Letter From New York 05 01 15 May Day

Sitting in my friend Todd’s office, the sun is shining down on New York City, a pleasant day, warmish temperatures and soon I will be leaving for Claverack, where I will see how the new paint in the living room and dining room looks. I’m a little nervous; I went bold and chose a red that I thought would work at the cottage. We’ll see.

I’ll be riding up on the 5:47, which is the weekly get together train for the train community. It’s a time to see one another, get caught up and to enjoy the end of the week together.

I look forward to it whenever I am able to make that train.

This morning, while the day was deciding whether it was going to be sunny or not, I sat at the apartment and read the Times, always an interesting way to start the day, finding out what I had missed while I was asleep.

One of things I learned was that “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” is opening this weekend. I will probably not attend. So is “Far From The Madding Crowd,” which I saw at a screening earlier this week, getting generally good reviews, a “rom con” version of Thomas Hardy’s book, something I think he would have been surprised about. Makes me want to watch the Julie Christie version of the film. Perhaps I will this weekend.

Those were light bits in the morning.

The harder bits had to do with the continuing difficulties in getting aid to survivors of Nepal’s earthquake. While getting slowly better, it’s not very good. Nepal is appealing to the international community for more helicopters to help them out.

The death toll has now risen above 6,000 and thousands are still missing.

Food and water are needed as is just plan old information. The BBC’s Nepali service is broadcasting regularly news and information, as are many Nepali national radio stations, attempting to disseminate whatever information they have and to counter the plague of rumors racing across the countryside. Google and Facebook have set up services to help people connect and people are being encouraged to text rather than phone to lessen the burden on the cellular infrastructure.

As I sat in the office doing some research my phone buzzed a couple of times with breaking news notices. They informed me that six police officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray. The speed at which the charges were brought has left everyone feeling surprised.

The city’s police union insists that none of the officers involved is responsible for Mr. Gray’s death.

Scheduled protests over the death will go on as planned.

Do any of you remember “Bridgegate?” About eighteen months ago, there was a period of a few days during which there were painful delays on the George Washington Bridge, a major entry point into New York City from New Jersey.

Today, David Wildstein, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official, pleaded guilty to his role in causing major traffic jams near Fort Lee, NJ, as retaliation for that city’s Mayor not supporting Gov. Chris Christie’s bid for re-election.

His guilty plea triggered indictments for Bridget Kelly, Christie’s now former Deputy Chief of Staff and Bill Baroni, who was Christie’s main man at the Port Authority. Wildstein did not implicate the Governor himself but this can’t be good news for a man who is contemplating a run for the White House.

Today is May Day, a national holiday in some countries, celebrating International Workers Day. The idea for it started here in the United States when strikes were called on May 1, 1886 to institute an 8-hour workday. But we celebrate it on Labor Day.

Istanbul is pretty much under lockdown to prevent much May Day rallying. There are protests in Seoul, South Korea over labor practices and last year’s ferry sinking. In Greece they are marching against the austerity imposed by the European Union. In Berlin, it seems pretty peaceful, only fifteen were arrested. Tens of thousands marched in Moscow, waving the Russian tricolor flag. The Communist Party organized their own demonstration, calling for support of those fighting in the Donbass region. That’s eastern Ukraine.

In Milan the police used water cannons to disburse the crowds after a car was set on fire and marches in Madrid were calm. They’re protesting an unemployment rate that is nearly 30%. It’s a holiday in India, too, but I haven’t seen any coverage from there.

I have not marched anywhere today. I did stroll from the apartment to the subway and from the subway to my new favorite diner and that’s about it. I’ll stroll in an hour or so over to Penn and catch my train north to see how the paint job turned out. Fingers crossed.

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