Posts Tagged ‘Anbar Province’

Letter From New York 07 13 15 Thoughts while traveling south by train to New York City…

July 13, 2015

The ride on Amtrak from Hudson to New York is one of the most beautiful train rides in the country, if not the world. There are a couple of bad patches like the gravel pit that seems to go on for quite a while and there is the passage by Sing Sing Prison, ominous, concrete and barbed wire. But 90% of the ride is astounding. Right now I am passing gently rolling hills that look much as they must have when Henry Hudson sailed the river centuries ago.

Opting to come in on a post noon train, I sat on the deck this morning with coffee in hand, listening to the birds sing and reading the New York Times. It was quiet, peaceful and soul soothing.

The markets have bounced up on having a deal with Greece in sight, despite the wariness of some European governments about the sincerity of the Greeks in keeping promises they’re making. There is a long road to go because this is just an agreement to negotiate. But, as someone once said to me, something is always better than nothing.

The Greek banks are still closed and cash is very, very short.

Scott Walker of Wisconsin surprised no one by announcing he is running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Donald Trump still holds the lead in the polls for the Republican pack.

Chapo Guzman, “El Chapo,” escaped yesterday from a prison in Mexico. A nearly mile long tunnel was dug to his shower in his cell. Slipping in to the shower, he stepped into the tunnel and is now on the run. This is his second escape from a maximum-security prison. Last time he stayed free for thirteen years. There is, of course, a manhunt on but his escape has made Mexicans more cynical, and more distrusting of their officials. Bribery and/or intimidation are suspected factors in the escape. “El Chapo” has an estimated worth of $ 1 billion.

We have just glided by Indian Point, the nuclear reactor that sits on the Hudson River. Always controversial, its detractors want it closed. A couple of recent incidents have made people nervous.

Brian Gallagher is on the train with me. He’s the right hand of Joe Boardman, who is the President of Amtrak. Brian and I chat regularly about our favorite long distance routes. I need to go to Minneapolis this summer for my annual familial visit and I am probably going to take the train one way. I love the sense of traveling that trains provide, of moving through space on your way to a place.

Right now, as I move south, I also wish there was a boat that sailed from New York and put in at Hudson for a stop. I would love to make the trip by water, also a great way of having a sense of traveling.

While I am moving down the Hudson Valley, in Vienna there are more last minute efforts to hammer out an Iranian nuclear deal despite rumors that an announcement would be made today that there was a deal in place. Perhaps not until later this week, if it happens at all.

The Iraqis are planning on an offensive to take back its largest province, Anbar, from IS.

The President of Nigeria has fired all the heads of his armed forces and will replace them. It has been expected. The chaps fired were the ones who didn’t make any progress against Boko Haram. Now that Boko Haram has lost much of its territory, Nigeria having had help from Chad and Cameroon, it has stepped up suicide attacks.

For those whose day is not complete without a bit of royal update, Prince William launched his career today as an air ambulance pilot.

Right this minute, I am south of Croton Harmon, with a stunning river view. West Point slipped by on the far shore not long ago.

Once in town, I am meeting a friend and then we are joining a third friend for our quarterly Indian dinner, tonight at Pipalli, on 29th near Lexington, in the heart of “Curry Hill.” Nick, David and I have been doing this for three or four years, always a good chance to get caught up and have a martini, our official drink.

Tomorrow, I will let you know how it is.

Letter From New York 04 08 15 From the heat of Delhi to wearing a winter coat…

April 8, 2015

Outside, it is still grey and chill; I have taken to wearing my winter jacket again, worse luck. It’s also been raining today with my mantra being: April showers bring Mayflowers.

Though, for all the grey, it’s been a very pleasant day. I am not quite so time zone loopy as I was yesterday or the day before. I am a little more centered and not quite so forgetful. I feel good and am looking forward to dinner tonight at the Red Dot, with a group of friends, for whom I have souvenirs of India.

I still almost expect to look out my window and see the vivid amber colors of Jaipur or the greens of Delhi but, instead, am greeted by the muted colors of the Northeast, struggling to come alive in the early days of spring.

There is a glorious freshness to the air I breathe here, clean and sweet with the smell of damp earth. The air in Delhi always has an acrid undertow, not so pungent as my first trips but still residing.

Out in the wide world, from which I feel sheltered here at the cottage, the news is much about the guilty verdicts given to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his role in the Boston bombings of over two years ago. Certainly not unexpected given that his defense admitted guilt in their opening statements; it has, for some, brought some closure, some finality, to the wounds, physical and emotional, that were inflicted that day. Now we will see if he is sentenced to death or if his defense team can save his life.

One of the necessities of life is coffee, so I ran down into Hudson to get some good espresso roast from Olde Hudson. As I went, the radio played an interview with Ernest Moniz, the Secretary of Energy, who ended up playing a big role in the Iranian Nuclear talks. I couldn’t tell from the interview if he was defending the outlined deal or simply reporting on his role. He seemed guileless in the little bit I heard him, very much the scientist and not very much the diplomat.

Last night, as I devoured my fajitas at Coyote Flaco, I saw the video of the South Carolinian shot in the back by a police officer, not quite able to assimilate what I was seeing. The officer has been dismissed and is charged with murder as a result of the video. And tension runs high.

Rand Paul is finishing his first full day of campaigning for President, promising “shocking” revelations about the Clinton Foundation [and Hillary]. In the meantime, it seems many people are looking at him and his candidacy and asking: is this for real?

Certainly for real is the chaos in Yemen. Doctors Without Borders announced that a ship had arrived in Aden with 2.5 tons of medical supplies though no one was sure how they would be unloaded given the situation there. Iran has sent two naval vessels toward Yemen while the Saudis continue bombing. The US is underscoring its support for Saudi Arabia. 100,000 people have fled their homes, seeking refuge from the fighting.

A Pakistani plane has arrived in New Delhi, carrying refugees from Yemen, a gesture that will help the usually frayed relations between those two countries.

The Iraqis are hoping to build on the victory at Tikrit by advancing into Anbar province, the Sunni heartland now mostly under the control of IS. At least that’s what the Anbar province regional council has said. Seems to be a bit of a surprise to the central government.

What is also a surprise but not in debate, is that IS has released more Yazidis. What is unclear is why they’re doing this.

Fighting for cyber security, the US is attempting to deflect attacks on White House and State Department computers, which seem to be coming from Russia. The Russians deny this.

In the UK, the election is “hotting up” as the May election draws closer, with Scotland appearing, quite extraordinarily, to end up playing a pivotal role in what shape the new UK government takes.

I do know the shape of my evening. That dinner out with friends and then gathering together the things that need to go with me to the city in the morning, an early rise and off on the 7:20 train in the morning for a 10:30 meeting.

It feels good to have my body and my mind in the same time zone, almost.