Posts Tagged ‘Boehner’

Letter From New York 02 28 15 Working to understand…

February 28, 2015

It is the last day of February and, as I sit at my desk, the sun is just beginning to set. The amount of daylight is about the same now as it was in October. There are sharp shadows on the ground; soft jazz plays in the background.

It’s been a busy day. Early morning rise to do emails, followed by a run to the Post Office for a week’s worth of mail, a trip to the local Farmer’s Market held indoors in the community hall of Christ Church down in Hudson, a little cleaning, grocery shopping, a stop at the Red Dot for a bite to eat, then home to write this blog.

It was a good day. In my email this morning was one that indicated my Indian Visa has been granted so I will have to gather all the things I need to pick it up on Monday. Next comes finding a plane ticket, giving me the most luxury for the least amount of money. I am working to use miles to upgrade myself on both legs of a very long flight.

Monday I am seeing my doctor to get all my shots.

The world is reeling today from the death yesterday of Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure in Russia who was gunned down while walking across a bridge last night. Every opposition figure in Russia is more frightened than they were. Nemtsov’s mother spoke frequently that she was afraid for her son’s life, afraid that Putin would have him killed.

Thousands paid tribute to him today in a march.

Putin has denounced the murder and is “personally” taking charge of the investigation of the assassination. I wonder how that will go?

In Egypt a new, even more severe anti-terrorism law has been passed. Following that, the Egyptian courts have ruled that Hamas, the Palestinian organization, is a terrorist group, pushing them further into a corner.

Also in Africa, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe threw himself a lavish million-dollar birthday party at Victoria Falls to celebrate his 91st. Yes, 91st. He is the world’s oldest head of state. It doesn’t seem to bother him that his country is desperately impoverished. Let the good times roll! Elephants were slaughtered for the feast and there were seven huge birthday cakes.

In Iraq, 37 people have died in bombing attacks, in and north of Baghdad. IS is believed to be responsible. IS controls about a third of Iraq and a third of Syria, that territory making up their so-called Caliphate.

One of that “Caliphate’s” most famous individuals, Jihadi John, has the world attempting to figure out how a nice kid from London became Jihadi John. People who knew him then say they are stunned by who he has become. Debate rages in the UK as to whether that country was responsible for turning him from the nice kid next door to the gruesome face of IS.

In Tyrone, Missouri, locals and local police are attempting to understand what triggered 36-year-old Joseph Aldredge to shoot eight people, killing seven, before turning the gun on himself. Four of the dead were his cousins. Apparently he had a history of drugs and guns and may have become unnerved at the death of his mother from lung cancer. She was found dead in her kitchen after the shootings, possibly having been dead for as long as 24 hours.

Next week, Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, will address Congress. The address, at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, in addition to shattering protocol, has shattered the bipartisan show of support for Israel. Many Democrats will not show up for the speech. Several foreign ambassadors that have been invited have also declined. Two weeks after this speech Netanyahu faces a tough election back home.

The Administration has been accusing him of doing everything in his power to undermine the negotiations going on with Iran over their nuclear program.

It is a messy, dicey situation that will get worse before it gets better and it will be interesting to see if the Congressional speech helps or harms Netanyahu back home.

The sun is setting. I am getting ready to go to a neighbor’s for dinner. Tomorrow they are predicating more snow, which caused me to sigh audibly. This is the longest, coldest, snowiest winter I have remembered since being here.

Spring will come. I know it will.

Letter From New York 02 27 15 About missing a day…

February 27, 2015

For anyone who might have noticed, there was no Letter From New York yesterday. It was my intention to write it after a mid-afternoon appointment with a former client to do some more consulting for them. The client, Nick Stuart, has also become one of my closest friends. There were three of us at the meeting and when were finishing, Nick suggested that the two of us play hooky and go see KINGSMAN, the new Colin Firth movie, which we did. It was a chocolate cake piece of old fashioned spy fun with high tech tricks.

Then I went on to drinks and dinner with Leo Brunnick, the CEO of Patheos, largest Internet site devoted to religion, who has become a friend. We started with martinis at Sardi’s, the venerable theater haunt down in Manhattan’s Theater District, followed by tapas at Buceo 95, a wine bar on the Upper West Side, a part of New York that Leo does not usually visit.

We had a great time but by the time I sent him home in a taxi and walked back to my place, it was late and I was exhausted.

Now, I sit in the Acela Lounge at Penn Station, waiting for my friend Lionel, who lives across the street from me in Claverack; we’ll ride the same train back home.

When I was kid, one of the many things I wanted to be was to be an archeologist. So I was shocked this morning as I perused the Times to find that IS is systematically destroying ancient monuments and treasures in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, which has been under their control since last summer.

The treasures date back to the ancient Assyrians, who ruled a vast Middle Eastern Empire three thousand years, which at the time was the largest empire the world had yet seen. They left behind stunning works of art to which IS is now applying the delicate touch of sledgehammers.

The present day descendants of the Assyrians are Christians and another group of them has been kidnapped from their villages by IS. The IS militants are swarming across the territory they control intending to remove from it, one way or another, anyone who subscribes to a different religious view than theirs. There is a stretch of 30 Assyrian Christian villages that now stand deserted, residents having fled to safety or been captured by IS.

Against this backdrop, the Assyrians have joined forces with the Kurds and are fighting back, with some success.

Eric Holder, still Attorney General, has encouraged Malls around the country to enhance their security. The fear of a homegrown terror attack is what keeps him up at night, he says.

What might keep up many at night is that tonight funding for the Department of Homeland Security will expire. The Senate has passed a bill to keep it going but the House remains riven and Boehner is scrambling.

To my great sadness, Leonard Nimoy, creator of the character of Spock, our favorite human/Vulcan half-breed in the Star Trek television series and series of movies, passed away today.

In Mexico today, “La Tuta” [The Teacher] was arrested. His real name is Servando Gomez who started his life as a teacher and became a Drug Lord. For years he has taunted authorities with videos, boasting of his close ties to politicians. He swore never to be taken alive. He was captured, without a shot, while eating a hot dog at a hot dog stand.

In another sad story, seven people killed, and another one wounded, in a shooting spree by a 36 year old man who then fatally turned his gun on himself. Tiny Tyrone, Missouri is reeling. A lonely little town 50 miles from the Arkansas border, it is the kind of place where everyone knew everyone else.

The top news story this morning when I woke was that “Jihadi John,” the IS militant believed to have beheaded western hostages, had been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwait born, London bred 27 year old who once upon a time was “the boy next door.” He studied computer science at the University of Westminster. He is now one of the world’s most wanted men.

Speaking of being wanted, it will soon be time for my train and I must sign off, gather my belongings and head for Track 5.

Letter From New York 02 11 15 A bit of chaos here and there…

February 11, 2015

As I ride south into the city, the Hudson River to my right is ice bound, with bright light glittering off the frozen surface of the river. The journey into the city was precipitated by a couple of meetings, one of which has already been cancelled while I was boarding the train. My friend Rita’s plane from DC was cancelled and she is rushing to the train station to get the next train.

After many bad experiences, I am skeptical about the wisdom of doing anything but training between Washington and New York.

My train is bumping along as it works its way to New York. It arrived late in Hudson because of equipment trouble but only by thirty minutes. The equipment is suffering from the cold and hence the ride is rockier than usual. I can feel it in my back.

The world of television has been rocked in the last twenty-four hours.

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show for the last fifteen years, announced yesterday that he would be departing the program this year, as early as July or as late as December, but he is leaving.

It is a double blow for Comedy Central, which also lost Stephen Colbert this year to CBS where he is taking over late night duties for David Letterman. The network has indicated The Daily Show will continue and there is scrambling to find a replacement for him.

Scrambling is also going on over at NBC. Steven Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, paid a visit to Brian Williams yesterday and informed him that he was going to be suspended without pay for the next six months. It may be the beginning of the end of Williams’ career. Twitter has tweets that NBC is now looking into his expense reports and investigating the veracity of other stories that Mr. Williams has told about his in-field experiences.

As I write this, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are huddling in Minsk, Belarus, in an effort to find some political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. There are rumors of some progress, but sides still seem far apart. More than 5,300 have lost their lives. Somewhere between 1.2 million and 1.5 million have been made refugees.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, has commented that there has been “noticeable progress.” Interpretation: Russia is getting closer to what it wants, I guess. Ms. Merkel of Germany holds out slim hope but will continue to walk the diplomatic path in honor of the civilians who have died.

Hundreds of refugees from Africa are believed to have died in an attempt to reach Italy, joining the thousands who have already drowned in the last years, trying to cross the Mediterranean, hoping to find a better life in Europe.

Three Muslim adult students were gunned down in Chapel Hill, SC. It may have been a hate crime or it may have been a parking dispute. Either way, a tragedy.

Obama has asked for war authorization against ISIS. He used interesting phrasing, with the plan barring “enduring offensive combat operations.” It is to last three years. Speaker Boehner quickly criticized the plan and indicated there would be Congressional changes.

A little over three years ago, the cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground off an Italian island and 32 people lost their lives. Today, just moments ago, its Captain, Francesco Schettino, was found guilty of manslaughter. He faces 26 years in prison. He was also accused, and found guilty of, abandoning his passengers to save himself.

It was said that when the Costa Concordia hit the rocks, there was chaos. In Alabama today there is a bit of judicial chaos. The Supreme Court refused to put a stay on gay marriage in Alabama and that should have been the end of it. But gay couples can only get married in parts of Alabama today as some judges refuse to carry out ceremonies. An Alabama female minister was arrested on disorderly conduct charges after offering to conduct a same sex wedding. She is in jail.

Alabama has a long history of fighting orders from the Federal Courts. It will be interesting to watch how all this plays out.

Far enough south now, the Hudson River flows freely at the center. The train is approaching New York City. The equipment, however, has not thawed out and I will be glad to end the bumpy ride.