Letter From New York 12 18 14 Things groundbreaking and things not so funny…

When I was in high school, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA was required reading in one of my English classes. I was an adolescent fan of Hemingway though I preferred THE SUN ALSO RISES to THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. But it did cause me to think of Cuba, the Cuba of Hemingway, before Castro. I wanted to visit but I couldn’t because travel to Cuba was prohibited.

After a pleasant evening at the Red Dot with a varied group of friends, I retreated home to sleep, waking this morning to the news that President Obama was moving to normalize relations with Cuba, which has lived under draconian sanctions from the United States. As far as I have been able to tell, fifty plus years of this policy has resulted in almost no effect. A Castro still rules in Cuba and the island limps along. It is a treasure trove of ancient, classic American cars.

The decision to normalize will be hotly debated. Some of Cuban descent feel this is a betrayal; some welcome the change. GOP lawmakers threaten to make it as difficult as possible to accomplish.

It will be interesting to watch this change. My friends, Larry and Alicia, have just returned from Cuba where they were on a government-approved excursion. They will be among the last that will have seen the “old” Cuba – the Cuba before this pronouncement. It will all begin to change now, slowly but surely and, in my opinion, in a change that is long overdue.

The Pope facilitated the long overdue change; he wrote letters to both Obama and Raul Castro encouraging normalization. And they listened. A prisoner exchanged helped.

Fifty years of sanctions hasn’t done much good. It’s about time to try a new policy, don’t you think?

There were other items in the news that caught my morning coffee attention.

New York, to my surprise, has banned fracking, the controversial process by which natural gas can be extracted from the earth. A group that opposed fracking had a spontaneous celebration in Manhattan this morning outside some state offices.

The news was full of chatter about the scrubbed release of THE INTERVIEW. One reviewer who saw it back in October felt that Rogen/Franco could become the Hope/Crosby team for Millennials.   We might never know now.

The trail of evidence for the Sony hacking caper leads right back to North Korea having ordered it.

While I have found some aspects of the Sony hack story amusing, much of it is deadly serious. And not very funny. It has called into question the sensibility of the executives who agreed to make the film. More than one person in Hollywood is asking: what did they expect from making a movie about assassinating a real life dictator who has a known reputation for unpredictable actions of a nasty kind? And who has nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-Un said it was an act of war to release the movie and he has attacked.

Now the question is: what do we do about it? Do we start the first cyber war? Probably not. Whatever it is thinking, the Obama Administration is holding its cards close to the vest right now. And probably keeping its options open. There have been daily briefings at the White House on the affair.

The reports out of Hollywood that I have been reading have been scathing toward Sony and its actions from start to finish.

I wish I could find some amusing turn of phrase to end today but whatever it might be, it is eluding me. North Korea has, apparently through proxies, attacked a major business and brought it to its knees. It is unprecedented.

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