Today's Story Line

Stopping the earth's crust from shifting doesn't seem like a near-term goal for mankind, let alone India. But a level of quake-proofing is attainable. And the thousands of Indians who lost loved ones in Friday's quake might form the backbone of an effort to enforce their nation's building codes (page 1).

In Peru, they can't wait for the next episode of "Vladivideos" (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor


QUAKING IN AHMEDABAD: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf arrived in the western Indian state of Gujarat to find most hotels booked solid. There was one exception, the Cama Park Plaza - a 4-star hotel. But one step inside the front lobby told him why the vacancy sign was still out. Cracks ran up and down the walls behind the reception desk, leading to a 3-foot wide hole in the ceiling. "There's no reason for concern," the friendly receptionist told Scott. "The cracks are just in the surface plaster, the structure of the building is just fine."

"I repeated these words to myself like a mantra up four flights of stairs - 'the structure of the building is fine' - as I saw other surface cracks in the walls, in the ceilings, and even in the green marble staircase. I still haven't tried the elevator, due to frequent power outages. But I'm sure it's fine, too," says Scott.

CLOSE TO HOME: Cairo-based Sarah Gauch didn't have to go far to get the perspective of authors who have seen their work banned in the Middle East. Her mother-in-law, Emily Nasrallah, is a respected novelist and short-story writer from Lebanon, who writes about women and immigration issues. "Her books have been banned by several Gulf-state governments without explanation," she says.


WAYS TO HELP: A partial list of the US agencies accepting cash donations.

CARE: 800-521-CARE

Oxfam America: 800-776-9326

Relief Fund of The First Church of Christ, Scientist: 800-288-7155

Catholic Relief Services: 800-736-3467

Salvation Army World Service Office: (703) 684-5528

MAP International: 800-225-8550

Direct Relief International: (805) 964-4767

American Jewish World Service: 800-889-7146

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