Letter From New York 03 04 15 Dazed and confused?

It is a grey and damp afternoon in New York City, warmer than it has been with a weather advisory for tomorrow indicating we will have as much as six inches of new snow. Once I have finished a meeting tomorrow around noon, I am going to scamper back to the cottage to finish prepping for the annual income tax adventure.

I have just returned from lunch with my old friend Jeff Cole, who is the Founder of the Center for the Digital Future at USC in California. He is one of the foremost thinkers on the future of media. We’ve known each other for over twenty years, since we were both working on The Superhighway Summit for the Television Academy. He travels more than anyone I know and is off to China, Australia and Columbia the week after next.

We talked of media, as we always do, but wandered far afield over our two-hour lunch.

We discussed an article in the New York Times yesterday about the plight of Afghan women who have fled their families. Women who leave their families or their husbands seem to be fair game for honor killings. We also discussed an interview done with a man in jail in India, sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young woman two years ago. He resolutely feels the whole thing was the victim’s fault. No decent woman would have been out past 9:00 PM, he said, and besides, she fought back.

These are stark reminders that we live in a very different world from much of the rest of it.

In Iraq, General Qasem Soleimani of Iran seems to be guiding operations in the assault on Tikrit. The Iranians, who are Shia, have been arming and supplying Iraqi Shia militias that are joining the Iraqi army in the assault against the Sunni IS. There are fears from many, including some here in the US, that the Shia will take their revenge on Sunnis who have been living under IS control for the deaths of many Shia soldiers who lost their lives when Tikrit fell to IS last year.

In what is a masterstroke of irony, we find ourselves on the same side with Iran in the desire to defeat IS. There is no formal coordination.

The Boston Marathon trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has begun on a surprising note. The chief defense lawyer declared in her opening statements that, “It was him.” He did it. He killed and maimed those people. But he was under the influence of his older brother. She is not trying to get him acquitted; she is trying to save his life.

In another terror trial here in New York, Abid Naseer, was found guilty of providing support to Al Qaeda while planning to detonate a bomb in the New York subway.

While declining to press charges on Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, MO police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown last summer, the Justice Department at the same time condemned the Ferguson Police Department of widespread racial discrimination. Attorney General Eric Holder has called for “immediate, wholesale” action to counter this.

The speech by Netanyahu yesterday continues to provoke responses. The BBC used the word “scathing” to describe Obama’s response. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, thought it insulted the intelligence of the American people. Republicans have hailed it and it seems to be getting a mixed review back in Israel. It was good if you like Netanyahu and bad if you don’t.

Also provocative was the ongoing fallout from Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a personal email account during her tenure at the State Department. This revelation has caught many Democrats off guard and scrambling to respond. Their fear is that it will strengthen the perception that she is secretive and controlling.

The US Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Obamacare today and seems sharply divided on the issue. Chief Justice Roberts, who may be a deciding voice in the matter, said very little today. A ruling will come in June.

And in yet another dizzying turn of events in Alabama regarding gay marriage, the State Supreme Court has ordered judges to stop issuing marriage licenses for gay couples, in direct contradiction of a federal ruling that to do so is unconstitutional. Is it any wonder that judges in Alabama feel a bit dazed and confused?

Not feeling dazed and confused, I am leaving shortly to attend a screening of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a follow-up to a film of nearly the same name, set in India and starring Maggie Smith [Downton’s Dowager Countess] and Judi Dench.

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