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The sun shines on the peak of Mount Everest in this October 2011 photo. On Friday, an avalanche swept away 16 Sherpas. (AP)

Government Will Try To Convince Sherpas To Stay On Everest

Apr 23, 2014

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The news from high up the world's tallest mountain continues to be confusing, with some reports implying that a boycott by Sherpas means there will be no climbs to the summit this year and others indicating that there will still be attempts to reach the top.

Based on what we can glean from various news accounts, it appears that some expeditions have indeed canceled their climbs. But it also appears that at least some of the estimated 400 Sherpas on the mountain may be willing to continue on — meaning there will be summit attempts in coming weeks.

Whether there will or won't be any expeditions to the summit this year became an issue Friday when an avalanche buried 16 Sherpas who were working to set up ropes and make other preparations for the expeditions that employ them. Thirteen bodies were recovered. The other three Sherpas are missing and presumed dead.

It was the deadliest day ever recorded on Everest.

Other Sherpas began discussing a boycott, both out of respect for those who were killed and to press for better insurance, larger payments to the families of those who were killed and other demands. The Nepalese government agreed to some of the requests, but many of the Sherpas are said to be unhappy with the response.

Here's some of what's being reported about the likelihood of expeditions this year:

— "Nepal's government decided on Wednesday to send a delegation of officials to the base camp of Mount Everest to cool anger among Sherpas over its response to last week's deadly ice avalanche in which at least 13 guides were killed," and another three Sherpas remain missing and presumed dead. (Reuters)

— "Sherpa guides packed up their tents and left Mount Everest's base camp Wednesday in an unprecedented walkout to honor 16 of their colleagues who were killed last week in the deadliest avalanche ever recorded on the mountain, climbers said. ... American climber Ed Marzec, 67, said by phone from the base camp that Sherpas were loading their equipment onto a helicopter that had landed at the camp. ... But he said some smaller companies were hoping to go ahead with their climbs, and it was not clear whether all of the approximately 400 Sherpas on the mountain would join the boycott." (The Associated Press)

— "The [Nepalese] government today decided to send a high-level team, led by a senior official, to the Everest base camp as soon as possible to convince the protesting Sherpas to resume the suspended climbing activities. Notwithstanding the government announcement to meet their demands regarding welfare and relief in the wake of fatal avalanche in the Mount Everest, the mountaineering support staff and guides are still divided over whether to resume the halted expeditions." (The Himalayan Times)

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As the sun set Wednesday in Jindo, South Korea, a woman kept watch on the waters where the Sewol ferry sank. It's feared the death toll will reach 300. (AFP/Getty Images)

Death Toll Rises, Hopes Fade At Site Of Korean Ferry Disaster

Apr 23, 2014

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The already slim chance that anyone might still be alive aboard the South Korean ferry that sunk a week ago was all but extinguished Wednesday with the news that divers have found no air pockets in key areas of the ship.

That word came as the number of bodies recovered from the Sewol edged above 150. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday in South Korea, "152 people had been confirmed dead while 150 others remained missing," Yonhap News reports. The water where the ship went down just off the southern coast of South Korea is said to be about 160 feet deep.

More than 320 of the estimated 476 people who were on board when the ferry capsized and sank were students from a high school in Ansan, near Seoul, who were traveling to a resort island. Most of the 300 or so people who likely died were teenagers. Officials have said that 174 people were rescued before the ferry flipped over.

According to CNN:

"Divers have found no air pockets on the third and fourth floors of the sunken ferry Sewol, South Korean authorities said Wednesday. ... Searchers had been focusing on the third and fourth levels of the five-floor vessel, as they believed many of those still missing were likely to be there. Most passenger bedrooms are on the fourth level of the now upended ship."

Yonhap News adds that "divers successfully entered a third-deck cafeteria, where most of the students are believed to have been located at the time of the accident .... but did not find anyone, officials said."

In related news, "authorities have arrested four more crew members from the ferry" the BBC writes. "Twenty-two of the 29 members of the ferry's crew survived and prosecutors say the 11 arrested were on the bridge when the ship listed and sank within two hours of distress signals being sent." It's been reported that the captain initially told passengers to remain in their cabins or below decks, and didn't issue an order to evacuate for at least 30 minutes.

Also, police "raided offices of the operator of [the] sunken ferry, its affiliates and a related organization Wednesday as part of a widening probe into the cause of the disaster," Yonhap News says. "Investigators of the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office raided Cheonghaejin Marine Co, the Sewol's operator based in the coastal city, just west of Seoul, as well as some 20 offices of its affiliates and a religious group in Seoul believed to be related to the owner family."

"The focus of the probe will be to see if the owner's family has accumulated huge wealth by embezzling corporate funds while failing to fulfill its duty of properly managing the companies," a prosecutor told Yonhap. "Tracing their hidden assets is also needed to pay damages to the victims and their families."

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A view of Tasmania (Laura B. Weiss)

In Tasmania, A Food Bounty As Spectacular As The Scenery

by Laura B. Weiss
Apr 23, 2014

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A water view in Tasmania Sheep in Tasmania Lamb Chops Barley Salad Date And Nut Pudding

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Laura B. Weiss

Have you seen the devil?

When you've been to Tasmania — or Tassie, as the Aussies call it — that's what everyone wants to know.

Sure, the Tasmanian devil, a squat, foul-smelling animal with a ferocious screech, has helped put the 26,000-square-mile island (roughly the size of West Virginia ) on the map.

But there's a lot more to Tassie than its infamous marsupial. And a lot of it is ace tucker — that's Aussie slang for good food.

I discovered this during a three-day visit to the ruggedly beautiful island state 150 miles south of the Australian mainland. Tasmania is spectacularly scenic, with miles of unspoiled coastline, lush rain forests and craggy mountain ranges. But the island's culinary scene is spectacular, too — with a growing number of artisanal farmers and producers of berries, walnuts, wine and olives, as well as salmon, oysters and lamb, not to mention the unique and highly prized honey from the western forests' Leatherwood trees.

To sample Tasmania's varied food offerings, my husband and I drove to Bruny Island — actually two islands connected by an isthmus — an hour south of the state capital, Hobart.

Our first stop was Miellerie Honey. There, owner Yves Ginat has set up shop in a former apple shed where he produces jars of unprocessed, cold-pressed organic honey, including blue gum and tea tree varieties — and the prized Leatherwood. Ginat said he maintains 200 hives around Tasmania, and the honey is harvested during a 100-day period stretching from fall to spring (April through November in Australia). Ginat used a stick to scrape some Leatherwood honey off a honeycomb, offering me a bite. It tasted of flowers and the woods, and it's the most delicious honey I've ever eaten.

Next, we drove for about a half-hour through lush, rolling pastureland — catching glimpses of the craggy coastline despite the cold rain — to Murrayfield Station, a 10,000-acre sheep farming operation. Europeans came to Murrayfield in 1824, but aboriginal people called it home long before then. Today the farm is a training ground for aboriginal youth who help raise the roughly 6,500 sheep, largely for their merino wool but also for meat. Much of the lamb is exported to the U.S, according to farm manager Bruce Michael.

Michael led us into a shed where farm hands were taking sheep from their paddocks to shear their wool. The sound of hooves striking the floor and the whine of electric shears rang out as mounds of fluffy white wool fell from the animals.

Our final stop was Bruny Island Food, a 25-acre pig farm operated by former chef Ross O'Meara. O' Meara processes his Berkshire and Wessex saddleback pigs himself in the farm's kitchen and smokehouse. From the porkers, he produces bacon, sausage and terrines to sell at Hobart's Sunday farmers market.

Pointing up a hillside, he spotted one of his pigs. "You can see one of the girls straight up there," he said. "I think that's Sam." Then we trudged up the muddy hills, where we were introduced to Sam and two of her swine companions, Sophie and Claire.

That night, back in Hobart, we dined at the Henry Jones Art Hotel on Tasmanian farm-raised salmon, with sticky date and macadamia nut pudding for dessert.

We left Tasmania the next day, but the island's astounding beauty and its bounty of local foods had us hooked. We plan to return someday. Until then, we can revisit the meals that kindle our memories of Australia's southernmost state.


Lamb Chops With Herbs, Wine And Garlic

When I returned home from Tasmania, I couldn't wait to make a lamb dish. I've made this one for years. The marinade renders the lamb tender and juicy, and the herbs and garlic tame the lamb's gamey flavor. I like to serve these with boiled new potatoes and green beans.

Makes 4 servings

4 lamb chops

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for cooking

1/2 cup red wine

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried

Place the lamb chops in a medium-sized glass baking dish. Season them with the salt and pepper. Mix together the olive oil, wine, lemon juice, garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the lamb chops. Cover the dish and place the chops in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Turn the chops every 15 minutes so the marinade soaks evenly into the meat.

Remove the chops from the marinade, pat them dry with a paper towel, and place them in a frying pan. Cook the chops in about a tablespoon of olive oil until they're nicely browned on the outside and pink on the inside (3 minutes per side for rare; 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium).


Barley Salad With Honey Vinaigrette

Though I used clover and not Leatherwood honey in this recipe, adapted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton (Storey Publishing, 2013), it still reminded me of my visit to Miellerie Honey on Bruny Island.

Makes 4 servings

Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

Barley Salad

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

1 cup barley

1 navel orange, peeled, pith removed, halved and cut into sections

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup celery diced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

For the salad, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a pot. Add the barley. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until it's al dente. Remove the barley to a medium-sized bowl and set aside to cool.

Add the sliced orange, onion and celery to the barley. Add the almonds and cranberries. Add the red pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it to thoroughly coat. (The full amount of dressing will make a wet salad; if you like it drier, add less.) Serve at room temperature.


Sticky Date And Nut Pudding

It's not surprising that date nut pudding is widely served throughout Australia, once a British colony. It's a baked pudding, and baked puddings boast a long British pedigree. The Brits call a similar dish sticky toffee pudding. This is a rich and decadent dessert, made more so by the caramel sauce. But don't hold back. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream for a truly decadent finish to any meal. This is adapted from a recipe from executive chef André Kropp of Henry's Restaurant at the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart, Tasmania, and from Taste.com.au. The recipe for the caramel sauce is adapted from Taste.com.au.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 1/2 cups pitted dried dates, chopped

1 cup water

1 teaspoon baking soda

7 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup self-raising flour

3/4 cup walnuts or macadamia nuts, chopped

Caramel sauce

1 cup cream

4 tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-by-9-inch square baking pan.

Chop the dates into small pieces. Heat the water in the microwave until very hot, about 4 minutes. Remove the water from the microwave and stir in the baking soda. Pour the water and baking soda mixture over the dates to soften them, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how hard the dates are. Drain the dates and set them aside.

Meanwhile, cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium for 4 minutes or until it's fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until each egg is thoroughly blended. Add the dates to the butter-sugar mixture and stir until well combined. Fold the flour and nuts into the butter-sugar mixture and mix the batter again. The batter will be quite loose and wet.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake the pudding for 20 minutes. It's done when a toothpick or sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce.

Heat all the ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes. Watch the sauce carefully so it doesn't boil. When it's a nice caramel color, remove it from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.

While the pudding is still warm, poke some holes into the surface with the tip of a skewer and pour half the caramel sauce over the pudding. Allow the sauce to soak in for a few minutes. Top individual servings of the pudding with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, and serve additional caramel sauce on the side.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

About The Author

Laura B. Weiss' work has appeared in The New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and on the Food Network website. She's a contributor to Interior Design's blog and was an editor for the Zagat Long Island Restaurant Guide 2009-2011. Laura is the author of Ice Cream: A Global History. Follow Laura on Twitter, @foodandthings.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
The Simpsons enters the world of Lego in the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me." (Fox)

What Do 'The Simpsons' Look Like In Lego?

Apr 23, 2014

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Have you heard that LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration and the MiniFigure are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group. All Rights Reserved? Sheep in Tasmania Lamb Chops Barley Salad Date And Nut Pudding

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Fox has started to release images of the Simpsons from the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me," which is — get this — the 550th episode. That means you could watch a different episode of The Simpsons every day for roughly a year and a half, weekends and weekdays, before you ran out of new ones.

The images look a lot like familiar Lego images from the many games, movies, TV projects, and everything else that's been rendered in little plastic bricks, up to and including the very successful Lego Movie from earlier this year. So it's not surprising, exactly, seeing what Homer and Marge and the kids look like. (Though they do look different from the figures that come with the actual Simpsons Lego House, which is also for sale. Lego seems to have tried to make Homer look like Homer on television, while The Simpsons seems to have made Homer look more like a Lego figure.

But it's funny to look at the captions that come with the images, because you'd better believe that there have been careful negotiations between all the parties involved here. Here's the language: "LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration and the MiniFigure are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group." So whatever you're thinking, don't even think about it.

It's sad to think Bart probably won't get to say "brick and knob configuration."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

About The Author

Laura B. Weiss' work has appeared in The New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and on the Food Network website. She's a contributor to Interior Design's blog and was an editor for the Zagat Long Island Restaurant Guide 2009-2011. Laura is the author of Ice Cream: A Global History. Follow Laura on Twitter, @foodandthings.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
The Simpsons enters the world of Lego in the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me." (Fox)

Top Stories: Missing Plane Latest; Why The Jet Stowaway Ran Away

Apr 23, 2014

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Have you heard that LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration and the MiniFigure are trademarks and/or copyrights of the LEGO Group. All Rights Reserved? Sheep in Tasmania Lamb Chops Barley Salad Date And Nut Pudding

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Good morning, here are our early stories:

— 'Object Of Interest' Found In Search For Malaysian Jet.

— Stowaway Teen May Have Been Trying To Reunite With His Mom.

And here are more early headlines:

Russia Warns Of Retaliation If Its Interests Attacked In Ukraine. (BBC)

Obama Arrives In Tokyo At Start Of Asia Trip. (AP)

Jump In Whooping Cough Cases In Southern California. (Los Angeles Times)

Report: Human Rights Group Claims Qatar Abusing Migrant Workers. (Amnesty International)

Report: U.S. Army General Disciplined For Bungling Sex Assault Cases. (Washington Post)

Senate Panel Talks Rising Sea Levels In Miami Beach Hearing. (Miami Herald)

It's Wrigley Field's 100th Birthday! (MLB.com)

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

About The Author

Laura B. Weiss' work has appeared in The New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and on the Food Network website. She's a contributor to Interior Design's blog and was an editor for the Zagat Long Island Restaurant Guide 2009-2011. Laura is the author of Ice Cream: A Global History. Follow Laura on Twitter, @foodandthings.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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