Letter From New York 02 25 15 Things Pleasant and Unpleasant

It is a bright, sunny afternoon outside. Temperatures have soared to 39 today, making this the warmest day in quite awhile. The sky is a soft blue, tinged with a few soft white clouds.

Freshly back from my dentist, I have sparkling teeth from my semi-annual cleaning, a process they know I dread. In my adolescence, I was outfitted with braces by Dr. McMengele, an orthodontist who seemed to delight in tightening my braces every week, a torture I still remember vividly. It’s why I had such a time watching the dentist scene in THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, if anyone remembers that.

So, thankfully, my current dentist treats me very gently. She is a firm believer in that there should be NO discomfort. I like that.

But it is not a comfortable world right now, is it? We are coming up on Friday when the Department of Homeland Security faces defunding. Because almost all of them are considered “essential” they will keep working, without pay. Not particularly good for morale, I suspect. Mitch McConnell is attempting a solution but the House Republicans seem to be on the edge of rejecting it. Tomorrow, we will see what happens.

Today, in Miami, Obama is giving a speech on immigration to a largely Hispanic audience, hoping to score public relations points even as a Texas court has put a stay on his Executive Order regarding immigration. Presumably, in this speech, Obama will lay out his next legal steps to see his order carried out, promising a breather for millions who are living under the threat of deportation.

In other political news in the States, Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, did not earn enough votes to avoid a runoff election for another term as Mayor. He is facing Jesus Garcia, who won 34% of the vote to Mr. Emmanuel’s 45%. Mr. Garcia, from Durango in Mexico, had strong support for public school teachers and minorities. This will be an interesting race to watch. Mr. Emmanuel will be a fierce opponent. Once Obama’s Chief of Staff, he is an accomplished and focused politician.

The FCC is likely to adopt utility style rules to ensure “net neutrality,” eliminating the possibility of pay-to-play fast lanes on the Internet. It is intended to prevent abuse by Internet service providers, generally the cable companies.

Next week, Israel’s Prime Minister is coming to Washington to address Congress. He is expected to denounce the negotiations that are going on with Iran regarding its nuclear capabilities. Susan Rice, National Security Adviser, has called the visit “destructive” to Israel/US relations. That’s the strongest words yet from the White House side regarding the upcoming, protocol-breaking visit.

When Netanyahu is in town, the President will not be seeing him. Vice President Biden will be in Central America and John Kerry will be negotiating with the Iranians. Netanyahu tried to set up a meeting with Senate Democrats but they have turned him down.

I am sure House Republicans will give him a rousing welcome.

In a nervous Paris, drones have been spotted flying around important spots, like the Eiffel Tower, during the last two nights. Their source remains a mystery and a concern.

Yesterday, the Reverend Phyllis Sortor of the Free Methodist Church was abducted in Nigeria. Today a ransom of $300,000 was demanded for her return. The suspicion is that this is not an act of Boko Haram but bears the signature of other kidnappings for money that have taken place all over Nigeria.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, charged with monitoring the Ukrainian Truce, is asking for help. Some have been held hostage, one had his car blown up and one of their four drones was shot down. Russia says it will help with radar and drones. We’ll wait and see.

Ah, the sun is beginning to set, a soft golden yellow glow is filling the western horizon, and the sun is a dazzling orb above the treetops along Riverside. I must prepare. I am attending NOT NOW DARLING, a play being put on by a theater club in New York, and a friend is appearing in it. Everyone attending must dress up. I won’t get in without a coat and tie.   Goodness knows when the last time was I wore a tie!

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