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How the Sharing Economy is Reshaping the Business Services Sector

Fri, 2016-08-19 11:10

Lyft created an express pay program that lets its drivers get paid daily if they wish. Airbnb has at least one host in each of Chicago's 50 wards and, worldwide, 86 percent of its hosts live in the homes they share.

Lyft, Airbnb and the rest of the sharing economy are innovating in viral fashion while government and portions of the public constantly are trying to catch up to that exponential innovation.

So said entrepreneurial and government experts Thursday at a forum on the intersection of the sharing economy, tech and government hosted by Reboot Illinois at Chicago's start-up hub, 1871. About 100 attendees heard a discussion moderated by 1871 CEO Howard Tullman with Allison Schraub, Chicago program director for mobilization at Airbnb; Jean-Paul Biondi, Chicago marketing lead for Lyft; and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who represents the 10th District.

The sharing economy not only has created new job and income opportunities for people who need them, but it also has introduced services to communities that never had them.

Biondi noted a big part of his job continues to be educating people about ride sharing and innovations like in-app tipping and express pay, while Schraub noted she was pleased with how well Airbnb hosts and users advocated for themselves at City Hall when regulations became a point of debate recently.

"The interesting thing about the sharing economy is -- if you look at them individually -- the services are so much better," said Gainer, who said she uses both Airbnb and Lyft. "But I think there's this larger question out there which is to say is it a good thing that it's a lifeline for people... but does it say something larger about the underlying economy?"

Gainer noted that as private companies have migrated away from defined-benefit pensions and employer-provided healthcare and from many people being full-time employees, it never was really replaced with anything, but some segments of the sharing economy are filling needs. Gainer noted her own parents in the Beverly neighborhood never used to be able to get a cab there.

Tullman said there used to be a very clear line between laws that related to businesses and people, but now people are businesses.

"What's really changed is that the web and the constant flow of information has permitted us to do something that nobody can even believe, which is it let's us trust people that we don't know," Tullman said. "At the same time when you look at the polls in this country -- basic trust- the people we do know, we trust less and less all the time."

However, as the sharing economy grows, so do questions over how governments will regulate and tax these new businesses.

Schraub acknowledged concerns some people have about Airbnb rentals being used as so-called "party houses" as well as the possibility that some hosts discriminate against potential renters. She said the company takes those concerns seriously and must try to address them as they can if they are to succeed.

One audience noted regulations are not keeping up with the speed of innovation and technology, and asked the panelists how they plan to work with local governments to address that.

Gainer said she believes the lag is a "super healthy" thing because it allows businesses to make mistakes and get some grounding before the regulatory structure comes in, which she said has been the case for hundreds of years.

"I think what's happened that's good with Uber and Lyft and Airbnb has been we finally have educated most of the regulators, most of the legislative bodies in the United States," Tullman said. "And so in today's world it's not who's first, it's who's best."

Biondi added that more of Lyft's marketing strategies focus on educating communities and governments.

"A lot of the tabling we do at events now is just an education perspective," Biondi said. "It's going to be a long road, but there's definitely a lot of education for a lot of people just to know who we are."

Next article: Best and worst cities in Illinois for job seekers: report

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Illinois Democrats Taunt GOP For Ignoring Trump

Fri, 2016-08-19 11:03

A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner called the Illinois Democratic Party a "corrupt political machine" during a rally at the Illinois State Fair, Democrats fired back on Thursday, accusing Rauner of holding the needy hostage over his reform agenda and mocking the state GOP for trying to distance itself from Donald Trump.

"We're going to actually do something the Republicans couldn't do yesterday, couldn't bring themselves to do," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told the crowd at the annual Democratic County Chairmen's Association breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. "We're going to actually say the name of our presidential nominee out loud because we are proud of Hillary Clinton."

A few hours later, at Democrat Day at the Illinois State Fair, Durbin took another dig at the Republicans, who in their Governor's Day rally at the fair a day earlier barely mentioned Trump's name.

"(A)ll the Republicans who came here yesterday tried to deny the obvious," Durbin said. "Their candidate for president is unfit, unfit to be president of the United States."

Where Rauner had used his address to unite the Republican party faithful against what he called a "corrupt political machine," the Democrats rallied around a call for a united front against Rauner's agenda.

"No. 1, I think we can come together in opposition to the extremism of Donald Trump," said House Speaker Michael Madigan, who also is chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. "No. 2, I think we can all come together in opposition to the extremism of Bruce Rauner."

Throughout a historic budget impasse that has found the state operating without a full budget for more than a year, Madigan repeatedly has characterized Rauner as "operating in the extreme" due to the union-weakening demands on which Rauner has made budget negotiations contingent. He continued that theme on Thursday, with the connection of Rauner to Trump added as an extra twist.

Madigan reiterated his oft-repeated charge the Rauner's approach to government seeks to lower the wages and standard of living of the middle class by weakening unions, doing away with prevailing wage requirements for public construction projects and putting a greater burden of proof on workers in workers' compensation cases. He says Rauner is trying to reverse a fundamental government philosophy that dates back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in 1933.

"For 83 years the American national government and state governments including Illinois have always worked to raise wage levels and the standard of living and to protect the vulnerable in our society...," Madigan said. "However, today in Illinois, Gov. Rauner is attempting to advance an extreme agenda that would actually take Illinois in the opposite direction."

While Rauner on Wednesday said Republicans were about to launch the "biggest ground game ever" to get Republicans elected to the Legislature in November, Madigan predicted the effort would fail.

"He could learn from history that Illinois is not ready for his extreme agenda," Madigan said at a press conference after his speech.

In addition to the presidency, there are two statewide election in November, and both are shaping up to be hotly contested and brutal in tone.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in a race that has drawn heavy national attention as Democrats attempt to re-take the Senate.

Duckworth on Thursday criticized Kirk for his past history of embellishment to his military record, which she said he "lied about at least 10 different times."

"In fact he said he was shot at in Kandahar, he was shot at in Bosnia and he was shot at in Iraq," said Duckworth, who lost both legs when the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq was shot down in 2004. "I've been shot at. It's not the kind of thing you misremember."

The other statewide race is between incumbent Republican Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza. Munger was appointed to office by Rauner in January 2015 after the death of Judy Baar Topinka a month earlier. Topinka had won re-election in November 2014, and Rauner sought to appoint Munger to fill Topinka's full, four-year term. But Democrats on a party-line vote passed a bill requiring a special election after two years.

Munger on Wednesday described Mendoza, who served in the Illinois House from 2001 to 2011, as faithful soldier of Madigan during her years in the House. She also said Mendoza regarded Madigan as her mentor.

"You know who she is," Mendoza said Thursday of Munger. "She's the self-proclaimed wingman of this governor and clearly his appointee beholden to him."

Mendoza took special umbrage at Munger's implying that she owed her political career to Madigan.

"The sexist notion that any one of us was put into a position of power -- like, say, being appointed to a statewide spot -- ...only through the power of men, you know that has no place in 2016," Mendoza said. "And it's something that's straight out of the Donald Trump playbook on women."

State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who emceed the Illinois State Fair Democrat Day rally, thanked the opposing party for providing extra motivation.

"Let me tell you something else we've been blessed with," Lang shouted from the podium. "We have the two best Democratic organizers ever out there helping us. Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner. These guys don't know what they've unleashed."

Next article: Mike Madigan meets the Truth-O-Meter

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My Journey To Embracing My Curly Dominican Hair

Fri, 2016-08-19 09:33

A photo posted by SunKissAlba (@sunkissalba) on Feb 23, 2016 at 1:28pm PST

My natural hair journey began in 2011, about a year after starting SunKissAlba, my YouTube channel. This is when I noticed the severe change and damage I've caused on my curls after years of mistreating them and not appreciating the beauty they possessed. My hair went from being naturally curly to brittle, dry, and straight strands due to constant heat styling and lack of knowledge on hair products and ingredients. I remember crying in the bathroom the day I noticed my texture wasn't coming back to its original pattern. That was the day I realized how much I actually love my curls. Unfortunately, most of us tend to value only what we once had and lost and usually only change what we suffer from, but I've learned my lesson, and I never looked back.

The process of gaining back my curls was scary, because I didn't have the support of my family and I didn't know where to start -- but I went with logic. I rejected heat styling tools and couldn't stand the thought of having them around, so I put them in the trash, because I decided that step one was to stop doing the very thing that gave me unhealthy, damaged hair. No more heat, no more straightening, no more hair dyes, and no more unnatural ingredients. I stopped using products with artificial ingredients while educating myself on the benefits of organic ones. I became inspired and was sure I wanted to commit to this journey. One of the first brands I found that supported my hair needs was SheaMoisture. I immediately stocked up on several of their products to help nourish and hydrate my dry damaged hair, so that I can feel more comfortable styling it naturally and creating fashionable hairstyles. Today, almost five years later SheaMoisture still remains one of my favorite brands.

A photo posted by SunKissAlba (@sunkissalba) on Sep 5, 2015 at 11:35am PDT

I also learned that cutting off the damaged straight pieces is part of this process, and imperative to see growth. Although I had long hair down my mid back, I accepted the fact that having long hair is worthless if it's damaged and dead. I went into my bathroom with scissors and I cut off about four inches of damaged straight pieces of hair and the next day booked an appointment with a curly hair stylist who specializes in the "dry cutting" method. She trimmed more hair off and styled my hair, while also showing me a better way to cleanse and style without using heat. My family did not understand what I'd gain from this, but I didn't expect them to: In my Dominican culture, having straight hair is valued as beautiful, the ideal. It wasn't their priority to have healthy curly hair; their priority was to have sleek straight hair. About six to eight months later, my family began to acknowledge the changes in my hair and shared their respect for my commitment, because I kept my word and never budged into the pressure and words of discouragement. It took me one whole year to fully get rid of all the damage after gradually trimming off the straight pieces left. A year later I was left with shoulder-length healthy curls, bouncy and cooperative without any sign of heat damage.

My family did not understand what I'd gain from this, but I didn't expect them to: In my Dominican culture, having straight hair is valued as beautiful, the ideal.

Today my family loves my natural curls and they often advise others to do the same with their damaged hair. My own hair journey has led them to change their views and their definition of beauty. My YouTube viewers have also witnessed my changes and progress, through the hundreds of hair videos I've published on my channel as I experienced how to recover my hair. Seeing me gain healthy curls and wear my natural curls with confidence has made them feel that they can do it, too. I'm so blessed to have such a diverse audience from all parts of the world who can come together on my channel, share stories and inspire one another through accepting their own curls with love. I didn't know what I'd gain from this when I started, but I can proudly say I gained more than I ever dreamed of. I'm so much more confident and have learned to embrace my natural self!

I'm so blessed to have such a diverse audience from all parts of the world who can come together on my channel.

This journey is not just about hair. It's about finding comfort in who you are and celebrating that in everything you do. I'm proud to say that beauty truly does come from within and same way we should care about the ingredients in our hair, we should care about the ingredients we consume from the inside out.

A photo posted by SunKissAlba (@sunkissalba) on Oct 3, 2015 at 7:14am PDT

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Clintonites' Feigned Outrage About Violence Threats

Thu, 2016-08-18 15:00
After Trump's asinine quip about a 2nd amendment "solution" to stopping Clinton's presidential run, her campaign manager, Robby Mook, had this to say:

"What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."

A presidential candidate should not suggest violence in any way?!? Really?

This coming from a high-level supporter of a candidate who...

...has supported every war during her political career?

...supported the use of civilian-butchering cluster bombs by Israel in Gaza?

...supported the brutal invasions by the Saudi dictatorship of Bahrain and Yemen?

...enthusiastically pushed for the bombing of Libya that turned it into a failed state?

...threatened use of nuclear weapons vs. Iran?

...supported the military coups against the elected governments in Honduras and Egypt, turning both into violence-ridden basket cases?

...adores as her mentor the arch war criminal Henry Kissinger, orchestrator of the tortures and killings of 10s of thousands?

So tell me, please, Clinton supporters, how is this not "suggest[ing] violence in any way."

Is it because threats of violence don't count when they're promoted against people who aren't Americans? Go ahead, probe the deeply caustic, Trump-like racism behind that assumption.

Last Friday, four days before Trump issued his violent threat and a few weeks after the constitution-waiving stunt at the Democratic convention, the ACLU and a federal court finally forced the release of the Obama administration's patently unconstitutional guidelines [2] for killing people with drones (nearly 90% of whom were not the intended targets).

And yesterday, while the Republican sociopath was issuing his threat, the Obama State Department approved the sale of more than $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, no doubt to continue its bloody invasion of Yemen, where the UN recently estimated that two-thirds of the civilian casualties are caused by Saudi air strikes.

Where was the Democratic or Republican outrage against those very real, violent threats?

When Clinton wins the November election, will we stoop ever farther into an Orwellian world as our first "feminist" president continues to shovel billions in arms to arguably the most anti-feminist dictatorship on the planet? Where violence against people doesn't count as violence due to their nationality and/or the color of their skin?

If you're outraged about Trump's barbarous suggestion of 2nd Amendment "solutions" to elections, please don't stop there. Get your blood boiling and then also, and just as forcefully, challenge Clinton's own barbarous "solutions."

As journalist John Pilger recently noted,

A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington's boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal - Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama...

One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers - truth-tellers - than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

In 2009, Obama promised to help "rid the world of nuclear weapons" and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama.

So please, no more sermonizing about stopping violence while taking a pass on condemning our government, then and now, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

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Hot Dog! Chicago Sure Knows Franks

Wed, 2016-08-17 14:36
Jim Mudd knows his Chicago dogs: Vienna all-beef frank, sesame seed bun, sliced tomatoes, pickle strips and even the secret ingredient: celery salt. I know this because I once had a Chicago dog party with these same ingredients, ordered direct from Vienna Beef Products and delivered to my home in dry ice. I fired up the Weber gas grill and cooked them to perfection, spiked with fork tines to let the dogs breathe and the juices sizzle, slightly blackened to perfection.

Let's put it this way: it was a huge hit, even vegans slammed them down -- albeit without the frank.

One of the guests was headed to Club Fed for a federal crime -- a Ponzi scheme in which he netted a paltry $2 million. Little did we know at that event as he chugged down dog after dog that this, he felt, was his last meal before his departure. I had purchased about 72 hot dogs and 24 Polish sausages (a misnomer, really, fatter than the hot dogs, but not a Polish kielbasa as many know it) -- and thought I would have enough for the 22 guests. Our felonious friend, however, devoured the hot dogs with such gusto that other guests started complaining they weren't "getting enough Polish."

He ended up, I think, eating about eight of the dogs and four of the Polish. Considering that he wouldn't be eating anymore for three to five years was some solace, I liked to think I gave him something to look back on as he served his time.

Chicago dogs can do that to people. As a kid in the suburbs of Chicago, I was a veteran of Stash's Place, a pioneer of the genre. These were different than the flat-dogs you would get at the Woolworth's counter on a buttered bun. Instead, the buns were soft without being too bready, the sport peppers sharp and biting and a little too risqué for a 10-year-old, and the Polish sausage serving as a template for all hot dogs to come.

Since that time I order Chicago dogs wherever I see that signature sign.

New York Didn't Get It

In New York they just didn't get it. I don't think they ever knew how to do a Chicago dog, and I scoured the five boroughs and suburbs. I think their allegiance to the "dirty water" dog -- served in a Sabrett steam wagon, slathered with sauerkraut and mustard -- was just too great.

In Los Angeles, friends told me Pinks was the place to go for most dog-lovers ("Number one in California"), but frankly, they didn't really wow me. Yes, I liked the room on Sunset, with the old train motif, but no, it wasn't a Chicago dog. They could do Philly Cheesesteaks like they make in Philadelphia at Great Western on Venice Boulevard, but the Chicago dog was not an option.

My son, Sam, took me to Zach's Shack on Hawthorne in Portland. Their Chicago dog is excellent. Nick's Coney Island makes "good dogs," Sam tells me, but while they say they do Chicago dogs on their site, "the ingredients are wrong. Zach's is legit."

I think Tsunami Dog in Seaside serves the best frank in town, but while you can get the "Kite-Flyer," "Highway 101" and "The Bonfire," the Chi-town connection is lacking. So that brings me to some good news for the local hot-dog purist.

Dedicated to Chicago Dog

Jim Mudd has dedicated himself to the Chicago dog. That's all he sells at Mudd Dog Stand in Manzanita. Set back in a courtyard on Laneda near the beach, Mudd celebrates the Chicago dog with devotion, manning the cart as his wife Lynn pitches in.

It would be enough for Mudd to stand proud as the Sears Tower of hot dogs carts, but he's got an even loftier side. Mudd is a board member and co-founder of the Mudd Nick Foundation, a charitable organization for kids.

Arts and humanities, science, technology, engineering and math, higher education and careers, camps, literacy, sports, community, children with special needs and talented and gifted -- all are supported by the foundation, whose programs are described as "learning experiences that stimulate children to aspire to their greatest potential and pursue their dreams."

The foundation supports camp and after-school programs that don't receive tax dollars.

"We founded it 25 years ago," Mudd said, over hot dogs.

Mudd and Doug Nicholson, friends since their days at Oregon State University, decided to start a coed golf tournament in 1990, which they christened the Mudd Nick Invitational.

In 2006, the Mudd Nick Foundation was formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a board of nine directors was selected to develop a mission.

Over the last nine years, more than $1 million has been raised to support 30 to 50 programs every year.

A former Bridgestone executive, Mudd and his family "moved all over the coast."

"When we retired, we came out here," he said. "This was my parents' home. Since this is the last chapter of my life, I thought what can I do to help? I thought we could open a hot-dog stand, a Chicago-deal like I've eaten all my life, and we'd draw people in and we'd talk about the Mudd Nick Foundation."

It worked. The hot dogs draw people in, and Mudd spreads the word. With international visitors to the coast, Mudd has attracted donations from people around the world. "It's been a great ride," he said.

The Mudd Nick Foundation celebrates its 27th annual fundraiser in September. The pre-golf tournament dinner takes place Sept. 16, followed by the foundation's annual charity golf tournament at Manzanita Golf Course. The annual dinner will be held the next day. They probably won't be serving hot dogs.

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What the #$%@ Happened to Lake Fannin

Tue, 2016-08-16 10:42

There is a tranquil place that replenishes my soul and rejuvenates my spirit. It physically resides behind my home, just 30-minutes from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. I've intentionally hidden here a zillion times within its natural beauty. This is where my monthly "Silent Day" typically takes place. I am comforted here.

One day all is copacetic and the next day my landscape of tranquility is all but gone and shrouded in mystery.

The water and trees behind my house are a refuge for duck, fish, a giant turtle, an owl, rabbit, squirrel, vole, raccoon, muskrat, and an occasional deer, Although this body of water has no official name, I affectionately call it Lake Fannin. Okay, I know it's a pond, but it's still a big deal to me. Here I've contemplated all of my published, written work. I've spoken to countless clients on my cell phone, as I walked along the bank. I've meditated a zillion times after staring into these waters. The Zone finds me here.

Within 24 hours Lake Fannin all but disappeared

There was no warning! The sun was shining, with not a cloud in the sky. Swiftly the water began receding like someone pulled the plug on your peaceful, bathtub soak. After two days, my precious body of tranquility looks like a tiny stream trickling in a desert. The smell of dead fish permeates the air. Mosquitos now have stagnant pools of water to lay their eggs. Zika? With 46 cases in Illinois, it makes you ponder your family's safety. Where did the water go? To date, no one knows. Of course, the water had to go somewhere.

When I placed a frantic call to the local park district that oversees the water, the response was out of a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery. I was told, "We don't know what happened?" My neighbor heard the ominous, public game of "We need to see who's going to pay for this?" Will the Army Corp of Engineers, park district, EPA, city, county or state foot the bill and rectify my magical, retreat of solitude? Answer: "We'll get back to you."

What happens when life deals a blow to your inner peace? One day the water behind my home quenches my thirst for quietude and the next day I'm filled with angst.

Negative things happen to people. We are dealt cards beyond our control. Will the absence of Lake Fannin (as I knew it) alter my life? No. All I need to do is shut my eyes and it reappears. Yes...we control our thoughts and consequently our actions.

Am I mad? No. Disappointed? Absolutely. When will my Lake be restored? It could take months to identify, pay for and fix the challenge. Am I a victim of the circumstance, condition and situation? No. I'm a man that just adjusts and adapts. However, I do want to know one thing...

"What the %$&# happened to Lake Fannin?"

Okay...I now feel so much better. Thanks for listening to my short rant. The good news is I still have my Zen garden and a library of peaceful, tranquil memories that will comfort me and provide the solace I need and deserve.

Find your tranquil place either mentally and or physically. Join me in retreating into the "purposeful calm" of one of our greatest resources for being our most authentic, genuine best self...the Zone.

Make no mistake. Lake Fannin will return! I just hope it's sooner than later.

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Can We Have More Than Silly Sniping From Our U.S. Senate Contenders?

Tue, 2016-08-16 09:54
Opinion by Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek

I had such high hopes for the U.S. Senate race in Illinois with Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, taking on incumbent Mark Kirk, R-Wilmette. Here we have two respected, disabled military veterans, both of whom are more moderate than extreme.

We could have a meaningful discussion about the struggles of Illinoisans. We could have a detailed discussion of the U.S. military's role in the world, of foreign affairs and our policies in Afghanistan and Iran and Syria. We could have a real-world conversation about health care or our state's heroin epidemic; about violence in Chicago's gang-plagued neighborhoods and about the lack of opportunity as our state's debts mount. We could have a thoughtful discussion about how to get Washington working for all Americans again. The campaign even could be an antidote to what seems the most bizarre presidential campaign ever.

Enlightening civic events? None so far. Civil discourse? Not here. Duckworth campaign strategists spent the first several months trying everything they could think of to tie Kirk to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, though back in June, Kirk disavowed Trump after he suggested he could not get a fair trial from a judge of Mexican heritage. Granted, Kirk did not help himself in the least by first telling reporters he would instead write in David Petraeus, a retired four-star general who had to resign as CIA director after it was revealed he had shared classified information with his mistress-biographer. Kirk followed that by saying he could not support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton because she supported President Obama's Iran deal and would instead write in Colin Powell. Alas, Powell also supports Obama's Iran deal.

Meanwhile, the Kirk camp spent months trying to tie Duckworth to convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich because she worked in his administration running the veterans' affairs department. Earlier this summer, a whistleblower lawsuit against her by two former veterans' department staffers who said they were victims of workplace retaliation was settled for $26,000, with no finding of wrongdoing. The Kirk camp suggested the settlement might collapse at one point, but that didn't happen.

Already in the muck, two true heroes -- the Army helicopter pilot who nearly died and sacrificed her legs in a U.S. military operation overseas and the former Naval Reserves officer who fought his way back from massive strokes -- can't seem to find a way to pull themselves out of it to get to dignified discourse.

When what follows landed in my inbox, what remained of my hope faded away:

I'd include more of that email, but I won't repeat claims that might be false. Suffice it to say there were more memes and the suggestion that I go check out a new Tumblr account the Democratic Party of Illinois started, called "$#*% my Senator Says."

This is our race for the esteemed United States Senate? Believe me, I know as well as anyone how incredibly difficult it is to get people's attention in Illinois. They're so sick of corruption and budget fights that far too many of them just tune out. And I do appreciate trying new things to wake people up. Heck, I even get a chuckle out of a lot of the memes we use at Reboot Illinois to lighten things up.

But this meme, the one that came after it and a social media account called "$#*% my Senator Says?" Well, maybe it's just me? Maybe this is a smart way to reach young voters?

It's possible. After all, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, working to help Kirk, is at it, too:

It's not like attaching candidates to others is a new trick. And certainly, Duckworth's management of her department and Kirk's misstatements should be weighed by voters. But so should so many other things. I thought I should see if I was alone in my distaste for the tenor and the use of these gimmicks in what is the top U.S. Senate race in the nation.

John Frendreis, a political scientist at Loyola University, noted in an email exchange that Kirk is in a difficult position.

"He cannot possibly win if he embraces Trump, who will lose Illinois by a large margin, but he cannot afford to push away any Republican voters.  So his Clinton-Iran position is not credible, but it gives him something to say.

"... As far as her comments about Kirk," he continued, "this race is off to a dismal start of negative campaigning, and there is little reason to think it is going to change. She would be better off spending her time using Kirk's record as part of the Republican Senate caucus to show that he has worked against many things that the people of Illinois would like to see done. His involvement in blocking Obama's agenda will play reasonably well in a state where Obama is still popular."

And David Yepsen, the former Des Moines Register political writer who runs the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in Carbondale, said in an email, "The dialogue in the Senate race - and many other races - leaves a lot to be desired these days. We've come a long way since Paul Simon and Everett Dirksen set the tone for political discourse."

Isn't that the truth?

"One reason this happens is people have such little respect for politicians these days that the best way to win is not to talk about your positives or your ideas," Yepsen continued, "but do things to drive up your opponent's negatives.

"... Another reason is social media and coarseness that come with it.  Attention spans are shorter.  F-Bombs are used by presidential candidates. We debate and argue in 140 characters and call each other names in ALL CAPS!

"And in Illinois it comes against a state facing a perfect storm of state budget deficits, Chicago budgets deficits and street violence," he said. "It's little wonder people tune it out.  Not only is this stuff coarse and often silly, but it's also irrelevant to the daily lives of hard-working people."

They nailed it. We have a long way to go to Nov. 8, so let's keep hope alive. Kirk just left on a bus tour of Illinois, so maybe some of those hard-working people will get him talking about how he can help bring better jobs back to Illinois. And Duckworth recently announced she'll join Kirk in participating in three debates and two joint editorial board endorsement sessions.

I'm going to count on the campaigns and my colleagues in journalism to set aside the coarse memes and tweets and tumblr silliness and put us back on track toward a Senate race discourse worthy of a state that faces a lot of challenges.

We're in dire need of a U.S. senator who can rise above gimmicks and offer detailed discussion about our problems and solutions. We need a campaign worthy of the two heroic, disabled military veterans running.

Next article: Landmark sex crime law deals with rape test backlog

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Stunning Photos Show Chicago's Lollapalooza Festival Through The Years

Fri, 2016-08-12 16:51

Chicago’s iconic Lollapalooza festival was created in 1991 ― and after 25 years the eclectic four-day concert has only gotten better. 

Created by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza is set in the heart of Chicago’s Grant Park. Over the years, the festival has brought in some of the biggest names in music, including Radiohead, A Tribe Called Quest, Smashing Pumpkins, Florence and the Machine and many, many more. The festival is a nonstop dance party where everyone and anyone can find their favorite genre. 

Between 1991–1997 the festival ran annually and toured around the U.S. and Canada. Due to low ticket sales, the festival was canceled. In 2005, Lolla was revived and now boasts over 160,000 attendees each year. The festival also has annual international destinations including Berlin, Santiago, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

To celebrate Lolla’s 25th anniversary, we’ve rounded up 38 photos of artists performing at the festival over the years. Scroll below to see how the music festival has transformed from 1991 to 2016. 

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On the 81st Anniversary of Social Security, Let's Commit to Protecting and Expanding Social Security Benefits

Fri, 2016-08-12 13:14
This August 14, Americans celebrate the 81st anniversary of Social Security. As the former executive director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens and the current co-chair of the Seniors Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, I know how important Social Security is for older Americans. Their earned benefits allow older Americans to live with dignity and independence and keep 15 million retirees out of poverty.

Social Security is more than a guaranteed source of retirement security - although that is how it began in 1935.

Today, Social Security provides benefits to 9 million disabled workers and, as a recent study (Overlooked but Not Forgotten: Social Security Lifts Millions More Children out of Poverty) points out, it is an important source of income for 6.4 million children.

Social Security is better today because Congress acted over the years to build on its initial foundation. It was improved in 1939 to include children, spouses and survivors. It was expanded in 1956 to include disabled workers. And, in 1972, an annual, automatic cost-of-living adjustment was added.

Today, it is once again time for improvements. The average retiree benefit is just $1,303 a month -- $15,636 a year. Benefits for older women - who are paid less and spend more time out of the workforce caring for family members - are even lower. Disabled workers receive just $1166 a month on average. That is why I introduced H.Res. 393 calling for policies to protect and expand Social Security's modest benefits.

The expansion campaign is growing in strength. President Obama this summer echoed the call in Elkhart, Indiana, saying: "It is time we finally made Social Security more generous and increase its benefits so that today's retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they have earned. And we can start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more."

It certainly is time for the more "generous" benefit that President Obama mentioned. Retirees who rely on Social Security for the majority - and sometimes all - of their income are finding it harder and harder to meet basic expenses. Prescription drug costs are rising. Medicare doesn't cover critical benefits like vision, dental and hearing services. And Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment desperately needs reform so that it accurately reflects the inflationary pressures seniors are feeling.

Support for expansion has not happened overnight - it involves thoughtful policy work and lots of work by national advocates and persistent grassroots organizing in cities and towns across the country.

In Chicago, Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC) and ONE North Side are working to preserve and strengthen Social Security, both defending against those who want to cut benefits, raise the eligibility age or privatize and promoting a positive agenda for expanded benefits.

Ann Marie Cunningham, a JASC member struggling to make ends meet on her monthly Social Security check, is helping to lead the charge. She is working with a national network of grassroots leaders organized through the Center for Community Change Action to shift the debate away from cuts and towards expansion. They are working with volunteers across the country to help grassroots leaders connect their lived experiences to policy proposals for Social Security expansion. I have seen this in social media, in opinion media, and in the persistent education and outreach activities that are changing the vision of what is possible. Their efforts are bearing fruit: the Democratic Platform calls for Social Security protection and expansion and for a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress to act on that policy.

Grassroots organizations like Jane Addams Senior Caucus and ONE Northside are working hard to pass benefit improvements and pay for them. The Seniors and Veterans Emergency SAVE) Benefits Act, introduced by Representative Tammy Duckworth and Senator Elizabeth Warren, would provide a one-time Social Security benefit payment of $580 to seniors, veterans and the disabled to offset a lower than appropriate COLA. It would be funded by closing the loophole that allows corporations to write off executive bonuses as a business expense. Passage of this bill would reduce financial burdens on Social Security recipients, while giving us time to pass more comprehensive, permanent solutions.

If our country could afford Social Security back in 1935 during the Great Depression, we certainly can afford to improve it now. Today, at the richest time in our history, we must not allow the naysayers to block the progress that millions of Americans need us to make.

I know the leaders in the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, ONE Northside and other grassroots organizations will continue to organize with others here in Illinois and at the national level to make sure that Social Security Expansion is in the forefront of Congressional deliberations. I am proud to join them in that fight.

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Climate Change Is Turning The Water Around Us Into A Threat

Wed, 2016-08-10 16:28

We grasp the connection now between our changing climate and the quantity of water around us. Scientists say that climate change means both more frequent and severe droughts and a heightened risk of flooding.

What about the quality of our water? Crises as disparate as Florida’s “guacamole-thick” algal blooms and the record number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease are linked to the effects of climate change on water safety ― or so a paper published last month in the journal Nature argues.

And problems like these appear to be getting worse.

But the extent to which climate change is working with other factors to muddy the water isn’t clear, said Anna Michalak, a faculty member in global ecology at the Carnegie Institute of Science and author of the paper.

“We tend to think of water quality issues as local phenomena controlled by what people are doing at a relatively local-to-regional scale,” Michalak told The Huffington Post.

The reality, she said, is that water quality depends on the interaction between human behaviors and “things that have to do with weather and meteorology — and they themselves are changing as a result of the climate.”

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For instance, when changing climate and weather patterns combine with the excessive use of fertilizer on farmland — which contributes to nitrogen runoff into waterways — the results can be extreme. In the Gulf of Mexico, the toxic algal blooms have created a Connecticut-sized “dead zone” wreaking havoc on both the ecosystem and the local economy.

And algal blooms are just one example of this costly relationship. Here are some others:

Strained water infrastructure

Climate change overall means a greater demand for water amid a decreased supply, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This will strain our nation’s already compromised water infrastructure. The EPA estimates that just the current infrastructure needs would take more than $600 billion to fix.

Many water systems across the country are nearing the end of their useful lives, the American Water Works Association reports. When extreme flooding hits such a system, water main breaks are more common, which can lead to contaminants entering the water supply. Advisories to boil before you drink will help in only some of those situations.

Greater risk of contamination

Increased flooding associated with climate change can exacerbate the runoff of all sorts of pollutants from farms and residential lawns ― including environmentally harmful nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, trash and animal waste ― the EPA points out. Extreme flooding can also overwhelm sewage systems, releasing more untreated sewage into waterways. And that means greater contamination risk and higher treatment costs for water systems.

Waterborne disease outbreaks

Climate change leads to warmer water temperatures, which creates better growing conditions for the viruses, bacteria and protozoa that cause waterborne diseases like Legionnaires’. As the nonprofit Physicians for Social Responsibility points out, the effects of these illnesses range from diarrhea to death.

Legionnaires’ disease is already on the rise, according to recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases of this form of pneumonia have quadrupled over the last 15 years.

Rising salinity of freshwater

Scientists say climate change is contributing to rising sea levels, which drive more saltwater into the freshwater supply. This, too, increases costs as water systems need to desalinate the water or find another freshwater source, according to the EPA.

What do we do? Michalak calls for more research to assess which combinations of weather, climate, land use and management practices put water quality most at risk. Once the interaction of these factors is better understood, we can figure out how to manage water supplies in a more sustainable, climate change-resistant way.

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t jump to overly simple explanations of extreme situations, like the algal blooms growing in Florida, Colorado and elsewhere.

“It’s not just about climate or land use or agriculture,” Michalak said, “but this intersection between what humans are doing locally and what we’re doing globally is what’s coming back to bite us.”


Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

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As Chipotle Tries Not To Make People Sick, It's Silent On One Important Issue

Tue, 2016-08-09 06:25

Six months have passed since Chipotle Mexican Grill halted outbreaks of illnesses linked to its food, but massive damage to the company’s sales and its brand continues.

The burrito chain’s sales for the first half of the year fell 20 percent from the year earlier, according to the Denver-based company’s latest earnings report. Same-store sales dropped 26.5 percent.

Chipotle blamed much of its lackluster second-quarter earnings on food costs, which it said have increased with new food-safety procedures. The company also said that the cost of food waste has gone up, per its quarterly statement filed last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Does this mean Chipotle is wasting more food as it works to win back customers? And might other fast-food companies looking to avoid a food-safety crisis like Chipotle’s adopt these kinds of wasteful practices?

It’s hard to say. Chipotle’s earnings report provides no details on the increased food-waste costs. Spokesman Chris Arnold did not respond to The Huffington Post’s multiple requests for clarification.

Chipotle was laid low by a series of illness outbreaks last year ― including E. coli, salmonella and norovirus ― that turned away customers, ruined sales and carved billions from its valuation.

Chipotle board member Kimbal Musk described the food-safety crisis as a “speed bump” that he largely attributed to the chain’s heavy reliance on fresh foods, something unusual for a fast-food chain its size.

“We had to come across this at some point, where you’re dealing with fresh food at this scale, which is needed and which we need more of, we simply have to learn,” Musk said. “We’ve learned from it, solved that problem and moved on.”

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Industry experts said increased food waste is not an inevitable result of heightened efforts to improve food safety.

“I don’t see the cause and effect on this,” Bob Goldin, an executive vice president at Technomic, a food-service industry research firm, told HuffPost. “Restaurants are really good about food-waste control. They really just don’t throw much away in general. Restaurants know how to handle this.”

Bill Marler, a nationally recognized food-safety advocate who is an attorney, said restaurant food waste typically has little to do with whether a food is actually unsafe to eat.

“A lot of time when food is thrown out, it’s really not anything to do with food safety per se,” said Marler, who represents Chipotle customers in several outbreak-related lawsuits against the chain. “It has more to do with how the product looks. Everyone in a restaurant or store wants things that look brand new and fresh.”

Among primary drivers of restaurant food waste identified in a 1997 U.S. Department of Agriculture report was over-preparation of menu items, expanded menu choices, and unanticipated fluctuations in food sales due to factors like weather. Plate waste, from customers who don’t finish their meal, also contributes. 

Some degree of food waste — plate waste, for example — is unavoidable, of course. If food spoils due to improper preparation or storage, it cannot be served to customers. And there will always be some loss from prepping meats and vegetables for cooking.

To address unavoidable waste, most restaurants follow strategies outlined by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection’s food recovery hierarchy — prevention or reduction of waste, donating surplus prepared foods to food banks, and sending scraps to farms for livestock feed.

.@AngelaWeikel @Reuters Best way to do it is by using @EPA food waste hierarchy -good food should go to people 1st!

— FoodToDonate (@FoodToDonate) July 1, 2015

Prevention is the heart of strategies most restaurants are already using.

Karl Deily is the global president of the food care division of Sealed Air, which works with companies to create more efficient food packaging while reducing waste and keeping food safe. Deily’s group worked with Panera Bread to adjust how the chain’s soups were prepared to reduce waste and maintain quality. 

This meant that Panera soups would be prepared at a central location and packaged in a material that allowed easy reheating in restaurants in pre-portioned quantities. Each location no longer prepares a large vat of soup that may exceed demand for a given day.

Such a strategy also helps address consumer fears that the food they are being served may not be fresh.

“These are the types of interventions where you can minimize food waste and not set a perception that you’re carrying food over from one day to another to use it, even if it might be close to being spoiled,” Deily said.

The second step — donating surplus food to charity — is popular with many restaurants, including some of the industry’s biggest players. The Food Donation Connection, a partner of the National Restaurant Association, connects restaurants to charities throughout North America and the U.K.

The organization coordinated donations from more than 17,000 restaurants last year, connecting them to some 9,000 charities, according to Jim Larson, Food Donaltion Connection program coordinator. All told, some 50 million pounds of prepared surplus food was distributed through the group.

The program serves a purpose beyond feeding hungry people. Larson said many restaurants have adjusted their production after participating.

Donating food is “a visual reminder when, instead of going to the trash, it’s going into the freezer,” Larson said. “And they’re realizing maybe they don’t have to make so much in the first place.”

Visual reminders are also a key factor in reducing waste for Andrew Shakman, co-founding CEO of LeanPath, a Portland, Oregon-based company that helps restaurants measure their food waste and use that data to change habits.

LeanPath, founded in 2004, has seen a surge of interest in its food waste-reduction technology in recent years, Shakman said. The Chipotle crisis has not dimmed that enthusiasm, he said. 

Still, Shakman argued that the restaurant industry needs a cultural shift on food waste. He said waste happens in restaurants where running out of a popular dish is perceived as cheaper than disappointing a customer.

Many restaurants, Shakman said, don’t fully consider the true cost of waste. That’s what he’s trying to change. 

“They are viewing [food waste] as free when, in fact, it’s very expensive,” Shakman said. “Not just financially, but environmentally and socially. But people are waking up.”


Alexander Kaufman contributed reporting.

Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

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Bernie Mac's Widow Remembers The First Thing He Ever Said To Her

Mon, 2016-08-08 07:38

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In 1974, Rhonda McCullough first crossed paths with the man who would become her husband, the late comedian Bernie Mac. The two were still in high school, and though Rhonda had seen Bernie in the hallways before, she tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” that she wasn’t drawn to him until their first face-to-face meeting.

“I remember all the young girls, they were just crazy about him. I often looked, like, ‘Why do they like him so much? What is it about him?’” Rhonda says.

Once the two met and Bernie began talking, however, Rhonda’s feelings shifted.

“I started seeing him differently,” she says. “I remember the first thing he said to me. He was like, ‘You ain’t never seen nobody black and pretty as me.’ And he was rubbing his face! I started laughing. I was like, ‘You right, I’ve never seen anybody like you.’”

Three years later, Rhonda and Bernie got married. Six months later, they had their first child.

As young parents, life was difficult.

“We were on public aid, food stamps to try to make ends meet,” Rhonda says. “[Bernie] used to always tell me, ‘Don’t worry. I’m going to be rich.’”

While Bernie worked the Chicago comedy circuit, Rhonda worked as a nurse to support the family. Then, in 1992, Bernie got his big break with HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.” Suddenly, he was in the national spotlight, and his comedy career really took off.

Through it all, Rhonda remained by his side, up until his tragic death in 2008. As she said later in her “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” interview, losing the love of her life left her reeling and openly questioning her own purpose. Today, Rhonda channels her energy into The Bernie Mac Foundation, an organization her late husband started in 2007 to promote awareness of sarcoidosis, a disease from which he suffered.

“The foundation is to me everything that Bernard was and that he wanted,” she says. “What better way to have his legacy live on?”

Another Bernie Mac memory:

Bernie Mac talking about his comedy philosophy will make you miss him even more

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The Media Is Saying And Doing A Bunch Of Sexist Stuff During The Olympics

Mon, 2016-08-08 06:00

Some of the media covering the 2016 Rio Games is proving that sexism is, lamentably, still a thing.

The Olympics only began on Friday, but there’s already been a series of incidents involving NBC and the Chicago Tribune.

NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks was the first to spark outrage when he appeared to credit Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s husband, Shane Tusup, for her world record-breaking win in the 400-meter individual medley on Saturday. As the cameras panned over to Tusup, who was also Hosszu’s coach, the commentator said, “And there’s the man responsible.” 

Twitter users were furious:

I get that Tusip is Hosszu's coach, but you can make the connection without using the word RESPONSIBLE. You can't throw that word around.

— Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) August 7, 2016

.@DanHicksNBC thinks women aren't responsible for their own gold medals, credits husbands. #everydaysexism

— Rachel Clement (@RachelEClement) August 7, 2016

Anyone else uncomfortable with the amount of time Dan Hicks spent congratulating Hosszu's husband for HER amazing accomplishment?

— Hayley Collins (@hayley_mo77) August 7, 2016

"There's the man responsible for turning his wife into an entirely new swimmer..." REALLY, NBC?

— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) August 7, 2016

After a woman just won a gold medal, announcer literally said, "And there's the man responsible," as camera showed her husband/coach.

— Elizabeth Picciuto (@epicciuto) August 7, 2016

OK, so Hosszú (swimmer) shatters a world record by 2 seconds, and NBC's broadcaster gives the credit to her husband and coach. WTF? #Sexism

— Tim Gibson (@timgibson) August 7, 2016

Hicks attempted to clarify his comment on Sunday, telling The Associated Press there were often times in live television “when you look back and wished you had said things differently.”

“It is impossible to tell Katinka’s story accurately without giving appropriate credit to Shane, and that’s what I was trying to do,” Hicks added.

The Chicago Tribune also came under fire for an article and tweet about Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s bronze medal-winning performance in the women’s trap shooting event. The tweet focused more on the career of her NFL player husband Mitch Unrein than her own achievement.

Wife of a Bears' lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics

— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 7, 2016

As Jezebel pointed out, the Tribune’s article wasn’t much better. The headline ― “Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, wins bronze in Rio” ― only referred to her achievement, but didn’t say in which sport. Nor did the story mention the fact that it was the second medal she’d won at a Games and her third time competing at the Olympics.

The newspaper article later went off on a tangent about her husband, saying the defensive end was in his second season with the Chicago Bears but “was unable to get away from training camp to join her in Rio.”

Again, Twitter users expressed their fury:

Her name is Corey Cogdell. Shove your no-so-subtle sexism where the sun don't shine @chicagotribune @CoreyCogdell

— Peter-Martin (PM) (@petermartindk) August 8, 2016

Husband of Olympic medal winner Corey Cogdell plays football for the Chicago Bears #FixedIt #Sexism

— It's All Bad (@SaltPotatoes) August 8, 2016

God forbid you use her name for what SHE achieved. Corey Cogdell-Unrein. No excuse for that disrespect. #sexism

— Laura Jo Crabtree (@laurajocrabtree) August 8, 2016

1. Her name is Corey Cogdell

2. Sexism in the article is gross

3. November 8 is going to be a fun day for bros

— Nerdy Wonka (@NerdyWonka) August 8, 2016

Everyday sexism at work. Congratulations Corey Cogdell.

— Ed Skipper (@EdSkipper) August 8, 2016

Corey Cogdell wins medal in Rio, press announces only using her husband's NFL info. Gee, is there sexism in Hillary's media coverage, too?

— Fifth House Sun (@FifthHouseSun) August 8, 2016

Corey Cogdell. Her name is Corey Cogdell @chicagotribune. She won an Olympic bronze medal for trap shooting. #sexism

— Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman) August 7, 2016

Some people defended the newspaper for simply trying to localize the story. Without the Bears connection, the Tribune probably wouldn’t have covered Cogdell-Unrein’s achievement at the Olympics.

It's the Chicago Tribune. Localize news to your audience. #journalism101

— Bojack Horseman (@ElChivoJefe) August 7, 2016

The headline writer at the Chicago Tribune was probably trying their best to localize a story. That didn't go well.

— Joe Buettner (@Joe_Buettner) August 7, 2016

@WillMcAvoyACN Probably could have/should have localized it with "Chicago resident," assuming she lives there.

— Allison Carter (@AllisonLCarter) August 7, 2016

NBC was again accused of sexism during its coverage of women’s gymnastics on Sunday, when an as yet unidentified commentator said Team USA members looked like they “might as well be standing in the middle of a mall” after they were caught on camera laughing and talking following their utter annihilation of the competition during the qualifying round.

No, NBC anchor, those female gymnasts do not look like "they might as well be standing in the middle of a mall." They are at the Olympics.

— Natalie DiBlasio (@ndiblasio) August 7, 2016

"They might as well be in a mall"- NBC commentator on the USA gymnasts' group talk after literal world domination #yoursexismisshowing

— Megan Lasher (@MeganLasher) August 7, 2016

.@NBCOlympics guy hears #TeamUSA gymnasts talking, says they "might as well be at the mall--Cause that's the only place girls could be? #Bye

— Maddie Sweeney (@madswee) August 7, 2016

"They could be standing in a mall" wouldn't be talking about male gymnasts like that. #TeamUSA #ArtisticGymnastics #Rio2016

— Wicked Ginny (@GinnyLurcock) August 7, 2016

UGHH. "They might as well be standing in the middle of a mall," male @NBCOlympics commentator says about chatty U.S. gymnasts. #Rio2016

— Jessica Weiss (@jessweiss1) August 7, 2016

NBC has not commented on that incident, which came just days after a study by the Cambridge University Press found that in the media’s coverage of sports, men were three times more likely to be mentioned in a sporting context than women -- who, meanwhile, were routinely described with regards to non-sporting issues, such as their age, marital status and appearance.

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Reimagining Home: MLK In Chicago, 50 Years Later

Fri, 2016-08-05 10:09

Caption/credit: Jesse Jackson and Albert Raby at Chicago Freedom Movement rally (left). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing a crowd (center). Mob and police during Chicago Freedom Movement march in Marquette Park in 1966 (right). Courtesy of Bernard Kleina

Tired? Go home!

It was among other offensive signs being held that August 1966 day in Marquette Park on Chicago's Southwest Side. Over 5,000 people -- grandmothers, young children and teenagers --gathered together by their rage against the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and close to 700 other peaceful counter-protesters walking through "their" neighborhood.

(Picture taken by civil rights activist and photographer Bernard Kleina in Marquette Park on August 5, 1966)

Yes, indeed many of the marchers were tired. In fact, as Fannie Lou Hammer famously said, they were "sick and tired of being sick and tired." They were tired of the bigotry, racism and hatred that unscrupulous realtors and others were manipulating to induce fear and violence against blacks if they dared try and purchase property anywhere near "their homes."

This was Chicago in 1966. Around the country and world, the global movement for human dignity was ever present. Julian Bond was denied a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives and there was strong backlash to African Americans in urban and rural communities, seeking access to the ballot box. The state of Mississippi, the ancestral home of over 50 percent of Chicago Bronzeville natives, witnessed the bombing and eventual assassination of activists Vernon Dahmer in the city of Hattiesburg, MS. Cleveland, OH erupted in urban disturbance and riots as a result of repressive police and political practices pushed by the openly xenophobic Mayor Richard Locher. On the West coast, the Black Panther party was being formed by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton -- a direct response to the lack of police protection in black communities.

Internationally in Lagos, Nigeria, African activists and heads of state gathered to condemn the racist regime of Rhodesia and South Africa.

Chicago in 1966 was joining the global zeitgeist mural of freedom and dignity.

And so they marched. They fearlessly marched into the heart of hatred -- dodging rocks, bottles and nasty insults from the mouths of angry Marquette Park residents.

The marchers were organizers and everyday folks from around Chicago and the larger region. They were people who understood that the lingering evils of racism and violent segregation knew no boundaries and had to be confronted if we were ever going to live in an America we all could call home.

Fifty years later the project of radically reimagining "home" is ever so urgent. It's urgent because the political rhetoric of this last year has reminded us how alive and well the message of "Go Home" in America still is. It's urgent because "home" for so many of our communities in urban centers across America continues to be a woefully segregated and bifurcated tale of two cities -- two very different and profoundly uneven realities.

Reimagining the idea of "home" as a safe, healthy and thriving space for all of our communities must be at the center of our spiritual, political and social calls to action.

It's why over forty institutions, grassroot organizations, churches, mosques and synagogues from across the Chicagoland area have worked around the clock for two years to build the first memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Chicago Freedom Movement in "Chi-Town." It's why we selected to celebrate and honor the struggle and sacrifice of those marchers in the summer of 1966 and of those who have followed in their footsteps and spirit in the years and decades that followed. We do all of this fully aware that the journey to justice continues on so many levels. In the words of Dr. King, we must have a "real action plan" to rip down the triple walls of "poverty, racism and human misery" within which disproportionately large numbers of black and brown youth are being killed by one another and the police.

While in Chicago fifty years ago Dr. King reminded the city and country that in spite of all our pain and righteous anger our path forward is together as one people, "we are all tied in a single garment of destiny. We need each other." Our prayer is that the project of memorializing Dr. King and the Chicago Freedom Movement in Marquette Park will inspire us to prioritize and pursue policies and projects that can make the notion of "home" more equitable, just and peaceful for all who reside here.

Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director
Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) - Chicago

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ - Chicago

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Communities Abused By Police Demand That DOJ Literally Hear Their Voices

Fri, 2016-08-05 03:08

WASHINGTON — When the U.S. Department of Justice investigates a local police department accused of unconstitutional abuses, one of the most important aspects of its work is to simply listen.

The residents of these cities are often frustrated with a law enforcement system that has ignored their complaints. Public forums with the DOJ investigators give them the chance, finally, to share their painful and sometime brutal stories ― and to know that the world has heard them.

“You’ve got to understand that there is no accountability. Where are people supposed to go? Who are folks supposed to tell their stories to?” said Pamela Cytrynbaum, executive director of the Chicago Innocence Center.

The Chicago Police Department along with those in Baltimore and a half-dozen other cities are currently undergoing “pattern or practice” investigations by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Under President Barack Obama, DOJ has made it a priority to look into police forces accused of widespread misconduct and unconstitutional behavior, including excessive use of force and illegal searches. That’s in sharp contrast to the Bush administration, during which such probes slowed to a halt

“Every American expects and deserves the protection of law enforcement that is effective, that is responsive, that is respectful and most importantly constitutional,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in announcing the Chicago investigation eight months ago.

For citizens harmed by law enforcement, internal police department reviews and citizen oversight boards seem to offer little to no recourse ― at least in the cities being investigated. Last year, the Invisible Institute, a civic journalism organization, released over 28,000 citizen complaints of misconduct by Chicago police, covering both verbal and physical abuse, that were filed between 2011 and 2015. Sixty-one percent of those complaints were filed by black Americans, but less than 2 percent of those were sustained.

In Baltimore, police union contracts allow “peer” officers to serve on the hearing board for citizen complaints. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland argues that practice impedes accountability since officers have an interest in protecting their colleagues from discipline.

Three summers ago, Tawanda Jones received a call that turned her world on its head: Her 44-year-old brother, Tyrone West, was dead after an altercation with Baltimore police. Though the official autopsy report states that West died because of a pre-existing cardiac condition, Jones believes that her brother died as a result of police abuse, and a second autopsy from an independent medical examiner found his cause of death to be positional asphyxia. 

Seeking justice, Jones turned to community activism and led demonstrations in her brother’s name. But, as is often the case with police-involved deaths, no charges were brought against the officers involved. 

“If it wasn’t for me and my family pushing so hard, no one would even know about Tyrone West,” Jones told The Huffington Post.

Unlike more recent incidents of police brutality, West’s death was not captured on video. Jones believes the lack of footage has made justice much more difficult to attain.

But with the Justice Department in town, the opportunity to tell her brother’s story to the federal lawyers has been cathartic.

“We’ve been crying our tears, and our cries have fallen on deaf ears for decades,” Jones said, referring to the long history of police violence against the black community in Baltimore. “So when you see people of any kind, whether it be the DOJ or the U.N., and we hear that they’re going to be here at this specific spot on this specific day, we feel obligated to talk to them.”

The probe of the Baltimore Police Department, a relatively large force of over 3,000 officers, has lasted more than a year ― twice as long as the Ferguson, Missouri, investigation, which focused on a tiny police department with less than 100 employees. Jones has attended many of the DOJ’s public forums in Baltimore and said she has found their team to be very responsive, even accepting her invitations to attend community meetings.

“It meant a lot for me to see the guy from the DOJ when he came and sat down with me, took down my information and attended several forums. And then when we were hosting our community meeting, the police commissioner didn’t show up but the Department of Justice guy did,” she said.

That sentiment is echoed by Ken Jiretsu, a board member of Baltimore’s Transgender Alliance. The group invited DOJ to their community meetings in an effort to make sure investigators heard the voices of trans people. At one such gathering, Jiretsu, a transgender man, shared his own difficult experience dealing with Baltimore police.

“I called to ask for officers to escort [my son] to the hospital. When they arrived, one of the officers that was with them had misgendered me, so I had to correct her. She had said, ‘Miss,’ and I told her, ‘It’s sir,’ and she was like, ‘Oh, OK, how was I supposed to know?’ Then she said, ‘So, man, sir, whatever you want to be called,’” Jiretsu said.

“Her colleagues that were with her were also laughing,” said Jiretsu, “and it ended up becoming a triggering situation for me.” The fact that his children were witnesses to the encounter in his own home made it even more upsetting.

After hearing his story, Jiretsu said, the DOJ took his information and promised to follow up.

“I think a lot of them are sincere,” he said. “They were sincere in listening to what we had to say. The two that I personally spoke to seemed very interested in what we had to say.”

I’m sorry if you feel like if you’ve heard one account of a police officer holding a gun to a 3-year-old’s head, then you’ve heard them all. We must have an accounting of what’s going on.
Pamela Cytrynbaum of the Chicago Innocence Center

The DOJ’s efforts to engage with local communities during these investigations aren’t really geared, however, toward capturing and resolving individual complaints against officers. The Civil Rights Division’s efforts concentrate more on broad reforms and remedies ― which means the federal team isn’t there to hear everyone’s tale. For some residents, that has been the most frustrating aspect of these investigations. 

Turnout for the public forums in Baltimore has been rather high. One event had to be moved from a location that could hold only 80 people to one that could accommodate over 300. 

The DOJ teams try to hold forums “throughout the investigation and target different parts of the community so we can hear not only from the greatest volume, but a wide variety of folks so we can get a better sense of the breadth,” a Justice Department spokesperson told The Huffington Post. Three to four events are typically held near the start, which gives the team an opportunity to explain to the community how the investigation will be conducted while also soliciting citizen testimony.

In Chicago, the DOJ has hosted four public forums so far, all on weeknights ― a schedule that some have criticized for shutting out people who don’t work 9 to 5. After hearing from friends that the first forum had a turnout of fewer than 40 people, Frances McDonald, a student at the University of Chicago, said she felt compelled to show up at the next one. 

“Some people were screaming and yelling. Some people went past their allotted time to speak because they were so angry, and there were some people in the crowd crying,” McDonald said. “Some parents of children with mental disabilities spoke of their children’s experiences with the police.”

McDonald wasn’t there to tell yet another story, but to witness what members of her community had to say. And she came away convinced of at least one thing.

“I definitely think there should be a few more forums. I’d say at least 10 more,” said McDonald.

The Chicago police force is the largest department the DOJ is investigating. The probe was prompted by the October 2014 death of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent coverup. A video of the shooting was finally released more than a year later, and those images spurred protests around the city. But Chicago’s history of police abuse extends further back. From the secretive interrogation facility at Homan Square to the tortured confessions elicited by former police commander Jon Burge, the city’s black and Latino residents have complained of police violence for over 40 years.

“Given what communities have suffered under in this town for so long, it is appalling to me that there are not more opportunities for the public to tell their stories,” Cytrynbaum of the Chicago Innocence Center said. “Even if they need to rent out a stadium, they need to hear this. It needs to be on the record.”

The Justice Department spokesperson told HuffPost that they plan to host more forums in Chicago, including one or two on the weekends.

“We had already planned to do more. We were just hammering out details,” the spokesperson said.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the DOJ is aiming for a very high turnout. “If 10,000 people show up, it won’t really be an effective way to engage with folks,” the spokesperson pointed out. “It won’t be a fruitful or engaging conversation, and we won’t be able to hear from the vast majority of people who come. So I think it’s a balance.”

Still, Cytrynbaum insists that the DOJ needs to listen to as many tales as community members want to share.

“I’m sorry if it’s tiring for people to listen to these stories. I’m sorry if you feel like if you’ve heard one account of a police officer holding a gun to a 3-year-old’s head, then you’ve heard them all,” she said. “We must have an accounting of what’s going on, and the only way to do that is to make sure all of these stories get told and get counted.”

As for Jones, the impending end of the Baltimore investigation triggers new worries. She sees the DOJ team as the watchdog Baltimoreans have been pleading for.

“These people that hold some type of power and can enlighten our situation need to be around constantly. Because at the end of the day, I feel like nobody oversees these police officers. They get to do whatever they want to do,” she said.

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Driving Growth Through Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Thu, 2016-08-04 07:34

This week we recognize August 4th as Startup Day Across America, a time to celebrate entrepreneurs and the jobs they create. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that our entrepreneurs face and explore solutions to allow the best and brightest minds to succeed.

Our country's entrepreneurial spirit and innovative minds are the lifeblood of the American economy.

Our country's entrepreneurial spirit and innovative minds are the lifeblood of the American economy. America's startups are the driving force behind new job creation in the United States. In fact, companies less than one year old have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades, fueling both local and national economic growth. From Uber to ZocDoc, startups are behind the technologies and services now a part of the daily lives of many Americans. And these companies no longer exist solely within Silicon Valley -- in fact, Texas ranks fifth highest on the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship.

While the United States continues to provide exceptional opportunities for private organizations to innovate, more can be done to ensure all entrepreneurs, especially immigrant founders, are set up to succeed in America. Representing the public and private sectors, we see this need firsthand. Congressman Castro's San Antonio is one of the top 10 U.S. cities in overall startup activity, and Unshackled Ventures works within our current system, investing in 16 teams with founders born in six different continents.

More can be done to ensure all entrepreneurs, especially immigrant founders, are set up to succeed in America.

Without the necessary support, too many innovators will give up, and too many brilliant ideas will remain unexplored.

As a starting point, we must encourage an inclusive, collaborative entrepreneurship pipeline, so that all aspiring innovators across the country have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and compete with larger corporations. When the playing field is level, the best ideas will win.

We must also connect aspiring innovators with the tools and resources they need to build a startup. In some cases, the resources are already there, and it is simply a matter of linking entrepreneurs to the right network.

Unfortunately, some of the country's most promising entrepreneurs are still struggling to break through. This is particularly true for the U.S. immigrant population. In addition to the challenges of the entrepreneurial journey -- including securing funding and accessing a support network to help them bring their ideas to life -- immigrant entrepreneurs must contend with obstacles such as uncertainty around their ability to stay in the United States long enough to see their idea take hold.

Immigrant entrepreneurs must contend with obstacles such as uncertainty around their ability to stay in the United States long enough to see their idea take hold.

On a larger scale, we cannot exclude or handicap immigrants who are seeking funding for new ventures. To eliminate what can be the biggest barrier to entry, we need to build an immigration system that is designed for individual contributors, not just large businesses. Without a framework that allows us to train and retain the talented thinkers who want to be a part of our country's economy, we will fall behind in the global marketplace.

There is huge opportunity to unlock entrepreneurial potential if we do a better job of ensuring that all entrepreneurs are set up to succeed in America. Empowering every entrepreneur, including those who come from other nations, to participate in America's innovation economy is key to recognizing our country's full economic potential. We've seen the tremendous success that's possible; some of America's most iconic companies were created by immigrants -- Google, AT&T, and Procter & Gamble, for example -- and immigrants and their children founded 40 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500.

The promise of America is what draws the world's dreamers and doers to put their talents and ideas into action here. Allowing immigrants' entrepreneurial energy to take flight isn't just the American way, it's in our nation's best economic interests, spurring the creation of new jobs for American workers and new products for American manufacturers to assemble. Startup Day Across America is a time to celebrate immigrant contributions and recognize the importance of opening avenues of opportunity and innovation to all who call our nation home.

Congressman Joaquin Castro represents Texas' 20th District in the House of Representatives. Manan Mehta and Nitin Pachisia are founding partners of Unshackled Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund that was created in 2014 to support foreign-born entrepreneurs turning their innovative ideas into reality.

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Why Portland Is Good For The Body And Soul

Wed, 2016-08-03 16:42

Over Fourth of July weekend I was lucky enough to take a quick trip to Portland, Oregon. I never really spent time in the Pacific Northwest, aside from a wedding in Vancouver last summer, so I went in with an open mind.

Of course, I was told the typical tales of how every resident wants to secretly be a farmer. While I didn’t speak to enough people to confirm that rumor, what I do know is that the way of life there is made for healthy and happy living (my goal in life if you haven’t noticed).

Aside from the creepy man who followed me for blocks insisting I put my hand in his brown paper bag... overall Portland is what a holistic health coach’s dreams are made of.

Here’s why:

1. The food is da bomb.

Portland in a delicious nutshell. #portland #pdx #eeeeeats #yum #foodporn #travel

A photo posted by Well Traveler (@welltraveler) on Jul 3, 2016 at 10:50am PDT

Sure, you can have donuts for multiple meals (which I may or may not have done), but the fresh ingredients and flavors make eating a salad a religious experience. “In Portland, we’re surrounded by small farms that are capable of producing customized ingredients for chefs who only know how to cook seasonally,” Marcus Hibdon, Travel Portland’s senior media relations and PR manager told me. Joshua McFadden, executive chef and partner at Ava Gene’s added, “The access to real food is amazing. The raw products here are some of the best in the world.”

There are so many healthy options, like vegan ramen for example, that it’s not hard to stick to eating whole foods and lots of greens. It makes all of the indulgences (Salt & Straw ice cream anyone?) available that much less resisting, but also that much more satisfying when you can, well, indulge in them.

 2. It’s easy to be active.

Catch the brand new Columbia River Gorge Express to Multnomah Falls! The shuttle service runs 12 times daily on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from the Gateway Transit Center. Happy exploring, everyone! #PDX #PDXNOW #OMHT #ColumbiaRiverGorge #TravelPortland #TravelOregon (Amazing shot, @katecordova!)

A photo posted by Travel Portland (@travelportland) on May 31, 2016 at 6:34pm PDT

It seems like everyone in the city would prefer to use two wheels instead of four making it easy to join in on the bike culture. This constantly active mindset is one that I always try to instill in my clients. Just move every day. Then there’s great outdoors to be explored nearby and it seems like that’s what everyone is doing every weekend. Mount Hood and Multnomah Falls are within and hour of downtown and the drive there is just as stunning. Who needs late night bar hopping on a Saturday when you can go natural wonder hopping?

3. Creativity is encouraged.

Books for days. #pdx #travel #wanderlust #travelwriter #travelphotography #books #bookstagram

A photo posted by Well Traveler (@welltraveler) on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:58am PDT

Unfortunately, so many of us fall into the trap of working 9 to 5’s and feeling like a cog in the machine. By the time you get home, you’re exhausted and have no energy to pursue outside interests if you have any. In Portland, the whole community encourages you to turn your side passion into a full time business if you want. There are literally entire stores dedicated to promoting local craftsman and many restaurants are owned by locals.

Having a place that inspires you to open your mind to possibilities and tap into that inner childhood dream is ok in my book. It’s one of the things I feel we as a society are missing the most. Want to create hand-stitched leather saddlebagfor bikes? Go for it!

4. People genuinely care.

Portland microfashion. #PDX #PDXNOW #TravelPortland #TravelOregon #Portlandia #Portland (Love this shot, @mckenzielawson!)

A photo posted by Travel Portland (@travelportland) on May 20, 2016 at 2:50pm PDT

Ever get asked by a stranger how your day is going? Well, in Portland they mean it. And there will follow-ups. Yes, there is the stereotype of how everyone is super nice, but it’s true. The cab driver was so excited it was our first trip to the city, the woman at hotel check in took the time to point out her favorite bars on a map and every store I walked into took time to compliment me (without pushing a sale).

As a New Yorker it took me a little while to settle into this friendliness, but after a couple of days it was nice to feel like I could let my guard down and relax. I heard so many interesting stories from different people and felt genuinely considered everywhere I went. Living in a place like this can certainly make it easier to live a happier life. It’s contagious right?

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Tears for Zack: Saying Good-Bye to your Pet

Wed, 2016-08-03 13:47
I never thought I'd cry while slicing cucumbers.
I never thought I'd cry while sweeping the crumbs off the breakfast room floor.
I never thought I'd cry while I turned off my bedroom lights.

Two weeks ago, I said good-bye to my best friend and companion, Zack. He was a lovable, thirteen year-old golden retriever who suffered from the long term effects of hip and elbow dysplasia (arthritis), degenerative myelopathy (inability to recognize the position of his back legs), inflammatory bowel disease and laryngeal paralysis. I tried everything to make his life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for so many years, but in his final few days it was not enough.

I knew within months of adopting him that he had severe hip dysplasia. I exercised him regularly, kept his body weight lean, and gave him nutraceutical products to help slow down the rate of his degenerative joint disease decline. As a pet owner and a veterinarian, I tired to help him live a long, happy and comfortable life.

Zack had a great life. My family and I loved him. Daily, my two boys played tug of war, wrestled and hugged him. He spent many summer days chasing his ball on the beach and swimming in Lake Michigan. For me, I loved watching him run on the beach wagging his tail. He was so happy!

I do not work at my office on Wednesdays and it was a day that I spent with Zack. He was my shadow and my buddy. As I did my chores, he followed me around our home. Every Wednesday, I bet he went up and down the stairs over two dozen times. Then, he would settle down beneath my desk as I worked on my home computer. Later, while I prepared my family's meal, he would anxiously await for vegetables to fall onto the floor for him to voraciously snatch. To this date, I don't know why he never learned that he competed with no one for these fallen treats. I don't remember a time in the last 13 years where I had to pick up a piece of fallen food. Fondly, Wednesdays were our time together.

As he aged, I gave him over a dozen pills each day to make him more comfortable. I disguised his medication in peanut butter, cream cheese or marshmallows to minimize the bitter taste of the medication and make his medication time more enjoyable. He had a hip replacement when he was around seven years of age. Unfortunately, it was not as successful as we had all hoped for. I took him to an acupuncturist, but he was so nervous and distressed that he failed to experience the benefit of this treatment modality. I took him to many orthopedic specialists for advice, but in the end, they all felt he was not a great surgical candidate.

Years ago, I wrote a previous Huffington Post blog about saying good-bye to a pet. While writing this piece, I remember I created a list of 5 activities for Zack that I believed were essential for a good quality life.

• Happy to be with his family.

I was his best friend. I believed his display of excitement to see me - wagging his tail, jumping up and down, wanting to be kissed or hugged by me - confirmed he enjoyed life. Despite his difficulties getting up and walking, he happily greeted me each day until the last two-weeks of his life. At first, I wasn't 100% sure why he wasn't greeting me at the door when I came home. I was secretly hoping it was because he was sound asleep and couldn't hear me come in, but in the end I knew it was because it was too difficult to rise. During his final two weeks, I would go and greet him. He would wag his tail and smile with his eyes when I approached him, but this stopped on our last day together.

• Enjoy eating.

Zack loved to eat and ate well until he died. The last 2 weeks, I did notice that his appetite started to wane a bit. He didn't rapidly eat his breakfast like he had done his entire life and more recently; he sometimes ate his breakfast at noon. In the beginning, I thought he was bored with his food or maybe I bought a bad bag of food. I tried to convince myself that Zack's appetite was not down, but that there were other reasons for his disinterest in his food. The last two days of his life, I fed him canned food only - which was his favorite.

• Enjoy walks

I told myself years ago, if he stopped wanting to go for walks, then, he definitely was not happy. For the last 6 months, Zack would get excited to see me pull his leash off our mudroom wall hook and attach it to his collar, but the distance of our walks gradually got shorter. Just 2 years ago, we would go on 30-minute walks. In the last few months, we would just go to the corner of our block, which was not very far since we lived on the corner of our street. It's sad how you start re-negotiating with yourself what is okay - that he is still happy despite not going on long walks. But, in the last few hours of his life, he did not walk.

• Eliminate outside on own.

Zack was able to take himself outside to go to the bathroom until the final day. On his last day, I knew it was time when I discovered that Zack could no longer rise from a sitting position and he fell over when he tried. On his final day, even with our physical support, he collapsed while defecating.

• Enjoy life.

Lastly, Zack must want to live. I always tell my clients that, for most pet owners, there will be a day when their pet tells them that they no longer wish to live. On Zack's final two days of life, he lost the spark in his eyes. In fact, he did not maintain any eye contact with me on his final day. He just looked away from me. Although he enjoyed licking the tasty bowl of vanilla ice cream while I gave him the final sedative, I knew he was ready to die.

It took me over a week to tell many people that I said goodbye to Zack. It was so painful and personal; I just didn't want to discuss it with others. But, that's me. Everyone deals with loss differently. Some people want hugs, some want to talk about it, and some people want to be alone. My advice to people comforting those who have just lost a loved one, just give the grieving person the space that they desire. Say you're sorry for their loss and let them take the lead if they would like to share more with you.

The other night I was watching the Democratic National Convention and heard a quote from Vice President Joe Biden that really connected to me. He said something like "One day, when you think of him, a smile will come to your face before a tear comes to your eye." That day is not today for me, but I look forward to that day in the future.

Writing for me can be cathartic. I hope my writing can also be a way to connect with others facing this final decision for their ailing pet. Remember, it's our responsibility to our beloved pet to care for them, love them and guide them through life. Try not to make excuses for their "bad day" - that tomorrow will be better even though you know it will not be. Don't let them live another day for you if you believe that their quality of life is poor and they are suffering. Please recognize that you have a loving obligation to end their suffering in a humane and compassionate way. Although this was an extremely difficult and emotionally exhausting decision that I made as a pet owner, it simultaneously was tragically simple. I knew intellectually and in my heart, that on Friday, July 15, 2016 I had to say good-bye to Zack. He was not enjoying life.

Dr. Donna Solomon is a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of Chicago and invites you to email her questions or future topic ideas to

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Dentist Allegedly Lost Sharp Tool Down Patient's Throat During Surgery

Wed, 2016-08-03 12:15

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Does the idea of a trained dentist dropping a tool down a patient’s throat during a root canal seem hard to swallow?

Well, imagine if you were the patient.

Two years ago, Chicago-area resident Janus Pawlowicz went to his long-time dentist for routine dental surgery.

Afterwards, he says he ended up with problems that were much, much worse, according to CBS Chicago.

During the surgery, the dentist, Dr. Beata Kozar-Warchalowska, noticed she was missing a particular tool needed for the procedure, and looked all around the room for it.

“The dentist, on the day of the procedure, knew that she dropped a tool but didn’t know what happened to it. She looked around the room and couldn’t find it,” Pawlowicz’s attorney, Rob Kohen, told ABC Chicago.

Pawlowicz said when she couldn’t find it, she sent him home without saying a word.

“She told me when she found it, she will be calling me,” Pawlowicz told the station.

Four days later, Pawlowicz started suffering severe stomach pains and went to the hospital.

An X-ray showed that he had swallowed a dental file known as a barbed breach and it was now lodged in his stomach, according to WGN TV.

Surgeons removed the tool, but Pawlowicz said he still has lingering problems because of the tool.

He sued his dentist and her firm, Gentle Dental of Des Plaines, Illinois, and received a $675,000 settlement earlier this week.

Kohen said that the dentist should have used a dental dam during the surgery to prevent the accidental ingestion.

“It’s rare that I’ve heard about, personally, but really what it comes down to is that this was completely preventable,” Kohen told CBS Chicago.

WGN TV reports that Dr. Kozar-Warchalowska has not been disciplined by the state for the error.

HuffPost reached out to Gentle Dental, but calls were not returned.

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Advancing Policies Over Politics

Tue, 2016-08-02 21:29
Popular political rhetoric often suggests an "up from the bootstraps" approach to economic security. When it comes to the real issues affecting our communities, though, individual hard work is not enough to solve inequality.

Where are the policy proposals around true economic security for all groups? Where is the acknowledgement of the gaps in our safety nets? Where is the commitment to African-Americans and other communities of color, which face the most dire intersections of economic and social disinvestment we've seen in generations? Where is the recognition that investing in women improves outcomes for entire communities?

The health of our city - and our nation - depends on us answering these questions and making real investments, instead of getting lost in that political rhetoric.

These are not Democratic or Republican issues. These are human issues.

We must recognize that our institutions have systematically, and viciously diminished opportunities for African-American communities in particular. Poverty breeds the conditions for violence - and that includes state violence.

Recent, tragic killings of black men by police are perhaps the most dramatic examples, but the disproportionate incarceration rates these men face is an ongoing form of violence in itself.

And black women and children feel the effects of that violence. (See University of Texas at Austin Asst. Prof. Christien A. Smith's insightful piece published earlier this month, "Slow Death: is the trauma of police violence killing black women?")

How can children dealing with this level of trauma excel in school? How can women ensure their own economic security if their families are constantly under siege?

The United Nations reports that increasing women and girls' education contributes to higher economic growth, accounting for half of the economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years. More than half that growth stems directly from girls having access to higher levels of education and narrowing the education gap between men and women.

Women are more likely than men to work in vulnerable, low-paid, or undervalued jobs. But this is bad for business: Companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational effectiveness.

Many of our grantee organizations understand the need to address these critical issues.

Demoiselle 2 Femme equips black girls with the math, science and engineering skills they need to pursue careers in the growing STEM sector. In addition to community organizing and direct action work focused on improving outcomes for African-American communities, Assata's Daughters empowers black girls, providing them with leadership opportunities. EverThrive Illinois works throughout the state to increase families' access to health services and healthy lifestyle options, focusing much of its resources on assisting black families on the city's South and West sides. And UCAN's Phenomenal Woman program helps boost the self-esteem of young black women in and around North Lawndale, which has one of the highest incarceration rates in Illinois.

These organizations serve as examples to all of us in offering solutions to our city's most critical challenges.

So instead of getting lost in the rhetoric, let's stay focused on the issues that truly matter, and on the communities that most need our investment.

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