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Chicago-Area Air Traffic Control Center Back To Full Operations Weeks After Fire

Mon, 2014-10-13 10:55
AURORA, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago air traffic center reopened early Monday, more than two weeks after damage from a deliberately set fire forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and disrupted travel nationwide, federal officials said.

A full shift of air traffic controllers at the Chicago En Route Center in Aurora resumed control of the center's airspace from adjoining centers between midnight and 1 a.m. on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a news release.

About 200 Aurora facility workers traveled to other FAA air traffic centers since the Sept. 26 incident. The FAA said those workers will be returning from those locations Monday.

Authorities have said a contract worker cut cables and set fire to a basement telecommunications room before trying to commit suicide by slitting his throat. The disruption forced an hours-long shutdown of O'Hare and Midway international airports that day.

FAA technical team will remain in Aurora until Tuesday to monitor system performance and help ensure a smooth transition, the FAA said. The agency said the event has prompted it to conduct a 30-day review of contingency plans and security protocols for its major facilities.

The agency's response to the incident drew criticism from some, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said the FAA needed to "work harder and better and smarter" to restore normal airport operations.

Brian Howard, 36, of Naperville is charged in federal court with felony destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities. His defense attorney, Ron Safer, has said Howard made a "tragic mistake."

America's Snobbiest Cities (PHOTOS)

Mon, 2014-10-13 09:19
Who says New Yorkers are snobs?

Not Travis Levius, a Big Apple photographer who has found that another city along the Northeast Corridor has more attitude.

"In D.C., it's all about what you do," he says. "You can be among New York City's elite if you're an artist, but in D.C., that might get you, at best, a look of 'bless your little heart.'"

Snobbery may indeed be in the eye--or ear--of the beholder. In the America's Favorite Places survey, Travel + Leisure readers rated New Yorkers to be the snobbiest, with D.C. at No. 4 (perhaps they'd accuse Levius of harboring a hometown bias). It's just one of the categories, including wine bars, museums, and cleanliness, in which voters evaluated 38 major metropolitan areas.

Among the survey's snobbiest cities, some residents--like the hipsters in Boston or Portland, OR--perhaps just came off as intellectually, well, confident. Other cities take their specialties so seriously that it borders on pretension. In Seattle, your choice of coffee speaks volumes, while in San Francisco, someone might look down his nose if you don't toss your Pellegrino bottle in the right bin.

Certainly, in many top-scoring cities, the snobby label is only skin deep--if that. Phoenix-Scottsdale spa owner Heidi Lamar laughs at her hometown's nickname of Snottsdale, and knows that even the most ostentatious locals must drop their guard at some point. "Last week I had a Maserati, a Ferrari and a Bentley in my spa parking lot, right next to the VWs, Hondas, and Fords," she says. "But inside the spa, you couldn't tell which guests were which."

Find out which other cities make a snobby impression on visitors--and make your opinions heard by voting in the America's Favorite Places survey.

--Katrina Brown Hunt

See All of America's Snobbiest Cities

More from Travel + Leisure:
World's Creepiest Attractions
America's Best Coffee Cities
America's Favorite Cities
Best Breakfast Restaurants in the U.S.
Funny Signs from Around the World

Fatal Airplane Crash Barely Missed Suburban Homes, Authorities Say

Mon, 2014-10-13 07:52
PALOS HILLS, Ill. (AP) — Three people have died aboard a small plane that crashed on the only vacant lot in a dense Chicago suburb of single-family homes, authorities said Monday.

The twin-engine Beechcraft Baron crashed in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills around 10:40 p.m. Sunday, shortly after takeoff from Chicago Midway Airport for Lawrence, Kansas, said Lynn Lunsford of the Federal Aviation Administration. "There's only one empty lot in the whole neighborhood and that's where the plane came down," Palos Hills Deputy Police Chief James Boie told The Associated Press by telephone early Monday.

He said the plane had hit some trees but didn't strike any houses when it crashed, adding the wreckage was in a rather compact area.

"Some of the residents said they heard an airplane. It sounded like it was kind of sputtering and then it came down right away," Boie said. "It did come close to one of the houses."

He said he had no immediate identification of the victims, adding a medical examiner was at the site Monday morning. About two blocks all around had been cordoned off by authorities. But he said there was no fire at the time of the crash and no evacuation ordered, though some people were kept away from their homes after the crash.

Lunsford said in an earlier email that the FAA had sent a team to investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified.

Boie said planes from Midway often fly overhead, but he recalled no incident in recent memory of a small plane crash in the community southwest of downtown Chicago.

'Red Army' Trailer Examines Hockey And Life Behind The Iron Curtain

Sun, 2014-10-12 15:32
"Red Army" is one of the year's most talked about documentaries, with critics raving after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Examining the Soviet Union's Red Army ice hockey team's Cold War era domination of the sport, the film gives a behind-the-scenes look at the team and the culture surrounding the USSR.

"Told from the perspective of its captain Slava Fetisov, the story portrays his transformation from national hero to political enemy," a press release explains. "From the USSR to Russia, the film examines how sport mirrors social and cultural movements and parallels the rise and fall of the Red Army team with the Soviet Union."

Also, at 40 seconds, there are a couple bears holding hockey sticks, on ice, playing hockey. Watch the trailer above. "Red Army" premieres Jan. 23, 2015. More clips from the film can be found on the official "Red Army" YouTube page.

Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge And Rita Jeptoo Win 2014 Chicago Marathon

Sun, 2014-10-12 12:39
CHICAGO (AP) -- Kenyans ruled the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, with Eliud Kipchoge leading a 1-2-3 men's sweep and compatriot Rita Jeptoo repeating as the women's winner.

Kipchoge pulled away over the last two miles for his first major marathon victory, finishing in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 11 seconds. He was followed by Sammy Kitwara in 2:04:28 and Dickson Chumba in 2:04:32.

Jeptoo was timed in 2:24:35 in winning her fourth straight major marathon. She also captured the 2013-14 World Marathon Majors points championship and took the Boston Marathon in April.

Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia (2:25:37) was second and Florence Kiplagat of Kenya (2:25:57) was third.

The winners earned $100,000. Jeptoo receives an extra $500,000 for winning the series championship.

Ideal conditions - sunny skies and 46-degree temperatures - greeted runners at the start. The men's pack stayed together for about 20 miles before Kipchoge, Kitwara and Chumba drew away.

Kipchoge and Kitwara were side by side with Chumba right behind after 24 miles. But Kipchoge made it look easy down the stretch. He made a quick burst and was in command as he headed toward the finish at Grant Park.

Jeptoo hasn't lost a major marathon since she finished second in a sprint to Ethiopia's Atsede Baysa in the 2012 Chicago Marathon. She smashed the course record to repeat as Boston Marathon champion in the spring and came away with an easy victory in Chicago for the second straight year.

She pulled away after 23 miles, with no one near her at the end. Jeptoo raised her arms as she crossed the line and sank to her knees.

So Just How Bad Is It To Eat In Your Bed?

Sun, 2014-10-12 08:20
Even if you don't have a TV in your bedroom, chances are you have Netflix on your laptop. And now that the weather's getting colder, there's probably a good chance that you might curl up under the covers with a flick and a snack of some sort.

But just how unsanitary is eating in your bed? We wanted to know, and we wanted you to know, too. Kadi Dulude, the owner of top New York City cleaning service Wizard Of Homes, told HuffPost Home that "at least half" of the places she cleans show signs of people eating in their beds.

"Most people know to take their dishes to the sink, but in the extreme cases, it's like their bed is their dining room and if they don't clean up, there are a lot of bugs," says Dulude.

So what will happen when you leave traces of snacking between the sheets? Paul Bello, exterminator and owner of PJB Pest Management Consulting, told HuffPost Home that bugs will appear when there are crumbs left around. The most common creepy crawlers to show up? Ants and cockroaches.

"The people who are sloppy and don't clean up after themselves are the ones who run the risk," says Bello. "Cockroaches need only a little bit of food to survive."

As you might expect, certain foods attract different types of bugs. According to Lou Sorkin, a forensic entomologist (a person who studies insects) and a senior scientific assistant at the American Museum of Natural History, sweet foods such as soda, fruit juices, cupcakes and cookies with icing could attract ants and certain flies, including house flies, blue bottle flies and green bottle flies. Leftover foods, such as milk from a bowl of cereal, pizza sitting in the box or hamburgers and chicken left out in the takeout container, can attract ants, flies and even cockroaches.

Normally, Dulude advises that people wash their sheets every week, but for those who constantly eat in bed, she says every three days would be ideal. When it's all said and done, we suggest heeding Dulude's sage advice when it comes to bedroom practices.

"I would suggest not eating in bed at all," she said. "Just don't put the TV in the bedroom. Keep the bedroom as a sacred place where you go to rest."

All images courtesy of Getty

How An Illinois Mom Converted To Islam And Found Peace And Joy During Her Very First Hajj

Sun, 2014-10-12 08:13
Kristin Szremski is a 53-year-old mom from Palo Hills, Illinois. Born into a Missouri-Synod Lutheran family, she first converted to Catholicism before finding her place in Islam. This year, Szremski was one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who were drawn to Mecca between October 2 - 7 to complete the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj.

She tells Huffington Post about her experience below. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

1. How did you come to Islam and what was it about the religion that moved you?

I was a special assignment reporter for the Star Newspapers in suburban Chicago in 2000. I was assigned to cover the Arab community. At that time, I didn't know anything about Islam -- I was raised as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran and we had been taught that all religions and prophets that came after Jesus were false.

During the six weeks I had for research, I interviewed many, many Arab Muslims. My conversion was not something that happened overnight; it probably took more than 18 months. I was fascinated to learn that Islam had all the same stories as the Bible as well as the same characters.

To back up a bit -- I was raised Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism when I was about 40. I always wanted to belong to a large community and I was intrigued by the Catholic Church. Since my husband at the time was Catholic, I decided to join the church. That had a huge impact on my later conversion to Islam because where the Lutheran church believed in the Bible literally, the Catholic Church encouraged knowledge, questions and also gave us the historical context for the books contained in the Christian canon. This allowed me to open my mind to the possibility that the Quran was truly the revealed word of God.

Once I came to believe this, it was an easy step to believe Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the messenger and prophet. The harder part was letting go of my belief that Jesus was the Son of God. Ultimately, it was the passages in the Quran where God tells us that He was not begotten nor has He begotten and similar ones that finally helped me. Also, Jesus figures prominently in Islam so I wasn’t letting go of him, but just the idea that he is God.

In the end, my conversion came while I was praying. The date was July 21, 2001. I was in a hotel room in Washington DC, where I'd gone to cover a meeting for a magazine I was writing for. I had the Quran open on the bed before me and I was actually on my knees praying, asking God to lead me to the truth when suddenly I declared the Shahada –- that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger. I later made a public declaration in Arabic but for all purposes it was at that moment that I became a Muslim.

I love Islam because of its purity, its simplicity and its truth. The Muslims I had met were truly pleasant, patient and well-mannered people.

2. We understand this is your first hajj. Were you nervous at all?

I was very nervous about this trip because it is a heavy spiritual journey, which means there's a lot of personal reflection. It is also a very physical experience, with many different components taking place over several days. I’ve had two surgeries on my neck and lower back because of the degenerative arthritis and it has left me with some slight neurological deficiencies. One of the biggest of these is weakness in my legs, which things like overuse, fatigue, lack of sleep, extreme conditions can exacerbate.

3. Was there someone who showed you around? How did you know what to do?

I was traveling with a tour group, called Noor Travel, out of Milwaukee. The tour guide was extremely helpful. Plus, my lovely roommates are Arab American women who can help with the language as need be. There are also people in the group who have done this before who can offer advice. When all is said and done, though, 3 million people in one small place is pretty overwhelming and daunting so I pretty much learned as I went along.

4. Are there any parts of the hajj that you were particularly looking forward to?
Muslims pray in the direction of the Kaaba from wherever they are in the world. Being in the presence of God in Mecca, at the very center of the Earth, where Adam and Eve came to earth from the Garden of Eden, where Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba, and where Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived and received his first revelations from God is a tremendously invigorating and rejuvenating experience. To be able to see the Kaaba right in front of me after all these years was powerful and something I don’t believe I will ever forget.

5. How did it go?
I did much better physically than I expected. I’m actually feeling better now than before I left for the trip, mainly due to an improved state of mind that this trip brought about. In addition, Islam is always about moderation and the religion is not meant to be difficult. Therefore, certain accommodations are possible during the rites of Hajj.

There are three types of Tawafs, or circumambulations of the Kaaba. During each Tawaf, Muslims circle the Kaaba seven times.

I was able to use a wheelchair to circumambulate the Kaaba the first time.

During the second Tawaf, called Tawaf Al-Ifadah. I wanted to walk by myself so I could really concentrate on ‘talking to God,’ in my supplications and in worship. I also wanted to make the physical effort for God, as so much of Islam is about taking action with the help of God. This was an extremely beautiful experience for me, extremely spiritual. I finished the entire rite in just under three hours. Then it took me about one hour to make the usual 10 minute trip back to the hotel because I had overdone it a bit.

I was not able to finish the third Tawaf, called Tawaf Al-Wada or the Farewell Tawaf, because I was unprepared for the millions of people who were there at the same time as me. I was getting hurt and not strong enough to withstand the crush of people. So, sadly, I had to leave without completing it. To expiate for missing that rite, I paid to have a sheep slaughtered and its meat given to the poor.

Throwing stones at pillars that symbolize the spots where Satan tempted Abraham, who was preparing to sacrifice his son, is another rite of Hajj. Because of the sheer physicality it takes to walk up a steep hill to the throwing area and the danger of being in a crowd of a few million people throwing what are supposed to be pebbles but sometimes turn out larger, women, the elderly and people with health conditions can ask someone to throw the stones for them. I took advantage of this and asked some other group member to throw for me.

An integral part of the Hajj is the visit to Mount Arafah, where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prayed on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah when he made Hajj. The Day of Arafah is a day of atonement, when we stand in prayer from just after the sun reaches its zenith during midday until sunset. This year, it was about six hours. We were at Arafah long before that, though. We stayed in sweltering tents. It was 108 degrees outside and hotter inside because the air conditioning did not work.

If one stands in Arafah in sincere devotion and sincerely repents of his sins, all his sins will be forgiven. And we also believe that supplications on this day made sincerely will be answered. Standing is key, although allowances are made for older people or people, like me, with health conditions. I stood a great deal of the time but had to sit from time to time.

It was probably the most difficult physically and spiritually of the entire trip. But it was also extremely beautiful and cleansing. The most beautiful time came when it was close to sunset and hundreds of people gathered on a hillside, facing the Kaaba in the West, to make supplications while the sun was setting. All this was done while one imam made the supplications, called du'as, out loud. It was extremely powerful and many people, including me, were crying.

I think there's a recurring point here. Hajj requires extreme effort but then offers extreme beauty, peace and joy in return.

6. What were you searching for during this pilgrimage? Did you find it?

What I wanted most out of this journey is to find a deeper relationship with my Creator, to get to the place where I have the confidence of my conviction that God is all I need or will ever need. I was praying for this absolute, intuitive trust because who have attained this level of faith are never worried or discouraged.

I believe I absolutely found what I was looking for, although I also realize that this is something I have to work on every day. In Mecca, in the presence of the Kaaba, I felt God’s presence in a way that I never have before at any time in my life. There was an overwhelming feeling of love that inspired trust and confidence. I could pour my heart out, ask for anything and worship God.

Now that I have experienced this pure connection to God, I want to maintain and grow it. The onus is on me to make the changes necessary to help this happen. For instance, I plan on attending congregational Fajr (dawn) prayers at the mosque everyday, God-willing.

7. What did you hope would change about you after hajj, on the inside? Did this happen?

The last 10 years have been difficult ones for me - I got divorced, moved, had two major surgeries related to the degenerative arthritis, lost my house in economic crisis, and am beginning to feel worn down by the rampant Islamophobia in this country. Islam is the perfect religion, but I am not living it perfectly. Instead of complaining, I should be thanking God for what I’ve experienced in the past few years.

I think the biggest thing that happened to me was that I realized how spoiled I am as a privileged American, how ungrateful I’ve been for my conversion to Islam and for the life that I have.

People from all corners of the world come to Hajj and many of them do not have the means to stay in hotels, let alone tents. People leave their villages with not much more than a small sack of possessions, knowing they will be sleeping without shelter on a plaza, hillside, or on the street. Would I have that kind of devotion? I would hope so, but somehow I rather doubt it. It was these people, who inspired me to walk the second Tawaf, described above.

A person’s Hajj can be invalidated for complaining, arguing, or gossiping so it is extremely important to avoid all this. Dealing with crowds of millions requires massive doses of patience, which can only happen when you start looking at individuals in the crowd as just that – individual human beings deserving of respect and gentle treatment. Exercising this kind of patience for two weeks brought about a deeper sense of humility, which I hope to remember as I go about my daily life.

Finally, God says in the Quran that He guides whom He wills to Islam. As I mentioned, I’d been struggling lately because of things like Islamophobia. Instead of cherishing the fact that God called me to the religion, I’ve been focusing on superficial things that distract me from the real beauty of what it means to be Muslim. This experience showed me that I have been taking the great gift of this faith for granted.

Near-Perfect Conditions Predicted For Sunday's Chicago Marathon

Sat, 2014-10-11 08:23
CHICAGO (AP) -- Near-perfect conditions are expected to give elite entries in Sunday's Chicago Marathon an opportunity for record-setting runs.

The forecast is for 40 degree temperatures for the beginning of the race and the 26.2-mile course is relatively flat.

"If it's a nice day those guys up front could threaten the world record," said Bobby Curtis, a first-time Chicago participant who has a personal best of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 24 seconds. "I wouldn't be surprised if they set a course record, I wouldn't be surprised if they come close to a world record."

Leading the men's field are Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, renewing an 11-year rivalry from track and field days. Bekele and Kipchoge are the top men's entries with personal best times of 2:05.04 and 2:04.05, respectively.

Kenya's Dennis Kimetto holds the current men's world record of 2:02.57, set last month in Berlin. The 11-year-old women's standard of 2:15.25 was established in London in 2003 by England's Paula Radcliffe.

Chicago's 37th annual race includes a field of 108 elite men, women and wheelchair athletes. There are also 45,000 amateur runners registered and more than 1 million people are expected to watch along the way.

Chicago is fifth in his year's six-race World Marathon Majors, which concludes its latest two-year prize cycle with the Nov. 2 New York City Marathon. The series' top male and female runners will be awarded $500,000 apiece next month.

Kenyan Rita Jeptoo already leads the World Marathon rankings and is back to defend her 2013 championship.

"I'm here again to try my best and (run) my best time in Chicago," said the soft-spoken Jeptoo, a Boston Marathon champion this year and Chicago winner last year in 2:19.57. "Everybody here, I think, is ready for a run on Sunday. . Everybody is ready to run fast."

Kimetto sits atop the men's standings but is not entered this year in Chicago after his course record winning run of 2:03.45 in 2013.

That leaves Bekele and Kipchoge atop a speedy field of seven African runners who've clocked personal bests below 2:06. The two have run against each other more than a dozen times since the 2003 IAAF World championships in the 5,000 meters.

"I'm looking forward to competing with Kenenisa on the road this time," said Kipchoge. "This is my fourth (marathon) and that gives me confidence."

Kipchoge's 2:04.05 in a second place finish in Berlin in Oct. 2013 is his career best. Bekele is three-time Olympic gold and 18-time world champion in long distance track and reigning world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. He's entered in just his second career marathon. In April, he won a Paris run in 2:05.04.

"In track I did everything," Bekele said. "What's left is only the marathon."

Three-time Chicago champion Tatyana McFadden tops the 12-woman wheelchair field. McFadden owns four Chicago titles and set a course record of 1:42:35 in 2013. She also branched out last winter and won a cross-country skiing gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

Reigning men's champion Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, tops a 27-man wheelchair field that includes five ex-Chicago champs.

Also Friday, officials announced a four-year sponsorship deal with Abbott, a suburban Chicago-based health care company. The company's sponsorship of the World Marathon Majors begins with the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 22, 2015.

Watch What Happens When You Shove A French Horn At 'Meet The Press' Host Chuck Todd

Fri, 2014-10-10 17:26
Think fast!

Chuck Todd is usually the one asking the tough questions, but a few of his colleagues turned the table on the "Meet The Press" host during his visit to Chicago's NBC affiliate station earlier this week.

"We rented this for the day -- very clean mouthpiece," Chicago Sun-Times political columnist and NBC Chicago contributor Carol Marin said, handing Todd a French horn.

Todd's response: "Oh, good lord."

Though he rose to fame as a journalist, Todd attended George Washington University in D.C. on a French horn scholarship.

We don't know if Todd is contractually obligated to do so, but he ended his brief solo by playing a familiar G-E-C sequence -- otherwise known as the "NBC chimes."

Before dusting off his musical skills, Todd also speculated that the Islamic State would dominate the focus of the rest of Obama's presidency and that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be unlikely to run for president.

Check out the full segment:

Best City for Fall: Chicago

Fri, 2014-10-10 14:38
If you're not thinking of Chicago as a fall destination, you are really missing out. Sure, leaf-peeping in New England, apple picking in Michigan and laughing at the rest of the country from California are all fine fall traditions that you should go ahead and try, but don't discount Chicago.

From architectural tours to tons of haunted places, fall in Chicago has a lot to offer.

Image by Saul

Get Cultured
Chicago's architecture is internationally celebrated for great reasons. We have The Sears Tower, The Tribune Tower, The Hancock Center, The Wrigley Building, the twin corn cob buildings (aka Marina City) and tons and tons of others that are totally worth a look and some learning.

For the most informative guides, see the sites with docents from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The group offers boat trips through October 14, as well as walking tours and L train tours (which is apparently a great way to travel if you'd like to avoid zombies). Many people visit the city and miss seeing the loop on the train, which is actually super fun.

Image via Disturbia

Get Halloween-y
Chicago's scary history took center stage a few years back when everyone was reading Devil In the White City, which is about, among other things, the serial killer H.H. Holmes. And Harold Ramis, of Ghostbusters fame, also hails from Chicago if that's more your speed.

Head to the suburbs to be terrorized at a haunted house or celebrate neighborhood style. On the north side, hit the epic Northalsted Halloween Parade and Costume Contest, which has been going strong for 18 years in boystown. Expect lots of drag and tons of fun!

On the south side, thousands of people turn up on South Harper Avenue between East 57th and 58th Streets. The neighborhood has been welcoming trick-or-treaters in droves since the 1970s when, as the story goes, neighbors started going all out in defiance of the razorblade-in-the-candy scares.

This year, Critical Mass (a giant group bike ride that is 100% sure to feature costumed bikes and riders) falls on Halloween. The exact route is unknown, but it kicks off at The Daley Center and, if I had to guess, will wind through Wicker Park and Logan Square.

Photo by Greg Pietras

Get Drunk
Okay, well, you don't have to get drunk. But, many people in this city do like to have some beer and watch football. Luckily, there are a number of bars dedicated to just this activity!

Because the city is really big and welcomes transplants, we have bars dedicated to tons of different college teams and teams from other cities. However, we love The Bears the most. And no, we won't stop talking about how we won the Superbowl in 1985. For the full-on college bar experience, head to Lincoln Park, River North or Lakeview and go... well, kind of anyplace. If you're looking for a less overtly sporty crowd but still want decent TVs, try High Dive in West Town.

You might also enjoy taking in a game at Soldier Field. Be sure to bundle up because there's no dome and plenty of cold breeze off of Lake Michigan to remind you why fall is awesome and winter... well. We'll see you in the spring.

Mayor Emanuel Rides the Fence as Police Torturer Jon Burge Is Released From Prison

Fri, 2014-10-10 14:17
On October 2, 2014, former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, who was convicted of lying about torturing over 100 African-American men at station houses on Chicago's South and West Sides, walked out of the Butner Correctional Institution, having been released to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. Meanwhile, in Chicago, a group of lawyers, activists, and City Council members, speaking at a widely covered press conference, renewed their demand for passage of a Torture Reparations Ordinance that would help to heal the lingering wounds left by the Chicago police torture scandal.

Burge's 2010 conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice came nearly 20 years after his reign of racist terror finally ended. From 1972 to 1991, he led a torture ring of white Chicago detectives who routinely used electric shock, suffocation with plastic bags and typewriter covers, mock executions and brutal attacks on the genitals to obtain confessions from their victims. A team of lawyers at the People's Law Office, including myself, documented 118 such cases. But a series of police superintendents, numerous Cook County prosecutors and a cover-up that implicated former Mayor Richard M. Daley (during his time as both mayor and state's attorney) protected Burge and his men from prosecution until well after the statute of limitations had run out on their crimes of torture.

Like Al Capone's prosecution for tax evasion, Burge could only be prosecuted for lying about what he and his men did, not for the deeds themselves. He was sentenced to the maximum term of four and a half years, and ended up serving three and a half before being released to a halfway house -- a stark contrast to the fates of his victims, many of whom received life sentences on the basis of confessions that were tortured from them.

Despite his felony conviction, Burge continued to collect his pension (now more than $50,000 per year) while serving his time, and the Illinois Supreme Court recently decided four to three that he may continue to do so in the future. But the nearly $700,000 that Burge has already collected is little compared to what Chicago, Cook County, the State of Illinois and federal taxpayers have already expended as a result of the Burge torture scandal.

Chicago has spent more than $20,000,000 to provide legal defense to Burge and his men in the numerous civil damages suits brought against them over the years. Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois have paid out more than $66,000,000 in settlements to compensate the Burge torture survivors who were wrongfully convicted on the basis of false confessions. The city, county, state and federal governments have spent more than $15,000,000 investigating and prosecuting Burge. And his cabal of officers has received $22,000,000 in pensions to date.

The total financial damage to taxpayers as a result of the torture of over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing payouts to his collaborating officers, now exceeds $120,000,000, and will only keep growing.

While Burge's conviction and imprisonment were rightly seen as a major victory for the ongoing human rights struggle against police torture, the battle has continued apace. As many as 20 Burge torture victims remain behind bars decades after their convictions, and the movement has focused on demanding new hearings for them at which they would be permitted to present the evidence of systematic torture that has come to light since their convictions.

Some of these men have won new hearings, while others have either been denied or are awaiting decisions from the courts or the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) on their requests. A court appointed monitor is examining prisoner files and letters to determine whether there are additional prisoners who may be entitled to judicial review of their claims of Burge-related torture. And the TIRC, which was created by the Illinois Legislature in response to the demands of community activists, is also reviewing some 65 additional claims of torture and related abuse at the hands of detectives who, while not working for Burge at the time of the alleged torture, had previously worked for him.

While Chicago has spent more than $20 million defending Burge and his crew, the dozens of survivors who have not been officially exonerated have received little or no compensation. Working menial jobs or unemployed, with many in need of health services for their physical and mental trauma, a number of them have courageously stepped forward and testified against Burge or have otherwise spoken out about their torture.

Two leading examples are Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon. Holmes, who was the first known victim of Burge's electric shock and suffocation tactics, was a key witness against Burge at his trial and sentencing nearly 40 years later. Cannon, who in 1983 was subjected to electric shock and a mock execution by three of Burge's henchmen, has become the leading spokesman in Chicago's anti-torture movement, and his case is featured in Amnesty International's current campaign against torture in the United States.

Both men spent decades in prison on the basis of confessions tortured from them, but Holmes has received no compensation, while Cannon received a $3,000 settlement before the torture cover-up came unglued.

The contrast between the official treatment of the torturers and their victims has spurred activists, torture survivors and lawyers working with the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project (CTJM) to campaign for the passage of a city ordinance that would address this appalling discrepancy. Introduced into City Council last October by Aldermen Joe Moreno and Howard Brookins, the "Reparations Ordinance" calls for the establishment of a $20 million fund to compensate torture survivors who have so far received little money or nothing at all.

The reparations would also include an official public apology from the City of Chicago and the establishment of a center on Chicago's South Side where survivors and their families could receive treatment and educational and job training opportunities. Additionally, the ordinance mandates that the history of Chicago police torture be taught in Chicago's public schools, and that memorials to the torture survivors be erected in the city.

As a result of CTJM's work, the ordinance now has the sponsorship of a majority of the 50 Chicago City Council members. CTJM has also issued a formal request to all of the city's major Democratic candidates for mayor, both declared and undeclared, to publicly support the ordinance. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who is considering challenging Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral race, has issued a strong endorsement of the ordinance, stating that "reparations for the survivors of Chicago police torture are long past due."

In a written response to the October 2 Press Conference, Mayor Emanuel stated that "on behalf of the city of Chicago, I want to once again apologize to the victims and their families for the injustices they have suffered and reaffirm my pledge as mayor to do everything in my power to right these wrongs and bring a close to this dark chapter in Chicago's history." However, only six days later, in response to the pointed questioning of dogged City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, Emanuel at first equivocated, saying, a year after the Ordinance was first introduced, that "on the money piece, we have to study it," and then, more negatively, that "there are things that were mentioned that we'll work through. As it relates to [monetary] reparations, I need time to evaluate it. I don't think that's the course we should take."

With the February 2015 mayoral primary fast approaching, Emanuel, whose assertions of concern for the needs of the African-American community all too often ring hollow, would be wise to consider the consequences of failing to support such a reasonable effort to heal the still festering wounds inflicted by the torture scandal. If he fails to quickly do so, the demand for a prompt City Council hearing, at which the compelling reasons for passage of the Ordinance would be fully aired, will become a powerful rallying cry for justice on behalf of the Burge torture survivors.

Chicago, like the country at large, has been sensitized to racist police violence by the events in Ferguson, Missouri. In July, two African-American youths were shot down by Chicago police officers, and a Chicago police commander has been suspended and criminally charged for torturing an arrestee by shoving a gun into his mouth.

In this racially charged atmosphere, Burge's release serves to further energize the forces that are fighting for justice for the survivors of torture. Reparations and fair hearings will go a long way to finally affording closure to a scandal that has dogged Chicago for more than forty years.

Taylor is a founding partner of the People's Law Office, has represented survivors of Chicago police torture for more than 25 years, and is a member of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project. For more information, see,

17 Times Obama Did Things We Absolutely Do Not Agree With

Fri, 2014-10-10 12:39
Our fearless leader has seen his fair share of controversies throughout his tenure in the Oval Office.

Most recently, there was the tan suit fiasco, soon followed by "Lattegate," and then one or two more.

But he's also committed some lesser-known atrocities -- like being that guy who films something with an iPad. No one likes that guy, Mr. President. No one. Let's take a moment to remember all these times Barack Obama was literally the worst:

That time he leaned over the sneeze guard at Chipotle.

That time he "volunteered" and let Michelle do all the work.

That time he "forgot" there is NO RUNNING by the pool.

That time he let this happen to Bo.

That time he hugged the living daylights out of this poor woman.

(Seriously, look at that face.)

That time he wore these mom jeans on a bike.

That time he golfed like the dad-iest dad we've ever seen.

That time he wouldn't just get his own goddamn chair.

That time he used an iPad to record a video.

That time he creeped everyone out.

That time he tried to take this person's camera.*

*We're actually not sure what's happening here, but it's probably horrible.

That time he disobeyed every mother on Earth by leaning back in his chair.

That time he laughed in this punk baby's face.

That time he completely disrespected the White House gardener's "Keep Off The Grass" signs.

That time he thought this would totally work.

That time he mocked this kid just trying to enjoy some pie.

And finally, that time he ignored the sadly piercing gaze of man's best friend.

Illinois' Most Popular State Parks for Fall

Fri, 2014-10-10 12:23
Cool temperatures, colorful foliage and a spooky atmosphere can only mean one thing: fall has come to Illinois. There is arguably no better place to fully appreciate and witness this metamorphosis than in Illinois' scenic state parks.

Get out and enjoy the last few weeks of bearable weather by taking a trip with family and friends to one of these Illinois state parks that are most popular to visit in autumn, according to

12. Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area - Yorkville, Ill.

11. Lowden State Park - Oregon, Ill.

10. Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park - Atkinson, Ill.

9. Castle Rock State Park - Oregon, Ill.

8. Walnut Point State Park - Oakland, Ill.

7. Argyle Lake State Park - Colchester, Ill.

See the six most popular state parks in Illinois at Reboot Illinois to see where you should spend your fall viewing the changing leaves.

NEXT ARTICLE: Latest Reboot Illinois/We Ask America poll results for the Illinois governor's

Sun-Times Poll: Quinn, Rauner in dead heat
Rasmussen Polls: Quinn inches ahead, Durbin maintains lead
Are all political polls created equal? Chicago Tonight panelists explain
Reboot Illinois September Governor's poll report

These Enthusiastic News Anchors Entertain Themselves With An Intricate Handshake

Fri, 2014-10-10 11:27
Ever wonder what news anchors do during commercial breaks? Well, these two entertain themselves in a way that's positively delightful: with a glorious, intricate handshake.

Robert Jordan and Jackie Bange, of Chicago's WGN News, have been anchoring together for about 20 years, and they've been doing this handshake since the early 2000s, though their list of moves has grown over time.

When a 2009 clip of their routine went viral again recently, they filmed this new version, showing their entire handshake, as it exists today. Currently, their routine is so long that it takes two commercial breaks to complete.

But where do they get inspiration for their additions? The news, of course. A post by WGN News notes many of their moves represent events or trends that have made headlines over time. For example, the newer moves in this longer handshake include a shoutout to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the notorious “Gangnam Style” dance.

One thing is for certain with these two: Practice makes perfect.

Visit WGN News to learn more about their story.

Should Quinn get four more years to make his mark on Illinois?

Fri, 2014-10-10 11:15
With less than four weeks remaining until Illinois voters choose their next governor, friends and political foes Democrat Dave Lundy and Republican Chris Robling debate whether four more years for Quinn would be the best option for Illinois.

From Lundy:

First, the brilliant multi-level, fully integrated Rauner campaign of the spring has failed to materialize in the fall. As I posted here months ago, the voters of Illinois deserve to see the Rauner plans for what he would do should he win. Instead, the Rauner campaign has gambled on the bet that just being "not Pat Quinn" is enough. It's not. The plans the Rauner campaign has put out have been either retreads or laughable exercises in fuzzy math and other than "shaking up Springfield," I have no idea what he would do if elected.

From Robling:

From his extraordinary business success, Rauner has another attribute rarely seen in Springfield. He does not care about the political games that pass for statecraft. Can one person up-end a dysfunctional system, institute reforms and put Illinois on a growth path? In a system operated largely by and for House Speaker Michael Madigan, I believe Rauner will move Illinois in the right direction simply because he is resourceful and willing to say, "No," where others crumple.

See further reasons why both are for or against Quinn's reelection at Reboot Illinois.

While Illinoisans are deciding which candidate will win their votes, the last thing they want is for a candidate to change his mind. Quinn has appeared to change his mind on the income tax increase he once said would only be temporary, and Rauner now says he is in favor of raising the minimum wage, though he wasn't a few months ago. Watch at Reboot Illinois to see Quinn and Rauner flip-flop.

6,300 Illinois Patients Rush To Apply For Medical Marijuana -- Maybe A Little Too Quickly

Fri, 2014-10-10 10:01
More than 6,000 people have already applied to use medical marijuana in Illinois -- but some patients may have signed up a little too quickly.

Only 800 of the 6,300 applications started with the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program -- about 12 percent -- are considered complete, state officials said Wednesday.

“We are encouraged to see people registering for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, which will provide patients much-needed relief from dozens of debilitating medical conditions,” Bob Morgan, statewide project coordinator for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, said in a statement. “We will continue to process applications so that registered patients and caregivers will have access to medical cannabis as soon as it becomes available.”

Applications must include documents like a doctor certification form and background check information. Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials say applicants whose registrations are incomplete will be notified by mail and given 21 days to hand in the required documents.

The most common debilitating conditions cited by prospective medical marijuana patients are cancer, severe fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, state officials said.

IDPH staff started sending approval and denial letters two weeks ago. Jim Champion, the first person to apply to be part of the state’s pilot program, already received the green light to enter the program to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis .

“I was shocked it came so fast,” the 48-year-old Army veteran told the Sun-Times. “I’m very excited.”

Though medical marijuana registry cards will soon be issued to approved patients, no dispensaries have yet opened in the state; officials expect medical marijuana to actually become available in early 2015, more than a year into the four-year pilot program.

Qualifying patients whose last names begin with A – L have until Oct. 31 to submit applications; patients whose last names begin with M - Z will be able to apply from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. Open enrollment, regardless of last name, begins Jan. 1 of 2015.

19 Things You Never Knew You Could Get For Your Home At Costco

Fri, 2014-10-10 07:53
When you go to Costco, you usually think of buying an endless supply of cereal or socks. That's all fine and good, but the next time you trek there, consider some of the items you can't buy in bulk -- like home goods.

Most people are aware about the huge flatscreen TVs Costco holds inside its massive walls, but there are more household treasures to be found. We searched Costco's website to find the coolest and most unique items around.

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HuffPost Deutschland Is 1 Year Old Today. Happy Birthday!

Fri, 2014-10-10 07:00
Happy birthday to HuffPost Deutschland, which turns 1 year old today. There's no better time to celebrate the work and spirit of our amazing German team under the leadership of Cherno Jobatey, our editorial director, and Sebastian Matthes, our editor-in-chief.

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since we gathered in our office in Munich, along with our partners from Hubert Burda Media's Tomorrow Focus, to launch HuffPost Deutschland as a journalistic outlet and platform. It's also hard to believe that, at that time, we would occasionally hear that Germans simply weren't interested in blogging. Since then, more than 1,400 bloggers -- people from all walks of life, from professors and politicians to activists and parents -- have joined the conversation. HuffPost Deutschland is now an integral part of the conversation in Germany -- and more and more people want to be a part of it.

Our editorial team has covered everything from drug legalization and pension reform to Germany's inadequate investment in infrastructure, education and childcare. At the same time, we're putting the spotlight on what is working in Germany. HuffPost Deutschland has launched its own Impact section, putting a spotlight on individuals, organizations and communities coming up with solutions to some of the biggest challenges the country faces. And as we continue our international expansion -- HuffPost is now in 11 countries, with Greece, Morocco, India and our Arabic edition coming next, and with more than half of our traffic coming from outside the United States -- we're seeing the kind of international collaborations that are opening up the conversation even more. For example, after a recent conversation with HuffPost Gay Voices editor Noah Michelson, Gina Meltzer decided to start HuffPost Deutschland's own Gay Voices section.

Germans are also emerging as leaders when it comes to living the Third Metric. Just last month, Germany's Labor Ministry commissioned a study on work-related stress, which could eventually lead to a ban on after-hours emails -- a clear signal that Germany is taking seriously the dangers of a work culture built on stress, burnout and constant connectivity. And an interview with former Deutsche Telekom executive Thomas Sattelberger on the need to reduce stress in Germany resonated widely across German media.

So please continue to make HuffPost Deutschland your destination for news, opinion and community on all things Germany. To everyone who has been a part of this vibrant community, may our second year be as exciting and fulfilling -- and as free of late-night emails -- as the first. Happy birthday, congratulations and gratitude from all your HuffPost siblings across the world.

Here Is The Richest Woman In Each State

Fri, 2014-10-10 07:00
When we think about the most powerful women in America, names like Oprah Winfrey, Janet Yellen, and Sheryl Sandberg come to mind. But measure sheerly by the size of their bank accounts, and a different group of women top the charts.

This map from the real estate blog Movoto displays the net worth of the richest female resident in each U.S. state. Darker shades of blue reflect those at the richest end of the wealth spectrum. Darker reds correlate with lesser net worth. Lighter shades of both indicate something closer to the middle.

(*An asterisks indicates totals that are estimated based on a family or couple's combined wealth.)

In total, these 50 women are worth more than $200 billion. Some have accrued their fortunes through entrepreneurship, like Indiana's Gayle Cook, the co-founder of Cook Group, a medical device company. Others have garnered their riches via inheritance, like New York's Joan Tisch, heir to the Tisch family fortune.

Four members of the Walton family, Christy, Alice, Ann and Nancy, top their respective states. They alone are worth a combined $81.4 billion. Women involved with Disney, Apple, Koch Industries, and Cargill are also represented. If you're interested in finding out the wealthiest person in each state irrespective of gender, click here.

A Kitchy Kitchen Recipe: Strawberry Glazed Donuts

Fri, 2014-10-10 01:28

These are all about simplicity: barely pink strawberry glaze on top of fluffy, cakey buttermilk donuts. Feel free to switch out strawberries for any other berry, or even cherries. These are so delicious.


3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
canola oil, for frying

1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons milk (if needed)

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl; set aside. Combine sugars, butter, and wet ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix until smooth. While mixing, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms.

Heat 2" oil in a 6 quart saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 370°. Spread a little flour on your counter, and roll out the dough to a little under an inch thick. Use a floured donut cutter to cut out donuts. Carefully slide the donuts (and donut holes) into oil and fry, flipping once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes for the whole donuts, about 2 minutes for the donut holes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; repeat with remaining dough and let donuts cool completely.

Combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and white sugar in a small pot over medium heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the strawberries have released most of their juices and have cooked down into a light syrup.  Turn off the heat and smash the strawberries with a fork. Strain if you like (I did). While the liquid is still hot, add the rosewater, powdered sugar and butter, and stir until combined.  If too thick, add a tablespoon of milk. Dip the donuts in the glaze and let them cool on a cooling rack.  If the glaze hardens in the pot, just heat up again and stir.

For more recipes like this one, check out my blog The Kitchy Kitchen.