Letter From New York 07 04 14 Happy Birthday, America!

Today is the birthday of the United States and I am spending it in Baltimore, sitting in a lovely apartment in the Inner Harbor area called Fell’s Point. Outside it is, as almost everyday seems to be this summer, grey.

We all went to see “Inside Out,” the new film from Pixar and it was everything I didn’t expect it to be. It was heartwarming and brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it. A young girl from Minnesota migrates with her parents to San Francisco. In a mishap, the emotions and characters Joy and Sadness get lost with all her good core memories and poor Riley, the girl, finds herself left with Disgust, Anger and Fear. Not a good combination. But the combination of elements in the film make it wonderful and so, once again, I highly recommend it.

We are waiting to see the fireworks tonight – unless they pull a rain check and decide to do them tomorrow though the forecast for Sunday isn’t better than today’s.

While America is celebrating its birthday, the Dalai Lama is celebrating his July 6th birthday all weekend with a whole series of parties. Happy Birthday! The venerable Dalai Lama turns 80 on Tuesday.

As America celebrates its nationhood, Vladimir Putin has sent holiday greetings to President Obama and suggested there were many things they could work on together, like global terrorism. Obama apparently reminded him of the necessity of living up to the Minsk Accords, which require Russia to pull back men and armaments from Ukraine. I suspect it was not a jolly conversation but at least they’re talking, always a good thing.

Yesterday, I mentioned that IS has begun destroying some of the ancient artifacts of Palmyra. One of the noted spots in the ruins is an amphitheater where, I suspect, the plays of the ancients were performed. I’m sure there was nothing quite like a good comedy by Aristophanes to lighten a moment in Roman times.

Yesterday, the amphitheater was used by IS as a stage for killing 25 captured soldiers. The firing squad was composed of militants as young as 13 and 14.

Iraqi jets soared over Mosul earlier today, dropping not bombs but leaflets promising that soon a campaign to free the city would begin. A new radio station, Mosul FM, would soon begin broadcasting and the city’s citizens should listen to it for instructions when the campaign to retake the city begins.

IS did its best to keep people from reading the leaflets.

In the meantime, bombs in Baghdad killed 19.

Tomorrow is the fateful day for Greece. They will go to the polls to vote yes or no about the bailout that has already expired. Apparently, media is encouraging people to vote yes while the government is encouraging a no vote. Lots of Greeks aren’t really sure for what they’re voting. Polls indicate it could go either way, with the country seeming to be split almost exactly down the middle.

European leaders are predicting a Greek collapse if the vote is a no. The Greek leaders are telling the Greeks that it will give them a stronger position in negotiating with their creditors.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t bring a collapse for the rest of us if Greece votes no.

While Greece is voting, the British will be celebrating the christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge which will occur on the Queen’s Sandringham estate at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the grounds. The Princess is fourth in line to the throne and generally someone this close to the throne would be christened in London but the Cambridge’s are breaking with tradition.

It will give the world something happy to focus on while watching the vote in Greece.

Right now, I am munching on cheese and crackers while writing and sipping a martini made by Lionel. Our chairs are on the balcony, facing the Inner Harbor, ready for the fireworks.

It was here, in Baltimore, that Francis Scott Keyes composed the “Star Spangled Banner” during the war of 1812, a song set to a ditty that was making the rounds of London’s Gentleman’s Clubs in the late 1700’s.

I hope all of you have exceptional and safe 4th of July’s.

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