General Interest

Illinois remains lethargic on medical marijuana

By Ezra Kaplan

Marla Levi is a 52-year-old Chicagoan with multiple sclerosis. With the support of her doctor, she applied and was accepted into the state-funded Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. This means that she qualifies and has a medical need for medical marijuana. It has been nearly three months since she got her papers but she has yet to fill the prescription.

The law that allows medical marijuana also stipulates that it must come from the state. But Illinois hasn’t grown any marijuana.

Sound like a Catch-22?

It is.

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GMOs: The scarlet letters of the grocery aisle?

By Shanley Chien

You walk down the aisles at Whole Foods spotting milk, cookies, pasta, and a variety of other products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label. The label tells you the foods don’t contain genetically modified organisms  – GMOs.

But the image of a butterfly sitting on a blade of grass shaped like a check mark subconsciously reassures you that this product is “safe.” After all, if it’s safe enough for a butterfly, it’s safe enough for you and your family. You put it in your basket, perhaps because people like Dr. Oz and food blogger Vani Hari of Food Babe tell you GMOs are unhealthy.

GMOs add to the nutritional value and preservation of foods and most scientists vouch for their safety. But critics abound.

“We have the whole government working against us,” Hari said in an interview on the Carolina Connection Talk Radio. “They don’t want Americans to figure out that these could be causing health issues, that they haven’t been tested, and they are increasing pesticide and herbicide use.”

Organizations and advocacy groups such as the Non-GMO Project, Dr. Oz, Food Babe, and other anti-GMO crusaders say GMOs are unnatural and unhealthy, according to their websites. Continue reading

Social media creates solidarity for those affected by eating disorders

By Lucy Vernasco

Tweets lit up the emotional landscape for people affected by eating disorders. The messages surged through an hour session Sunday to kick off National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Social media outlets have become conversation spaces for providing support and a community oasis for those who the know the toll disordered eating can take on people’s lives. So on Sunday night, Adios Barbie, a media outlet celebrating healthy body image, hosted a party – the third annual #AdiosED twitter party. Body-image activists served as  “panelists” participating from their laptops included Sharon Haywood, Melanie Klein, Melissa A. Fabello, Dagan VanDemark and Gloria Tepiliuelia.

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VIDEO: SitStayRead improves its “reading-to-dogs” literacy program

By Courtney Dillard

Man’s best friend can also make a pretty good reading teacher. At least according to SitStayRead, a literacy program in Chicago Public Schools. It uses dogs to help kids improve their reading skills by having young people read books aloud to patient canine listeners.

Jamese Linton, a second grader at Milton Burson Math and Science Specialty School enjoys the weekly visits of the dogs each Wednesday. “We get to read, we get to write,” she said. “We always get to pet the dogs and give the dogs treats.”

This year the organization is partnering with Loyola University to introduce new curricula for its first-through-fourth grade programs. Continue reading

VIDEO: Candidate for 20th Ward Alderman says he was shot at

By Daniel Brown

A candidate for 20th Ward alderman who is in a runoff against the incumbent, Willie Cochran, says someone fired a gun at him a few days before the election. He describes what happened, who he thinks did it and why.

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Boys suffer from eating disorders too

By Priyam Vora

“The first time I made myself throw up was at age 14.

It was a Sunday night and my family was in the living room watching television. I sat in my room with a carton of sugar-free chocolate ice cream and a spoon, shoveling every drip of the quickly melting ice cream down my throat.

Eating in my room had become a daily habit over the years, especially after I started dieting around age 10. That particular week I was on a quick-fix diet that my stepmother had given me. The new diet was supposed to help me lose 10 pounds in one week. I was on day three and starving. I had lost four pounds already.

I ran to the bathroom to throw up that ice-cream. That would be a lot of calories, I thought to myself.”

– Zac Stafford, 26, survivor of anorexia. He is now a counselor helping boys in Chicago recover from eating disorders.

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New startup pulls Magic out of hat, analysts fear a disappearing act

By Laura Furr

This past Saturday night around 11 o’clock, 27-year-old Niels van Galen came home from the gym with a craving for Asian cuisine.

Van Galen wanted to make a to-go delivery order to his home in Palo Alto, California, but all delivery services in his area had stopped taking requests at 10 p.m.

On a whim, van Galen tried the new “deliver-me-anything” SMS-based service he had heard about from a friend, appropriately named Magic. Within the hour, he was eating chicken curry for two. Continue reading

Catholic Charities kicks off Jazz Fest with supper for hungry

By Ellen Kobe

More than 100 guests at the Catholic Charities weekday suppers on the Near North Side received more than a meal Tuesday. They also heard a live jazz concert.

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Chicago education tech company targets rural Illinois schools

By Taylor Mullaney

When Ryan Hoch started teaching Algebra II in St. Louis five years ago, he found that his students were vastly unprepared for the futures they wanted.

“When they got to my class their junior year, 90 percent of my students told me that they wanted to go to college,” Hoch said. “They had specific universities in mind, like [Missouri], [Saint Louis University], WashU, different schools that were tough to get into. But then their average ACT was a 15, and the average GPA was a 2.5.”

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VIDEO: Citizen Scientists Catch Clues about Star Formation

By Lizz Giordano

Citizen scientists are leading astronomers to new clues about star formation.

Citizen scientist volunteers discovered the more than 900 mysterious bright yellow objects that became the subject of recent paper in the Astrophysical Journal. Continue reading