Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

Letter From New York 05 03 2016 Trump triumphs and the world shakes…

May 4, 2016

Just now, a CNN update flashed across the screen of my laptop while I was finishing the final exam for my class.  It projected that Trump will win Indiana and the first thing I thought was:  I wonder how many Republicans are wishing they had hemlock tonight?

The impossible is happening.  The Donald is on pace to win the Republican nomination, a thing thought unthinkable only six months ago.  There seems no stopping him.

Cruz, I am sure is bereft, not that I feel much for him.  Cruz or Trump?  What a choice?

Speaking of bad choices, medical errors are now the #3 cause of death in the US.  I was shocked but somehow not quite surprised.  In my recent medical experience at Columbia Memorial Hospital, the gastroenterologist there diagnosed me with conditions I didn’t have.  I learned that after seeing my usual gastroenterologist in New York City.

I just went to the great god Google and discovered the US is number 37 in terms of how good its health care is though I think we spend more than any other country in the world on health care.  And now medical errors are our #3 cause of death?   What gives here?  Who is paying attention?  Frankly, I am more scared than I was…

Today is World Press Freedom Day.  Who knew?  Though it has been on my mind today as I wrote the final exam for my “Media & Society” class.  The importance of a free press to a democracy is incalculable.  And so few countries really have a free press.

It is that magical time of night when the light has almost faded and there is still just enough light to see the budding trees outlined against the sky.  There is such beauty in this place, softening the harshness of the world outside.

An American Seal today was killed in a skirmish with IS in Iraq.  The wars go on and will continue to go on.  IS is retreating but is not broken.  The Iraqis do not have a really credible fighting force in the field as far as I can tell.  The Kurds seem to be doing yeoman’s work while Turkey pushes them down.

Recently it was the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which, according to the Turks never happened.  Yet there is credible evidence it did.  Why do we get caught up in keeping mythologies alive?  Would it not be better to move beyond the past?  It was a century ago, another time.  Man up.

Putin, the problem…

When oil prices were high, he took the credit for the country’s uptick.  Now that oil prices have collapsed he his not manning up to the fact it’s a problem.  It’s the West’s fault. To keep attention off the failures of his regime, he has been pointing fingers at the West.

He is like the Tsars of old.  And that is what Russia has been always used to.

Here in New York, Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful politicians in the state, just received a sentence of twelve years in prison for corruption.  New York rivals Illinois in the corruptness of its politicians.  Several more are up for sentencing in the weeks to come.

The Tony nominations are in and “Hamilton” has scored a record breaking sixteen.  It is hard to see “Hamilton” as it is sold out for months to come and scalper’s tickets are almost $2,000 a ticket.  You have to be in the 1% to make that happen.  I certainly can’t.

And as I am finishing this, there is an alert from CNN that Ted Cruz is dropping his bid for the nomination after a stinging defeat in Indiana.  Is this true?  I am finding it hard to believe.  We must wait for the morning to see what happens.  Wait!  The BBC has just announced Cruz is gone…

It is beginning to look like Trump versus Hillary and that will be a slugfest to watch, if not to enjoy.

Letter From New York 04 14 2016 Moving down the Hudson River…

April 14, 2016

The Catskills are covered with a soft haze as I move south on the train; the Hudson River glistens like rippled, burnished steel.  I am headed to the city for a few social get togethers, more about pleasure than business.  Tomorrow morning, I am going to the exhibit “Pergamon” at the Metropolitan Museum.  It chronicles the art of the Hellenistic period, from the death of Alexander to the rise of the Roman Empire.

I have a late lunch with my childhood friend, Mary Clare, and then drinks with Nick Stuart, of whom I have seen too little in the last few weeks and then back to Hudson on tomorrow’s 5:47.

The sun glitters but it is not yet warm and yet so pleasant that it feels decadent.  Speaking with friends this morning, we reminded each other that we were incredibly lucky:  we are not Syrian refugees or fleeing Boko Haram or fearing suicide bombers in Baghdad.

Nor am I in southern Japan where an earthquake measuring 6.5 struck, toppled houses and buckled roads.

All those things happened today, the 14th of April, 2016 CE.

It is a good day for Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who will not be charged with battery over his altercation with a reporter recently.

It was a good and bad day for mothers whose daughters were kidnapped two years ago by Boko Haram.  CNN aired a “proof of life” video that showed many of the lost girls alive and at the same time highlighted the failure of the Nigerian government to free them.

For 3 hours and 40 minutes Putin fielded questions on his annual call-in show.  He described the Panama Papers as an “American provocation” and assured viewers that the economy will get better next year.  He ordered an investigation into two women’s complaints they hadn’t been paid in months.   It gave him a chance to seem grand and magnanimous while underscoring the illusion that Russia is a democracy.

As he chatted with his constituents, Putin’s jets flew low passes over a US warship, something that disturbed Secretary of State John Kerry.

We are putting combat troops into the Philippines as the South China Sea dispute ratchets up with the Chinese, who have now deployed combat jets in the area.

Isn’t there a better way?

Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican and a supporter of gay sex marriage, was booed off the state at an event in Boston when he didn’t say he would support a bill that would give transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their gender identity rather than that of their gender at birth.  It’s not what he expected.

Trump and Cruz are accusing each other of strong arming delegates to the Republican Convention, which has been pointing out to the general population on both sides of the political spectrum what an arcane world convention politics is, with super delegates, strange rules, and all sorts of other traditions that can manipulate the popular vote.

That is what Kasich and Cruz are hoping for the Republican convention, a brokered one that will allow one of them to grab the nomination.

Hillary is counting on those same things in the Democratic Party to ensure that she gets the nomination on her side.

Brings up images of “smoke filled rooms” from past generations.

The Hudson River in the afternoon sun is impossibly beautiful and I am privileged to enjoy the view, comfortable that I am probably not going to have to flee in the night, that I will get an evening meal and that I will be safe as I sleep.

Hudson River

It is these simple things we need to keep remembering or, at least, I need to keep remembering.

Letter From New York 01 14 16 Oscars, reunions and bombs…

January 14, 2016

The sun has set and I’m freshly home from a haircut which means I’m a little itchy around the neck.  A fire burns in the stove and jazz plays in the background.  Lights illuminate the creek and I have made myself a martini to sip while writing.  I spent three hours today volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Columbia County, helping clean up their database.

The stock market didn’t swoon again today, which is good news for almost everyone I know.  It was up 1.41% after falling 2+% yesterday.  I was at the gym yesterday on the treadmill, watching CNN.  They were tracking the market by the minute, which was too depressing to watch while on the treadmill.  So I watched an ancient Kay Francis film on TCM.

It was great to escape into a world where you knew it would all come out right in the end.

Which is what we don’t know about the life we’re living now.  It could go in any direction and we have no way of knowing what that direction might be.

And that, my friends, is why I treasure evenings like this at the cottage.  For a moment, the world seems on hold, even as I am assimilating events from the day.

In Jakarta, IS claims responsibility for multiple explosions in the capital.  At least seven are dead and there is concern that Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim State, which has a secular government, is going to be under fresh attack after several years of calm.

In brighter news, at least three people can claim a piece of the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot though others may surface. 

And today the Oscar nominees were announced.  “Revenant” with Leonardo di Caprio leads the pack with twelve nominations.  Also up there is “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Not long ago an industry insider wondered why they were even mounting a campaign.  Today provided the reason why.

Alan Rickman passed away today.  He played Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. I saw him live in a relatively obscure Ibsen play, “John Gabriel Borkman” at BAM five years ago and he was electrifying.  His characters were mostly cold and sinister, very different from the man portrayed in the memorials today.

As I type there is another Republican debate beginning.  Politics is becoming reality TV in more ways than just having The Donald dancing on the scene.  Whose idea was it to have all these debates so far in advance of the election?  I want it over already!  Really!  What did my students used to say?  Gag me with a spoon?

There are two iconic television series I have never seen a complete episode of, much to the amazement of my friends.  One of them is “Seinfeld” and the other is “Friends.”  There will be a sort of reunion of the “Friends” cast in the February tribute to James Burrows who created the program.  Matthew Perry may or may not be there as he will be in London for rehearsals of a play.

My martini is finished.  The fire is playful.  The jazz is beautiful.  I am going to sign off and watch the newest episode of “Sherlock” and then head off to bed.  Have to be up early in the morning for phone calls and meetings.

It’s been a lovely day.  Hope yours was too.

Letter From New York 12 23 2015 Peering through the fog…

December 23, 2015

It is relatively early in the morning and I am on the train, heading to New York City, where I will board a train to DC where I will board a train to Martinsburg, WV where I will be picked up by my friends Sarah and Jim Malone for the Holidays in Shepherdstown.

As I move south, rushing now between Rhinecliff and Poughkeepsie, the fog is so dense, it is impossible to see the Hudson River to my right.  It provides an eerie atmosphere to the morning, so warm that a light jacket is all one needs.  It is supposed to be seventy in Claverack on Christmas Eve.

Yesterday, I celebrated Christmas twice.  Once with young Nick, his partner Beth, and their three year old daughter, Alicia.   It gave me great smiles and bright eyes to see a three year old devour Christmas.  Earlier I gave her a “communicator” that allows her to talk with Santa Claus each day from December 1 to Christmas.  Nick and Beth tell me she is having a blast.

Then I cooked “Christmas” dinner for Lionel, Pierre and myself, mushroom soup, salad, a roast pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus with a butter garlic sauce.  We had no room for dessert.

All day yesterday, I pretty much ignored the world, living in the solitude of the cottage, listening to Christmas carols and prepping for dinner.  The exception was at the gym, on the treadmill where I listened to the sad story of the young woman accused in the car rampage in Las Vegas.  A troubled youth who turned her life around and then…Las Vegas.  People are attempting to understand.

Then there was a long exegesis of the Middle East with Wolf Blitzer, the CNN perennial, and a Congressman and retired General, that left me feeling depressed.

The Congressman predicted that we will be engaged there for decades and the retired General opined our efforts are inadequate.  The Congressman wants more bombing, forget the civilians.  They are the necessary sacrifices to move the needle.  It underscored for me that “W” let the genie out of the bottle and he’s never going back in.

The Afghans have the best army they have had in years but corruption in Kabul is keeping them from getting bullets.

The Iraqis are fighting to retake Ramadi and have sent more troops in to help in the effort to hand IS its biggest defeat in two years.

The Donald keeps marching forward in the polls, up to 39% at this point, twice Ted Cruz’s standing and, according to recent polls, the Republicans are beginning to accept that Trump will be their standard bearer.  What?  Is this really happening?  Can’t I change the channel?

I lightened my mood a bit by reading the wild adventures of Madame Claude, arguably the most famous brothel owner in Paris’ history.  Her clients included most of the great names of the ’60’s and ’70’s.  She died in France at the venerable age of 92. 

The fog is still thick as we begin the last leg into New York, having just pulled out of Croton Harmon.  There are forty minutes left before we hit the city.  At noon I will board an Acela for the next leg.

Behind me there is a woman who has been on the phone now, non-stop, for well over an hour.  Occasionally when she needs to do something, she puts her caller on speakerphone.  I didn’t realize anyone talks on the phone that way anymore just like I can’t believe the Republican Party is thinking Trump is the hope for 2016.

Letter From New York 02 24 15 Contentious Times…

February 24, 2015

Waking in New York City this morning, I grabbed my mobile and checked the weather. There was a wind chill of 5 to 10 below zero. I wanted to curl back up and wait for the day to warm. Thankfully, despite the cold, it was brilliantly sunny and therefore I felt brighter if not warmer. After a couple of cups of coffee and a hot, hot shower I ventured out into the world; my cheeks were burning from the cold by the time I made it from Riverside to Broadway.

After a few errands and some work on my Indian Visa application, I headed south to the West Village where I met up with my friend Mick Kaczorowski, Executive Producer par excellence, recently departed from Discovery, for a long, good catch-up lunch.

After lunch, I headed to Staples and purchased a printer for the NY apartment and then sat down to blog.

There is the growing brouhaha over whether Bill O’Reilly of Fox News “embellished” his war reporting credentials. David Corn in the magazine Mother Jones wrote an article about Mr. O’Reilly having his own “Brian Williams Moment” and Mr. O’Reilly responded with what I gather is typical vitriol by calling Mr. Corn a “guttersnipe.”

I don’t watch Bill O’Reilly or Fox News. I don’t watch CNN either. I am a cord cutter so I don’t have cable in my home. But in the moments I have had exposure to Mr. O’Reilly, I have found him distasteful so I haven’t searched him out online either.

His efforts to quell the controversy don’t seem to be working. They just seem to put the spotlight more on a situation that would probably have gone away if he had ignored it. But that is not the O’Reilly style. He has gone on to threaten a reporter from the NY Times and has drawn the ire of several colleagues who were with him in Argentina during the Falkland War. One of them has called his version of events a “fabrication.”

O’Reilly covered the war from Buenos Aires. There was a riot while he was in Buenos Aires. He did cover that. One reporter described that riot as the “chummiest” riot he had ever seen but there is footage that O’Reilly showed on his program last night.

The video shows unrest and chaos but no shots being fired. One person reporting on the O’Reilly tempest said that O’Reilly had “yet to find the bodies.”

Nothing much will come of this. Fox News likes controversy and I’m sure it will give a boost to their ratings. Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News and master spinmeister, is thoroughly behind the consistently high rated O’Reilly. NBC launched an investigation into the Brian Williams story; Fox News will not look deeply at O’Reilly’s actions.

It says much about the organizations.

In other media news, Keith Olberman was suspended from ESPN for a few days over churlish tweets about Penn State.

Things continue to be tense in Ukraine and it is now being called this generation’s West Berlin.

There have been more suicide bombings in Nigeria and masked men kidnapped an 87-year-old American missionary, the Reverend Phyllis Sortor. Soldiers from Chad claim they have killed over 200 Boko Haram fighters.

The three British schoolgirls who flew on their own to Istanbul last week to apparently join IS have successfully managed to cross over into Syria. Also in the land of IS, dozens of Assyrian Christians have been abducted and taken from their villages. Thousands more have fled.

In less violent news today, Greece made more concessions and a four-month extension has been granted them to work out their future. Markets in New York and London ended up for the day.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell is working on a deal to keep the Department of Homeland Security from being defunded. It will be interesting to see if he can get the Republican Congressmen to go along with the scheme.

And, as widely expected, President Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline Bill, issuing in a new period of contentiousness between the White House and Congress.

What will be contentious for me is seeing if I can get the new printer printing tonight. I must remember to read the instruction book!

Letter From New York February 12, 2011

February 13, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

As I wait for my train, I am doing what I have done most of the day today and most days for the last 18 days – keeping up with the tumultuous events in Egypt. For days, everyone in the office has paused as they pass the two big screen televisions to see what was unfolding in Tahrir Square in Cairo, the heart of the revolution which has shaken Mubarak from his perch where has been sitting comfortably for the last thirty years. No one thought this would come but it has, a cascading of events started in Tunisia, a restlessness flooding the Mid-East, challenging the status quo. Two long reigning autocrats have been toppled; serious changes in other countries have also resulted, preemptive measures taken by those in power to enable them to sustain their positions, at least for now.

Like so many I have followed this revolution on television and on the net, wishing in some ways that I was there so that I could feel the beat of the streets, though I know that wouldn’t necessarily be safe. Reporters were roughed up and arrested; a Google executive was detained, one who had organized protests via Facebook. Some died but an amazingly small number it seemed, though there have been reports that the numbers have been minimized.

Like Tunisia, this was a revolution propelled along by Facebook, Twitter and the connectivity of the net and new technologies. In both Tunisia and in Egypt the Army did not turn upon the people, for the most part maintaining order but not firing upon the crowds.

All week I have found myself contemplative. Each and every one of the people in Tahrir Square has a father and a mother, may be brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, living individuals with families and friends swarming together to gain an end, following the siren song of tweets to a destiny they could not clearly determine though they were abundantly clear about what they wanted, and eventually got, Mubarak gone.

I thought of the nameless people who are part of the news, the hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square, the dozens killed in Pakistan by a teenage boy suicide bomber and the dozen or so that were killed in a Baghdad incident. I woke up more than once this week to the radio announcing the deaths of people in bombings in this place or the other, people I would never know but individuals who had loves and hopes, were loved in return and are now gone in a blinding flash of light and pain. The dispassionate voices that announce the passing of the nameless victims help us not realize these were people like us, who got up in the morning but did not get to go home that night.

I am not sure why all these nameless people have been so much on my mind; is it that if there were an attack on the subway in New York and if that were the way I met my end, I would be one of those nameless victims in some announcer’s report? Or is it that in staring at the images of the massive crowds in Tahrir Square there were moments when the cameras did focus on the face of one person or another and I would find myself wondering what their life was like?

Whatever the reason, I have felt a singularity with my fellow man. I am concerned about what comes next in Egypt, the heart of the Mid-East and a very singular country. There are those who fear this revolution will open the door to radical Islam though that fear did not prevent Egyptian Christian Copts from taking themselves to Tahrir Square to stand with their Egyptian Muslim comrades. Time will tell whether this will evolve into an Islamic Revolution as opposed to an Egyptian Revolution.

But whatever happens, it will have reminded me that I share much with all the other human beings around the world if only that I, too, am a finite creature with hopes and loves caught in the sweep of history being made.