Posts Tagged ‘Katmandu’

Letter From New York 04 27 15 The drumbeat of news…

April 27, 2015

Waking this morning, I checked the headlines on my phone and saw that the disaster in Nepal keeps getting worse as the country finds itself unable to do much to stem the aftereffects of the monster earthquake. The country is continuously being wracked by aftershocks. There is minimal organizational infrastructure.

Aid organizations all knew that this quake would happen eventually. The Kathmandu Valley is highly seismically active, a place where two tectonic plates meet. They knew it would be very bad.

The death toll is closing in on the 4000 mark. People are still sleeping in the streets, frightened to go indoors. Food and water are running out in some areas and the threat of disease will grow with each passing day.

Four Americans are so far counted among the dead, including a popular executive at Google, Dan Fredingburg, as well as a documentarian who was making a film about the base camp on Everest.

Compounding the difficulties is that the UN and other aid organizations are all attempting to deal with multiple “Level 3” crises in numerous spots all at the same time. There is no Level 4.

In Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and many more places, needs are exceeding resources. Governments aren’t donating as much as usual nor are individuals. Need has never been greater than since the end of World War II.

Elsewhere on the world stage, the leaders of Sudan and Kazakhstan were re-elected with 90 plus percent of the votes in their respective countries. Almost too good to be true, don’t you think?

In Colorado, James Holmes, who in a gun rampage in a movie theater, killed twelve and wounded seventy, is going on trial today. He is pleading insanity though some of his examiners have proclaimed him sane. Prosecutors are protesting his plea.

It is bringing wounds to the surface for the survivors just as the trial for Tsarnaev did in Boston.

He is now facing sentencing and people in Boston torn between death and life in prison.

In Baltimore, thousands showed up for the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died of spinal injuries incurred while in police custody. There have been reports that gang members intend to “take out” police officers. It’s not known if those threats are directly linked to Gray’s death but Baltimore is advising police to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families.

In breaking news, seven police officers have been badly injured there.

Techies will be delighted that Facebook has added video messaging capabilities to its Facebook Messenger.

Jayne Meadows, actress and widow of comedian Steve Allen, died today at 95. Her late husband was the first host of “The Tonight Show” and her sister, Audrey, starred in “The Honeymooners.” She was nominated for Emmy Awards three times in her career.

“Fast and Furious” remained the most popular movie at the box office this past weekend, now having grossed more money than “Frozen.”

“The Bali Nine” are a group that has been convicted of smuggling drugs in Indonesia. They are facing death by firing squad. One of them, Andrew Chan, has married his fiancée in the days just ahead of his scheduled execution. Many governments have been putting pressure on Indonesia not to carry out the executions but there have been no signs of it bending so far.

In Europe, markets rallied as optimism about Greece resolving its debt crisis rose today though many think it is just a matter of time before the drachma becomes the Greek currency again. Some politicians in Europe are talking about the possibility of a Plan B for Greece, which is resulting in the optimism.

In the far east of Russia, workers building a new space port are being told that they will finally receive millions of rubles in back wages after they complained on a call in show with Putin.

Putin says Russia’s “quasi partners” were apparently counting on a collapse in the Russian economy but that, he says emphatically, has not happened.

What is happening today is there is a panel being produced by the Producer’s Guild of America, of which I am a humble member, on multi channel networks, which I am attending tonight.

Outside it is sunny but there has been talk of rain and perhaps hail this evening, so I made sure I had an umbrella with me today, just in case. I am definitely hoping not to have to use it.

Afterwards, I am going out for a drink with my friend, Greg Nelson, and then home to my apartment to catch some sleep. The cottage is being repainted so I am staying away this week.

Letter From New York 04 26 15 Bright day mixed with cloudy news…

April 26, 2015

Last night, most of our train community showed up for Dairo’s 39th birthday party, held in a deconsecrated church in Tivoli, about 30 minutes south of Claverack. It was great seeing old friends, especially ones who aren’t riding the train that often anymore. My friend Ty West was there with his wife, Cathy. Now that he is working in mid-town he takes Metro North into the city rather than Amtrak.

We traded stories of “the old days” of ten years ago before the Great Recession cost so many their jobs. We held parties on the train, great sumptuous feasts of parties, celebrating holidays and special events. We held a particularly raucous baby shower for Kelly and George, complete with blue and red “babytinis.” They had chosen not to know the sex of their child before birth so we had a drink for each potential sex.

Getting home not too late, Lionel and I stayed up for awhile chatting and catching up. He went home and I went to sleep, to wake to a day that was brighter than predicted with dreary news to be consumed.

While I was partying in Tivoli, there was violence in Baltimore as a thousand people came out to protest the death while in police custody of Freddie Gray, whose family appealed for calm.

The situation in Nepal remains dire. Aftershocks have rattled the country regularly, some as large as 6.7, resulting in more avalanches on Everest. People in Katmandu are sleeping in the streets, leaving almost no space for anyone to get around. Katmandu is a village that has grown into a city and is relentlessly crowded and shoddily built. The area affected by the earthquake is home to six million people. Roads have buckled and communications are out, hampering international efforts to bring relief.

The NY Times had many an article this morning on the Nepalese earthquake, all sad.

Here is where you can go to donate to UNICEF, if you should want to: www.unicefusa.org/nepal.

Fighting is escalating again in Yemen. There were bombing raids on Sana’a, the capital. The ex-president has called for peace talks but the current, Saudi Arabian supported President’s Foreign Minister has ruled that out.

In Syria, Assad’s regime is striking back after losing a strategic town yesterday, sending warplanes into bomb. 34 people were killed in a market, with the death toll expected to rise as many were seriously injured. Many were women and children.

In not so violent but still very disturbing news, hackers have been reading President Obama’s email but not the classified ones. Still… The White House is not pointing fingers at anybody but conventional wisdom is suggesting the Russians are the guilty parties.

And while we are thinking about Russia, they have arrested three women for twerking in front of a World War II Memorial. One was sentenced to 15 days in jail; the other two to ten. They were accused of “hooliganism,” the same charged hurled at Pussy Riot a couple of years ago. This is the second arrest in two weeks in Russia for twerking. What I wonder is why would anyone want to imitate Miley Cyrus?

Last night was the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner where President Obama made fun of everyone but mostly of himself. Alfre Woodard, who plays the President on NBC’s “State of Affairs,” said that President Obama “has a wicked sense of humor.”

This week, also in Washington, the Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments about gay marriage. There are a lot of people who will be tuning in closely on this on both sides of the equation. Opponents to gay marriage rallied on the Mall in Washington on Saturday but they are increasingly in the minority. A recent survey mentioned by Voice of America indicates 61 percent of Americans now favor gay marriage.

I have to say, this isn’t something I expected in my lifetime.

But what I have come to expect in my lifetime is that when the dishwasher is full, you have to go empty it. That’s what I am about to do.

Letter From New York 04 25 15 A good day for a party…

April 25, 2015

It is nearing 5:00 and the sun is beginning its slow fade to dark. I am sitting at my desk, looking out at the drive and the yard, still waiting for the trees to bloom. While the sun was bright today, it was none too warm.   Not bad but not a full blown spring day.

Trees in the city are beginning to bloom but not here in Claverack, a hundred miles to the north. And I’m eager for the weather to improve so we can begin to see some green. Usually by this time, the daffodils out the living room window have bloomed. This year they are barely out of the ground.

Over my morning coffee, I read that Bruce Jenner announced that he is really a woman and will continue his transformation, which, of course, will be covered in a reality series.

In far away Nepal, fifty miles outside the capital of Kathmandu, an earthquake struck and, at last count, nearly 1500 have died. It was a magnitude 7.8 quake that struck, huge, 22 times stronger than the 7.0 earthquake that ravaged Haiti.

Kathmandu was seriously affected; its narrow streets and old buildings were vulnerable to the quake. The death toll will likely mount. Perhaps hundreds are trapped under rubble. Hospitals are treating people in their parking lots as the buildings themselves are either compromised or overrun.

Lionel and Pierre are living in Baltimore now and that city is being disrupted by protests over a black man who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody and later died. His name was Freddie Gray.

Also in police custody in New York is a coyote that was cornered down near Battery Park City in Manhattan. The city has been experiencing an uptick in coyote sightings as they become less afraid of the big city and find good hunting in it. There was one in Chelsea earlier in the week as well as one not far from my apartment.

Despite international protests, Indonesia is going ahead with executing nine foreigners convicted of drug trafficking. If the protests do not change the mind of Indonesia’s President, they will die by firing squad perhaps as early as Wednesday.

Islamist rebels have seized a city in northeast Syria, Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province.

It is a key city and the loss is a blow to Assad’s government. As seems to be the norm with Assad, his troops executed detainees before fleeing the city. It also appears many civilians were killed in the thirty air strikes that were done by Assad’s Air Force in an effort to break the Islamist advance.

The Italian navy has rescued 274 migrants in danger of drowning in the Mediterranean. Recent tragedies have not slowed the flow of refugees.

Tonight, I am going to a birthday party for my friend Dairo; it’s his 39th and he intends for it to be memorable. I am sure it will be.