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George Lucas Facing Possible Lawsuit Over Chicago Museum Build

Thu, 2014-07-17 11:53
The following article is provided by Rolling Stone.

By RYAN REED

Back in June, George Lucas announced plans to build a private museum in the Windy City, but he's facing some political opposition from Chicago open space advocates, who claim his $1 billion, 95,000-square-foot design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be in violation of city ordinances created to protect public space adjacent to Lake Michigan. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the advocates are threatening to file a lawsuit that would block the 70-year-old "Star Wars" creator from carrying out the build.

George Lucas and the Cult of Darth Vader

The publication notes a variety of other opponents, including aldermen (who think the museum should be located downtown or in an economically disadvantaged area) and devoted Chicago Bears fans (who worry that losing two parking lots would interfere with their pre-game tailgating). But the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, reportedly shrugged off the lawsuit at a recent press conference: "Our contribution is two parking lots," he said, while noting the economic and employment benefits the build would bring.

In Pics: 'Star Wars' Spinoffs We Want to See

The facility – set to reside on lakefront real estate near football stadium Soldier Field – is set to include a variety of items from Lucas' personal collection, including film memorabilia, visual effects examples created by Industrial Light and Magic and paintings by American artists like Norman Rockwell. The filmmaker is aiming to open the museum in 2018.

'Star Wars: Episode VII' Adds Two Cast Members, Pics Hit Internet


Lucas' original plan was to construct the facility in San Francisco (near the headquarters of Lucasfilm), but that proposal was rejected for interfering with the "historic character" of the area. However, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told THR that Lucas, whom he called "a perfect gentleman," is welcome to move construction to L.A. if the Chicago plans fall through.

‘Star Wars’ Instagram Posts Behind-the-Scenes Shots

"I am humbled to be joining such an extraordinary museum community and to be creating the museum in a city that has a long tradition of embracing the arts," Lucas said last month in a statement announcing the Chicago build.

Is Hollywood Facing Imminent Implosion?

The Oxymoron of Peace

Thu, 2014-07-17 11:05
"At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant."

Maybe this piercing observation by Roberto Savio, founder of the news agency Inter Press Service, is the cruelest cut of all. Geopolitically speaking, hope -- the official kind, represented, say, by the United Nations in 1945 -- feels fainter than I can remember. "We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war . . ."

I mean, it was never real. Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.

As Savio notes in an essay called "Ever Wondered Why the World Is a Mess?": "The world, as it now exists, was largely shaped by the colonial powers, which divided the world among themselves, carving out states without any consideration for existing ethnic, religious or cultural realities."

And after the colonial era collapsed, these carved-out political entities, defining swatches of territory without any history of national identity, suddenly became the Third World and floundered in disarray. ". . . it was inevitable that to keep these artificial countries alive, and avoid their disintegration, strongmen would be needed to cover the void left by the colonial powers. The rules of democracy were used only to reach power, with very few exceptions."

Whatever noble attempts at eliminating war the powers that be made in the wake of World War II -- Europe's near self-annihilation -- didn't cut nearly deep enough. These attempts didn't set about undoing five centuries of colonial conquest and genocide. They didn't cut deeper than national interest.

And global peace built on a foundation of nation-states is an oxymoron. As historian Michael Howard noted in his book The Lessons of History (quoted by Barbara Ehrenreich in Blood Rites): "From the very beginning, the principle of nationalism was almost indissolubly linked, both in theory and practice, with the idea of war."

All of which leads me to the $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive warplane ever built, or not quite built. The aircraft, designed by Lockheed, is now seven years behind schedule, but the Pentagon had planned to display its new baby this week at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K. This debut has now been called off because the engine of one of the planes caught fire on a runway in Florida in June, and officials feared the problem was systemic.

In other words, it could happen again. It could happen at the airshow, with the jet's prospective customers -- Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and eight other U.S. allies -- in attendance. Grounding it was a business decision. Indeed, it was a decision made at the delicate intersection of business and war.

"The setbacks follow a series of technical problems and development delays that have affected the F-35, one of the world's most ambitious weapons programs, with estimated development costs of around $400 billion," Nicola Clark and Christopher Drew wrote this week in the New York Times. "Analysts said the timing of the problems, just as Lockheed Martin was hoping to demonstrate the plane to prospective export buyers here, could not have been worse."

What I found interesting -- well, overwhelmingly depressing, actually -- was the fact that this story ran in the Times' International Business section. When Savio writes, "Attempts to create regional or international alliances to bring stability have always been stymied by national interests," this may be what he's talking about. National interests are business interests. In the mainstream media, this is simply a given.

And the ongoing setbacks and escalating cost don't matter. The F-35 project is still going forward, even though, as Kate Brannen wrote recently in Foreign Policy, "over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion."

The warplane's supply of funding is inexhaustible, apparently. Congress is behind it all the way. And it's hardly news. "Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program -- and the jobs it has created -- in place," Brannen wrote.

Austerity is for losers. There's always money to wage war and build weapons, indeed, to continue developing weapons, generation after generation after generation. The contractors are adept at playing the game. Jobs link arms with fear and patriotism and the next war is always inevitable. And it's always necessary, because we've created a world of perpetual -- and well-armed -- instability.

The problem with the United Nations is that it's a unity of entities defined by their hatred of one another and committed to the perpetuation of "the scourge of war." We won't begin creating global peace until we learn how to bypass nationalism and the single, unacknowledged agreement binding nation-states to each other: the inevitability of war.

- - -
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

With So Much Bad News Out Of The Middle East, These Stories Remind Us That There's Still Hope

Thu, 2014-07-17 10:49
With a seemingly non-stop flow of bleak news coming out of Gaza and Israel, it's all too common to view the latest flareup in this regional conflict as a black-and-white battle between two extreme and intractable ideologies.

In this atmosphere, moderate voices are often muted by the cacophony of violence and despair. The stories below, however, remind us that there are, in fact, plenty of voices on all sides calling for mutual understanding. Not all Palestinians and Israelis -- nor all Muslims and Jews -- agree with the destructive actions perpetuated in their name. And when the most natural thing might seem to be to take your place on one side of the battle lines, there are still those trying to meet in the middle in hopes of finding empathy and maybe even peace in the most unlikely of places.

Condolences As An “Act Of Good Will”

Tag Meir, a coalition of 40 organizations that promotes “Jewish-Arab coexistence and peace-building,” arranged for over 350 Israelis to pay their respects to the family of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen who was murdered in what is suspected to have been a revenge attack for the abduction and killing of three Israeli students.

Rabbi Ron Kronish, a leader of the peace initiative, explained the motivation behind the act of solidarity: “We went to pay a condolence visit to this Palestinian family whose son was brutally murdered as an act of religious obligation and humanistic solidarity. Our visit was warmly received by our Palestinian neighbors who were visibly moved by our empathetic act of good will.”



Israelis pay their respects to the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.


Israeli And Palestinian Parents Are United By The Indiscriminate Pain Of Losing A Loved One

Two members of The Parents Circle, an organization of over 600 Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost a close family member in the conflict, joined Michel Martin on NPR to discuss the current crisis.

Robi Damelin, whose son was shot by a Palestinian sniper, and Bassam Aramin, whose daughter was killed by Israeli border police, stressed the importance of forgiveness and understanding the context behind the violence. Damelin said: “If I can travel with Bassam all over the world and talk in the same voice, surely that should be some kind of example. We cannot share this land just with graves.”


Worldwide Fast Brings Muslims And Jews Together

The “Choose Life” initiative organized a worldwide communal fast for Jews and Arabs on July 15. The campaign coincided with ritual fasting in both Judaism and Islam. Jews commemorated the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls before the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70. Muslims observed the 18th day of Ramadan.

Participation ranged from the Middle East to the UK and the U.S. In Chicago, for example, people prayed together at a local square. The effort spread to social media with the hashtag #FastForPeace.

Georgetown University assistant program director Melody Fox Ahmed tweeted:

Last nite was at hopeful #jewish #muslim iftar. Moved by similar prayers to end day of fasting in both our faiths. #fastforpeace #interfaith

— Melody Fox Ahmed (@melodyfoxahmed) July 16, 2014



Israeli Surgeons Save Lives Of Palestinian Children Amid Conflict

Barbara Kay reports for the National Post how Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank seeking life-saving heart operations are treated by Israeli surgeons at Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, near Tel Aviv. Every Tuesday for the past 18 years, the religiously non-partisan international charity Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) has brought Palestinian children to the medical center for treatment. SACH's medical team has continued to take care of children coming in from across the Arab region, despite the escalating violence. "Children are not part of the conflict," says Dr. Akiva Tamir, SACH's chief cardiologist.


An Israeli pediatric cardiology team performs emergency surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in 2007 in Holon, near Tel Aviv.


Protesters Plead For An End To Nationalistic Violence

Hundreds of Israelis gathered in downtown Jerusalem on July 2 to condemn nationalistic violence that emerged in the wake of the murders of a Palestinian youth and three Israeli teens. According to the Times of Israel, most of the demonstrators were young and secular. The demonstrators carried banners that read, “We mourn, we don’t take revenge.”

“Dragging teenagers into a political conflict, on either side, is illegitimate. ... The way to deal with this is through conversation and dialogue. There are those who incite and those who calm things down,” said Michal Biran, a member of Israel's parliament.


'Jews And Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies'

Tweeps and Facebook users have taken to the slogan “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” to promote friendship amid the escalating violence. People have posed for photos alone or in interfaith pairs, holding up signs with the slogan. The phrase has become a trending Twitter hashtag and has its own Facebook page.

#JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies pic.twitter.com/VPYWMEUDrn

— Dev Weisn (@Devortina) July 16, 2014

RT RT RT RT RT #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies pic.twitter.com/H3eUC0l9uY

— Tineke Senf (@TinekeSenf) July 15, 2014


Hot Hashtag: #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies
Online movement demands peace for #Gaza http://t.co/32fO3N4kSl pic.twitter.com/bUp0cyxt9P

— Femi Oke (@FemiOke) July 16, 2014


Half Jewish, half Muslim, 100% refuses to hate #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies pic.twitter.com/v2KjHv9FpW

— Abraham Gutman (@abgutman) July 14, 2014



Nick Wing contributed to this story.

Top 10 Campaign Donors to Both Illinois Gubernatorial Candidates

Thu, 2014-07-17 09:58
Illinois gubernatorial elections are less than four months away, and the candidates' campaigns are starting to heat up. But to be able to get their messages out to voters, they'll need money -- and boy do they have a lot of it.

Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner filed their 2014 second quarter campaign finance reports July 15. In the time period from April 1 to June 30, Rauner raised a bit more money than Quinn, but Quinn did not spend as much, so he has more cash on hand. In total, Rauner has raised more than $25 million and Quinn has garnered more than $13 million.

Rauner's biggest donations have come mostly from individuals (including himself; he's his own top donor), while Quinn's come mostly from unions and political action committees. Check out the list of each candidates' top ten donors at Reboot Illinois to see who is supporting which candidate and with how much money.

While the race rages on at the state level, Chicago aldermen are facing a request from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to comply with "do-not-hire" lists (comprised of people who had to leave government due to suggestions of corruption). Some aldermen are finding this request a difficult pill to follow, though some are fully on board.

Make-A-Wish Turns Boy With Leukemia Into Godzilla, Starring In His Own Movie

Thu, 2014-07-17 09:48
Chicago is breeding a Batkid of its own, but this time, it's in the form of a green, fire-breathing dragon named, "Madzilla."

The Illinois Make-A-Wish foundation received a request from Maddex, a 5-year-old Godzilla fan who has leukemia, according to Chicago Tribune. Maddex, who has loved the "Godzilla" movies ever since he watched the original Japanese version at just 18 months old, wished to star in his own movie as the monster. The charity is currently making Maddex's dream a reality, by hiring film crews to create "Madzilla," the movie.


Maddex, in his Madzilla costume, "crushes" a tiny replica of Chicago

With the help of what seems like the entire city of Chicago, Maddex's wish is shaping up to be a big hit. The film features action-packed scenes and big stars, including iconic football coach Mike Ditka as mayor of Chicago; the real Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a taxi driver; and the host of "48 Hours," Maureen Maher, as a news reporter, according to the Tribune. More than 100 actors and extras showed up to be "destroyed" by the mighty Madzilla, ABC7 Chicago reported.


Rahm Emanuel on the set of "Madzilla"

Not only did Maddex star in his motion picture, the little movie star also got to direct hordes of screaming extras running from the beast, ABC7 reported.


Civilians reacting to the "beast"


Maddex in the director's seat

Maddex was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago, and still has around 18 months of painful and tiring treatments to undergo, according to Chicago Tribune. While his parents have been worried that his first memories will be of his treatments, his mother told the outlet that she hopes "Madzilla" will change that, and live on as a happy "prevalent" memory in his head.

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Here Is The Salary At Which Money Won't Make You Any Happier In Each State

Thu, 2014-07-17 09:29
Money can only buy happiness up to a point. But just how much you need to get to that threshold really depends on where you live, according to a new analysis by Doug Short, vice president of research at investment group Advisor Perspectives.

Short's analysis found that if you live in a place like Hawaii, where the cost of living is relatively high, you need to make $122,175 per year before some extra cash doesn't really translate into more happiness. In Mississippi, by comparison, the threshold at which more money stops making you happier is a lot lower: $65,850 per year.

How much money do you need to make in your state before more money doesn't really make you all that happier? We created a map so you could find out.




Infographics by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.

Short, who is not related to the author of this story, relied on a 2010 Princeton study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, which found that at the national level, making more than $75,000 per year won't significantly improve your day-to-day happiness.

To create his state-by-state comparison, Short adjusted this so-called national $75,000 "happiness benchmark" to reflect the cost of living in each state, relying on data from the Council for Community and Economic Research.

According to the researchers behind the original Princeton study, your emotional well-being -- or the pleasure you derive from day-to-day experiences -- doesn't get any better after you're earning roughly $75,000. That said, a term they call "life evaluation" -- or how you feel about your life and accomplishments -- can continue to rise with higher income and education levels.

Of course, an array of other factors (for instance, the number of kids you have or the amount of debt you carry) will affect how your income translates to your day-to-day happiness. But that's another conversation altogether.

Chicago Women Show Rahm Emanuel the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thu, 2014-07-17 09:25
Tuesday, Toni Preckwinkle, one of the two women who -- according to the latest poll -- would beat Rahm Emanuel in a race for mayor of Chicago, announced she wasn't running.

Monday, the other one, Emanuel's enemy Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, announced she was considering running. As evidence of how seriously she's considering the opportunity, Lewis offered-up a spokesperson to talk about the formation of an exploratory committee and a strategy for building neighborhood support for a candidacy.

Lost in the news reports I've seen so far, including national analyses of the situation, is the fact that the two most viable candidates for defeating the mayor of the nation's third largest city are women. Have we reached the point when this fact is a ho-hum?

No, we haven't. At a time when so many Americans need so much from their government, American women who care are finding it really tough to win executive office. For instance, Chicago has elected only one woman mayor and that was 35 years ago. New York and Los Angeles have never elected one, though a strong woman candidate ran in each last year. One could argue that's the luck of the (political) draw; or that Christine Quinn in New York and Wendy Greuel in Los Angeles made some dumb political mistakes and, therefore, deserved to lose. (On Quinn, here is my analysis.)

But the fact remains that women, girls and women-headed families (the majority in our nation's largest cities) lose greatly when caring women aren't elected. That's because -- along with executive political office -- comes a bully pulpit unlike any legislator's, the opportunity to take executive actions without legislative concurrence (Barack Obama these days, anyone?), and the opportunity to press for important legislation from a uniquely powerful position. And, since it's women politicians who typically promote policies beneficial to women, those men-only executive suites can offer cold comfort.

In Chicago, we have an embarrassment of riches of women with executive experience. Each could be a mayor who puts equality and opportunity for women foremost. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer could run a good race. Probably, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan could beat Mayor Emanuel anytime she gets tired of state government.

Consider these proof points about these Chicago women who care:

  • In Madigan's and Gainer's cases, each has addressed issues important to the security of Chicago's women-headed families: in the case of Madigan, sex crimes and bankers' misdeeds; in the case of Gainer, abandoned homes and services for juvenile offenders.


  • Toni Preckwinkle is a unique leadership voice for the oppressed and underserved in Chicago and Cook County. At almost any opportunity, she speaks about Chicago's "intersection of race and poverty" and its resulting problems: street violence, prison overcrowding, a dearth of trained workforce participants, and schools that fail to educate.


  • Karen Lewis has spent time making her case for urban education, which differs dramatically from Rahm Emanuel's. One can rebut it, as Mayor Emanuel has, but Lewis's vision is legitimate and, as we now know, compelling to Chicago voters.



Pundits will say my analysis is immaterial since none of these women, except for Karen Lewis, is known to be considering a run against Mayor Emanuel. I disagree. This review buttresses the truth that Chicago can be better than it is today. Chicago can be -- for everyone -- a City that makes it clear -- in every action it takes -- that it welcomes, cherishes and delivers for everyone.

I've never met Karen Lewis, but I did observe her one day. That encounter gave me confidence that compassion and humility are central to her view of city life. In the event, perhaps we'd see these qualities in candidate dialogues with Mayor Emanuel.

This encounter was at the funeral of Addie Wyatt, a heroine to many women of Lewis's, Preckwinkle's and my generation. (Lisa and Bridget know all about her, too.) Addie was one of the first African-American leaders of the modern women's movement, as well as an important leader of the civil rights movement. She is deserving of the greatest props. Lewis gave her those.

The Vernon Park Church of God in Christ sanctuary was overflowing, forcing those of us who arrived late to sit in the church basement and watch the closed circuit TV version of the funeral service. Lewis was one of us in the basement.

Unlike so many other notables who, even if arriving late, would demand a primo seat in the sanctuary -- since, after all, what's the purpose of a VIP-politician's funeral if not to see and be seen -- Lewis descended to the basement; sat on a folding chair in a corner; and watched the proceedings silently and without show.

Today, Addie's South Side neighborhood is one Chicagoans fear to tread. Even her church of sixty years is leaving for safer (suburban) pastures. Whether it's numbers about violence, or jobs, or teacher layoffs, or about costly improvements to downtown while neighborhoods are rife with abandoned buildings, Addie's neighborhood and the rest of outlying Chicago is in desperate need of repair.

So, Chicago girlfriends: While the politicians do their thing, let's do ours. Let's show the guys the light at the end of the tunnel, i.e., the solutions of women who care, wherever those women sit. Let's help caring women politicians realize their dreams, so often also ours. Let's run the most important campaign of all: the one that is for, with and by women. No matter who is mayor.

How Long It REALLY Takes To Get Over A Breakup

Thu, 2014-07-17 08:22
Once the romance fades and the relationship is over, how much time does it take to officially get over it?

Science says a year and a half. One 2009 study suggested it takes nearly 18 months for divorcees to feel ready to move on after a split is finalized. Another popular theory, perpetuated by the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," is that it takes half the length of the relationship's duration to recover from a breakup.

Chicago-based cartoonist Corinne Mucha offers up a new theory in her autobiographical graphic novel, Get Over It!

Mucha's comic centers on her own experience of a messy breakup, chronicling the feelings of confusion and frustration that will be immediately familiar to anyone who's been there before.

Here's one of our favorite excerpts:












Mucha is celebrating the release of "Get Over It!" with a reading at Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago on Friday, July 25.

When Being Obese Could Save Your Life

Thu, 2014-07-17 07:05
You've just had a heart attack, and you're in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. If you're overweight or moderately obese, you're actually more likely to survive that heart attack than if you were a normal weight or underweight person.

It's what doctors and researchers call the "obesity paradox." While being overweight probably helped land you in the hospital with a heart attack in the first place, that extra weight could work in your favor after the fact. In fact, dozens of studies from the past several years indicate that people who are overweight or moderately obese according to the body mass index are more likely to survive chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and diabetes than normal weight or underweight people.

But whether the obesity paradox is a real phenomenon with a yet-to-be-discovered biological basis or just a statistical fallacy drawn from bad data is up for (angry) debate.

NOT BLACK AND WHITE

In the "fat as protection" camp is Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, as well as an obesity paradox expert.

"It's very provocative to go out and say obesity isn't as bad as we thought -- to announce to the world that there are good things about obesity, too," Kalantar-Zadeh told The Huffington Post. "But the truth is that there is [an] emerging set of data over the past several years suggesting that obesity is not as black and white as we have maintained for the past 30 to 40 years."

Kalantar-Zadeh wrote an editorial in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings that compared the obesity paradox to a bad friend whose influence lands you both in jail. You wouldn't be there in the first place if it weren't for that bad friend -- but once in jail, that friend protects you from bad conditions and other inmates. The effects of the obesity paradox are especially pronounced in old people and those with acute and chronic diseases, Kalantar-Zadeh wrote.

"I don't let my kidney disease patients and patients on dialysis lose weight," Kalantar-Zadeh said to HuffPost. "If I tell your 91-year-old grandma to lose weight, am I helping her or hurting her? This is all about who benefits from losing weight, and who doesn't."

Kalantar-Zadeh's editorial accompanies two new studies in the journal that shed more light on the obesity paradox. The first, a meta-analysis of 36 different coronary heart disease studies by Dr. Abhishek Sharma of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, confirms what researchers have been saying for several years now: Coronary heart disease patients with a BMI between 25 and 30 (technically "overweight") have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than normal weight patients with a BMI between 18 and 25.

In fact, obese and severely obese patients with cardiovascular disease had 27 percent and 22 percent lower chances, respectively, of dying from any cause compared with people with normal BMIs.

The second, an observational study of almost 48,000 heart surgery patients that was led by Dr. Carl Lavie of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, digs a little bit deeper into the paradox. Instead of simply using body weight to compare patients, Lavie used a formula to estimate both the patients' body fat percentage and lean mass percentage (organs, bone, muscle) and compared those characteristics.

He concluded that it's the healthy lean mass -- not fat -- that could be protecting patients once they suffer from a cardiovascular outcome. In fact, higher lean body mass was associated with 29 percent lower risk of death.

WRONG DATA, WRONG CONCLUSIONS?

A lot of data supporting the obesity paradox would disappear if researchers followed Lavie's example and relied on more comprehensive data points than simply BMI, said Dr. Jonathan Myers, a clinical professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and health research scientist at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, CA.

"One of the problems with the obesity paradox is that we've been making the wrong measurements," Myers told HuffPost. "Most of these studies only have BMI available, and what we really want to measure is body composition -- namely, how much visceral fat you have, which is associated with high metabolic risk."

One simple and cost-effective way to more directly measure body composition is to take a patient's waist circumference, Myers said, since the amount of visceral (abdominal) fat is a better predictor of disease than how much a person weighs.

Another simple explanation for the obesity paradox could be that researchers aren't taking into account a person's fitness level. Myers and other investigators have done extensive research showing that the obesity paradox is not seen among individuals who are fit. And as a scientist at the VA hospital, Myers runs into another possible explanation for the obesity paradox all the time -- something he and his colleagues call the "veteran effect."

Career military folks have to maintain certain weight and athleticism, Myers explained, which staves off obesity and its complications for many years beyond the average American. But even if that military member ends up becoming overweight or obese after leaving the armed forces, his or her metabolic markers are a lot healthier than someone with the same weight.

"They've spent most of their adult life pretty healthy and reasonably fit," Myers explained. "We see the 'obesity paradox' with them, simply because they haven't been exposed to the risks of obesity long enough."

In his meta-analysis on obesity and coronary heart disease, Sharma outlines other possible explanations for the so-called paradox. He suggests:

  • Obese people tend to have coronary heart disease earlier in their life, and it's their young age that helps them survive --not necessarily their weight.


  • Underweight and normal weight patients might have heart disease because of underlying genetic factors, which potentially leaves them worse-off than overweight patients who acquire the disease because of lifestyle factors.


  • Overweight and obese people might receive better medical care. Because of their size, doctors might be more diligent in prescribing overweight patients more heart medications at higher doses than normal weight patients.


The biggest thing to remember about the obesity paradox, concluded Myers, is that researchers are observing the phenomenon in clinical populations, not the general population. That means the people in these obesity paradox studies are already sick, and that a healthy person shouldn't decide to pack on the pounds based on this research.

"There are a lot of potential reasons that may explain this obesity paradox in these clinical populations, and more needs to be done to figure it out," concluded Myers. "Claiming that fat may be protective is a little bit dangerous, because we know overweight and obesity is associated with many different kinds of health problems."

House Votes To Allow Banking Access For Marijuana Businesses

Wed, 2014-07-16 16:15
Signaling growing acceptance of cannabis legalization nationally, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to allow banks to provide traditional banking services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law.

Sponsored by Reps. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the amendment to the Financial Services appropriations bill prevents the Treasury Department from spending funds to penalize financial institutions that provide services to state-legal marijuana businesses. The amendment passed with bipartisan support, 231 to 192.

The House also rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), that would have blocked Department of Treasury guidelines issued back in February that are intended to increase banking access for pot shops.

“Congress is yet again rejecting the failed war on marijuana,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “They have read the poll numbers and are doing both what is right and what is politically smart.”

Due to banks' fears of being implicated as money launderers, marijuana-related businesses are often forced into cash-only transactions, putting retailers' safety at risk and creating issues involving taxes and employee payroll. Despite the Treasury Department's guidance, most banks are still extremely wary of working with marijuana businesses since the plant remains illegal under federal law.

“While we appreciate the efforts by the Department of Justice and FinCEN, guidance or regulation doesn’t alter the underlying challenge for banks," Frank Keating, the president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, told HuffPost regarding Treasury's earlier guidance. "As it stands, possession or distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and banks that provide support for those activities face the risk of prosecution and assorted sanctions.”

Perlmutter, who thinks it shouldn't be optional for banks to work with marijuana businesses, said in February that safety should be a top concern of federal officials and banking regulators.

"The crime potential for an all-cash businesses, whether that’s robbery, burglary or assault -- a violent crime -- or tax evasion, fraud and skimming -- a white collar crime -- is pretty substantial," he said. “At the heart of the banking and tax issue is we want these businesses to be safe."

Wednesday's vote follows a House vote in May to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to target medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws. The same day, the House passed two additional amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.

"It's clear that cannabis reform is having a very good year in Congress," said Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell.

While the banking measure passed easily in the House, it must now pass the Senate, where the medical marijuana protections measure still languishes.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use, while medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. About a dozen more states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form in the coming years. And for the first time ever, a majority of Americans nationwide support the legalization of marijuana, according to a recent poll.

The legal marijuana industry is expected to grow to $2.3 billion in the U.S. in 2014. One study suggests that figure could balloon to over $10 billion by 2019.

Read the text of the amendment that passed:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington or Wisconsin or the District of Columbia, to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State or a unit of local government.

NBA Free Agency Winners And Losers

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:41
With megastars and mega money, NBA free agency perhaps has eclipsed the regular season itself in terms of pure excitement. Rumors run wild, as players are overpaid, underpaid and everything in between. And while LeBron James mania has taken over the league, there are plenty of other important moves -- not just Carmelo staying in New York -- that are sure to impact next season.

Let's take a look at free agency's winners and losers.

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs' giant gamble to re-attain hometown star LeBron James came to fruition. It was a rather unconventional approach -- Cleveland fought off the pressing urge to make short-term moves -- and the team now has the 29-year-old LeBron to team up with three No. 1 picks, including Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. Whether Kevin Love ends up a Cavalier remains to be seen, but this has been a remarkable turn of events for one of basketball's seemingly moribund franchises. And we haven't even gotten to recently minted head coach David Blatt, who walks into his first NBA gig in style.

Chicago Bulls



The Bulls dodged a bullet when Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the Knicks, and then they proceeded to go out and get Pau Gasol from the Lakers. Assuming Gasol is healthy (he has vertigo issues), his value remains as a splendid passer and pick-and-pop big. Chicago inks a solid deal, signing the 34-year-old Spaniard to a three-year, $22 million-plus contract with a player option. Assuming Derrick Rose is healthy again, Gasol -- who can play both the four and five spots -- will team up nicely alongside him, All-Star center Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

Flying more under the radar was Chicago's move to sign 23-year-old Montenegrin forward Nikola Mirotic, a 2011 first-round draft pick. The contract is worth $17 million over three years as part of the mid-level exception, and gives Chicago a fantastic 3-point shooting big (46 percent in Spain's highly competitive ACB League last year).

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are clear free agency winners -- signing Lance Stephenson means that much. He didn't receive the colossal offer he had hoped for, but the 23-year-old instantly becomes the focal point of Charlotte's offense, playing a two-man game with talented power forward Al Jefferson. Something was clearly wrong in Indiana, because Stephenson turned down their offer of more money, but the Pacers' loss is the Hornets' gain.

Phoenix Suns

Isaiah Thomas to the tune of four years and $27 million may turn out to be the heist of free agency. Thomas averaged more than 20 points last season -- albeit for Sacramento -- plus the Suns will still have an opportunity to go out and get Kevin Love. They have an embarrassment of riches at point guard right now (remember, they drafted Tyler Ennis), but that's not the worst thing in the world either.

Dallas Mavericks



Houston foolishly elected not to match Dallas' three-year, $46 million deal on Chandler Parsons (above), a former second-round pick who will now earn about $15 million a year -- a 1,500 percent raise from his rookie deal. A terrific playmaker from the small forward position, Parsons will become a legitimate second option behind Dirk Nowitzki (who re-signed on the super cheap). He gives the Mavs another ball handler, and one who just happens to be 6-foot-9. One of the game's premier offenses also acquired a former Finals hero in center Tyson Chandler, who will improve Rick Carlisle's entire defense.

Chris Bosh

The 30-year-old Bosh seemingly pulled a fast one on the entire city of Houston and on NBA circles everywhere by re-signing for the max in Miami. Bosh has repeatedly said that he enjoys winning more than the spotlight, but in turning down four years and $88 million from the Rockets, it would appear that the latter got the better of him. There is also the matter of getting $118 million and staying in South Beach -- and the fact that sans LeBron in the Heat lineup, Bosh's scoring average increased more than six points, per ESPN Stats & Info. (Last season, he averaged a mere 12 field goal attempts per game.)

Boston Celtics

I'm cheating a little bit here, given how free agency ties in with Boston's wonderful draft. The Celtics re-signed 23-year-old combo man Avery Bradley for four years, $32 million. Between Bradley and Marcus Smart, the sixth pick in the draft, head coach Brad Stevens possesses a lightning-quick backcourt that can really defend. We can only speculate about the uncertain future of point guard Rajon Rondo, but if Rondo is not dealt, Boston will have the league's quickest trio of guards that also can put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses.

Losers

LeBron James

I've already made my thoughts on this clear.

Miami Heat

Pat Riley lost the best player on the planet and then gave Chris Bosh the max. That's a rough summer for anyone.

Houston Rockets



How GM Daryl Morey lost out on both Chris Bosh and Chandler Parsons is beyond me. Forget about Carmelo for just a moment. Bosh re-signing with Miami makes sense because of the cash, but Parsons' deal not being matched is a spectacular display of ineptitude by Morey. Morey could have paid less than $1 million next season for Parsons, but he declined that option. Parsons is a phenomenal playmaker who spreads the floor extremely well for James Harden and Dwight Howard. By letting him walk and attaining Trevor Ariza from Washington, Morey acquires a less-gifted version of Parsons. Ariza has long been known as a defensive ace, but Parsons offers more offensively and is still only 25 years old.

Perhaps Morey's statement to KBME-Am 790 in Houston sums it up best: "The contract (Parsons) got...the Mavericks are a smart organization; they obviously wanted to get him...that structure of that (contract) is literally one of the most untradeable structures I've ever seen." Morey did not match solely because the contract is untradeable? That's a joke.

Utah Jazz

Gordon Hayward is a nice player and one I've always really liked, but matching a $63 million contract over four years puts the Jazz in a really tight spot moving forward. This is a talented young team, with bigs Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, along with guards Trey Burke and Dante Exum. It drafted Rodney Hood, who can do a lot of the same things and may become a better version of Hayward.

Kobe Bryant

In the twilight of his career, the 35-year-old Bryant is sans Pau Gasol, playing alongside Nick "Swaggy P" Young in the backcourt, and running pick-and-roll with Jordan Hill! Super.

New York Knicks



Congratulations to the Knicks for re-signing this generation's version of Bernard King! In 10 seasons, Carmelo has been out of the first round twice. He has led the league in scoring while winning a total of three postseason series. Phil Jackson, a basketball maestro of unquestioned genius, shockingly gave Anthony the max, thereby ensuring his team's inability to make the necessary winning moves going forward.

Atlanta Hawks

The roster remains in decent shape, assuming Al Horford is back to 100 percent. However, it's becoming a joke how much this organization struggles to attract free agents. And we're not even talking about marquee guys. Nobody wants to play in Atlanta.

Sacramento Kings

Under the rudderless leadership of management, Sacramento's big move was to nab veteran point guard Darren Collison. More importantly, the Kings lost free agent Isaiah Thomas, who averaged more than 20 points in his third year in the league. Oh, and they have two shooting guards now too.

Indiana Pacers

Indiana lost another series to Miami while simultaneously watching its All-Star center Roy Hibbert forget how to play basketball. A perimeter duo of Paul George and Lance Stephenson could have been devastating for the next decade. Losing Stephenson is just a killer, any way you slice it up.

Detroit Pistons

The same ill-timed logic goes for the Pistons as well, who signed 3-point specialist Jodie Meeks away from the Lakers for three years, $19.5 million. Actually, that sounds even worse when you say it out loud.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure and catch my NBC Sports Radio show, Kup and Schultz, which airs Sunday mornings from 9-12 ET, right here.

Rescue Dog Undergoes Dramatic Transformation And Loses 2 Pounds Of Matted Fur (PHOTOS)

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:23
Ellen the dog has a whole new 'do.

The rescue dog underwent a striking transformation after she was retrieved from an animal shelter by Chicago-based Trio Animal Foundation.

When founder Sue Naiden and the team at the all-volunteer rescue organization -- which often foots the medical bills for abandoned pets -- found the mistreated pup, they could barely see the dog under hunks of matted fur. At first, Naiden couldn't even determine whether the pooch was male or female.

But after countless hours of grooming and cleaning, an adorable young pup -- who the foundation decided to name after Ellen Degeneres -- emerged.

"We wanted a name that was pretty much synonymous with happiness," Naiden wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "[W]ho couldn't help but think of Ellen DeGeneres and the smile that she always has on her face?"

Naiden first got a line on a mistreated dog and picked up the pooch from an open-access shelter in the Chicago area Sunday evening. When Naiden arrived, she couldn't discern which end was which.

(Story continues below)



"When we first saw this dog in it’s cage, we didn’t know which end was front or back. We had to get a treat to see which end lifted up to sniff," Naiden wrote in a post on Facebook, detailing the rescued dog's transformation. "As it turned out, the dog had two very petite legs hidden underneath all the knotted fur and the outer appendages were just matted fur and debris."



A local groomer in the area volunteered her services and started to work on the staggering amounts of knotted fur, shaving it off to try and extricate the dog from the disarray. Slowly, the dog's head and limbs began to become visible under the estimated 2 pounds of hardened fur.

Naiden continued:
Even though we had to pull out fur that had grown 2 inches down Ellen’s ear canal and shave matted fur away from her irritated paper-thin skin, never once did Ellen growl or show her teeth. When it came time to shave the matted fur that had tightly wrapped its way around Ellen’s raw legs like a snug boot, Ellen actually looked up at me and started to give me kisses… I could have died.



After hours of intense grooming, Ellen was bathed and given a final touch-up before she was transported to a nearby veterinarian for a checkup. Seated next to the pounds of matted fur she lost, Ellen looked like an entirely new dog.



Now, the Trio Animal Foundation is helping to arrange Ellen's adoption. With the spread of rescued dog's story of transformation on Facebook, Naiden said that Ellen already has numerous adoption offers -- including two from Greece and Australia.

"She truly is a little miracle," Naiden told HuffPost.

Interested animal lovers can fill out an adoption application on Project Rescue Chicago's website.

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Plan a Fun Summer Getaway in Illinois to These 10 parks

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:23
ROAD TRIP! Looking to get the family out of the house and on the road? With gas prices climbing, you may want to stay a bit closer to home this summer -- look no further than your own backyard. Check out these great Illinois parks.

 
1. Starved Rock State Park
Location: Utica



 
2. Shawnee National Forest
Location: Harrisburg



 
3. Garden of the Gods
Location: Harrisburg (in the Shawnee National Forest)



 
4. The Morton Arboretum
Location: Lisle



 
5. Matthiessen State Park
Location: Utica






6. Lake Katherine Trail
Location: Palos Heights



 
7. Cave-in-Rock State Park
Location: Cave-in-Rock






8. Busse Woods
Location: Elk Grove



 
9. Apple River Canyon State Park
Location: Apple River



 
10. Castle Rock State Park
Location: Oregon



 
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Yes, You Can Now Have A Drone Photograph Your Wedding

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:21
When it comes to wedding photography, the sky's the limit -- literally.

Iowa-based Picture Perfect Portrait and Design is offering a brand new service to brides and grooms looking for unique ways to capture their wedding: drone photography.

Owner and photographer Dale Stierman said the idea came to him after seeing drones used for real estate.

"I thought it was a great idea and just knew there was an angle for wedding photography," he told The Huffington Post. "There are endless possibilities for camera angles that no other photographer can get."

Stierman shot a wedding via drone recently at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, which sits right on the Mississippi river. This was the result:


Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Portrait & Design

According to Stierman, this is a normally impossible shot to get -- "Airplanes can't get low enough to do it." Here's another shot with the bridal party:


Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Portrait & Design

Of course, it's not an easy operation. "You can't shoot a whole wedding with a drone, but you can shoot it for about 30 minutes," Stierman said. That means everything has to be planned out before the Big Day.

"We plan it out about a week before the wedding, then we have the shots set up when it's time to shoot," he said.

In order to make sure each 30-minute session runs smoothly, Stierman communicates by two-way radio with a team on the ground, who directs the wedding party on where to go and what to do. He also has an expert flyer controlling the drone.

"The whole thing's remarkable," he said.

Couples can add a drone shoot to their photography package for about $400. The company has the capability to shoot all over the U.S.

What do you think -- would you want a drone to photograph your wedding?

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Chicago Archdiocese Wants To Help Immigrant Children

Wed, 2014-07-16 15:09

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, July 16 (Reuters) - Roman Catholic officials in Chicago want to provide services, which may include housing, to undocumented immigrant children who have been pouring into the United States in recent months, church officials said on Wednesday.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third-largest Catholic diocese in the country with 2.3 million members, has submitted a proposal offering to help the children to the refugee resettlement office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said.

More than 400 unaccompanied minors caught crossing the Mexican border are being held at government shelters in Chicago, according to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican.

The Heartland Alliance, an anti-poverty organization, is coordinating services for children in the Chicago area, but a surge in need has the government seeking proposals for more help by Aug. 6, Dolan said.

"The cardinal wants to be helpful, wants the archdiocese to be helpful," Dolan said of Cardinal Francis George. "Now we wait to see what they'd like us to do."

The archdiocese could provide housing and counseling, she said.

Bilingual Catholic Charities workers from Chicago are currently assisting immigrant children in Texas, Dolan said.

More than 52,000 children traveling alone from Central America have been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border since October, twice as many as in the same period a year earlier.

U.S. immigration officials say the crisis is being driven by poverty and gang violence in countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, as well as rumors spread by smugglers that children who reach the United States will be allowed to stay.

Pope Francis this week called for the refugee children to be welcomed and protected. Hispanics make up about one-third of the roughly 75 million Catholics in the United States. (Editing by Eric Walsh)

This Is The Soccer-Themed 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' Parody We Deserve

Wed, 2014-07-16 13:56
If you find yourself lying in bed with a serious case of World Cup withdrawal, and are thinking of playing hooky until you recover: we've got the video for you.

Chicago Fire striker and 2013 Major League Soccer MVP Mike Magee -- who happens to be in the running for "Best MLS Player" at tonight's ESPY awards -- stars in a "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" parody, above, that's tailor made for soccer fans.

In addition to several Chicago Fire coaches and players, the video has some pretty great cameos by American footballers: Sydney LeRoux of the U.S. Women's National Team plays a sultry Sloane, teeammate and goalkeeper Hope Solo looks like she's having a blast as the revenge-seeking Joanie Bueller, and U.S. Men's National Team defender Omar Gonzalez is a practically flawless Cameron. French soccer legend and MLS player Thierry Henry, former USMNT coach Bruce Arena, USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley and comedian Judah Friedlander have some great blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos, too.

The video was a joint effort by the Chicago Fire, MLS, and Kick TV, a YouTube offshoot of MLS digital. Magee shot his scenes in the pre-season and earlier this spring in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, according to the Fire.

Coming just days after the World Cup final, the video is also a conveniently-timed plug for the MLS, which is no doubt looking to hold on to some of last month's record-setting soccer viewership.

Want more Magee than you get above? Watch the extended cut on YouTube

27 Ways Fans Can Recharge On The Slowest Sports Days Of The Year

Wed, 2014-07-16 13:49
The time for watching is over. Well, it's at least in a rare timeout. It's a day to do things, to get outside and to put on a shirt without a number stitched or screened onto the back. As is the case every summer following Major League Baseball's All-Star game, the frenetic sports calendar nearly comes to a standstill.

Welcome to the slowest sports days of the year. Enjoy!

While the Stanley Cup finals, the NBA Finals, the World Cup and the events of MLB All-Star break were taking place during the last several weeks, spring gave way to summer. With those first three events over and MLB off until Friday, here is a chance for everyone to remember that the wide world of sports isn't nearly as wide as the actual world. It's time to unplug and recharge.

Here are 27 things for you to do to make the most of your days and nights without any MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL or World Cup games* to keep you tethered to the television or rooted in your local sports bar:



*Those in dire need of a North American professional sports fix can catch four Major League Soccer games on Wednesday, July 16. The MLS schedule is clear on Thursday, July 17. The WNBA schedule includes a pair of matinee games on Wednesday and a four-game slate on Thursday.

Is Fishiness Afoot in Redistricting Reform in Illinois?

Wed, 2014-07-16 12:56
Was there something fishy going on when the state board of elections raised questions about whether the redistricting reform campaign had enough valid signatures to get on the November ballot? The effort is over for now, but it will return so studying it and improving it will be key.

William J. Cadigan, a lawyer for the Yes for Independent Maps campaign, shared how some parts of Illinois election law can seem incongruent with the democratic process.

To run for the highest, statewide offices in the Land of Lincoln, you're required to collect the signatures of 5,000 registered voters. But to get a citizen-generated question on the ballot, you're required to collect nearly 300,000 registered voters' signatures. Really? Really.

Plus, the rules for checking all of the gathered signatures weren't finalized until about 10 days before the deadline came to turn them in. What else just isn't quite right?

As redistricting reform champions try to figure out their next steps, pension reform advocates are also wondering if their initiative is doomed. After the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that government retirees do not have to pay more for their state health insurance, many are saying this could spell bad news for the pension reform law passed in December.

New Research Shows How Marijuana Compound Can Reduce Tumor Growth In Cancer Patients

Wed, 2014-07-16 11:49
Scientists have long known that compounds derived from marijuana have some cancer fighting properties, but a recent discovery demonstrates how exactly one compound may fight tumors.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the research reveals two previously unknown "signaling platforms" in cells that allow THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis known for producing the "high" sensation, to shrink some cancerous tumors.

“THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties," Dr. Peter McCormick, a researcher from University of East Anglia in England and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "This compound is known to act through a specific family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. However, it was unclear which of these receptors were responsible for the anti-tumor effects of THC."

When the researchers applied THC to tumors induced in mice using human breast cancer cells, the interaction between two cannabinoid cell receptors -- CB2 and GPR55 -- were responsible for THC's anti-tumor benefits.

"Our findings help explain some of the well-known but still poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumor growth," McCormick added. He emphasized in an email to The Huffington Post that dosage is critical to outcome, since the wrong protocol can sometimes increase tumor growth, he said.

"So, the ideal would be either the purified THC in an effective dose provided by a health care provider to reduce the known cognitive side effects and still deliver the appropriate reduction in tumor growth, or a synthetic homolog that provides the same effects," McCormack said. He added that the research team didn't screen all tumors and that some types may not respond to this treatment if they do not have compatible receptors expressed.

The endocannabinoid (EC) system is a communications network in the brain and body that is involved in a number of physiological processes that affect a person's feelings, motor skills and memory. The EC system is responsive to the body's naturally-occurring endocannabinoids as well as the cannabinoids found in marijuana, like THC. And scientists have found that the CB2 receptor specifically is sensitive to the therapeutic properties of marijuana-based compounds.

This isn't the first time scientists have found that marijuana can be effective at fighting cancer. Previous studies have found that THC cuts tumor growth in lung cancer in half and also prohibited the cancer from spreading. THC has also been shown to induce death in brain cancer cells.

But THC is just one of many cannabinoids found in marijuana. Others, like CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound in the cannabis plant, has also shown promise in the battle against cancer. Researchers in California found that CBD could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer.

In the United Kingdom, a team of scientists found that six different purified cannabinoids -- CBD (Cannabidiol), CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid), CBG (Cannbigerol), CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid), CBGV (Cannabigevarin) and CBGVA (Cannabigevaric acid) -- showed a wide range of therapeutic qualities that "target and switch off" pathways that allow cancers to grow.

A number of studies in recent years have demonstrated the medical potential of pot beyond cancer treatment. Purified forms of cannabis has been tied to better blood sugar control, and may help slow the spread of HIV. Legalization of the plant for medical purposes may even lead to lower suicide rates.

Currently, the federal government classifies the plant as one of the "most dangerous" substances alongside heroin and LSD with "no currently accepted medical use."

McCormack told HuffPost that the researchers are moving toward clinical trials but that it would be at least five years before those would begin.

I Was Confined to Solitary at Age 16 and It Still Haunts Me

Wed, 2014-07-16 11:38

February is cold in Northern Virginia. It's even colder when you're in a cell alone, without a mattress, a blanket, a pillow, or a sheet.



When I walked into that cell in the basement of the Fairfax County Jail, my hands cuffed behind my back and stomach grumbling from a half a day without food, I was almost relieved. Happy to be soon free from cuffs, to be close to being processed, and to be moved to wherever I'd suffer next. What I didn't know is that once the deputy uncuffed me and closed the small opening that I'd slipped my hands through, no one would talk to me again for days.



This was February 21, 1997. Seventeen years ago and still the date, the time of day I arrived, and the exact location of the cell in solitary confinement are permanent fixtures in my memory. I was 16 years old and being held in pre-trial detention on carjacking and robbery charges.



After spending three months in juvenile facilities, I had grown strangely familiar with being in a cell. But nothing prepares you for solitary confinement.



I spent 10 days in that cell. I learned to pace, seven steps back and forth, again and again. I stared at the wall, sought out figures in the cracks. Across from me was the padded room where they sent prisoners who threw things on the deputies. The kid in the cell beside me, he too only 16 or 17 years old, told me about all of his fears of a straightjacket. Those days felt like a straightjacket to me.



Eight of those days were without a shower or any of the other small allowances that helped men from freezing in the night. I wore the same clothes and slept on a concrete slab that was covered in phlegm. For a time I told myself that the ordeal couldn't be real. I wondered if one of the punishments for guilt was solitary. How would I know otherwise? I hadn't been to court, hadn't seen my lawyer in a few weeks, had yet to have a trial -- and yet, without explanation I was in solitary confinement.



After those first 10 days in solitary, I would go on to plead guilty to carjacking and robbery. Sentenced to eight years in prison, the better part of my youth was spent confined. And during those eight years, I spent a year and a half doing various short stints in solitary confinement. I watched grown men crack under the pressure of a solitary cell. I watched men beg for relief, strapped to a bed by their arms and legs.



Seventeen years later, I find that I'm again constantly thinking about solitary confinement. The horror stories that drive the public conversation about solitary are not stories to me, but memories. It's unsettling because as much as I know the truth of what the noise of silence can do to a person's mind, I know the dangers for juveniles are worse.



It's good to see this issue getting more press. And it's encouraging to see some states slowly making changes. But it's still unacceptable that every day children are held in solitary confinement for upwards of 22 hours -- in adult prisons and jails and juvenile facilities alike. It's unacceptable that we still have a practice on the books that devastates children's minds. We know that solitary confinement does not reduce violence and likely increases recidivism, and we must end this child abuse nationwide.



This piece first appeared on the ACLU blog. Follow the ACLU on Twitter @ACLU and on Facebook.

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