This Witch Wrote My Book!

August 11th was a huge day in my life. I was at Think Coffee on Fourth Avenue. I had just finished, at age 27, my very first novel. I told the barista, who gave me a high five. This was nice of him, given that this probably happens at said coffee shop way more often than we'd like to think.

I had been working on it for two-and-a-half years, showing it to no one, periodically reading it aloud to only two people—my partner and my ex. The book was a story about the Baba Yaga, the witch from Ukrainian folklore. I first encountered her as a child in Neil [...]


Central Park West Sinkhole!

No, an actual one! Eeeeeeek! (via Sam Sifton's LEDE-ALL Twitter)


Videos from Japan; Hawaii Won't Have a "Major Damaging Event"

Livestream news from Hawaii seem to show non-devastating waves and pullbacks as the tsunami spreads out from its source in Japan, but at "fairly significant numbers," according to the islands' tsunami guy. Japan is still reporting a shockingly low death toll from such a significant event; but that toll is expected to rise. In Hawaii, people seem nervous but assured: "I've cut my feet on this reef a few times but nothing like this," said the KHNL newscaster a few minutes ago, looking at the exposed Diamondhead reef, which is now getting some water again. So far they've seen surge of about six feet; it's now expected [...]


The Only British Newspaper Reporter in Syria Killed

Just six days after Times reporter Anthony Shadid died in Syria, Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin was killed, along with photographer Remi Ochlik, when a building used as a media center in Homs was shelled. Also killed: a prominent citizen journalist. Here is Colvin's recent report from Syria, given after the most recent three weeks of the non-stop government bombing. According to the BBC, Colvin was actually the only British newspaper journalist in Homs. Here is her speech on war reporting from 2010. Similar to the bombing of the media, doctors and nurses are being targeted by the government. Now reporters are [...]


After Christian Relief Workers Dominated Haiti, A Baby Boom

Were you thinking about Haiti, while the east coast of the U.S. was under varying levels of attack from earthquakes and hurricanes? Well, 19 months after the quake, things are not great! For instance, there are nearly 600,000 people still leaving in tent camps, which are becoming permanent ways of living. “We have NGOs telling us, we are packing up and leaving at the end of this month,” said Emmanuelle Schneider, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who blames a lack of funding for the departures. “Of the $300 million consolidated appeal the U.N. system is requesting to cover humanitarian needs, only 52 percent [...]


"Never Take a Cab in a snowstorm"? Correct, They Blow Up

Mmm hmm.


The Oakland Police Department's War on Citizens

Oakland's police chief Anthony Batts resigned a couple weeks ago, because, when he wasn't busy applying for other jobs, he was busy trying to turn Oakland into a police state, and that mean old City Council wouldn't let him. His approach to policing was that crime would stop if you instituted a curfew for young people and if you could immediately arrest anyone found "loitering" anywhere in Oakland. Also, a decade on, he and his predecessors still couldn't enforce court-ordered changes to the police department arising from the sensational "Oakland Riders" trials, which also ended in zero convictions of police but a $10 million settlement to 119 different plaintiffs. [...]


Video From Japan: Volcano Erupts

Also happening in Japan: "Following Friday's megaquake and resulting tsunami which took the lives of thousands along the east coast, the Shinmoedake volcano in the Kirishima range in south-western Japan erupted yesterday, sending ash and rock over two miles into the air…. It is not yet known if the eruption 950 miles from the epicentre of Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake was triggered by the resulting seismic activity."


"Israel's Katrina"

Hezbollah and Jeffrey Goldberg ended up on similar pages regarding the giant forest fire in Israel, which killed 41 at last count as well as 5 million trees. "This fire revealed sheer helplessness on Israel's part," wrote a columnist in Palestine—and others came to this position with a little more glee. Meanwhile, stateside, the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg had this to say: "Israel's per capita GDP is nearly $30,000. Israel is a rich country. The fact that it doesn't possess adequate firefighting equipment is its own fault."