

Shoes are one element of a capsule wardrobe that are most likely to wear out quickly, so more consideration should be put toward purchasing durable styles that can handle your particular climate and style needs, for example: a boot that looks rugged enough for the elements, but stylish enough for the office.

At least one comfortable, quality pair of heels or dress boots that can take you from day to night in comfort is also essential to a minimalist wardrobe. Ssh-oes are the fusion of science and fashion. Developed by designer Mary Arnett, whose background includes biotechnology and research and development, Ssh-oes promise to never make that ominous and often annoying "click-click" every time you step. They also boast memory foam padding and special lycra linings that provide all day comfort to your feet.

Arnett, says her interest in designing Ssh-oes was based on her desire to create "graceful silence" and woman-friendly footwear.

"The footwear industry is surprisingly male dominated so you have men designing heels for women without experiencing the fit, feel, and consequences of wearing that heel themselves ...The heel market has been stagnant for decades without any new innovation and improvements for women. There's cool technology in sneakers and safety boots coming out all time but nothing new in heels.

As a practical working woman, I wanted to create my version of the perfect heel that I could wear to work or a night out without the pain and annoying "click-y" noise.

...It's the elephant in the room that everyone hears but no one did anything about until now. We offer many styles in 2 inch which is hard to find since so many designers focus on higher, not walker friendly 4 inch stiletto heels."

A timeless pair of sneakers or low-key slip-ons can be worn for business casual days, as well as kicking around town running errands. Many of this season's sneaker styles come in neutrals like dusky grey, burnt umber, and tone on tone Ikat patterns that blend chic looks with tennis shoe squish.

No minimalist capsule wardrobe is complete without a few key accessories to bring out the versatility of your anchor basics. At this time of the year, woolen winter accessories and infinity scarves often upstage statement jewelry.

The right scarf or wrap can change the look of an outfit in seconds. Even a beginner DIY style maven can sew a basic fabric infinity scarf in only 5 minutes with this simple pattern. Other updated knit scarf styles this fall include triangular and asymmetric stoles that can be worn in multiple ways. The angular cut of these new styles leans toward a more drapey silhouette, and away from the bulky, overpowering, "swarm of yarn" look of previous seasons.

A little planning can minimize any impulse buys during the season and make the most of your eco-minimalist capsule wardrobe. Rector created this downloadable wardrobe planner to help readers narrow down their favorite styles based on current needs, available items, and budget.

If budget is a significant constraint when designing your capsule wardrobe, frequent thrift stores, consignment shops, or plan a clothing swap with your close friends to exchange items that still have life in them, but have worn their owner's welcome.

Now go spend the time you save not shopping for 3 months on friends, family, and fall fun!

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28 Art Shows You Need To See This Fall

Tue, 2015-09-01 09:38

As we approach Labor Day and the unofficial end to summer, the only thing motivating us to open our laptops and begin another day anew is the thought of a new season of art exhibitions. Well, maybe that and the promise of cooler temperatures. But the slate of fall art shows is considerably high on our list of autumnal things to look forward to.

In anticipation of fall, we scoured the calendars -- one editor on the East coast, one writer on the West -- and came up with 20 exhibitions (and eight honorable mentions) we're excited to ogle over the next few months. Whether you're in New York or Los Angeles, New Orleans or Detroit, St. Louis or Fort Worth, here's your guide to getting down with art in September and beyond.

1. "Spirit and Matter: Islamic Art" (Dallas, Texas)

What: "Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art"
Where: Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas
When: Sept. 18, 2015 to July 31, 2016 
Why: Islamic art is still radically underrepresented in the museum world. This expansive show features 13 centuries' worth of work from three continents of Islamic artists. Expect artworks ranging from rock crystals to carpets to textiles, capturing the stunning diversity of the Islamic experience then and now.
Also on view: Jackson Pollock and Irving Penn


2. "The Big Hope Show" (Baltimore, Maryland)

What: "The Big Hope Show"
Where: American Museum of Visionary Art in Baltimore, Maryland
When: Oct. 3, 2015 to Sept. 4, 2016
Why: This uber-happy exhibit, marking the 20th anniversary of the AMVA, features the work of visionary and self-taught artists who have suffered from extreme trauma, and have used their powers of creative expression to overcome. The show features everyone from outsider artist and extreme dog lover Bobby Adams to The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, who apparently discovered his creative fire after surviving a robbery while working as a fry cook. Who knew?

3. Joyce Pensato (Fort Worth, Texas)

What: "FOCUS: Joyce Pensato"
Where: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Forth Worth, Texas
When: Nov.21, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016
Why: Pensato's subjects include Homer Simpson, Batman, and Kyle of "South Park." She transforms these iconic American cartoon figures into menacing and peculiar beasts, using sweeping black-and-white brush strokes reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism and street art. Her dark cartoon mania is sure to please any art lover and her creepy uncle. 
Also on view: Kehinde Wiley, Frank Stella and KAWS

4. "Rebel Rebel" (Seattle, Washington)

What: "Rebel Rebel"
Where: Seattle Art Museum in Seattle, Washington
When: Aug. 29, 2015 to Dec. 13, 2015
Why: Do you even have to ask? This feminist exhibition features artists who've fought gender stereotypes and cliches since the 1960s, especially as they apply to female artists. Giving a large F.U. to established ideas of the male genius and the woman as muse, artists including Victoria Haven, Ann Leda Shapiro and Dawn Cerny show that women artists don't take no crap from nobody.

5. "Earth Machines" (San Francisco, California)

What: "Earth Machines"
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California
When: Aug. 14, 2015 to Dec. 6, 2015
Why: How are all the laptops, cell phones and other techno-gadgets we've become so obsessed with and dependent on changing the future of our planet? A variety of contemporary artists in disparate media consider the dark repercussions of our choices, exploring issues including rare earth mining, the disposal of e-waste and the long-term decomposition of tech products.
Also on view: Won Ju Lim and "Radical Presence"

6. Sheila Hicks (St. Louis, Missouri)

What: Sheila Hicks
Where: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri
When: Sept. 11 to Dec. 27, 2015
Why: For almost 60 years, Paris-based, American-born artist Sheila Hicks has been exploring the potential to play with traditional textile techniques including weaving, crocheting, dying and spinning. Over the years Hicks has created her own visual language, navigating the texture, color and unorthodox possibilities of her weaved abstractions. Using everything from natural fibers to rubber bands, Hicks transformed a traditional craft into an endless avant-garde experiment. 
Also on view: "Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop," "Wyatt Kahn: Object Paintings," "Street Views: Marilyn Minter"

7. Ishiuchi Miyako (Los Angeles, California)

What: "Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows"
Where: The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California
When: Oct. 6, 2015 to Feb. 21, 2016
Why: Self-taught Japanese photographer Miyako is known for her stunning images documenting life in her hometown of Yokosuka, where the U.S. Navy had set up base. The grainy, black-and-white images present a haunting depiction of political realities mixed with childhood fears, hopes, shadows and memories. The exhibit will also include images from Miyako's most recent series, which revisits children's clothing and other artifacts from the time of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, 70 years ago.
Also on view: "The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography," "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance," "Art of the Fold: Drawings of Drapery and Costume"

8. Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Los Angeles, California)

What: Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Where: The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California.
When: Oct. 3, 2015 to Nov. 21, 2015
Why: Crosby, a Nigerian-born artist, fuses African and American culture in her collage-painting-printing hybrids, referencing her life as an expatriate in the contemporary age. The works offer a crucial counterpoint to the often dismal depictions of Africa in the west.
Also on view: "UH OH: Frances Stark," "The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris," "Hammer Projects: Avery Singer"

9. "Hippie Modernism" (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

What: "Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia"
Where: The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: Oct. 24, 2015 to Feb. 28, 2016
Why: If the title isn't enough to intrigue you, the exhibition will chronicle the art, architecture and design of the counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s, including everything from experimental furniture, alternative living structures, retro magazines and books, and archival films.
Also on view: "International Pop"

10. "Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980" (New York, New York)

What: "Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980"
Where: The Museum of Modern Art in New York 
When: Sept. 5, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016
Why: "Transmissions" focuses on artists and art communities in Eastern Europe and Latin American during the 1960s and '70s who emphasized creation outside of a market context. If you're into radical, experimental and subversive post-WWII art, this is the MoMA show for you.
Also on view: "Picasso Sculpture"

11. Photographic Portraits from West Africa (New York, New York)

What: "In and Out of the Studio Photographic Portraits from West Africa"
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York
When: Aug. 31, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016
Why: Experience 100 years of portrait photography in West Africa through a series of 80 photographs taken between the 1870s and the 1970s by amateur and professional photographers active from Senegal to Cameroon and from Mali to Gabon.

12. Becky Suss (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

What: Becky Suss
Where: The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: Sept. 16, 2015 to Dec. 27, 2015
Why: Philly-born and Philly-raised, Suss reimagines the domestic spaces of her relatives, flattening the physical spaces of her memories and filling them up with skewed perspectives and historic kitsch. 
Also on view: Josephine Pryde and Christopher Knowles


13. "Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer" (Boston, Massachusetts)

What: "Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer"
Where: The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts
When: Oct. 11, 2015 to Jan. 18, 2016
Why: The exhibition will feature 75 Dutch paintings from the 17th century that depict not just princes and paupers, but all walks of Dutch societal life from over 400 years ago. Art history nerds, this show will cover the gorgeous colors and brushworks of Rembrandt and his ilk, as well as the class narratives embedded in each of their paintings.


14. "Shadows and Dreams: Pictorialist Photography in America" (Cleveland, Ohio)

What: "Shadows and Dreams: Pictorialist Photography in America"
Where: The Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio
When: Sept. 5, 2015 to Jan. 17, 2016
Why: The Pictorialists were known for their eagerness to strip photography of its constraints and infuse the medium with as much personal expression as abstract painting or sculpture, striving to be less reporters and documentarians and more photographic illustrators and visual pioneers. Here is a happy summary of the movement and its impact on American art.
Also on view: "Music Videos II" and "Silent Poetry: Masterworks of Chinese Painting"


15. Deana Lawson (Chicago, Illinois)

What: "Deana Lawson: Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series"
Where: The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois
When: Sept. 5, 2015 to Jan. 10, 2016
Why: New York-based photographer Deana Lawson has spent over 10 years exploring the ways in which black culture has been portrayed visually across the world, through staged images and found candids alike. She's captured photographs in her hometown of Brooklyn as well as places in Louisiana, Haiti, Jamaica, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Also on view: "Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings" and Charles Ray


16. "Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion" (Atlanta, Georgia)

What: Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion
Where: The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia
When: Nov. 7, 2015 to May 15, 2016
Why: This will be the first U.S. museum exhibition of work by the Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. From haute couture to 3D printing, this is a show for any aspiring fashion devotees in and around Atlanta.

17. "30 Americans" (Detroit, Michigan)

What: "30 Americans"
Where: Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
When: Oct. 18, 2015 to Jan. 18, 2016
Why: Where else can you see Kerry James Marshall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker, Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Carrie Mae Weems, Robert Colescott, Glen Ligon and Lorna Simpson all in one place? "30 Americans" is celebrating 30 years of art by African Americans, focusing on issues of racial, political, historical and gender identity.


18. "No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting" (Miami, Florida)

What: "No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting"
Where: Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida
When: Sept. 17, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016
Why: Here are the names of nine Aboriginal Australian artists you've probably never heard of: Paddy Bedford, Janangoo Butcher Cherel, Tommy Mitchell, Ngarra, Boxer Milner Tjampitjin, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Tjumpo Tjapanangvka, Billy Joongoorra Thomas, and Prince of Wales (Midpul). If you've ever wanted an introduction into the amazing world of Aboriginal abstraction, head to Miami.

19. "Orientalism: Taking and Making" (New Orleans, Louisiana)

What: "Orientalism: Taking and Making"
Where: The New Orleans Museum of Art in New Orleans, Louisiana
When: Through Dec. 31, 2015
Why: While the pop culture and fashion worlds at large grapple with what it means to appropriate traditions from historically oppressed cultures, NOMA is addressing "shades of oppression, racism, and superficial cultural understanding" found in 19th-century Orientalist paintings, photographs and decorative arts.

20. "Louise Bourgeois: No Exit" (Washington, D.C.)

What: "Louise Bourgeois: No Exit"
Where: The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
When: November 15, 2015 to May 15, 2016
Why: It's Louise Bourgeois, do you need another reason


8 Honorable mentions:


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Obama Has Not Finalized Post-Presidential Plans, Despite Columbia Rumor

Mon, 2015-08-31 19:10

WASHINGTON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has made no final decisions about what he will do after leaving office, the White House said on Monday, following comments by Columbia University's president that he looked forward to welcoming Obama back to campus in 2017.

"The President has long talked about his respect for Columbia University and his desire to continue working with them," the White House statement said in response to a Reuters query. "However, at this point no decisions have been finalized about his post-Presidency plans."

Obama graduated from the New York school in 1983. Columbia was also among the contenders for Obama's presidential library, which will be built in his hometown of Chicago. 

The Columbia Daily Spectator student newspaper quoted Columbia President Lee Bollinger as telling a school convocation: "We look forward to welcoming back our most famous alumnus, Barack Obama, in 2017."

The comments stirred speculation on social media about Obama's career plans after he leaves the White House in January 2017.

But the university, in a statement issued later on Monday, said Bollinger's comment "only reiterated the May 12 statement by the Barack Obama Foundation that it 'intends to maintain a presence at Columbia University for the purpose of exploring and developing opportunities for a long term association' and reflected no further developments concerning President Obama's plans." (Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Lisa Lambert)

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Watch: Illinois House Dems have major power on union bill vote

Mon, 2015-08-31 12:29
Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a union bill passed by the General Assembly the worst piece of legislation in Illinois history and a "direct, frontal assault on the taxpayers of Illinois."

He vetoed Senate Bill 1229 on July 29 and then lobbied fiercely for the Illinois Senate to let his veto stand. On Aug. 19, as he celebrated Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair, he said a Senate override of his veto would prove that Senate President John Cullerton and his Senate Democrats are "under the thumb" of Rauner's political nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The Senate defied Rauner and, with one Republican joining then, overrode Rauner's veto later that day. On Sept. 2, the Illinois House is expected to consider doing the same. We believe Rauner's veto should stand and the General Assembly should let Rauner do what he was elected to do. Whether you agree with us or not, we urge you to use our Sound Off tool to let your state representative know you're watching.

Why all the controversy over this bill? It depends on which side you ask. The bill would prohibit the union from striking or Rauner from locking employees out if an impasse in negotiations is declared. What would happen next under the new law is the source of disagreement.

Rauner says the bill will result in his being swiftly removed from negotiations with AFSCME Council 31, the union that represents 38,000 state employees and whose contract expired June 30. He says the bill would bring in arbitrators who would be allowed only to make a winner-take-all choice between the offers on the table by Rauner and the union. And he says the three-member arbitration panel will be slanted in favor of the union.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois and check out the video where Reboot Illinois' Matthew Dietrich and Madeleine Doubek discuss the situation:

As the union vote situation heats up, Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis offered his take on the arbitration bill, saying he supports the idea of letting Rauner's original veto stand.

Click to see the full version of the cartoon:

NEXT ARTICLE: Editorial: Let Rauner do what he was elected to do

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To Restore Trust in Government, Slow Wall Street's Revolving Door

Mon, 2015-08-31 09:28
One of our nation's greatest strengths is that we are governed by each other -- what President Lincoln celebrated as "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

But increasingly, Americans' trust in government is eroding. And a big reason for that is the so-called revolving door between government and the private sector.

Inviting outside voices into government is often a good thing. When public servants have experience beyond Washington, they bring new ideas, new perspectives, and new knowledge to the work of governing this huge, complicated country of ours. Some of America's most dedicated public servants got their start in technology, business, academia, or other fields. Most of the time, that private-sector experience is an asset, not a liability.

But in some cases, it can affect the public trust -- for example, if a public servant's past and future are tied to the financial industry. That's when people start worrying that the foxes are guarding the hen house.

The American people need to be able to trust that every single person in Washington -- from the President of the United States all the way down to agency employees -- is putting the interests of the people first.

We want to do more to make sure that happens.

Both of us have a track record of supporting stronger ethics rules. One of us -- Tammy -- has introduced legislation in the Senate to help close that revolving door. The other of us -- Hillary -- strongly supports this bill, and as president would crack down on conflicts of interest in government.

Here's what this bill would do.

Right now, some private sector employers offer bonuses to employees when they leave to join the government. This bill would prohibit that. The private sector shouldn't be allowed to "pay to play" with their former employees. If you're working for the government, you're working for the people -- not for an oil company, drug company, or Wall Street bank or money manager.

Right now, government employees entrusted with oversight are required by law to recuse themselves from any cases involving their former employers for one year. That's not long enough. This bill would bump it up to two years. And for people leaving government service, this bill would prevent them from taking a job at a company they oversaw until at least two years have passed.

Right now, loopholes allow former government officials to lobby in practice, even if they aren't officially called lobbyists. They offer regulatory access to private interests as "outside advisors" or "strategic counselors." That means they can avoid legal requirements that lobbyists have to meet. This bill would clamp down on that.

This bill is full of sensible ideas like these. It should become law. Congressman Elijah Cummings is co-sponsoring it in the House, and we hope more Members of Congress join us in supporting it.

We are committed to making sure reforms like these are implemented and enforced, and that they apply to all federal workers -- whether they're elected or appointed.

And we can and should do more -- in particular, to restore people's confidence that the government is holding powerful companies accountable when they commit acts of wrongdoing, whether on Wall Street or anywhere else.

That means ensuring that when corporations pay fines for breaking the law, those fines cut into the bonuses of the highest-paid executives. It means increasing rewards to whistleblowers, so employees of private companies have greater incentive to come forward and report illegal activity. And it means prosecuting individuals, as well as firms, when they commit fraud or other crimes. Right now, in many cases where companies are punished for wrongdoing, no one at the top is prosecuted. We need to do a better job of holding the decision-makers accountable.

At the end of the day, a lot of this is about leadership. There's an old saying in government: "Personnel is policy." Who we hire goes a long way toward determining what we do and how well we do it. We need to make sure those who do the people's work in Washington are actually doing it -- not worrying about former or future bosses at the public's expense.

That's how we'll begin to restore Americans' trust -- and make sure that our government truly is "for the people."

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Running Club Has Helped Bring 1,300 People Out Of Homelessness

Mon, 2015-08-31 08:11

Exercise has been shown to improve mental health, decrease stress, boost sleep and even change how you see the world, but can it really help the homeless become more self-sufficient?

The work of one nonprofit seems to suggest as much. Founded in Philadelphia in 2007 by marathoner Anne Mahlum, Back on My Feet is an unusual program that encourages the homeless to take up running as a means to improve their self-confidence and ultimately help connect them with employment opportunities and independent housing. 

It is doing just that. As reported by NationSwell, the results of the program -- which is currently running in 11 chapters nationwide -- are promising. Of some 5,200 homeless individuals reached by the program in eight years, 1,300 have moved into independent housing and more than 1,900 have obtained employment. The organization has logged more than 462,000 miles run since 2009. 

The idea came to Mahlum when she began to form a friendship with a group of homeless men she would encounter along the route of her regular 5:30 a.m. runs. She had picked up running as a means to deal with her father’s gambling problem and thought some of these men might also see their lives improve by upping their physical fitness.

As the Los Angeles reported, critics frequently told Mahlum the homeless “don’t run,” but she pressed on with her vision anyway, forgoing what a Channel One News feature called a "dream job" in the communications field and launching the running club.

A small group of the men, who were living at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, eventually joined her running club, with the shelter’s permission, and received a fresh pair of running shoes, running clothing and socks. 

There are certain expectations of the homeless individuals who participate in the Back on My Feet program. They must sign a dedication contract and agree to be present and on time for runs three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Longer runs on the weekend are optional.

If members meet those requirements and complete 30 days of the routine, they gain access to educational and job training programs and can apply to financial aid to help them find housing and gain independence. They can also continue to be a part of the club as alumni, helping encourage others starting on their own path to self-improvement.

Members of the program have also taken part in big races, including the Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon and Boston Marathon. But as Mahlum explained to CNN in a 2008 feature, the running at the center of the program is essentially a means to an end, not the end itself.

"Running really is a metaphor for life," Mahlum told CNN. "There is always another mile. You just have to take it one step at a time." 

Alumni members of the program’s New York chapter would probably agree. One, Ryan, featured by NationSwell has already completed a half-marathon since joining the club seven months ago and is now studying to become a substance abuse counselor. Another, Jerry, works as a doorman and has his own apartment.


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Jake Arrieta Pitches No-Hitter For Chicago Cubs In 2-0 Win Over Los Angeles Dodgers

Sun, 2015-08-30 22:35

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jake Arrieta pitched the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season and second against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 days, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 2-0 victory Sunday night.

Arrieta (17-6) struck out a season-high 12 and became the first 17-game winner in the big leagues by throwing baseball's third no-hitter in less than three weeks.

Astros right-hander Mike Fiers blanked the NL West-leading Dodgers 3-0 on Aug. 21. Los Angeles had never before been no-hit twice in one season.

Arrieta got the benefit of a close call for the official scorer in the third inning, when Kike Hernandez reached on a fielding error by second baseman Starlin Castro.


Hey @JArrieta34, strike out the side to end it. K.

— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 31, 2015


Hernandez hit a one-hopper at Castro, who tried to play it on the short hop as the ball bounced off him. The play was ruled an error but probably could have gone either way.

Hernandez was sacrificed to second before Arrieta struck out Jimmy Rollins to end the inning.

Carl Crawford nearly broke up the no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh, but Castro caught Crawford's line drive up the middle with a running effort.

With the Dodger Stadium crowd roaring, Arrieta struck out all three batters in the ninth - including Chase Utley on his 116th pitch to end it. The 29-year-old pitcher was mobbed by teammates near the mound, and they jumped their way in a huddle over to near the Cubs' dugout where they high-fived Arrieta.

Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Carlos Zambrano on Sept. 14, 2008, against Houston in a game that was moved to Miller Park in Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike.


“Pizza makes me thirsty!” - @JArrieta34. #DomiNoNo

— MLB (@MLB) August 31, 2015


Arrieta walked one and helped the Cubs snap a four-game skid on the last night of their six-game West Coast trip. He finished August with a 6-0 record, tying Boston's Joe Kelly as the only pitchers with that many wins in the month.

The right-hander lowered his ERA to 0.43 in August while becoming the first Cubs pitcher with that many wins in the month since Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.

Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Alex Wood. The Cubs had 13 hits and snapped the Dodgers' five-game winning streak.

Wood (9-9) took the loss, giving up two runs and eight hits in six innings. The left-hander struck out seven and walked one.

Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners pitched a no-hitter on Aug. 12 in a 3-0 win against Baltimore. Cole Hamels of Philadelphia, San Francisco's Chris Heston and Washington's Max Scherzer also have thrown no-hitters this season.

The closest Arrieta came to a no-hitter previously was a one-hit shutout against Cincinnati on Sept. 16, 2014, at Wrigley Feld.


Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-6, 4.11 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field against Cincinnati. He is 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five starts this season against the Reds, but has a 1.50 ERA in two starts against them at home.

Dodgers: LHP Brett Anderson (8-8, 3.36) takes the mound for the opener of a crucial three-game series against the second-place Giants. He leads the majors with a 66.9 groundball percentage, inducing 307 grounders this season. His 147 1-3 innings and 25 starts are the second-highest totals of his career.

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Michael Jordan's Tune Squad Uniform From 'Space Jam' Is Hitting The Auction Block

Fri, 2015-08-28 16:33

Michael Jordan's most important uniform -- you know, the one he wore while saving the earth -- is hitting the auction block this fall.

Starting on Oct. 1, fans of Jordan and the 1996 sports entertainment classic "Space Jam" can bid on the actual Tune Squad uniform Jordan wore during the making of the movie. Despite there being "signs of wear" and "minor staining" on the uniform, it'll be available for bidding through online auction house Invaluable via Los Angeles-based auction house Profiles In History.

Invaluable estimates the price to fall between $10,000 (the starting bid) and $15,000, but in the past, Jordan memorabilia has been auctioned off for upwards of $100,000

Think you can afford it? 

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NLRB Joint Employer Ruling, Good for Workers and Businesses

Fri, 2015-08-28 12:45
The National Labor Relations Board in the Browning-Ferris Industries case revised standards for determining joint-employer status on Thursday. The Board found that Browning-Ferris Industries was a joint-employer of workers hired by a contractor to staff the company's recycling center. The joint-employer designation gives workers stronger employment protections and enhanced collective bargaining rights with large corporations that play a role in determining salaries, working conditions, and hours.

I strongly support the NLRB's amended standard for determining joint-employer status. Workers should not be prevented from bargaining with the companies that help set their wages, benefits, schedules and workplace conditions. This ruling will restore workers' rights.

The rise of franchising, contracting and other similar employment practices has made it harder to enforce worker protections like minimum wages, overtime pay and the right to unionize. This ruling is a win for nearly three million workers, their families, and their communities.

With this decision, workers will be able to bargain with every employer who helps to determine the rules of their employment. Employers who help set those rules will no longer be able to utilize temp agencies or contractors to evade their responsibilities to workers who provide services or create goods on their behalf.

This isn't just a win for workers - it's a win for businesses that do right by their employees because it requires their competitors to rise to their standard.

Again, I commend the NLRB for this important definition change. I am disappointed - although not surprised - that some of my Republican colleagues have already announced their intention to block this rule, which could result in higher wages and better working conditions for all our constituents. I will continue to do all that I can to ensure and enhance worker protections, including the right to bargain collectively.

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Illinois' Comptroller Position Gets Exciting for Leslie Munger

Fri, 2015-08-28 12:39
Earlier this week I wrote that the race for Illinois comptroller might be one of the hottest contests of next year's election.

I contrasted the sizzle of the election -- which will pit incumbent Leslie Geissler Munger against either state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, or Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza -- with the relatively mundane nature of the office. The comptroller keeps the state's checkbook but doesn't make the policy that decides what goes into and out of the checking account.

Maybe I spoke too soon. This week in federal court in Chicago, we're learning that even being the state's check-writer can generate controversy and political intrigue. At issue is why the comptroller's office didn't make court-ordered payments to providers of services for the disabled. This started Aug. 6 when a group of service providers filed a lawsuit alleging that the comptroller had failed to make the payments and was putting care for thousands of developmentally disabled Illinoisans in jeopardy.

The comptroller's office this week said the state didn't have enough cash on hand to make the payments, and that's where the controversy started. A lawyer for one of the plaintiffs said at a hearing on Wednesday that he believes Munger's office and Gov. Bruce Rauner deliberately manipulated payments for political advantage in the state budget impasse. The Chicago Tribune reported on the hearing:

The judge also said she understood the comptroller's predicament. Without a budget, state government has been spending at a rate billions of dollars beyond what it is set to take in, mostly because of a series of maneuvers by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature and a number of court orders requiring it to continue paying for services during the impasse.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

To check out a more complete back story on Munger's interactions with a judge this week, check out Mark Fitton's article at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Editorial: Let Rauner do what he was elected to do

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Starting Today, Your Favorite River Is Better Protected

Fri, 2015-08-28 10:20

Credit: MNStudio, Shutterstock

This weekend Americans will head to our local river for a float trip or fishing excursion, to our favorite lake for a refreshing swim, or to the beach to ride the waves and soak up the last of the summer sun.

Our enjoyment of these waterways will be particularly sweet over the next few days, not just because we'll mark one of the last hurrahs of the summer season, but also because our favorite rivers and lakes are now better protected from pollution than ever before.

Thanks to the Obama administration's Clean Water Rule that takes effect today (in most places), polluters can no longer dump into our streams and developers can no longer pave over our wetlands unheeded. Before today's rule, 2 million miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands, which flow into our favorite waterways, from the Puget Sound to the Chesapeake Bay, had lacked clear safeguards under the Clean Water Act, following a pair of polluter driven lawsuits that went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2001 and 2006.

Court decisions in these two cases had left the streams and wetlands that feed our rivers, lakes, and the drinking water supplies for 1 in 3 Americans vulnerable to polluters and developers, who could use these waters as dumping grounds or pave over them without any federal oversight or limits. In fact, in a four-year period following the decisions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had to drop more than 1500 investigations against polluters, according to one analysis by The New York Times. Similarly, an investigation by Pro Publica found oil companies and other polluters dumping into streams without consequence.

The Clean Water Rule, adopted in May following a decade-long push by Environment America and many others, ensures that such pollution cases can be prosecuted. On the front end, federal officials can now protect these waters with enforceable limits on pollution.

The joint rule by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is backed by robust scientific review and has gained broad support across a wide range of constituencies, including mayors, brewers, kayakers, anglers, small businesses, and small farmers.

The public strongly backs the rule. In May a Hart Research Associates poll showed that 80 percent of voters surveyed across party lines favored it. Americans submitted more than 800,000 comments in support of the restored protections.

Despite the public's backing of the Clean Water Rule, oil and gas companies, developers, and other polluters have waged a bitter campaign against it. Congress has largely sided with the polluters, with the U.S. House and key Senate committees passing bills to undo the restored protections.

Moreover, polluters and their allies have turned once again to the courts. Those bringing lawsuits against the Clean Water Rule now include Murray Energy (the largest privately held coal company in the U.S.), agribusiness interests, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and several state attorneys general.

Yesterday, a federal judge in North Dakota granted a motion to halt the rule in 13 states pending the outcome of litigation by their attorneys general. It's frustrating to see clean water delayed and denied to the people of these (mostly Western) states, including Colorado and New Mexico.

Yet we know that the Clean Water Rule is on solid legal ground and backed by more than 1,000 scientific studies showing how streams and wetlands are vital to the health of our rivers, lakes, and bays.

And so, with enough support from key senators and continued strong backing from the Obama administration, we're confident that the restored protections for our streams and rivers will survive and thrive. That way, our favorite places for swimming, boating, and fishing will be cleaner today, this weekend, and for many summers to come.

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