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Photo by Flickr user Karen Eliot.

Last week, Illinois State Police got the federal approval to use what they call “unmanned aircrafts” during police operations. By “unmanned aircrafts,” of course, they mean, “drones,” but they don’t want use that word because “it carries the perception of pre-programmed or automatic flight patterns and random, indiscriminate collection of images and information.”

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Sidewalk-Free Illinois Neighborhood Arresting Scores of Black Pedestrians

On one block more black people have been arrested for jaywalking than the total number of white people arrested in the entire city.


It's amazing what kinds of telling data a Freedom of Information Act request can turn up. Dynamics between black residents of Champaign-Urbana Illinois and the police have been fraught in recent years since the police shooting of an unarmed teen there. Local reporter Jeff Kelly Lowenstein decided to use FOIA to take a deeper look at the arrest statistics in the metro area and got his hands on the details of every single arrest over the course of the five years between 2007 and 2011. He found striking patterns of discrimination.

There's one block in Champaign Illinois where more black people have been arrested for jaywalking than the total number of white people arrested in the entire city. Champaign-Urbana has a 16 percent black population, but 88 percent of jaywalking tickets went to black people in Champaign and an even higher percentage in Urbana. Lowenstein took his camera down to the 1500 block of Hedge Road in Champaign—the epicenter of jaywalking arrests in the city—to talk to residents. He found frustrated people and streets with no sidewalks.

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Bringing Maker-Style Garage Tinkering Into the Local Library

Local libraries are no longer just reading rooms. They're becoming noisy, interactive, hands-on laboratories of innovation.

In my elementary school years I and my siblings spent many hours in our local library in Washington D.C. It's where we would wait for my mom or dad between the end of the school day and the end of their work day. Our library was a modest brick building filled with stacks and stacks of books and a few big tables where we would read or do our homework. A stern librarian sat behind a high desk aggressively shushing any chatter. Learning in those walls was solitary and silent and visual.

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Chicago Group Challenges Mayoral Control of Schools

If he wins the Chicago mayoral race, will Rahm Emanuel agree to give up control of the city's schools?


Chicago's mayor Richard J. Daley leaves office next year, and if a new coalition has its way, mayoral control of the city's schools will end with his exit.

A group of teachers, parents, students and community leaders from seven city organizations, including the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the powerful South Side Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, say it's time to bring a voter elected school board back to Chicago Public Schools. Now the pressure's on Daley's potential replacements-like the mayoral race front runner, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to give up control of the city's schools.

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OptimistiCartography: Every State is Good at Something

An infographic that lists something—from PhDs to teen pregnancies—that each state has or produces more of than its forty-nine rivals.

Want to join a gang? Illinois is your best bet, with between 8 and 11 gang members per 1000 residents. Enjoy both mountains and meth? Nevada has more of both than any other state in the union. Fat and generous? You'll be in good company in Mississippi, which has the highest percentage of charitable donations against income as well as the highest obesity rate in the nation.

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Mysterious Horses in Central Illinois

About three miles west of Fairbury, Illinois, you'll find a row of bouncy horses in the midst of miles and miles of cornfields.

There's not much to see in Fairbury, Illinois, with one notable exception. About three miles west of town, you'll find a row of about 20 bouncy horses. In the summer when the corn is high, they're hard to spot from the road, but in late October they're the only break in miles and miles of corn fields. Are they an art installation? Teenage prank? It's unclear, but the horses allegedly appeared one by one under cover of night.

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