Letter From New York 05 20 15 A stark world on a moderate day…

First of all, I made a mistake in my “media musings” yesterday; last night was not the last night for David Letterman. Tonight is. Last night was his penultimate show. I must have read the article incorrectly. Sorry about that.

Today, I am in New York City and will be until Friday around noon when I am heading up to the cottage for the long weekend. I have no plans for the weekend and expect it will be a quiet one with some reading and binge viewing. I am hooked on “Frankie and Grace,” the Netflix show that stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. It’s an adult comedy, feels a little rough around the edges, as if it hasn’t quite figured itself out but it is very endearing.

Today in New York, the day is caught between spring and fall; not quite sure what it’s about. Sort of warm, sort of cool but not just right. I had coffee with my friend Erica Gruen this morning and it was delightful to catch up with someone I hadn’t seen for a while and then had my quarterly lunch with David Arcara. I met him casually years ago and we have settled into what he called our quarterly “lunches with Andre.” Nothing is off limits in the conversations and they are always satisfying.

The world is atwitter about revelations today of documents seized when Osama bin Laden was killed. He told anyone who would listen to not think about an Islamic State but to stay focused on killing Americans. He left a will, enjoining his wife [I wonder which one, he had several] to marry his daughters to jihadi or, failing that to “good people.” As has long been rumored, it was confirmed there was a stack of porn but that was not released. We will have to remain curious about what turned Osama on.

Speaking of IS, which is very much a reality despite bin Laden’s admonitions, it has advanced into the Syrian town of Tadmur, near where lie the ruins of World Heritage Site Palmyra. It has also been reported that the ruins themselves are now under the control of IS.

An ancient queen of Palmyra was named Zenobia and early on local rebels, fighting Assad, called themselves “Grandchildren of Zenobia.” The ruins have emotional significance to both the anti-Assad forces and to those loyal to him. IS has no emotional attachment to the ruins and it is feared they will destroy them as they have other ruins and loot what is portable to sell to help finance their campaigns.

The fall of Palmyra in the west and Ramadi in the east show that IS is able to bounce back from setbacks like the fall of Tikrit. It is vexing for Obama because any strikes against IS in the area near Palmyra and Tadmur will mostly benefit Assad, a man for whom Obama has called to be removed.

Ratcheting up the world’s level of nervousness are reports that North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons so they can be mounted on missiles. North Korea has recently also claimed it has long range missile capability that can get as far as the West Coast of the U.S.

It is believed that their boast of being able to launch a missile from a submarine is not yet true. Looks like the photos were doctored.

But, at the end of the day, we have a pudgy, grumpy, paranoid little dictator in Kim Jong-un and he has nuclear weapons. This is not good.

Gloria Steinem, along with Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate from Ireland and Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate from Liberia are in North Korea with a number of other women to stage a peace march through the DMZ on Sunday.

Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN, was to have made a visit to North Korea tomorrow but Kim Jong-un cancelled him. He would have been the first UN Secretary General to visit the North in two decades.

A couple of years ago it was revealed that a popular British performer, Jimmy Savile, was a serial sexual predator of adults and children. The British formed a group called Operation Hydrant to look into historical child sexual abuse cases. The publicity surrounding the Savile case has the abused coming out in droves, over 1400 so far and thousands more expected before the end of the year. Among the alleged sexual predators are sports figures, politicians, and music industry elites. The picture that is being formed is “stark.”

It is a stark world out there and there is not much about the starkness that I can do, except do my best to be not stark. I am off to the New York Video Meet-up and then for a bite to eat.

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