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Pit Bull Puppy Is Just A Poop Away From The Rest Of His Beautiful Life

Fri, 2015-07-31 08:37

Jean Keating has one quite personal hope for her foster dog Colt: that the pit bull pup will poop. 

"New opportunities and adventures will be open to Colt if he can poop like every other puppy," Keating says. 

Colt's funky bowels have been the focus of Keating's attention for quite some time now. 

This past April, when he arrived at her Ohio home, Colt was a tiny dog with a big problem.

Seven weeks old, and just 2.68 pounds, the wee pit bull had been spotted for sale online, by a volunteer with Keating's rescue group, the Lucas County Pit Crew.

It was clear from his photos that the puppy was very sick. 

Colt had some sort of infection in the beginning, possibly from a botched surgery to fix what is now assumed to have been an anal prolapse (that means some of his rectal tissue was poking out of his behind). 

The vet wasn't sure he'd make it, given how sick he was. Keating had already fallen in love with Colt, and decided to take him home. If necessary, she'd give him hospice care.

But within about a week Colt was eating up a storm and putting on some weight. His friendly, clown-like personality was shining through and he was making fast friends with Keating's other dogs -- but he still wasn't excreting in the usual way.

"He drips," says Keating -- which gets all over, and, more seriously, represents what could be a profoundly disabling condition.

It was determined that Colt now had a "rectal stricture" -- a band of scar tissue that narrowed his anal opening -- making it hard to get everything out and causing him a lot of pain. 

"He was uncomfortable and was having some serious complications from getting so backed up," says Jim Whitehead, a veterinarian with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, who oversaw Colt's case.

If Colt wasn't treated, he could become completely constipated, and stop eating or drinking. Whitehead says he would then die, or have to be euthanized.

Colt's first surgery (with another vet) didn't take. In May and then again in June, Whitehead used an inflated balloon to stretch out the scar tissue nonsurgically.

That, too, didn't work as well as Keating and the doctors had hoped. At least not at first.

"Colt continued to sort of drip and not really poop," Keating says.

Keating was scheduled to go to a conference in mid-July. Her "heart was heavy," she says, knowing that Colt's quality of life could become poor, and she might have a very difficult decision to make, when she returned.

But the day before she left, something wonderful happened.

"I looked down, and there was real poop. It was formed and semi-solid," Keating says. "I burst into tears." 

But Colt went back to his old, constipated ways. And so late this week, Keating brought him back to Blue Pearl for another operation, to widen the little guy's rectum.

She is feeling cautiously optimistic about the results.

"It's his best shot at having a wonderful life," she explains.

Colt is still in the hospital, as of Friday. Whitehead says the procedure went well. Colt's active and eating, and has even pooped a little. But not quite enough for him to come home yet.

Keating, of course, is eager to get her now-12-pound foster puppy home.

"I love him to the moon and back," she says. "With all the poop I clean up on a daily basis, it's a little crazy that I am so excited for more poop."

Yes, Keating's short term goal is for Colt to produce a series of solid, respectable BMs.

Longer-term, her ambitions are a little further off the ground: once he's well enough, for this trooper of a pittie to be adopted by people who will love him for "the incredible little puppy that he is."

"All he wants is to share his zest of life," says Keating. "And that is perfect, because his forever family will appreciate that sometimes love is messy."


Keep tabs on Colt's progress on the Lucas County Pit Crew Facebook page.

And get in touch at if you have an animal story to share! 

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The Top Ten Cities for Creatives

Thu, 2015-07-30 15:47
A thriving creative class is a key feature of nearly every successful modern city. A vibrant culture is not only valuable in its own right, it also often serves to attract and inspire talented workers in non-creative fields, creating a rising tide that benefits the entire city. However, that very same rising tide often lifts housing costs and other living expenses, which consequently puts a strain on the budgets of those creative workers.

Find out now: How much house can I afford?

Indeed, the financial realities of creative fields such as dance, photography and music often mean that creatives cannot afford to live in many of the places where they have historically had the most success and influence. Cities like New York and Los Angeles have, simply put, become too expensive for many working artists.

So which cities present the best opportunities for today's creative workers? To answer that question, SmartAsset compared the cost of living in major U.S. cities to the concentration of creative workers in those cities. We considered 28 different professions in our analysis, including jobs like graphic designer, choreographer and photographer. (See the full list of jobs we included and read more about our methodology below.)
Key Findings
Avoid the coasts. Zero West Coast cities and just one East Coast city ranked in the top 10 in SmartAsset's analysis. Durham, North Carolina was the only coastal city to score well for both affordability and culture.

Are the new creative capitals in the South and Midwest? Nine of the top 10 cities for creatives in SmartAsset's study are located in one of these two regions. If housing prices and the cost of living in cities like San Francisco and New York continues to climb, more and more creatives may head for the heartland.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana

The birthplace of jazz, New Orleans has long been considered one of the country's best cities for musicians seeking inspiration and an audience. While it remains one of the world's top music cities, it has emerged as a great place for all kinds of creatives. Indeed, going by total employment, the single largest creative profession in New Orleans is acting. There are 1,900 full time actors or actresses in New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Salt Lake City, Utah

The only western city to crack the top 10, Salt Lake City scored well for both its low cost of living and the high number of professionals in creative fields in the area. The Salt Lake City metro area has the 11th highest concentration of creative professionals of any U.S. metro (there are over 400), with 109 creatives for every 10,000 workers.

Try SmartAsset's free mortgage calculator.

These jobs are supported by a strong arts scene, with a premier art museum in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, a world-class ballet company in Ballet West and numerous annual music and art festivals like the Living Traditions Festival and the Utah Arts Festival. Salt Lake City is also one of the screening locations for films participating in the Sundance film festival, widely considered to be one of the best independent film festivals in the world.

3. Kalamazoo, Michigan

In many cities, creatives have to take on a second job or a "day job" in order to pay the bills, focusing on their art (or music or writing or photography) in the off-hours. In Kalamazoo, such a trade-off may not be necessary. The city's cost of living is 15% lower than the national average and half the cost of living in New York and Los Angeles.

Nonetheless, the city still has a rich creative culture. With two local institutions of higher education (Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College), as well as the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, creatives in the area likely have no trouble finding support and inspiration in the local community.

4. Austin, Texas

Austin is not only the political capital of Texas and a booming tech scene, it is also the Lone Star State's creative capital. Indeed, the city's official slogan is "Live Music Capital of the World." ("Keep Austin Weird" is the unofficial slogan.) While Austin does indeed have some of the world's best live music venues and performers, the city's creative culture goes much further than that.

Along with the inimitable street art and two world-famous music and film festivals, Austin also has one of the country's best independent book stores (Book People) and one of the world's premier literary and cultural archives (the Harry Ransom Center has 1 million rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible).

5. Nashville, Tennessee

While outsiders often associate Nashville with country music, the city's cultural life goes far beyond twang and honky-tonk. The Nashville Opera, the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Ballet are a few of the city's leading cultural institutions. A number of local colleges and universities, including Vanderbilt and Tennessee State, also provide support for the arts. Combine that with a cost of living that is 8.8% below the national average and Nashville presents a great setting for creatives.

6. Columbus, Ohio

Historically, universities have been the primary incubators of the arts, providing stable teaching jobs to artists in a variety of fields who can perfect their craft and pass on their knowledge to their students. In addition to Ohio State, the Columbus area is home to more than a dozen colleges and universities, including the Columbus College of Art and Design. The city also has eight museums, including the expanding Columbus Museum of Art (a new wing is set to open this fall).

7. Omaha, Nebraska

Many who work in creative fields struggle to make ends meet. Those who work full-time as an artist, musician or writer may not have sufficient income to cover rent and other basic expenses. In Omaha, where median rent for a one bedroom home is just $686 per month (according to, artists will likely face less financial stress. On top of that, local organizations like the Omaha Creative Institute offer resources to help creatives build their careers so they can stop worrying about their income and focus on their trade.

8. Des Moines, Iowa

The cost of living in Des Moines is 6.9% lower than the national average and more than 20% lower than the cost of living in Chicago. At the same time, Des Moines ranks 34th in the U.S. out of more than 400 metro areas for its concentration of creative professionals. There are about 80 people working in creative fields in Des Moines for every 10,000 workers in the wider economy.

9. Durham, North Carolina

The Durham Performing Arts Center opened in 2008 and is among the largest such centers in the U.S. It hosts hundreds of events and performances every year, including the American Dance Festival, one of the premier dance festivals in the world. Durham is also home to a music scene that boasts a number of independent record labels, including Merge Records, and has produced multiple national acts over the past decade.

10. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City has emerged in recent years as a creative hub to rival those in the northeast and on the West Coast. The city's Crossroads Art District has gained national recognition for both its growth and the quality of its offerings. Crossroads alone has more than 70 art galleries, to go along with larger institutions like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities for creatives, SmartAsset gathered data on 176 of the largest cities in the country. We considered two factors in our analysis: the cost of living and the concentration of people working in a creative field.

In total, we included 28 different occupations in this calculation, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Art Directors; Craft Artists; Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators; Multimedia Artists and Animators; Artists and Related Workers, All Other; Commercial and Industrial Designers; Floral Designers; Graphic Designers; Interior Designers; Set and Exhibit Designers; Designers, All Other; Actors; Producers and Directors; Choreographers; Music Directors and Composers; Musicians and Singers; Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers, All Other; Editors; Writers and Authors; Sound Engineering Technicians; Photographers; Film and Video Editors; Dancers; Fashion Designers; Reporters and Correspondents; Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary; Curators; Architects.

For each city in our study, we calculated an affordability score and a creative culture score between 0 and 100. The lower the cost of living, the higher the score. (Any city with a cost of living that is 85% of the national average or lower scored a perfect 100 for affordability and any city with a cost of living at least 115% of the national average scored a zero.) Similarly, the greater the number of creative workers, the higher the creative culture score. (Any city with a concentration of at least 125 creative workers per 10,000 scored a 100 for that factor, while any city with 10 or fewer creatives per 10,000 scored a zero.)

Lastly, we averaged these scores and indexed the results to 100: the city with the highest average scored an overall 100, while the city with the lowest average scored a zero.

Cost of living data used in our study comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research. Jobs data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Questions about our study? Contact us at

Photo credit: ©,  © Pavone

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Reparations for the 99%

Thu, 2015-07-30 12:37
Seven years after the housing crisis, which led to the financial crisis, which led to the recession, it may be time to review what happened to the people, the government, and the financial industry (banks, mortgage lenders, and investment firms).

I have found that three questions are most useful in trying to understand major events like the financial crisis. Who pays? Who benefits? And, is it fair? Using these questions on the 2008 crisis, it becomes obvious that the 99% has been short-changed.

The People and Government Paid:

Lost interest income:

It has been estimated that between August 2007 and September 2013, holders of savings accounts lost nearly $1.2 trillion in interest income due to the Federal Reserve's policy of near-zero interest rates. (1)

Lost wage income:

In 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated an increase in unemployment from 5% in 2008, to a peak of about 10% in 2010, declining to about 8% in 2012. (2) The average increase in unemployment due to the crisis was about 3% per year over the five years measured.

Total nonfarm employment in January 2008 was about 138 million. (3) The 3% increase in unemployment amounts to an extra 4 million people unemployed each year during the recession. Taking a conservative estimate of average wages during this period of $25,000, this amounts to about $100 billion/year in lost wages, or about $500 billion between 2008 and 2012.

For comparison, a 2009 independent estimate by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (4) projected lost wages over the same period at over $1 trillion. So, it is safe to say that the crisis cost workers between $1/2 and 1 trillion in lost income from 2008-2012.

Lost home equity:

The same 2013 GAO report (5) also noted that "...households collectively lost about $9.1 trillion (in constant 2011 dollars) in national home equity between 2005 and 2011, in part because of the decline in home prices." While home values have substantially recovered by now, the losses spanned nearly a decade, affecting family wealth across the country. Many homes remain "under water," worth less than their mortgages.

Direct foreclosure losses:

"Too big to fail," did not apply to homeowners. Both Clinton and Obama called for a one year moratorium on foreclosures during the election campaign. After the election, silence in the White House. Silence in Congress. No moratorium on foreclosures. No significant helping hand for homeowners.

Estimates of the number of homes foreclosed range from 5-15 million, since 2008. It is difficult to find reports on how much individual homeowners lost in the crisis. Losses include their equity in a home, plus mortgage and legal fees. If I assume 10 million foreclosures, and that the average loss per home was around $20,000 (a very conservative estimate), then over $200 billion was lost nation-wide. Other estimates range up to $1 trillion, but sources for these are few, and hard to locate and evaluate.

The Financial Industry Received a Bailout:

The total net U.S. bailout outlays were $3.3 trillion, plus a total of $16.9 trillion in guarantees.

Details of the Net Bailout Outlays: (6)

The infamous Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) spent nearly $900 billion in bailouts of the "too big to fail." Even though it eventually recovered about $700 billion, the public perception remains that this program saved the financial industry, while giving nothing to the people who suffered from the crisis.

The Treasury spent about $500 billion, most of it in purchases of industry financial instruments.

The Federal Reserve spent a net of about $2.6 trillion, again most of it in purchases of financial instruments.

The Treasury guaranteed about $4 trillion, most of it to back money market mutual funds.

The Federal Reserve guaranteed about $2 trillion, most of it for commercial instruments.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guaranteed about 2.5 trillion, in temporary liquidity guarantees.

Other government programs guaranteed about $7.6 trillion, most of it for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank.

This bears repeating: the total net U.S. government bailout outlays were $3.3 trillion, plus a total of $16.9 trillion in guarantees. These funds bailed out and backed the banks, mortgage lenders and investment firms which marketed and profited from the shaky securities which created the housing crisis.

So, we know who benefitted during the crisis: the financial industry. "Too big to fail," cost us a great deal. A simple question: does the world really need Goldman Sachs? Instead, why not a little capitalist "creative destruction," with new companies replacing the failed financial industry?

The government's policy of individual accountability vs corporate impunity just might explain the fury of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, as well as many millions of people around the country.


Let's summarize the core of this history in the following table of direct costs:


The people........................... Lost at least $ 1.9 trillion
The government.................... Paid at least $ 3.3 trillion
The financial industry.......... Received at least $ 3.3 trillion

The third question, "Is this fair?"

The obvious answer is "NO!" But now we have to ask another question: what can be done to rebalance the costs and benefits among the key parties?

The financial industry should pay back at least some of the huge costs it imposed on the country. It is time for reparations. As a starting point for the discussion, here is a modest proposal: retrieve $4 trillion from the financial industry, returning $2 trillion to the people and $2 trillion to the government.

I would structure this payback as a 40 year loan, amortized as a 4% mortgage repayment. On this basis, the annual repayment to the treasury would be about $200 billion. The industry would have to figure out how to generate this payback, but a surcharge on financial transactions would be an easy starting point.

The government can handle collecting $2 trillion in reparations over 40 years, but what would work for the people? I would have the Treasury just write the checks, and use the industry repayments to recover the money. Payments to the people would be made within the next year.

About $1 trillion would go to those who suffered foreclosures since 2007, at least partly restoring their lost equity. The second $1 trillion would go as checks to nearly every adult in the country, an average of about $5,000 per person.

A Presidential Commission could work out the details, in a short time. One guideline: protect small and medium banks and mortgage companies from large assessments. Another guideline: use the industry's records to determine the foreclosure reparations, with little individual paperwork. A third guideline: tilt the individual checks toward those who lost jobs in the recession. A fourth guideline: no reparations for those making over $250,000/year.

The financial industry has to be held accountable for the impact of the crisis. Reparations for the 99% could go a long way toward restoring a sense of fairness to the people. Why not get going? Now.

(1) Mario Belotti (Professor) and Maria Farley (Research Assistant), University of Santa Clara,

(2) GAO, "Financial Crisis Losses and Potential Impacts of the Dodd-Frank Act, Page 18, Figure 3

(3) Bureau of Labor Statistics data

(4) Center for Economic and Policy Research,

(5) GAO,, Page 21

(6) Christopher Chantrill,

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The ADA at 25: A Commitment to Our Neighbors

Thu, 2015-07-30 12:11
In 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, I had not yet made my decision to begin ROTC and a career of military service. I had no idea that I would join the Army, become a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. I certainly had no idea that eight months into my deployment a rocket-propelled grenade would tear through the Blackhawk helicopter I was flying, rip off one leg, crush the other and tear my right arm apart. The power of the ADA is that it ended up changing my life long before I ever imagined it would.

The ADA is the living testament to our Nation's commitment that we will always stand up for our neighbors' right to live fulfilling lives. It recognizes the fundamental reality that every American is merely one medical diagnosis or one accident away from a serious disability that forever alters his or her life. The ADA is essential in helping me overcome the obstacles I face as a Wounded Warrior and empowers me to assist other Veterans. It allows me to be physically active, have my pilot's license and serve in Congress. Simply put, the ADA enables me and millions of other Americans to move forward with our lives.

The ADA allows persons with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the world around them. Sidewalks and streets are now accessible because of curb cuts. Football stadiums and movie theaters now have accessible seating. Restrooms and elevators are now useable by people who depend on wheelchairs and walkers. Our courthouses and our government buildings now have ramps so that everyone can enter them to do business.

Our interaction with technology changed as well. Telephones are more accessible because we have video relays that allow those who are deaf to communicate with others. Television and movies are captioned. Our computers have touch screens so that those who have difficulty typing can use a pointer or other devices.

The ADA truly changed the world for all Americans.

As we celebrate the ADA's 25th Anniversary, our country should also use this milestone to renew its commitment to fully achieving the four main goals written into this landmark law: equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.

We must never be satisfied with a status quo where only a third of working-age people with disabilities participate in the workforce, despite the fact that 80 percent want to work. During the great recession of the late 2000s, people with disabilities lost their jobs at a rate 10 times greater than that of people without disabilities and they have not yet returned to the employment level they had in 2008. This is not only a tragedy for those who can't find work, but also for employers. Persons with disabilities represent a tremendous talent pool in this country. These hard-working employees are tremendously loyal to employers who give them a fair chance, boasting a retention rate far higher than the overall workforce.

Equally troublesome is the rate of poverty among people with disabilities. Over 26 percent of the disabled population lives below the poverty line.

Without good jobs at fair wages in inclusive settings, economic self-sufficiency will not be achievable. Without reliable transportation or accessible housing, full participation will be unattainable. Without sound education at all levels, equal opportunity to compete for a job will not be a reality.

Our world changed for the better because of the ADA. As we look to the next 25 years of its implementation, it is time to take the next step and ensure that all Americans with disabilities have access to good jobs, accessible housing and reliable transportation.

The time has come for Congress to take action to fulfill the community living promise within the ADA. In the coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strengthen the ADA. We all want the 56 million Americans with disabilities to be fully integrated into our communities and be equal participants in the American Dream.

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10 Illinois Counties With the Fewest Rapes Per Capita

Thu, 2015-07-30 11:18
(Editor's note: This article is the latest installment of our occasional series on criminal activity in Illinois. You can find previous articles here and here.)

The term "sexual assault" can cover a multitude of sex-related crimes. For this reason, its use in crime statistical applications can sometimes be ineffective. In many cases, the term is too broad.

Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation break down sex crimes that might commonly be referred to as "sexual assault" between forcible rape and aggravated assault/battery. The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient," which includes forcible rape.

The only type of sexual assault that is reported by such crime statistics specifically is forcible rape. The FBI changed the definition of forcible rape in 2011 to include rape of men, not just women, and to include instances of statutory rape, says ABC News.

In Illinois in 2013, there were 3,878 incidents of forcible rape reported to the police in Illinois, according to the Illinois State police. (There could be more incidents that were not reported.) That's down about 10 percent from the year before, when there were 4,330 reported cases. According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, there were 79,770 rapes reported to the police in the U.S. in 2013. Counts for both Illinois and the U.S. as a whole were significantly down from 1998, when the U.S. saw 93,144 rapes reported and Illinois saw 6,156, according to Illinois State Police and FBI crime reports.

In 2013, the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault served 18,048 survivors of sexual assault in Illinois. In 2014, that number dropped to 17,351. Not everyone in Illinois who experience sexual assault in those years sought help from the coalition or from any other organization and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that only 38 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to police. The data below is taken from the Illinois State Police reports.

Illinois counties with the fewest rapes per capita:

10. Macoupin County--1.07

Total rapes reported: 5

Population: 46,880

9. Cumberland County--0.91

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 10,939

8. Ogle County--0.76

Total reported rapes: 4

Population: 52,835

7. Washington County--0.69

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 14,448

6. Carroll County--0.67

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 14,910

5. Effingham County--0.58

Total reported rapes: 2

Population: 34,307

4. Edgar County--0.56

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 17,960

3. Douglas County--0.50

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 19,887
2. Jo Daviess County--0.45

Total reported rapes: 1

Population: 22,407

1. Williamson County--0.30

Total reported rapes: 2

Population: 66,924

To see the top 10 Illinois counties with the most reported rapes, which includes McDonough County and Jefferson County, check out Reboot Illinois.

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  3. 2013 violent crime statistics for Illinois universities

  4. Top 25 Illinois cities with the most DUI arrests in 2014

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Rauner's Business Reform Plan Could Face First Test With Plant Closing

Wed, 2015-07-29 12:51
No sooner had the closing of the Normal Mitsubishi plant been announced last week than critics of Illinois' business climate pounced on the news.

The plant, which opened in 1988 and employs 1,200 workers, will close in November as Mitsubishi Motors consolidates its manufacturing operations in Asia, the company announced July 24.

The Mitsubishi plant was the lone American factory of a Japanese automaker with a workforce represented by the United Auto Workers. As such, it made a fat target for those who have long complained of Illinois' union-friendly labor laws, high workers' compensation insurance costs and comparatively strict regulatory climate.

"The fact of the matter is that manufacturers in Illinois cannot remain competitive given the state's absurd regulatory and business climate," wrote Michael Lucci, director of jobs and growth at the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute.

There's no denying that Illinois' manufacturing economy has crumbled in recent years. But using the Mitsubishi closing as an example of the state's poor manufacturing climate is inaccurate and, more importantly, misses what it truly represents. The Mitsubishi plant failed because Mitsubishi for years was failing in the American car market. Nothing in the Illinois labor or business statutes could have helped a company that had lost market share as Mitsubishi had.

It's what happens after the plant closes in November that will provide the real test for Illinois and its business climate for manufacturing.

Check out how that test might turn out for Illinois' business climate at Reboot Illinois.

Regardless of how that test turns out, one Illinoisan, former Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan, says the state should take a breath and turn away from focusing on Illinois' woes about the budget and its other problems and make a plan for getting to work and getting the state back on track. Check out the seven-point plan outlined by Houlihan at Reboot Illinois.

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

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Every U.S. Governor From Most Liberal to Most Conservative

Wed, 2015-07-29 12:41
In the 2014 mid-term elections, the GOP solidified its control of both the House and the Senate. Republicans also dominated when it came to electing governors. There are currently 31 Republican governors and only 18 Democratic ones; Alaska is the only state with an Independent governor.

Using data from OnTheIssues, InsideGov broke down the political ideology of every governor. OnTheIssues analyzes public statements, press releases, campaign platforms and voting records to score each governor's view on important issues. We then converted these scores to a single scale from -10 (most liberal) to +10 (most conservative).

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Overall, the Southern states have the most conservative governors, with an average ideology score of 3.5. The Midwest is a close second, scoring 3.4 on average.

Conversely, the Eastern region has the most liberal governors, with an average score of -0.9. The Western states are fairly mixed and have an average score of 0.9.

In some cases, a governor's ideology does not reflect the overall political leaning of the state. Maryland, for example, is one of the most Democratic states in the country, but has a Republican governor.

Scroll through the graphic below to see a breakdown of each governor's political ideology score. You can also filter for region or by party.

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With an ideology score of -5.0, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf is currently the most liberal governor. On the other end of the spectrum is Butch Otter of Idaho, with an ideology score of 7.0. Democratic governors Steve Bullock (MT) and Earl Tomblin (WV) are outliers for their party, with overall conservative scores.

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7 Top Summer Blueberry Dishes and Drinks

Wed, 2015-07-29 08:45

Ice Cream Jubilee, DC

Blueberries deserve to have their own month for sure. Here at Eat Drink Lucky we can't imagine life without blueberry jam, pie, muffins and pancakes. We put them on waffles, in salads, in cocktails, in smoothies and in ice cream - and we're big fans of the toss-them-into-our-mouths technique.

Here are some of the top blueberry picks across the country selected by Eat Drink Lucky editors. Don't go all Violet Beauregarde on us now, but do get your blueberry fix soon.

Chicago, IL
If you're celebrating National Blueberry Month in Chicago, the "Violet You're Turning Violet" at Homestead on the Roof is the drink to order. Made with Blueberry Veev, Cava and lemon, it is destined for summer rooftop sipping and the perfect blueberry cocktail.
1924 W Chicago Ave.


Los Angeles, CA
It's important to maintain a well-rounded diet, and by that we mean eating lots of doughnuts. You'll be drooling like Homer Simpson for the blueberry doughnut at Kettle Glazed Doughnuts. It's topped with a maple glaze and bacon bites. They also have an excellent old fashioned blueberry lemon doughnut. Mmm. More blueberry.
6211 Franklin Ave.

Kettle Glazed Doughnuts

Austin, TX
It may be blackberry season in Austin but bartenders still honor the blueberry because it tastes great in bourbon. Get the Blueberry Bourbon Mule at Sullivan Steakhouse made with Jim Beam Red Stag Bourbon, house made blueberry simple syrup, lemon sour and a float of ginger beer. We think they should bottle and sell that blueberry simple syrup, it's so good.
300 Colorado St., Ste 200

Portland, ME
The blueberry cheesecake at new French-inspired spot Portland Patisserie is a tasty blueberry treat. The petit gateau features blueberry pastry cream and a blueberry macaron crust, making this easily the most blueberry-ified dessert you'll eat all summer.
46 Market St.

Photo by Rob Schatz

Seattle, WA
Rodeo Donut has been filling its brioche donuts with fresh blueberry jam this summer, topped with either limoncello or lavender glaze. The result? A morning treat that jump starts your day in the best way possible.
2052 NW Market St.

San Francisco, CA
There's nothing more summery than sipping a fresh blueberry ale in a beer hall. New bar Hogwash has the latest award-winning batch from Marin Brew Co., brewed just outside the city in Larkspur. Get your taste in one of their signature oversized beer goblets.
582 Sutter St.


Washington, DC
It's also National Ice Cream Month so it's only natural to indulge in some over-the-top blueberry ice cream. You'll find it in a scoop at DC's Ice Cream Jubilee. One of the parlor's most popular flavors is their beloved blueberry pie ice cream with bits of real homemade pie crust for bursts of buttery goodness. Just look at the photo above!
301 Water St., SE

We hope you will get to enjoy some of these delicious summer treats soon - and make some of your own blueberry recipes at home from this great Huffington Post article with 40 ideas.

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13 of the Most Haunted Cemeteries in Illinois

Tue, 2015-07-28 21:02
Although cemeteries can be places of tranquility for some, for others cemeteries arouse fear and trepidation. Some who have traversed cemeteries tell stories of gripping ghost encounters that could convince even staunch skeptics not to walk the grounds of cemeteries that are supposedly laced with paranormal activity.

Either way, we thought you'd like this list of some of the allegedly spookiest cemeteries our state has to offer.

Unfortunately, decades of ghost stories have encouraged some people to vandalize memorials and other cemetery property. If you do plan to visit any of the cemeteries listed below, please be respectful and make sure you're not trespassing!

In no particular order, here are 13 of the most haunted cemeteries in Illinois, according to

Showmen's Rest | Forest Park

Showmen's Rest is a section of Woodlawn Cemetery where remains from a 1918 circus-train wreck were buried in a mass grave. Between 60 and 110 employees were killed when another train conductor fell asleep, causing his train to strike the circus train. Many of the victims' names were not known, so some of the markers say things like 'unidentified male' or 'Baldy' or '4 Horse Driver.' Today, the section is still used for burials of circus showmen. The cemetery is rumored to be haunted. Locals say the sound of phantom elephants can be heard at night.

 Alton Cemetery | Alton 

Alton Cemetery is said to be haunted by several ghosts. One is a 9-year-old named Lucy Haskell, seen in the vicinity of the Hayner/Haskell monument. Another is a spectral woman in black near the Grandview mausoleum, and a third is minister and publisher Elijah P. Lovejoy. An abolitionist, Lovejoy was shot at a pro-slavery riot in 1837; his ghost is said to hang out near his monument and occasionally manifest as cold spots.

Aux Sable Cemetery | Morris 

Aux Sable Cemetery is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a mischievous young girl who has been known to play pranks, such as lowering electrical car windows when the key is not even in the ignition. The site is also said to be a portal from a ghostly dimension.

Ridge Cemetery | Tower Hill

Ridge Cemetery at Williamsburg Hill is said to be visited by apparitions, eerie lights and a disappearing old man. Phantom crowds and horses also have been seen and heard around the area. Rumors of sinister cult activity surround this place as well, and one report tells of a 3-year-old girl who went missing and was found walking halfway to the cemetery. She told her mother that the 'people who live in the ground' wanted her to stay with them.

 Moon Point/Creek Cemetery | Streator 

Moon Point Cemetery, aka Moon's Point Cemetery or Moon Creek Cemetery, is older than the Civil War and legendary with those who like to tell ghost stories. It was thought to have begun as a family cemetery for early settlers Jacob Moon and his family. The cemetery's most-talked-about ghost is called the Hatchet Lady, a female apparition of a woman who, as legend has it, often visited the cemetery to watch over her son's grave after he died during the Civil War. When she died, her ghost took up the vigil, carrying a hatchet. She has been heard yelling or whispering earnestly at visitors to 'Get out!' Other reports say a ghost boy and strange dancing lights along with red and white orbs appear here and in the surrounding areas. The sound of sarcophagus lids moving and other strange noises have been reported as well. Because of vandalism, local residents and police take great care to prevent people from trespassing at night when the cemetery is closed to visitors.

Blood's Point Cemetery | Flora Township 

Blood's Point Cemetery, named after the area's first white settler, Arthur Blood, is said to be a hot spot for the eerie, such as orbs, a vanishing barn, phantom vehicles and a ghost dog that sports glowing red eyes. To add to the spookiness, the nearby railroad bridge was said to be the setting for a school bus accident as well as several hangings. Electrical anomalies and ghostly children's laughter have been reported here.

Ramsey Cemetery | Effingham 

Ramsey Cemetery, established in 1851 with the burial of namesake Alexander Ramsey, is also known as Casbar Cemetery and is a nighttime teen hangout. Besides the graves, rock shelters and sandstone caves are nearby, covered with carvings from its many visitors. A young man committed suicide inside a chapel that stood in the cemetery from the 1920s to the 1960s; the chapel has since been demolished. Among the many legends here is a story of a man in a black cloak with red glowing eyes who is a manifestation resulting from occult activity that took place here in the past. Another legend tells of a werewolf that lives in the caves on the grounds, and yet another says those who put a penny heads up on a tombstone will come back later to find it upside down.

Saint Omer Cemetery | Ashmore

At Saint Omer Cemetery, legend has it that there is a witch's grave. According to the story, Caroline Barnes was hanged by the townspeople for witchcraft. As she went, she cursed the town and vowed to come back for revenge on the anniversary of her death. To trick her, the townsfolk inscribed her gravestone with the death date of Feb. 31, 1882 -- which of course, doesn't exist. Her headstone still stands, and looks like a sphere on a stack of logs.

Massock Mausoleum | Spring Valley 

The Massock Mausoleum stands in a small graveyard called the Lithuanian Liberty Cemetery, and it's the stuff of legends. Locals tell of a Hatchet Man, a scary ghost who guards the cemetery, and the mausoleum door is said to remain warm and has been sealed closed since the 1960s when vandals stole a skull from it. In Rosemary Ellen Guiley's 'The Complete Vampire Companion,' she tells about a pale, thin apparition seen here at night. According to the book, after hearing about the sightings, a reporter poured holy water into the mausoleum's vent, and consequently heard an eerie groaning sound come from the crypt. The area is reported to be closely patrolled by police.

King Cemetery | Dieterich

There are vague reports online about orbs and shadow people being seen here. [King Cemetery] is on private property, so be sure to secure the proper permissions before even thinking about visiting.

 Mount Olivet Cemetery | Aurora

[Mount Olivet Cemetery] dates back to the 1850s, and has a very specific type of haunting. It is said on numerous Internet sites that spectral ghosts wearing 1950s attire are seen throughout the cemetery, only to disappear on second glance.

Krome Family Cemetery | Collinsville

A small family cemetery is now hidden [among] the trees just off Old Keebler Road. It is all that remains of the Krome family mansion, which burned down long ago and was for decades considered to be haunted by the locals. Some enterprising explorers found leg shackles in the concrete walls of the ruined basement, leading to speculation that the house was once used as a holding pen for slaves about to be sold on the open market. Rumors began almost immediately about ghostly apparitions of slaves being seen walking at night from the ruins of the mansion down to the family cemetery.

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery | Midlothian 

Beginning in the 1970s, visitors here have seen orbs, apparitions, phantom vehicles, and even a floating, shrinking, and vanishing phantom farmhouse. A mysterious black dog and figures in monks' robes also have been seen. Investigations by ghost researchers have turned up ghostly images and electronic voice phenomena.

To see where 12 more of the most haunted cemeteries in Illinois are located (including cemeteries in Justice and Barrington), check out Reboot Illinois.

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  1. Travel these 10 creepy Illinois roads... if you dare

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  5. 21 famous people whose graves can be found in Illinois

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Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act Will Make Homes Accessible

Tue, 2015-07-28 17:53

Today, I introduced the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act, which would require new homes built with federal dollars to meet accessibility standards -- including a zero-step entrance, wheelchair accessible doorways and bathrooms, and climate controls that are at a height reachable from a wheelchair. Above, I announced the introduction of this legislation to advocates at a Rally with the National Council on Independent Living. They support the legislation.

For too long, the federal government has supported the development of housing that is not visitable or livable for those with mobility impairments. Many municipalities around the country -- from Bolingbrook, Illinois to Westport, Massachusetts to Austin, Texas -- have already incorporated accessibility standards into their building codes. The Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act would make sure the federal government follows their lead.

This bill is common sense: It would make sure that as more and more Americans reach retirement age, they are able to 'age in place' in their homes. It would also ensure that our veterans who have suffered debilitating injuries on the battlefield are able to more easily find an accessible home. But the benefits of accessible design go far beyond the disability community -- it benefits all of us who have friends and family with limited mobility. It is also much cheaper to build an accessible home than it is to retrofit -- a difference of a couple hundred dollars on the front end, instead of a couple thousand dollars on the back end. I will continue to work to advance this important legislation.

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David Feldstein Surrenders His Silence: Chicago Native Delivers Stunning Debut

Tue, 2015-07-28 14:08

Artist Photo by Jeff Walton Photography

You have 25 years to make your first record and six months to make the next," used to be a hackneyed insider joke among recording artists who'd gone smiling through the grinder of the showbiz commerce mill and came out kvetching. Now it's an antiquated bit of cynicism, especially to artists like David Feldstein who plots his own rock destiny from his home-studio consul in Atlanta - and at his own pace.

"There's never a perfect time," said David Feldstein, a Chicago native, whose debut LP Surrender the Silence is a stunning collection of guitar rock with electronic tweaks, squeaks and blurps that reflect his coming up in the 90's Chicago music scene.

"It's me finally after 25 years of having this in my head surrendering the silence that.....and actually making a record and making some noise."

Anything but noise, Feldstein has delivered a largely instrumental, series of lush folktronic sketches which prominently (and unapologetic) wears its influences.

"This LP I made is Folktronica," Feldstein said. "It is also a reflection of My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins. Stereolab is a great influence because they showed me that often, there's always place for guitars and Moog together and the sounds stand for themselves."

Surrender is peppered it with the rage of Nevermind and Gish, which initially gob smacked Feldstein and cast him through the unpredictable corners of 90's indie rock subterranea. Feldstein's nod to the period and scene of the crime was in the decision to cut the record's lacquers with Chicago rock veteran Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service.

"Bob was the engineer on Nirvana's In Utero with Steve Albini at the time I started playing and there's that historical track. Nirvana was it for me and Bob is my connection to that pedigree."

It's luck, really, that songwriters and performers have lived and evolved a culture of MP3 sharing, Soundcloud, Facebook fan pages, and sharing music with millions via a mouse click. That is the new musical landscape. Democratized, sure, allowing the expected garbage but, at least, fewer A&R guys using CD demos as coasters (or Frisbee).

But despite the advancements in 'studio in a laptop' tech, a cabal of vinyl enthusiasts have been bringing back the traditional record album and Feldstein is no exception. Originally released as a CD, Chicken of Terror Music released Surrender as a limited edition vinyl record (500 records on blue opaque vinyl).

"It amazes me that so much amazing sound can come off of a piece of plastic that got melted and squished between two metals stampers. It was a huge moment sitting down and dropping the needle on it. The first song on the album is a cover Modern English's 'I Melt With You.' It really has an amazing sound-stage reproduction that really one most easily gets from vinyl. It's a great headphone record."

Feldstein is currently at work on his next record.

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Six Months In, How Does Rauner Stack Up on Transparency Promises?

Tue, 2015-07-28 13:04
Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek says Gov. Bruce Rauner's oft-stated campaign goal of bringing unprecedented transparency to the governor's office is proving more difficult in practice than in stump speeches:

Six months into his term, Bruce Rauner has become quite secretive for such a self-proclaimed transparent governor.

That's the challenge with setting such high campaign expectations, isn't it?

Rauner tried to out-reform the quintessential reformer Pat Quinn during the campaign. He was going to shake up Springfield and bring back Illinois. You remember the plaid shirts and the hefty sledgehammer. He promised openness and transparency at nearly every stop. Gov. Rauner jumped out of the inaugural gate, issuing an executive order to block executive branch employees from cashing in as lobbyists for a year after they leave and one requiring that information about his political hires be posted on the Internet.

More recently, and to his credit, Rauner did sign an executive order that stops a system, implemented under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which required state agencies to file something with the governor's office every time departments want to create a job, make a hire or transfer someone.

But more of the Rauner Rules of Operation don't ring of reform or transparency.

Check out which of those less-than-transparent Rules of Operation Doubek is talking about at Reboot Illinois.

One Rauner transparency concern raised by state government analysts is the use of gift cards as compensation for Rauner campaign volunteers. The cards came in $25, $50 and $75 denominations and the campaign at one point had more than 5,000 of them. See why the former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission called the practice "odd" at Reboot Illinois.

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With Trump For President: The Board Game, 2016 Is Now! And Probably A Nightmarish Hellscape!

Tue, 2015-07-28 11:36


Tired of those same dull board games that require sanity and a conscience? Well, throw those games out the window -- let the poor play 'em!

Funny Or Die introduces the new Trump For President: The Board Game! It's a little like Monopoly and a lot like being possessed by Satan himself.

From the makers of "Stepping Barefoot On Legos"!


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This Democratic Congressman Is Adopting Obama's Overtime Rules

Mon, 2015-07-27 17:24

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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) announced Monday that his offices will adopt the Obama administration's proposed overtime pay rules, regardless of whether Congress overall agrees to expand overtime pay eligibility for its staffers. 

"Like every Member of Congress, I am basically a small employer," Gutiérrez said in a statement Monday. "If these regulations are good enough for American workers in the private and public sectors, they ought to be good enough for me and my colleagues in the House and Senate."

Gutiérrez employs 18 full-time staffers in his two offices in Washington and Chicago, and more than half of them would be affected by the expanded overtime rules, he said.

The proposed change in Labor Department rules that President Barack Obama announced in late June would raise the cap under which employees are automatically eligible for overtime pay from $23,660 per year to $50,440 per year. The administration estimates that the change could affect as many as 5 million workers nationwide.

The legislative branch of government, however, makes its own rules about its employees' pay and benefits, and there are currently no indications that Congress plans to expand overtime pay for those staffers. More than 5,600 Capitol Hill workers currently make less than $50,440 a year. But according to Roll Call, the overtime cut-off for congressional staffers sits at $8,060 a year. While some individual lawmaker employers provide their staffers with the extra pay, Many do not, Roll Call reports.

Since the Obama overtime plan was announced, Republicans leaders in both the House and Senate have condemned the proposed rule change, calling it a blatant example of government interference in the free market. With GOP majorities in both chambers, chances are slim that Congress will take any bold steps in the near future to raise pay for its own staff.

But Gutiérrez said he will institute the change in his offices later this summer, by Labor Day. “Congressional staffers are not paid a lot, they work incredibly hard, and they do it under pressure," he said, adding that the decision "is about fairness and investing in the good work people do."

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New Job Stats Say Illinois' Unemployment Rate Fell More in Some Parts of the State Than Others

Mon, 2015-07-27 17:19
Higher Job Creation in the Collar Counties Than in Illinois as a Whole
For the 16th month in a row, Illinois unemployment fell in June in all metro areas, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

All 102 counties also had fewer unemployed workers compared to a year ago. IDES announced on July 16 that the state lost 7,500 jobs last month, though the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percentage points to 5.9 percent. May's job gains were revised from 9,200 to 7,400.

The most notable part of June's metro and local unemployment report is the disparity in job growth throughout the state.

"In looking at the metro data, collar counties gained more net jobs than the total statewide gain. Given the statewide gain of 44,500 jobs total, the rest of the state had a net loss," IDES Director Jeff Mays said. "The need for a full statewide recovery remains."

The metro and local jobless data is not seasonally adjusted and compares June 2015 to June 2014, which removes seasonal or regular patterns that otherwise affect unemployment rates. Additionally, people who have dropped out of the workforce are not reflected in these statistics.

Metro areas with largest job gains

  1. Elgin (+1.9 percent / 4,900)

  2. Danville (+1.7 percent / 500)

  3. Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights (+1.3 percent / 47,900)

Metro areas with largest job losses

  1. Carbondale-Marion (-2.2 percent / -1,200)

  2. Peoria (-1.3 percent / -2,400)

  3. Decatur (-1.0 percent / -500)

To see a list of the eight Metro areas where employers added jobs, as well as a complete list of counties with the highest and lowest unemployment rates in Illinois, check out Reboot Illinois.

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If Those Inspirational Wedding Pics Were Honest

Mon, 2015-07-27 14:11

Wedding season is in full swing and that means bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and spending a lot of money on clothing that will never see the light of day again.

It also means that Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are going to be inundated with sappy inspirational wedding photos. You know, the ones that are like two doves flying away into a sunset, with some cursive-y writing that says "I DO FOREVER." (Gah, I think I just got a cavity from describing that.)

Well, here are those wedding quote pics if they were honest:




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Chicago Violence Fueled By Rappers

Mon, 2015-07-27 12:42

The recent uptick of violence in Chicago has one main culprit, Rappers that are trying hard to stay in the game at the expense of young men dying on the streets on the south side of Chicago. There appears to be a feud going on between different sets with the hopes to make it to the top like Chief Keef and Lil Durk. However, the majority of Rappers will never make it out of the hood.

The death of Lil JoJo set the stage up for revenge against Chief Keef and anybody associated with his team. This includes Lil Durk and Capo. Lil JoJo represented a meal ticket for his crew and now there is no hope in sight for Lil JoJo's legacy and his friends could be out for blood. Lil Durk's Manager was shot and killed after filming a video promoting peace and his cousin was also shot and killed.

Rapper Jay-Loud was also killed for wearing a Lil JoJo Hoodie. Recently, one of Chief Keef's friends, Capo, was shot and killed on the south-side of Chicago. The alleged shooters ran over a young toddler named Dillan Harris in their attempt to flee the scene of the shooting. Chief Keep scheduled a benefit concert to help the Harris family, but select community leaders spoke out against the concert. The concert producers postponed the event for a later date.

The only people that appear to be profiting from the violence are record labels and some of the artist. This is really crazy considering the history of violence in Hip Hop. For example, Tupac Shakur was killed and the Notorious B.I.G. was gun downed during an epic Hip Hop Battle that could have been avoided with the right intervention. Additionally, many rappers have lost their lives for a moment of fame. We all know that violence sells, but Chicago violence is real. We need all hands on deck to help bring an end to this senseless entertainment violence.

Some experts show a correlation between street violence fueled by rap music and while others don't cite a connection at all. One thing for sure is when you have thousands of young people trying to make it big in the rap game and violence is part of the plan, then you will have more violence than one city can handle. That's where Chicago is right now in their efforts to reduce homicides. Many of the young rappers talk about their guns, women, their crew, the murder game, drugs and more. This represents big dreams for some and instant death for others. It's like going into a goldmine knowing you could lose your life, but the bounty is greater than the risk.

The Gangster Rap Days are over, but for some reason select Chicago Rappers are being supported by billionaires to keep pushing violence as a way of life in Chicago. This city does not need entertainment fueled by violence because Chicago already has its fair share of violence. There comes a time when music executives and artist have to rise to the occasions and take the higher road by producing music that will lead to peace and resolution instead of pushing death.

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The 8 Top Southern Dishes

Mon, 2015-07-27 12:38
By John T. Edge for Garden & Gun

Where to go for the best barbecue, biscuits, fried chicken, and more

(From left: Lissa Gotwals; Rush Jagoe; Whitney Ott)

Parsed into old-school and new-school categories, the collection that follows showcases my favorites culled from five years on the road, throughout the South and beyond. They're the sorts of dishes I expect to be regional standbys when this magazine celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary.

Making these choices wasn't easy. I left a lot of gravy and a couple of racks of ribs on the cutting room floor. Think of them as edible mileposts on a turnpike to tomorrowland. The very good news is, you don't have to wait to sample the future I glimpse. You get to taste it right now.


Old-School: Country Sausage Biscuits
Embers Biscuits & Bar-B-Que; Oxford, MS
Fast-food restaurants nearly killed the biscuit. For decades, they have churned out greasy fists of dough, stuffed with feeble rounds of patty sausage. But Embers, a one-window drive-through that opened in 2013, does biscuits right. The secret is Earline Hall, a twenty-three-year veteran of the biscuit board, who pats and rolls and cuts dough rounds that bake off to cotton-boll crumbs.

New-School: Hot Betty
Handsome Biscuit; Norfolk, VA
The envelope is a sweet-potato biscuit that's not too sweet. Spilling out over a fried egg is a tangle of shiny collard greens, flecked with garlic slices, doused with a hot sauce that tastes of vinegar, honey, and Korean chile paste--a blend that registers both sweet and assertive. This biscuit tastes bright and fresh and healthy, like a spring curative, like a tonic of greens delivered as a morning sandwich.

(From left: Rush Jagoe; Lissa Gotwals)


Old-School: Barbecue Sandwich on White Bread
Scott Family Farm and Barbecue; Hell's Half Acre, SC
Ricky Scott carries on the tradition of family farmers who bolstered their income by cooking pigs on the side and selling sandwiches and plates to their neighbors. When he's not working for the nearby town of Kingstree, or volunteering as a fireman, Scott chops his own wood and shovels hardwood coals into a cinder-block pit, drawing pilgrims to the community of Hell's Half Acre for Thursday-only feeds of whole hog barbecue, pulled into ruddy bits and doused in a vinegar-pepper sauce.

New-School: Sánguche de Chancho Nipón
China Chilcano; Washington, D.C.
Peruvian cookery, in the hands of José Andrés, references peoples of West African, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese descent. If that mix sounds dizzying, take a gander at the interior of this restaurant, which recalls a Carmen Miranda headdress, interpreted by Keith Haring. These deep-fried buns, paved with slices of custardy sweet potato, layered with hunks of pork belly and coins of pickled daikon, are just as eye-catching and palate pleasing.

(From left: Peter Frank Edwards; Jason Varney)

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Old-School: Keel of Fried Chicken
Indi's; Louisville, KY
Drenched in hot sauce, the birds served at this fried chicken mini chain, which does business on both sides of the Ohio River, are passkeys to a vestigial South, wherein salt was the preferred flavoring for anything fried, and frugal butchers knew how to prize the keel bone from the breast, so that anatomically aware eaters could gnaw their way to pleasure.

New-School: The Kitty
Two Boots; Nashville, TN
Hot chicken is the Nashville meme of the decade. Prince's and Bolton's ushered in the era. Riffs are now legion. Chauhan Ale & Masala House serves hot chicken pakoras. Sinema dishes hot shrimp cocktail. Two Boots, a small New York chain that went native when it alighted, tops a pie called the Kitty with blue cheese dressing, finely diced jalapeños, and chunks of crust-enrobed hot chicken from Hattie B's. It's the ultimate drunk stymie.


Old-School: Floating Angel Food Cake
Alzina's; Galliano, LA
The setting, a buoy toss from the Gulf of Mexico in a onetime welding shop that looks as if it were abandoned when Nixon was still thought trustworthy, is as rudimentary as this fairy wing of a dessert is elegant. Presented tableside, Alzina Toups's egg-white-lifted sponge cake bobs and tilts on a sea of coconut custard. Plan ahead: Reservations at this working-class temple of Cajun home cooking must be secured four or five months in advance.

New-School: Spiced Carrot Cake
Spice to Table; Atlanta, GA
The ivory buttercream is pocked with black peppercorns. The moist crumb is bolstered with cardamom and clove. This layered carrot cake, based on a recipe borrowed from the mother of chef Asha Gomez, is analogous to every other carrot cake you have eaten in the same way that a B. B. King three-chord progression is comparable to the fret work of a guitar player in a cruise ship cover band.

>See the full list of 50 dishes on

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Map: Where the Illinois Budget Shutdown Is Felt the Most

Mon, 2015-07-27 11:24
As Illinois' budget impasse continues, the lack of funding for government agencies and the organizations they support is starting to take a toll. Check out the map below that shows where the effects of the Illinois state government shutdown are being felt. Click on individual markers to see more about each specific location, and check back as we continuously update the map.

One organization in particular that is feeling the pain of the budget shutdown is Children's Home + Aid, which receives 85 percent of its funding from the state, including the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The group provides emergency child care, parenting classes, after school programs and other service to kids and families in Illinois. Director of Communications Jassen Strokosch said the organization has had to limit the number of new families they accept into its programs, the hours facilities are open and the number of staff openings that can be filled because of the budget shutdown. Get the whole story about Children's Home + Aid at Reboot Illinois.

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Durbin and Kelly: Petcoke Is Everyone's Problem, Not Just Chicago and Detroit

Sun, 2015-07-26 19:40

Like every protracted campaign, the battle to defeat the blight of petcoke on Chicago's Southeast Side has had good and bad days. Especially for the neighborhood where the petcoke is dumped.

A couple weeks ago, Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Robin Kelly supplied one of the good days. They were in town to meet with neighbors in the offices of new 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza for an update on the petcoke problem and to talk about possible legislation in the US House and Senate that could bring better control over petcoke (not to mention relief to afflicted communities). They expressed a clear commitment to helping the Southeast Side of Chicago fight against the mounds of oil refining waste that blight the neighborhood. And more than this, to making sure other communities don't have to go through the same destructive mess.

This is key, because petcoke is not a "Chicago Problem."

When the piles popped up in Michigan, it was not just a "Detroit Problem."

Petcoke is a national problem.

What the neighbors in Chicago are fighting on the Southeast Side is not unique to their area. Like giant, nasty oily blemishes, petcoke piles could pop up anywhere.

On the Southeast Side of Chicago, the neighbors were uniquely prepared for this battle. They have, despite the odds, fought long and hard to keep environmental degradation at bay, so they were ready to push back against BP and the Koch Brothers. Durbin and Kelly recognize that other communities around the country may not be equipped to do the same.

There is a lot of petcoke being produced in America, and a lot more is coming. The material is the result of all types of oil refining--but as pipelines and trains deliver more and more tar sands crude to this country from Canada, we can expect to see growing black mounds of petcoke in communities across the nation. Refining that heavy, sludgy oil produces significantly more petcoke than conventional crude oil. As an example, the BP refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana (where much of the material blighting Chicago has come from) tripled its production of petcoke after expanding to process more of this heavy, "unconventional" oil. It now produces 6,000 tons of petcoke every day. More than 2.2 million tons annually. Across the country, petcoke production has nearly doubled since 2000.

All of that gunk needs to go somewhere. As the messes in Detroit and Chicago demonstrate, it shouldn't be in the midst of our communities.

That is what makes federal standards on holding and transporting this material so necessary. Thanks to the hard work and effective advocacy of neighbors, the millions of tons of petcoke from Indiana now head south to Paducah rather than Chicago. Is the Blue Grass State ready for the wave of dust coming? I don't know, but I hope that Kentucky's Congressional delegation can help ensure other towns don't have to fight the way we have here, and that the millions of tons of petcoke being produced are being moved and stored in a way that avoids impacting the communities around them.

Hopefully, they will also look to the source of the problem. Unless we want to see more communities in America blighted like this, we have to say no to tar sands projects like Keystone XL and the Flanagan pipeline. These black mounds are what happen when you scrape the bottom of the barrel and stand as another reminder that we have to get serious about getting off of oil.

Senator Durbin and Representative Kelly's engagement on the issue means a lot to Chicagoans. Seeing them personally checking in on the issue and offering solutions to protect our town is appreciated. Now it's time for the rest of the folks in DC to do the same for the rest of the nation. Before the piles blight another burgh.

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.

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