Posts Tagged ‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn’

Letter From New York 06 12 15 Of the price of eggs and things…

June 12, 2015

It’s a lovely day in New York, warm but not too muggy. I’ve enjoyed being outside today though as I was sitting at lunch my phone dinged with a message from The Weather Channel that there were tornado warnings until 11:00 tonight. That didn’t seem too nice.

Because I wasn’t feeling well last night, I went back to the apartment and curled into bed with a good book and after fending off sleep for some time, slipped away into the arms of Morpheus, waking to a fresh day.

It’s been pleasant, a couple of short conference calls and a quick lunch at The Greek Corner, a very basic coffee shop on 28th and Broadway that I have begun to habituate, enough that the young Spanish waitress there knows me and that I like Diet Coke with my lunch. It’s comforting to go into places where they know you.

What is not comforting is that at a meeting in Bratislava, EU Ministers have actually discussed the possibility that Greece will default, formally. It still seems that no one wants that to happen but the brinksmanship continues. Tsipras speaks confidently about an agreement being reached on June 18, the next meeting of the Euro Zone creditors with Greece, while others scratch their heads and wonder: what is Tsipras thinking?

Markets have been wobbly because of all of this. It’s not a comfortable place.

But comforting for those who aren’t keen on human interaction is the news that RealDoll is working with robotics experts to make a sex doll that moves and chats. The prototype is named “Harmony.” Let’s hope she doesn’t get the hots for the Dyson in the closet.

Do you tweet? Lots of us do. The CEO of that company, Dick Costolo, resigned yesterday, rewarding the company with a brief uptick in its stock price at the joyous [to investors] news of his departure. Not well liked, he oversaw a company whose share price has fallen by 50% and seen a number of high profile departures, including Vivian Schiller, formerly of The NY Times, NBCUniversal and NPR.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [MERS] has taken hold in South Korea. One man contracted it in the Middle East and now nearly 4000 are in quarantine. The cities have become ghost towns while everyone hides until the outbreak is contained. Officials are encouraging people to continue their normal lives. They’re not listening.

David Rockefeller, grandson of John D. Rockefeller, of Standard Oil fame, turns 100 today and has had six heart transplants. To celebrate his birthday, he is giving away $2,000,000 worth of coastal land in Maine to the non-profit Land and Garden Preserve. He has been going to that part of Maine, near Seal Harbor, since he was three months old. He was born on the site of today’s MoMa, once the location of the family residence, largest in the city of New York. His mother, Abby, helped create that institution and so MoMa threw a grand party for him. According to Forbes, he is the oldest billionaire in the world.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the randy French politician, has been acquitted of the charge of pimping. He attended sex parties around the world, he admitted. It gave him recreational release while he was helping the world through its global financial crisis. But he didn’t pimp. The jury believed him. Free to go but probably he won’t be running for office again.

Wholesale prices will be up this month, partially because the price of eggs will be at its highest level ever. Avian influenza wiped out millions of birds. Oil is up too, again, though still below its record levels of a year ago.

And in sad news, the Iowa Straw Poll, conducted every year since 1979, has been called off this year. Too many candidates decided it wasn’t worth it. Another tradition gone away.

Letter From New York 02 17 15 Also with a lighter note…

February 17, 2015

This morning I woke up in Manhattan, in the pied-a-terre that I have here. For a moment, as the alarm was going off, I was sure that I was in my bedroom in the cottage and only slowly realized where I was. It was interesting to have that sense of momentary confusion. The Bose radio at the cottage is ivory; the one in New York is grey. Seeing the grey Bose reminded me where I was.

With bright sun blurting down on the city and with the temperatures in the twenties, it felt positively balmy.

The apartment is on the Upper West Side and my meeting was on the Upper East Side so I jumped in a taxi, being met with one of the most garrulous taxi drivers I have encountered for quite some time. We had a romping conversation about the weather and the newly posted speed limit in the city. You cannot drive faster than 25 miles per hour and only 10, which I didn’t know, at cross walks.

Following my morning meeting, I made my way to one of my favorite places, Café du Soleil, at 104 and Broadway and had French Onion Soup and grilled salmon for lunch, with a good, cold, crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. While eating I chatted with Jeff, who like me, was seated at the bar. When not chatting with him, I read the NY Times on my iPhone.

It was a pleasant ninety minutes. Finishing, I returned to the apartment to do today’s blog and then I am off to drinks with a friend and a screening of a documentary about Pope Francis, the man who will, I am sure, one day be a saint.

As usual, the world is not a pretty place.

In Ukraine, the fragile truce is not holding near Debaltseve, the vital rail hub. Nearly 8000 Ukrainian troops are pinned down there, surrounded by rebels and fighting for their lives. Neither side seems to want to honor the truce in this strategic town.

The US has said that it is not in the interests of anyone to wage a proxy war with Russia in the Ukraine, a sign, perhaps, that this country is considering carefully whether it will supply any arms to Ukraine.

In another side effect of Ukraine, Fifa has awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018. It is now wondering if they made a mistake, given that by 2018, if things continue as they are, Russia will be an international pariah. Not that that will change Russian policies.

Hungary, which has been leaning towards Russia for some time now, was rewarded with a gas contract, showing that it pays off to play nice with Vladimir [Putin].

In Paris, a Jewish journalist, Zvika Klein, walked around for ten hours with a camera. He caught all the anti-Semitic things said or done to him on video. It is disturbing.

The Boko Haram detonated bombs that killed 8 in Nigeria, while attacking Cameroon at the same time. Cameroon responded and claims to have killed 86 of Boko Haram, which, by the way, means “western education is forbidden.”

Having made such a splash with the burning to death of the captured Jordanian pilot, IS has now burned at least 45 to death in a captured town in Iraq.

In a much lighter note, and we know we need lighter notes, Chelsea Handler tweeted a topless photo of herself from Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Not that I wanted to see her topless but evidently she has a penchant for showing skin.

The market is back over 18,000 today as hope rises that some deal will be done with Greece.

And our favorite international bon vivant, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on trial for pimping, has had the prosecutors in the case recommend his acquittal. It is up to the judges. The prosecutors never wanted to move forward in the first place but were overruled by the judges.

Mad Men, our favorite show about that wonderful time, the 1960’s, will be honored by having Don Draper’s suit, fedora and bar cart put on display at the Smithsonian!

As we go into the final episodes, Don Draper’s future looks uncertain. Mine, however, for at least this evening, is rock solid. I am off to drinks and a screening.

Letter From New York 02 10 15 Of sex and politics and other things…

February 10, 2015

Taking advantage of the fact it rocketed to just above freezing today, I went for a walk to break the spell of cabin fever that has settled upon me as it snowed and snowed and snowed. It is both above freezing and the sun is brilliant, causing me to squint as I walked. It appears that the weight of the snow has felled a couple of trees in the neighborhood.

Early this morning, Nick, who helps me out at the house, and his sidekick, Bernard, arrived to finish digging me out. It was while they were shoveling and knocking down icicles that a report came in from the BBC that, indeed, Kayla Mueller, the last American hostage in the hands of ISIS, was dead. It is not clear yet whether she died in the Jordanian bombing of Raqqa or if she had died at another place and time.

Regardless, she is dead and my heart goes out to her family. Her “crime” was that she was an American, helping refugees. She paid with her life for her humanitarianism.

Tomorrow, my brother goes to Honduras to bring medical care to places that have no medical care except when teams like his venture there. He has done this for many years. Honduras has a place in his heart; he ran a clinic for children in El Progresso, Honduras, after finishing his internship. Yearly, I worry because Honduras, never the safest of places, has devolved in recent years and is now one of the most violent countries on the planet.

Jeb Bush continues to groom himself as a Presidential candidate. Today he released the first chapter of an eBook about his time as Governor of Florida, filled with emails from his first weeks. Chris Christie, current Governor of New Jersey, is being dogged by tales of a lavish lifestyle to which he has managed to grow accustomed. After all, he said, he is just “trying to squeeze the last juice out of the orange.” The King of Jordan picked up a tab for him for $30,000 to pay for a vacation in that country.

Once upon a time Dominique Strauss-Kahn was considered a front-runner for President of France. Today, he is on trial in Lille, France for pimping. He denies it, not for a moment believing that the provocatively dressed women at the “swingers” parties he attended were prostitutes. He has a “horror” of sex with prostitutes. His sexual activities have been under the microscope since 2011 when he was accused by a housemaid at the Hotel Sofitel in New York of forcing himself upon her. That was settled out of court. He had to step down as President of the IMF. He has been attempting to rehabilitate his reputation since then. I don’t think it is working.

In other sexual/political news the High Court in Malaysia has upheld the sodomy conviction of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar. He was convicted in 2008. That conviction was overturned and now that overturning has been overturned. Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia defended the decision, even as criticism of him is mounting in that country. As Imelda Marcos had a thing for shoes, his wife has a thing for handbags, the kind that can cost as much as $150,000. She has lots. He doesn’t earn that much as a politician. And no one seems to quite believe the story of family money from somewhere.

In Minsk, tomorrow, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are meeting. They are going to discuss creating a de-militarized zone in the southeast of Ukraine where the September truce is being broken by both sides on a daily basis. While dialogue may continue, it is beginning to feel as if the door on diplomacy is closing. The US is talking of arming Kiev and the EU is against it. Putin maintains his inscrutability.

All of this is news and if this were a normal week, Brian Williams would be leading the dissemination of it on NBC. It is not. NBC says they will resolve the Brian Williams crisis in the next day or two. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 40% of Americans think he should resign.

This weekend the highly anticipated film, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, will premiere. The film version of the naughty book of the same name will probably do well at the Box Office though first reviews of the film aren’t particularly good but then reviews of the book were awful but it didn’t prevent it from lingering for what seemed forever on the best seller lists.

I’ll wind down now and get ready to go to the local Mexican restaurant, Coyote Flaco, for some dinner. The sun is setting and the temperature is supposed to dip again, making this the longest cold stretch I can remember in the fourteen years in Claverack.