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Women Of Color React To That Viral Catcalling Video

Fri, 2014-11-07 17:01
Last week, Hollaback's viral catcalling video drew unprecedented attention to the issue of street harassment -- but many viewers felt that the video didn't represent their own experiences.

A response video, written and produced by Collier Meyerson for Jezebel, explore the experiences of non-white New York women with street harassment, and their reactions to the Hollaback video. In her follow-up video, Meyerson makes her aim clear -- "The point here isn't to devalue or minimize the experience of women who strongly identified with this video... it's to open the conversation."

In the piece, women explain their issues with the original catcalling video, and share the narratives they wish had been included.

"When I watched the [original catcalling] video I felt so uncomfortable, because it was such a specific dynamic," says Jenna, a participant in Meyerson's video. "It reinforces so many specific stereotypes about men -- and black men in particular. And I feel like that's kind of missing from the discussions."

Participants voiced their frustration that white men had apparently been edited out of the original catcalling video (a move Hollaback later apologized for), explaining that the edited video stereotypes men of color and suggests that harassment by white males is rare.

"This is a video that's being shown broadly, and it gives the impression that the only predators in New York are men of color," a participant named Thanu said. "And that is false."

According to Meyerson, the aim of her video is to broaden the conversation about street harassment, and make it clear that catcalling is not simply something white women suffer at the hands of men of color.

"I feel like harassment from white men has been a form of exotifying me," an unnamed participant said. "A compliment isn't simply 'you're beautiful,' it has something do with my skin color, or my name, or 'where are you from?' I find that's a form of harassment because it makes me feel like my difference is interesting to them, and that creeps me out a lot more."

Watch the full video above.

H/T Jezebel

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco Talks Labels, Immigration And The First Time He Felt American

Fri, 2014-11-07 16:49
When poet Richard Blanco took to the podium to read his poem "One Today" at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, he became the first immigrant, first Latino and first openly gay poet to hold the honor.

But perhaps more importantly to 46-year-old Blanco, who was born to his Cuban parents in Spain but moved to the United States when he was just 45 days old, that historic day marked the first time he felt genuinely American.

"The whole process of writing that poem and getting up to the podium was transformational to me," Blanco, who lives in Bethel, Maine, with his partner, Mark, recently told The Huffington Post. "I still felt not quite American, that being American was some other story and that I wasn't part of that narrative. So this was all a revelation to me."

The powerful moment catapulted the poet, who is also a certified civil engineer, into the national spotlight and led him to new opportunities, including the release this fall of Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, a memoir about his experience growing up and coming to terms with his multi-hyphenated identity.

It is a work that is incredibly poignant at one moment, yet hysterically funny with the turn of the page. In one chapter, Blanco writes of how his grandmother, abuela, was hesitant to embrace "Anglo" supermarkets and their products. Having tempted her with news of how much cheaper the chickens were at the neighborhood Winn-Dixie than at the Cuban store they typically frequent, a young Blanco is allowed to shop at the "Anglo" store. In addition to the chickens, he brings home a can of Easy Cheese, a treat he had desperately wanted to try after seeing it in television commercials between the re-runs of "The Brady Bunch" he loved as a child.

His grandma loves it -- "¡Que rico!" she exclaims. More "Anglo" foods soon follow and "Cómo inventan los Americanos" becomes a common refrain in Blanco's household.

It is a heartwarming story that has resonated with Blanco's fans in a big way. At a recent reading, a fan approached the author afterward and offered him a gift.

"I held it in my hands and I immediately knew what it was. A can of Easy Cheese," he laughed. "The magic of writing is that sometimes you feel like you're shooting darts in the dark, when what seems less important to me is something almost universal."

Sometimes the "less important" things are, indeed, most universal -- and that's something that also comes across in "Until We Could," a poem Blanco was commissioned by marriage equality group Freedom to Marry to write as the basis for a remarkable video poem celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Rather than offering a stock-image caricature of marriage equality -- elaborate wedding receptions and groom-and-groom or bride-and-bride cake toppers -- the short film focuses on the quieter, more intimate moments of a relationship and centers on a simple message: "Love is love."

"The power of the moving image adds 10 times to the poetry," Blanco told HuffPost. "I hope it really lives on."

The author notes new framing might also be in order for the issue of immigration reform.

"It's such a complex issue, and I don't think we may have hit the tipping point yet," he said of the status of immigration legislation in Washington, D.C. "Maybe we need to ask different questions or frame the issue in a new way to get to the heart of it. Maybe we need to start telling the story differently. But I think it's slowly changing. Our president is the perfect example of how it's changing."

Immigration, he says, has always been the American story, and it will always be an important part of his personal story as well.

On the heels of one celebrity recently bemoaning "labels," Blanco said he can relate to the frustration some have in being constantly identified and defined by racial, ethnic or sexual terms. But he also sees it as a chance to deepen his readers' understanding of the world around them. For that, he says, he is grateful "for the richness of all the dimensions of my life."

"I don't want anyone to take those [labels] away from me. I think it's my job as a writer to take the label and expand on it, to explore what it means," Blanco said. "I like taking the opportunity to teach people through my writing and work about our common humanity. What else am I going to write about if it's not about being a gay, Cuban engineer and poet? What else am I made of? I'm not sure."

Richard Blanco speaks Sunday at Northwestern University School of Law's Thorne Auditorium, 373 E. Chicago Ave., in Chicago as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Illinois Governor's Race: Every Vote Should Be Counted, and Recounted, Perhaps

Fri, 2014-11-07 14:47
Why have early voting? Why have absentee ballots? Why allow provisional ballots? If they are not going to be included in the final tally on election night before one candidate concedes and the other proclaims victory?

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was right in not conceding last night to his Republican challenger, businessman Bruce Rauner. Quinn is standing on his rights. As he should.

Voting reforms mean nothing, if the ballots cast as a result of those reforms, such as early voting and same day registration/grace period voting, are not timely counted. But instead are held back and counted at a later time. To be continued? What's with that?

All the ballots are required by law to be counted. So, why a two-part counting system then?

So we are left with some ballots, the ones that are counted during primetime television, being seen as more important and the rest treated as not as important by the commentators. All ballots should be seen as equal and treated equally in the counting process.

A lot of those absentee ballots come from military men and women, fighting for us overseas. Don't discount their democratic rights granted to them as a virtue of their citizenship by treating their ballots as less-than, by not allowing them to make a difference when it counts, before the race is called.

With many ballots yet to be counted, Quinn trails by around 165,000 votes out of perhaps 4 million cast. That vote total, is an educated guess, by me, because no one really knows yet.

Still waiting to be included in the final vote totals for both gubernatorial candidates are early voting ballots, absentee ballots, provisional ballots and making their debut in the 2014 election, same day registration/grace period ballots. That means you can now register to vote in Illinois after the registration period deadline has passed but you must then vote the same day you register, which can be done up to a day or so before the election.

Since its the first time around for some of these voting reforms, no one knows how it will play out. How much of a role these uncounted ballots will play in this tight race.

Illinois has 102 counties. Not to mention the precincts and the townships. It's very easy to be winning or losing by just a few votes per precinct. That's why all the ballots cast must be counted. And they are all required to be counted by law.

There is no getting around counting every vote. There just isn't. If one candidate concedes too soon and ends up with more votes, can he be the winner, if he has already conceded? Don't know if that has ever happened in Illinois before or anywhere else either. But if it were to happen here, well, that would be a fine kettle of fish, wouldn't it, if one candidate were to concede too early and turn out to have more votes?

Probably go to the courts then. Do you really want the courts, instead of the voters, deciding election outcomes as happened in the 2000 Presidential Election between Al Gore and George W. Bush?

So, relax and enjoy the view. On television, on cable or online. Have patience as every single vote in Illinois is counted. May the best person to govern Illinois win!

Families Of Chicago Police Shooting Victims: 'We Just Want Answers'

Fri, 2014-11-07 14:39
A number of family members and supporters of four black youths fatally shot by Chicago police are calling for change.

The group gathered Wednesday night outside a police station in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood, commemorating the birthday of one of the victims and demanding the department modify the way it handles police-involved shootings.

Rekia Boyd, who would have turned 24 on Wednesday, was fatally shot by off-duty Chicago police officer Dante Servin in March 2012. Servin has since been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct, and will be due in court when his trial begins Dec. 3.

Chicago police and those close to Boyd offer disparate accounts of what happened the night of Boyd's shooting. While police argue that the off-duty officer "feared for his life" and acted in self-defense, Boyd's friends and family say she was an unarmed, innocent bystander killed without justification.

Addressing the crowd outside the police station Wednesday night, Boyd's brother Martinez Sutton spoke emotionally about his sister's slaying and expressed frustration that Servin has been put on paid desk duty since he was indicted last November.

"If I was wanted for a murder, I would be behind bars right now until I proved my innocence," Sutton said. "But if one of these officers takes away one of our lives, they get a cushy job, probably at the 311 center, behind a desk. … It's like a damn promotion. Are you trying to tell us our lives are not worth anything?"

"It's a slap in the face," he continued. "All we want is a little bit of justice. If you want peace, then give us justice."

The demonstrators are specifically pushing for Servin's charges to be upgraded to second-degree murder, according to a news release.

William Calloway, director of Christianaire, a faith-based social justice group that organized the demonstration, called for Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy's resignation.

In addition, the demonstrators called for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to look into the CPD's use of deadly force against black Chicagoans, for the Department of Justice to investigate the deaths of all individuals killed by CPD officers and for the creation of an elected "civilian police accountability council" to assist the department.

Other family members of police shooting victims spoke at the Wednesday rally: Panzy Edwards, the mother of victim Dakota Bright; Sharon White, grandmother of DeSean Pittman; and Dorothy Holmes, the mother of Ronald Johnson. Bright was 15 when he was fatally shot by Chicago police in November 2012. Pittman was 17 when he was killed by police in August. Johnson, 25, was fatally shot by police in October.

Police have said Bright, Pittman and Johnson were all armed and that officers shot the men in self-defense, though friends and family members contest those claims.

"We just want answers and we want it to stop," White said Wednesday.

The Chicago Police Department did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

The rally follows the release of an activist report alleging the CPD has engaged in "ongoing, pervasive" violence targeting the city's youth of color. The report pointed out that black Chicagoans are 10 times more likely than their white peers to be shot by a police officer.

Some words of wisdom for Illinois' new goveror-elect

Fri, 2014-11-07 10:56
Illinois' new governor elect, Republican Bruce Rauner, has a lot of work ahead of him to fix the state's economy and get Illinoisans on board with state government again. Though voters chose him to lead the state for the next four years, he won't be able to do it alone. Friends and political foes Democrat Dave Lundy and Republican Chris Robling offered words of wisdom to Rauner as he embarks on his new job.

From Robling:

1. Lead. Pat couldn't. You must.

2. More important than the transition team is ETHICS. Have Patrick Fitzgerald write a one page "Ethics Covenant" that EVERY member of the Rauner administration signs on hiring, or volunteering, say -- for the transition team.

a. Make Fitzgerald's one-pager really tough.

b. Require that ANY untoward behavior be reported immediately to a designee with 24-hour access to you.

c. State plainly that deviations will result in immediate firing, no exceptions.

From Lundy:

1) Be honest with yourself and honest with the people. You know the numbers in your budget plan were fiction. I know the numbers in your budget plan were fiction. Everyone knows they were fiction. Chris is right - fiscal sanity is our number one problem and it will be impossible to solve if we don't start from a place of honesty. So retrieve your calculator from the undisclosed location you hid it in during the campaign and let's get to work. I suggest you listen to the advice of the Civic Federation on these matters. They called on the State to restore the 5% tax rate and then cut it back to 4% over time. If you're serious about restoring fiscal sanity, thats a heckuva good place to start.

See the rest of their advice to the governor-elect at Reboot Illinois.

No matter who they voted for, most Illinoisans will be rooting for Rauner's success, because it will mean the state's success. But that darn Devil's Advocate has something to point out to the voters of Illinois:

You chose Rauner. And you did it relatively decisively. A 5-point margin of victory is nothing to shake a pitchfork at in a state where the last governor's race was decided by less than a point. A solid choice...

What really caught my attention were two other items on the ballot: One asked if you believe Illinois should raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour on Jan. 1. The other asked if the state constitution should be amended to create a 3 percent tax on incomes greater than $1 million a year.

See what other kind of mischief the Devil's Advocate is trying to cook up at Reboot Illinois.

One Good Reason To Stop Mocking Gluten-Free Diets

Fri, 2014-11-07 07:05
Going gluten-free is an ever-so-mockable decision, despite the fact that an estimated 18 million Americans suffer from some kind of gluten sensitivity that results in embarrassing and painful symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation and urgent diarrhea.

Unlike celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestines if gluten is present, there’s no blood test to confirm gluten sensitivity -- which contributes to even more skepticism about the condition. Gluten-free diets undertaken by people without celiac disease have been called the “new, cool eating disorder” or, more seriously, have been accused of helping troubled people mask other eating disorders.

But emerging research shows that at least some of the millions of people who are keeping the $10 billion-dollar gluten-free industry afloat may actually have a serious medical condition known as an intolerance to Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAP, for short) -- specific types of carbohydrates found in all different kinds of foods, including certain fruits and vegetables.

Treating both non-celiac gluten sensitivity and FODMAP intolerance calls for eliminating wheat, barley and rye from the diet, but for very different reasons. Cutting those grains out can help gluten sensitivity sufferers because it removes gluten, a type of protein that aggregates their condition. But the three grains also contain one of the FODMAP carbohydrates, which can also lead to an alleviation of symptoms. Figuring out which condition is which requires painstakingly-detailed adherence to a diet and support from a dietitian.

Neha Shah, M.P.H., R.D., a certified nutrition support clinician at the Digestive Health Center at Stanford Health Care, encounters both conditions on a regular basis in her practice, and has to work with patients to figure out whether they’re simply gluten sensitive or FODMAP intolerant.

"[FODMAPs] is something I keep in mind when patients are telling me they feel so much better taking the gluten out of the diet,” said Shah in a phone interview with the Huffington Post. "I wonder if they’re reacting to an intolerance of FODMAPs in the wheat, barley and rye versus the gluten itself.” Alternately, said Shah, if patients have eliminated gluten but are still experiencing bad gastrointestinal symptoms, she might explore eliminating even more FODMAP-rich foods from their diet to see if those carbs are the culprits.

Because there’s no official test for FODMAP intolerance, Shah has to use an elimination diet method to determine what patients are allergic to. For her practice, that means cutting out all FODMAP-rich foods for six weeks, and then slowly reintroducing certain foods back in to see which ones provoke a reaction. The re-integration phase is crucial, said Shah, because some people may be allergic to one type of FODMAP but not another, and it’s best to figure out which one it is so that patients can have the widest possible range in diet.

For patients suffering from these bowel conditions, or suspect that they might have FODMAP intolerance, Shah would first start by helping patients eliminate these carbohydrates from their diet: (source: Shah’s charts for Stanford Health Care)

Fructose: high fructose corn syrup, honey and certain fruits like apples, blackberries, boysenberries, dates and figs.

Lactose: in high-lactose dairy products like milk, soft cheese, sour cream, chocolate, buttermilk and custard.

Fructans: wheat, barley, rye, garlic, onions, and inulin (a type of carb found in bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus).

Galactans: in legumes like beans, lentils and soybeans.

Polyols: in stone fruits like avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums, as well as artificial sweeteners with isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol.

One theory behind FODMAP-caused irritation is that these carbs draw too much water into the intestines, which are then fermented by gut bacteria in the large intestine. The excess water causes diarrhea, while the fermentation causes gas and bloating.

The low-FODMAP diet also seems to have other health benefits too. Since 2005, research has shown that lowering FODMAPs in a diet alleviates irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in patients, and in fact works even better than just a gluten-free diet for IBS patients. IBS causes an estimated 2.4-3.5 million annual doctors visits in the U.S. every year, while inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease affect an estimated 1-1.3 million Americans.

"There is some research to suggest that those who may have irritable bowel syndrome could have an underlying non-celiac gluten sensitivity or the person could also be intolerant to FODMAPs,” explained Shah. "That’s why a person with irritable bowel syndrome could experience a reduction of symptoms through the low-FODMAP diet.”

But there are still a lot of serious questions about trying to cut FODMAPs from your diet. For instance, even if patients’ gastrointestinal problems go away, it doesn’t necessarily mean that FODMAPs “worked.” Instead, the benefits of the extreme diet have to be weight against its drawbacks: potential nutritional inadequacy and its yet-unknown effect on other diseases, said Prof. Peter Gibson, one of the pioneering FODMAPs researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in a recent study review of FODMAPs.

And it definitely shouldn’t be undertaken by people who are simply trying to lose weight, said Shah, because it has nothing to do with counting calories or cutting “carbs” in the sense that most Americans know it.

“There’s many types of carbohydrates in a [normal] diet, but not all carbohydrates are FODMAPs,” explained Shah. "Even table sugar isn’t a FODMAP, but honey is.” Also, Shah added, the diet is simply too restrictive to sustain over the long term -- unless you saw a compelling change in painful gastrointestinal symptoms, like FODMAP-intolerant people do.

There's still a lot to learn about FODMAPs, said Shah, but the growing evidence is encouraging. She says that it could one day be a more comprehensive diagnosis that explains other dietary intolerances.

“Fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance have been around for years,” said Shah. "It’s interesting that with this diet, it’s all grouped together now.”

It's 10 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Social Security Number Is?

Fri, 2014-11-07 05:48
Your Social Security number is a skeleton key in the hands of an identity thief, but it's not just about money. Those nine digits are used in too many transactions to enumerate, and because of that, there are plenty of opportunities for them to fall into the wrong hands.

Whether we're talking about tax fraud or more serious kinds of identity theft that could land you on a no-fly or even a most-wanted list -- crimes committed by someone pretending to be you are an increasing risk of going about one's day-to-day business. The dangers are both real and serious. Medical treatments fraudulently procured can exhaust your health insurance or pollute your chart in ways that could be literally fatal. And with more than a billion compromised records "out there," your Social Security number may already be in play.

Think about all the places that have your number. The financial institutions you do business with use them -- from credit card companies to banks to brokerage firms. If you went to college or ever joined a gym, that's two more places where your SSN can be found. New doctor? They'll probably want it. Medicare cards - what the heck were they thinking? Your insurance providers have your number, as do the plethora of companies you can't remember who have it somewhere in an unlocked filing cabinet after a long-forgotten contract that dates back to a time before data-related crimes were prevalent.

It makes no difference if you throw those nine digits around like fans tossing confetti in the Canyon of Heroes, or you're careful with your personally identifiable information.

The entities and institutions that absolutely require you to ante up with your Social Security number are legion, which is why your SSN is such a valuable commodity. Identity thieves make a living destroying your good name, and the SSN associated with it. Bad debt gets soldered to your SSN and credit history when it's sold to a collection agency, where it is used to squeeze payment out of debtors who don't want their credit scores to permanently suffer. It would be an understatement to say that bad debt - legitimate or not - tends to have a limiting effect on your future buying power. The lifetime cost of debt is staggering for those with collection accounts pulling down their credit scores. (You can pull your credit scores for free on to see where you stand.)

In addition to being a proxy promissory, your Social Security number is a means of identification -- another reason it's in more hands than you can possibly know. Hospitals and insurers use it to make sure you are who you claim to be (and also to collect on unpaid bills). That means administrative assistants and anyone else with a key or a login -- from the cleaning crew to support staff -- can potentially put a finger on your file and nab those numbers. Prior to 2011, the Department of Defense made it really easy: the SSN was used to identify enlisted men and women on all identity cards, and the number was emblazoned on dog tags, backpacks and travel gear.

There are, of course, places where you should "just say no" to requests for your SSN, but there are many other places where you simply can't do that.

SSNs used to be printed on all stripe of documents before the scourge of identity theft. Now where is all that stuff? Did you shred it? Maybe you threw your dog tags into a smelter. You're still not safe. It pays to be paranoid. Remember the aforementioned confetti raining down on the Canyon of Heroes? In 2012, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants were showered with personally identifiable information that included SSNs and medical information, even details about a 54-year-old woman's mammogram. How do you know your information wasn't in that rain of paper?

You have no way of knowing who has your Social Security number, which is why the onus falls on you to be vigilant and practice the 3 Ms: Minimize your exposure, Monitor your credit and financial accounts and Manage the damage when the inevitable occurs and you find yourself a victim of identity theft. The faster you shut down the slime that try to use your SSN to rob you or steal goods and services, the faster they will move on to greener pastures.

The black market for personally identifiable information is huge. There is a booming business for those selling SSNs for the commission of fraud. Some of the larger operations even have customer service representatives. Your mission is to keep those customer service reps busy with calls from would-be fraudsters complaining that your SSN doesn't work.

Illinois Approves Secret Fracking Rules: IL Enviro Council Thrown Under Bus, Grassroots Hold Line

Thu, 2014-11-06 20:30
On the heels of the nation's fastest growing coal mining rush, a state legislative committee chaired by Sierra Club champion Sen. Don Harmon officially unleashed fracking in Illinois today, approving the final regulatory rules in secret, as legislators essentially dumped the concerns of compromising lobbyists with the Illinois Environmental Council and Sierra Club in closed-door meetings.

Despite the historic and embarrassing loss for the Chicago environmental groups, downstate grassroots group who have rallied tens of thousands of participants to protest fracking regulatory flaws defiantly called for direct actions to "resist this with our bodies, our hearts and our minds," according to farmer Blaze Smith, and continued to hold the line against the long-time denounced fracking regulatory machinations.

"The rules were negotiated behind closed doors, without meaningful scientific review," said Annette McMichael with Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment. "We are not allowed to review the new rules until Nov. 15 when they are posted on the Illinois Register. There is no doubt they will be woefully inadequate to protect Illinois residents from the known harms horizontal fracking has brought to residents across America."

"It's one more example of disenfranchising citizens," said Bill Rau, Environmental Justice leader at Illinois People's Action.

Even as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources admits to being woefully understaffed--and in violation of state laws on required coal mining inspectors-- "fracking can begin in Illinois," the Chicago Tribune announced today.

And the frackers are celebrating tonight in Illinois--and thanking a handful of Chicago-based environmental groups who unwittingly played into their hands as outmatched cosponsors in ramming through admittedly flawed fracking regulations that will have disastrous impacts on downstate communities and our climate.

Mark Denzler, chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, told the Associated Press "he was 'extremely thrilled' with the new set of rules, calling them, 'above and beyond what had been envisioned.'" In a separate statement, Brad Richards, executive vice president of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association, reminded the state that "labor, environmental and industry groups that worked together for three years to draft this legislation."

Those same environment groups are stunned tonight, locked out of the "smoke-filled rooms" they once shared with industry negotiators, still licking their wounds after failing to provide any election boost for defeated Illinois Environmental Council champions, including pro-coal rush Gov. Pat Quinn and fracking sponsor Mike Frerichs, who ran for state treasurer.

In a pathetic admission, Sierra Club director Jack Darin told the Tribune: "We don't know if our concerns have been taken into account because we don't know what changes were made."

Even more pathetic, Illinois Environmental Council director Jen Walling wrote a confusing message to supporters that "we do not have any full and final information about what's in them. It has been made clear to us through many channels that significant changes to the rules have been made that we are likely to object to." Only two weeks ago, Walling claimed "the amazing team from NRDC, ELPC, Sierra Club, and Faith in Place have been working to make sure that JCAR doesn't give a huge win to the fracking industry."

In an urgent letter sent this week, residents in southern Illinois called on JCAR to reject the fracking rules, noting several violations of Illinois statutory law:

• IDNR failed to publish a summary of the 135 page proposed rulemaking in the regulatory agenda. (5 ILCS 100/5-60).

• IDNR failed to give sufficient notice of public hearings throughout Illinois; one hearing even received zero notice in the Illinois Register. (5 ILCS 100/5-40)

• IDNR failed to make an agency representative available to answer questions at any of the public hearings held in Illinois. (5 ILCS 100/5-40)

• IDNR refused some citizens admittance to the Chicago hearing. (5 ILCS 100/5-40(b))

• IDNR did not allow some citizens to speak at the Ina (Rend Lake College) hearing. (5 ILCS 100/5-40(b))

• IDNR provided an inadequate opportunity for the public to address the factual basis for its rulemaking depriving members of the public of complete participation in the rule makingprocess. (5 ILCS 100/5-60)

• IDNR prejudiced the public's opportunity to comment, by making patently false statements in its first notice. (5 ILCS 100/5-40

• IDNR failed to comply with the requirement of HFRA section 1-97 by not submitting the required report to the General Assembly by February 1, 2014, thereby depriving citizens the opportunity to evaluate that report during the limited time for public input on rulemaking. (225 ILCS 732/1-97)

• IDNR's Delay in Publishing the Transcripts of the Public Hearings Prejudiced the Public's Ability to Evaluate IDNR's Rulemaking (5 ILCS 100/5-35)

The letter, signed by landowners, farmers and long-time southern Illinois residents concluded:

"In total, the statutory violations described here have deprived the public of its rights under the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, and when considered cumulatively, the violations also amount to a violation of IDNR's rulemaking duties under HFRA. The rulemaking process failed in its essential purpose; the proposed rulemaking violated mandatory statutory and administrative rulemaking procedures and prejudiced the public's right and ability to participate in this important rulemaking. If JCAR finalizes these rules, then these rules will be incomplete, inadequate, and invalidly enacted to the detriment of Illinois residents who are landowners, mineral interest owners, and members of the communities where high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing would occur."

"The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned Monday that greenhouse gas levels are the highest they have been in 800,000 years, with recent increases mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels," said Illinois People's Action (IPA) leader Marilea White. "It's just crazy for Illinois to be rushing to frack."

Call Illinois crazy, then--or at least the dupes who supported the fracking regulations.

Tomorrow morning, however, the struggle for the health and safety of downstate residents impacted by reckless fracking and mining will continue.

Shrinking Majority Of Americans Supports Marijuana Legalization, New Gallup Poll Shows

Thu, 2014-11-06 18:31
A new Gallup poll shows that while a majority of Americans still support legalization of marijuana, that majority has thinned out significantly in only a year's time. The polls comes as momentum for marijuana legalization appears to be stronger than ever, with residents of two states and the District of Columbia voting on Tuesday to legalize marijuana.

In a survey released Thursday, Gallup found that 51 percent of Americans support legalizing the drug -- and while that's still a majority, that majority is down 7 points from the 58 percent support the polling company found just a year ago when they asked the same question. The new result is closer to the range of support found by Gallup in 2011 and 2012.

Gallup found high levels of support among liberals (73 percent) and moderate support among moderates (58 percent), but only 31 percent of conservatives surveyed think marijuana should be legal. Regionally, support in states on the East and West coasts -- which generally lean Democratic -- was high, while support the South and Midwest -- which generally lean Republican -- was far lower.

So why the drop in support? Gallup gives a number of plausible reasons:

Last year's finding of 58% in favor was recorded as Colorado was preparing to become the first state to implement a law decriminalizing the use of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Although the law passed in November 2012, it did not go into effect until January 2014. Americans may have warmed some to proponents' arguments in 2013 in the ongoing discussion around the Colorado law. More recently, Colorado has been in the news over the sale of marijuana-infused edibles -- everything from brownies to gummy bears -- and the risk they pose to children, possibly sparking public concern. Also, a year ago, proponents in California were poised to launch a ballot initiative for 2014 to legalize marijuana in the Golden State, adding to the sense of momentum for legalization, but later decided to wait until 2016 for fear of losing at the polls, as they did in 2010. The relative lack of attention to new legalization initiatives throughout 2014 may have caused public support to subside.

Marijuana advocates also weighed in on the sharp contrast between 2013 and 2014. Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, questioned the overwhelming support Gallup found last year.

"While most observers would agree there was solid majority support in 2013, many thought 58 percent was questionably high," said Tvert. "Rarely, if ever, do you see public opinion on a controversial social issue jump as much as seven points in the course of one year."

Tvert added: "Needless to say, things are moving in one direction when it comes to the tangible products of public opinion. I would take passage of laws in two states and our nation’s capital over some jumpy poll results any day. If Gallup finds 49 percent support in 2016 after five more states vote to end marijuana prohibition, I could live with that."

Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell also pointed toward the huge gains that marijuana reformers scored on Tuesday -- Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., all legalized marijuana. And while Florida's medical marijuana measure didn't reach the 60 percent support needed for passage, nearly 58 percent of voters were in support of the ballot initiative.

"Tuesday's election results indisputably show that Americans are fed up with marijuana prohibition," Angell said. "We now have legalization in four states and the nation's capital, plus medical marijuana in almost half of the country. There's much more to come in 2016."

Kevin Sabet, president of anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, disagreed, arguing that while support was high in 2013 after Colorado and Washington state had legalized a year earlier, that support had begun to drop by the time the first marijuana shops opened in both states in 2014. "The lesson here is that legalization in theory does not look like legalization in practice."

"This poll shows that legalization is far from inevitable and the fight to stop it is far from over," Sabet said.

To date, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, with sales legal in the states but still banned in the District. Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Despite the loosening of marijuana laws in so many states, cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Peace as a Human Right

Thu, 2014-11-06 17:37
"Individuals and peoples have a right to peace."

In the beginning was the word. OK. This is the beginning, and these are the words, but they haven't arrived yet -- at least not officially, with full force of meaning.

It's our job, not God's, to create the new story of who we are, and millions -- billions -- of people fervently wish we could do so. The problem is that the worst of our nature is better organized than the best of it.

The words constitute Article 1 of the U.N.'s draft declaration on peace. What alerts me that they matter is the fact that they're controversial, that "there is a lack of consensus" among the member states, according to the president of the Human Rights Council, "about the concept of the right to peace as a right in itself."

David Adams, former UNESCO senior program specialist, describes the controversy with a little more candor in his 2009 book, World Peace through the Town Hall:

"At the United Nations in 1999, there was a remarkable moment when the draft culture of peace resolution that we had prepared at UNESCO was considered during informal sessions. The original draft had mentioned a 'human right to peace.' According to the notes taken by the UNESCO observer, 'the U.S. delegate said that peace should not be elevated to the category of human right, otherwise it will be very difficult to start a war.' The observer was so astonished that she asked the U.S. delegate to repeat his remark. 'Yes,' he said, 'peace should not be elevated to the category of human right, otherwise it will be very difficult to start a war.'"

And a remarkable truth emerges, one it's not polite to talk about or allude to in the context of national business: In one way or another, war rules. Elections come and go, even our enemies come and go, but war rules. This fact is not subject to debate or, good Lord, democratic tinkering. Nor is the need for and value of war -- or its endless, self-perpetuating mutation -- ever pondered with clear-eyed astonishment in the mass media. We never ask ourselves, in a national context: What would it mean if living in peace were a human right?

"The real story of the rise of ISIS shows that US interventions in Iraq and Syria were central in creating the chaos in which the group has thrived," writes Steve Rendall in Extra! ("Addicted to Intervention"). "But that story doesn't get told in US corporate media. . . . The informed input of actual experts on the region, who don't march in lockstep with Washington elites, might put a crimp in the public's support for the war, support largely informed by pro-war pundits and reporters, and the familiar retired military brass -- often with ties to the military/industrial complex.

"With pundits reflexively calling for more attacks," Rendall adds, "there's virtually no one to note that US wars have been catastrophic for the people in the targeted countries -- from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya."

It's a remarkable system that makes no sense from the point of view of compassion and planetary solidarity, and would surely be dismantled in an honest democracy, in which who we are and how we live is always on the table. But that's not how nation-states work.

"The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form," Gandhi said, as quoted by Adams. "The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence."

And those who speak for the nation-state embody the addiction to violence and fear, and always see threats that require forceful reaction, never, of course, considering either the horror that force will inflict on those in its way or the long-term (and often enough short-term) blowback it will bring about.

Thus, as Rendall notes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News that "if ISIS wasn't stopped with a full-spectrum war in Syria, we were all going to die: 'This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.'"

"Rise to the occasion" is how we talk about inflicting concentrated violence on random, faceless people we'll never know in their full humanity, except for the occasional picture of their suffering that shows up in the war coverage.

Regarding the accumulation of enemies, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced that the military has begun preparing to defend the United States against . . . climate change.

Kate Aronoff, writing at Waging Nonviolence, notes the extraordinary irony of this in view of the fact that the Pentagon is the biggest polluter on the planet. In the name of national defense, no environmental regulation is so important that it can't be utterly ignored and no piece of Earth is so pristine that it can't be trashed for eternity.

But that's what we do, as long as national identity defines the limits of our imagination. We go to war against every problem we face, from terrorism to drugs to cancer. And every war creates collateral damage and new enemies.

The beginning of change may simply be acknowledging that peace is a human right. The U.N.'s member states -- at least the major ones, with standing armies and stockpiles of nuclear weapons -- object. But how could you trust such a declaration if they didn't?

- - -
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 or visit his website at


Abandoned Puppy Left For Dead Now Recovering -- And Enjoying A Bit Of Viral Fame

Thu, 2014-11-06 16:37
Can a hashtag save a dog's life? The love behind it can certainly help, shelter officials say.

On Oct. 30, staff at the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights, Illinois, were heartbroken when a good Samaritan dropped off a 3-month-old puppy he'd found abandoned inside a milk crate near his house. The puppy was near death, and his prognosis was not good, according to a shelter Facebook post.

(Story continues below)

Veterinarians proceeded to provide fluids for the malnourished puppy, whom they named Phoenix, and ran tests that confirmed he had a severe blockage in his abdomen and intestines. Though the dog was far from an ideal candidate for major surgery, Phoenix would surely die without it.

In the week since Phoenix came into the shelter and received treatment, his health has slowly begun to improve -- a recovery shelter officials can only describe as "miraculous." Facebook and Twitter users were smitten by the pup and rallied in support of him, posting encouraging messages with the hashtag #LoveForPhoenix.

Rhea (formerly Aubriel) sends her love. Fight hard, Phoenix! #loveforPhoenix

— Lisa Erdmier (@LisaErds) November 2, 2014

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Post by South Suburban Humane Society.

Shelter CEO Emily Klehm told NBC she thinks all the positivity truly played a role in the pup's recovery.

"I really do believe it was the wave of love that people started sending his way," she said. "There are hundreds of Phoenix’s unfortunately all across the city that are in need.”

Phoenix was released from the hospital Tuesday. The shelter is now seeking a foster-to-adopt home near the hospital where the puppy will require followup visits. Interested individuals can contact Klehm at The shelter is also accepting donations to support the services it provides for other pets like Phoenix.

Clearly, Phoenix is taking his newfound fame in stride:

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Post by South Suburban Humane Society.

Chicago Archdiocese Released Documents Showing How It Hid Sexual Abuse Of Children

Thu, 2014-11-06 16:26
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Archdiocese of Chicago on Thursday released thousands of internal documents showing how it hid the sexual abuse of children by 36 priests, adding to similar disclosures made earlier this year and fulfilling a pledge by an ailing Cardinal Francis George to release the files before he retires later this month.

"We cannot change the past but we hope we can rebuild trust through honest and open dialogue," George said in a statement released overnight. "Child abuse is a crime and a sin."

The archdiocese in January released 6,000 documents on 30 abusive priests as part of a legal settlement with victims, and on Thursday posted online 15,000 more records related to 36 others and involving abuse allegations dating to the early 1950s. The files only cover cases in which the archdiocese substantiated the abuse, and don't include those against priests who died before their accusers came forward or those who served in religious orders.

But they show how the archdiocese routinely hid the histories of abusive priests by moving them between parishes, did not swiftly remove the men from ministry and in some cases helped them remain priests long after allegations against them were deemed credible.

Victim advocates said the newest disclosures are welcome but don't go far enough, noting that many more priests have been accused of sexual misconduct, and files in one of the most recent and egregious cases - that of former priest Daniel McCormack, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children - weren't included.

Archdiocese officials said McCormack's files were not released because of pending civil litigation, but Barbara Blaine, president of the Chicago office of the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests, said those records were sealed by a judge at the church's request.

The archdiocese is "looking for ways to split hairs and minimize and not show the full extent" of the abuse, Blaine said. "Nobody in the archdiocese has more authority than Cardinal George does now."

McCormack's files could shed light on how George, who has been the Catholic Church's spiritual leader in Chicago since 1997, handled suspected abusers even after officials said they had developed procedures to deal swiftly with abusive priests. His case prompted an internal investigation of how the archdiocese responds to abuse claims and an apology from George.

Jeff Anderson, a victims' attorney who was involved in the earlier document release, said the exclusions raise questions about whether church officials are trying to hide some abuse.

"This is suspicious, incomplete and not transparent. It seems to be an attempt by George to preserve a legacy," Anderson said.

John O'Malley, special counsel to the archbishop for misconduct issues, said George had made a commitment to release the remaining documents and didn't want incoming archbishop, Blase Cupich, to have to deal with the issue when he assumes leadership of the nation's third largest archdiocese. Most allegations involving priests for whom files were released happened under late Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin.

"Cardinal George wanted it finished on his watch," said O'Malley, who noted that George in 2002 began removing priests against whom an abuse allegation had been substantiated.

But the files released Thursday show a familiar pattern of behavior from archdiocese officials when dealing with earlier abuse allegations.

In one case, for example, a priest removed from active ministry in 1994 after admitting to sexually molesting two boys 19 years earlier was reinstated the next year under strict guidelines put in place by Bernardin, who said the priest, John Calicott, posed "no significant risk to children" if he continued therapy.

George removed Calicott from active ministry in 2002, but he defied George's order to stay away from his old parish and even was lecturing children about sex education. Calicott was laicized in 2009.

Church officials know they must remain vigilant, and want to acknowledge and learn from the past, including by training adults to report abuse and children to protect themselves, said Jan Slattery, director of the archdiocese Office for the Protection of Children and Youth.

"We have a history of abuse in this archdiocese of Chicago," Slattery said. "It's an ongoing challenge that is something we're committed to doing."

Former Obama Chief Of Staff Bill Daley To Serve On Republican Bruce Rauner's Transition Team

Thu, 2014-11-06 16:08
WASHINGTON -- Bill Daley, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, was named Thursday to the transition team for Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner (R).

Daley, who served as Obama's chief from January 2011 to January 2012, said during a press conference Thursday that he is "thrilled" to be part of the Republican's transition team.

"Bruce's love for Illinois and his competitive drive can make it great once again, the second to none," Daley said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Daley mounted a primary challenge against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) last year, but abruptly withdrew his bid. Rauner defeated Quinn in Tuesday's election.

Daley is the brother of Chicago's longest-serving mayor, Richard M. Daley (D), and also worked as secretary of commerce in the Clinton administration.

Unhappy With The Election Results? Just Look At The People Your Neighbors Voted Into Office

Thu, 2014-11-06 14:50
As the dust settles and we take a closer look at Tuesday night's election results, we can't help but wonder what the hell some voters were thinking. As with every election, there were the incumbents who somehow remained able to win re-election, like Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who just won a 23rd term in Congress despite being found guilty of a number of ethics violations in 2010, and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who joked about suicide just weeks before the election.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg in Congress. All hail the power of incumbency.

But there are some even stranger figures who got elected across the nation this week. Here are our top picks for elected officials we still can't believe ended up on the ballot, let alone in office.

Jody 'Abortion Is Worse Than Hitler' Hice

Republican Jody Hice of Georgia had no problem winning his state's deep-red 10th Congressional District on Tuesday. Salon documents some of the most controversial viewpoints of the soon-to-be congressman: Hice has said Islam is not a real religion and doesn't deserve First Amendment protections, that legal abortion is "worse than Hitler's six million Jews or Mussolini's three hundred thousand," and that the gay community is trying to seduce and sodomize your children.

There's more. From supporting nullification to wanting to re-litigate the Civil War to suggesting that women should ask their husbands for permission to enter politics, the list goes on. And on. We wonder how much voters actually knew about all of this.

(It's worth noting that Hice will take the seat formerly held by Rep. Paul Broun, who once declared that evolution and the Big Bang are "lies from the pit of hell." It seems fair to predict that Hice will represent the district with a similar mindset.)

Ryan 'Hillary Clinton Is The Anti-Christ' Zinke

Former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke of Montana handily won a seat in Congress on Tuesday, despite expressing a number of controversial views throughout his campaign. Perhaps the most surprising of these was calling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the "anti-Christ." Zinke later claimed the comments were a joke.

Zinke has been an equally ardent critic of President Barack Obama. He previously led an anti-Obama super PAC that claimed the president "conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain." Earlier this year, Zinke also appeared to suggest that he would support impeaching Obama if given the option when he gets to Congress.

Glenn 'What Do We Need Weekends For, Anyway?' Grothman

Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin Republican running for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri, cruised to victory over his Democratic challenger on Tuesday. Grothman, like Hice, has established himself as a far-right politician with a number of divisive views. He once told The Huffington Post it was "a little ridiculous" that Wisconsin had laws against a seven-day workweek. In 2012, he claimed to the Daily Beast that women get paid less because "money is more important for men."

Grothman also believes that teachers should be banned from discussing homosexuality in the classroom because it could turn kids gay, that people on food stamps eat too well and that Planned Parenthood is "the most overtly racist organization." These are just some of the views Grothman will be taking to Washington.

Michael 'The Gays Are Out To Recruit Your Children' Peroutka

Michael Peroutka, a former Constitution Party candidate who has since turned Republican, won a seat on the Anne Arundel County Council in Maryland on Tuesday, receiving 53 percent of the vote against his Democratic opponent. Peroutka attracted scrutiny throughout his campaign for his involvement with the League of the South, a Southern secessionist group, which he severed ties with last month amid the controversy.

In October, Peroutka also decried what he called the LGBT "deathstyle," which he said needed to "recruit your children" to maintain its ways. He has also suggested that "there is no such thing as a civil right," and that gay people don't deserve protections because of their sexuality.

Mark 'Let's Go To War With Mexico' Walker

Republican Mark Walker secured an easy victory Tuesday in his race to replace retiring Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.). Walker raised some eyebrows on the campaign trail when he suggested that a solution to southern border violence and undocumented immigration would be to "blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while." He went on to say he had no qualms with going to war against Mexico, though he later claimed he was joking.

Gordon 'Obama Is Literally Possessed By Demons' Klingenschmitt

Gordon Klingenschmitt cake-walked to a seat in the Colorado state house on Tuesday, taking nearly 70 percent of the vote in the state's heavily Republican House District 15. Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain, has made a name for himself as a prominent voice on the religious right. He has frequently made extreme anti-gay claims and suggested in his book that Obama is possessed by "demonic spirits," which, according to the Bible, has led the president to actions that are "worthy of death."

(Read more about Klingenschmitt at Right Wing Watch, which has tirelessly tracked his career.)

Saira 'NRA-Endorsed College Freshman' Blair

A photo posted by Saira Blair (@sairablair) on Oct 10, 2014 at 10:08am PDT

On Tuesday, 18-year-old Saira Blair won a seat in West Virginia's state legislature, securing the distinction of being the youngest lawmaker in the nation. Blair began her campaign at the age of 17 and, according to the Wall Street Journal, did most of her campaigning out of her college dorm at West Virginia University, where she is enrolled as a freshman. In May, she defeated a 66-year-old Republican incumbent in the GOP primary, and in the general election on Tuesday, she trounced her Democratic opponent, 44-year-old attorney Layne Diehl.

Blair is ultra-conservative. She has the NRA's endorsement and believes life begins at conception. She opposes Plan B contraception, gay marriage and labor unions, and says her focus is bringing jobs back to West Virginia.

The 18-year-old will join her father, a sitting state senator, in the upcoming legislative session, at which time she says she'll defer her spring semester of college.

Did voters in your district elect a newcomer with seriously weird or wacky views this week? Send me an email at or tweet me @nickpwing.

9 Stats That Will Make You Want To Hug A Republican (Or Maybe A Democrat)

Thu, 2014-11-06 14:37
Tuesday's midterm elections handed Republicans full control of Congress, which will soon include an increasing number of extremely conservative (and liberal) members, a trend that reflects the nation as a whole. Studies have shown that the moderate middle is shrinking as more of the citizenry really leans further right or left into the political playing field.

Lately there's been a lot of talk about "a divided America," but it's all been a few decades in the making. One particularly ambitious Harvard undergraduate was even able to illustrate the Senate's growing polarization from 1989 to 2013. And now, the people the Senate represents are split on pretty much everything (including how split we are) -- except the National Park Service. Because parks are awesome and everyone knows it.

As for why we're so divided, we really can't say with certainty. But we can tell you what it's doing to us -- aside from, like, all the Congress stuff. Polarization in American politics is bleeding over into our everyday life in ridiculous ways, affecting who we love, where we live and, perhaps most absurdly, how our brains function. Here are a few stats to illustrate the growing cultural schism, and possibly make you throw a few smiles at your Republican and/or Democrat foes friends today.

1. Republicans and Democrats are basically modern-day Capulets and Montagues.

Researchers compared two surveys in a 2012 paper on Democrats' and Republicans' views of the opposition. While just around 5 percent of Americans in 1960 said they would be "displeased" if a child married outside the party, by 2010 that number had jumped to about 50 percent for Republicans and 30 percent for Democrats. Why Republicans would be comparatively more upset remains unclear.

2. Partisans try to give their fellow Democrats and Republicans a leg up, regardless of actual merit.

In a June 2014 paper, researchers presented over 1,000 people with the resumes of a few high-achieving high schoolers and asked them to decide who deserved a (nonpartisan) scholarship. The resumes contained clues about each student's political ideology ("President of the Young Republicans") and race ("President of the African American Student Association"). Race mattered, but politics mattered more -- a whopping 80 percent of participants chose the candidate in their party.

3. Everyone feels more comfy around people who agree with them politically.

A separate study by the same researchers above also found partisan bias when the stakes were more personal. Over 800 participants were given $10, and told they could give a portion of it to someone else. Whatever amount they chose would then be tripled, and its recipient would be able to give any amount back to the original donor -- the same, more, or none at all. The test reveals how much the first player trusts the second to give them a favorable return. Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers found that Republicans gave significantly more to fellow Republicans, and vice versa.

4. Party affiliation even predicts where Americans want to settle down.

A recent Pew Research Center study looked at many aspects of partisanship in the U.S. and found that disagreements go way beyond the controversial political issues of the day -- Republicans and Democrats are split on their ideal home sweet home. Just about three-quarters of "consistently liberal" respondents would prefer a community with smaller houses where amenities are within walking distance, while the same amount of "consistently conservative" respondents preferred the opposite: large houses set farther apart from neighbors.

5. It seems that partisanship might affect how successful we think we are.

When there's a Democrat in the White House, Democrats think they're doing all right -- at least according to a 2012 study out of the University of Chicago. When researchers asked more than 2,000 Americans whether their own family's finances had improved in the last year, 28 percent of Democrats said yes, compared to just 9 percent of Republicans.

6. It also shapes the values Americans teach their kids.

The Pew report also found differences between Democratic and Republican parental values. Republican parents were much more likely to teach religious faith and obedience, whereas a lot more Democrats emphasized tolerance with the young'uns.

7. No matter where their news comes from, partisans stick to their guns.

It may not be terribly surprising that Republicans and Democrats choose to get their news from different media outlets. Fox News is a GOP favorite, while Dems love their NPR. However, one Ohio State University study showed that even consuming polarized content from across the political aisle doesn't help partisans get along. One researcher suggested people may be going to different outlets "just to see how wrong-headed [opponents] are."

8. Politics actually lessens our brain's ability to reason.

Sigh. Before the 2004 presidential election, researchers hooked Republicans and Democrats up to a brain scanner and presented information that threatened their party's candidate. Instead of seeing brain circuits that are associated with reasoning light up, researchers noticed parts known for regulating emotion were activated. When the participant came to a conclusion regarding the information, the brain rewarded itself -- much like a drug addict's brain function, one researcher told Live Science.

A 2010 study showed how partisan bias rears its head with just the slightest encouragement. An Arizona State University researcher asked some participants whether unemployment had changed since 2008; others were asked how it had changed since President Barack Obama was elected. While participants replied to the nonpartisan question saying unemployment had remained about the same, around 60 percent of Democrats claimed it had decreased during Obama's presidency and around 75 percent of Republicans said the opposite. In fact, unemployment increased between 2008 and 2010.

9. Hoping for change? It's possible, if everyone gets something out of it themselves.

In the end, partisans are capable of evaluating arguments from the other side to reach a mutually satisfying agreement -- but it's easier if you pay them to do it. When researchers at Yale asked participants politically charged questions (such as "How many U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq?"), answers fell along party lines. But when offered monetary rewards for either giving the correct answer or admitting they didn't know, the partisan gap closed up to 80 percent. The researchers concluded with the suggestion that America's partisan divide may be more about team spirit than anything.

Will the Rauner-Madigan-Cullerton era bring divisive government to Illinois?

Thu, 2014-11-06 14:16
When Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner is sworn in in January, state government will have two-party power sharing - a Republican governor and Democratic legislature -- for the first time in 12 years.

Rauner said that Illinoisans voted for this divide Nov. 4--but did we really?

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek examines the difference between divided and divisive:

Divided government.

That's what voters wanted, Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner told us in his victory speech.

We'll get it and then some in Illinois and we have it now nationally with President Obama in the White House and Republicans running everything soon in Congress.

Here in Illinois it will be back to the old days of a Republican governor and Democrat-dominated Legislature like we had for so many years with former governors Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan at the helm and Madigan and, often, various Democrats running the Illinois Senate.

Except this time, the preceding months before the vote for divided government featured the Republican bashing his opponent and the two top Democrats who hold super majority power to override any Rauner vetoes.

So, we'll get divided government all right. We'll probably get divisive government.

See the rest of Doubek's thoughts on how Rauner, Madigan and Cullerton can all lead together at Reboot Illinois.

On a lighter note, Twitter has been a-buzz in the election aftermath. Analysis, commentary and results flitted about faster than votes could be counted. Reflections on the results were equally as abundant. Check out a compilation of the, most informative, insightful and funniest tweets from the Illinois election at Reboot Illinois, including this gem from a Quinn parody account:

Illinois Voters Don't Have Much National Influence, Report Says

Thu, 2014-11-06 12:39
It is every Americans' duty and right to exercise the right to vote and voice an opinion in how our communities are governed.

With such a close governor's race in Illinois, residents of this state know their votes count more than ever this year. But what about when it comes to Illinoisans' national influence? How much does an individual Illinoisan's vote count at the federal level? A new study by WalletHub attempted to answer that question.

Not every state or person within a state has an equal democratic influence. WalletHub explains it like this:

Although the U.S. is a democratic nation, ballots carry different weights based on the state in which one lives. Take California, for instance. Its estimated population is nearly 66 times greater than Wyoming's, yet each state has two seats in the Senate. In this case, less is more: California's votes are weakened exponentially because each of its senators must represent tens of millions more residents.
WalletHub calculated the influence of voters in each state:

We did so by calculating the number of elected officials in the federal government per adult population in each state for the most recent election years. We also conducted year-over-year comparisons of the same calculations.

The study looked at each state's Senate vote power, House vote power and presidential vote power.

Each state was given a rating of voter influence, from 5.069 to 1.407. Illinois was ranked with a low voter influence rating-it is the 43rd most influential state, with a score of 1.524. Wyoming was ranked as the state with the most nationally powerful voters with a score of 5.069 and Florida voters were ranked as the least influential with a score of 1.407.

Check out this interactive map to see each state's overall ranking:

Since different offices are elected differently (direct election of senators, presidential electoral college, basing House representation on population), different states could be more influential when voting for one office than another.

In Senate voting power, Illinois ranked even lower, at number 45. Once again, Wyoming ranked at the top, while California voters were ranked as having the least influence.

Check out this interactive map:

Illinoisans were ranked as the 43rd most-influential voters in presidential races. Wyoming residents again ranked at the top, while New Yorkers were ranked at the bottom.

Check out this interactive map:

Illinois' relatively large population drove its voter influence down when it comes to the Senate and presidential races, but the high number of Illinoisans is good news for the state's voter influence when it comes to the U.S. House of Repesentatives. Illinois ranked as the 19-most influential state when it comes to the House. Rhode Island was number one and Montana was the least influential.

Check out this interactive map:

The WalletHub study found that, overall, states that tend to swing Republican have more powerful voters than states that tend to swing Democratic. It also found that the gap between states with more powerful voters and states with least powerful voters is shrinking.

Though it may seem odd that some states have more influence than others, the framers of the U.S. Constitution mixed the various electoral methods in order to make it intentionally unfair in some ways. According to University of Kansas professor Donald Patrick Haider-Markel in the WalletHub survey, Senate representation is designed to over-represent states with smaller populations. States with larger populations get some of that representation back through House representatives.

Nationally, individual Illinoisans may not have as much as influence an individual Wyomingan, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't still exercise that influence. Plus, in statewide elections, every Illinoisan's vote counts the same-a lot.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date on all things Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: All shook up, but now what can we expect from a Gov. Bruce Rauner?
Rauner wins, but Democratic-focused Illinois ballot questions win bigger
Cartoon: It's a sprint to the finish in Illinois' governor race
Lisa Madigan easily secures fourth term as Illinois attorney general
Separating the big plans from the big reality in the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race

"Why Do I Serve? Because Serving My Country Is Part of Serving Humanity"

Thu, 2014-11-06 12:29

If you've ever read my blog posts on Huffington Post Impact, you know I like to tell stories about inspiring individuals who are driven by a sense of purpose. Recently, I was speaking with an Army Veteran who had been in Iraq, and I realized that I've written very little about the veteran population. Shame on me. To serve in the military is to live (and sometimes die) with a sense of purpose.

So back in August, I took it upon myself to find three veterans whose stories I would share. I didn't have to look far. Thanks to my friends at the The Mission Continues, I was given access to their nationwide community of 3,000+ veterans. Ultimately, I selected three people who moved me not because of something uniquely spectacular that they'd accomplished, rather because of how normal and accessible they were. These are people who struggle with day-to-day living just as you or I might, yet they draw from their military experience and continue to lead lives of purpose and service. What better way to honor them and their brethren on Veterans Day then by sharing their stories.

Jeffrey Courter - Chicago, IL

By the time 49-year-old Jeffrey Courter left for Afghanistan, the husband and father of three had served his country as a Marine, a Navy Reservist, and an Army National Guardsman. Despite his many years of military service, this was going to be Jeff's first experience in an active combat zone. In his 2008 book, Afghan Journal: A Soldier's Year in Afghanistan, Jeff wrote about the time he spent supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, working with Afghan security forces who were fighting against the Taliban. "I volunteered for this mission, believing it was important to do so ...I considered it a matter of personal integrity."

Jeff's year in Afghanistan changed him forever. "It opened my eyes to poverty, oppression, and human need. I saw children standing barefoot in snow. I saw old villagers afraid of terror. I saw families of Americans providing toys, school supplies and clothing to poor Afghans. I saw bravery, kindness, and evil up close. I saw suffering on a scale I had never encountered before."

Indeed, Jeff's time abroad was rife with new experiences, but it also buttressed many of the values that he already held dear. Volunteerism, service, commitment, integrity, faith - these are things that Jeff, who is also a full-time seminary student and ministry intern with the U.S. Presbyterian Church, identifies with on a very personal level. But perhaps the value that trumps all others for this veteran is that of community.

In his book, Jeff wrote about the vital peer-support that his wife and children received during his time overseas. "Military families share much more with each other than most communities. They help each other and rely on each other, because they need each other." But for Jeff, community is about more than just the social safety net; it's fundamental to the human condition. He lays it out plainly: "We can't live by ourselves ... We must learn to work together to safeguard our world and each other ... learning together, working together, playing together - these create relationships which allow us to live in peace together."

For all of Jeff's experience, education, training, virtue, wisdom, and drive, he finds himself today unemployed (save for the small amount of drill pay which he receives through the National Guard). "Despite the rhetoric to the contrary, there is active discrimination against veterans by many hiring managers." Still, Jeff does not wallow in self-pity, nor does he equate being out of work with being unable to contribute.

Jeff has found myriad ways to serve, while creating that sense of community for which he still yearns. In 2014 he joined The Mission Continue's Chicago Service Platoon, dedicated to improving health and wellness for the 122,000 Chicagoans who have little access to healthy food options. As part of this community of veterans, Jeff works in low-income neighborhoods, educating individuals and bringing communities together to promote healthier lifestyles. "Too many people don't have the time to volunteer anymore. Programs like The Mission Continues are a great way to encourage volunteerism, while giving back to the community."

Thank you Jeff for inviting us to get to you know better this Veterans Day.

1. WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO SERVE HERE AT HOME? Service is the gift we give to the world. It's what makes us human. It is also what gives our lives meaning. Serving my country is part of serving humanity.

2. OF WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD? I am proud to say I was able to do something significant in life, something positive. I have served in the military, volunteered in my community, earned academic achievements, but my favorite title of all is "Dad." Relationships are what count most in life.

3. DESCRIBE A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOU. My deployment to Afghanistan changed me in many ways. It opened my eyes to poverty, oppression, and human need. I saw children standing barefoot in snow. I saw old villagers afraid of terror. I saw families of Americans providing toys, school supplies and clothing to poor Afghans. I saw bravery, kindness, and evil up close. I saw suffering on a scale I had never encountered before. People asked me whether I made a difference being deployed there. I would say, "A very small difference, but if everyone makes a very small difference, in time it will make a large difference." I have learned to strive for large differences, but to be content with small ones. Trying to be humane and just in a war is difficult, but it differentiates us from despots and dictators. I am proud I serve in a military with rules of engagement that seek to protect innocent life, as we have in OEF. I am proud to have served with people who joined our military for the right reasons.

4. WHAT DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH THE MOST SINCE STEPPING DOWN FROM ACTIVE DUTY? Unemployment. Despite the rhetoric to the contrary, there is active discrimination against veterans by many hiring managers today. It seems to me, one who has been seeking work for some time, that many of the companies declaring their intent to hire vets to be more PR to make their companies look good for other Americans, rather than actually hiring veterans. If companies want to hire vets, there are plenty of us looking for work - it shouldn't be too tough to hire us.

5. WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE VETERAN COMMUNITY? Many people ask questions about what I did in Afghanistan - was I in combat, did I kill anybody, etc. While plenty of military personnel engage the enemy, there are more people in support roles than on the front line. These support personnel also risk their lives, but their tasks are different. Surprisingly, even support personnel can get PTSD - there are horrifying events and memories that can affect us as human beings. Vets want and need community, just like everybody else.

6. WHO IS A PERSON YOU ADMIRE AND WHY? WHAT WOULD YOU ASK HIM/HER IF GIVEN THE CHANCE? A person I admire is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in Nazi Germany who actively worked against the Nazi regime, which led to his execution in a concentration camp. He began as a pacifist, but then came to believe it was necessary to kill Adolf Hitler in order to stop the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis. If I could ask him a question, it would be what he thought about America today - he lived briefly in New York in the 1930's, and I wonder what he would think of our society now.

7. WHICH ISSUE FACING YOUR COMMUNITY WOULD YOU LIKE TO BRING GREATER ATTENTION TO? So many vital causes! We must learn to work together to safeguard our world and each other; education is the key. Learning together, working together, playing together - these create relationships which allow us to live in peace together. Many people think people in the military want war. They are wrong - almost all of us really want peace. It's why we joined. Relationships create peace.

8. WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU? My wife and I are opera lovers! Such beautiful music inspires me.

9. MY LEGACY TO THE WORLD WILL BE: A life full of love, family, friends, faith and hope ... hope that I leave the world a better place.

10. WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED AND WHAT IS THE ANSWER? QUESTION: Will war ever end? ANSWER: I wish I had an answer to this question myself - it is certainly within humanity's power to prevent it! However, evil has always existed and will probably always exist in our world, so I think some form of violence and warfare is the unfortunate result, and we must prepare for it.

JEFF'S LINKS: LinkedIn, Twitter

ORGANIZATIONAL LINKS: The Mission Continues, TMC's Chicago Service Platoons, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube

The 21 Best Wing Joints in the Country

Thu, 2014-11-06 12:25
By: Dave Infante

There is no "best" type of chicken wing. Great wings win hearts and stomachs with well-balanced flavors and quality meat regardless of whether they're naked, dredged, sauced, or smoked. So instead of tracking down the best wings from Buffalo or Chinese restaurants or women wearing tank tops three sizes too small, we tracked down the best chicken wings of any kind. Competition was fierce, but, in the end, these 21 wing joints distinguished themselves on meat quality, innovation, and overall atmosphere.

You'll surely decide this list is "invalid" when you discover that your favorite place isn't mentioned. By all means, take this fury to the comments. But now, on to America's finest fowl:

More: The 33 Best Pizza Shops In America

Credit: Bar Bill

Bar Bill Tavern

East Aurora, NY
First things first: Anchor Bar, recognized for inventing the glorious combo of poultry parts & spicy sauce we now know as the Buffalo wing, does not appear on this list. There are a few reasons; Bar Bill is one of 'em. This mug-club-havin' roadhouse earned its stripes slinging beef on weck to Western NY drinkers 'til 1983 -- the year a full-service kitchen started flinging out the fiery wings that would catapult the Bill into city- and nation-wide conversations. They remain mostly unchanged: big-not-huge, crispy, doused in a dozen sauces (try honey butter BBQ!), and plated with BBT's blue cheese dressing. Locals adore this place so much that the now-retired former owner (whose name was Joe, not Bill) apparently used to organize Caribbean vacations with groups of regulars, which presumably doubled as reconnaissance missions to uncover what the West Indies' wing game was cooking up.

Blue Door Pub

Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN
They're known for their Blucy burgers, stuffed with bleu cheese instead of the Jucy Lucy's cheddar. And you should definitely get one of those as well. But not before you've dug into their made-from-scratch sauced wings. They have eleven different styles, including the amazingly named "Steal Your Face", but the move here is to split between the original Buffalo and the Frogtown special, which come tossed in a spicy peanut butter sauce that tastes somewhat Asian and somewhat like magical culinary wizard crack.

Credit: Flickr/Marc Whitman

Buffalo Joe's

Evanston, IL
The first time I went here was in college with a friend who grew up a few towns away. We were hungover (college!), and she kept repeating it, like a mantra: I need Buff Joe's. I need Buff Joe's. This was annoying, but after I bit into those damn perfect crispy, spicy wings, I started in on the mantra too. Founder Joe Prudden spices them with secret and simple things, so don't look for different sauces: they've just got the one. Add in the bonus Cheddar Chips, which are waffle-cut fries covered with thick, heart-stopping cheddar, and you'll say it too.

Buff's Pub

Newton, MA
It's in a random spot in Newton that you wouldn't really pass by unless you knew where you were headed. It doesn't bother with frills or tricks. They know why you are coming there; after all, they've got the best wings in Massachusetts. I mean, look at their g-damn name. Anyway, the move here is to split between the honey hot and the regular Buffalo classic wings, and then wash it all down with one of their pale ales brewed by Harpoon. Then be prepared to talk about the Patriots. A lot.

Credit: Flickr/Bing


Chicago, IL
The name says it all, really. These twice-fried Korean style beauties have a flawlessly textured skin that yields to a juicy interior and thoughts of tearing into another one before you've even finished the one you're presently dispatching. Get them BBQ style (a harmonious marriage of American and Korean flavor profiles) or go for the Seoul Sassy, a symphony of ginger-soy-garlic goodness.

Candlelight Inn

Scarsdale, NY
Just a short MetroNorth ride North of Manhattan lies Westchester County. It's through this wooded tract of wealth, privilege, and divorced bankers that Candlelight Inn (candleless and also not an inn) has shone like a beacon of hope since 1955. The wings here are meaty & generously fried to a crunch, then slathered even more generously with enough sauce to add to follow-up bites. They're cash-only, always mobbed, and surrounded by a never-ending glacier of strip malls, but when you first cross the threshold and the spicy tang of Chernobyl sauce hits your nostrils, none of that matters. You might even say those issues don't hold a candle... to... uh, nevermind.

Credit: Duffy's Irish Pub

Duffy's Irish Pub

Washington, DC
What can you say about a people's-favorite Irish pub that's also a Packers bar that's also a Nats bar that's also a go-to pregame spot for the best concert venue in our nation's capital? You could say, "That was a run-on sentence bro, get ahold of yourself", or you could just point out the obvious: Duffy's wings are DC's best. "Traditional medium" is plenty hot for casual eaters, and that's just one of a half-dozen familiar flavors available from the 9:30 Club-adjacent mainstay. The move here is the Old Bay Chesapeake finish -- a poultry-specific dry rub based on Maryland's beloved seasoning that's applied to charbroiled wings.

Gabriel's Gate

Buffalo, NY
The "2" in the 1-2 Western NY punch that sunk Anchor's chances at glory is Gabriel's Gate, an Allentown favorite set up inside an old row-house from 1864. They just do 'em better -- not only better than the original, but better than almost anyone in the country. A single order of medium-heat wings is the move: crispy, saucy, and utterly enormous, these may not be Buffalo's first... but they're the ones you need to eat when you're here.

Credit: Flickr/Stu Spivack

Greenhouse Tavern

Cleveland, OH
Chef Jonathon Sawyer has made his name taking lowbrow cuisine -- we're talking full roasted pig heads, burgers, and fried fish -- and transforming the dishes into spectacular, highbrow comfort food. None are more renowned than his confit chicken wings, which are cured in a sweet-and-spicy marinade for a couple days before taking a 12-hour immersion bath in pure fat from pretty much every animal that grazes on the restaurant's menu. The resulting wings are impossibly crispy and intensely tender with a garnish of roasted jalapeño, lemon, garlic, and scallion adding layers of flavor that render sauce completely unnecessary.

Hattie B's

Nashville, TN
When you visit Nashville, you go to Prince's or Hattie B's or, these days, even fancier spots like Acme, and you get some type of hot chicken -- that spicy dry-rubbed, battered, and deep-fried poultry that is as synonymous with Music City as cowboy hats and sweltering humidity. But once you've gotten that basic fried bird, move on to Hattie B's platters of mouth-tingling whole wings. After they come out of the deep-fryer, the wings bathe in a mixture of oil and a paprika-cayenne-spice explosion. The result? The flavors soak deep into the crispy bird. Order 'em Damn Hot with blue cheese and let your tongue dance with as much of that heat and flavor as you can handle.

Head over to for 11 more of the best chicken wing spots in the country!

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Carmelo Anthony Is Not Fit For The Triangle Offense

Thu, 2014-11-06 12:10
Carmelo Anthony is too talented and versatile a scorer not to put up big numbers. You might say that other than reigning MVP Kevin Durant, there isn't a more natural scorer than Anthony. And yet, five games into the Derek Fisher/Phil Jackson-era New York Knicks, it has become evident the triangle offense does not highlight Anthony's strengths.

To be fair, it will take time for him to adapt to it. But sub-41 percent shooting and a 19-point scoring average represent the lowest totals of his 12-year career. Anthony may not be Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant -- two megastars who excelled in Jackson's triangle -- but he is a former scoring champ not accustomed to operating within a ball-movement-based concept that features an entire team and not just one player.

Anthony's woes may have reached a boiling point during a miserable 5-21 shooting performance in Wednesday night's 98-95 loss to lowly Detroit. It came the day after he missed 15 of his 23 attempts in another Knicks loss. It was "one of those nights it's not going in," he said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, it's two nights in a row for me."

Fisher is hoping his 30-year-old scoring dynamo eventually will adjust to an offense very few teams run, but that has proven highly effective when run properly. This isn't an unrealistic hope. Five games may be a small sample size, but teams are not defending him differently than in years past. Much was made about Anthony's 15-lb. weight loss during the summer to give him more durability and more quickness to attack the paint. And while he may appear a step faster, a key factor in determining his struggles in the triangle is the lack of free-throw attempts. The seven-time All-Star has shown both a lack of desire and lack of comfort in attacking the rim, compiling a mere four free-throw shots per game. Considering that's nearly half his career average, it's clear Anthony's issues are more than just the ball "not going in," as he said following the loss to the Pistons.

Fisher's challenge as a first-year coach becomes amplified because he now has to worry about how to generate not just an efficient half-court offense for his team, but also for the one guy he was counting on to give him 25-plus every night.

"The toughest part of this early on," Fisher said, "when you're still trying to figure out who you are within what we do, is to still trust it and have faith that things will work out without reverting back to what you normally do in these situations. That's tough for guys to do, when the game is getting away from you. The feeling for each guy is I can do it, I can help us get this back. It's actually the reverse. We have to stay together even more."

Staying together over the course of an 82-game season is hard enough, but doing so with an inexperienced coach, a losing team and a superstar mired in a brutal scoring slump to start the year is even harder. We are learning about that plenty in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Anthony -- who committed seven turnovers in a recent home loss to Washington -- will have to learn that he cannot be the chronic ball-stopper within an offense predicated off of ball movement, screening, spacing and cutting. Doing so requires sacrificing ego for the team, and I'm not sure we've ever seen that from a guy who's won just three playoff series and has compiled the single worst postseason record in league history.

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure to catch my NBC Sports Radio show "Kup and Schultz," which airs Sunday mornings from 9 to 12 EST and 12-1 for fantasy football, right here.