Posts Tagged ‘China’

Letter From Claverack 09 04 2017

September 4, 2017

It is an excruciatingly beautiful day at the cottage, the sun is warm, a wind blows to temper it, the only sound is soft jazz in the other room.  I have just finished a late lunch of eggs, sunny side up, steak and toast, eaten on the deck.  The first leaves have begun to fall, scattered on the table top, reminding me of the fleetingness of time.

Soon we will be in another season, fall, which I love and loathe, as I always seem so alive in the fall and, at the same time, so painfully aware life is short and death is long. It’s been that way ever since I was a kid, walking down the leaf strewn streets of south Minneapolis, knowing winter was coming and being entranced by the magic in the air.

It is Labor Day, 2017.

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday is ‘a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.’ Labor Day is a ‘yearly national tribute’ to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and wellbeing of our country.          Newsweek, 9/04/2017

And it is a holiday with a bloody history.  “Labor” wasn’t always celebrated.  Suggested reading: Walter Lord’s “The Good Years.”

The summer is unofficially ending when this day becomes part of history.  When I was a kid, it meant school was starting the next day so this was a day I always endured fearfully.  Today, I am not fearful about returning to school.  There are other things…

Kim Jong-Un has me a little fearful as does having Trump be the president who is facing him.  There was some analysis this morning that the timing of Kim’s tests of bombs and missiles has more to do with tweaking President Xi of China than with President Trump.  The latest bomb test came just as Xi was greeting officials from the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China.  Took the wind out of Xi’s sails in terms of making news.  Kim does these things lately just as Xi is set to make some news.  Hey, I’m HERE, President Xi!  Got it?  I’m here and I’ve got some pretty big toys!

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said North Korea “is begging for war.”  President Trump is saying, “All options are on the table.” This might not end well.

Down in the Caribbean sits the Dutch island of Saba, part of the Leeward Islands, which I visited in February.  Friends have retired there and are sitting directly in the path of Hurricane Irma, now a category 4 storm.  An email today said they will be in the eye of the hurricane tomorrow and were busily preparing, friends helping friends prepare for what could be a very nasty ride.  If you pray, think of them.

Michael Eros, son of my longtime friends, Mary Clare and Jim Eros, is returning to Houston today after the Burning Man Festival.  He left Houston before Harvey hit and he will now find out what it has done to his city.  He and friends built a giant figure which they burned, leaving behind the metal shell.

IMG_2574

Harvey will likely be the most expensive storm in history; it is believed 180 billion dollars of damage has been done.  Ted Cruz is having a hard time now explaining why he voted against Sandy help now that he is asking for Harvey help.  The phrase, “people who live in glass houses,” comes to mind.

There are joyful things happening in the world. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child.  Peggy Whitson has returned from the International Space Station, having notched more time in space than any other American.  There will be another Indiana Jones film, without Shia LeBeouf’s character.  A young girl in Harvey’s floodwaters got herself and her family rescued by asking Siri to call the Coast Guard, which rescued her as she was slipping into a sickle cell anemia crisis.

Bad things will happen.  Good things will happen.  All we need to do, to keep moving forward, is not to blow ourselves up.  I’ll pray for that.

 

 

Letter From New York 07 13 2016 Picture Perfect Summer Day

July 13, 2016

The leaves are being jostled by a light wind that tempers the warmth of the afternoon here at the cottage.  The creek is reflecting back the images of the trees overhanging its banks.  Occasionally, a trout will slide through the water.  The only noise is the distant sound of a small plane heading toward the little airport north of me.

I have been ensconced here for several hours now, earlier sipping tea and now a Diet Coke.  It is the perfect day for sitting on my deck, overlooking the creek, reading and thinking.  It reminds me of a childhood sweet summer day back in Minnesota, when I was young and the days seemed to last forever.  It is a day that is demanding very little from me and I am embracing the lack of demand.

The gentle wind and soft warmth cry out to be savored, embraced, enjoyed and I am opening my arms to them.IMG_1325

As I have sat here this morning, David Cameron has left 10 Downing Street, gone to Buckingham Palace, met the Queen and formerly resigned. Theresa May, who is promising a “bold, new” future for Britain, is the newest Prime Minister to serve Her Majesty, the thirteenth in a line that began with Winston Churchill.

Obama spoke in Dallas yesterday, yet again, after the tragic murders of human beings.  He was eloquent and spoke of hope in the darkness and yet I heard tiredness and pain in the clips I have heard.  He has had to do this so many times in his two terms; the most heartbreaking was after Newtown.

As I think of dark times, the sky has darkened over me, causing me to wonder if my part of the world will begin to weep?

A social media storm has broken out over former President George W. Bush’s behavior during a rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the Dallas Memorial yesterday.   Judge for yourself:

http://gawker.com/what-exactly-was-going-on-with-george-w-bush-at-the-me-1783551893

We all have different responses to grief…

I am getting older, as are all of us, and it seems to be weighing heavily on Japan’s Emperor.  Akihito is 82 and reports are saying he feels his health is getting in the way of his duty and that he might abdicate soon in favor of the 56 year old Crown Prince Naruhito.

China is saber rattling about the South China Sea after the International Court in The Hague ruled that China had violated the rights of the Philippines there with its harassment of sailors and fishermen.  China rejects the ruling.  Several countries, including Viet Nam, have territorial claims to the energy rich South China Sea, all of which are rebuffed by the Chinese.

In other cheery international news, Russia and NATO are bumping heads again after NATO announced it is moving 4,000 troops into the Baltic to form a bulwark against the Russians.  They form a security threat, says Russia, and both sides are getting more intractable, as the months go on since Russia reclaimed the Crimea.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if people said:  we have a problem here.  How can we solve it?  Days like today bring out my childhood naïveté.

Trump is looking at candidates to be his Vice Presidential nominee and having them meet with his family.  They include, Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and Chris Christie, lame duck Governor of New Jersey.

Last night, three more men were shot, this time in Norfolk, Virginia.  Two are improving, one remains critical.  All were black.

A year ago, a white teenager named Zachary Hammond was killed by police bullets during a drug investigation.  His parents are wondering why no one ever took up the cry about his death.  I wonder too…

The Republican platform is devotedly anti-LGBTQ.  A few efforts to change that have been beaten back.  The GOP is going to be what the GOP has been the last few decades.

The day is swinging toward a close.  I have run a few errands, brought in the garbage cans and am looking forward to continuing this place magical day into the evening.

Letter From New York 05 23 2016 Letter From New York Thoughts from the train north from Baltimore…

May 23, 2016

It is Monday morning and I am riding an overcrowded train from Baltimore to New York after spending the weekend there visiting friends.  At one point I thought I might end up sitting on the floor but found a seat at the very front of the train.

Outside ruined building pass; we are somewhere just north of Philadelphia.  Exotic graffiti adorns them while the sun blasts down.  Beyond the ruins lie bedraggled row houses that probably will someday be gentrified.  What contrasts we have in this country.

Baltimore is in a resurgence, at least near the water, where my friends live.  We dined on Saturday night at Peter’s Inn, a wonderfully, quirky little row house restaurant, rough around the edges with handwritten menus, food arriving in the order that the chef has prepared it which is not necessarily the way you ordered it.  Good chill martinis and a nice little wine list, friendly people and that wonderful thing called “atmosphere” that has not been scrupulously concocted but which emerges from the quirkiness of the place and people.

It was a time of sitting around and visiting with Lionel and Pierre and my friend Allen Skarsgard, with whom I had some long philosophical conversations over the weekend.  We had known each other in the long ago and faraway, reconnecting just enough that we can mark the present without dwelling in our past.

There was, of course, talk of the brutal politics of this election cycle.  I don’t remember a question that was asked on MSNBC on Sunday morning but recall the response:  it’s 2016, ANYTHING can happen.

So it seems.

As it seems all over the world.  A far right candidate is deadlocked with his rival in Austria.  If Herbert Norber of the right wins, it will be the first time a far right candidate will have won a European election since the end of Fascism, a warning shot across the bow of the world.

Troubling for Hillary are national polls, of which we have several a day it seems, that have her potentially losing to Trump.  They have Bernie beating Trump by 10.8 points.

Predictions are that a “Brexit” from the European Union will spark a year long recession.  The drive for a British exit from the European Union is, at least partially, being driven by anti-immigration and nationalistic feelings in the country.

Is this a bit like what the 1930’s felt like? 

In the meantime, Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame and fortune is playing Belle in a live action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Somehow that seems comforting to me this morning.

In Syria, IS has claimed the responsibility for killing scores in that poor, broken country in areas considered Assad strongholds.  A suicide bomber killed many Army recruits in Aden, Yemen.

And a drone strike killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mansour, who opposed peace talks.  His death was confirmed by Obama, who will be the first sitting President to visit Hiroshima, struck by the US with an atomic bomb in !945, a move which forced the Japanese to move to surrender.  He has been in Viet Nam, where he lifted a fifty year old arms embargo, a move to help counter the rise of China in the South China Sea.

Moves and counter moves, the world is in play.  It always has been.  It just took longer in other times for the moves to be made and to feel their repercussions.  Now it’s almost instantaneous.

Letter From New York 10 30 15 Thoughts riding north through the autumn colors…

October 30, 2015

Autumn. Hudson River Valley. Obama. Syria. John Kerry. Saudi Arabia. Douma. European Refugee Crisis. Halloween. Marco Rubio. GOP Debate. Donald Trump. Jeb Bush. Ben Carson. The Donald. One child policy. China. Alexander the Great. Gordian knot.

The autumn colors on the trees may have just past their peak but they are still wonderful as I ride north on Amtrak. The west bank of the Hudson is awash with shades of orange, red and some green. I am heading home for the weekend, having been in the city a bit longer this week than I had planned.

As I waited for the train to exit the tunnels so that I might have Internet again, my phone buzzed twice. First it was AP and then it was the BBC, letting me know that President Obama is sending fifty special operations troops to Syria to assist the rebels we support.

While he was announcing this, Secretary of State Kerry is in Vienna, dealing with the countries that have a stake in Syria, though Syria is not, apparently, there itself. The eyes of the world are on how Saudi Arabia and Iran will react to being the same room together. They are positioned so that they don’t have to look into each other’s eyes.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria, at least 40 have died in Douma, a town ten miles north of Damascus, with another hundred wounded. So far a quarter of a million people have died and ten million have fled their homes.

The resulting refugee crisis means that millions of Syrians are living in camps or attempting to go west, sometimes dying in the effort. 570,000 individuals have transited through Greece this year, making the crossing from Turkey in small boats or rubber dinghies. Yesterday 22 more died and 144 were rescued.

It is all far from here as I move north, along the Hudson River, absorbing fall colors and contemplating a quiet weekend at the cottage.

It is Halloween this weekend and I’m not sure I am going to do anything. Generally, I have gone down to the Red Dot for their annual party. Last year I dressed as a Roman Emperor. This year, I am not feeling quite so festive. I was thinking more of a martini and a movie at home.

Since last I wrote, there has been another Republican Debate. Not well wired in the city, where I was, I have had to get a feel from it from written articles. General consensus, Marco Rubio won and CNBC, the platform for the debate, lost. The debaters turned the table on the moderators, putting them in their place. Trump wasn’t as Trumpish and Jeb Bush was still Jeb Bush.

Trump is genuinely surprised to find himself trailing Ben Carson in Iowa. Perhaps the Donald will learn a bit of humility.

China has revoked the “one child” only policy though most are indicating they won’t have more than one child. It’s too expensive in time and money now. More and more couples are choosing to remain childless. China will begin to look like Japan, with an aging population. Hard to fathom…

As I finish writing my letters, I find myself pondering the state of the world, working to grasp it. I don’t always get it, usually not at all. The complexity of the politics in the Middle East are so knotted that it is probable that they may never get undone. It will take an Alexander the Great to undo this Gordian knot. He didn’t undo it; he cut through it with his sword.

Letter From New York 09 28 15 Dealing with Putin, Obama, VW, NASA and IS

September 28, 2015

Super Moon. Putin and Obama at the UN. Water flowing on Mars. An independent Catalonia? Taliban rising, again. Living on $17 a day. More on Volkswagen.

Last night, when the eclipse came at 10:47, I was already deeply in the arms of Morpheus. I had thought I might be able to make it but I was asleep before ten, drifting off, like many other days, reading a book.

Now I am on my way into New York City to have dinner with my godson, after a meeting this morning in Hudson. The day, which I thought was going to be sunny, has turned gray and mournful. The Hudson River looks like a sheet of beaten silver. Leaves are beginning to turn though I suspect it may not be a too colorful fall; the leaves that have turned haven’t much color and look as if they had just surrendered to winter, without a final burst of brilliance.

Both Putin and Obama spoke today at the UN. Even though he is meeting Putin today, Obama questioned Russian motives while leaving the door open for a constructive working relationship. That feels a little hard to imagine, a day after Russia, Syria, Iraq and Syria made an agreement to collaborate with each other on IS, without alerting or consulting the U.S.

But who knows what will happen behind closed doors with the two of them?

NASA now says that water flows intermittently on Mars. While it may be briny, it does flow at times which opens the doors wider for life on the Red Planet at some point in its past or present. Wouldn’t that be amazing? [And you’re correct, I am eagerly awaiting the Matt Damon starrer, “The Martian.”]

While I was wrapped in the arms of Morpheus, worshipping the god Somnus, the Taliban seized most of the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan, giving them a prize they have long desired. Afghan Security Forces and UN Personnel fled to safety as defenses collapsed.

It is the first time in fourteen years that the Taliban have managed to swarm into a city rather than attack with isolated bombings and individual acts.

Far to the west, in Spain, the Catalonian region held elections yesterday. A year ago, the region held a referendum on independence from Spain and those who wanted to leave outvoted those who wanted to stay. Madrid declared it unconstitutional and Catalonia remains part of Spain.

In yesterday’s elections, secessionists won a majority of seats but conventional wisdom seems to be thinking that Catalonia doesn’t really want independence but it wants a better deal from the Central government. This election helps strengthen their hand.

17 Florida legislators, mostly Democrats, are going to live on $17.00 a day for a week in a gesture to support a law to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. They figure that $17.00 is what a minimum wage worker has left over to live on when all the basics are paid.

We all know that Volkswagen had some really good code writers for the software they used in their diesel cars. It fooled testers into believing the cars weren’t emitting pollution when they were.   Now the former head, who stepped down after the scandal broke, is now being investigated for fraud. Martin Winterkorn intimated he knew nothing but the German authorities aren’t so sure.

VW has lost a third of it market capitalization since the crisis exploded and the 78-year-old company is facing its biggest challenge.

More dull economic news from China resulted in more losses for the markets today. No denying it’s a global economy.

Nor can I deny that the sun has come out as I am passing the slowly rising new Tappan Zee Bridge. It burst through clouds and now glimmers off the silver water.

The train is well over an hour late and the conductors are being bombarded by questions as to when we’ll get to New York. One poor man is attempting to catch a plane out of Kennedy. He might JUST make it.

I will make my dinner with my godson and for that, I’m grateful.

Letter From Claverack 08 16 15 Thoughts as the sun sets…

August 17, 2015

It is moving toward six in the evening. The sun is beginning its slow set to the west; bright light glimmers through the trees and pools of sunlight litter the drive. I am sitting at my desk, looking out, keeping watch. A friend is coming over and I’m helping him think through his website, a first for him.

It has been a lovely weekend. Lionel and Pierre arrived on Friday evening, a bit ragged from a drive through heavy traffic from Baltimore. We ate at the Red Dot and then came home. Lionel and I had our traditional Friday night “cleansing vodka” and then I drifted off to a good night’s sleep.

Saturday was a lot of running around; neighbors came for cocktails and a visit with Lionel and Pierre.

This morning, I woke early. Heavy fog drifted above the creek, making the place look otherworldly, almost mystical. I prepared breakfast for the three of us and saw them off on their return trip to Baltimore. While I was doing all of these pleasant tasks, the world continued.

An Indonesian plane lost contact with air controllers and there have been reports it crashed into a mountainside. E’Dina Hines, step-granddaughter of Morgan Freeman, was stabbed to death last night in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan by a deranged man, thought to be her boyfriend, who was attempting to cast demons out of her.

Premier Li Keqiang of China visited the port city of Tianjin, the scene of a huge warehouse explosion that was so big it registered on seismic meters. The warehouse contained dangerous chemicals, including sodium cyanide. The warehouse was close by apartment complexes; at least 112 have died and 95, many of them firefighters, are missing. 721 are injured. There is a huge evacuation zone; protests are being held at the hotel used for press briefings.

Sadly, Julian Bond has passed away. He was a young firebrand in the 1960’s and went on to become a respected state legislator in Georgia and head of the NAACP for some years. He was a voice for civil rights and agitated against the Vietnam War, a man to be admired I always thought. And now he’s gone, after a short illness. I will miss knowing that he is alive.

Donald Trump is still leading the Republican polls; he is calling for an end to “birthright citizenship.” Hillary Clinton is trailing Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, which must be causing her some sleepless moments.

Sleepless in Syria are all kinds of people. Assad bombed a suburb of Damascus over the weekend. The war is going badly for him; Damascus is his nominal seat of power though he has long been rumored to have left the capital for the coast. His troops are being defeated and seem to be in slow retreat. Iran has sent ministers to Russia, seeking some kind of political solution.

Iraq, long riven by Shia/Sunni conflicts seems to be facing a Shia/Shia conflict too. I will need to do more reading to understand. I don’t right now. A few days ago, an American General stated that Iraq might have to be partitioned. And it is beginning to look like that might be a viable solution. Iraq was created a century ago by the Brits for their own reasons, mostly, one suspects, oil.

Amazon is one of my favorite suppliers. I don’t want to work there. Reports about the environment for employees indicate it’s a brutal, brutal, brutal place to work. I am, nor ever have been, up for brutal. I still use them, enormously. I am an Amazon Prime customer. Probably will be until the day I die. But not to work there. Oh my!

Apple is apparently building a self-driving car. As is Google. I will bet on Apple. Google’s devices…

Night has arrived. The floodlight on the fountain has turned on. Outside the cicadas are making noises. I am at the end of my day, about to step into yet another Steven Saylor book. I have been binge reading instead of binge watching. Actually, it feels good.

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 21 15 From Palmyra to Santa Barbara…

May 21, 2015

It is the Thursday before the Memorial Holiday weekend and people are fleeing the city; driving through the park was the easiest I’ve ever experienced when I was taking a cab back after a morning appointment on the East Side. It is also another grey day in New York, one in a series though the forecast for the weekend is supposed to be better than what we’ve had.

The media news of the day has been a full blast of coverage of the final show for David Letterman, who for thirty-three years has worked the late night hours, longer than anyone else. The New York Post had a columnist who did an exegesis of Letterman’s career, feeling he had gone from unique to mundane but the majority of reports were glowing and regretful that he was leaving the scene. He bowed out with grace and humor, didn’t shed a tear though those in audience did. Bon Voyage!

Also trumpeted across the headlines today was that Palmyra in Syria has fallen to IS and now IS is in control of 50% of Syria. Palmyra has given it control of a hub of roads that are major Syrian connectors as well as major gas wells. Fears have grown that the magnificent ruins on the outskirts of the city will be ravaged by IS militants. In the meantime, the city’s residents are cowering in fear of their lives. A house–to-house search has been going on as IS looks for Syrian soldiers. 17 have been reported killed, some by beheading, because they were associated with the government.

Adding a new wrinkle to the already messy situation in the Middle East is that Putin is putting his finger in the puddle now. Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abidi is in Moscow and Putin is making him feel very welcome. The Russians are talking about expanded trade and delivery of military weapons to the Iraqi armed forces. The Russians have also been cozying up to Iran, which has been helping Iraq. An interesting mix is developing here and it can’t be making Washington happy. One gets the feeling that maybe we’re being outflanked.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Chinese are taking some tiny spits of land in the South China Sea and artificially making them much larger. One of them will have an airstrip big enough to take very big planes. These islands are being used by the Chinese to expand their territorial claims. To refute those claims the U.S. has been sending planes through what we consider international airspace and which the Chinese now consider their airspace. The tension is rising over what effectively amounts to a stationary aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.

In Baltimore, six officers have been indicted in the Freddie Gray death that incited days of violence.

Santa Barbara is cleaning up its oil spill, not the worst they’ve had but bad enough.

And the state in which Santa Barbara resides, California, is learning to sip water rather than guzzle it. Though there are those who are fragrantly keeping their lawns green and their pools filled. It is a stark picture of the economic divide.

The President of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, announced that he would not revoke the charters of groups that allowed gay councilors.

Ireland is voting tomorrow on whether or not to allow gay marriage. It is looking as if it will pass as polls indicate as many as 70% are in favor of it. Flights from America to Ireland are fully booked as Irish citizens are returning for the historic vote. Trains and ferries are being organized to take the Irish from the UK home for the vote.

Too bad Americans don’t take voting that seriously.

I must seriously end this, as shortly I will have to go meet my friend Paul Krich to have dinner in celebration of his birthday this week.

Letter From New York 04 17 15 Clouds billowing, going north…

April 17, 2015

Stepping out of the apartment this morning, I encountered a world that was grey and filled with the promise of rain. Luckily, I had found an umbrella squirreled away so I faced the world with some verve, with a bit of jauntiness to my step.

It was cool but not chill, feeling a bit more like a fall day than one in spring but not unpleasant. Walking over to Amsterdam, I picked up my favorite pair of shoes from the cobbler and headed down to my friend Todd’s office.

He and my godson, Paul, are friends and the three of us went to lunch with another one of their mutual friends, Nick. It was good to see Paul again, for another farewell before his Sunday return to Los Angeles.

I had a couple of conference calls and then headed for the train, crowded with folks heading north for the weekend, now that the weather is better.   The sun came out, teasing us with hope for a fair weekend.

As the train travels north, I am perusing the news of the world, a rather grim pursuit, I’m afraid.

The market plunged today by 280 points. Greece’s woes are rearing their ugly heads again, rattling markets. China is working to temper its runaway stock market. Adding to the concerns, Bloomberg Financial Terminals went offline for two hours, causing the British government to delay a sale of bonds for a week because the terminals are so central to trading.

Not that I am sure I object, the Time-Warner/Comcast deal seems to have run into some serious obstacles. Certain sectors are giddy with relief; I am sure that M&A lawyers are in a funk.

Al Qaida is tightening its noose in Yemen with 150,000 now displaced.

Iran, as I recall no great fan of the UN, is appealing to that body to do something about the Saudi bombings in Yemen.

In Iraq, things happened: a car bomb went off outside the US Consulate in the Kurdish capital and Saddam Hussein’s #2, on the run for all these past twelve years, was killed today while forty more were killed in bombings in Baghdad. Despite the loss of Tikrit, IS continues to control much of northern Iraq and part of Syria.

China, flexing its muscles to the dismay of its neighbors, is building some artificial islands in the South China Sea. On them it is building a significant airfield. The Spratlys are also claimed in whole or part by Viet Nam, Malaysia and the Philippines. China seems to be operating on the “possession is 9/10ths of the law” rule.

The British elections are hotting up, with no clear leader right now. Labour has declared the Tories “in a panic.” However, the Tories are feeling a bit bolstered by some good economic news. May 7th is the election.

Anti-immigrant attacks have now spread to Johannesburg in South Africa, drawing rebukes from both within the country and without.

Two weeks after a “framework” for a deal with Iran was announced, the gaps between the two sides seemed to be widening instead of narrowing. Obama will sign a bill that would allow the Senate to reject the treaty if more than 2/3rds disapprove, another wrinkle in the process.

There was a moving ecumenical service in Cologne’s Cathedral today for the 150 victims of the Germanwings crash. 500 relatives attended. The city stopped to mourn.

And as has been for days, there is a war of words going on over whether the Turks committed genocide on the Armenians a hundred years ago. Some in Congress want to officially call it that but doing so is complicated by Turkey’s role in the current fighting going on in the Mideast. The Turks have hardened their stance in recent years about the events of a century ago, defiantly denying that there were any acts of genocide committed.

The sun is setting through billowing grey clouds over the Hudson River as I move north. Everyone is working or sleeping, winding down from the week. At the end of my trip is a dinner with friends at the Red Dot and then home to my own bed and a weekend full of activities.

Letter From New York August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The past weekend was one of indolence for me. Friday evening when I returned to the cottage, the air was clean and crisp, perfectly balanced in temperature. I threw open all the windows and allowed the air to flow through, a soft wind billowing in the scent of the woods and the creek from below the cottage. I watched a bit of television, read more of Sherlock Holmes, this time off the iPad, on loan from the office. I slept a deep, clear sleep, waking early and rolling over to once again surrender to Morpheus.

As sleep found me on Friday night, I determined to let the weekend be a small vacation. It had been a harried week. The mobile app had launched on Droid but we still wait for iPhone and Blackberry approval. There had been a meeting of channel editors, from all over the country, churning through ideas, one after another for the future. So when morning came on Saturday, a day stretched in front of me with no commitments other than the whim of the moment. I did a few things around the house, stopped at the dry cleaners on my way to town, picked up the weekend papers and settled in to a long leisurely brunch at the Red Dot, lingering in the lovely garden, warming in the sun, reading of the events of the world from which I felt far removed, safely, for a moment, insulated and protected.

It was an illusion, of course, but one I immersed myself in – for a moment wanting to be like friends who have ceased reading newspapers or scanning news websites or listening to anything but music on radio or net. I am not that person though and I found myself deep in the New York Times and my current edition of The Week, seeking some illumination in the words on paper, seeking to understand the ebb and flow of the violence that wracks the world we inhabit, seeking in that sun kissed garden the reason why one person would strap explosives on and then go detonate themselves in the middle of a crowd of strangers. Suicide is at least somewhat comprehensible, mass murder is not.

Deep out in the once pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it appeared BP had staunched the leaking well. I swished flies away as I sat lazily on the teak bench on the patio, thinking about the rapacious need for oil that has resulted in our digging deeper and deeper in every accessible [and almost inaccessible] spot on earth to keep our machines rolling, wondering, lazily, why we have waited so long to seek alternatives? Perhaps because we are as lazy as I was Saturday afternoon, content to let things be than to expend energy to make changes? Do we, like the Louis XV, sit in our gardens and shrug, “Après moi, le deluge…”

And now that the well has been capped and it appears that ecological damage is less than feared, our collective media attention seems to be drifting away from the Gulf and on to…what? We wait to see what new events the digital throngs will next flock to follow, praising or bemoaning. On Saturday, I was only curious. There was nothing on the horizon that seemed the next frenzy in waiting. We have not excited ourselves about Pakistan’s floods or China’s landslides.

It seems the way we live, from frenzy to frenzy. But frenzy seemed far away this past bucolic weekend, devoted to laziness and indolence. From the Dot I wandered Warren Street, sat with friends in their shops and discussed the summer heat and the pleasant relief the day was giving. I lingered at Olde Hudson, the perfect place for cheeses, pastas, wonderful meats and fishes and took in the steady stream of shoppers, stocking up for a lovely summer evening and when I finally went home, I slipped between the cotton sheets and once again felt the soft summer embrace of my little world, far away, for the moment, from all the madness that makes the world so often threatening, preventing us, at times, from the lazy glory that is around us some of the time, at least.