Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Climate Change Will Melt One-Third of Himalayan Ice Caps: Report
Even under optimistic circumstances, one-third of the ice caps in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range are expected to melt by the end of the century, the Guardian reports, citing a newly published study put together by more than 200 scientists over five years. Even if the rise of global temperatures is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius—which would require carbon emissions to be cut to zero by 2050—36 percent of the ice caps will melt by 2100, the report said. If nothing is done, two-thirds of the ice will be gone, according to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development report, which was commissioned by eight countries from the area. With 250 million people directly depending on the glaciers for water and another 1.65 billion relying on rivers that are fed by mountain runoff, the report notes that climate change could be even more devastating to the mountainous region than it will be to the low-lying islands that tend to get the most media attention.
Trump’s Guide to South Asia: It’s All India
Several anonymous intelligence officials spoke to Time magazine for an article this week that described how President Donald Trump rejected or ignored their briefings in a display of “willful ignorance.” Among the many incidents cited, officials described a briefing on South Asia, during which Trump pointed at a map and “said he knew that Nepal was part of India, only to be told that it is an independent nation.” He then said that “he was familiar with Bhutan and knew it, too, was part of India,” at which point he was told that, no, Bhutan is also a separate country, Time reported. The president’s apparent disregard for the countries has been noted previously in a Politico article from August 2018 that said Trump “mispronounced Nepal as ‘nipple’ and laughingly referred to Bhutan as ‘button’” during a 2017 briefing on the region.
Angelina Jolie Calls for Rohingya Aid as Buddhists Flee Myanmar
Angelina Jolie, acting as a special envoy for the UN’s refugee agency, visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh this week, where she urged Myanmar “to show the genuine commitment needed to end the cycle of violence” and to create the conditions for the Rohingya to safely return home, according to a UN press release. Her three-day visit in Cox’s Bazar was a lead up to an appeal to the international community for $920 million to support the more than one million refugees, who fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State to escape genocidal military violence.
During the visit, Jolie and the Swiss diplomat and UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and praised the country for their generosity. But on the day of their meeting, Bangladesh announced that it was closing its southeastern border after a group of 160 mostly Buddhist citizens entered the country after fleeing another conflict in Rakhine between the military and the Arakan Army, an ethnically Buddhist rebel group, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. An anonymous official from Bangladesh’s foreign ministry told the RFA-affiliated BenarNews, “Bangladesh officials said Myanmar refused to take back a single Rohingya in the last year and a half, and now they are again trying to push Buddhists and other ethnic groups out. This is unacceptable.”
Investors Excited About Calm
The relaxation app Calm is now valued at $1 billion, Business Insider reports. Privately held companies that are valued at ten-figures or more are referred to as unicorns, and Calm is the first meditation-based company to receive the label. The app boasts more than 40 million downloads and one million users with paid subscriptions, according to Business Insider.
The day before Calm’s value rose, it got a lesson in how to save some cash from rival app Insight Timer, which touts itself as the top “free” meditation app. After Calm put up three billboards in San Francisco with the tagline “Sleep with us,” Insight Timer bought one across the street that read: “Don’t pay others to sleep with you. Sleep with us for free.” To add insult to, well, insult, Insight Timer bragged about the public relations coup on Instagram, pointing out that they got a better deal on their ad space.
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Last week Calm bought 3 prime billboards on a highway heading into San Francisco. Turns out there was a cheaper one right across the road which nobody wanted. And that nobody was us 😜 We’ve never advertised before, but I mean how could we resist? Plus it felt like the perfect way to announce our new website at insighttimer.com (Next time we should probably put our URL on the billboard). Rookie error I’m afraid. Move along now. #freemeditation
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