Posts Tagged ‘Al-Sisi’

Letter From New York 02 23 15 Any shame or guilt?

February 23, 2015

Ah, the joys of the bitter cold. Just as I was headed to Amtrak to catch my train, I received a text message alerting me my train would be at least ninety minutes late and I would thus miss the conference I was scheduled to attend this afternoon in the city.

Thankfully, I can partially make up for it by the fact a good friend is being ousted from his office early today so it can be painted, so we will get together for a late lunch, early cocktail or a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or some combination thereof.

Feeling rather on the low side last night, I ended up sleeping instead of watching the Oscars so my only experience of it was this morning, reading about it online and in the NY Times. The Wrap did a very funny montage of moments from this Awards season, which seems to have gone on forever this year.

And, not unexpectedly, the Oscars are the top story this morning, everyone weighing in on the good and bad moments. I missed them all. I wish I had been able to see in real time Patricia Arquette’s remarks for winning Best Supporting Actress. She addressed gender equality in Hollywood. I must look for the video of it.

As of this moment, the world stage is mostly a retread of yesterday’s news.

The ceasefire in Ukraine has yet to take hold; Germany is very worried. Everyone should be worried.

The families of three young British schoolgirls who appear to have departed for Syria via Istanbul have yet to be found; their families continue to plead with them to return.

Potential Presidential Contender, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, was at the White House last night for a dinner. He took a selfie with his son and posted it. The response wasn’t kind. Governor Walker was accused of looking a bit tipsy, if not as mashed as Johnny Depp was once during this Awards season giving out an Award. Depp had trouble reading from the teleprompter.

The dinner Walker was at with his son, Alex, was for the National Governors Association, jokingly called the National Association of Aspiring Presidents.

US Malls are stepping up their security measures since the Al-Shabaab threat against them, particularly the Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. The Head of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has asked all to be extra vigilant.

Of course, the Department of Homeland Security faces defunding this month unless a compromise is reached. Congress is unhappy with President Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration and DHS is caught in the crossfire.

Ah, the joys of politics.

A political figure in Egypt has been sentenced to five years in prison. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a renowned blogger in Egypt, was found guilty of organizing an illegal demonstration and “thuggery,” among other things. He and hundreds of others who have protested have been sent off to prison. This was a retrial for him; the first time he was sentenced to fifteen years. More than twenty others were sentenced along with him, receiving sentences of three to fifteen years.

At the same time, Egyptian President al-Sisi is saying that he would release wrongly detained young men.

Egypt is also calling for a Pan-Arab force to battle terrorist groups, not to invade but to defend.

In an event that is deeply disturbing, chilling and troubling, a suicide bomber in Nigeria killed five, including herself and wounding another forty-six. The bomber was a child, a girl, perhaps as young as seven. It is believed the lovely Boko Haram is behind this event.

As I sit on the train, watching the ice clogged Hudson slide by, I wonder if the poor child had any idea of what she was doing, what was being asked of her, and if the ones within Boko Haram who directed her, had any sense of guilt and shame about what they were doing?

Letter From New York 02 18 15 The Francis Effect…

February 19, 2015

As I sit down tonight to write in New York City, a light snow is falling though weather.com does not indicate that it a harbinger of bad things to come. So, after a relatively busy afternoon, I have returned to the little apartment on Riverside to write my blog.

Last night I met my friend Dan Pawlus for a drink at the Warwick Hotel on 54th Street and then I went with him to a screening of “The Francis Effect,” a documentary made by the Canadian Catholic television organization Salt + Light about the Holy Father.

Last year, about this time, I was in Rome to speak on a panel for SIGNIS, the organization of Catholic Communicators. In some breakout conversations, the talk was about “the Francis moment.” This Pope had, in a not too long a period of time, altered the perception of the Roman Catholic Church by much of the world.

The documentary last night chronicles the effect of the moment. It is hard not to admire the man. While he has not changed doctrine, he has changed the tone of the conversation. And that is a very good beginning. He has offered gentleness instead of reproach. In the last twenty years the tone of the church has been strident and reproachful; under Francis it is conciliatory. He has challenged the all-powerful Curia and reformed the reputedly corrupt Vatican Bank.

And he has only been in office for two years. It will be interesting to follow the rest of this man’s Pontificate.

When Dan asked me to the screening of a film about Francis, I asked him if it was about the Francis who was a saint or the Francis who would be a saint?

Until I saw legions of people in New York with black marks on their forehead I had forgotten today is Ash Wednesday.

In a remark that is indicative of the man that is Francis, he told people that this year they should fast on their indifference to their fellow man. A grand comment.

Francis is a saintly man but there are very few of them.

To help combat young men and women from the States going to jihad, Obama held a conference on extremism. The US and countries such as France, the UK, and Belgium are all struggling with young Muslims who are seduced to jihad.

There was a striking article in the NY Times today about a young man from Cairo, middle class, educated in private schools, who had abandoned his family and friends and gone off to Syria. He tweeted a picture of himself with a beheaded man. His family is devastated. He got lost somewhere in the tumult that has been Egypt the last three years.

We have medieval values being practiced by men with good weapons. In grisly rumors, IS has been accused by Iraq’s UN Ambassador of killing people to harvest their organs, then to re-sell them on the organ black market. It is a revenue generating operation reportedly.

In Ukraine, the Ukrainian government suffered a defeat today when its forces abandoned Debaltseve, the major rail hub between the rebel areas. They attempted to put a good face on it but there is no good face to a major defeat.

President al-Sisi of Egypt is pressing for international intervention in Libya. He has a problem in the Sinai with insurgents who are aligning themselves with IS [ISIS or ISIL]. He thinks the Sinai insurgents are getting some help from IS in Libya. Libya and Egypt have asked the UN to lift the arms embargo so they can better fight IS.

The snow is still falling lightly. I am getting tired and think I will retreat to bed and read Time Magazine and The Week [my favorite weekly] and drift off to the land of Nod.

A new version of Cinderella is out soon. The Oscars will be this weekend.

And I am prepping for a trip to India. I have been invited to go to the Indian Institute of Technology in Rourkee to speak about American media. I must sort out the intricacies of getting a visa now.