Letter From New York 08 13 15 Of nice days and atrocities…

This morning I woke early and took the third train into town. It was stunningly beautiful at the cottage and I was regretful about leaving and coming into New York City. I’ve been away for a while and it’s always a bit of an assault when I get off the train for the first time after an absence.

Today was no different; Penn Station was summer madness and I felt jostled by the crowds as I made my way down 7th Avenue to the Greek Corner, the little diner I frequent at 28th. The Spanish waitress who serves me seemed genuinely glad to see me.

Eating my egg white omelet, I read a book and then went on to my noon meeting. Some of my day has been productive; some of it not so much. Though all of it has been pleasant.

In the morning, I have a breakfast meeting and then am off to the train, back to the country and a full weekend there. Lionel and Pierre are arriving for the weekend and on Saturday a couple of neighbors are coming to my house for drinks and “nibbles and bits.”

Hopefully, the brilliant weather will continue and we can stand and sit on the deck, looking over the stream. As I rode the train down into the city, the river glistened with the morning sun. I was reading the Times on my iPhone.

The story was horrific.

Yazidis are not Christian nor Muslim nor Jewish. Because they are not “people of the book” they have been targeted by IS for particularly harsh treatment. The Times reported on manuals that have been written for IS soldiers explaining to them that raping these women is an act of worship and brings them closer to God. They pray before and after the rapes.

In Yazidi towns that have been taken, men are separated from the women. Boys must raise their shirts and show whether they have hair in their armpits. If they do, they go with the men. Most of them are told to lie down in fields and then are shot to death. Women are bussed away, sold into sexual slavery. One woman who had been purchased was set free when her “master” finished his suicide training and had no more use for her. He gave her a paper, signed by IS officials, that allowed her to leave IS territory and reunite with what was left of her family.

The reality of this happening is almost beyond comprehension. But it is happening. Frankly, almost any horror seems within the ken of IS.

A Croatian national, Tomislav Salopek, working in Egypt for a French company, was kidnapped outside of Cairo by a gang that demanded ransom. Then nothing was heard until IS began to demand the release of Muslim women prisoners from Egypt in exchange for him. They now claim they have beheaded him. Everyone fears the worst while waiting for confirmation.

Then there is the news that IS has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in a Baghdad vegetable market that killed 67 and wounded hundreds. IS has been busy this week, getting itself into the news, rejoicing in knowing their atrocities are being reported.

I clench my hands and wonder what I as one individual can do? I do not know but I wish there was something.

On a brighter note, tomorrow the US Flag will fly above our Embassy in Havana again. Kerry is on his way to Cuba to be present for the official re-opening of the American Embassy in Cuba.

Investors are fleeing Russia, just preferring to do business somewhere a bit more predictable. Everyone is trying to read the runes of Putin’s actions but a former Kremlin insider posits he just not that interested anymore. He acts like a Tsar but has no succession plan. Right now Putin is Russia and he is disinterested…

I was not disinterested to find out that “Sesame Street” is moving to HBO for its first run and then to PBS and it’s being cut from an hour to half an hour. I am still getting past it. Good if it keeps “Sesame Street” on the air. As my friend Medora Heilbron once said: no deal too strange to make.

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