Medill DC

Oct 16

Cowboys on Capitol Hill

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George Martin, a member of The Grass March Cowboy Express, rode 2,800 miles on horseback to get the attention of the Bureau of Land Management.

WASHINGTON — A band of cowboys (and girls) rode on horseback towards Capitol Hill Thursday, demanding a Nevada representative of the Bureau of Land Management be fired.

The troupe, going by the name of The Grass March Cowboy Express, started the journey in Point Reyes, Calif., but hails from Battle Mountain, Nev. They set out on horseback Sept 26 with 11 riders traveling at any given time. Support crew members drove vans and pulled horse trailers, following closely behind. They traveled towards the East Coast with petitions in hand and stopped in towns along the way to rally support and fund raise for the trip.

The group’s main grievance is what it calls “regulation without representation” on behalf of the Nevada branch of the BLM, and say their grazing rights for cattle have been drastically reduced.

“The BLM has so much power that they can come out and say that you’ve overgrazed,” said Kelly Martin, a member of the Cowboy Express standing outside the National Museum of the American Indian Thursday morning.

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A member of The Grass March Cowboy Express locks a horse trailer parked on Maryland Avenue Thursday.

Police had blocked off the stretch of Maryland Avenue in front of the museum for the group to park their trailers, horses and vans. When the Medill reporters showed up at the makeshift home base Thursday morning, all but four members of the group had left to find lunch.

"The BLM says it’s because of drought conditions,” Martin said, “but the grass is the best grass year we’ve had in years.”

The Bureau of Land Management has different records. According to a statement from the agency, Nevada is in its third year of severe drought.

“This prolonged dry period has impacted a broad range of public land resources,” the statement read, “including the amount of grass and forage that is available for wildlife and cattle.”

A spokeswoman for the BLM said, via phone, that the cowboys did not meet with anyone from the agency Thursday, despite an invitation from director Neil Kornze. This could have been an opportunity for the group to talk about why they want Doug Furtado, the manager of the Nevada branch of the BLM, fired.

George Martin, Kelly Martin’s father, was one of the few left behind on Maryland Avenue. Now retired, he used to be a cowboy for a ranch in the Battle Mountain area.

“The BLM, they make a rule,” George Martin said, “but they don’t talk to us about it.”  

After The Grass March Cowboy Express reaches the coast of Maryland Friday, the troupe will turn around and head west.

“The trip home isn’t going to be a lot better than the trip here,” said the older Martin.

Oct 15

Two reporters go to Capitol Hill

Oct 14

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Oct 13

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Oct 08

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Doctors say medical school needs a revamp

WASHINGTON – Learning anatomy and biochemistry might help medical students diagnose diseases, but possessing “emotional intelligence” and teamwork skills will turn them into good physicians, prominent doctors stressed Wednesday.

“If you came down from Mars, you’d think we were really smart, really analytic,” said Stephen Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health System in Philadelphia. “But we’re not really nice people.”

Speaking at the “Hospital of Tomorrow” conference hosted by U.S. News & World Report, Klasko argued for changing medical school admission standards to include subjective factors along with objective criteria.

“When you think about it, we still today accept students pretty much based on GPA and MCATs and organic chemistry grades,” he said. “Then somehow we’re amazed that doctors aren’t empathetic and uniquely creative.”

Medical school curricula should focus more on teaching doctors to be sensitive to patients’ needs, said Klasko and Michael Williams, president of the University of North Texas Health Science Center. During his years practicing, Williams said he “saw physicians who couldn’t talk to families.”

The bedside manner problem is driven by a medical school culture that places too much emphasis on results, rather than competency, Klasko and Williams explained. Because of that culture, students are more likely to focus their efforts solely on performing well and passing the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination – the passage of which is needed to practice – and less on factors like leadership and technical skills.

Solving the problem needs to come from the top, the panelists said. They stressed that accreditors need to shift medical school admission and curricula standards.

“The simple fact is we need to make bold moves,” Klasko said. “We need to start to select folks differently and get people who will be great doctors who might have not been the ones literally studying their botany or physiology and not doing anything else –  and changing it so it’s not as USMLE-oriented, so that it’s also partly how you deal with patients.”

-Jani Actman

Oct 07

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Oct 06

#marriage

The Supreme Court Monday refused to hear any cases involving gay marriage. As a result, same-sex marriage will now be legal in 11 states where it was previously banned: Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gay marriage is now legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Here’s a look at Twitter’s reaction to the news.

The Supreme Court just cleared the path for marriage equality in at least five more states. #LoveIsLove

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama)
October 6, 2014

It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of #marriage.

— Brian S. Brown (@briansbrown)
October 6, 2014

The Supreme Court handled gay marriage like my parents handle me being gay: quietly accepting it without really acknowledging much about it.

— Jake Zukowski (@jakez)
October 6, 2014

The Supreme Court confirms what we already knew: The fight over gay marriage is over. http://t.co/BUoV8UiucB pic.twitter.com/5OiqotZ2jb

— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix)
October 6, 2014

@TaywerBakin: GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL IN OKLAHOMA ❤️💛💙💚💜” But Marijuana isnt im Salty

— Richie So ™ (@Rich_ThaFactor)
October 6, 2014

I’d rather have Ebola in Texas than gay marriage 🇺🇸

— JaredSorbet (@JaredSorbet)
October 6, 2014

In Focus: Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: ‘Sure, Who Cares’ http://t.co/ILSHrTtSAe pic.twitter.com/LZWE9IKNLu

— The Onion (@TheOnion)
October 6, 2014

Oct 04

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Oct 02

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Oct 01

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Obama & Netanyahu: It’s complicated

If politics were Facebook, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would certainly label their relationship as “complicated”. Friends? Technically. Allies? For sure. But it’s been a rocky road for two very different heads of state. 

The world leaders are meeting at the White House today for the first time since the War in Gaza began to discuss Iran and other challenges in the Middle East. But high on the list hot topics for the media is the icy relationship between Barry and Bibi.

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Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

They’ve had some uncomfortable moments including Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, the Oval Office lecture in 2011, the 2012 hot mic incident, Netanyahu’s support for Romney in 2012 , and the 2014 almost-peace-deal.

But it hasn’t always been this way. Israel and the US are historic allies and strategic partners. Truman was the first to recognize Israel when David Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the state in 1948, although legend has it that there was a delay in the announcement because of a press office typo. Wars and changing territory throughout the Israel’s 66-year history have complicated US support. 

This support is symbolic, but also financial. The United States has provided $121 billion in bilateral assistance to Israel to date, according to the Congressional Research Service, with an additional $225 million in additional aid for the Gaza war.

Despite a mutual need and deep history of agreement, our current leaders clearly don’t vibe. Here are some key topics where they’d probably rather agree to disagree:

 Israeli Settlements:

Iranian Nuclear Deal:

Political ideologies:

Today’s meeting will provide the men another opportunity to show the world that their relationship is not as frayed as we might think.