Posts Tagged ‘Beau Biden’

Letter From New York 06 05 15 The Adorable and the Horrible…

June 6, 2015

The weather app indicated that it would rain this afternoon in Baltimore, which is where I am, but at least for now, sun pours down on Fells Point, a charming part of Baltimore where friends live. It’s not too warm and later we will walk about twenty minutes to La Scala, a restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italy section.

We all went walking this morning to Alexander’s Tavern for brunch and then around Fell’s Point and then some shopping for tomorrow’s meals. Monday I am in DC for some meetings and then back to New York in the evening.

As we left to go to brunch, CNN was carrying live the funeral of Beau Biden, the 46 year-old son of Vice President Biden, who succumbed to brain cancer. Losing a child is incredibly difficult. Biden has lost two. His infant daughter was killed in a car crash along with his first wife and now he has lost his oldest son, Beau, by all accounts a very good man and a rising leader in the Democratic Party.

Obama gave the eulogy. Chris Martin performed. A thousand people mourned.

Mourning is racking China; the death toll in the Eastern Star capsizing has risen to over 400. The ship was righted today and body after body was removed. The company that owned the ship has apologized and will “fully cooperate” with the investigation. The captain and engineer, who survived, are being detained by police.

Putin was in the news. He stated that the West had no need to be frightened by Russia. [I wonder if Hitler ever said anything like that?] But what is true is that Russia has been stepping up its military efforts, modernizing and maintaining an army that is 850,000 strong with 2.5 million reservists. He is diverting some recruits from active service into working in factories producing military equipment. None of this sounds benign to me.

China seems to be doing the same, especially with the military build-up in the South China Sea. Experts place the U.S. as the world’s greatest military power, followed by Russia and then China.

Sarajevo was once known as a city where interfaith harmony reigned. Christians, Muslims and Orthodox Christians lived together in peace. Then came the ‘90’s, when interfaith harmony fell apart in the midst of the Balkan conflict. Today, the city seems to be moving back to its peaceful ways. Francis arrived today to encourage Catholics to stay and work with Muslims and Orthodox Christians to find peace fully again.

He has also taken up the banner of climate change prevention, something which Rick Santorum, once again seeking the Republican Presidential nomination, has said he thinks the Pope should just keep his mouth shut about climate change. Could Santorum keep his shut?

In a little less than eight hours, polls will open in Turkey. President Erdogan is hoping to set in process a motion that will give him more power. Currently, Turkey has a parliamentary system much like Britain’s, with real authority in the hands of the Prime Minister, which Erdogan used to be. He faced term limits and couldn’t run for Prime Minister so he ran for President. His former Foreign Minister is now Prime Minister and it is pretty clear Erdogan is calling the shots.

But he might not be able to pull it off. Polls are indicating he may get a trouncing, which might be a very good thing for Turkey as a democracy. He has been cracking down on any media outlets that don’t like him. In a final rally yesterday, he reminded the crowds that the New York Times was funded by “Jewish capital” and the British Guardian should know its limits. Good thing they’re not Turkish media companies. They might have been shut down. Will be watching this one closely. I am not an Erdogan fan.

The Saudis shot down a SCUD missile launched by the Houthis, aimed at a Saudi Air Force base, using a US made Patriot missile. The Houthis and the government of Hadi, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia, have agreed to meet in Switzerland even as the fighting seems to be escalating.

In a very worrying turn of events, IS is suspected of recruiting scientists so it can make chemical weapons.

But for something that will make you smile, look at the pictures of Prince George and his sister, Princess Charlotte. Adorable.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/princess-charlotte/11655903/Princess-Charlotte-Prince-George-first-family-photo.html

As I close out for today, I chose to focus on adorable more than horrible.

Letter From New York 05 31 15 Musings on a dark and sullen day…

May 31, 2015

It is a dark and sullen day; at ten in the morning it looks as if night is about to fall. The sky is dark and leaden. Wind whips through the trees outside my bedroom windows. Rain fell in the night, puddling on the deck outside.

After a troubled night’s sleep, perhaps from caffeine too late in the day, I woke early and have begun to do household duties. The second load of laundry is already in the washer and I am deep into my reading of the Sunday NY Times. The chimes of the clock in the foyer have just sounded the top of the hour.

While I was in Delhi, I learned that its air was the worst of any city in the world, worse than Beijing. This morning’s Times had a story about the terrible Delhi air effect it has, particularly, on children. I thought of my friends there, Raja and Jag, whose daughter, Noor, is eight. She has trouble with the air sometimes and, as I recall, needs an inhaler.

Sidelines at soccer games are littered with inhalers, the report said. India has 13 of the top 25 polluted cities. Beijing, which I had always thought was number one, is actually 79th.

The cost to children in such polluted cities is hard to calculate but it is huge, with permanent damage being done to the most vulnerable in the population. It is a sobering fact.

While the day is dark and sullen, the air in the Hudson Valley is absolutely pristine compared to places such as Delhi.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Narendra Modi’s election to Prime Minister of India. For the most part, he seems to be getting good marks though in the religious diversity arena he gets rather poor marks. His party, the BJP, is avidly pro-Hindu and after his election there were forced conversions and attacks on churches across India. He remained too quiet about the matter until prodded by President Obama during his State visit there earlier this year. The Ford Foundation has been put on a security watch list because it has funded an Indian group that has had conversations about religious violence. 9000 NGO’s have had their licenses cancelled.

Not a good way to project its mantle as the world’s largest democracy.

Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, succumbed yesterday to brain cancer at the age of 46. He was a promising politician and was planning on running for Governor next year. He had served a tour of duty in Iraq with the National Guard. It feels as we have been deprived of what might have been a valuable future voice.

Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in France while bicycling and is now on his way to Boston for treatment by the same doctor who replaced his hip. The peripatetic Mr. Kerry has been on the road for 356 of the last 365 days. This will tie him down for a while and he will be attending at least one conference by video link.

In Nepal, the country is attempting to return to some form of normalcy. Schools have been reopening while remote villages still struggle to get supplies. Normalcy is a long way away for that country but the first steps are being made.

A magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook Japan yesterday with 12 injured but no major damage. Still it was the sixth largest earthquake since 1885.

“San Andreas” set off a tremor at the Box Office, bringing in $53 plus million over the weekend, while Bradley Cooper’s “Aloha” bombed. We love our disaster films, apparently, especially with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The U.S. and China have toned the rhetoric down a bit about the artificial islands being created in the South China Sea but we’re a LONG way to any kind of resolution.

With my second load of laundry done, I am going to depart for the Red Dot and my usual Sunday brunch there, perhaps adding what I can to the weekly solving of the NY Times Crossword Puzzle – and that usually isn’t much.

Good Sunday, all!