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Judge Assigned To Dennis Hastert Case To Remain Despite Ties To Former House Speaker

Thu, 2015-06-11 15:10
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin will continue to preside over the case against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), despite having donated to Hastert's campaign in the past.

According to the AP, Durkin donated $500 in 2002 and $1,000 to Hastert's campaign in 2004. Before becoming a judge he also worked with attorneys from both sides and with Hastert's son.

Hastert pleaded not guilty on all counts to lying to the FBI and attempting to evade federal banking rules in order to cover up past alleged sexual misconduct.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in May, amid reports he allegedly withdrew $1.7 million to pay a man to stay quiet about a sexual relationship from when Hastert was a high school teacher. He had reportedly agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money.

Hastert hired Sidley Austin's Thomas Green, a high-profile Washington, D.C., lawyer, earlier this month.

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Free Summer Events in Each State

Thu, 2015-06-11 14:50
Whether you want to stay cool indoors at an art gallery or head out for live music and fireworks, there are lots of free things to do all over the country this summer. Cheapism.com has rounded up some of the best free events in each state for summer 2015.



For Cheap Must-See Attractions in All 50 States visit Cheapism.com.

Tahirah Blanding worked on this story. Read ore of her stories on Cheapism

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Nile Rodgers On How The 'Blurred Lines' Case Will Affect The Music Business

Thu, 2015-06-11 14:48
In the months following a ruling that determined Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams copied Marvin Gaye’s "Got to Give It Up" in their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines", many have questioned how the case will affect future compositions.

In speaking with The Financial Times in March, Williams said the decision “handicaps” any artist who makes something out of inspiration of a previous creation. "If we lose our freedom to be inspired, we're going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation," he said.

Last month, British music producer Mark Ronson added an additional five writing credits to his chart-topping hit “Uptown Funk” in response to The Gap Band claiming similarities between the track and their 1979 funk anthem “Oops, Up Side Your Head.”

So has the “Blurred Lines” case forever altered the music business for musicians? The answer, according to legendary musician-producer Nile Rodgers, is no.

“This is what we do as musicians. We listen to other people’s music, we get inspired,” Rodgers told The Huffington Post prior to performing at the annual Apollo Theater Spring Gala earlier this week. “Sometimes we do direct interpolations. And in that case, if there’s a real legal argument there, they probably should have – meaning Pharrell, T.I., and Robin [Thicke] – probably should have copy written it as an interpolation. Because yes, the intro is close, but the intro is not the song,” he added.

“If they didn’t have that intro you would not think that was a derivative of Marvin Gaye. So that would’ve been the smart move instead. I don’t know why they didn’t do that,” he said.

In addition to his work with Chic and Sister Sledge, Rodgers has crafted hits for the likes of David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Diana Ross (“Upside Down”), Madonna (“Like A Virgin”), and in recent years collaborating alongside Williams on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

With such an expansive collection of hits under his belt, it’s easy to consider the 62-year-old’s production credits as one of the most sampled catalogs in music.

Yet despite inspiring legions of artists, the Grammy Award winner maintains that he has no intentions of challenging any artists who have sampled his impressive repertoire of work.

“My own personal way that I look at it is, is there an artist –- and I’m not being egotistical at all –- is there an artist whose music has been sampled, or there’s variations of it, more than my music? What if I sued everybody who made a record that sounded like one of my songs,” he said. “I’ll be in court my whole life [laughs].”

“The very first time Pharrell Williams set eyes on me I was sitting at the Grammys, and he was walking down the aisle -– and he and Justin Timberlake just had a big hit record with ‘Rock Your Body,’" he recalled as he hummed the melody to the song. "I mean come on, if that’s not a derivative of ‘Good Times’… And he knew it right away. He looked at me and he bowed down.”

Rodgers is currently in the process of completing Chic’s first new album in over 20 years, "It's About Time." Meanwhile, he credits Kool & the Gang’s 1974 top ten hit, “Hollywood Swinging” for inspiring him as an musician to create Chic’s number one single, “Good Times.”

“If I didn’t love Kool & the Gang, I would’ve never wrote ‘Good Times,’” he said. “Kool & the Gang did ‘Hollywood Swinging.’ We all do that. That’s music and that’s progress. And that’s how songs and motifs, and licks, and ideas evolve. This is a natural thing.”

“Every now and then somebody sues somebody over something because it’s either very close to it or they feel the person has ripped them off, or they just want to make money," he continued. "I don’t know what the motive is in this particular [“Blurred Lines”] case, but I don’t think it’s going to have a long lasting effect on the business.”

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Paul Gale Shows How Even If You Could Change The Past ... You'd Still Be Screwed

Thu, 2015-06-11 14:37
It's you ... FROM THE FUTURRRRE!

What would you do if your future self traveled back in time to warn you about something you needed to change? Would you just follow your own commands? Can you trust your future self? Or maybe in the future you're kind of a dick, and you just enjoy messing with your past self.

Actor and comedian Paul Gale, creator of the now legendary video "Why Starbucks Spells Your Name Wrong" -- is back with a thought-provoking look into the choices we make every day. You'll see that even the most insignificant decisions can completely change the course of your life.

And possibly get you addicted to heroin. Either way.

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Shaw: Chicago Public Schools officials need to take a long, hard look in the mirror

Thu, 2015-06-11 11:47
Chicago Public Schools has its fair share of problems, and after the resignation of former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett following questionable contracts and a federal investigation, Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association wants to see CPS take steps to right its ship:

"Triple B" is gone, but the questions linger on.

I'm referring to Chicago's now-departed public schools CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who took the job in 2012 and soon after steered three no-bid contracts for principal training, including one for $20.5 million-- the largest non-competitive CPS contract in years--to SUPES Academy, where she used to work.

The first red flag is Byrd-Bennett's orchestration of a deal with a former employer without public discussion.

That occurred because the CPS review process is done in secret, so we don't know who's making decisions, or why.

CPS says the secrecy is "to protect the evaluation process" from vendors "seeking an advantage," but backroom deals invite more serious transgressions so let's open the door.

Board president David Vitale initially said that CPS considered other consultants to provide professional development for all 400-plus principals, and concluded the only one with enough capacity was SUPES, a small for-profit firm based in Wilmette.

That's odd because several local universities have been providing principal training for years, and they're more prominent than SUPES.

Check out the rest of Shaw's thoughts on CPS at Reboot Illinois.

Also looming over the district's head is a $634 million pension payment that's due at the end of the month and the Chicago Teachers Union contracts which also expire around the same time. Cartoonist Scott Stantis shared his rendition of the whole fiasco:



Check out the whole cartoon at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

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Here's What It Would Look Like If Inspirational Quotes Were Honest, Vol. 4

Wed, 2015-06-10 17:23
If a tree falls in the woods, and you're not there to hear it, wouldn't you want it to fall on that friend who posts WAY too many inspirational quotes on Facebook?

Ah, the inspirational quote. On social media, it's like a language all its own. Whatever event is happening in someone's life, their is an eye-catching image and some pretty-fonted words to express the emotion attached to that event. But sometimes these inspirational quotes reach just a bit too far, and they need to be brought back down to earth.

Here are some of those inspirational quotes you're always sharing, and their more honest translations:

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Chicago Cop Who Was Fired After Posing For Racist Photo Won't Get His Job Back

Wed, 2015-06-10 17:00
A Chicago cop who was fired last year for helping to stage a racist photo is out of the police force for good.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Tim Allen on Wednesday upheld the Chicago Police Board's firing of Timothy McDermott, one of two officers who posed for a racially charged photo that features two white officers with rifles holding a black detainee wearing deer antlers.


Former Chicago Police Department officers Jerome Finnigan (left) and Timothy McDermott (right) pose with an unidentified suspect. (Photo obtained by The Chicago Sun-Times from a court filing.)

"The photograph is the case," Allen said, according to ABC Chicago. "There's nothing else. Plain and simple."

McDermott appealed the board's October 2014 decision to fire him, according to a spokesman for the Chicago Police Board, and will have the option to appeal again in light of Allen's decision.

Daniel Herbert, McDermott's attorney, told the Chicago Tribune his client did plan on appealing the judge's decision, and argued that firing was too harsh of a punishment.

"Terminating this officer for a 10-second decision in his life is not fair and it's unwarranted," Herbert said before Allen's ruling.

"I spent 17 years serving and protecting the citizens of Chicago in every neighborhood," McDermott said Wednesday. "I loved every minute of it. I am fully prepared to continue this fight for my job."

Jerome Finnigan, the other officer pictured in the photo, was fired from the department in 2011 after separate charges were brought against him alleging that he carried out robberies and home invasions and even ordered a hit on a fellow officer who he believed would snitch on him. Finnigan is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence, The Associated Press reports.

The FBI discovered the photo while investigating Finnigan. The photo is undated, but is believed to have been taken between 1999 and 2003, when Finnigan and McDermott were both members of the disgraced -- and now disbanded -- elite unit known as Special Operations Sector.

Earlier this year, Allen denied a request to keep the photo sealed. It was later obtained from a court filing by the Chicago Sun-Times, which released the image in late May.

"The fact that a police officer who was involved in the incident now wants his job back is reason enough to run the photograph," the newspaper explained in a message to readers when it ran the photo. "This is an ongoing news story, not just about one officer’s career but about how a big-city police department commits itself -- to this day -- to the highest professional standards. For us to hold the photo back would have been no more defensible than the police holding it back."

Finnigan told authorities that he and McDermott had arrested the black man who posed as a hunting trophy on suspicion of drug possession, according to the Sun-Times. He also said it was that man who provided the rifles used in the photo.

Last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel voiced his approval of the Chicago Police Board's decision to fire McDermott and Finnigan.

"You don't belong in the Police Department," Emanuel said of the former officers. "The police department is there to serve and protect, and the values expressed in that photo are not the values of the people of the city of Chicago."

"As far as I'm concerned, good riddance," the mayor added.

McDermott told the department's internal affairs division in 2013 that the photo was a mistake and that he now regrets it, according to the Tribune.

"I was asked to join the photo and I did so without exercising proper judgment," McDermott was quoted as saying. "I made a mistake as a young impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in. I wish I could go back and change this split second decision."

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Kendrick Lamar Visits High School That Praised His Work

Wed, 2015-06-10 16:21
Kendrick Lamar's latest album "To Pimp A Butterfly" has received rave reviews from critics and has even served as inspiration for one high school English teacher.

During the recent school year, English teacher Brian Mooney’s applied the messages behind the lyrics into his daily curriculum, drawing parallels from Lamar’s album to Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye.”

Mooney chronicled his classroom experience in a blog post, which just happened to catch the attention of Kendrick. It eventually led the Grammy Award-winner to make a surprise visit to Mooney's high school in North Bergen, N.J on June 8 where he performed one of his songs from the album, "Alright."



During an interview with NBC News, the Compton native shared his thoughts on how his album impacted Mooney’s freshman class.

“I didn’t think I made it for a 16-year-old. So when a 16-year-old is intrigued by it, it lets me know how so far in advance as a society we actually are. And that inspired me on a whole ‘nother level,” he said. “A lot of times we’re put in these positions where we don’t know we’re role models. And just off the simple fact -- whether we want to be a role model or not –- just the simple fact that we come from these Urban communities, these harsh worlds and we’re on TV and kids are looking at us, we’re already influence.”

“We influence their minds, we influence the way they talk, the way they dress,” he continued. “Every time I meet kids and they explain it to me what they got going on in life. I got to get out of my selfish ways of knowing that the music is not just about me anymore.”

Mooney seconded Kendrick, adding how he feels hip hop culture is a viable resource for teaching and learning in the classroom.

“One of the most important elements of hip hop is something called ‘knowledge of self,’ which a lot of hip hop historians will talk about. And that’s so educational,” Mooney told NBC News.

“That’s talking about identity. And so, it’s less of matter of using hip hop to trick kids into learning, but it’s more of an actual frame work for teaching and learning.”

Check out Kendrick Lamar’s visit to High Tech High School in the clip above.



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Mark Ruffalo Talks Openly on the Gene Siskel Film Center Red Carpet

Wed, 2015-06-10 15:36
The Gene Siskel Film Center (GSFC) of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a beacon in the film industry for more than 40 years. Formerly the Film Center of the SAIC, it was renamed after the late film critic in 2000 and has maintained its pledge to present world-class, independent, international and classic films since its inception. The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago not only celebrates the art of cinema, but also delivers brilliance in film programming and festivals to over 80,000 every year.

The majority of cinemas around the country focus on commercial movies, rather than artistic films and, thus, the GSFC of the SAIC fills an important need. "Where else do you have the world famous Black Harvest Film Festival, the EU Film Festival, the Iranian Film Festival, the Asian Film Festival and many others? The students of SAIC, the great people of the city of Chicago and those in the State of Illinois get to enrich their lives," said Advisory Board Chair of the GSFC and Founder of Art(n), Ellen Sandor.

On June 6th, at the annual awards ceremony, dinner and fundraiser supporting the GSFC's eclectic year-round film programming, lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers, Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo was honored with the coveted Renaissance Award. The dinner was followed by a candid conversation between Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips and Mr. Ruffalo.



Ruffalo is probably best known for his role of Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers (2012) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and his Academy Award nominated roles in the Kids Are All Right (2010) and Foxcather (2014). Ruffalo, who is also a director (Sympathy for the Delicious, 2009), has another movie coming out this June, called, Infinitely Polar Bear in which he plays a manic-depressive father and husband.

From the red carpet, minutes before the ceremony, an understated, thoughtful and genuinely approachable, Ruffalo credited his Catholic upbringing for his progressive thinking and support for the underdog.

The actor is a strong voice for addressing climate change and increasing renewable energy. In 2011, he co-founded Water Defense, an organization devoted to the guiding principal that clean water is a basic human right. Ruffalo helped launch The Solutions Project in 2012 as part of his mission to share science, business and culture that demonstrate the feasibility of renewable energy. In regards to his on-going, on-line presence supporting environmental and social causes, Ruffalo had this to say with an unapologetic laugh, "Sometime you gotta get your ass kicked for what you believe in."

Enjoy the video above of an unassuming and honest Ruffalo commenting on what attracted him to acting, his views on politics, the actors that he emulates, words of advice for young actors, the diversity of his roles and his favorite snack.

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Hastert Scandal a Call to Action

Wed, 2015-06-10 14:33
I have three sons who all wrestled in high school, one of them, Sam Brooks, is still wrestling at the University of Iowa. Sam was a two-time Illinois state champion in high school and the man who coached him to those titles and who was instrumental in his college choice is Mike Powell. Sam still considers Powell a coach, a best friend, a father figure and a role model. Powell treats his wrestlers as family and is involved in life-changing decisions for his current and his former athletes.

Athletes and coaches often share a special bond and a sacred trust. That bond can be undeniable and unbreakable, which makes the charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert a wake up call to athletes and their parents not to get caught up in a culture that revers successful coaches and fears retribution from them as well.

Hastert made his first federal court appearance on Tuesday facing charges he paid hush money to a former student from his days as a Yorkville High School teacher and wrestling coach to cover up misconduct.

The indictment doesn't say what "misconduct" Hastert was trying to make go away with more than a million dollars in alleged payments to someone only known as "Individual A," but subsequently and separate from the indictment, Jolene Burdge has come forward to accuse Hastert of having a sexual relationship with her brother from 1967 until 1971. Her brother, Stephen Reinboldt, who is now deceased, was a student and wrestling team manager at that time. Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach.

Of Hastert's indictment Powell said, "If it's true it offends all my sensibilities." He says when he heard the news he was in disbelief. "Denny Hastert has been the role model of success that the Illinois wrestling world held up for years."

And the numbers show Hastert was a very successful coach. Illinois High School Association (IHSA) records show that Hastert's teams won titles and place finishes at the state tournament until he left for the Illinois state house in 1980, even winning a coveted state championship in 1976 when he was named Illinois Coach of the Year.

Burdge says when she asked her brother why he didn't speak up, he said no one would take his word over Hastert's and he was probably right.

Standing up to and calling out an authority figure, especially one with a winning record, is no easy task. This is true not just for the athletes, but for their parents as well. This is why abuse and cover up on the magnitude of the Jerry Sandusky and Penn State scandal happen.

But abuse of the coach-athlete bond doesn't have to be as horrific or as blatant as that to change a young person's life forever. My middle son spent one year in an NCAA Division 1 wrestling program. The coaching style was not a good fit, it was not what he was used to and he came home for good after one year. I feel guilty that I didn't vet the coaches well enough and instead focused on what a good school he'd be attending, a school he wouldn't have been admitted to without athletics. Once I suspected my son was not happy I should have spoken out loudly and pushed harder to change his situation. Just recently a colleague echoed those feelings about his daughter and a gymnastics coach.

As parents we often walk the tightrope of trying not to interfere with someone who is the expert and with wanting to keep our children out of harm's way. To be sure an insensitive or even insulting coach is far different than one who is a pedophile and sexual abuser, but the impact can still be difficult and long-lasting.

Stand up and speak out is a movement to end bullying and this is bullying with the added cruel twist of a bully cloaked in the guise of a trusted authority figure. We need to find a way to teach our children to stand up and speak out. Perhaps that way is to lead by example. As parents we can all up our game in that regard.

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9 Times The Stars Of 'OITNB' Were Badass Feminists Off-Screen

Wed, 2015-06-10 11:07
The third season of "Orange Is The New Black" comes out on June 12, and we could not be more excited to spend a full weekend binge-watching it.

The Netflix drama, which follows the inmates of the fictional Litchfield Penitentiary, features an incredibly diverse set of characters and brings complex women's stories to our screens. What makes it even better is that the actresses and actors on "OITNB" are just as dedicated to raising awareness for important issues off-screen.

The "OITNB" cast have spoken out about the importance of seeing different body types on screen, called for more mainstream television characters who aren't young and white, supported the LGBT community and pushed for criminal justice reform. Laverne Cox, who plays trans inmate Sophia Burset, even landed on the cover of Time under the powerful headline "The Transgender Tipping Point."

These women (and a few good men) have used their rising stardom to advocate for equality, independence, and inclusion.

Here are 9 times "OITNB" cast members were badass feminists:


1. When Samira Wiley told The Guardian about her dedication to representing all women on-screen:




2. When Matt McGorry's feminist Facebook post made us swoon:




3. When Dascha Polanco told VH1 about learning to love her body in spite of restrictive beauty standards:




4. When Danielle Brooks wrote a kickass, body-positive essay for Glamour:




5. When Lea DeLaria talked about why "OITNB" is important to viewers on AfterEllen.com:




6. When Selenis Leyva wrote an incredible blog post calling for more awareness about the barriers transgender people face:




7. When Uzo Aduba told NPR about owning her "unusual name" and challenging whitewashing:




8. When Laverne Cox spoke to DAME about what feminism means to her:




9. When Lorraine Toussaint told IndieWire about the importance of helping non-white, not-so-young actresses smash the glass ceiling:



We can't wait to hear what else this amazing cast has to say. Slay, queens.

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45 Pieces Of Wisdom From This Year's Commencement Speeches

Wed, 2015-06-10 10:33
As the school year came to a close, the Class of 2015 methodically donned their caps and gowns. Four years long and four years gone, these students must brace themselves for the unexpected realities of what is known as "the real world." Although each summer brings waves of trepidation to the prevailing graduating class, there is relief to be found at the finish line of commencement. If only for a moment, the most prominent and experienced politicians, innovators, entertainers and entrepreneurs pause their pursuits to advise and inspire our future generation.

HuffPost noticed a trend in this year’s graduation speeches: Truth be told, our leaders love numbered lists. From George W. Bush to Denzel Washington to the Founder of Papa John’s, here are the most valuable lists of wisdom from this year’s commencement speakers.

President George W. Bush’s 2 Favorite Churchill Quotes:


  1. "Never give in, -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

  2. "These are not dark days. These are great days. The greatest our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race."


Papa John’s 3 Steps To A Good Life:



  1. Wake up

  2. Be nice

  3. Kick Ass


Rob Manning’s 6 Simple Lessons:

  1. Don’t define yourself by your weaknesses.

  2. Know your strengths and capitalize on them.

  3. It isn’t how well you learn or listen, but where you listen.

  4. Boldly go and take risks, it the only way great things happen.

  5. If you are going to “boldly go”, be prepared to “boldly fail”.

  6. Don’t forget to breath, live and fall in love.


Denzel Washington’s 4 Takeaways:





  1. Put God first: "Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It's a gift. ... I didn't always stick with Him, but He stuck with me."

  2. Fail big: "Don't be afraid to fail big, to dream big, but remember, dreams without goals, are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. ... I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes it's just not to curse somebody out."

  3. You'll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse: "I don't care how much money you make, you can't take it with you. ... It's not how much you have, it's what you do with it."

  4. While you're on your knees in the morning, say thank you: "Say thank you in advance for what is already yours. ... True desire in the heart for anything good is God's proof to you sent beforehand that it's already yours. ... When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one. Don't just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference."


Howard Fineman’s 7 “C’s” To Be A Thoughtful Citizen:



  1. Curiosity

  2. Critical Thinking

  3. Context

  4. Calm

  5. Compassion

  6. Connect

  7. Conscience


Arianna Huffington’s 3 Relationships:

  1. Your relationship with technology: “No generation has been as liberated and as connected by technology as yours. But also, no generation has been as enslaved and as distracted by technology.”

  2. Your relationship with yourself: “There will be many profound and fulfilling relationships ahead of you, but the relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you'll ever have.”

  3. Your relationship with the world: “There is an invisible but very real and inescapable connection between our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the world... Don't get so caught up in your busy life that life's mystery passes you by.”


John Stumpf’s 3 Wishes:




I wish someone had taught me about…
  1. The changing world I was going to go enter.

  2. The journey of learning.

  3. How to develop and build a career.


Lisa G. Szarkowski's 2 Messages:



  1. "From me, please don't ever let anyone or anything take your empathy."

  2. "In my travels of late, I asked children if they could send a message, any message, to you, what would it be? And here is the winning theme: You are lucky. Yes, you with the student loans and no jobs, you are lucky. "


Gavin Newsom’s 3 Topics Worthy Of Addressing:




  1. Diversity: “At our best we don’t just tolerate our diversity. We celebrate our diversity”

  2. Leadership: “You don’t have to be something to do something. Take responsibility. Step up and step in. Because at the end of the day, folks, we are our behaviors.”

  3. Anxiety: “Start failing forward fast”


Tom Brokaw’s 4 Mantras For “The New Age:"



  1. Do not be afraid to be disruptive.

  2. Find new ways to do the conventional.

  3. Do not run from big and bold challenges.

  4. Be the generation that sees a friend or a stranger for who they are, and not just the color of their skin.


Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 8 Things You Should Know (Including 4 Cosmic Points):



  1. Your grades, whatever is your GPA, rapidly becomes irrelevant in your life.

  2. It’s okay to not know, that’s what school is for. That’s okay. But if you don’t know, but think you do know, and have power over legislation that would affect others, that is dangerous. Those are the signs of the end of an informed democracy.

  3. Science matters.

  4. If you have an issue with politicians it's because you have an issue with your fellow citizens who put them there.

  5. Role models are overrated.

  6. Some cosmic points:

    • - The universe is bigger than you are.

    • - If someone invites you to go to Mars, just remember how beautiful Earth is before you do that. You can breathe the air, you know, things like this.

    • - However, do not forget that Earth is really good at killing you. Ninety-seven percent of all the species of life on Earth that have ever existed are now extinct.

    • - The sun is a limitless source of energy. Oil, under the ground? Not so much.

  7. I don't know what has happened to the world. But you're up next in the batter's box. It's up to you. If it’s okay with you that everyone is looking at you [through government surveillance], alright. It’s not okay with me. It’s not okay with people who remember what it really meant to live in a free society.

  8. It is okay to encourage others to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. But if you do, just remember that some people have no boots.


BONUS: NASA's 10 Predictions For The Future (From Rob Manning):



  1. You will look great on your 110th birthday. You will be among the first to tell tales spanning three centuries.

  2. You will be able to talk to a robot like you talk to your closest friend, but you will not completely trust him.

  3. The Internet will prove to be a valuable contribution to society.

  4. “Road rage” will be the name of the computer virus that got into your self-driving car.

  5. You too will feel conflicted when your smart-watch and all of the other smart objects in your house will unionize against you.

  6. You will live in a world where the inner workings of the human mind will be fully mapped, but you will still not be able to find the humor in your husband’s jokes or understand your wife’s need to tell her friends everything.

  7. You will see people walk on Mars. They will get dusty, cold and tire of salmon colored skies. They will want to come home.

  8. Robots to the outer planets will find single cell life lurking in the depths of the vast oceans of the icy moons. The life will politely ask us to leave.

  9. Starbucks will plumb coffee into homes across America but it will still be more fun to hang around the baristas.

  10. You will learn to love GMO vegetables, like those caffeine-laden carrots that work nearly as well as the Starbucks from the faucet.

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Illinois State Senators Square Off And Share Competing Ideas

Wed, 2015-06-10 10:32
Illinois lawmakers are back to the drawing board when it comes to figuring out a balanced budget for the state. For the most part, the Democrats and their legislative leaders are wary about cutting programs which are popular among their constituents and which they see as important services, and legislative Republicans and Gov. Bruce Rauner want to make sure that the state isn't spending more than it can afford and that any spending is accompanied by business reforms.

Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski explained his stance on the budget battle at Reboot Illinois. Illinoisans can't drop their investment in people who need state support, he says:

As much as Governor Rauner wants to frame the budget passed by the General Assembly as a battle between the Speaker of the House and him, the budget that will soon lie on his desk is really a battle between cutting essential services and investing in the people of Illinois.

Away from the partisan bickering and the political posturing is a budget or investment plan that proposes to fund our obligations, pay old bills, and empower our greatest resource: the residents of our state. Contrary to the Governor's introduced budget in February, this budget will keep property taxes low, make college more affordable and maintain programs for children living with autism, epilepsy and mental health challenges.

This plan is bold because it includes the single-largest, education investment in our state's history and ensures that over 2,046,000 public school children have the chance to get a world-class education. It provides a foundation so that 432,000 community college and university students have the opportunity to obtain a degree and secure good-paying jobs when they graduate. It helps 150,000 of these same students and their hard-working families have relief from the crushing burden of rising tuition costs.

This plan is smart because it recognizes that Illinois has 30,000 available manufacturing jobs and understands the importance of having a workforce with the skills necessary to stay in their current positions or to make a cost-effective transition into their new jobs. To that end, thousands of people will receive technical training so that they can be an asset for the companies for which they work and so they can, most important, earn a paycheck, take care of their families and climb the ladder of success.

This budget also passes the moral test that measures a society by how it treats its most vulnerable members. It ensures that 104,000 seniors have the dignity of staying in their own homes; provides 18,500 children and adults with autism and epilepsy the chance to receive life-changing and life-saving support; and offers 15,198 young people who have suffered from abuse and neglect the care required to confront their trauma and thrive as adults.

Read the rest of Kotowski's thoughts at Reboot Illinois.

And Republican Sen. Matt Murphy shared his view on the situation. he says the state has been run a certain way for years, which isn't working out very well. It's time to change course:

May 31st is the customary end of the legislative session in Springfield. Not this year though. This year a political storm is brewing in our state capital.

A couple of months ago, I wrote on this page that we need to take Illinois in a new direction and that our leaders must implement a big vision for a brighter future for our state. With a strong new governor in Bruce Rauner and a clear mandate from the people to fundamentally change the way Springfield does business, I was eager to join my Democrat friends across the aisle in beginning the difficult work of making Illinois great again. Hope sprung eternal.

But then, as May 31st neared, it became increasingly clear that while Governor Rauner and we legislative Republicans were willing to compromise to help move our state forward, Speaker Madigan and too many legislative Democrats were not. This same conclusion was also reached by newspaper editorial boards all across our state.

When the governor and legislative Republicans proposed freezing property taxes, the Democrats opposed us. When we proposed litigation reforms to bring the cost of doing business down and create more jobs, the Democrats opposed us. When we proposed reforms to how legislative districts are drawn to curtail the gerrymandering that skews our elections, the Democrats opposed us. When we proposed term limits, the Democrats opposed us.

Instead of working with us to make Illinois great again, Speaker Madigan and the Democrats zealously defended the status quo, which the people of Illinois rejected last Fall when they elected Governor Rauner.

Legislative Democrats are so wedded to their one-party rule playbook of the past twelve years that they passed yet another deficit spending budget -- a $36.3 billion budget when Illinois will take in $32 billion in revenue. They oppose reforms but want a tax increase to fill this deficit. It sounds like more of the same irresponsibility that got us in this mess in the first place. Hardly the big vision for a brighter future the voters and I hoped for this session.

Read the rest of Murphy's thoughts at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

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5 Illinois Laws You Have to Know

Wed, 2015-06-10 10:30
Not knowing the law is not an excuse for breaking it, so if you live in Illinois, you should familiarize yourself with these five rules so that you don't get caught unawares. Some you may know, and others might seem like no-brainer's, but who knows, learning about one of these laws could help you out in the future.

1. DUI threshold

While the blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08 percent in Illinois, there is a zero tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21.

2. Using a cell phone when driving

Unless you have Bluetooth or some other kind of hands-free device, using your cell phone to talk or text while driving is illegal. The fine for first-time offenders is $75; $100 for a second offense; $125 for a third offense and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. However, this law does not apply to law enforcement and other operators of emergency vehicles.

3. Divorce requirements

If you want to get a divorce in Illinois, you better make sure you're a resident of the state for at least 90 days. Also, Illinois has what is called "no fault" divorce, which means you or your spouse do not have to prove any wrongdoing.

4. Marital property division

Since Illinois is not a community property state, divorcing spouses have marital property divided based on equity or fairness, unless there is a valid prenuptial agreement in place.

5. Comparative fault for injuries

There is a modified contributory negligence standard in Illinois for recovering money from injury damages. If you're more than 50 percent at fault for injuries you sustained, you might not recover a penny.

Check out five more Illinois laws you'll need to know if you live in the state, including regulations about prayer in schools, marijuana and wills.


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NEXT ARTICLE: 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Illinois in 2015

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Top Tips for Disney World First-Timers

Wed, 2015-06-10 07:42
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be overwhelming, especially if you're visiting for the first time. You have to set a budget, decide the best time to go, where to stay and navigate four theme parks, two water parks and a multitude of dining and recreation options.

So, where should you begin? Here is what you need to know before you travel to the happiest place on earth, plus tips for maximizing your time once you arrive.

See: 5 Hacks for Saving on Your Disney Vacation

Consult the experts
If you're in the early planning stages of a Disney World vacation, you'll find plenty of great resources at your fingertips. The Disney Parks Moms Panel, a forum where online "moms" (and dads) offer advice and answer user questions, is especially valuable for those who have specific questions about hotels or age-appropriate rides and attractions. This forum, which is free to use, enables trip planners to post questions about how to maximize the Disney experience and receive responses from a select group of expert advisers. If you want to cast a larger net, read user-generated reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, or ask for feedback from friends on social media.

Pay close attention to the school calendar
The Disney high season tends to follow school vacation schedules. So, summertime and long holiday weekends are naturally a bit more crowded than other times of the year. You'll also find that hotel and airfare rates are inflated around this time, too. When kids return to school, park attendance goes down and the rates follow suit.

Disney travel experts at Fodor's suggest visiting in September or early December. September, with the exception of Labor Day, is one of the least crowded months. Early December is another great time to visit. During this month, families can take advantage of lower hotel rates, shorter wait times at rides and get a chance to take in all the holiday-themed decor before the crowds descend for Christmas and winter school breaks.

Diligently track promotions
Disney World promotions can be tricky to predict, but they're worth taking advantage of: some can cut your vacation costs by 30 percent or more. That's why signing up for an email list that tracks the promotions for you is the easiest way to snag a good deal. If you need help keeping on top of all the deals, the travel blog MouseSavers.com keeps a log of past discounts for Disney World vacations to help you estimate when future deals will be released. Plus, it offers a step-by-step guide for planning your Disney vacation. The Orlando tourism bureau also offers deals on multi-day park tickets, so it's worth consulting its website for the latest discounts.

Make your dinner reservations as soon as possible
If you want to dine at any of the resort's 300-some restaurants, you'll need to make your dinner reservations pretty far in advance. Melissa Caldarone brings her kids to the parks every year, and her family always make dinner reservations ahead of time.

"Booking dinner reservations months in advance is the best way to secure a table at your favorite restaurant," Caldarone said. "The 50's Prime Time Café is our family's favorite. To get a table, we book a reservation online about 180 days before departure. We also have better luck booking a table at less popular times, like 5:45 p.m. instead of 6 p.m."

Caldarone also waits to book her vacation until Disney offers free dining promotions. Some of these promotions can include one quick-service meal, one table-service meal and one snack per person, per night of your stay. "If you can travel when this promotion is available, you will save a ton of money," Caldarone said.

See: Best Things to Do in Orlando-Walt Disney World

Be strategic about where you stay
When deciding whether to stay at a Disney resort or a non-Disney property, you'll have to weigh several factors. Disney hotels are likely more expensive, but they also enable quicker access to the parks. Plus, staying at a Disney resort grants you other perks like extended park hours (known as "Extra Magic Hours"), the ability to book early dining reservations and free transportation to the parks.

The Disney website has a filter option to help guests compare hotels on the property, an efficient tool for determining which resort is best for you and your family. For example, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort offer transportation to the parks with access to the monorail, while other properties like Disney's Pop Century and Disney's All-Star Movies Resort are more affordable, but not as close to the action.

Jacqui Gifford, senior editor of Travel + Leisure, said travelers should choose a hotel based on its proximity to preferred parks. "One thing first-timers should always consider is the age of their children. Little ones gravitate toward the water parks and Magic Kingdom, where they can ride the teacups and see Cinderella's Castle," Gifford said. "Teens and tweens will want to focus on the more 'adult' places: the Boardwalk, Epcot's World Showcase or Disney's Hollywood Studios."

But there are plenty of other accommodations around Orlando to consider, too. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort and Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort are just a couple family-friendly resorts that are worth looking to. These hotels may be less expensive (especially if you use loyalty points to pay for your stay) and offer a more luxurious atmosphere.

Vacation home rentals are another alternative that can be more affordable than a Disney resort, especially for larger groups who require more than one hotel room. Check sites like HomeAway to see what's available during your trip.

Maximize your park time with FastPass+
The free FastPass+ service enables guests to reserve a spot in line at favorite rides and avoid long wait times. Here's how the service works: confirmed park guests can log into My Disney Experience on the Disney app or website, where the site guides visitors through the process of making an itinerary and choosing preferred rides and attractions. This feature is a big benefit for families who already know which rides they want to go on. If you're not sure which rides will be of interest to your family, get to the parks as soon as they open -- lines tend to be much shorter in the morning.

Prep your smartphone, too
Another way to make the most of your time at Disney World: Download the My Disney Experience app onto a smartphone. This app will enable you and your family to coordinate dining reservations, your FastPass+ itinerary and figure out where Disney characters are hiding out. Plus, all your family members can use the same account and follow the same itinerary.

See: Best Hotels in Orlando

About the author: Julie Loffredi is an award-winning journalist and correspondent. She writes about travel tips for a variety of publications and is a contributor at travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip. You can follow her on Twitter @julieloffredi or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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5 Dirty Secrets About Chicago

Wed, 2015-06-10 03:54
In Chicago you can take the chocolate tour, the gangster tour, the architecture tour...why not the sex tour?

Starting this weekend, Crain's Chicago Business real estate reporter Dennis Rodkin will lead groups on his fascinating Sexual History of Chicago tour.

Here, some of the raunchiest Chicago facts we bet you never knew:

Where Hugh Hefner Saw His First Naked Lady...



What Katharine Dexter McCormick Smuggled Into America...



Which Body Part Jimi Hendrix Made A Plaster Cast Of...



Which Chicago Landmark Stands On The Site That Once Was A Brothel...



What The Dan Ryan Expressway Used To Be...



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Michelle Obama Delivers Emotional Commencement Address At Chicago High School

Wed, 2015-06-10 02:29
“I know the struggles many of you face, how you walk the long way home to avoid the gangs; how you fight to concentrate on your schoolwork when there's too much noise at home; how you keep it together when your family's having a hard time making ends meet. But more importantly, I know the strength of this community.”

Those were the words spoken by first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday to the graduates of King College Prep High School in Chicago’s South Side.

Obama grew up near the school, and during her emotional commencement address, she said she wanted to share “the real story” about the South Side, a story about resilience and courage in the face of adversity.

She also honored Hadiya Pendleton, a student of King College Prep who was shot dead two years ago at the age of 15.

“I know that many of you have already dealt with some serious losses in your lives,” Obama told the students. “Maybe you’ve lost someone you love, someone you desperately wish could be here with you tonight. And I know that many of you are thinking about Hadiya right now and feeling the hole that she’s left in your hearts.”

Pendleton was shot in the back in January 2013 while hanging out with friends in a park. Just the week before, the honor student had performed at an event in Washington D.C. to celebrate President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The teen’s killing, which occurred shortly after the Newtown school massacre, rattled not just Chicago, but the nation. The first lady even spoke at Pendleton’s funeral.

On Tuesday, an empty chair was left for Pendleton at what would have been her graduation. The chair was draped in purple, the teen’s favorite color, and adorned with fresh flowers. Obama told the students that Pendleton’s memory “is truly a blessing and an inspiration.”

Using the teen's life and legacy as an example, Obama then urged the graduating glass to not be defined by the violence and economic hardship they may have endured, but by the success they’ve achieved in spite of it.

“I want you to understand that every scar that you have is a reminder not just that you got hurt, but that you survived,” Obama said, adding: “If Hadiya’s friends and family could survive their heartbreak and pain, if they could found organizations to honor her unfulfilled dreams, if they could inspire folks across this country to wear orange to protest gun violence, then I know you all can live your life with the same determination and joy that Hadiya lived her life. I know you all can dig deep and keep on fighting to fulfill your own dreams.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, all of King College Prep’s 177 graduates have been accepted to college.

“You embody all of the courage and love, all of the hunger and hope that have always defined these communities -- our communities,” Obama said in the conclusion of her speech. “And I am so proud of you all, and I stay inspired because of you, and I can’t wait to see everything you all achieve in the years ahead.”

The First Lady chose to speak at King College Prep after the school won a video contest promoting student applications for college financial aid, The Associated Press reported. The school's winning video featured a spoof of the ABC show "Scandal." On Tuesday, Obama brought a surprise video for the students in which the show's cast members congratulated the graduates.

Watch part of Michelle Obama's commencement address in the video above. Read the full transcript here.

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Medicare Is Not an ATM

Tue, 2015-06-09 15:17
This is a warning for senior citizens: Ongoing trade negotiations could be harmful to your health.

One of us is a member of Congress who co-chairs the House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force. The other is the head of an advocacy organization that has been working for more than three decades to improve the lives of older Americans. Both of us are closely tracking the ongoing trade debate, and we believe it would have dangerous impacts for access to affordable medicines -- here and abroad.

Last month, the Senate passed trade-promotion, or "fast-track," authority, which would expedite congressional consideration of trade agreements and prohibit Congress from amending any trade agreement negotiated over the next six years. "Fast track" means Congress would only get an "up-or-down" vote on trade agreements that are negotiated for years behind closed doors and not available for public scrutiny.

"Fast-track" authority would clear the way for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, negotiations that involve 12 Pacific Rim countries. Those negotiations have raised alarm bells with public-health organizations who, like us, believe the agreement could block affordable access to life-sustaining essential medicines.

Over the past months, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has been trying to get provisions into the TPP that would allow it to boost already-high profits by blocking competition. What they are proposing goes far beyond current international agreements and would reduce your ability to afford the drugs you need. Even worse, it would prevent Congress from enacting legislation to lower drug costs in the future.

And now there is a new threat. Because of concern that the TPP would cost jobs -- another big reason to oppose the deal -- some in Congress are insisting that we extend assistance to dislocated workers before they are willing to lend their support to fast-track legislation and allow the TPP trade deal to move forward. This assistance would come from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that is designed to help working men and women who lose their jobs because of trade deals.

While protecting Americans against trade-related job losses is a critical priority, it should not come at the expense of seniors, the disability community, or their families. Last month, the Senate passed a bill that would take nearly $1 billion from Medicare to pay for Trade Adjustment Assistance. The Senate bill would cut payments to hospitals and doctors, making access to services more difficult. We oppose those cuts -- and steadfastly oppose any cuts to Medicare benefits or increases in cost sharing. But we also believe that any savings achieved by improving efficiency and cutting waste should be used to improve Medicare -- not for something else.

Allowing Medicare to be used to fund Trade Adjustment Assistance reopens the flood gates for those who would use it to fund other programs. Medicare is not an ATM -- and we must not jeopardize its earned benefits by siphoning it off to pay for other items.

After trade-promotion authority is passed, the TPP and other trade deals will follow closely behind -- creating a whole new danger for Medicare beneficiaries. Seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare -- as well as other Americans -- are already struggling with high drug prices. Yet the provisions in the trade agreement would raise those prices even higher.

Drug companies could get second patents for making minor changes, and generic companies could be denied the ability to get or use clinical data in order to enter the market. A new investor-state dispute-settlement mechanism could allow foreign companies seeking to protect their profits to challenge U.S. policies in a legal mechanism outside the U.S. court system.

One proposal would mandate a 12-year exclusivity period for biologic drugs, during which time generic alternatives would be prohibited. Other countries negotiating the TPP either have no similar requirement or have significantly shorter periods. Only the United States currently has a 12-year exclusivity period.

But many of us -- including the president -- are trying to change that. The administration's budget request to Congress this year recommends reducing the 12 years to seven years, a move that would save Medicare $3.8 billion and lower out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors. If TPP passes, Congress would be prevented from making that change.

We need a fair trade deal that helps generic companies and U.S. businesses compete -- not one loaded with gifts to the brand-name pharmaceutical industry paid for by seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare.

The House should reject "fast-track" authority and push for a trade deal that doesn't put corporate profits ahead of the interests of healthcare consumers.

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The Devolution Revolution

Tue, 2015-06-09 15:16
A governance revolution is underway, founded on the irresistible rise of cities and the ongoing decline of sovereign nation states. That revolution is already evident in countries from Italy and France to China and the United States, but it has received official certification from the newly reelected Tory government in the United Kingdom, which has pronounced the "old model" of running everything from 10 Downing Street "broken." Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is promising a "Cities Devolution Bill" and, in the Queen's Speech to Parliament last week, announced a "revolution in how we govern England" that will "deliver radical devolution to the great cities of England," giving them the "levers to grow their local economy."

In remarks given at the top of One World Trade Center to the opening of the World Cities Summit in New York (sponsored by Singapore), Mayor Bill de Blasio noted rather delicately that cities and their national governments do not always see eye to eye. And then this zinger: "[A]nd when national governments fail to act on crucial issues like climate, cities have to do so."

Devolution to cities is both policy and fact. It is happening and is increasingly being embraced by governments desperate to see action in a world paralyzed by ideology and cant. It represents a powerful change for political parties previously wedded to privatization and marketization as cures to what ails central government, for it brings to an end the Reagan/Thatcher era of market fundamentalism, with its myth that private markets can do everything better than public governments. This change opens a chapter in the history of democracy in which public power is localized but not privatized and thus made more, rather than less, democratic. In Osborne's description, when people feel "remote from the decisions that affect their lives," it's "not good for our prosperity or our democracy."

The difference between, on the one hand, devolving power from central authorities to local authorities who are democratically elected and answerable to the popular sovereign and, on the other, privatizing power, which renders it undemocratic, unaccountable and politically illegitimate, could not be more salient. The aim of privatization was to undermine public goods and weaken government and, in doing so, democracy. The aim of devolution is to enhance public goods and strengthen democracy.

The quarrel is no longer with democracy but with the cumbersome and ever-less-efficient nation state. Jean Monnet, the visionary of the European community, once said that the sovereign central state was too big for participation (which was local) and too small for power (which was global). Decentralizing power and enhancing the public authority of municipalities is the first step to reasserting participation and accountability. The second necessary step is cooperation among networked municipalities -- a deployment of collective urban power that can create a democratic counterpart to global private power.

The rise of cities is hardly news. Social scientists like Bruce Katz, Saskia Sassen, Eric Corijn, Richard Florida, Ed Glaeser, Manuel Castells and Richard Sennett have been writing about it for decades. But acknowledging their rise by recognizing the authority cities wield and the right they possess to greater autonomy and resources is new. That a Tory government now insists British cities should have elected mayors (most do not) and far greater authority in matters of education, finance and other domains is startling. Yet the enthusiasm for urban autonomy and the building of effective metro-regions is hardly just British or just a desperate reaction to Scottish nationalism.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy -- formerly a mayor of Florence -- recently succeeded in pushing through a constitutional reform that replaced the traditional and ever-more-obsolete Italian provinces with nine core metro-regions, now to be represented in a reformed Italian Senate. In France, the city of Paris has recognized that its 20 wealthy inner-city arrondissements must learn to live with and share the problems of the outlying banlieues where so many marginalized immigrants live. A grande metropole Paris is envisioned that empowers the neighborhoods by increasing the power and jurisdiction of the whole. In centralized China, where the Communist Party fears national disintegration above all, cities are nonetheless being given greater local authority in economic, environmental and other affairs. And in a United States where the federal government has closed its doors twice in the last few years, and where Congress is a parody of governmental incapacity, cities are taking up the slack.

The revolution has started. In 1776, the American colonists protested that the English monarch no longer exercised sovereignty on behalf of their lives, liberties and estates, that in effect English sovereignty was in default. Today, the cities of the world, where more than half the world's population lives, and where 80 percent of its wealth is generated, are protesting that the nations to which they are subsidiary no longer are able to guarantee their long-term sustainability in the face of climate change, nuclear proliferation, global disease and unjust global markets, that in the face of dysfunctional national governments and a new default of sovereignty, it is their inherent right to assume the responsibilities of common governance necessary to sustaining their citizens. To do this, they must avail themselves of the legion of urban networks from the UCLG and the C40 to Metropolis, CityNet and the World Cities Summit already in play. But they must also forge new institutions to assure their common and global interests.

The new model is already on the table. In London next October, a new democratic governing body representing cities will convene. This inaugural Global Parliament of Mayors will root its legitimacy in the right of cities to offer a sustainable and just future to their citizens regardless of what states do or don't do. And this will not be the beginning of a cities revolution; it will be its very culmination.

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Dennis Hastert Pleads Not Guilty

Tue, 2015-06-09 14:11
CHICAGO -- In his first public appearance since being indicted on federal charges, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) pleaded not guilty on all counts to lying to the FBI and attempting to evade federal banking rules in order to cover up past alleged sexual misconduct.

Hastert was required to submit to a DNA test, surrender his passport and remove all firearms from his property as standard conditions of his release. His attorney, Thomas Green, requested an additional two weeks to remove the firearms Hastert’s two sons keep in safes on their father’s property, as he said one son is currently traveling in Europe and the other resides in Chicago, where he might not be able to keep the weapons due to strict gun laws.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, 73-year-old Hastert appeared drawn as he made his way past the throng of reporters and members of the public. He appeared more hunched than usual as he stood before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin and replied with a barely audible “yes, sir” the few times he spoke.

Regular beat reporters, several of whom have covered Hastert throughout his years in Illinois politics, were seated in the jury box directly facing him. Hastert did not make eye contact with anyone except his attorney inside the packed court room.

If convicted on all counts, Hastert faces up to 10 years in prison.

News of the May 28 indictment shocked the Illinois town of Yorkville, where Hastert used to be a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

In Hastert’s indictment, he is alleged to have promised $3.5 million in hush money to someone identified as “Individual A” in order to conceal past sexual misconduct. Sources familiar with the investigation have said the individual is a former Yorkville High School student who was on the wrestling team when Hastert was the coach.

Though the brief arraignment yielded few surprises, the largest question that surfaced was whether Durkin would remain on the case. Durkin offered to recuse himself and gave prosecutors two days to decide whether they wished for him to remain on the case.

Durkin revealed during the arraignment that when he was a private citizen, he made contributions to the politician's congressional campaign. Additionally, Durkin worked at the Chicago law firm Mayer Brown at the same time Hastert’s son Ethan was an attorney there.

“I have no doubts I can be impartial in this matter,” Durkin told attorneys before noting he was “not so naive” to think a reasonable person might see conflicts of interest in the case.

Durkin described his relationship with the younger Hastert as friendly, but said they were not close personal friends and that their families had never met while they both worked at Mayer Brown.

He also noted that his brother, Jim, is the Republican leader in the Illinois House and is from the same party as Hastert.

“The defendant is not a personal friend of my brother,” Durkin said.

Durkin further disclosed previous times he had crossed paths with U.S. Attorneys Carrie Hamilton and Steven Block in their respective lines of work.

If either counselors decline to waive Durkin’s grounds of disclosure, the case will be randomly reassigned to a new judge.

More than 120 reporters and members of the public lined up hours before Hastert’s 2 p.m. arraignment, lining the hall outside Durkin’s courtroom.

Chicago resident Joe Visaya, 41, told The Huffington Post he saw news of Hastert’s arraignment in the morning paper and decided to take time off work to attend.

"It’s my first time ever hearing an arraignment,” Visaya said, noting he, too, was shocked when news of Hastert’s indictment broke.

“This was a man who sat behind the president at the State of the Union,” Visasya said. “Look at him now. Amazing.”

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