Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

Letter From New York 05 28 15 Things that make me cringe and things that make me smile…

May 28, 2015

I both look forward to the moment in the day when I write my blog and also dread facing the blank digital piece of paper on my screen. Usually, it’s a time to wrap my head around the world and do a bit of sorting out.

Today I am feeling a bit more dread than usual and I’m not sure why. Is it because I have fears about the state of the world today and don’t want to face the news? I’m doing one post a week, at least, on my field, media. I post it on LinkedIn then, too, and it’s been getting some reads.

The media today is filled with the FIFA fallout. Some brands are nervous but no one has cancelled yet while everyone is watching to see what everyone else is going to do.

I wake up in the morning, most days in the city. I have my morning cup of coffee, having cut down from three to one and, with the background of city noises, read from the New York Times and generally take a look at the news on my BBC iPhone app.

Finding out that Boko Haram is using girls they have captured as suicide bombers doesn’t brighten my day – at all. Nor does the plight of women in most countries. Today there was an article on how Tunisian women have endured years of violence, cruelty and rape from the police of that country. The Indian rape problem is well known and well documented and mostly not spoken about there.

Though the Brits have just named the first female Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. Good for them.

There are things in the news that brighten my day. The French have passed a law that rooftops on new buildings must either have a garden or be equipped with solar panels. That makes me smile.

It doesn’t make me smile to know that Putin has declared military deaths a state secret – another step in his plans to keep the lid on Ukraine. Independent researchers using YouTube, Google Street View, Instagram, Twitter and Russia’s version of Facebook, have concluded that the Russians are conducting military moves in the rebellious east. It’s been done by the Atlantic Council, a Washington based research center. It’s all open source data and that’s the kind of thing that makes Vladimir seethe.

Not making me seethe was a glowing report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, on today’s Royal Garden Party for 8000 held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The Queen, accompanied by a bevy of her family, wandered around greeting people, including a 92-year-old survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Queen will visit there when she makes a state trip to Germany. It sounded so British and regal and so comforting and very, very far away from the fighting that is consuming other parts of the world.

500 bodies were exhumed from mass graves in Iraq while IS killed twenty more at the ruins of Palmyra.

Perhaps we should feel better that the Al Qaeda chief in Syria has no plans to attack the West? He has received instructions from Al Qaeda central, wherever that is, not to but if the bombing keeps up, who knows?

What is also fearsome out there in the world is Mother Nature. People are digging out in Texas even as it continues to rain. In India, 1500 have died in the current heat wave and hospitals are being asked to make victims of the heat their priority.

And lest we forget, aid has still not reached some of the remoter parts of Nepal, which is now trying to get back to some normalcy though it will take years. Classes are being held under tarps, with the first weeks devoted to play and talking about the earthquake that ravaged the country. Many schools were destroyed and those standing have been used as shelters. Three million people are homeless in Nepal. The World Food Program has hired 20,000 porters to carry supplies to where the roads have gone.

$423 million was pledged to Nepal but only a little over $9 million has arrived.

In the tech world, Yahoo will have to face a class action lawsuit for spying on people’s emails in order to better target advertising. Google is going deeper into Virtual Reality.

What is not virtually real but actually real is that I need to clear up and go off to a meeting.

It’s a wild world out there. I think a martini is in order.

Letter From New York 05 15 15 Of sunny afternoons and death sentences…

May 15, 2015

There was no Letter from New York yesterday; the day was simply too full for me to pound one out. From fairly early in the morning until deep into the evening, I was scurrying from one end of Manhattan to another. There was a breakfast, a lunch, a wine meeting, a couple of conference calls and everything else in between.

Today is a sunny afternoon on a spring like day in New York City and in a couple of hours I’ll begin to make my way to Penn Station to head up to the cottage for a weekend retreat. I’m looking forward to a weekend of catching up. I’ve spent the day plowing through all manner of emails but don’t feel like I’ve managed anything too productive.

B.B. King died today, the man who brought blues into the mainstream, the man whose name emblazons a club here in New York, an 89 year old living legend is now gone. Fans went to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to lay flowers but most were washed away by the rain sweeping through Los Angeles, a welcome wetness though according to meteorologists not enough to break the drought.

The Iraqi city of Ramadi seems to have been mostly overrun by the IS forces. Suicide bombers killed ten police officers. Washington calls the situation “fluid.” It’s been a back and forth battle for weeks and this is probably one more of those. In the meantime, nearly 150,000 people have fled the city, mostly to Baghdad. Ramadi lies in the center of the area where many Sunni Muslims live.

To the east of Ramadi, in Syria, IS is advancing on the area where lie the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra, a city that was at the crossroads of the Greeks, Romans and the Persians. The ruins there are probably the best set of extant classical ruins in the world today. IS is not directly targeting the ruins but if the area falls under their control it is feared they will have more opportunities to film themselves destroying ancient artifacts, as they did in Nineveh.

We are now halfway through the five day truce that was to allow for the dispensing of emergency aid in Yemen and it is looking as if there will not be enough time to get all the emergency aid needed, dispersed.

On Tuesday of this week, a U.S. helicopter on an aid mission in Nepal went missing. It has been found on a mountainside at 11,200 feet. It does not appear that there are survivors.

In the U.K. David Cameron met with Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP [Scottish National Party]. He will consider more powers for Scotland but won’t think about another referendum on independence, thank you very much.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg has married Gauthier Desteney, his long time partner. He is the first EU Prime Minister to have married his gay partner. The first European Prime Minister to do so was Johanna Sigurdardottir, Premier of Iceland, back in 2010. Luxembourg legalized gay marriage in January.

Having met with Putin at Sochi, Kerry jetted back to D.C. for meetings with Arabic leaders and he is now heading to China, where he will arrive tomorrow. He and his Chinese counterparts will be hammering out details of the Chinese leader’s visit to Washington in September.

They will also be working to defuse the situation in the South China Sea. Like good little beavers, the Chinese are building up some small islands into bigger islands. On one of them, it is constructing a runway that could land even the largest planes. It is a source of tension, particularly with Japan and the Philippines. Both sides are eager to defuse the situation but this seems to be a must do project for Mr. Xi and not something he can gracefully back away from. Tensions will mount.

Boko Haram in Nigeria has been in retreat the last few weeks but now is in a counteroffensive and has retaken a key village. They just won’t go away.

In Pakistan, the military has begun an attack on the Taliban in the Shawal Valley while the President of that country has issued a rare public rebuke of the Taliban, calling them “terrorists.” Imagine that. But it is evidence of new toughness toward the group.

And in an ending note, the jury has returned a judgment on young Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston for the Marathon bombings. He has been sentenced to die.

I have never felt the death penalty accomplished anything.

It is closing in on four o’clock. I am going to post this and then probably gather my things and head toward the train station, rolling north to sit tomorrow on my deck and admire the new grill I will be acquiring.

Letter From New York 05 12 15 In a world of choices and not so many choices…

May 12, 2015

Once again, when I went to sleep last night, I expected rain today. When I woke it was cloudy but rain was not in the forecast. It’s sunny and warm and summery in the city. I am working from the office of Broderville Pictures, founded by my friend Todd and I’m doing some work for him.

Another friend is helping organize a documentary film festival in China in December and I’ve recommended a few people to him and will see if I can come up with others.

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve been networking with lots of friends and catching up with people. It’s been good. I had lunch yesterday with Ty West, who is producing “Charlie Rose: The Week” for PBS. He is a good friend; another one I met on the train between New York and Hudson.

Today I had my eyes examined and am just beginning to see again after having had my eyes dilated. My eyes have changed a fair amount in the last two years. My left eye is weaker. My right eye is stronger and now I need to go through the painful [for me] process of choosing new glasses.

I am lucky. I live in a world of choices. Too many people must feel like they have no choices when they are living in places like Yemen and Nepal.

Beleaguered Nepal suffered another massive earthquake, killing more, shaking down more buildings, and frightening the population even more. An American helicopter, involved in aid work, seems to have gone down there. The newest quake will make it even more difficult to get the aid to remote villages. Some roads that had been cleared are now filled again with rubble.

Today a ceasefire is to begin in Yemen. In the hours leading up to the ceasefire, the Saudi led coalition bombed Sana’a relentlessly. An Iranian cargo ship is headed there, convoyed by Iranian naval vessels. The UN is suggesting they deliver the aid to a distribution center in Djibouti, an African nation directly across from Yemen. The Iranian convey has everyone nervous. The Saudis are supporting the Sunni side and the Iranians the Shia side. The new UN envoy to Yemen is saying that fighting will solve nothing but that’s what they seem intent upon doing.

No longer having any choices whatever is Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger in Pakistan who was hacked to death on his way to his day job at a bank in Sylhet, in the northeastern part of Bangladesh. He is the third secular blogger hacked to death in that country.

Tomorrow is the day when John Kerry is supposed to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, site of the last Winter Olympics. Putin is supposed to be there; that’s why Kerry is en-route but today the Russians said Putin was yet to be confirmed. Last time Kerry saw him, Putin was three hours late for the meeting.

For the last five years the El Nino effect has been quiet. Now it is rearing its head again with unpredictable results. British forecasters are suggesting it might mean record snow next year in the UK, Australians are saying there might be severe drought in northern Australia. It could mean heavy rains on the US West Coast and its Gulf Coast but may be not enough or soon enough to ease the drought in California. The Australians think it is going to be severe and meteorologists in Canada and the US are suspecting it will be moderate. Wait and see. Weak or strong, it’s coming.

My friend, Lionel, just move to Baltimore to be Vice President of Ad Technology for AOL. Today I woke to the news that AOL had been purchased for $4.4 billion by Verizon, mostly for their ad technology. One business pundit said something like that was pocket change for Verizon and another said it was another bad move by Verizon in the Internet space while others thought it was a very smart move. Time will tell, as they always say.

In the long ago and far away days when I was working in Los Angeles for an Internet start-up, one of my very good friends was dating Sandra Lee, the TV food star.   Later I was best man in his wedding to another woman but during their tenure, I met Sandra a few times. She is now living with Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York. Today she announced she had breast cancer. I wish her well.

The day is beginning to come to a close. I am going up to the Café du Soleil tonight for a bite and then home to read a book.

Letter From New York 05 10 15 On Mother’s Day and the existence of real world problems…

May 10, 2015

Today is the 10th of May. It’s Mother’s Day. My mother is long gone though I still am surprised that there are moments when I think: I need to call Mom and tell her this. So does my brother once in awhile.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all and sundry; when I was having my haircut today the woman cutting my hair asked me what I was doing for Mother’s Day and I had to tell her nothing. My mother has now been dead for twenty years. It seems impossible but it’s true. The last time I saw her she thought I was her brother Ted. It broke my heart.

And those are the things we have to face with aging parents and to worry about for ourselves as we age. I do, for myself. On Sundays I read the Wedding section of The New York Times and the Obituaries. Today there were a few people near my age who had died and it struck me how fragile our time on life earth is and how fleeting.

But these are existential questions and probably first world problems.

In Yemen, they are hoping that the conversation about a ceasefire will become reality. It will help get supplies to folks who are on the edge of starving. That’s a real world problem.

Apparently, there is an attempt being made to get a five-day truce to start on Tuesday to allow for the delivery of humanitarian supplies. There is also going to be a meeting between Arab leaders and Obama at Camp David this week though today King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced he would not be attending. Instead he is sending his Crown Prince and his Deputy Crown Prince in a gesture intended to communicate his displeasure with the US and its effort to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

In Liberia today the churches celebrated that the country now seems free from Ebola. That’s a real world celebration.

In devastated Nepal, efforts are being made to provide sanitation for all of those who have lost their homes in an effort to prevent cholera and other diseases in advance of the coming Monsoon season. It is critical for the country that has in the past few years made major progress in creating better sanitation; much of that has been reversed by the earthquake. That is a very real problem. And it’s not a first world problem.

In our first world set of problems, security has been increased at US bases in this country because of a heightened concern over ISIS attacks in the homeland.

“Homeland” is a word I don’t remember being used for this country before 9/11, before there was a Department of Homeland Security. It is vaguely unsettling to me – like the Nazis who called Germany “The Fatherland.” It evokes a sense of siege, which I suppose we are in, in a way.

ISIS is a very real world problem all over the world.

Raul Castro met with Pope Francis. He is now thinking about going back to church. That’s a “Saul on the road to Damascus” moment if there ever was one.

Two days of mourning have been declared in Macedonia for the death of eight police officers that were killed in a raid against a terrorist organization, which seemed to have been made of ethnic Albanians. In the story, there are threads of organized crime, heroin and the continued instability of countries that once made up Yugoslavia.

Speaking of a Yugoslavian kind of situation, the hegemony of the television networks is really beginning to splinter this year as we go into the “upfronts,” that moment in the year when television networks get as much as 75% of their inventory purchased by advertisers.

Television ratings, overall, are down 9% from last year to this. Digital is getting more dollars and networks are facing a moribund upfront. It will still be huge but probably flat or down. It is an amazing thing to watch.

What is also amazing to watch is the sunset happening outside. Today was supposed to be a day of thunderstorms but instead there were crisp blue skies and the warmest day of the year. Clouds are beginning to form and we’ll probably have rain tomorrow but today was spectacular.

Letter From New York 05 04 15 A series of glorious days…

May 4, 2015

As I wend my way toward New York this morning, the sun is splashing off the Hudson River, a small boat cruising north as I trundle south, green beginning to tip the trees that line the river bank. It will be another in a short string of beautiful days that have blessed the Hudson Valley.

Saturday was an exquisite day. I rose early and went to the Farmer’s Market, sourcing from there everything I would serve for dinner that night. Ron Eglash, who also spoke the Indian Institute of Technology/Roorkee when I was there, came down with his wife, Audrey Bennett, who is also a professor at RPI in Troy.

Every moment of Saturday felt joyful, even blissful. I don’t know that I have ever experienced a day quite like it. Everything I did seem to bring me pleasure in a soft, delightful way. I reveled in the sheer pleasure of each moment.

I did not write a Letter on Saturday or Sunday. To do so would mean that I would look out into the world when all I wanted to do was savor the inner universe I was so pleasantly experiencing.

But now it is Monday morning and I am headed back to the city. My old friend, Michael DiPasquale, who lives in Los Angeles but was born in New York, is here to visit family and is coming into the city today from Long Island to visit with me.

As I have been typing, a CNN News Alert came crossing my screen to let me know that Carly Fiorina, once CEO of Hewlett-Packard, has announced she is running for President. I believe this marks the first time in history that two women have been seeking the Presidential nomination of their individual parties. Ms. Fiorina is a Republican. Hillary, as we all know, is a Democrat.

Also joining the Republican field of candidates is Ben Carson, popular with Republicans under thirty.

In Nepal, aid is beginning to flow and a 101-year-old man was dragged from the rubble alive, with only minor injuries. The Nepalese government has stated they will need much aid over a long period of time to rebuild. The death toll is over 7300 and still climbing.

In happier news, in case anyone missed it, their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, welcomed a baby girl, yet to be named, into their family. They are going up to their country house, Anmer Hall, which is two miles from where the Queen is at Sandringham House, so they may introduce her to her newest great-grandchild.   Sounds so civilized.

Not so civilized is the continuation of the air strikes in Yemen, as more and more Yemenis find themselves displaced by the bombings. More women and children have been rescued from Boko Haram in Nigeria as have some thousands been picked up in the Mediterranean, as they attempted crossing from Africa to Italy. Ethiopian Jews in Israel rioted over the weekend, hurling bottles and rocks at police, as they protested against racism toward them. Israeli police have said the protestors crossed the line.

In Garland, Texas, near Dallas, police shot down two gunmen when they leapt out of their vehicle and began shooting at a security guard at an exhibit of drawings of Mohammed. Muslims believe that you cannot depict The Prophet in a drawing. It was hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group noted for its anti-Islamic stands.

In Vegas, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. won “The Fight of The Century” against Manny Pacquiao and pocketed a reported $180,000,000, though the crowd at the end of the fight booed him. They apparently had feelings about his record of domestic violence.

In Boston, Russian relatives of Tsarnaev are going to testify in the penalty phase of his sentencing. His defense team ceded his guilt and is trying to win him life in prison rather than death.

A light haze now floats about the Hudson River, adding a moment of magic to the day. Not long ago we slipped past West Point, that formidable redoubt, passing by marinas prepping for the summer season, the river calm, still and probably very cold.

The day won’t be chill. It is predicted to hit in the 80’s today, the warmest weather yet of the year. I look forward to a good day.

Letter From New York 04 30 15 A day without rain and with hope…

April 30, 2015

It is, unbelievably, the last day of April. It feels as if the month has skidded by, careening away from me. I started it in India and then returned and blinked and we’re at the end of the month!

Today, according to yesterday’s weather forecast, was to be cloudy and rainy. It actually is fairly sunny and warm, not as warm as yesterday but enough that a sweater and a light jacket are enough.

It’s the kind of day I rejoice in.

It is also good today in that Baltimore seems quiet, even as reports begin to come out that Freddie Gray’s neck snapped while in the police van in which he had been placed after he was put in custody. The city is still under curfew; a friend from Baltimore left New York early today to make it back home before the curfew fell.

Hopefully, the news of the day will not ignite another night of riots.

Joining Hillary Clinton in the run for the Democratic Presidential nomination is Bernie Sanders. While a declared Independent, he caucuses with the Democrats. He is, according to reports, a plain speaking man with socialist tendencies and, as one admirer put it, “not afraid to speak truth to power.”

He could peel away some support from Hillary. It will make Iowa interesting, for sure.

In ravaged Nepal, two survivors were pulled from the rubble today, an improbable five days after the quake, one a teenage boy and the other a woman in her twenties.

Frustration continues to grow over the slow speed of aid arriving. Some villages have yet to receive anything from the center. The UN is asking for $415,000,000 to help Nepal through the next three months. Tension continues to grow between the citizens of Nepal and the government.

Cholera and dysentery are real possibilities as the supply of drinking water diminishes.

To the west of Nepal is Iran and the Straits of Hormuz, a strategic shipping zone for tankers and cargo ships. The US Navy announced today that it would escort all American flagged vessels through the Strait after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commandeered the Maersk Tigris, which sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

Nestled between Iran and India is Pakistan, where ten men were sentenced to life in prison today for their attack on Malala Yousafzai three years ago. She was shot in the head for her academic activism on behalf of Pakistani girls. Malala, now 17, was sent to Britain for medical treatment, including several surgeries. She was named a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Kim Jong-un, who was in the news just yesterday for perhaps killing as many as 15 top officials since the beginning of the year, today cancelled his first trip abroad, which was to see Vladimir Putin. It was cancelled, say the Russians, for “internal reasons in North Korea.” This, along with the executions, has led to speculation that the pudgy little dictator’s hold on power is none too strong.

In other news, some NATO officers are concerned that the lull in Ukrainian fighting is giving time for Russia to help prepare another offensive. It appears they have brought in more troops and added to the anti-aircraft weaponry on the ground. On the other side of the equation are reports that Putin is open to an international peacekeeping mission in Eastern Ukraine.

As I mentioned yesterday, today is the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. There was a ceremony there to celebrate the end of “the American War.” Once enemies, the two countries are becoming closer. 76% of Vietnamese think well of the U.S. Only 16% think well of China.

Today I read a series of articles in the NY Times and from the BBC, written by members of the Vietnamese Diaspora on how their lives have been affected since the end of the war. For some of them, the war is not really over. It continues in their minds and hearts and souls, many having lost relatives who stayed behind, or wondering about mothers who surrendered their babies to strangers to give them a chance in that place called America.

It was heartbreaking to read sometimes.

Louie Andre, a Vietnam vet returning for the first time to that country, said, “if you want to have hope about the future, you have to stop wishing for a different past. The past is what it is.” [Chicago Tribune]

He said he was met with handshakes and hugs. That gives me hope.

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 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.