Posts Tagged ‘Ashton Carter’

Letter From New York O6 04 15 An evangelical mess, among other things…

June 4, 2015

I am traveling down to DC on Amtrak, having five meetings in DC tomorrow before heading up to Baltimore for a weekend with friends. It is grey and gloomy again today, which has been the theme of this week’s weather. It doesn’t do much to keep the spirits up. I am yearning for a little sunshine though I think I have a couple of days more of this before the weather changes.

What isn’t changing is the growing numbers joining the Republican race for the Presidential nomination. Rick Perry, who ran in 2012, has thrown his hat back in the ring, hoping he will not open his mouth and insert his foot as much as he did last time.

Chafee of Rhode Island has joined the much smaller list of contenders for the Democratic nomination.

It will be an interesting nomination season, particularly on the Republican side as there are more to come. Jeb Bush will make an announcement on June 15th. Allee all outs in free!

As I was scouring some websites today, there was a quote from George Soros about his concern that we are on the brink of WWIII, certainly not a happy thought. And that remark was underscored by a Czech NATO officer, musing about what might happen if Russia overwhelmed the Baltic States. Could that result in a use by the West of nuclear weapons?

Even the whisper of WWIII should give us a major case of the willies. The sad thing is that the whispers are there as the global situation deteriorates. I have a slight case of the willies as I ride the rails into the nation’s capital.

The bright hope that infused the world at the end of Communism has grown dim. Can we bring back the light if we all clap loudly enough, the way Tinkerbelle is saved in Peter Pan?

US military leaders and ambassadors are being called to Stuttgart by Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter, to discuss preparedness in the face of Russian aggression. Ukrainian President Poroshenko warned of all out war with Russia as fighting renewed in the rebel east, near Donetsk. It appears the last suburb of that city has fallen to the rebels.

Meanwhile, Putin is going to be visiting Pope Francis on June 10. Think Francis can talk any sense into the man?

In what is shocking news, if true, is that the Red Cross, which raised half a billion dollars for Haiti relief, has apparently spent very little of that in Haiti and has built only six homes instead of the thousands it promised.   It seems unbelievable though the Red Cross is being very quiet about what they actually spent there, which is raising suspicions.

I’ll have to find another charity to donate to, I guess.

The rescue operation for the Eastern Star, the Yangtze cruise ship that capsized, has come to an end and it is now a recovery operation. During the day, dozens of bodies were brought to the surface. A hole has been cut in the hull of the vessel and the grim work continues.

Allegedly a group of grieving relatives who got too nosy were beaten by local police and shuttled into a building and told they were not to talk to the press.

It is the 26th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Leaders of the protest are no closer to returning home than they were when they went into exile. I will pause for a moment of silence in memory.

Former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner, of Trinidad and Tobago, has announced his is going to spill the beans about the wrong doing in the football organization. Let the chips fall where they may, he says. And it will be interesting to see where the chips do fall.

Also falling was the stock market, rattled by Greece missing a payment, down by almost 171 points. Greece and the EU are playing a game of chicken. Let’s hope no one gets hurt. Because if someone does, it is not going to be good for the rest of us.

It’s not a good day to be a Federal Employee. The records of four million US government employees got hacked today. No word on who done it but employees were warned to check their credit reports and keep a watchful eye out for fraudulent activity.

I am not a great fan of Piers Morgan but he did a devastating article about the Duggar molestation scandal, which can be found here:

It’s an evangelical mess.

Letter From New York 02 12 15 A very interesting week…

February 12, 2015

From Washington, DC to battered Boston, the east coast is being plunged into a dose of bitter winter cold. The temperatures will drop into minus territory tonight and tomorrow and Sunday. At this very moment, the sun is flashing down on the snow-covered drive. As I’ve said before: this is the coldest winter I’ve experienced in the fourteen years I’ve been in the cottage.

The breaking news this morning was that a ceasefire has been announced for Sunday in Ukraine. The pact was announced in three separate news conferences. One was held by Putin, another by Ukraine’s Poroshenko and the third by Merkel of Germany and Hollande of France. That there were three press conferences rather than one has caused observers to already speculate that this is an agreement fraught with trouble.

Already it is known as Minsk II and Poroshenko has announced it will be difficult to implement. Ukraine said that even while the marathon talks were happening more Russian heavy armor entered eastern Ukraine in advance of the stand down.

Minsk II is not too similar to last fall’s Minsk Protocol, which was violated within weeks of signing. Regardless, markets responded well and Merkel and Hollande cautiously celebrated.

The West has made it relatively clear that it will not use military means in Ukraine while Putin plays that hand continuously. His economy may be shattering but he has got a good army on the ground.

While I was in New York yesterday, Bob Simon of CBS News was killed in an auto crash on New York’s West Side Away, near 30th, a spot I have passed many a time. One of my first memories of a network news correspondent was of him, reporting from Viet Nam. He was on one of the last helicopters out of Saigon before it fell. He survived many a war zone; it seems ironic he would pass in an accident on the West Side Highway.

It is another marking point in an extraordinary week for news organizations. Brian Williams is on suspension, Jon Stewart is stepping down and Bob Simon has died.

In news that is hardly happy and seems incomprehensible as I look out at nearly six feet of snow piled outside my window but droughts in the continental US are predicted to become incredibly severe in the second half of this century, the worst in a thousand years.

Judicial disarray reigns for yet another day in Alabama over same sex marriages. A minority of counties are obeying the Federal rulings, a majority are not or are just not marrying anyone, gay or straight. The Probate Judges in Alabama are the ones who give out marriage licenses and the one in Mobile today was ordered to get going and give them out but that ruling was for one specific jurisdiction and it is unclear whether that will influence other counties. Probate judges are declaring themselves caught between two courts.

Ah, sweet Alabama!

And while we are visiting issues in the South, three Muslim students, shot execution style by their neighbor, were buried today. Supposedly it was about parking spaces though Keith Ellison, Democratic Congressman from Minnesota and first Muslim elected to Congress, doubts that’s all there was to it.

A labor dispute is closing West Coast ports for four days. Each side blames the other, of course, but ships will be floating out at sea unable to offload their cargoes. The father of a friend of mine was bankrupted in such a situation many years ago.

Ashton Carter has been named the new Defense Secretary. It was widely expected he would be. Though President Obama’s nominee, he is widely liked by the Senate. The nominee for Attorney General has not been so lucky. Her nomination was not voted on today. The Senate doesn’t convene tomorrow nor is it in session next week.

The sun has almost set. The deer have yet to make their appearance. I have begun to think that it is timed to a moment when the sun is setting. I expect them soon. I have already started the cold-water faucet in the kitchen dripping against the bitter cold of tonight.

As I finish this, my brother is landing in Honduras to begin his two-week trip giving medical care. I will keep him constantly in my thoughts.