By Jim Bourg
When reports of “shots fired” came in from multiple locations on Washington’s Capitol Hill on October 3, I dispatched Reuters Washington photographers in force, with four staff photographers and two contract photographers racing towards the scene within minutes of the shots being fired. Early on it was unclear how big the incident was and whether the Capitol was in fact under attack, and we were taking no chances if this might become a huge world news event. But in this day of ever present camera phones, and with so many members of the public carrying cameras, unless a news photographer is lucky enough to be right on the scene when spot news happens, there is always someone else who was there shooting pictures first.
Staff photographer Larry Downing was one of the first Reuters photographers on the scene at the Capitol Hill shooting. While Larry was shooting pictures, and as I remotely edited his pictures from the Reuters Washington bureau over a cellular data card connected to his laptop, a young freelance photographer named Alexander Morozov walked up and started asking questions, expressing his interest in becoming a professional news photographer.
Black Rock Desert of Nevada
By Jim Bourg
Having been to Burning Man several times now, I went to the 2013 event determined to convey in some new way to people who have never been the intensity, the size and the sometimes overwhelming sensory overload of the experience. It is truly like nothing else on earth and sometimes feels alien and otherworldly.
The size of the event, a temporary city of almost 70,000 people spanning across miles of the Nevada desert, is hard to convey in individual still photos. So is the sensory overload that 24 hour a day music, lasers, flame effects, wild costumes and the intensity of the dusty, sometimes blazingly hot in the day and at other times frigidly cold at night desert environment brings to bear. Some people who have not been before find it too much to take and leave after only a few days never to return. But for tens of thousands of others one of the regular cliches of Burning Man is that it feels like home and they feel more comfortable there than any place else. As people arrive in Black Rock City every single person gets the salutation from volunteer greeters: “Welcome Home!”
Reuters Boston Photographer Brian Snyder spent a very long and claustrophobic day in the tiny dark hotel suite where a homeless nurse, Tarya Seagraves-Quee, and three of her four children have been living in Massachusetts for nearly two months. A record number of families are now being put up in motels due to high unemployment and the rising number of homes going into foreclosure, costing taxpayers $2 million per month but providing a lifeline for desperate families. Seagraves-Quee has found refuge in a motel after losing her job in Georgia more than a year ago and going without health-care for about 10 months. She suffers from multiple sclerosis, Aspergers syndrome, anemia and lupus, and now is scared she may have cancer. Two of her children, aged 16 and 6, are autistic. After losing her job, and facing repeated physical abuse from a boyfriend, she spent $700 – almost all her savings — on airline tickets for her family to stay with relatives in Boston. Being homeless has actually helped Seagraves-Quee get the healthcare she needs. Everyday she makes phone calls for and fills out applications for public housing in an effort to get out of the shelter/motel. Some of the towns in the area she contacted are simply not taking any new applicants; in others, the ”wait list” for housing is 10 or even 40 years.Brian’s audio slideshow on the life of the Tarya Seagraves-Quee and her family follows. It is narrated by Seagraves-Quee, who is also a gospel singer:
Dallas, Texas contract photographer Jessica Rinaldi spent three intensive, intimate and emotional days in the lives of Annette and Frederick Wilson and their family. The Wilsons have been homeless since they moved to Texas from Minnesota after losing both their jobs and then their home.They ended up with their children and extended family in a homeless shelter but through assistance from the National Urban League they have now found some employment and income, and finally an apartment to live in.Jessica’s audio slideshow, narrated by the Wilsons themselves:Annette had been a bus driver in Minneapolis and Frederick was a forklift operator, but he had already been out of work for almost year before Annette lost her job. When Annette, who is a pastor in a Pentecostal church, lost her job and could no longer make the payments on her home she prayed to God for guidance and she says that God told her to move to Texas. They arrived in Texas with only $150 and drove straight to a homeless shelter. There they learned about a local job fair where they got in contact with the National Urban League who helped them move out of the shelter and into a motel room.Frederick, who has been making small amounts of cash working a few hours a night doing jobs that employees do not want to do themselves (like mopping or climbing into dumpsters to break down and sort the trash), continues to apply for better jobs and remains hopeful.After close to three weeks in a homeless shelter and one week in a motel, with a new job for Annette and financial assistance from the Urban League, the Wilson family have now moved into a new apartment that they and their family can call home.
What’s in U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s wallet? Not much.
While testifying in front of a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill Thursday Geithner was shown a $50 Billion Zimbabwean bank note (rendered worthless by Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation) by U.S. Representative John Culberson (R- TX) and asked if he had ever seen one himself. Geithner immediately pulled a piece of Zimbabwean currency out of his own pocket and showed it off to the committee. At the next break in the hearing I approached Geithner and asked how he happened to have a piece of foreign currency in his pocket. His response was “I often have some foreign currency in my wallet. Want to see?” He pulled a very thin and mostly empty wallet from his pocket.