Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

Letter From New York, via the Vineyard 06 22 2016 Far from the madding crowd but all too aware of it…

June 23, 2016

It is peaceful here in Edgartown, sitting watch a sailboat motor past my window.  The harbor has been filling up with more boats each week that I have been here.  The moorings are filling up with boats of all kinds, small and large.  Far away, just outside the harbor sits a huge motor yacht.  I think it’s been here every year I have. 

Tomorrow, by this time, we should know if Britain has decided to “Brexit” or not and on Friday we will see how the markets respond.  It will be, I am told in newspaper reports, a slow unwinding that will take at least two years.  On the way home from the bookstore, I heard a report that those in Britain who would support Trump are those who support “Brexit.”  They are older, rural, and less educated.   The young in Britain support remaining but have a shabby record of voting. 

It is too close to call.

Jo Cox, the British MP, murdered by a man shouting “Britain first!” as he killed her while she was campaigning against “Brexit” would have turned 42 today.

Right now, led by Representative John Lewis, Democrats are staging a Congressional “sit in” to push Republicans to do something about gun control after four separate bills on the subject failed to pass, blocked by Republicans.  John Lewis is an older African American who cut his chops in the civil rights era and is taking what he learned there to literally the floor of Congress.  Representative Joe Kennedy, a scion of that famous clan, is also on the floor with him.  As is the New York Congressman just to the south of me, Sean Maloney, an openly gay man who lives with his husband and children in Rhinebeck.

Trump is stumping.  He speechified and NPR annotated.  Here is the link: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/us/politics/donald-trump-speech-highlights.html?_r=0

Worth reading…

Mr. Trump owns a golf course in Scotland.  Locals have raised a Mexican flag in view of the course to articulate their displeasure with the man.  He promised 6,000 jobs.  He created 150.

Since last writing, Trump has said, “You’re fired!” to Corey Lewandowski who had been his campaign manager.  Apparently, Trump’s family pressured him into it.

In Pakistan, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Amjad Sabri, a Sufi Muslim singer, shot while heading to a performance, shortly after leaving home.  The Pakistanis are outraged.  The Taliban claimed his form of singing mystical Islamic poetry was “blasphemous.”  Most thought it beautiful.

There are at least hundreds of thousands in the Federal Prison System. Inmate No. 47991-424 is Dennis Hastert, once Speaker of the House, now imprisoned because he lied about bank transfers that were being paid to cover up he had sexually abused a boy when he was a wrestling coach.

In disturbing news, it appears the Pentagon is not letting people know if Americans are being wounded or killed in Iraq and Syria as it would “not be helpful.”  By the time the Mideast fiasco is finished we will have wasted five trillion dollars.  Five trillion dollars…

There is a lavender light over the harbor, the water is peaceful.  I am writing while watching the news with my friend Jeffrey as I slip into another almost bucolic evening in the Vineyard.  Here it is peaceful, far from the madding world.

Letter From New York 05 11 15 Of glittering sun and charming princes…

May 11, 2015

Today dawned gloriously, bright shiny sunlight came barreling down from the east, casting a disc of yellow/white onto the creek, glinting up at me as I stood on the deck for a moment before heading for the city.

The Hudson looked peaceful as I rolled south on the train, giving no evidence that there had been a fire at Indian Point, the nuclear reactor forty miles north of midtown Manhattan or that oil from there had seeped into the river, causing environmental concerns. Governor Cuomo was there over the weekend, being briefed on the happenings. It makes him and many others nervous about a nuclear plant that close to the city.

Anything nuclear makes me nervous.

For those who have a fond spot for Britain, it may be time to be nervous. While last week’s election has saved the political career of David Cameron it might just herald the beginning of the end for “Great Britain.” The SNP [Scottish National Party] won 56 of 59 seats that Scotland has in Britain’s Parliament. They also are very much in favor of holding another vote about Scotland going its own way from the rest of the United Kingdom [England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland]. Just doesn’t seem right but it could happen.

What does seem right is the idea of a truce in Yemen that is supposed to start tomorrow to allow aid to reach the Yemenis. Fuel resources are almost exhausted and food is scarce. Days ago it was estimated that 80% of Yemenis were going hungry. It’s only become worse since then.

As the time for the truce draws near, the Saudis are deploying a strike force near the Yemen/Saudi border. Trucks carrying tanks have been traveling through the night to take positions. The Houthis say they will honor the truce as long as the Saudis do but if there are infractions they will immediately respond.

One UN official felt five days would not be enough time to get aid to the Yemenis but it is all they have, if they manage to hold the truce for that amount of time.

Secretary of State John Kerry is off to Sochi, Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria, Ukraine and Iran. I wonder what that conversation is going to be like?

In more Washington news, writer Seymour Hersh has written a piece for the London Review of Books claiming that the story of Osama Bin Laden’s death was a lot of bunk and the truth is quite different. Seems he thinks that it was an American/Pakistani conspiracy and that OBL was actually a Pakistani prisoner at the time of the raid and the raid was a cover-up for Pakistan’s involvement.

Pretty far fetched and, like most conspiracy theories, pretty hard to prove.

From The Moscow Times, an English language newspaper in Russia not known for partisanship to Putin, claims that Russian soldiers have, in small numbers, quit the army after being forced to serve in Ukraine.

According to Vladimir Putin, no Russian soldiers are in Ukraine, only volunteers.

While the migrant focus has been on the thousands attempting to cross from Libya to Italy, another migrant drama has been playing out. Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi immigrants have been rescued at sea attempting to reach Malaysia since Thailand has been cracking down on human trafficking. The Rohingya are not allowed citizenship in Myanmar and as Muslims are a minority in that mostly Buddhist country and have been singled out for ethnic violence. Because of the Thai crackdown, aid workers are concerned that many have been abandoned at sea by their smugglers.

George Zimmerman, he of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, is back in the news today, having been himself slightly wounded in a road rage incident.

And Tom Brady, Quarterback of the Patriots, has been suspended by the NFL for four games while the Patriots were fined a million dollars and two draft picks in coming years. Seems a slight slap on the wrist though it is almost assured that Brady will appeal his suspension. Ah, Deflategate!

Prince Harry, now fifth in line for the British throne after the birth of his niece, Charlotte, is in New Zealand, learning about the aftereffects of the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. By all accounts he is charming the New Zealanders to no end.

And that brings me to the end of today’s Letter From New York. I am about to do a conference call and then see about some dinner. That sounds charming.

Letter From New York 03 30 15 Safely back in Delhi…

March 30, 2015

There is one thing I have learned from my times in India. The people drive with cheerful, careless, reckless abandon. After we left the guesthouse at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, I made sure my seat belt was tightly fastened. As we started down the long road to Delhi, I realized that more often than not we were on the wrong side of the road.

Drivers seem to feel that a steady use of the horn gives them both right of way and immunity. After watching death bear down on me at 60 kilometers an hour once too often, I surrendered to the experience and closed my eyes, saying a prayer and hoping to doze.

Once I opened my eyes to see us just avoiding rear-ending the car in front of us; another time to see us squeeze between two other vehicles on a two-lane road. I closed my eyes again and thought pleasant thoughts about arriving in one piece in Delhi.

We drove past ramshackle buildings that could never have been new and past new buildings that looked old before they were finished. In air-conditioned comfort, I looked out at the faces of people, many smiling in the wonderful way Indians have. Some looked intense but most seemed content, living in the world they did. A woman in a red and blue sari passed me, intent on getting where she was going with her burden of groceries in a bag.

I drifted off again and then, before I really knew it, I was at India Habitat Center, where I will be staying the next two nights before heading down to Jaipur.

An old friend surfaced this morning, via Facebook, and I am going to see if I can get to Goa to see him. I had thought he was living in Haridwar but it turns out he has not kept his Facebook profile up to date and is now in Goa.

Tonight, I will see if I can work that out.

At this very moment, much to my frustration, I am Internet challenged. While it says I am connected, no pages load so I have no connection to the greater world.

The Times of India this morning was bursting with reports about dissension in the AAP, a relatively new party that swept elections in Delhi in the last two months. Two of the founders of the party seemed to have been banished for “seditious” activities. Made American politics seem almost tame.

In Roorkee, I met an Australian named Jo, who now works at the University of Southampton in Britain and who has been on loan to IIT Roorkee for the last six months helping them revamp their administrative policies. She goes home tomorrow and is deeply sad after having become very attached to Roorkee and India.

She, Ron Eglash and I had a spirited conversation yesterday night about the differences between British and American politics at the given moment. She was fascinated and intrigued by the sharp differences right now between Republicans and Democrats. Her feeling is that Tories and Labour in the UK have become too similar though the advance of UKIP, a newish party that wants to pull away from Europe and which is gaining a surprising degree of popularity, frightens her. Jo’s opinion is that UKIP has a racist streak up its spine.

The Iranian talks are coming down to the wire and it may well be there will be no resolution though Iran still says it is “doable.” Tomorrow is the last day of the self-imposed deadline and negotiators seem willing to talk until 11:59:59 PM of March 31st.

The Times of India, which was left at my door at the guesthouse in Roorkee, also reported on the continuing Saudi airstrikes against Yemeni rebels.

It was actually cool when I left the guesthouse and I wore a sweater for the first time since being in India.

Now that I am safely back in Delhi, I look forward to the rest of my time in India. I am hoping I can find a way to Goa to see William, who has lived here since 1969. He was 19 when he arrived and has never really left.

I have plans tomorrow to do some Delhi shopping with my friend Raja and am going to put together a list of people for whom I would like to bring home something. It’s part of the fun of traveling, finding delights for friends and relatives.