Letter From New York 02 14 15 Privileged to know…

Outside my window, as I write, soft snowflakes are falling. The roads are treacherous and I am just home from an afternoon at friends. Five of us who ride the train regularly got together and shared wine and nibbles. It was a lovely few hours. It was our Valentine’s Day get together.

Tonight I was invited to join some friends for a Valentine’s dinner but begged off. I am single and it is sometimes not easy being the fifth wheel, particularly on Valentine’s Day. I am glad I stayed home, enjoying the soft quiet that is my cottage.

While it is quiet here in Claverack, it is not quiet out in the world.

In Copenhagen, one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, there was an assault on a conversation about blasphemy that was attended by the French Ambassador and Lars Vik, a cartoonist who has been the target of attacks since he did a drawing of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog back in 2007. One is dead, three policemen are injured and the gunman is still on the run.

Here in the Northeast, we are bunkering down for more snow and brutal cold. Poor battered Boston is expecting another foot and we’re expecting another seven inches. On top of that, the cold is going to be brutal. Temperatures are expected as low as minus twenty-five wind chill factor, a temperature I don’t recall living through since I left Minnesota.

As I am writing, it is now past midnight in Ukraine when the truce is supposed to go into effect. I am praying that it does. The last hours leading to this moment have been a free for all on both sides, juggling for supremacy. This is the one of the greatest challenges the world has faced since Chamberlin gave away parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. The West wants peace at any price and Putin wants his way at any price. It is a deeply disturbing moment in a deeply disturbing time, when we are assaulted on all fronts.

In Canada, that most peaceful and placid of countries, a plot was uncovered and foiled. Four people intended to shoot masses of people in Halifax. Apparently they had no ideological reason for doing this. They just wanted people dead.

Speaking of people wanting other people dead, ISIS launched some suicide bombers on a base in Iraq with a number of American soldiers. They didn’t succeed, either killed by the Americans or by detonating their vests prematurely. But in Iraq, the carnage continues. I am slowly beginning to understand the Shia/Sunni nuances and it seems as much as they want to kill us, they want to kill each other more. I don’t think this was on the agenda of the Prophet.

In Houston, a mosque was set on fire this morning. It doesn’t appear to be an accident.

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei, is apparently in a secret correspondence with Obama as the two countries work on an agreement about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It has to do with the Sunni/Shia divide. Iran is Shia. ISIS is Sunni. Never, it seems, shall the twain meet. If a deal is made between Iran and the West about the nuclear issue, perhaps we work together on the ISIS issue. Ah, the Sunni issue.

In religious issues, Pope Francis, has named twenty new Cardinals, many of them from developing countries. Most are under eighty, which means they will have the voice at the next conclave, which will choose a successor to Francis.

And in the world of media, we’ve lost Bob Simon and David Carr and Stan Chambers. The last person is probably not as well know as the first two but he reported on air for KTLA in Los Angeles until he was eighty-seven. He pioneered the first live coverage of a news event. He was a gracious good man that I met once. May he rest in peace.

And the world has also lost Gary Owens. Most famous for his part in Laugh-In, he was also a world-class voice over artist. I worked with him at KMPC in Los Angeles and on several radio benefits for the US Committee for UNICEF. He was a lovely, generous man. I was privileged to know him.

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