All posts by patrickmartin

Robots and the human connection

By Patrick Martin

“Robotics is definitely a big part of my life,” Kyle Granat said. He is a hardware engineer at Trossen Robotics in Downers Grove, just outside Chicago. The company sells kits for robotics enthusiasts.

Granat was fascinated by a computer around the age of three. The person who first nurtured Granat’s love of computers and robotics continues to be a source of inspiration for him.

Photo at top: Olga Granat, right, shows a boy how to operate a robotic arm at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire (Patrick Martin/MEDILL).

Korean War Veterans Join Honor Flight

By Patrick Martin, Brendan Hickey, Yunfei Zhao

On April 13, Honor Flight Chicago took 101 veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials commemorating their service. The program was developed to fly World War II Veterans from around the country to their memorial. This is the first flight from Chicago to include veterans of the Korean War.

“If I was called to go back to the military I’d be happy to do it, even though I’m 85 years old,” said Italo Bove, who served in Korea. He was an infantryman and cook in Korea after being drafted in 1953.

Those who served in Korea recognize that they didn’t receive the same welcome home that World War II vets received just years earlier.

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Exploring school security in Lahore, Pakistan

By Patrick Martin
Reporting from Lahore, Pakistan

“We have our own weapons too,” Rana Mohammad said as he unwrapped the cloth surrounding a long-barreled revolver which he keeps locked in his desk. This high school principal has the number for the local police, the Punjab Highway Patrol and the local army barracks displayed on his desk as well.

Mohammad said his school has rehearsed evacuating all 1,600 students in a matter of minutes. These measures may seem extreme, but Pakistan has experienced more terrorist attacks on schools than any other country in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Database.

A version of this story first appeared on City 42, a news channel in Lahore, as part of a project between Medill and the Center for Excellence in Journalism at IBA in Karachi. Raza Kharl contributed reporting. 

Photo at top: A police officer assigned to Model High School in Lahore, Pakistan stands guard with his automatic rifle as children depart for the day (Yavi Bhattel/City 42).

Bill Clinton Campaigns in Chicago

By Patrick Martin

Bill Clinton campaigned on behalf of his wife, Hilary Clinton, in Chicago on Tuesday. The 42nd president stopped at polling places on the West Side and in Hyde Park. He also visited two food processing plants on the city’s South Side.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running against Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for President in five states today.

Photo at top: Former President Bill Clinton meets with workers at the Vienna Beef facility in Chicago on March 15, 2016.(Patrick Martin/MEDILL)

Election Nears for Davis and Day

By Patrick Martin

Congressman Danny Davis and his challenger Thomas Day are nearing the end of their campaigns to represent the Illinois Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives. With no Republicans in the primary race, this election will likely determine who will be represent this section of the state in Washington.

Day and Davis have attended various events in the district to ramp up their final efforts to win the election.

Photo at top: The Illinois Seventh Congressional District includes, the Loop, the Gold Coast, the West Side, part of the South Side, and the
near west suburbs.(Map by U.S. Census. Additional labels by Patrick Martin/MEDILL).

Former Soldier Tries to Unseat Veteran Congressman

By Patrick Martin

Thomas Day is challenging Congressman Danny Davis in the Democratic primary race for the Illinois 7th District. This area includes the Loop, the West Side, part of the South Side and the near west suburbs.

Since there are no Republicans on the primary ballot for this race, the winner of the Democratic primary will very likely win the general election in November.

Davis has represented the district in Washington for nearly 20 years. Prior to his election to Congress, Davis served as a Chicago Alderman for 11 years, and he was a Cook County Commissioner for six years.

Day has no experience in public office. He served in the U.S. Army for five years, including one year in Iraq. After leaving the army, Day joined up with other former service members to establish a non-profit in Chicago to support new veteran-owned businesses.

Photo at top: Thomas Day campaigns at the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 12, 2016 (Patrick Martin/MEDILL).

Iraq Veteran Challenges Established Congressman

By Patrick Martin

“The district has a 15 percent unemployment rate, three times the national average, and I just didn’t think it was appropriate for the people of this district to have to accept the status quo for yet another two years,” said Thomas Day, an Iraq War veteran and candidate for Congress.

Day is in the Democratic primary race for the Illinois 7th District. This area includes the Loop, the West Side, part of the South Side and the near west suburbs. Day is challenging Representative Danny Davis who has served in Congress for 20 years.

Congressman Davis is in Washington D.C. this week, but Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin has known Davis for years and defended the representative’s record.

“He’s brought billions of dollars to the district,” Boykin said. “He knows all the players, he’s well respected and well regarded on both sides of the aisle…there’s no way we would take that chance and replace 20 years [of experience] with somebody new, a political novice.”

Democrats in the Illinois 7th District will get the chance to decide between Day and Davis in the March 15th primary.

Photo at top: Thomas Day (left) and Congressman Danny Davis (right) are both on the ballot to represent the Illinois 7th Congressional District. ( and

Above and Beyond: Remembering the Vietnam War

By Patrick Martin and Qingwei Chen

When visitors to the Harold Washington Library Center
ascend the escalator to the third floor, they will now see 58,307 dog tags hanging above them. Each small piece of metal is stamped with the name of an individual service member killed in the Vietnam War. They are in chronological order by date of casualty.

“This is the only exhibit outside of the wall in D.C. that commemorates every military service person who died in the Vietnam War,” Lionel Rabb, Chairman of the National Veterans Art Museum, said at the exhibit’s opening ceremony on Saturday, February 20.

Photo at top: Destinee Oitzinger, the Gallery Coordinator at the National Veterans Art Museum, holds some of the dog tags in the Above and Beyond exhibit. There is a portion of the exhibit where visitors can touch some of the identification tags. (Qingwei Chen/MEDILL)

American Industrial Chic: Caterpillar Lifestyle Apparel Launches in Pakistan

By Kat Lonsdorf and Patrick Martin

KARACHI, PAKISTAN – Shanza Jamin, 23, stood in a bright yellow jumpsuit in the middle of Dolmen Mall Clifton, a multi-story trendy shopping mall on the banks of the Arabian Sea in Karachi, Pakistan. Nine other young women, all dressed in the same matching jumpsuit, gathered around her, sitting or standing next to a temporary catwalk taking selfies and fixing lipstick and stray hairs.

Textile students from Indus Valley College wait to be ushers for the CAT Apparel fashion show, Jan. 29, 2016 (Kat Lonsdorf/MEDILL)
Textile students from Indus Valley College wait to be ushers for the CAT Apparel fashion show, Jan. 29, 2016 (Kat Lonsdorf/MEDILL)

Women in burqas and the traditional shalwar kameez (an outfit consisting of loose pants and tunic) rode the nearby escalator past bold signs with the yellow logo of Caterpillar (CAT), the Illinois-based heavy equipment company, the slogan underneath encouraging shoppers to “Make a Scene.” Overhead, the azan—the Muslim call to prayer—blasted from the mall speakers.

No one changed what they were doing.

“As soon as the azan is over, we’re going to take pictures,” Jamin said, pointing to a lit-up photo backdrop off to the side, covered in CAT logos.

The whole scene was set to celebrate the Pakistani launch of CAT apparel, a fashion line that promotes a lifestyle as well as the brand. Made up of jeans and flannel button-ups, cotton t-shirts and zip-up hoodies, the menswear is about as traditionally American as apple pie.

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Alex and the fight for Naxolone

By Patrick Martin

Alex Laliberte died of a drug overdose at age 20. His family has been working to expand access to Naloxone, a life saving drug that can reverse the deadly effects of an overdose. Illinois Congressman Bob Dold is introducing new legislation to provide federal funding for Naloxone programs across the country.

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