Letter From New York 02 10 15 Of sex and politics and other things…

Taking advantage of the fact it rocketed to just above freezing today, I went for a walk to break the spell of cabin fever that has settled upon me as it snowed and snowed and snowed. It is both above freezing and the sun is brilliant, causing me to squint as I walked. It appears that the weight of the snow has felled a couple of trees in the neighborhood.

Early this morning, Nick, who helps me out at the house, and his sidekick, Bernard, arrived to finish digging me out. It was while they were shoveling and knocking down icicles that a report came in from the BBC that, indeed, Kayla Mueller, the last American hostage in the hands of ISIS, was dead. It is not clear yet whether she died in the Jordanian bombing of Raqqa or if she had died at another place and time.

Regardless, she is dead and my heart goes out to her family. Her “crime” was that she was an American, helping refugees. She paid with her life for her humanitarianism.

Tomorrow, my brother goes to Honduras to bring medical care to places that have no medical care except when teams like his venture there. He has done this for many years. Honduras has a place in his heart; he ran a clinic for children in El Progresso, Honduras, after finishing his internship. Yearly, I worry because Honduras, never the safest of places, has devolved in recent years and is now one of the most violent countries on the planet.

Jeb Bush continues to groom himself as a Presidential candidate. Today he released the first chapter of an eBook about his time as Governor of Florida, filled with emails from his first weeks. Chris Christie, current Governor of New Jersey, is being dogged by tales of a lavish lifestyle to which he has managed to grow accustomed. After all, he said, he is just “trying to squeeze the last juice out of the orange.” The King of Jordan picked up a tab for him for $30,000 to pay for a vacation in that country.

Once upon a time Dominique Strauss-Kahn was considered a front-runner for President of France. Today, he is on trial in Lille, France for pimping. He denies it, not for a moment believing that the provocatively dressed women at the “swingers” parties he attended were prostitutes. He has a “horror” of sex with prostitutes. His sexual activities have been under the microscope since 2011 when he was accused by a housemaid at the Hotel Sofitel in New York of forcing himself upon her. That was settled out of court. He had to step down as President of the IMF. He has been attempting to rehabilitate his reputation since then. I don’t think it is working.

In other sexual/political news the High Court in Malaysia has upheld the sodomy conviction of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar. He was convicted in 2008. That conviction was overturned and now that overturning has been overturned. Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia defended the decision, even as criticism of him is mounting in that country. As Imelda Marcos had a thing for shoes, his wife has a thing for handbags, the kind that can cost as much as $150,000. She has lots. He doesn’t earn that much as a politician. And no one seems to quite believe the story of family money from somewhere.

In Minsk, tomorrow, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are meeting. They are going to discuss creating a de-militarized zone in the southeast of Ukraine where the September truce is being broken by both sides on a daily basis. While dialogue may continue, it is beginning to feel as if the door on diplomacy is closing. The US is talking of arming Kiev and the EU is against it. Putin maintains his inscrutability.

All of this is news and if this were a normal week, Brian Williams would be leading the dissemination of it on NBC. It is not. NBC says they will resolve the Brian Williams crisis in the next day or two. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 40% of Americans think he should resign.

This weekend the highly anticipated film, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, will premiere. The film version of the naughty book of the same name will probably do well at the Box Office though first reviews of the film aren’t particularly good but then reviews of the book were awful but it didn’t prevent it from lingering for what seemed forever on the best seller lists.

I’ll wind down now and get ready to go to the local Mexican restaurant, Coyote Flaco, for some dinner. The sun is setting and the temperature is supposed to dip again, making this the longest cold stretch I can remember in the fourteen years in Claverack.

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