The following stories have been hand selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:
ANGER OVER RHEE'S TEACHER COMMENTS
Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee told a national business magazine that some of the 266 teachers laid off in October's budget reductions had sex with children or had hit them, a claim immediately and angrily challenged Friday by leaders of the Washington Teachers Union. Rhee's comments appear in the February issue of Fast Company, a magazine aimed at young entrepreneurs and change-minded corporate executives. In a brief item, Rhee addressed the union allegation that she contrived the budget crunch to circumvent seniority rules and rid the system of older teachers. "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school. Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" she said.
FRUSTRATION ABOARD THE USNS COMFORT
The goal Friday was to move 120 earthquake victims to the Navy's modern, sterile medical facility floating off the coast. To coordinate the mission, the USNS Comfort sent a trauma surgeon who has served four combat tours and a security team to establish a landing zone outside Haiti's ruined National Palace and begin ferrying patients by helicopter. But Friday did not turn out to be a day of humanitarian medicine for the Comfort's Rapid Assessment Team; it brought only frustration and wasted time. By day's end, stymied by logistical problems at every turn, the team had yet to send a patient to the ship. And the impact was palpable: The Comfort, which treated 102 patients Thursday, treated only 69 Friday. The team's leader, Capt. Richard Sharpe, bitterly summed up the long, maddening wait: "Here we are out at the presidential palace. People die; captain takes nap."
MARYLAND SENDS MEDICAL EQUIPMENT TO HAITI
Gov. Martin O'Malley is asking the Pentagon for help to deliver University of Maryland Medical Center equipment to Haiti to help earthquake victims. In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, O'Malley is asking to support requests from UMMC and Catholic Relief Services for transportation assistance while waiving any reimbursement requirement. O'Malley writes that UMMC anticipates a three- to six-month deployment of resources to Saint Frances de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince. He says transportation would be needed on or about Jan. 26. O'Malley says the equipment would be used to establish and
NERD NITE IN D.C.
Saturday night's activities at DC9 will include more than just drinking beer and listening to live music. Club-goers can expand their horizons with lectures about volcanoes, historic cemeteries and the human brain. Welcome to Nerd Nite, a tradition that began in Boston in 2003. Now the event is held in New York, Austin, Munich and Washington. The first monthly D.C. Nerd Nite filled DC9 to its 200-person capacity in December. The crowd enjoyed PowerPoint presentations on the sex lives of insects, the secrets of competitive Scrabble players and the little-known mantis shrimp, which can attack with the force of a .22-caliber bullet.
CONAN SIGNS OFF
In his monologue Friday night, Conan O'Brien said goodbye to The Tonight Show: "HBO, when you make the movie, I would like to be played by Academy Award winner actress Tilda Swinton. " Said sidekick Andy Richter, "I'm hoping for Val Kilmer." Steve Carell came on to do an exit interview and asked for Conan's I.D. badge. Tom Hanks was also a guest. "I don't want to get into a whole 'Coco, we hardly knew ye' thing," said Hanks. "But honestly, in our house, you will always be THE host of The Tonight Show." Neil Young did a sweet version of Long May You Run (look for it on YouTube).