Outside the Bubble

New York Times Releases Spanish Edition

The New York Times announced on Feb. 9 that its Spanish language online edition is fully operational. The translated version, located in Mexico City, will attract readership in Argentina, Spain, Mexico and Co­lombia.

Although newspaper content continues to move from the printing press to electronic screens, the Span­ish-language print edition Bolétin accompanies the on­line edition. The Bolétin and its online sibling have the potential to refocus media coverage on new people and projects with a goal of increasing dialogue about the impact of American policies and society on the interna­tional community (Politico, “New York Times launches Spanish-language digital edition,” 02.08.16).

New York Times Deputy International Editor Lydia Polgreen reflects, “We’re trying to understand the audi­ence. We’re trying to understand the value.” The project will combine language translation of 10 to 15 Times ar­ticles with original material written by journalists post­ed throughout the Hispanic world, including Brazil and Venezuela (Nieman Journalism Lab, “En Espanol: The New York Times launches a Spanish-language news site aiming south of the border,” 08.02.16).

With a potential audience of 470 million moth­er-tongue Spanish speakers, the Times now speaks to a community that is very different from the American demographic. The top article on the first day of the Spanish-language online edition reports the plight of migrants from Central and South America seeking to enter the United States through Mexico (The New York Times, “En terreno hostil: dos días en el peligroso trayecto hacia ‘el norte’,” 07.02.16).

In the same edition, the Times reported in Spanish on the Iowa caucuses. Hispanic readers learned that several front-running candidates for the U.S. presiden­cy promise to close or restrict migration into the United States from foreign countries (The New York Times, “¿Por qué Iowa? Guía para entender la primera parada hacia la Casa Blanca,” 01.29.16).

The project is part of the Times’ larger initiative de­signed to increase subscription and advertising income by $400 million between 2014 and 2020. The Times launched similar alternative language editions in the past, but has not yet achieved success with any of them. The Indian-language and Portuguese-language online editions failed to gain the readership needed to sup­port the extension of Times media coverage, and the Chinese-language online edition was censored by the Chinese government as part of its censorship policy. The Times has plans for future initiatives, but is not prepared to disclose details.

George Washington Medical School Denies Cadaver Donations

An internal investigation of George Washington University, School of Medicine revealed last Friday that 50 cadavers did not have proper identification. As a result, the medical school stopped the body donor program.

Every year, GW School of Medicine processes ap­proximately 35 cadavers for use in the Department of Anatomy. Educators believe that hands-on experience with cadavers is crucial to the learning process of medical students, thus human dissection has become a mainstay of many medical programs. The program guidelines require employees to cremate each cadaver and attach identification tags to the remaining ashes.

GW Medical Representative Anne Banner reported that a tip-off from an employee about mismanagement in the program attracted scrutiny from the highest echelons of the university’s administration. Dean of the Medical School Jeffrey Akman announced on Feb. 5, “We have been unable to make a positive identifica­tion of certain donor bodies and as a result are unable to return ashes to some families”.

The body collection program was housed in the Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology. The program accepted cadavers of individuals who wished to donate their bodies to train medical stu­dents. The remains of body donors are cremated and families have the option to request the ashes of the individual (The GW Hatchet, “Medical school body donor program shut down,” 02.06.16).

During Akman’s announcement, GW Medical re­leased the program manager and placed the program under the direct oversight of the dean’s office.

The announcement sent shockwaves through the families of the 50 body donors. A family member Ei­leen Kostaris reflected, “I just couldn’t believe it. It’s horrible.” Kostaris had planned a local funeral for her grandmother, who lived in the DC Metropolitan Area for decades and finally donated her body there. Ko­staris and her grandfather do not have access to the cremated ashes, and they suspended funeral plans until GW Medical publishes the results of DNA iden­tification testing on the ashes (The Washington Post, “At George Washington U. medical school, a tomb of unknown cadavers,” 02.06.16).

The website for GW Medical states, “The Depart­ment of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology is no lon­ger accepting individual body donations directly.” It notes that Georgetown University and Howard Uni­versity are still accepting donations from Maryland locals who are interested in supporting the anatom­ical sciences (George Washington University, “Body Donor Program,” 02.07.16).

Drawing on existing supply and loans from other medical institutions, officials at GW Medical antic­ipate that the shutdown of the body donor program will not create a shortage for students in anatomy classes this year. GW Medical has yet to make any definite pronouncements on the future of its anatomy programs.

The entire incident threatens to revive concerns over GW Medical’s troubled history. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education placed GW Medi­cal on probation in 2009, and threatened to revoke the Medical School’s accreditation status in 2011. With the help of extensive educational reforms to GW Medi­cal, the LCME removed probation status and allowed GW Medical to retain its accreditation (U.S. News & World Report, “What Medical School Probation Means for Students,” 11.21.11).

Akman concluded his announcement, “As a former medical student whose education benefited greatly from the altruism of a body donor, I extend my deep­est and most sincere apologies to all of the affected families.”

French Railway Evicts Migrant Community

Parisian law enforcement forced 274 men, women and children to relocate from their encampment at an abandoned railway junction, La Petite Ceinture, in the early morning of Feb. 3. Two days later, a dozen police officers performed a second eviction on 90 stragglers who had relocated nearby to Épinay-Sur-Seine in a suburb to the north of Paris.

The government-owned transportation service SNCF filed the legal complaint that justified the two police operations. The report claimed that a large group of trespassers, mostly composed of the ethnic minority called Roma, had set up an illegal encamp­ment on government property that had remained there since June of last year. The failure of the com­munity to move elsewhere incited SNCF (Le Monde, “Un campement de Roms évacué à Paris,” 03.02.16).

Activists for the Roma dispute the impact and ef­ficacy of the evictions. They estimate that over 400 people lived at the encampment in La Petite Ceinture and reported that many fled the scene in fear of police reprisals that had frequented the area.

Even with reduced numbers of Roma, Parisian law enforcement faced the potential for a humanitarian crisis. An activist Saskia Cousin declared, “The po­lice dispersed people who had tuberculosis. From the perspective of public health, it is a catastrophe.” The community at La Petite Ceinture included working adults and families living in unsanitary conditions. Eight schoolchildren lived at the encampment. (La Croix, “Evacuation à Epinay d’un campement de Roms expulsés mercredi de Paris,” 02.05.16).

A representative of the humanitarian non-profit organization Doctors of the World concurred, “There is no peace for the shantytown refugees, as there have been two evictions in three days.”

The government is at a loss for long-term solu­tions to the Roma vagrancy problem, and authorities consider the encampment left behind by the Roma as both a health and fire hazard. French media sources recently circulated a report that law enforcement evicted more than 11,000 Roma in 2015 alone. The day before the evictions, architect Olivier Leclerq predict­ed, “The police action is radical and brutal. […] They will simply relocate and rebuild”. Leclerq supports the distribution of prefabricated, portable housing accompanied by a land rent of 24 to 36 months. His solution would cost about 2.5 million euros (Libéra­tion, “Le contre-projet d’un architecte pour éviter l’ex­pulsion d’un bidonville,” 03.02.16).

The Ile-de-France prefecture reported that only 80 of 274 Roma accepted the government’s offer for short-term hotel lodgings. As police loaded Roma onto buses destined for the hotels, one Roma argued, “We are all Europeans. What, then, has happened to our rights?”

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