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Mount Everest straddles the border of Nepal and Tibet. This is a view of the Nepalese side. (AP)

After Tragedy, Nepalese Sherpas May Refuse To Climb Everest

Apr 21, 2014

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Last Friday's tragedy on Mount Everest in which at least 13 Sherpa guides were killed in an avalanche has led others among that group of Nepalese who lead foreigners up the world's tallest mountain to issue some demands — and threaten to boycott the soon-to-start climbing season if their requests aren't granted.

Time reports that:

"Sunday's call to action comes as the Nepalese government mulls calling off the 2014 climbing season on the world's highest peak. According to the Himalayan Times, a total of 334 mountaineers have been issued permits to attempt to climb Everest this season. If the trips are canceled the Nepalese government is required to reimburse the permits, which cost approximately $10,000 each."

According to the BBC, "in a statement, the Sherpas demanded compensation [to families] higher than the $400 offered by the government, as well as higher insurance payments." They've given the government seven days to respond.

Time writes that "among the demands sent to Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the group called on the state to provide 10 million Nepalese rupee ($103,600) each to families of the deceased and critically injured, along with initiatives to increase the overall support infrastructure for local guides working in the Himalayas."

The mean annual per capita household income in Nepal was about $430 in 2010-2011, according to the Nepalese government's latest data.

Sherpas who lead or assist expeditions on Everest, according to the BBC, earn on average about $5,000 per year — more than 10 times the mean per capita. "Sherpas often make 20-25 round trips to carry kit and supplies to advanced camps, exposing them to greater risk," the BBC adds.

The risks are indeed considerable. All Things Considered spoke Friday with Grayson Schaffer, a senior editor and writer for Outside magazine who last year wrote a piece headlined "The Disposable Man: A Western History of Sherpas on Everest."

He reported then that:

"According to the , which keeps track of such things, 174 climbing Sherpas have died while working in the mountains in Nepal — 15 in the past decade on Everest alone. ... During that time, at least as many Sherpas were disabled by rockfall, frostbite, and altitude-related illnesses like stroke and edema. A Sherpa working above Base Camp on Everest is nearly 10 times more likely to die than a commercial fisherman — the profession the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates as the most dangerous nonmilitary job in the U.S. — and more than three and a half times as likely to perish than an infantryman during the first four years of the Iraq war. As a dice roll for someone paying to reach the summit, the dangers of climbing can perhaps be rationalized. But as a workplace safety statistic, 1.2 percent mortality is outrageous. There's no other service industry in the world that so frequently kills and maims its workers for the benefit of paying clients."

The Atlantic has looked at "who dies on Everest — and where, and why," and reports that:

"The Himalayan Database counts 608 'member' deaths and 224 'hired' deaths on mountains in Nepal, including Everest, between 1950 and 2009. Almost 50 percent of hired deaths were due to avalanches, while nearly 40 percent of member deaths were attributed to falls.

"These patterns have a lot to do with who does what, and where, on mountains like Everest. Sherpas spend much of their time establishing and supplying camps in avalanche-prone zones. Paying expedition members move through those zones as quickly and efficiently as possible to save their energy for summit bids, where the risk of avalanches is lower but the air is thin and falls are more likely to occur."

The Sherpas who died Friday — in what is the single deadliest day ever on Everest — were setting up ropes and making other preparations near a base camp around 20,000 feet above sea level. As of Monday, three other Sherpas were still missing and presumed dead.

Everest's peak is an estimated 29,035 feet above sea level.

Related. Discovery Channel Cancels Plan For "Everest Jump Live":

Extreme sport enthusiast Joby Ogwyn had planned to climb to the top and then jump from the summit in a wing-suit.

In a statement, Discovery said it was canceling the jump "in light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mount Everest and out of respect for the families of the fallen."

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Win Tin, pictured at his Yangon home in 2013, was a prominent journalist who became Myanmar's longest-serving political prisoner after challenging military rule. (AP)

Win Tin, Myanmar's Longest-Serving Political Prisoner, Dies

by Krishnadev Calamur
Apr 21, 2014

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Win Tin, a former newspaper editor who became Myanmar's longest-serving political prisoner for his pro-democracy activism, has died. News reports gave his age as 84 or 85.

The Associated Press reports that he'd been hospitalized since March 12 in Yangon with respiratory problems. The cause of death was organ failure.

Win Tin founded the National League for Democracy in 1988 along with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. They were both arrested the following year. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest. Win Tin was sent to prison. His sentence, which was extended twice, totaled 21 years, of which he served 19. Much of his time in prison was under harsh conditions. The Los Angeles Times reports:

"Win Tin was jailed in 1989 and harshly treated — tortured, denied medical treatment and kept in solitary confinement. He would later recount in a memoir how his jailers refused him pen and paper, so he ground up bits of brick into a paste that he used to write poetry on the walls of his cell."

A spokesman for the NLD called him a "great pillar of strength."

Win Tin was freed in 2008, along with hundreds of other prisoners, as part of a general amnesty by Myanmar's ruling junta. Still, he continued to wear his blue prison shirt as a mark of solidarity with other political prisoners in the country. He also continued working with the NLD until Myanmar transitioned to an elected government in 2011 (though as the AP notes, the government is still dominated by the army).

Win Tin was a close ally of Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but was critical of her in recent years for what he saw as he as her conciliatory relationship with Myanmar's military leaders. As Reuters reports, "He publicly disagreed over her decision to run in April 2012 by-elections that took the NLD into parliament, arguing that the party's participation lent authority to a government packed with former generals." Still, he praised Suu Kyi's commitment to democracy.

He told Reuters in 2010 that he "was cut out to be a journalist rather than a politician." The news agency said a funeral is to be held Wednesday.

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The Pixies new album, Indie Cindy, comes out April 29. (Courtesy of the artist)

First Listen: Pixies, 'Indie Cindy'

Apr 21, 2014

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Last year, My Bloody Valentine released its first album since 1991, and the result sounded as if not a minute had passed in the intervening 22 years. Every bleary, bended note of m b v sounded immaculately crafted, as if Kevin Shields and company had been toiling away in pursuit of perfection since the release of Loveless and merely lost track of time.

Now, it's Pixies' turn to follow such an impossibly long delay — the band's last album, Trompe Le Monde, also came out in '91 — but the rollouts of Indie Cindy and m b v perfectly mirror the many differences between the groups themselves. My Bloody Valentine maintained complete control over its own resurrection: The existence of m b v was kept a closely guarded secret, unspoiled until the band announced with a few days' notice that fans could buy it online. Everything about its unveiling was as precise as the music itself.

Indie Cindy, on the other hand, is the product of blurts and bite-size doses and false starts: the release of a single that no one saw coming, the early departure of Kim Deal that everyone saw coming, the steady trickle of songs and EPs that would eventually congeal into an album fans started receiving piece by piece back in June 2013. Taken in its entirety, in this order, Indie Cindy functions as a surprisingly coherent album, with disarming beauty nestled against dissonant snarls. Songs like "Bagboy," the caustic track fans first heard when Pixies' rebirth was announced last summer, were not delayed for years because they took so long to refine. But Indie Cindy still captures the band's alchemic mixture of abrasion, muscle and grace, even when the edges are left ragged or sanded down more than usual.

None of the three bassists most prominently employed by the band in the past year — Kim Deal, Kim Shattuck and Paz Lenchantin — perform on Indie Cindy, leaving singer Frank Black, guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering and longtime producer Gil Norton to work with bassist Simon "Dingo" Archer. Deal's absence, in particular, has already helped make Indie Cindy polarizing to Pixies fans. (See also: that title.) But as it's assembled here, the album is a worthwhile, frequently terrific document of a band forever in transition, even in middle age. It's music born out of chaos, same as it ever was.

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Boylston Street's 26-mile marker will be a welcome sight to the thousands of runners who are in today's Boston Marathon. Today marks the 118th running of the race. (Getty Images)

Live Blog: The 118th Running Of The Boston Marathon

by Eyder Peralta
Apr 21, 2014

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There is no doubt the bombings of last year are casting a long shadow on the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

It is an inevitable backdrop: The signs on the buildings that line the course near the finish are usually covered in witty, encouraging posters. This year, they encourage a greater kind of perseverance.

"Boston Strong," they exhort.

At the finish line on Boyslton Street, a small makeshift memorial has been erected: Four crosses with the names of the four people who died because of last year's attack.

But at the same time, there is also a feeling of celebration in the city. This is New England's biggest sporting event, after all, and the world's oldest and most prestigious 26.2-mile road race.

There's music and laughter, and mother nature — with its daffodils and tulips and glorious yellow willows — seems willing to join in.

As historian Tom Derderian told us, after the bombings, the Boston Marathon has become about runners and spectators "putting themselves at risk in defiance" of terrorism.

Throughout the day, we'll be fanned across the Boston area, bringing you vignettes from key points on the course: Hopkinton, Wellesley, Heartbreak Hill and the finish line. We'll update this post as the action unfolds, so make sure to refresh the page.

Mile 0: Hopkinton

The morning started with a moment of silence.

Most of the 36,000 athletes who will run the Boston Marathon this year, gathered at the field of a high school in Hopkinton, Mass. They put out blankets and sat in the sun to warm themselves. In their countenances, you could see a mix of nerves and excitement that translated into the hum of a village.

But when the MC over the speakers, began to recite the names of the four people who died because of the attacks on Boston last year, everything settled.

"Martin W. Richard, Krystle M. Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Officer Sean A. Collier," the MC said.

By the time he finished, the shuffling had stopped and all you could hear was the low buzz of helicopters flying high above.

Much like last year, the day started off perfect for a marathon. Chilly with high, thin clouds shielding some of the sun.

But unlike last year, security is intense. Uniformed officers and national guardsmen were stationed on every street. Runners were screened before they boarded buses. Every bag was checked and state police officers boarded buses to take a second look.

Like last year, however, the small community poured out onto the streets.

Bob and Liz Burke moved to Hopkinton just after they got married more than 20 years ago. Their kids are now in high school and they've come to see the beginning of the world's older marathon pretty much every year.

They were on a hill, overlooking the starting line. They could see the elite runners — sinewy and wearing single digits on their race bibs — trotting up and down the race course to warm up.

This year, said Bob, it's a little different.

"There's a little bit of everything going on," he said. There's sadness and joy and celebration.

"I think people very much want to reclaim that sense of normalcy, yet at the same time [the bombing] is the elephant in the room," he said.

Mile 13: Wellesley

We'll update at around 11 a.m. ET.

This is probably the loudest part of the marathon course, because for years, the women of Wellesley College have lined up along the road to scream encouragement to the runners.

It's been described as "a tunnel of sound" at the race's midway point.

The Elites

We'll update around Noon ET.

The United States has its best chance at a winner in many years, yet that chance is still a slim one. No American has finished first in the men's division since Gregory Meyer won in 1983. The last American woman to win was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985.

This year, Ryan Hall and Desiree Davila Linden are both coming off injuries. Linden came in second in 2011 when she set the American course record with a time of 2:22:38.

Hall holds the American men's course record at Boston with a time of 2:04:58. Meb Keflezighi, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist, is also competing.

Last year's men's winner, Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, is still ranked No. 1 by Track & Field News.

Mile 20: Heartbreak Hill

We'll update at around 2 p.m. ET.

This is the cruel part of the Boston Marathon. It's the last of a series of hills in Newton, Mass., that comes a little after mile 20, when runners have depleted their easily accessible fuel and their bodies have to turn to burning fat.

This stretch of road got its name from a Boston Globe reporter covering the 1936 race in which the defending champion — Johnny A. Kelley — lost his race on the hill.

Mile 26.2: The Finish

We'll update at around 4 p.m. ET.

After Heartbreak Hill, this is no doubt the most iconic part of the marathon. The runners descend upon the city flanked by big high-rises. They arrive at Boylston Street, where they're greeted by throngs of spectators and the majestic bells of the Old South Church.

For other tips on following today's race, see our brief guide.

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Teyonah Parris as Dawn Chambers, whose future changed quite a bit on Sunday night's Mad Men. (AMC)

Shirley, This Is The Dawn Of A New 'Mad Men'

Apr 21, 2014

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[This post discusses the plot of Sunday night's episode.]

Once Mad Men moved into the early-middle part of the 1960s, people began to ask an increasingly urgent question: Where was the civil rights movement? Where were the black people? Was Sterling Cooper (Draper Pryce) (And Partners) really so sheltered that race barely touched its tiny world?

Mad Men's very first scene, in fact, had found Don Draper attempting a conversation with an African-American server at a bar — whom Don was pumping for information about cigarette purchasing — only to be interrupted by a white manager eager to apologize for the server's inappropriate chattiness. Race has been there, at the very edges, for a long time.

And sometimes, it's gotten more attention, as it did when Don's agency interviewed black women in the wake of a civil rights protest and wound up hiring Dawn, who became Don's secretary. But for the most part, race has reared its head primarily to demonstrate the clumsiness and blithe racism of almost every white character's approach to it.

Sunday night, however, both Dawn and Shirley — a recently added black secretary who, unlike Dawn, rocks very short dresses and natural hair — got their very own conversation, just the two of them, that subtly realigned the show's consideration of race from one that was primarily about the experiences of white people to one that was at least curious about, if not yet diving deeply into, the experiences of black people, and specifically black women.

Dawn's story began with a bang as we learned that Don, despite being on an involuntary leave of absence about which he's told very few people, is still meeting up with Dawn to get updates about what's going on in the office — not to mention having her take his calls and keep Megan from finding out he's not working.

We saw a scruffy, robe-wearing, boozing Don put on his full Don Draper drag, from hair to tie to shoes, just to briefly greet Dawn at the door. She knows he's not working, so he's not literally trying to fool her, but it was fascinating to see Don trying so hard to maintain the illusion of his status to an audience consisting solely of his black secretary, whom he appears to trust a great deal, meaning it probably really was for her benefit, and not to avoid gossip. That gussying-up process demonstrated a strange, twisted respect for her — and concern over what she thinks — to which it would probably be hard for him to admit.

When Sally made a surprise visit to the office to visit her father and had to be dealt with by Lou Avery, Avery took it out on Dawn, demanding that she be reassigned. And as he demanded that Joan reassign Dawn, he said — right in front of her — that he knows Dawn can't be fired. Dawn knew what he meant, and quite reasonably, she took offense to the implication that she gets special treatment, particularly special positive treatment.

Meanwhile, Peggy, who continues to humiliate herself over Ted and flounder in Don's absence, mistook the roses Shirley had received from her fiance for ones meant for Peggy herself. Shirley, not wanting to make waves and counseled by Dawn to drop it, let her boss steal her Valentine's Day flowers. Was Peggy grateful? Certainly not. When Peggy found out the mistake she'd made, she took out her embarrassment on Shirley and — you guessed it — went to Joan and demanded a different secretary. So after beginning the day with bosses who probably didn't deserve them, Dawn and Shirley both found themselves pushed out of their gigs for reasons primarily related to their bosses' huge egos.

Joan responded by moving Dawn to reception, but right on cue, Bert Cooper made it clear to her that he was not ready for "colored people" to "advance" as far as the face of the agency. So now Joan had both Dawn and Shirley to reassign, and she had had it. She was saved when Jim Cutler, a character who's remained a bit obtuse thus far, suggested that she, Joan, needed to drop her dual responsibilities as a partner/account "man" and head of personnel and move up — move on up? — to a higher floor. He told her to find someone to take over personnel juggling, and to make it someone who didn't mind not being liked.

Having just seen Dawn barely restrain herself from well and truly giving it to Lou Avery, Joan gave Dawn her old job and gave Lou — Lou, of the obnoxious "can't be fired" remark — Shirley.

On the one hand, this was a story of the good people getting the upper hand over the bad ones, in that Dawn grinned to herself as she sat in Joan's office, promoted in part as a result of her obviously thick skin and even temper. Shirley got away from the rudeness that Peggy directed at her and got a new assignment — and got to keep her flowers.

On the other, the show went to some pains to show a conversation between Dawn and Shirley early in the episode that suggested they are friends, but they are also allies of a sort whether they want to be or not, as they are treated as interchangeable at work. (Wryly, Dawn calls Shirley "Dawn," and Shirley calls Dawn "Shirley.") They support each other, they give each other advice, they gripe to each other — they are office pals in the way everyone needs office pals.

Dawn is Shirley's friend, but it took Joan to fix her problem. Shirley is Dawn's friend, but ... same thing. And while Lou didn't get away with his play to get out of having a black secretary, this puts Shirley in the position of working for a boss who thinks she, too, can't be fired. How is she going to fare working for a man to whom she was assigned as a sort of sweet revenge?

These women, as smart as they are, don't have the pull to do anything about Lou's hostility or Bert's concern for appearances. And, in fact, neither does Joan. Dawn still isn't sitting at reception. She got the job Joan was sick of doing, while Joan moves up. Peggy got to grievously mistreat Shirley, and won't need to make it right the way she would need to if she'd mistreated someone with more status in the office.

What they're telling here is in part a story of the complicated way race and gender are interacting for these women. Joan and Peggy would undoubtedly never dream of saying that they're relieved to have somebody in the office with less status than they have in the eyes of somebody like Bert Cooper, but ... they probably are. Joan earned her partnership in part by suffering the gruesome effects of the other partners' lack of respect for her. She knows what it's like to be in a workplace where people treat you as less-than. She's known for years. She's smarter than most of the men who have outranked her; she was key to the creation of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in the first place. Now, even inside the office with the people she works with directly, she gets to be privileged.

Think about Peggy early in the show's history. Peggy didn't outrank anybody. Peggy was on the bottom of the totem pole. But now, as she finds herself rising through the ranks, does she remember what it was like to have someone's rage vented on you? She doesn't seem to. Does she take her rage out on the people who are causing it, particularly Lou? She does not. She takes it out on her secretary, much the way Don used to take his rages out on her, much the way he treated her as automatically less deserving of respect than he was, as if he was doing her a favor every time he didn't yell at her.

(Perhaps that was what the money was for.)

While there's a long way to go yet in fleshing out these characters and these stories, Dawn's promotion and the complexities of Joan and Peggy's interactions with Dawn and Shirley were a big step forward for Mad Men beginning to take the kind of interest in the way flawed people dealt with race — and what that meant for the people they dealt with poorly — that it has with gender from the start.

Don is not in charge right now; Don is not running the show. Don reveals himself exclusively to the two women he should most easily outrank: his secretary and his daughter. Right now, women are driving the story, all tied to each other not just through story but through imagery — over and over, we saw women carrying flowers.

And where's Don? Well, Don is just trying to get his bearings. It's a welcome change.

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