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Vanderbilt Student Collects $46,000 From Hundreds Of People After Tragedy

Mon, 2014-07-14 11:01
Looks like miracles really do happen. As of Monday morning, Vanderbilt University student Cassie Wessely has accumulated $46,623 in donations to help fund her sophomore year tuition after a family tragedy.

When Wessely, 19, was accepted to Vanderbilt, she received a need-based financial aid grant because her mother was unemployed, according to InsideVandy. But Wessely's mother committed suicide just three weeks before the start of her freshman year, which placed her under custody of her father, and, in turn, severely decreased her financial aid grant. To make matters worse, Wessely's father has been unemployed for several months and is therefore unable to pay her full tuition.

So Wessely took matters into her own hands.

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Post by Cassie Wessely.

Wessely set up a GoFundMe page up on July 5, hoping to raise $25,000 to go toward her Vanderbilt education. By July 10, she had raised $38,935, and the number continued to grow.

Writing on her GoFundMe page, she said, "I'm praying daily for a miracle." Having raised nearly double her original goal, Wessely's prayers seem to have been answered.

"I sat in front of the computer for the rest of night in shock," Wessely told WLS, an ABC affiliate in Illinois. "There just are no words to convey how grateful I am to everyone, and just how blessed I'm feeling. ... And I just could not be more grateful and it's just really made me proud to be part of the Vanderbilt community."

[h/t Business Insider]

Your Stunning 'Supermoon' Photos From Around The World

Mon, 2014-07-14 10:44
Skywatchers were treated to the first of this summer's three "supermoons" on Saturday -- and it was far from disappointing.

HuffPost Science asked readers to share their best supermoon photos, and here are some of our favorites taken around the world, from Norway to India to Oman.

Check them out in the slideshow below, and vote for the ones you like the most.

What exactly is a supermoon? Also called a "perigee moon," a supermoon occurs when a new or full moon coincides with "lunar perigee," the moon's closest point to Earth along its elliptical orbit. This makes the moon appear bigger and brighter in the sky.

The next two supermoons are set to peak on Aug. 10 and Sept. 9.

If you snapped an amazing photo, there's still time to submit it! Tweet them to @HuffPostScience using the hashtag #HPSupermoon, and your photo may be featured in the slideshow below.

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How Many Of These Iconic Cartoon Mascots Can You Actually Name?

Mon, 2014-07-14 10:09
Sure, you're familiar with Frosted Flakes' main man, Tony the Tiger. But have you ever taken the time to get to know your other favorite cartoon mascots? Our guess is, no. See for yourself.

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Cities 3.0: How Cities Are Driving the Revitalization of Our Nation

Mon, 2014-07-14 09:16
With the gridlock in Washington DC, many Americans are wondering how our country will ever get back on track. While their frustration with the federal government is warranted, they need to look no further than their own cities to find the answer.

The U.S. economy is far from fixed, but recent forecasts indicate a recovery is under way. A new report released last week by the US Conference of Mayors shows that growth in cities will propel nation to levels of economic activity not seen since the early 2000s. Next year, all metros are projected to grow, with half of them growing by more than 3 percent.

Given that metro areas account for 86 percent of all jobs, 90 percent of GDP, and 94 percent of growth in this nation, these increases are having a real impact on our country.

Cities are now driving the revitalization of the nation's economy.

We're doing this by embracing the new era of American cities, a concept I call "Cities 3.0". The first generation of metropolitan areas, Cities 1.0, were built around ports, rivers and transportation routes. They served as centers of trade. The second generation of cities, or Cities 2.0, came much later during the Industrial Revolution. These cities had factories and big industry, smoke stacks and automobiles, with electricity, transportation, and other modern services. They were the destination point for immigrants from around the world pursuing the American Dream. But the world is changing at warp speed and cities have to evolve to stay ahead of the curve. Which brings us to Cities 3.0, where the city is a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology. It's paperless, wireless and cashless. In 3.0 cities, we have more cell phones than landlines, more tablets than desktops, more smart devices than toothbrushes.

To keep pace with these changes 3.0 cities must embrace three critical components.

First, 3.0 mayors must practice "open source leadership." This means we look for the best solutions regardless of where they come from. We don't care if it originated with Democrats or Republicans, because we don't get caught up in partisan politics. We believe the private sector can help solve public problems. And we know that unlikely bedfellows can often collaborate to produce the best solutions. Being an open-source leader means we're proactive, pragmatic and problem-solving. We don't care about ideology or tradition, only about what's going to work best for our constituents.

The second defining feature of a 3.0 city is that it must be the "ultimate service provider." In this generation, the world's largest music company has no record stores (Apple). The world's largest bookseller has no bookstores (Amazon). Two of the world's largest taxi company have no cars (Uber and Lyft). It's only a matter of time before the world's largest hotel will have no hotel rooms (AirBnB). And very soon, the world's largest university will have no campus.

That means we need to provide city services on new platforms, too. So instead of city crews driving around looking for potholes to fill, in a 3.0 city, citizens take pictures of potholes with their smartphone, and upload it through a city app that will tag it with its GPS location. Providers throughout the city can instantaneously be dispatched to fill the pothole on the same day. It is quicker, easier and more efficient. And active, connected citizens become part of the city's network to solve problems.

In addition to services, the other thing a city provides is infrastructure. In Cities 2.0 that infrastructure was things like roads, bridges, and schools. But 3.0 Cities must provide a NEW kind of infrastructure: like citywide Wi-Fi networks, broadband and fiber optics. We must have turnkey operations for start-up companies, from office space to high-speed communication lines. The bottom line is cities must provide services and infrastructure that residents and businesses need and do it quicker, faster and cheaper.

And last, 3.0 cities are focused on building "Next" economies. We know that in order to keep up in the modern era, we have to be innovative. If cities are going to drive the revitalization of this nation, then we need to become laboratories and incubators of change. But how do we do that? We accomplish this by adopting an aggressive, pro-growth agenda that includes investments in the modernization of infrastructure (transportation and water), creating "sustainable" cities, addressing income inequality, focusing on creating global trade, and training a skilled workforce for the future through a high quality public education system.

As president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I recently spent a week in Dallas with over 250 mayors from across the country -- men and women of all races, both Republican and Democrat, gay and straight. Despite our demographic differences, we spent four productive days focused on what we can do to ensure our cities continue to climb out of the economic slump and build strong economies for the future.

We heard how Mayor Whaley of Dayton, Ohio rebuilt the manufacturing base in her city by developing an advanced manufacturing center at a leading community college to train employees and provide state of the art technology, which led to a $200 million investment in transitioning a closed-down GM plant and bringing 800 manufacturing jobs back to the Dayton metro area. We learned that in Gresham, Oregon, the city will produce 100 percent of its electricity needs from onsite renewable power by this year's end. And Mayor Carolyn Goodman, from Las Vegas, shared that in her city of bright lights they've converted over 80 percent of the city's 50,000 streetlights to LEDs.

Cities 3.0 mayors are not sitting on our hands, waiting for the feds or someone else to solve our problems. We're embracing good ideas no matter where they come from, innovating to provide better services and building strong economies for the global marketplace. In doing so, we're charting a path for the resurgence of our great nation and showing Washington how things can get done.

LeBron James, Place and the Search for Sustainable Communities

Mon, 2014-07-14 07:47
My Columbia colleague, Professor Mark Taylor, recently published a wonderful book about his home in western Massachusetts entitled, Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill. It is a distinctive and remarkable volume on the importance of place, design, and meaning. The book is beautifully produced and includes many superb photographs of this very special place. Mark begins his volume with an observation that is key to understanding the human impact of the steamroller, global economy in which we live:
Place is disappearing. The accelerating intersection of globalization, virtualization, and cellularization is transforming the world and human life at an unprecedented rate. The fascination with speed for speeds sake is creating a culture of distraction in which thoughtful reflection and contemplation are all but impossible...As processes of globalization expand, localization contracts until place virtually disappears in a homogeneous space that is subject to constant surveillance and regulation (Taylor, 2).

The accepted wisdom of today's elite is that one should pursue personal financial gain first and worry about other values later. If you manage to get the order wrong and, like Bill or Hillary Clinton, seek public service or political power first, at some point you need to correct your "error" and cash in on a lucrative speaking tour or tell-all book to generate the moola needed to support a fabulous, material-laden lifestyle.

Personally, I'm not poor but I'm not rich either. And I've reluctantly come to understand the role that work and cash play in making the world safe for the people I love. My summer home is a 1,000-square-foot bungalow a block and a half from the ocean in Long Beach, New York. My year-round home is an apartment on Morningside Drive in Manhattan that is owned by my employer. My wife and I bought the Long Beach house in 1987--rebuilding its ground floor after Superstorm Sandy--and moved into our apartment on Morningside Drive in 1990. The point is, I have two homes and I have been fortunate to live in them for decades. Like my colleague Mark Taylor, place is important to me. I note the time passing by the size of the trees in Morningside Park, and the color and texture of the sky in Long Beach. The James Taylor song "The Secret of Life" is never far from my mind. As James correctly observes, "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time". I try very hard to hit the pause button every once in a while. I worry about the threats to place and perspective that Mark Taylor has correctly identified as the deal we've made with modernity and the costs we incur for the lifestyles we enjoy.

And while commerce will always make its demands, humans have other needs and values. Last week, LeBron James clearly articulated some of those other needs and values in his Sports Illustrated statement about his return to Cleveland. According to James:
Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It's where I walked. It's where I ran. It's where I cried. It's where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I'm their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now...

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I'm from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home.
One of the great paradoxes of a global economy and a global communication system is that everything is accessible to everyone. There are no secrets. Opportunity and inequality has gone global. Sometimes we find that when we strive to meet the very human need to fit in and be an accepted part of a group, the need to stand out and be unique must be sacrificed. LeBron James stood out and became a winner, but winning came at a price. It is obvious that a maturing LeBron James realized this. Place, community and home provide a counterweight to the homogenization of culture, ideas, image, food and speech. Escaping to a wealthier and glitzier neighborhood like South Beach bought LeBron championships, but cost him a piece of his sense of place. Last week he reclaimed that part of himself and managed to inspire us in the process.

That sense of place is not a material resource. It is in many ways the most sustainable and renewable resource we have. It is the power of love, loyalty, shared history, and human bonding. It cannot be bought for any amount of money. No matter how smart you are or how great an athlete you might be, you still must earn loyalty every day by your acts and the care and feeding of relationships that are important to you.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton catch the spirit of this sentiment with their recent duet "You Can't Make Old Friends." The song's lyrics are a simple and moving account of the importance and durability of friendship:
What will I do when you are gone?
Who's gonna tell me the truth?
Who's gonna finish the stories I start,
The way you always do?

When somebody knocks at the door,
Someone new walks in.
I will smile and shake their hands,
but you can't make old friends.

You can't make old friends
Can't make old friends
It was you and me, since way back when.
But you can't make old friends.

In the video of the song, Kenny Rogers specifically discusses the need to step back from the pressures of the music business and reflect on friendships and important values. That is, of course, what LeBron James has done with his statement and his move home.

The communities of the Rust Belt have infrastructure, access to food and water, low-cost housing, and room for growth. What is sometimes missing is the energy and sense of purpose that attracts people, business and new ideas. What remains present is what LeBron James is valuing: history, friendship, comfort and familiarity. The cynic searches for some hidden hustle here, but I sense LeBron's genuine growth and sense of admirable purpose. As we move our economic world from "all material consumption all the time," engaging in community life and engaging in social and intellectual discourse are ways that we can enrich ourselves without damaging the planet.

LeBron James is not rejecting the glitz and glamour that we shower on the world's greatest basketball player, but he is allowing another value to enter into the mix, something bigger than cash, championships, and fame: the value of community, and taking responsibility for leading that community. No matter what happens on the basketball court, he has really stepped up where it really matters. And that is very good news in a very challenging world.

Port Drivers Take on Low Wages in an Industry Built on a Lie

Mon, 2014-07-14 07:20

It's a David and Goliath story, only in this case there are 120 Davids taking on a hidden Goliath of an industry that every day touches everyone who is reading this in hundreds of ways. The port trucking industry is built on an illegal fiction, designed to rip off the 120 drivers who went on strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week.

They are not alone; 49,000 port truck drivers around the country work long hours at low pay with no benefits or basic worker protections like unemployment insurance or workers compensation, because the industry misclassifies them as independent contractors. The drivers' courageous action is one more facet of a surging labor and community movement, which is starting to take on the captains of America's low-wage economy.

Virtually everything you are wearing now that was made overseas came through our nation's ports. So did every imported item in your office or home. Port truck drivers transported those goods from ship terminals to rail yards and warehouse centers, for distribution to stores around the country. Starting more than 30 years ago, when the trucking industry was deregulated during the Carter administration, the industry was taken over by firms with a business model based on driving down drivers' incomes by treating them as independent contractors instead of employees.

The new model was based on a lie. The drivers weren't really independent truck drivers, with their own rigs. They still worked for one distribution company, which totally controlled everything about their work - their hours, their shipments, the rates they were paid. The company supplied the trucks they drove. But by insisting the drivers accept the new arrangement if they wanted to work, the companies avoided paying payroll taxes, workers compensation, and unemployment benefits, let alone health or retirement benefits. The drivers were forced to pay to lease, fuel and maintain the trucks out of their own paychecks.

The result of this scam has been high profits for the companies, lower wages and no workplace protections for the drivers, plus big losses to the social insurance funds. This arrangement put employers who complied with the law by continuing to treat their workers as employees at a competitive disadvantage.

The port drivers' story is emblematic of the forces that crushed America's middle class. Good paying, often union jobs were replaced by low wage, no-benefit jobs. "Manufactured in the U.S." was displaced by foreign goods, sold to consumers through the Wal-Marts and Home Depots and other giant retailers that perch at the end of global supply chains. Government, stripped of resources and will by corporate lobbyists and their wholly-owned elected officials, sat by while the law was violated and social insurance programs were weakened. And corporate profits soared.

But times are beginning to change. The strike in Southern California carries with it all the elements and power of the new movement of low-wage workers and their allies to create a good jobs economy. The foundation of the strategy is the willingness of low-wages workers to risk their jobs to fight back. The strategy is driven by strategic, legal, and financial assistance supplied by labor unions, partnerships with community groups, and public campaigns against big brand names.

The strikers, like many other port drivers, are mostly immigrants who often don't speak English. Only recently did they become aware that their rights were being violated, after a free legal clinic was set up by two community groups at the port. Since then, drivers have filed more than 400 claims against companies under California's wage and hour laws. The first 19 rulings resulted in an average award of $66,240, largely for wage and hour violations and illegal paycheck deductions for items like truck leases.

The claims are part of an aggressive legal strategy, which includes filings under California's wage and hour laws, class action suits, and claims that the companies are violating federal labor laws. The goal is for the firms to face such an onslaught of fines and court orders that they will begin to realize it would be better to abide by the law, rather than continue to defend their practices in court. California Attorney General Kamala Harris could be hugely helpful here if she used the growing number of cases to insist on an industry wide compliance settlement.

The companies are fighting back. "It's all out war," an attorney for two workers who were fired for both supporting a union and pressing wage claims, told me. Green Fleet, the company that fired the workers and one of the companies being picketed, is using the full arsenal of union-busting tactics, including firing workers who are leading union efforts and hiring union busters who threaten workers. The company's goal is to terrify other workers, so that they won't support forming a union or file wage claims.

The NLRB ruled in the workers' favor, establishing that they are employees, not independent contractors, but Green Fleet is appealing in order to delay any relief. The fired workers' attorneys are asking a federal judge to immediately order the companies to rehire the workers who were fired and to inform all the workers of their right to form a union and protest unfair labor practices.

In the face of this illegal harassment, the 120 drivers at Green Fleet and other firms walked off the job. They want to join the Teamsters union, which is providing key strategic support to their efforts through their Justice for Port Drivers campaign. Many drivers recently saw the benefits of unionization when drivers won union representation at Toll Global Holdings, an Australian based company, which is unionized in their home country. The unionized drivers actually get paid for the hours they spend waiting to pick up merchandise, and receive better wages and benefits.

Los Angeles' well-organized community-labor coalition, led by LAANE, has turned out hundreds of picketers to join the drivers. The picketers block company trucks driven by drivers who have not joined the strike. The pickets create even longer lines of trucks at the marine terminals, where ships arrive with containers full of goods. This is one way that the strikers can exercise the economic power to get the companies to settle. The Teamsters report that already some terminals have told the companies being struck to stop picking up goods in order to clear the blockade.

Another weapon in the campaign is public pressure on the big brands that are the ultimate beneficiaries of the low-wages paid to the port drivers. All of Skechers shoes are delivered by Green Fleet. Protestors attended Skechers' annual shareholder meetings, have leafleted stores, and this week had a plane fly over the company's flagship L.A. store with a banner that read, "Skechers - laced with misery". As LAANE's Danny Feingold points out, unlike some other retailers, such as Nike, Skechers has refused to sign a code of conduct with labor standards for its contractors.

Another element in the port drivers' campaign, as in low-wage workers' campaigns nationally, is a push to change public policy. There are some 75,000 port drivers around the country, of whom 49,000 are misclassified as independent contractors. The New York and New Jersey legislatures both passed bills in the last year toughening standards and enforcement for misclassification of port truck drivers. While New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie vetoed that state's bill, the New York legislation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo includes strict standards and most importantly, civil and criminal penalties.

There is a new movement growing in America, comprised of courageous low-wage workers and backed by unions, community groups, and activists to take on the huge companies that drive the low-wage economy. From fast food, to Wal-Mart, to workers who make car seats and immigrants who wash cars, the movement is learning a new strategy, based on mobilizing workers and the public. The twin goals of this movement are to enable workers to organize unions and to enact new public policy to rebuild the middle class. You can support the movement now, and lend a hand to port drivers who are on strike, by learning more about Justice for Drivers Hardship Fund. Remember, the device on which you are reading this now was delivered by a port driver.  

Originally published on Next New Deal.

10 Reasons Why Now Is The Best Time To Start Your Business

Mon, 2014-07-14 07:00

You've considered running a business but keep wondering whether conditions will be right to support your winning idea. Or perhaps you have been dabbling with something on the side and yet can't convince yourself that it's the right time to make the leap from safety.

There's always risk in starting a business. But the present is a great time to do so. Here are 10 reasons to start your next act and become an entrepreneur now.

Technology has become your pal

A modern business needs technology. Even if you're not creating the next hit app, you'll want customer relationship management, accounting, website and email hosting, and possibly design software or other tools. Cloud computing lets you get needed services on a monthly basis without laying out too much cash at the start. Also, hardware is relatively cheap, so getting an upgraded PC or tablet won't cost a body part or two.

Your current job isn't a path to happiness

Having a career is a fine goal. But placing faith in a job as a way to advance is a poor strategy. As someone recently pointed out, mediocre bosses typically get ahead in corporations because they are the most likely to make "safe" choices. When you work for such a boss and company, you won't get a chance to shine, either, or learn what you need to grow.

Entrepreneurship has been on the decline

As researchers at the Brookings Institution have shown, entrepreneurship has been on a decline in this country for decades. The rate at which new businesses start has fallen below the rate at which they close. The reason isn't exactly clear, but it doesn't have to be. Fewer startups mean less competition for money, people, attention, and customers.

More from Inc.:

-- Why You Need To Take a Vacation (Even When You Can't Afford One)
--Why You Can't Copy Company Culture
-- How I Did It: Inc.'s 35th Anniversary Edition

Competitors are your friends

Even as potential competition drops, it hasn't gone away. But that's no matter, either. Competitors help create and enlarge markets, acting as a marketing multiplier and giving credibility to an endeavor. In addition, you can make competitors work for you. Welcome them.

You don't have to risk it all

Worry about risking it all is understandable, particularly if you have people who depend on your ability to bring home a paycheck. But there's no reason to jump into the deep end of the business pool if you don't have the resources for such a gamble. Start your business on the side. Given how so much in communications and human interaction now happen online, it's easier than ever to get a part-time venture going, find a market, close business, and get paid.

You're no longer a sitting duck

The flip side of entrepreneurial risk is the chance you take working for a corporation. When things get bad, and they can without any notice, companies often downsize. Too often people with more experience get booted out the door to be replaced by someone cheaper because a bean-counter assumes that everyone is completely interchangeable. Or maybe you'll hear that the company has reduced benefits or moved your office to another state. At least start developing your business on the side so that you have some options if things turn sour and you become part of this season's staff reductions.

Globalization is your secret friend

Globalization has been brutal on millions of people who became sitting ducks when their jobs were shipped overseas. And yet, the trend does have its upside for businesses of all sizes. There are new sources of products, components, engineering, design, and other resources at lower prices than in the US. Also, there are new markets that offer fresh opportunities.

Lots of help

All those talented and experienced people who now have no jobs because they were sitting ducks have found that new job creation has mostly been in low-paying sectors. That means there are enormous personnel resources waiting for a reasonable opportunity. If you need talent, you can find it.

You're on the right side of regulation

Executives love to bemoan how regulations are "killing" them, even as profits and revenue climb every year. Yes, let the tears flow. The good thing for your startup is that it's much smaller than the cut-off for many regulations, so you can operate more freely even as larger competitors can't. In addition, one of the problems many entrepreneurs face is that the need for health insurance can keep them tethered to a corporate desk. Thanks to the ACA, Obamacare, or whatever you want to call it, you can get insurance and not worry about pre-existing conditions. Paying the entire insurance bill isn't cheap, but you have far more flexibility now.

Waiting won't help

The biggest reason that now is the time is because later almost never is. You can wait yourself into old age and regret, but you don't need to. Even if your business doesn't work, it won't be the end of your life. Many entrepreneurs go through multiple businesses to find the one that works for them. In the words of playwright Samuel Becket: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." But do it now.

U.S. Jails Struggle With Role As Makeshift Asylums

Mon, 2014-07-14 01:49
CHICAGO (AP) -- Peering through the chain link of a holding pen at the Cook County Jail, a man wrapped in a navy varsity jacket leans toward clinical social worker Elli Petacque Montgomery, his bulging eyes a clue that something's not right.

"They say I got bipolar, that's all," he says.

"OK, are you taking your meds?" she asks.

"When I can get them," he answers.

"I'm down here every day," Montgomery says. "Every morning I hear this."

The Chicago jail and many of its 3,300 counterparts across the country have become treatment centers of last resort for people with serious mental illnesses, most arrested for non-violent crimes. And like other jails, it is awash in a tide of booking and releases that make it particularly unsuited for the task.

U.S. jails, most of whose 731,000 inmates are trying to make bail or awaiting trial, hold roughly half the number in prisons. But last year, jails booked in 11.7 million people - 19 times the number of new prison inmates. The revolving door complicates the task of screening for mental illness, managing medications, providing care and ensuring inmate safety.

"Jails are churning people," says Henry J. Steadman, a consultant to government agencies on how courts and correctional facilities deal with people with mental illnesses.

Experts have pointed to rising numbers of inmates with mental illnesses since the 1970s, after states began closing psychiatric hospitals without following through on promises to create and sustain comprehensive community treatment programs.

But as the number of those with serious mental illnesses surpasses 20 percent in some jails, many have struggled to keep up, sometimes putting inmates in jeopardy.

The Associated Press has reported that at least nine of the 11 suicides in New York City jails over the past five years came after operators failed to follow safeguards designed to prevent self-harm by inmates. The AP's investigation into the deaths of two mentally ill inmates at the city's Rikers Island complex - one who essentially baked to death in a 101-degree cell in February and the other who sexually mutilated himself last fall - have prompted promises of reform.

Federal law protects the rights of people in jails and other institutions. But in temporary holding facilities, dealing with serious, long-term mental illnesses requires operators to rethink what they do, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart says.

"You're given a court order by a judge to hold this person in the jail until you're told not to," Dart says. "You're not supposed to do anything other than feed him, give them a bed, make sure they don't harm anyone else or themselves. ... You're not in there trying to cure people."

Many jails are dealing with similar dynamics, with sometimes disturbing results.

-In June, federal officials cited "deplorable" conditions for mentally ill inmates in the Los Angeles County jails as partly to blame for 15 suicides in 30 months. The L.A. system, the country's largest with 19,000 inmates, has been under federal supervision since 2002, but still fails to adequately supervise inmates "with clearly demonstrated needs," the Justice Department concluded.

-In Pensacola, Florida, Justice officials last year issued a scathing report about conditions at the Escambia County Jail. Records showed many inmates who requested care were never seen by a mental health professional. When inmates refused to take medications, the jail merely removed them from its list of those with a mental illness.

-In Columbus, Nebraska - seat of a county of 33,000 - six Platte County Detention Center inmates attempted suicide early this year, as many as in the previous 10 years combined. Jon Zavadil, the recently retired sheriff, says about 80 percent of all inmates medicated for some type of mental illness.

"Every county jail in the state has the same problem," says Zavadil, who blames Nebraska lawmakers for voting to close two of the state's three public psychiatric hospitals over the past decade.

Researchers long warned mental illness was being "criminalized," as police arrested more people for low-level offenses.

In the 1980s, researchers found about 6 percent of inmates showed signs of serious mental illness. A survey published in 2009 found 17 percent of jail inmates with serious mental illnesses. Individual jails report far greater numbers.

Today, many of those jailed with mental illnesses have grown up in a system full of holes.

"Even what we had when I started doing this work in 1988 was better than what we have now," says Nancy Koenigsberg, legal director for Disability Rights New Mexico, which helped bring suit against her state's Dona Ana County Detention Center in 2010 for mistreating mentally ill inmates.

But while the jail has since increased its mental health staff, New Mexico cities and counties have continued closing drop-in centers and other programs to that help maintain treatment. Many people wind up repeatedly picked up for relatively minor crimes.

At the Volusia County Detention Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, administrators compiled a list of such "frequent flyers." The 19 worst had been collectively jailed 894 times, mostly for minor offenses. Nearly half had a history of mental illness.

"A lot of their behavior was low level," says Marilyn Ford, the county's corrections director. "So they cycle through in a fairly short period of time and they never make it to prison."

Chicago's jail can offer an island of stability for inmates with mental illnesses, Dart says. In coming months, Dart plans to convert a former boot camp into a transition center to help those with mental illnesses after release.

But William, a 62-year-old inmate who says he's been jailed nine or 10 times for theft to support a drug habit, is doubtful. Many judges dismiss mental illness as a factor in crimes, says the inmate, diagnosed with depression, anxiety and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Outside jail, treatment is hard to get.

"Once we leave here," he says, "we're back on doom street."

6 Ways To Store Your Stuff When There's Not Enough Closet Space

Sun, 2014-07-13 10:58
A bedroom without a closet can seem like a major inconvenience -- and an absolute horror to anyone who loves clothes. But with a little imagination and minimal repurposing, closet-free folks can thrive. The design ideas below might make those of us who are lucky enough to have a full-sized closet a tiny bit jealous.

Display everything on shelves.

What shoe lover wouldn't want to do this with their carefully-curated collection, anyway?

Transform a nook with a curtain.

There's no better way to take advantage of an awkward space than turning it into extra storage.

Implement a wardrobe rack.

A vintage bellhop cart also does the trick nicely. Plus, it's a great way to see what you're working with and plan your outfits for the week.

Employ double duty furniture.

If you don't have a closet, any real estate you do have is precious. Use ottomans that double as storage cubes. Find a cool, vintage trunk can function as nightstand and store off-season clothing.

Look under the bed.

While you don't have to go to the extreme of lofting your bed high enough to fit a closet itself underneath, a couple of smaller risers will really give you options. Look for coordinated baskets that work with the room's decor scheme and physically fit in the space.

Repurpose a cabinet or bookshelf.

If you don't have enough room for a standard dresser, you're not out of luck. Transforming these smaller goods will offer the flexibility you need.

Go for a combination.

Because nothing is better than having organizational hacks look like an art gallery or high-end boutique...

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10 Beaches That Will Make You Want To Plan A Trip To The Great Lakes Immediately

Sun, 2014-07-13 07:00
Here's a problem we love to have: too many stunning beaches to choose from.

That's the constant conundrum with the Great Lakes, where you could spend an entire summer adventuring, swimming and sunning at a new spot each day and still not see most of the shoreline.

Though there are many reasons the Great Lakes are a truly incredible (and under appreciated) destination, we definitely put the beaches at the top of the list. And apparently so does Pure Michigan, the state's hub for tourism and an arm of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which held a photo contest to celebrate state beaches.

Beach enthusiasts submitted more than 1,900 photos of their favorite spots to the Pure Michigan contest, with winners that captured the best of what Michigan beaches have to offer. Whether you're just looking for fishing, the clearest water or a good place to relax with family, there is over 3,200 miles of shoreline in the state. It's hard to narrow it down, but these are some of the top beaches -- with stunning photos to prove it.

Best beach for sunsets: Grand Haven State Park Beach.

Photo by Bob Peskorse Jr., courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Bob Peskorse Jr. submitted a photo of the beach on Lake Michigan, where people line up to catch a view of the breathtaking sunsets. The state park has camping and is near the quaint town of Grand Haven, the pier and lighthouse.

Best beach for pets: Empire Beach.

Photo by Sarah Hunt, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

As the gateway to the sand dunes, Empire Beach offers stunning views for humans and their four-legged companions. The small town delights visitors (especially the annual asparagus festival). If you somehow tire of the beach, you can always head to nearby Elberta to check out the eclectic animal-themed art at Trick Dog Gallery and Cafe.

Best beach for long walks: Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore.

Photo by Sarah Hunt, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Once voted the "most beautiful place in America," Sleeping Bear stretches along 65 miles of shoreline. Steve Keighly's photo shows part of the panoramic vistas you'll find at the park, with dunes 400 feet above Lake Michigan. There are numerous hiking paths in the park, but kids and the young at heart will be content running up the dunes and rolling back down again and again.

Best state park beach: Orchard Beach State Park

Photo by Deb Neerken, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Deb Neerken's photo of the Lake Michigan beach in Manistee was selected for showing the best of what Michigan's state parks has to offer. Orchard Beach has a campground, and the small size keeps it quiet and perfect for a lovely getaway.

Best beach for watching fireworks: St. Ignace.

Photo by Shawn Kellogg, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Across the state, St. Ignace is the gateway between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, and between Lakes Huron and Michigan. The view of the Mackinac Bridge (one of the longest suspension bridges in the world), captured here by Shawn Kellogg, makes it one of the best spots for watching fireworks.

Best beach for flying kites: Manistique.

Photo by Carrie Shea, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Carrie Shea snapped a shot of some great kite flying on the Lake Michigan beach in Manistique. In the Upper Peninsula, the small harbor town is a central destination for visitors looking to explore historic Fayette, the 19th century ghost town, Kitch-iti-kipi, a gorgeous natural spring and Seul Choix Point Lighthouse, a supposedly haunted light -- or perfect for those who just want to lounge on the windy beach.

Best beach for fishing: Copper Harbor.

Photo by Matthew Winn, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Far, far north, Matthew Winn captured a sun-drenched photo of people fishing in the shallow waters of Copper Harbor. Lake Superior's water isn't the warmest, but it can't be beat for awe-inspiring nature.

Best beach for clear waters: Rogers City.

Photo by Rachel Welch, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

The Rogers City harbor on Lake Michigan also appeals to fishermen, as well as boaters. But anyone can enjoy the crystal-clear water, as captured by Rachel Welsh.

Best beach to spend time with friends and family: Tiscornia Beach.

Photo by Jason McIver, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Most beaches are better enjoyed with friends and family, but Jason McIver's shot of Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph caught Pure Michigan's eye as the best spot to spend time with loved ones. On Lake Michigan and a reasonable drive from Chicago, St. Joseph consistently has some of the most gorgeous views, as well as plenty to do.

Best all-around beach and photo: Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

Photo by Gina Ferwerda, courtesy of Pure Michigan.

Gina Ferwerda's photo at Silver Lake Sand Dunes on Lake Michigan was the first-place winner in the Pure Michigan contest. The state park is a destination for boating, golfing, hiking, four-wheeling and more. But the soaring dunes are what really make Silver Lake top-notch.

Pure Michigan's contest displayed some of Michigan's most cherished beaches -- but from Warren Dunes to Charlevoix, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Wilderness State Park, there's many, many more. See more beautiful shots of the lakes below, and happy vacationing!

Think You're A 2014 World Cup Super Fan? Then Step Up To The Spot And Ace This Quiz.

Sat, 2014-07-12 12:04
The 2014 World Cup will come to a close on Sunday, when Germany takes on Argentina in the championship match, the last of 64 played over the past month. It will be a momentous and bittersweet ending for the die hard fans who have tuned in around the world, cheering on their nations and at times, enjoying the opportunity to take some time off work to watch soccer.

So, as we prepare to embark on the nearly four-year wait for the next World Cup, we ask you: How closely were you paying attention to the world's most popular sporting event? Take this quiz to find out, and be sure to click the key icon when you're done to check out the correct answers.

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From Abandoned Place To Must-See Hot Spot, 3 Of America's Best Recycled Structures

Sat, 2014-07-12 06:50
To keep an old building, or bust it down and build something new in its place? Such is the question facing developers who want to increase property value while minimizing the cost to do it. But it doesn't take a historic preservationist or urban explorer to see that abandoned spaces can be beautiful.

Projects like New York’s High Line and the Tate Modern in London are great examples of what's known as adaptive reuse, giving a structure a second act, and they are leaders of a growing trend. Twitter, AirBnB and other tech companies are plucking up and restructuring historic San Francisco buildings for office space like they’re candy, and NPR recently described how land banks influence redemptive construction by rebuilding neglected structures "no private investor will touch."

Some of these projects breed creativity by encouraging experimental design -- architects can think about approaching an established structure in a different way -- and by devoting more space for public engagement. Perhaps most importantly, projects like the following enhance the placemaking and livability of their city.

The High Line, Manhattan, New York:

What was once a dangerous, vital railway that ran down Manhattan streets and, sometimes, over its pedestrians, the High Line now offers fields of wildflowers and beautiful views of the city along its tracks -- essentially a meadow suspended three stories above the streets.

The original railroad opened back in 1934 in an effort to reduce street-level traffic and accidents. But when reliance on rail diminished in the '50s due to interstate trucking (the last train ran its tracks in 1980), the High Line subsequently fell into neglect and became a thing people hated. But Joshua David and Robert Hammond saw potential, and formed the non-profit Friends of the High Line in 1999 to lobby for its preservation.

So far, about a mile and a half of the overgrown rail has been refurbished as a walkway that overlooks Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel buildings through Chelsea, with heavily-considered landscaping and rotating art. When construction is complete, the park, which is owned by New York City and maintained by Friends of the Highline, will stop at West 34th St.

The High Line's story is told in a documentary produced by Great Museums that debuted last month; you can see the full video here.

Dorchester Projects, Chicago, Illinois

When Theaster Gates repurposed abandoned two-story houses along Chicago's Dorchester Avenue into a library, slide archive, soul food kitchen, Black Cinema House, and "Listening Room" in the mid-2000s, it provided a devastated lower-income community a multi-use space where musicians, artists, neighbors, and art supporters could gather to share ideas.

Gates calls himself an artist first, but he's also earned two degrees in urban planning and, through his non-profit Rebuild Foundation, he focuses on social change through creative energy. A recurring idea in his work is how we incorporate that energy to build or reinforce a community.

What's more, he says this idea can be used as a model, easily translatable to cities across the country. His most recent project, currently under development, is a 32 unit, mixed-income artist community, called the Dorchester Artists Housing Collaborative.

Kakaako Agora, Honolulu, Hawaii

By now, it's a go-to move: offer reduced rent to creatives to establish a community and increase the value of surrounding real estate. And now, the industrial neighborhood called Kakaako is the Williamsburg of Honolulu. It was no accident: landowner Kamehameha Schools has invited and encouraged a lot of artistic energy in an effort to draw crowds to a once socially-neglected part of town.

Honolulu-based non-profit arts collective Interisland Terminal seized an opportunity to collaborate with Japanese firm Atelier Bow Wow in the creation of the Agora, a public park built inside an unused Kakaako warehouse for the purpose of gathering, holding events, and finding shade in an area where there's little natural shade to be found.

It's a two-level wood pavilion tucked in the warehouse, with a garden of native plants on one end and a huge, blank wall for film projections. The park, cooled by Hawaiian trade winds blowing through garage doors open on both ends, keeps business hours and, in its first month alone, has housed events that ranged from film screenings and opera performances to lectures, concerts, dinners, dances, and art exhibitions.

The Only Guide You Need To The Best Flea Markets In America

Fri, 2014-07-11 17:25
You can find anything at a flea market -- weird, life-sized dummies, ancient weapons and, you know, more mainstream things like vintage furniture and antiques. Summer is the unofficial flea market season. And while there are many to choose from, there is, of course, a difference between the "good" flea markets and the more disappointing ones filled with tube socks. We've rounded up the more promising markets in the country by region, so you can start planning your weekends now. If we missed any, let us know in the comments!


Brimfield, Massachusetts. The Brimfield Antique And Collectibles Show trends towards the pricier end of the spectrum (buyers from Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and other design houses are very much present), but bargains still can be had at this massive flea market. (My pro tip: Go there for the vintage clothes. Less competition for clothing means incredible buys.) 2014 show dates: July 8-13 and September 2-7.

A view of one of the vendor areas at Brimfield.

Charlestown, Rhode Island. The General Stanton Inn Flea Market has been in business for nearly 50 years. Open Saturdays & Sundays, April-October.

Harwinton, Connecticut. The Harwinton Antiques & Design Weekend (previously the Farmington Antiques weekend) is exactly how it sounds: A weekend dedicated to all things antique. The weekend in question? August 30-31.

Stormville, New York. The Stormville Airport Antiques Show & Flea Market boasts over 600 vendors across a wide range of categories. The next market is August 30-31.

Brooklyn, New York (multiple locations). The Brooklyn Flea has become its own brand, spawning a handful of "pop up" locations in the region. The carefully-vetted vendors sell incredible handmade and vintage goods, but bargain-hunters take note: You'll be paying NYC prices. For more details on locations and hours, visit Brooklyn Flea.

A view of the Brooklyn Flea Market, held at the Willamsburg Bank.

Trenton, New Jersey (and other locations). The Punk Rock Flea Market pops up in multiple locations throughout the year, but the next one is in Trenton on August 3. The "punk rock" name is a bit of a misnomer -- though you can find your fair share of records, there are also vintage clothes, collectibles, toys and more. For more info, check out the Punk Rock Flea Market Facebook page.

Lambertville, New Jersey. The Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market is a designer favorite, nestled a short car ride away from antique destinations New Hope, Pennsylvania and Frenchtown, New Jersey. Antiques can be a little pricier (always expected when designers "discover" a market), but deals can still be had. Open year-round on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The Antique and Collector's Extravaganza takes place three times a year; the next date is September 25-27. Visit the antique and farmer's markets, also on premises (which are open year-round).


Baltimore, Maryland. Starting July 12, the BMore Flea takes over the Inner Harbor every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Prints at the BMore flea, when it was held outside of Penn Station.

Chantilly, Virginia. The Big Flea pops up in multiple locations, but at this D.C. branch, over 600 vendors will pack the Dulles Expo Center July 19-20. For more dates and locations, visit The Big Flea.

Cumming, Georgia. The Lakewood 400 Antiques Market is an "upscale" market with vintage and, yes, antique furnishings and accessories. Multiple dates; next one's July 18-20.

Daytona, Florida. The Daytona Flea & Farmer's Market can be a mixed bag, but it's a huge one that can yield treasures at bargain prices. It's open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Miami, Florida. With 125 dealers covering antiques from 1900-1960, the Lincoln Road Antique & Collectible Market of Miami Beach is the place to find your vintage furniture happy place. While the 2014 dates have passed, 2013 saw dates into October-December. Check back with the Lincoln Road website to see if that's true this year.

Fort Smith, Arkansas. The Fort Smith Vintage Flea takes place on July 19 -- and it's thankfully indoors. Browse a selection of vintage goods, clothes, crafts and more.

Round Top, Texas. The Texas Antique Weekend happens twice a year in multiple Texas towns, over the course of three weeks. We're takling miles and miles of antiques. "It's hands-down our favorite flea market," says flea market shopping experts Amie and Jolie Sykes (who star in the "Junk Gypsies" reality show on GAC.) The next one is in September. Check out the Antique Weekend website for the full list.


Springfield, Ohio. The Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market is held multiple times a year, featuring a comprehensive mix of vintage and antique goods.

Shipshewana, Indiana. The Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market is the Midwest's largest flea, featuring 900 vendors across 100 lots. It's open every Tuesday and Wednesday from May to October, with special extended hours on holiday weekends.

Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Antique Market is part of the indoor-outdoor Randolph Street Market Festival. The eclectic mix of vintage, antiques, crafts, artisanal products and entertainment make this a must-see. Next one: July 26-27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vintage clothes at the Randolph Street Market.

What Cheer, Iowa. The What Cheer's Collectors' Paradise Flea Market is one of the major flea markets in the Midwest. As the name suggests, it's geared towards those who are more into the the "collectibles" end of the antique spectrum. Held three times a year, the next market is August 1-3.

Oronoco, Minnesota. Downtown Oronoco's Gold Rush Days feature hundreds of antiques dealers from the region. This year, the event will be held from August 15-17.

Ballwin, Missouri. The St. Louis Antique Show will be held September 19-21. You'll find the standard mix of antiques and vintage dealers, along with jewelry designers and artists.

Kansas City, Kansas. The Heritage Antique Show at Overland Park features 70+ vendors from across the country. This one's a bit later -- November 1-2.


Tempe, Arizona. Mark your calendars for October 4, when the Thieves Market Vintage Flea re-opens. It's got that quirky mix of vintage and handmade that always makes for great gift-giving.

Denver, Colorado. The Mile High Flea Market is a giant weekly market with a little bit of everything, but with some great antique deals if you're willing to hunt. Open Friday-Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Boise, Idaho. The Treasure Valley Flea Market Expo Idaho happens five times a year, with the next one happening October 4-5. Lots of crafts, antiques and vintage.

Seattle, Washington. The Fremont Sunday Market has been a go-to since 1990, hosting a wide variety of vendors ranging from food to crafts to vintage dealers. As the name suggests, it's on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (April - October) and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (November - March).

Portland, Oregon. The Summer Junk Fest is filled with handmade and vintage goods, plus music and "adult beverages." Now you know what you're doing on July 25.

Alameda, California. How popular is the Alameda Point Antiques Faire? So popular that its website advises visitors that filming often occurs at the market. It's a favorite of editors, designers and everyone else. Next one is August 3.

Antique shopping at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. Photo by Kent K. Barnes.

San Francisco, California. The Treasure Island Flea highlights local artisans and businesses, offering an interesting mix of vintage and handmade. Check it out July 26-27.

Pasadena, California. Of course, we have to mention the Rosebowl Flea Market. The massive event is held the second Sunday of every month, with 2,500 vendors.


Anchorage, Alaska. The Anchorage Market & Festival is held Saturdays and Sundays in the summer. Though, the organizers hesitate to call it a traditional flea market -- instead of antiques and vintage, you'll find new items made by area artisans.

Honolulu, Hawaii. If you ever are in town for the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace, you'll want to brace yourself: It's a big affair. Held in, yes, the Aloha Stadium, it's a thrice-weekly event with over 400 vendors.

A view of the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.

Luis Gutierrez Slams Senator's 'Immoral' Call For Criminal Checks On Border Kids

Fri, 2014-07-11 17:17
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) slammed a fellow member of Illinois' congressional delegation Friday, saying Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) "should be ashamed of himself" for seeking criminal background checks on undocumented children who have entered the United States.

In a statement, Gutierrez accused Kirk of trying to paint the undocumented minors as criminals and "make Americans afraid of children."

"That is shameful behavior," Gutierrez said. "It is hypocrisy, it is immoral, and it ought to stop. Among the children are little girls who are fleeing those who would abuse their bodies. Sen. Kirk, open your heart."

Kirk, who supported the Senate immigration reform bill, made the call for background checks in a Thursday press release. He said the federal government has a duty to make sure undocumented minors "pose no threat" to others and noted that he has sent letters to the U.S. embassies in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador regarding the background checks.

The senator also said that 429 unaccompanied, undocumented children were then in Chicago in the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Gutierrez said Friday that when he asked, the department was not able to confirm Kirk's claim.

Earlier on Friday, Gutierrez appeared with other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to urge that existing legal protections for unaccompanied migrant children remain in place, echoing a proposal adopted Wednesday by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They were all responding to calls to make it easier to deport undocumented children from Central America.

According to the Associated Press, 57,000 unaccompanied children have entered the U.S. across its southern border since October -- and tens of thousands more have arrived while traveling with family members. President Barack Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the crisis. But congressional Republicans denounced his proposal as a "blank check" and said they won't support it unless the administration increases deportations.

There May Be Fewer Reporters Covering State Politics in Illinois, Across U.S.

Fri, 2014-07-11 17:12
According to a new PewResearch Journalism Project report, the number of accredited Illinois Statehouse reporters has nearly halved in the last decade, down from 43 in 2003-2004 to just 22 this year.

The full-time statehouse press corps reduced numbers across all news platforms, the study shows, as newspapers, radio stations and TV stations have fewer reporters in the capital, ready to report on breaking news at any time.

In 2003, Copley News Service -- owner of Springfield's State Journal-Register and the Peoria Journal Star -- had five reporters in Springfield covering state government for the two papers. Its successor, GateHouse News Service, now has two who cover state government for all Illinois GateHouse papers including the Rockford Register-Star.

The decline for Illinois has been more extreme than the national average of 35 percent.

Having fewer reporters watching state government is not a good thing. From the Pew study:

"I think you're seeing fewer stories," said Gene Rose, the longtime former communications director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The public is not being kept aware of important policy decisions that are being made that will affect their daily lives."

In Springfield and elsewhere throughout the state, politicians are discussing raising Illinois' minimum wage to $8.25, which Gov. Pat Quinn (Democrat) has said he supports during his reelection campaign, while his challenger, Republican Bruce Rauner, has said he would not support raising Illinois' minimum wage but could get behind a plan to increase the national minimum wage, which President Barack Obama also supports. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he would like to see the city's minimum wage go up to $13 an hour in the next four years. How many hours would a person in your city and around the state have to work, based on the current minimum wage, to make a "living wage?"

This Is How An Enbridge Pipeline Spill Could Cause Disaster For The Great Lakes

Fri, 2014-07-11 16:13
A pipeline beneath an environmentally sensitive shipping channel would have disastrous consequences for the Great Lakes if it ruptured, according to a new report.

Canadian oil transport company Enbridge Energy Partners LP's sprawling pipeline network stretches across the United States. Line 5 in the Lakehead System runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a 5-mile-wide passage where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet to separate Michigan's two peninsulas. Nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil flow through the two 20-inch underwater pipes daily, traveling through northern Wisconsin and Michigan before reaching Sarnia, Ontario.

If the 61-year-old pipeline were to rupture, oil could reach the nearby tourist destination of Mackinac Island in 12 hours, according to research from hydrodynamics expert David Schwab, who conducted the computer-simulation study released this week by the University of Michigan's Water Center and commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation. In 20 days, oil could contaminate shorelines much farther away, potentially spreading 35 miles into Lake Michigan and 50 miles across Lake Huron.

The Straits' oscillating currents are part of what makes it such a harmful place for a pipeline breach. As the current changes direction every few days, contaminants could be carried back and forth across the straits several times. According to the Water Center, the Straits can transport water 10 times faster than the flow over Niagara Falls.

"If you were to pick the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, this would be it," Schwab said in a statement. "The currents are powerful and change direction frequently. In the event of an oil spill, these factors would lead to a big mess that would be very difficult to contain."

According to the Associated Press, Enbridge has said Line 5 is in good shape and is not in danger of rupturing.

Computer animations using data from a previous study show several possibilities for how oil would spread, with models showing breaks at the center, northern and south side of the Straits at two different time periods. Here's how the model shows the spread of oil over 20 days if it were released in the center of the strait, using conditions from August 1990:

(More animations here.)

Environmentalists concerned about the aging pipeline have said a spill would have devastating consequences for the economy as well as aquatic life and the coastal habitats. They've pressed for replacing the pipeline and more oversight of Enbridge and disclosure from the company. In a letter sent earlier this month, 17 groups urged Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to make protection of the Great Lakes a top priority and force Enbridge to comply with certain regulations. State officials have formed a Great Lakes Petroleum Pipeline Task Force, which will start by reviewing Enbridge's responses to a formal inquiry made about the pipeline.

In addition, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called on the Department of Transportation to verify the pipeline's safety in December after Enbridge increased the amount of oil passing through it. Officials said Enbridge had made significant safety improvements.

Some in Michigan are particularly wary about a possible oil spill and its ecological consequences after an earlier oil spill in the state. In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline (a different line from the Straits') ruptured on the west side of the Lower Peninsula, releasing approximately 840,000 gallons into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Cleanup is still ongoing.

“The Great Lakes supply drinking water to 42 million people,” Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in a statement. “We can’t afford another potential Enbridge oil pipeline spill like what happened in the Kalamazoo River. All of the Great Lakes states have a vital stake in avoiding oil spill hazards in the Straits of Mackinac.”

First Spectacular Supermoon Of 2014 Will Peak This Saturday

Fri, 2014-07-11 16:05
Not one, and not two, but we've got a summer full of three "supermoons" ahead of us -- and the first one is set to peak this Saturday at 7:25 a.m. EDT.

These supermoons -- July 12, Aug. 10 and Sept. 9 -- will appear even bigger and brighter than the average full moon.

What makes these moons so spectacular? A supermoon, also known as a "perigee moon," occurs when a moon turns full around the same time it reaches "perigee," the closest point to Earth along its elliptical orbit.

While this may sound like a rare event, Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory told NASA Science News that it’s actually relatively common. Just check out the video above.

“Generally speaking, full moons occur near perigee every 13 months and 18 days, so it’s not all that unusual,” he said. “In fact, just last year there were three perigee Moons in a row, but only one was widely reported.”

On Saturday, the moon will be 222,611 miles away from Earth -- that's 30,000 miles closer than at its farthest distance in 2014. The moon will be at its closest this year on Aug. 10, when it will be 221,748 miles from Earth.

"I guarantee that some folks will think it's the biggest moon they've ever seen if they catch it rising over a distant horizon, because the media will have told them to pay attention to this particular one," Chester told NASA Science News.

Send us your supermoon photos this weekend! You can tweet your photos with hashtag #HPsupermoon. Or, you can submit them directly to our "Supermoon 2014" slideshow below. We'll be collecting user photos from all over, and yours may be featured!

America's Best Hot Dogs (PHOTOS)

Fri, 2014-07-11 15:45
Crunchy. Spicy. Topped with chicharrones and kimchi. The latest Spanish-Asian fusion dish? Nope -- it's a hot dog. At least, that's how they make 'em at 4505 Meats in San Francisco.

The Zilla Dog is a far cry from the traditional franks that competitive eaters choke down each year at Coney Island's famous July 4th contest. Indeed, this quintessentially American snack is having a renaissance, swept up in the nouveau gourmet enterprises of today's innovative culinary talent. But just because chefs are teaching old dogs new tricks doesn't mean the traditional tube steak has disappeared. In our quest for America's top dogs, we found reasons to love both old-style and newfangled.

So next time you find yourself in a hot-dog hotbed, don't settle for the nearest street cart; seek out one of these puppies instead. Unadorned or heavily garnished, they're worth a detour.

--Charlotte Druckman

See All of America's Best Hot Dogs

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Expanding Overcrowding and Financial Costs of Criminal Justice Systems Unites Global Prison Leaders

Fri, 2014-07-11 15:42

In March 2014, I was asked to speak among experts from around the world at the International Exhibition and Seminar on Correctional Facilities entitled "Una Ventana Al Mundo De La Reclusión" at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia. The conference was developed and coordinated by the Colombian Ministry of Justice in partnership with the university in order to bring together global government and private industry leaders from Spain, Belgium, Argentina, the United States and other countries to discuss the exploding global rates of incarceration and recidivism. Internationally, the rate of recidivism for offenders returning to the prison system within three years of release exceeds 70 percent. This cycle creates an alarming burden on all respective economies. Around the world, there is genuine interest in re-thinking crime prevention, criminal justice and prison delivery systems.

The Colombian leadership and reform efforts that are transforming their capital city, Bogotá, and country from its reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world into a vibrant economic destination for investment set the stage for the conference. The nation's commitment to investing in workforce development and reducing corruption is not going unnoticed by investors. By comparison, last year Bogotá attracted $2.76 billion in investment compared to Chicago's $1.4 billion. According to Luis Enrique Alamos, principle associate of Price Waterhouse Coopers, "The political and economic stability and growth prospects associated with its internal market, have positioned Colombia as a very attractive destination to invest in for the countries of the region."

At the conference, attendees considered the causes of crime and the problems prison populations face at the root level; and investing in ways to help offenders reintegrate into society as positive and productive citizens of their communities, reducing recidivism rates. It was exciting to address a captive, international audience about our experience serving reentry populations at A Safe Haven through our social enterprise model in Chicago that empirical data presents as a more holistic, person-centered solution than traditional reentry programs. Programs at A Safe Haven are designed to provide safe housing, nutrition, adult education, substance abuse and mental health treatment, job training and placement. What makes A Safe Haven unique is the 'vertically integrated ecosystem' that not only includes comprehensive social services, but also helps provide employment and permanent housing to people with significant barriers.

A Safe Haven invests and partners with social enterprise businesses that create landscaping, catering, pest control, customer service and sales jobs and employ individuals that have earned a second chance. Besides sparking significant economic development in poverty-stricken communities by creating employment and housing opportunities, the social enterprise businesses enhance the foundation's sustainability in light of shrinking government budgets for human service agencies. Every country should consider this approach as a viable option for prevention because it addresses fundamental human needs and provides successful and cost-effective alternatives to incarceration.

Regretfully, the United States criminal justice system has the highest prison population in the world with 2.2 million people incarcerated and approximately 7.7 million people under some form of correctional supervision; and the system has a recidivism rate in excess of 70 percent. According to a PEW Research study, the high recidivism rate accounts for most of the $52 billion spent on existing correctional systems, the study also indicated that a 10 percent reduction in the rate of recidivism would generate future cost-savings of almost $700 million.

The total costs of incarceration from causes to consequences are incalculable and rising. Without a comprehensive plan to address the structural causes of recidivism and incarceration, these costs will continue to rise and burden our economy. The Bogotá conference on correctional facilities was an open forum indicating that the rest of the world is acknowledging that these unsustainable costs can only be reduced by addressing the "real" issues for individuals in the criminal justice system, often rooted in poverty related issues.

The trip and opportunity to speak moved me to break my own perceptions of a nation that I believed was mired in corruption and crime. I found myself inspired as I witnessed government leaders making a commitment to building a more humane, accountable and sustainable society by considering new ideas. They were open to a new paradigm of involving community stakeholders in incarceration and re-entry services. In times of global turmoil, it is important to remember that there are countries investing in comprehensive progress for their people.

It was exciting to see that our work in Chicago is serving as a blue print for innovation and being embraced as an international model by these leaders; they saw its potential to improve challenging, entrenched systems with superior performance metrics. Our mission at A Safe Haven is to offer solutions to poverty and crime; and alternative approaches and systems with a proven track record of impacting long-term, sustainable economic self-sufficiency for our clients. In our home city of Chicago, we were proud to offer a spotlight of hope in a city that has been mired in the media with much of the same controversy that plagued Bogotá, Colombia. In the United States, we must continue to invest in 'best practices' for human services that will reduce our prison population and return our nation to a global destination for tourists, corporations and investors.

Harvard Rugby Team Makes A Play To Celebrate Strength And Beauty

Fri, 2014-07-11 15:26
When they're not charging their opponents, one women's rugby team is tackling the body love revolution.

Members of the Harvard Women's Rugby team shot a series of photographs celebrating body love and acceptance featured on their Tumblr blog, Rugged Grace.

Over the course of two days in May 2014, the women photographed themselves at the Kundalini Yoga Boston studio. The team decided to celebrate body love by sharing what they loved about each woman's body and personality, and writing those messages on each others' skin.

"The project was inspired by the amazing body positivity and acceptance that we saw on our team," rising senior Helen Clark told The Huffington Post in an email. "It's so refreshing to see a group of women being proud of the strength they've achieve through hours of training, and to see them celebrating the physical manifestations of that strength. While many female athletes struggle to balance societal expectations that say women should be small and delicate with the expectation that athletes need to be strong, our team has created a culture that celebrates every kind of body."

Shelby Lin, a player who graduated this summer, told The Huffington Post that the process reaffirmed the appreciation the team members had for each other:
We simply asked our teammates to write what they loved about each other, and refrained from giving much direction or expectations. From that there was an outpouring of appreciation about each others bodies, attitudes, and characters. I didn't expect the process to be so emotional, but after each day I felt full of pride for the women involved and how much we respect both ourselves and each other.

Outgoing senior Xanni Brown told HuffPost how playing rugby has made her more aware of the body image pressures women face, and equipped her with the tools to withstand them.

"This team didn't ask me to change anything about myself, just to love my teammates exactly as they were too," she wrote in an email. "I hadn't even really realized before then how many messages I was getting -- that all girls get -- about ways they should change."

According to Clark, the team is hopeful that their images will inspire other women to love their bodies as they are.

"We are hoping that people will be inspired by the photographs to celebrate their own strength and to recognize the beauty of the women in their lives," she told HuffPost. "We want to send the message that women's bodies are not merely decorations for billboards and magazine advertisements, but rather the physical presentation of strong, powerful people."

See more of these inspiring images on the original Tumblr.