Two big disasters sucked all the air out of the news this past week. One was a catastrophic natural disaster, a 7.8 earthquake that rocked Nepal. The Prime Minister estimated that the death toll could easily reach 10,000 people.
Lots of survivors said they were angry over the government's slow response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country, with food, water and other essentials in desperately short supply.
"The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing," Prime Minister Koirala said in an interview with Reuters. "It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal." The death toll in Nepal alone rose to 5,057 last Tuesday, according to the country's Emergency Operation Centre, which said more than 10,000 people have been injured.
It appears that the full extent of the tragedy won't be known until rescue teams have reached "flattened" villages in remote regions. Meanwhile next door, in India, 61 people were killed and China's official Xinhua News Agency said 25 people had died in Tibet. Eighteen others were killed in avalanches on Mount Everest.
Health workers said they feared a major health crisis was unfolding among survivors of the quake who are living in the open or in overcrowded tents with no access to sanitation or clean water. Aid workers who had reached the region close to the epicenter described entire villages reduced to rubble. "In some villages, about 90% of the houses have collapsed," said Rebecca McAteer, an American physician.
A top official for Gorkha, one of the hardest hit areas, warned that people were not getting food and shelter. World Vision aid worker Matt Darvas agreed. "It does not seem aid is reaching here very quickly," he said.
If the total death toll does reach 10,000 it would be even higher than the 8,500 killed in a massive quake in 1934 Ð Nepal's worst disaster to now. Residents whose homes were flattened or badly damaged by the quake blamed poor organization by the Nepalese authorities, saying they had been left to fend for themselves for too long, even using their bare hands to search through the rubble for survivors.
Back in the good old USA, a flash mob composed of teenagers, gangbangers, and other stupid troublemakers rioted in parts of Baltimore Monday and Tuesday, smashing, looting, and burning large stores, small shops, and police cars. 20 police officers were hurt in the violence after bricks, stones, bottles and other debris struck them. Initially the mobs outnumbered the police and literally pushed them back as they threw the bricks.
Police were ordered to basically do nothing against the rioters, so all they could do was cover themselves with their shields as they retreated back.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, demonstrating an amazing lack of common sense, stood before the news cameras over the weekend and talked about giving "space" to people intent on destruction.
Almost proudly she proclaimed, "We also gave those who wish to destroy, space to do that as well."
That sure sounds like a gilded invitation to riot, and guess what? They did.
As of last Tuesday the mayor's office said there were 144 vehicle fires, 15 structure fires and about 200 arrests during the violence that first broke out on the city's west side, following Monday's funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man whose spine was severed while in police custody on April 12. He died a week later.
But the rioting had nothing to do with getting to the bottom of what happened to Gray. It had nothing to do with "justice."
It had nothing to do with "underclass anger." It had everything to do with bored stupid young people who have no adult supervision, no authorities to stop them, and who believed they had nothing to lose in taking to the streets, looting stores, setting cars on fire and attacking police officers.
You could see in the TV footage that these were not angry protesters, they were gleeful adolescences acting up. This was like an extension of Spring Break destruction but worse because it was, in their minds, condoned by the Baltimore mayor, police commissioner and other city leaders.
Even after the rioting, the president of the Baltimore City Council apologized for calling rioters "thugs" at a press conference a day earlier, calling those responsible for the violence "misdirected" youths.
Standing side-by-side with self-proclaimed gang members, Jack Young said, "We are all Baltimoreans." He's either an idiot, an enabler, or a gutless wonder. Maybe all three. One thing he shouldn't be is in front of a microphone giving comfort to lawbreakers.
Interestingly, in both the earthquake and the Baltimore riots, people blamed authorities for slow response when citizens were in danger. The big difference though, is that one was a natural disaster that couldn't be helped, the other was man-made that shouldn't have happened at all.