Politics/National Security

Families Belong Together rally in Chicago

By Katelyn Sabater
Medill Reports

While an estimated 2,000 immigrant children wait to reunite with their families, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of downtown Chicago to participate in the Families Belong Together rally.

Hundreds of protests around the country took place on Saturday in opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Continue reading

Stop The Violence

By Richard Foster-Shelton
Medill Reports

In recent years, Chicago has made international headlines for the sky-high murder rates in the city. Unfortunately, this problem has cast a shadow on the people that are doing their part to reverse the trend. During this episode of Medill Newsmakers, Richard Foster-Shelton highlights the people in Chicago that are making a positive impact – from 1st District Commissioner Richard Boykin to Jenesis Scullark of the Jeremy Scullark Foundation.

Photo at top: Chicago’s iconic skyline masks the truth about the city. (Richard Foster-Shelton/MEDILL)

 

Getting to know sharks one tag at a time

Mollie McNeel
Medill Reports

Sharks. They’re everyone’s favorite underwater enemy. Between nerve-wracking drama’s like Jaws to stories about prehistoric mega-sharks, we have all but made the shark species a completely fictionalized being. But, scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, are changing that one tag at a time.

May 14, 2018—Our shark tagging adventure began with an eight-hour car ride from the SERC campus outside of Baltimore, down the East Coast of the United States to Morehead City, North Carolina. While others had planned on joining us, I was the only team member making the journey with Chuck Bangley, a SERC marine ecologist at SERC. So, we loaded our government issued mini-van, stopped at Dunkin Donuts and hit the road.

May 15, 2018, 7:00 am— “If you start feeling sea sick just remember, feed the fish not the birds,” instructed a crew member on the R/V Capricorn as he addressed the 10 passengers that would be heading out on today’s trip.

Chuck and I are among other researchers from the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Science. Some of them are interested in sharks, just like Chuck, while some are looking for squid or eels.

Captain Joe stops for gas, filling up the 200-gallon tank before we head out to sea. “I don’t see many white caps out there yet, but storms are in the forecast, so it might get rough,” he says, clearly excited as he steers the vessel towards the open ocean.

Fisherman on the R/V Capricorn brings in a large net of fish.Photo: Mollie McNeel

First item on today’s agenda is to “trawl” for about 15 minutes. To do this, the deckhands lower a large net with wooden and metal pallets at the ends to drag along the seafloor, collecting bait for the rest of the journey. As we float along, our net following behind, we catch the attention of a pod of dolphins that trail the net closely, making an easy meal out of the fish that narrowly avoid the net and an exciting spectacle for all on the boat.

As we reel in the net and dump its contents on deck I hear Chuck call out with excitement, “Dogfish!” That’s the shark he was searching for.

Smooth Dogfish that was tagged by SERC. Photo: Mollie McNeel
A student from UNC places the shark on its back putting it into an unconscious state. Photo: Mollie McNeel

A UNC undergrad student grabs the small shark and places it in a black plastic tank filled with seawater. “Flip it over onto its back,” instructs Chuck. Doing this helps subdue the shark by putting it into an almost unconscious state. He readies his surgical equipment, slips on blue latex gloves and grabs a scalpel to tag the shark.

In order to implant the acoustic tracker, the study procedures require Chuck to perform a small surgery on the sharks. He gives the aquatic patient a small shot of lidocaine to numb the area, makes a small incision on the shark’s underbelly, inserts the small black cylindrical instrument and stitches the wound closed—all in under five minutes. After the procedure is complete, they roll the shark back onto its stomach, making sure it is alert and moving well before it gets tossed for a dive back into the ocean.

After sorting through the rest of the net full of fish – squid, crabs and some of the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen (which the crew happily set aside for their dinners) we were ready to continue fishing for the “big dogs”— more sharks.

Our first stop was just a mile off the coast. The crew began lowering a line of buoys and metal fish hooks loaded with our bait, impaled but still flailing, into the water. One buoy, 10 hooks. That was the order we followed in a smooth and practiced routine.

Once the hooks were out there, we did what fishermen do best – we waited. An hour passed easily with talk of science, fishing stories and dreams of catching a great white. As our boat circled back around to pick of the first buoy, excitement filled the air. Members of the crew were ready pull in whatever was attached to the hooks, scientists ready to tag and measure sharks and me, ready to take photos and come face-to-face with “jaws.”

The first couple of hooks come up empty but then the frenzy starts – one, two, three sharks about 3-feet long each are pulled aboard. They are Sharpnose sharks, not a species Chuck is looking for, but ones UNC scientists are tagging in a separate study. Grab a shark – measure to the fork in its tail, to the tip of the tail – tag it – throw it back – repeat. Over and over I watched as this series was performed in a shark assembly line.

A scientists measures the length of a shark. Photo: Mollie McNeel

After about 30 hectic minutes, we had pulled in 15 sharks, none that can be used for SERC’s study but still an impressive population size that scientists rarely see on these trips. “I’m your good luck charm,” I say joking. To my surprise, the team agrees and tells me to forget the rest of graduate school and join the crew instead.

Next, we move farther off the shore to about seven miles out. We no longer can see land in any direction and the captain’s gadgets show that we are floating in water about 57 feet deep. The wind has begun to pick up causing swells about three feet tall to rock the boat side to side harshly. As I look out the window from the boats cabin one second I can see nothing but blue sky and the next the boat shifts and the window only shows dark blue water.

We repeat the buoy and hook pattern as we cast again in the deeper water. Everyone takes the opportunity to eat some lunch while we wait. “Goldfish crackers are a must while out on a boat,” says Lewis, a student from the UK who is at UNC working towards his doctorate. We take bets on how many sharks we will catch this round. The buy in is a quarter and I bet high with hopes that my luck will continue — “12,” I say.

Unfortunately, I didn’t win the bet since we only brought in two sharks. But, while the number was disappointing, the last catch was not. As we were nearing the end of the hooks, we pulled in a large Sandbar shark spanning about 5 feet long. She was not happy to be pulled up onto the deck and was flailing around violently, mouth open, teeth visible and bloodied from the hook. A deckhand jumped on top of the shark, straddling it and pressing down on its head to keep it from biting anyone on deck. The shark was quickly measured, tagged and shoved off the back of the boat into the deep waters.

Sandbar shark that was the last catch of the day. Photo: Mollie McNeel

After that excitement it was time to make the long trip back to the docks. Some people on board began conversations while others, me included, settled in for a nap in the sunshine.

As we reached the dock and gathered our belongings someone in the background asked Chuck if he thought the trip was successful. “Well, we are leaving with one more shark tagged than before, so I would say that is a success,” exclaimed Chuck with a smile as he stepped of the boat and back onto dry land.

PHOTO AT TOP: Smooth Dogfish Shark caught and tagged off the coast of North Carolina. (Mollie McNeel/Medill)

The After-Bern: Will Bernie Sanders make another run for President?

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are already calling on him to run for president in 2020.

The Vermont politician has yet to confirm or deny his second bid for the presidency but multiple news outlets have hinted at the possibility.

Regardless of his rumored political aspirations for the next presidential election, the impact Sanders had on the 2016 campaign trail and Democratic Party politics is lasting.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders backs Jesús “Chuy” García for Congress

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders spoke during a rally for congressional candidate Jesús “Chuy” García at Apollos 2000 in Little Village recently. Garcia is one of  three Democratic candidates vying for Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s seat after the representative of the 4th District in Illinois announced he would not seek reelection.

“I’m not here because Chuy Garcia is a friend of mine,” said Sanders. “I am here this afternoon because we are living in a pivotal moment in American history, we need strong progressive voices in Washington and Chuy Garcia will be that voice.” Continue reading

Navistar posts loss but beats estimate, remains optimistic

By Richard Foster-Shelton
Medill Reports

Navistar International Corp. (NYSE:NAV) based in Lisle, Ill., reported an exacerbated net loss but beat analysts’ expectations, for its first quarter ended Jan. 31.

The company reported a net loss of $73 million, or 74 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $62 million, or 76 cents per share, on fewer shares outstanding, in the year-earlier quarter.

The first quarter net income included $46 million of charges resulting from the company’s debt refinancing in November 2017. Excluding the debt refinancing, the indicated net loss for the quarter was $27 million, or 27 cents per diluted share. Analysts estimated a loss of 29 cents per share.

The truck and bus manufacturer generated revenues of $1.9 billion, a 15 percent increase from the $1.7 billion in the same quarter the previous year. Driven by a 24 percent increase in the company’s core business, Class 6-8 trucks and buses, revenue figures were in line with analyst estimates.

Navistar stock closed at $38.17, up $1.13. Continue reading

20-year-old candidate for Cook County’s 13th District pushes grassroots campaigning

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Bushra Amiwala was still in her teens when she announced her candidacy last March as one of three democratic contenders for the Cook County Board in the 13th District.

The DePaul University student, now 20, said people questioned her qualifications and background because of her age when she entered into the race. But the recent wave of first-time female candidates washed away the skeptics. Continue reading

Pilsen residents demand rent controls at Town Hall meeting

Nathan Ouellette
Medill Reports

Demands for rent control and affordable housing took center stage, Monday, in the St. Pius V Church basement, as residents of Pilsen and Little Village rose one by one to voice concerns at Pilsen’s Community Town Hall on Rent Control and Property Taxes.

The Town Hall, conducted both in Spanish and English, focused on lifting the statewide ban on rent controls as residents fight to stay in their homes.  The presence of State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss (D-9) and State Representative Theresa Mah (D-2), co-sponsors of SB2310, Repeals the Rent Control Preemptive Act bill, gave community members the opportunity to meet with their elected officials. 

Continue reading Pilsen residents demand rent controls at Town Hall meeting

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reinforces NBA’s stance on sports betting

By Richard Foster-Shelton
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver emphasized his belief that the NBA should receive a 1% “integrity fee” if the Supreme Court gives all 50 states the option to legalize sports gambling as expected later this year.

“From the NBA’s standpoint, we will spend this year roughly $7.5 billion creating this content, creating these games,” Silver said during his annual state of the league address. “This notion that as the intellectual property creators that we should receive a one percent fee seems very fair to me.”

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Record number of millennials sign up to run for local office in 2018 midterms


By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Grassroots organizations launched since the last national election to train young first-time candidates received thousands of requests for assistance.

First time candidates under the age of 35 are taking on entrenched incumbents in midterm races across the country. Many of them cited the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and lack of representation in local politics as their motivation.

One such organization, Run For Something, launched in January of 2017 with mostly small-donor contributions. 

“We thought it’d be really small, we’d get maybe 100 people who would want to run in the first year. Instead we have 15,000 millennials signed up with us to say they want to run for office,” said Amanda Litman, founder of Run for Something.

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