A truck travels along the Trans-Canada Highway at dusk in Banff National Park in 2017 in Alberta, Canada. Three climbers are presumed dead after an avalanche in the park.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Three of the world’s most elite climbers are missing and presumed dead by park officials after an avalanche in Alberta, Canada.
Jess Roskelley, a U.S. citizen, and David Lama and Hansjörg Auer, who are both Austrian, had been attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in Banff National Park. They were reported overdue on Wednesday, according to the park.
“Based on an assessment of the scene, all three members of the party are presumed to be deceased,” the park said.
A statement from Parks Canada said that responders “observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment.”
“Search and recovery efforts are not currently possible due to weather and dangerous avalanche conditions,” it said. The avalanche hazard is expected to continue continue, Parks Canada said, because of more strong winds and precipitation.
Washington native Roskelley, 36, was the youngest American to summit Mt. Everest. He accomplished the feat when he was 20 with his father John, who is also a well-known climber.
“It’s how he lived, really. He took life by the horns,” his father told the newspaper. “When you’re climbing mountains, danger is not too far away. It’s terrible for my wife and I. But it’s even worse for his wife.”
Austrian climber David Lama climbing the Kursaal building during the 2013 San Sebastian International Film Festival in San Sebastian, Spain.
Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
David Lama, the 28-year-old son of a Nepali mountain guide and an Austrian nurse, made waves extremely early in his career. According to the trio’s sponsor The North Face, “at age 12, David became the youngest climber in the history of the sport to complete an 8b+,” an extremely difficult rock climbing grade.
Lama made the first free ascent of the southeast ridge of Cerro Torre in Patagonia, which was documented in a film called Cerro Torre: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell.
Auer, 35, who grew up in the mountains of Austria, was known as “one of the world’s top solo climbers,” as Outside reported. In 2007, he famously free-soloed “The Fish,” a legendary route on the south face of Italy’s Marmolada.
“All three of them, they had in common this similar goal of going and doing remote climbs on big mountains in a very pure, alpine way,” Gripped magazine Editor-in-Chief Brandon Pullan told CBC. The difficult route that the group was on had only been climbed once, according to the broadcaster.
Parks Canada described the route the trio was attempting as a “remote and an exceptionally difficult objective, with mixed rock and ice routes requiring advanced alpine mountaineering skills.”
It has closed the Howse Peak area to all traffic and travel until further notice. The area generally sees “few travelers,” according to the park service, and was used by the First Nations “as a route through the mountains to bison.”
Debris from Hurricane Michael rests along a canal on Oct. 18, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Fla. NOAA upgraded the storm to a Category 5 after completing its analysis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scientists at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center have found that Hurricane Michael had an intensity of 160 mph when it made landfall at the Florida Panhandle last October. That means it was a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale — just one of four such U.S. storm on record.
Hurriane Michael had previously been classified as a Category 4, at 155 mph. The last hurricane of such intensity at landfall was Hurricane Andrew, which struck South Florida and Louisiana in 1992.
Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. It caused 16 deaths and $25 billion in damage in the U.S. Before arriving in Florida, the storm passed over western Cuba as a category 2 hurricane.
Hurricane Michael is the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall on the Panhandle, and it devastated communities there. In Mexico Beach, more than three-quarters of the homes were flattened by winds. Six months later, some businesses have reopened, but the area is far from recovered.
The other two category 5 hurricanes on record in the U.S. were the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.
NOAA’s analysis found that storm surge brought water 9 to 14 feet above normal level along parts of the Panhandle, and reached the highest levels at Mexico Beach. It brought storm surge flooding elsewhere in Florida, as well as along portions of the North Carolina and Virginia coasts.
Michael also produced at least 16 tornadoes, though they caused only minor damage.
NOAA’s report also notes the direct and indirect casualties of the storm. Among the 16 deaths directly attributed to the storm, five people drowned in Florida because of storm surge and two died from falling trees. Three people in North Carolina and one in Georgia also died from falling trees. Five people died in Virginia from freshwater flooding. Another 43 deaths in Florida were associated indirectly with Michael: falls during cleanup after the storm, medical issues made worse by it, and traffic accidents.
You can read NOAA’s whole report on Hurricane Michael here.
An animated Lil Dicky holds a skunk, voiced by Wiz Khalifa, in the star-studded video for “Earth.”
YouTube screenshot by NPR
YouTube screenshot by NPR
Lil Dicky unveiled the absolutely star-studded, possibly not-safe-for-work animated music video for his charity single “Earth” today — featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as a human and Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Halsey, Bad Bunny, PSY, Zac Brown, Miley Cyrus, Sia, Snoop Dogg and countless other celebrities as animals pitching in to save the earth.
Turns out, Lil Dicky is this generation’s Band Aid. “It really kind of started out as, ‘I love animals. I’d love to make a song where different artists play the role of different animals,’ ” he told Time, adding, “What started as a silly joke of an idea along the way became the most important thing I’ll ever do.”
Watching it feels like watching Madagascar as recounted by DJ Khaled’s Rolodex, or an absurdist rendering of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” rewritten in the language of meme rap and meta-commentary. It’s one of the more enjoyable offerings from the joke-rapper, and its intentions are good (proceeds from the single will go towards the environment-focused Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation). Still: How did this guy manage to land a music video that rivals this year’s Coachella lineup?
It was 2013 when a burgeoning ad man named David Burd adopted the Lil Dicky moniker. He first grew notoriety as a DIY joke rapper, inheriting the DNA of The Lonely Island and incorporating frat-rap into the mix. He made songs like “Ex-Boyfriend,” a lewd rap about the envy that comes with meeting your partner’s more alluring ex. In a (since-deleted) blog post from 2013, he penned his statement of purpose. “Unless you’re an extremely stupid person that began life as a poor, violent man, only to see your fortunes turn once you started rapping, you won’t be able to relate to 99 percent of today’s rap music.” He goes on to add: “So I decided that if I wanted to be absurd, I’d have to do it differently. I’d have to do it in ways that I could relate to. That’s my right.”
He transformed that theory into a handful of viral hits, spinning his shtick as a white rapper into bits that resonated with the masses. His breakthrough arrived with “$ave Dat Money,” a song from 2015 that preached fiscal responsibility, subverting the tropes of rap extravagance. It featured (at-the-time) buzzing rappers Rich Homie Quan and Fetty Wap, and went on to chart at No. 71. The following year he joined the likes of Anderson .Paak, 21 Savage and Lil Uzi Vert in the 2016 XXL Freshman Class, a hotly-anticipated roll-call of buzzed-about rappers.
Following that came his biggest hit to date, “Freaky Friday.” Produced by hitmakers DJ Mustard and Benny Blanco, its essential premise is simple: a Joe Schmo white guy swaps bodies with Chris Brown — a la the Lindsay Lohan film from 2003. Dicky (voiced by Brown) goes on to say the n-word recklessly. (This part resulted in a scandal involving the women’s lacrosse team from Virginia Tech.) Chris Brown gets to live life unhindered by his history. Both despite and because of its association with Brown, the song netted Lil Dicky his first Top 10 song. At this point, he’s become a legitimate star, signed by superstar handler Scooter Braun, who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, in 2016 (soon after his XXL feature).
So, when Lil Dicky announced on Wednesday that a collaboration titled “Earth” was impending, and that it would feature a bill stacked with stars, it stoked speculation as to what that could possibly result in. Now we know.
Checkered context and all, a jokester using his newfound network to make an anthem about climate change certainly isn’t the worst thing he could have done. And, for what it’s worth, there’s no Chris Brown this time around.
Clemantine Wamariya, who fled Rwanda as a girl, is now a U.S. citizen. She is a human rights advocate and a speaker.
Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Free The Children
Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Free The Children
Twenty-five years ago this month, more than 800,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsi, were slaughtered over the course of 100 days by members of the country’s Hutu majority.
Among those who lived through the terror is Clemantine Wamariya. Her memoir, The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War And What Comes After, recounts in wrenching detail her six-year trek in search of refuge from her country’s killing fields. Co-authored with Elizabeth Weil, the book was published to acclaim in 2018 and is now out in paperback.
The title comes from a favorite story that Wamariya heard from her childhood nanny about a girl who disappears leaving no trace except beads. In her prologue, she writes, “Often, still, my own life story feels fragmented, like beads unstrung.”
Wamariya was just six and her sister Claire, 14, when the fighting began in 1994. Their parents sent them to their grandmother’s house, located closer to the border with Burundi, with the hope that they’d be safer there.
After several days of sleepless nights filled with the noise of bombs exploding, there was an ominous knock on the door. Their grandmother told the sisters to run. Together, they traveled thousands of miles, often by night, usually by foot, sometimes by truck and once by boat on a route that took them to Burundi, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa before being granted asylum by the United States in 2000.
Wamariya went on to graduate from Yale. Now 31, she is a human rights advocate and speaker based in San Francisco. We spoke to her about her experiences and about the 25th commemoration of the Rwandan genocide. The conversation has been edited for clarity and for length.
Was it difficult to relive your story in your book?
I have spent 15 years learning how to best share our experiences and I had to sacrifice every part of my privacy to share my story.
You have said you don’t like the word genocide.
The word is clinical. It has been used to quantify the numbers of those killed. But it does not tell you about the [individual] people who were hurt or lost.
It is just the entry point for talking about the horrors and what actually happened [in Rwanda] and elsewhere. I am more interested in expanding on how it feels, the emotional, personal side of the horror, the before, during and after.
You also prefer not to be called a “refugee.” What vocabulary should we use?
I would prefer being called by my name or a person who sought refuge.
The word refugee leads to stereotypes or expectations that don’t allow us to see who someone is. During our travels, Claire and I learned to speak seven languages, but you could see the surprise in the faces of anyone who thinks that people seeking refuge [could not have such knowledge or] did not have a meaningful life before they fled.
We need to see beyond the projections that we cast onto each other. In America, we all have stories about how we [or an ancestor] sought refuge. We clash when we forget that was the case or when [we] start to believe that one person’s refuge story is better than or worse than another’s.
You wrote that you found a way to begin talking about those horrors after you read Elie Wiesel’s Night, his memoir about the Nazi genocide of the Jews during the Holocaust.
I read it when I was in eighth grade [in Chicago]. It awakened me to a shocking side of humanity. It offered me words to feel what I had thought was unspoken, and Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison gave me the freedom to speak.
You later wrote about Elie Wiesel in a submission to the Oprah High School Essay Contest and said that maybe if Rwandans had read Night, they wouldn’t have decided to kill one another. That essay also led to your appearance on Oprah, who arranged to fly your parents and siblings from Rwanda to her studio for a surprise on-air family reunion.
We had not seen each other in 12 years. I felt gratitude and joy that I still have yet to find words to describe. But also anger that nothing could restore the time we had lost with each other. I have learned to forgive … all that happened to separate us.
Do your parents talk about the past?
My parents live in a never-ending present, unable to talk about what happened to us. At first it was frustrating, but now I can understand that attitude.
Your story is deeply intertwined with that of your older sister, Claire. Tell us about her.
She is a heroine, like Xena the princess warrior, real and of our time. The map [of where the sisters traveled] is all Claire, her decisions about which place would be farther from wars and give us opportunity to live freely and to be seen for who we are and have a sense of agency and where we would have respect. For the past 10 years she has worked with many who have sought refuge in Chicago and with an organization called Women United for Immigrants and Refugees.
You discuss the many difficulties of living in refugee camps in Burundi and elsewhere. How did you feel as a person?
It is easy to get lost because all aspects of who you are, at least the things that used to make you a person, are stripped away.
What are the important points for refugees to share?
The person who has lived and survived in these conditions has to break the silence and talk not only of gratitude but the horror in these camps. In most, people have to walk at least hours to fetch water. Monthly food portions, if camps are lucky to receive any, are [often] maize.
I invite everyone who is involved with refugee camps to have a meaningful conversation [with the refugees] they serve about what would make these places a place of refuge.
What are your thoughts as you commemorate the 25th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide?
Every American and every person who wants to know what hate can do should look at what happened in Rwanda. If you want to know that peace is possible, you should also look at Rwanda now: [Rwandans] working together every day to create peace and to live beyond hate. I am very proud of Rwandans.
Diane Cole writes for many publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Jewish Week, and is book columnist for The Psychotherapy Networker. She is the author of the memoir After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges. Her website is dianejcole.com.
Gina Rodriguez, DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow star in Someone Great.
One crazy night.
It’s the foundation of movies both silly and not so silly, including After Hours, Superbad, American Graffiti, Adventures in Babysitting, Go, Can’t Hardly Wait … there are a lot to choose from. A new one coming to Netflix this week that’s of the “female friendship forever” variety is Someone Great. Written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, it’s a comedy about three New York women who just want — of course — to get into one big event and to get a little crazy.
The catalyst is that Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) has just broken up with her boyfriend Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) right before she’s supposed to move to California for work. She’s alternating between sobbing and drinking, so she calls up her friends Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow) and tells them she wants one last big-city adventure, and she knows just the concert they need to get into. (And the drugs they need to procure along the way, since procurement of drugs is often an element of the out-all-night craziness picture.)
Jenny’s friends have their own complicated love lives: Erin is afraid to meet her girlfriend’s family, while Blair carries on a boring relationship with a boring man. Will they find their own resolutions even as they chase Jenny’s quest across the city? Well, yes, of course.
Is that RuPaul Charles playing Hype the molly dealer? Why yes, it is.
Like most similar movies, Someone Great is episodic and studded with cameos. Episodes include classics like The Girls Hit The Convenience Store. The Girls Buy Molly From RuPaul. The Girls Steal Weed From Jaboukie Young-White. The Girls Bump Into Nate’s Cousin, Rosario Dawson. Some work better than others, and none lasts very long — one of my very favorites comes at the very beginning of the film, when Jenny commiserates on a subway platform with a woman played by the very funny Michelle Buteau, who’s gone before you know it. I would have watched another 10 minutes of Rodriguez and Buteau snorfling and admiring each other’s beauty — and I’m pretty sure you can see Rodriguez break at one point, too.
And yet, Someone Great is seriously invested in the emotional toll of Jenny’s breakup. This is the first time I’ve seen Stanfield (who appears mostly in Jenny’s memories) as a straight-up romantic lead, and he’s very good. The relationship feels lived-in and significant, making her grief — while it’s often funny — also rather poignant. Predictably, the needling of those memories means Jenny winds up wondering whether she’s sure she should be breaking up with Nate at all, a question that seems legitimately open until the very end of the film. That’s hard to do.
If you know Gina Rodriguez as the gentle lead on Jane the Virgin, you’ll find a very different version of her here. This character is, for the moment, a mess, and Rodriguez really digs in, especially when Jenny’s drunk. Who knew Jane was a fun filthy-mouthed drunk?
Rodriguez is also a producer on the film, as is filmmaker Paul Feig, who’s been responsible in varying capacities for a heap of comedies that star and elevate women, including Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. Someone Great isn’t as strong as any of those, but it’s deeply felt and a lot of fun, and as a streaming weekend treat, it gets the job done.
Caroline Shaw’s album, Orange, is devoted to music for string quartet.
Kait Moreno/Nonesuch Records
Kait Moreno/Nonesuch Records
Caroline Shaw‘s new album, Orange, is a love letter to the string quartet. The North Carolina native burst onto the music scene in 2013, when she was the youngest composer to win a Pulitzer Prize. She’s still in her 30s and now, for the first time, there’s a recording devoted entirely to her work.
The album is like a garden, Shaw says in the liner notes. The soil contains musical remnants of the old masters which nourish her own new compositions — a refreshing twist on a centuries-old genre. In a piece called “The Cutting Garden,” she grafts sprigs of Mozart then Ravel onto her own new quartet.
The musicians playing Shaw’s music — tending her garden, as she puts it — are members of the Attacca Quartet. It takes agility and precision to pull off this music, which tends to shift gears suddenly. The album’s opener, Entr’acte, is all about abrupt juxtapositions and was inspired by a particularly lovely transition in a string quartet by Haydn. At one luminous point in Shaw’s piece, the Attacca players negotiate a thicket of pizzicato, then pivot to a single viola bowing across all four strings.
Shaw is inspired by more than just the classic composers. In a piece called Limestone & Felt, she imagines herself in a Gothic cathedral, where shards of melody bounce off the walls and intertwine. In another, Valencia, she creates an ode to the noble, store-bought orange, marveling at its architecture, its tiny sacks of juice explode via a pulsating spray of plucked notes.
Shaw doesn’t like to be called a “composer.” She’s more comfortable with just “musician.” And, I guess, that’s appropriate. Shaw has a master’s degree from Yale in violin. She’s also an accomplished singer with a quirky a cappella group called Roomful of Teeth, for which her Pulitzer-winning piece was composed. And she’s contributed vocal tracks to songs by Kanye West and Nas. Still, when you hear all the imaginative sounds on Orange, you know you’re listening to the voice of a strong composer.
If you thought everything that could be said through the medium of the 250-year-old string quartet has already been said, the conversation just got a lot more interesting with Caroline Shaw’s Orange.
(Caroline Shaw’s Orange, performed by the Attacca Quartet, is released April 19 on New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records.)
The habit of ordering unneeded tests and treatments drive up medical costs. It’s a pattern doctors often learn in medical school and residency.
When family physician Jenna Fox signed on for a year-long advanced obstetrics fellowship after her residency to learn to deliver babies, she knew she’d need to practice as many cesarean sections as possible.
The problem was, she also knew C-sections aren’t always good for patients. Many women’s health experts argue they’re often unnecessary and increase health risks for mom and baby. Doctors are working to decrease high C-section rates in hospitals around the country. Fox and her colleagues on the labor and delivery floor at the University of Rochester try hard to prevent them, particularly primary C-sections, when a woman needs one for her first baby.
“I want to avoid primary C-sections. But also in this one year of my life I want all the primary C-sections in the world,” Fox says. “It’s me feeling conflicted, internally, all day, every day.”
During her fellowship, she says, the more C-sections she does, the better prepared she’ll be to practice independently.
Medical education is built on the assumption that the more procedures or treatments doctors see and do, the more competent they’ll be when they’re independent. It can feel tempting to do more rather than less.
But excessive medical tests and treatments can have financial and personal costs. They contribute to this country’s rising health care spending and subject patients to anxiety and the risks of extraneous procedures. A group of medical educators thinks this epidemic of overtreatment, as they call it, starts with the habits that doctors develop during training — habits they’re hoping to break with new approaches to medical education.
There’s some evidence that the patterns we learn in residency are hardwired for the rest of our careers. In a 2014 JAMA study, for example, doctors who trained in regions where patients underwent more tests and procedures went on to practice independently in a similarly aggressive style.
Academic medicine is often criticized for its emphasis on an overly thorough workup for ordinary problems. In the name of learning how to practice medicine, young physicians may be tempted to order lots of tests, a trial-and-error approach with real implications for patients.
Early in my own training as a family physician, I remember ordering a colonoscopy for a young man with mild rectal bleeding. I rationalized the risks of the procedure — bowel perforation, complications from anesthesia — because it would put both me and the patient at ease to know his symptoms weren’t caused by something dangerous. As Fox puts it: “We like to be reassured. We feel much better when we think a situation is terrible and find that’s everything is awesome rather than the other way around.”
But more isn’t always better. It’s not news that health care costs in the U.S. are out of control: we spend more on health care, per capita, than any other developed country.
Unnecessary tests and treatments may contribute to high costs. According to a 2010 estimate from the Institute of Medicine (now known as the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine), we could reduce many of our medical interventions by 30 percent without sacrificing quality of care.
There can be a disconnect between that abstract fact, however, and deciding how to take care of an individual patient.
“Nobody went to medical school to treat the GDP,” says Christopher Moriates, a physician and dean at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas, who designs medical school curricula to teach appropriate use of tests.
Instead, medical educators are focusing on a different argument in an effort to teach judicious use of tests and treatments: the human costs of overtreatment.
Order enough medical tests, and they’ll inevitably yield abnormal results. Doctors then may feel obligated to treat those abnormalities — even if the patient would have lived a healthy life without knowing about them.
“It’s totally natural to think more information is just going to be better,” says Moriates. “Eventually it leads to patients feeling less well than they actually are, if you uncover things that are meaningless but abnormal.”
Take my patient with the rectal bleeding. After my overzealous workup, I talked through his case with a more experienced doctor. He told me what I now know from more clinical experience: The patient’s bleeding was almost certainly caused by hemorrhoids, and watching and waiting for a few weeks would have been safe and helped the patient avoid an invasive procedure.
Moriates and other medical educators are exploring ways to teach this concept early in medical education, as I was lucky to experience. They want to help medical students and residents curb these habits before they become ingrained.
One area that seems to have some promise? Harnessing doctors’ competitive spirit and showing them how they compare to their peers.
Internist and Columbia assistant professor Joshua Geleris published a study in 2018, for example, that examined the sheer number of tests that internal medicine residents ordered during the 2016-2017 academic year at a New York residency program. Geleris and his co-authors didn’t distinguish between tests ordered on different types of patients, since all residents spend equal time in intensive care units and regular hospital floors.
What they found, Geleris says, is that some residents ordered seven to eight times more tests than their peers. It’s hard to say what number of tests is the right one, Geleris adds, but the variability is concerning.
“They’re just trying to get their work done and make sure the attending is happy the next day,” he says.
At Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., a group of professors is working to provide similar data to their residents in real time, with the hope that it might encourage doctors to think more carefully about what tests are truly necessary.
Johns Hopkins radiologist Pamela Johnson, an associate professor who teaches residents about appropriate use of tests, says she and her colleagues give out personalized reports that show how individual doctors compare to their peers. She’s currently studying whether or not these reports are effective in reducing the number of CT scans ordered to check for blood clots in the lungs. There are clear guidelines for when a CT scan is the right test to check for clots, she says, but they’re often ignored, in part, because doctors are afraid of missing a life-threatening diagnosis.
“The best way to avoid a diagnostic error is to avoid an unnecessary test,” Johnson says.
This kind of peer pressure may be helpful for fully trained doctors, too.
Internist Adam Cifu, a professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine in Chicago who has written about medical overuse, recalls a meeting several years ago with an infectious disease physician charged with decreasing unnecessary antibiotic use in the hospital. That physician told Cifu he was one of his department’s worst offenders when it came to using broad-spectrum antibiotics for ordinary urinary tract infections. Knowing that he was over-treating compared to his colleagues, Cifu says, made him rein in his prescribing almost immediately.
“We’re all ridiculously obsessive high achievers,” Cifu says. “Seeing that I’m not in the 90th percentile or above kills me.”
Medical school professors are hoping to further harness this competitive spirit when it comes to teaching students and residents to test and treat responsibly. Johns Hopkins associate professor Lenny Feldman, a physician who works with Johnson to develop educational tools, says he’s hopeful these “report cards” will help normalize more judicious ordering of tests.
“We have to break the cycle somewhere,” Feldman says.
Mara Gordon is a family physician in Washington, D.C., and a health and media fellow at NPR and Georgetown University School of Medicine.
House musician Jonathan Coulton leads a music parody game alongside host Ophira Eisenberg on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Get out those guitars: It’s music parody time in a word game where the names of famous musical acts are mashed up with regular-people occupations.