Washington Hospital Center, Shame on You!

Washington Hospital Center has fired 11 nurses and 5 staffers for not coming in to work during the snowpocalypse. I still can’t believe that they would do such a thing. Seriously, if your street wasn’t plowed (and really, in the days between the two huge storms, almost no streets were plowed) there was no way you could get anywhere. You guys saw my pictures on Flickr – SUVs with 4-wheel drive were getting stuck on the main roads! If you had a car like mine, which is really low to the ground, it was impossible to drive through the two feet of snow that was still on the side roads. And public transporation wasn’t an option for many people, because above-ground Metro service was suspended, as was all bus service.

It boggles my mind that the Washington Hospital Center thought it was appropriate to fire nurses who had been working there for decades because they were unable to make it in during the absolute biggest snowstorm in history. I’m grateful to the doctors and nurses who were able to get to the hospital and complete their shifts – they are nothing less than heroes to me for making that trek. But people who were unable to do the same shouldn’t be punished for not having the foresight to purchase the right vehicle, live on the right street or in the right neighborhood, or spend the night at the hospital so as not to miss work during this once-in-a-lifetime epic storm.

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Chinese New Year 2010

I went to the Lunar New Year Celebration in Chinatown yesterday, along with friends Michelle and Florangel. We got there too late to see the parade, but we saw a bunch of dragon dances and the smoke from a five-foot tall tower of fireworks!

The Friendship Arch, with tons of people gathered for the festival.

There was a group of women drumming away, providing the music for the dragons to dance.

This long dragon was trying to eat a round thing on a stick.

Eventually a red dragon hopped onto the stage, and the people on the stage began feeding it envelopes of something – maybe money?

The dragon eating an envelope.

Next, the people on stage filed through the crowd to the area with the fireworks. I’m assuming they then lit them, but there were so many people (and the fireworks weren’t on a stage, just the ground) that hardly anyone could see what was going on. I saw plenty of smoke, though, and heard plenty of bangs and pops, so I assume everything went off correctly.

Lots of smoke!

Next came the most exciting part for me. The dragons retreated through the crowd, and did one final dance. I was able to maneuver  my way right in front of them, and got some really good shots! Hooray! Close to the action at last!

Dragons - so close!

At one point, I think one of the dragons spit out a whole bunch of black cats, which popped like crazy on the ground and terrified a little girl in front of me. Pretty exciting.A

After the dragon’s last dance was over, the crowd began to disperse. It was fun, and I’m really glad I went! Please check out my Flickr page for more (and more artistic) photos of the event.

Clean-up has already begun.

More on Journalistic “Ethics”

I just keep thinking of more things that are wrong with this story.

The FP writer relates how the photographer who watched the little girl die later comitted suicide, supposedly haunted by the things he saw. He then writes:

That’s why I can’t blame Gupta for helping out when he did. On the one hand, he crossed a journalistic line and became part of the story. On the other hand, he probably saved a few Haitians’ lives. Imagine how he’d feel if he had to report on CNN that he’d stay there to watch them die that night?

Apart from that “journalistic line” thing again, the writer is literally saying that it was okay that Gupta intervened and crossed that line because it would have been so hard on him if he had watched them die instead. The focus is not on the people who were dying and needed help – it’s on the journalist/photographer and their feelings. You should save people’s lives if you can, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because later you might get all depressed about letting them die and capturing their suffering to further your career. And wouldn’t that be a shame?

Ugh.

Journalistic Line?

I was going to write a post about a cool promotion that Wendy’s is running right now, but I am so disturbed by something I just read on Foreign Policy that I have to write about it.

Apparently CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta used his medical training to treat some patients in Haiti, where he was reporting from a hospital after the Belgian staff had left due to safety concerns. The Foreign Policy piece argues that, even though it made people cringe to think that Gupta was being some kind of show-off, ultimately he did the right thing by helping out. You know, instead of letting those three patients he stabilized die. So that’s weird to start – how is there even a question that he did the right thing?

But then the article gets horrifying. They post this picture –

Image from Foreign Policy article

– fand tell the story behind it. The photographer discovered a starving little girl trying desperately to drag herself to a feeding tent. A vulture landed nearby to wait for the girl to die. The photographer, professional that he is, spent twenty minutes trying to get the best, most emotional shot. Then, after getting his Pulitzer Prize-winning shot, he chased the bird away and sat under a tree while the girl died.

Absolutely horrifying. But to top that, Foreign Policy says that this incident “raised uncomfortable questions about whether he should have helped the girl rather than simply watching her die.”

What?

I’m speechless. How is that even a question? How is it that journalism is so tied to its code of ethics that says “don’t become part of the story” that journalists would feel its acceptable to muse in public about whether it would have been okay to break that code to save a dying child?

That’s messed up.

Officer Kimberly Munley is my hero.

This article made me cry – and I am not a crier. Good on her, and good on the other soldiers who helped each other.

Sweet! Sneaky!

This is cool. I think it’s a great idea, and I really hope it works! I think it’s basically ridiculous that DC doesn’t have voting rights. And that Congress can prance around and interfere with the things DC government does. Ugh. I guess it’s another of those ideas that the Founders thought up that solved a temporary problem, but became unnecessary and stupid but really difficult to get rid of. Just like the electoral college!

Depressing Update

The young woman who was shot on my street on Thursday night died yesterday.