Letter From New York 05 15 15 Of sunny afternoons and death sentences…

There was no Letter from New York yesterday; the day was simply too full for me to pound one out. From fairly early in the morning until deep into the evening, I was scurrying from one end of Manhattan to another. There was a breakfast, a lunch, a wine meeting, a couple of conference calls and everything else in between.

Today is a sunny afternoon on a spring like day in New York City and in a couple of hours I’ll begin to make my way to Penn Station to head up to the cottage for a weekend retreat. I’m looking forward to a weekend of catching up. I’ve spent the day plowing through all manner of emails but don’t feel like I’ve managed anything too productive.

B.B. King died today, the man who brought blues into the mainstream, the man whose name emblazons a club here in New York, an 89 year old living legend is now gone. Fans went to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to lay flowers but most were washed away by the rain sweeping through Los Angeles, a welcome wetness though according to meteorologists not enough to break the drought.

The Iraqi city of Ramadi seems to have been mostly overrun by the IS forces. Suicide bombers killed ten police officers. Washington calls the situation “fluid.” It’s been a back and forth battle for weeks and this is probably one more of those. In the meantime, nearly 150,000 people have fled the city, mostly to Baghdad. Ramadi lies in the center of the area where many Sunni Muslims live.

To the east of Ramadi, in Syria, IS is advancing on the area where lie the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra, a city that was at the crossroads of the Greeks, Romans and the Persians. The ruins there are probably the best set of extant classical ruins in the world today. IS is not directly targeting the ruins but if the area falls under their control it is feared they will have more opportunities to film themselves destroying ancient artifacts, as they did in Nineveh.

We are now halfway through the five day truce that was to allow for the dispensing of emergency aid in Yemen and it is looking as if there will not be enough time to get all the emergency aid needed, dispersed.

On Tuesday of this week, a U.S. helicopter on an aid mission in Nepal went missing. It has been found on a mountainside at 11,200 feet. It does not appear that there are survivors.

In the U.K. David Cameron met with Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP [Scottish National Party]. He will consider more powers for Scotland but won’t think about another referendum on independence, thank you very much.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg has married Gauthier Desteney, his long time partner. He is the first EU Prime Minister to have married his gay partner. The first European Prime Minister to do so was Johanna Sigurdardottir, Premier of Iceland, back in 2010. Luxembourg legalized gay marriage in January.

Having met with Putin at Sochi, Kerry jetted back to D.C. for meetings with Arabic leaders and he is now heading to China, where he will arrive tomorrow. He and his Chinese counterparts will be hammering out details of the Chinese leader’s visit to Washington in September.

They will also be working to defuse the situation in the South China Sea. Like good little beavers, the Chinese are building up some small islands into bigger islands. On one of them, it is constructing a runway that could land even the largest planes. It is a source of tension, particularly with Japan and the Philippines. Both sides are eager to defuse the situation but this seems to be a must do project for Mr. Xi and not something he can gracefully back away from. Tensions will mount.

Boko Haram in Nigeria has been in retreat the last few weeks but now is in a counteroffensive and has retaken a key village. They just won’t go away.

In Pakistan, the military has begun an attack on the Taliban in the Shawal Valley while the President of that country has issued a rare public rebuke of the Taliban, calling them “terrorists.” Imagine that. But it is evidence of new toughness toward the group.

And in an ending note, the jury has returned a judgment on young Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston for the Marathon bombings. He has been sentenced to die.

I have never felt the death penalty accomplished anything.

It is closing in on four o’clock. I am going to post this and then probably gather my things and head toward the train station, rolling north to sit tomorrow on my deck and admire the new grill I will be acquiring.

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