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Dr. Bear’s Medical School students learned about transport medicine and got to take a look at the inside of an ambulance at Children’s National Health System. Photograph by Carly Glazier.

Last month, about 90 kids brought their favorite stuffed animals to Children’s National Medical Center for an event called Dr. Bear’s Medical School for Kids. They toured an ambulance, read x-rays, put casts on broken bones, and played with therapy dogs from the Greenbelt Dog Center. The Grateful Family Program at Children's organized the event. All photographs are by Carly Glazier.

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Posted at 05:48 PM/ET, 07/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Left photo via Twitter, right photo courtesy HBO.

Besides the fact that the Nationals erred in making Calvin Coolidge their latest Racing President, there's something else off about the team's newest mascot: this Coolidge looks nothing like the actual President. But the Nationals don't have to call it a complete wash. Their "Coolidge" does resemble another important, historical figure, albeit a much more recent one.

Posted at 03:45 PM/ET, 07/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
How fictional animals, obsession with shark sex, and Nazis get in the way of actual discovery. By Benjamin Freed
Chompie, Shark Week's sometimes mascot, in 2010. Photograph by Flickr user Ryan Quick.

The 28th edition of Discovery's Shark Week started Sunday night with three new documentaries about everyone's favorite aquatic predators. Discovery, which launched Shark Week in 1988 as an earnest ratings grab and has since turned it into a wild, gory, and sometimes scientifically dubious extravaganza, has said it is trying to pull back on the silliness this year and return to honest, fact-based filmmaking.

But scientists, bothered by years of specials that portray shark bites as happening more frequently than they actually do or outright fictions like faux documentaries that purport to present "evidence" that long-extinct prehistoric species still roam the oceans, are watching this year's Shark Week with extreme caution.

The first night of the current Shark Week brought three new hour-long documentaries: Shark Trek, charting shark sightings in the waters off Florida; Island of the Megashark, about filmmakers looking for very large great whites near an island off Mexico; and Monster Mako, following an effort by researchers from Texas A&M University to study the fastest species of shark.

David Shiffman, a shark researcher at the University of Miami and one of Shark Week's most vocal critics, was mostly pleased. "So far? Shark Week 2015 is much better!" he writes on Facebook. But there are still many things Shiffman and other shark scientists are still waiting for Discovery to correct. Here are a few of the ways the network often gets it wrong:

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Posted at 03:17 PM/ET, 07/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Explaining an annoying abbreviation. By Britt Peterson
A flier styled as a magazine cover featuring Gene Cobb (right), a rapper, promoter, and producer known as 20Bello. DMV flier courtesy of 20Bello.

DMV /dee-em-vee/ The Washington area, as abbreviated by hip-hoppers; from “DC/Maryland/Virginia” and adopted for thumb-based communications.

DC rapper and hip-hop promoter 20Bello says it “tickles” him to hear sportscasters and weather announcers sing out, “It’s a nice day in the DMV!”

Says 20Bello: “Man, if only they knew.”

Knew, that is, the underground hip-hop origins of the abbreviation for DC/Maryland/Virginia that has become the go-to shortcut for “greater Washington.”

Textably concise and internet-compatible, it has exploded on sites like Craigslist (“In the heart of the DMV!!!”) and Meetup.com (“DMV Small Dog Playgroup”) and with millennials—who are seemingly untroubled by the letters’ traumatic associations for anyone who has registered a car at the Department of Motor Vehicles in the District or Virginia. (In Maryland, it’s the Motor Vehicle Administration, or MVA.)

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Posted at 12:16 PM/ET, 07/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Now out of prison, Kiriakou is trying to return to a normal life. By Natalia Megas
Kiriakou at his Arlington home. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

From a window in his rental home in Arlington, John Kiriakou can glimpse his old life: the peaked roof of the dream house he and his wife, Heather, built a decade ago in happier times. Not that Kiriakou shows signs of unhappiness now. His toddler son leads me past a wall hung with welcome home signs to another window overlooking a tree-lined back yard where Kiriakou has spent hours recently watching his kids play on a trampoline.

What the decorated CIA officer turned convicted felon doesn’t add is that for months his yard was as far he could go without permission from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In our previous meeting at Loretto, the Pennsylvania facility where Kiriakou served 23 months for confirming the name of a CIA operative to a reporter, and in the neat, error-free letters written from his cell, Kiriakou maintained a steady calm—a contrast from the chatty but tough veteran he projects in his 2009 memoir, The Reluctant Spy. Even when he speaks passionately or with sometimes shocking candor—“Everyone with authority [in prison] is lying,” he once told me within earshot of the prison’s public-information officer—his baby face turns tense, but his polite reserve stays intact.

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Posted at 10:11 AM/ET, 07/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Tennis courts now mark the spot where 4 of John Wilkes Booth's comrades died 150 years ago. By Matt Blitz
The crowd watches on as Mary Surratt (left), Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt hang from the gallows at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. Photograph by Alexander Gardner/via Library of Congress.

On July 7, 1865, shortly after 1 PM, three men and one woman were lead to the gallows in the prison yard of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary, on the shores of where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers meet. It was hot that day, reportedly a hundred degrees. Sweat surely dripped down the accused's faces as they passed by the cheap pine coffins and shallow graves that had been dug for them.

The doomed were Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and Mary Surratt, four of the co-conspirators in the plot to assassinate officers of the federal government. Their sentence had come after a seven-week trial that had found them guilty of “treasonable conspiracy.” While the group, along with five others that were either already dead or had been given less severe sentences, had been successful in one part of their plan—the murder of President Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth—they had failed at the other two. Powell attacked Secretary of State William Seward at his home, but managed only to injure him. Seward would eventually recover and purchase Alaska for the United States. Herold guided Powell to Seward’s house and, after abandoning Powell when it was clear the plan had gone astray, aided Booth in his attempts to evade authorities after his escape from Ford’s Theater. Azterodt had been assigned the task of assassinating Vice-President Johnson, but he didn't going through with it. Instead, Azterodt got drunk and wandered the streets mumbling. He was soon arrested for suspicious behavior. During the trial, witnesses would call him a “notorious coward.”

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Posted at 12:53 PM/ET, 07/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Taft is a pretty thrifty fellow. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Photos of the Nationals' Racing Presidents anchor our Best of Washington issue, on newsstands now. Here are some of those photos and the "stories" behind them.

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Posted at 04:22 PM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a furry friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Cush is a 16-year-old Parson Jack Russell terrier-mix. He is a funny dog who likes to play catch with his tennis ball and cuddle on the couch. His body shows some signs of his age (the beginning of cataracts, slightly stiff hips), but he behaves like a dog half his age. With a human he trusts, Cush is a very loving and sweet dog. He'll cuddle up next to his foster family on the couch or curl up at their feet. He's also an extremely active dog for his age. He walks wonderfully on a leash on his daily two mile walks. Cush should be the only dog in his new home, since he has shown some aggression toward other dogs. He does not lunge, or even seem interested in other dogs during walks, but he should not be loose in a dog park. Cush needs to be let outside frequently to avoid accidents in the house. An ideal home for Cush would be with someone who is home often and can really give him the companionship and attention he deserves. He's at an age where both behavioral and health issues are common, but Cush is a very sweet, smart, playful companion. To find out more about Cush, visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

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Posted at 12:36 PM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

Salon Media's editorial staff has voted to unionize, the Writers Guild of America, East, announced Thursday.

Thursday turned out to be an excellent day to check in with Politico labor reporter Mike Elk, who is working to unionize his own newsroom.

Elk sent an email to editorial staff Thursday urging them to follow Salon and Gawker Media and become a union shop. "Sure the snack bar is great"--you can see the snack area in Politico's new offices in this video, and it does look swell-- "but a union contract would be even sweeter!" he wrote to colleagues. Among the benefits he touts in the email: More formalized pay-raises and a "clear scheduling system that gives people certainty in balancing the needs of our personal lives with the needs of our professional lives."

Reached by email, Elk says about a third of the staff is interested in pursuing a union. "The problem is that a real culture of fear exists," he writes. (Are there any Washington-area newsrooms where staffers don't constantly wonder if they measure up to their high-power, swaggering colleagues?) He continues:

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Posted at 12:34 PM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Lewis Tse Pui Lung / Shutterstock.com

Fourth of July fireworks on the Fifth of July?

It could happen. There's a 50 percent chance of rain on Saturday, with a thunderstorms and moderate wind possible. High winds, heavy rain, thunder, and lightning (sort of like what we had Tuesday night) could warrant a postponement to July 5 at 9:09 PM, National Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst says.

RELATED: The best places to watch DC's fireworks

The Park Service will post updates to Twitter and Facebook if the fireworks display is postponed. You can also find more information about planned Fourth of July events at nps.gov.

Posted at 10:23 AM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()