Posts Tagged ‘Ecuador’

Letter From New York 07 06 15 On the train, riding north…

July 6, 2015

Another grey summer day… Outside the sky is filled with clouds, hiding the sun, casting a great pall on the day. It has become the norm not the exception. So I am taking it all in stride and not allowing the grey to take my good spirits away, as I am in good spirits. Having had a good weekend in Baltimore, I am now on the train, gliding north, slowing down for a stop in Philadelphia before heading out for the stretch into New York, including the now infamous curve where a Regional train derailed.

The world’s markets have had a muted response with far less turbulence than had been feared. The Euro slipped against major currencies. Yanis Varoufakis, the Minister for Finance in Greece, resigned. Statements that he made saying Greece would start to use an “alternate” currency seems to have pushed him out. He said other European Ministers did not want him at the table. He will “wear the creditor’s loathing with pride.”

Probably good he is gone, replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, a Greek negotiator called in when Varoufakis got too strident.

The European Central Bank is not pumping further money into the Greek banking system, a reality that is putting more pressure on those banks, which will stay closed for the next few days. Greeks are stocking up on staples, as they haven’t a clue what the future will hold. Some Greeks think Europe is purposely is working to push Greece out of the Euro and back into the Drachma.

It is a Greek drama being played out.

The British press is still having a field day with Princess Charlotte’s Christening and it is also taking time, in a hundred different ceremonies, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres. In an act of genocide, thousands of Muslim men and boys were gathered up and slaughtered in that town. Serbians hate it when the world calls it “genocide” but it probably was…

President Obama made a rare visit to the Pentagon today to be briefed on the progress we are making against IS. He states that we don’t have a “complete strategy” for training Iraqi troops. And that is true.

An Iraqi jet accidentally bombed a section of Baghdad, killing twelve. How does one “accidentally” bomb one’s own capital? Enquiring minds would like to know.

Hundreds of thousands gathered for the Pope’s Mass in Guayaquil, Ecuador where he extolled the virtues of the family. He has chosen to go to three of South America’s poorest countries with his message of hope and spirituality.

In South Carolina they are debating whether to remove the Confederate Flag from the grounds of the state Capital. Lindsey Graham, Senator from that State, is, like many Republicans, attempting to distance himself from The Donald and his anti-Mexican statements.

I am almost feeling sorry for the GOP. But not quite.

Not feeling sorry for but definitely impressed by Warren Buffet, “The Oracle of Omaha” who just deposited $2.8 billion in five different foundations’ accounts. Worth $70 billion, he is determined to give much of it away.

Prince Alwaleed, the 34th richest person in the world, has just announced his is giving away his entire thirty some billion dollar fortune.

The Grateful Dead have played their last concert, closing with an exhortation to the crowds to “be kind.” I doubt there will ever be a band like them again. Never a great fan, I did honor their iconic place in American music. Go in peace; enjoy the next part of your lives.

The next part of my life is an evening in New York. The train is sliding through New Jersey and shortly we will be in New York. I am going to drop some things at the office and then I will head north to the apartment, drop some things and find myself some dinner, probably at Thai Market, my favorite Thai restaurant in the city.

Good evening, everyone!

Letter From New York 07 05 15 Civilized things in an uncivilized world…

July 5, 2015

Well, at last there is a sunny day! I am sitting at the dining room table at my friends’ apartment in Baltimore and sun is pouring down on the deck. It’s been sunny all day! And I’m just delighted.

As many people have been doing, I have been watching what has been happening in Greece. It seems the Greek people are voting “no” in the referendum that was held today – at least that is what the early opinion polls are showing. And now we will wait to see how it plays out this week. Will the European Central Bank give fresh funds to Greek Banks, who will probably run out of cash this week? Will a deal be done or is this Greece’s farewell to the Eurozone?

As the Greeks were voting, US warplanes were striking at Raqqa, the “capital” of the IS Caliphate. It was intended to cripple the group’s efforts to move military resources further into Iraq or Syria.

IS has been active in Sinai, at least fifty are dead there. From there, they have heaved some missiles into southern Israel.

An evangelical church in Nigeria lost six worshipers today when a suicide bomber attacked.

Donald Trump is riding a populist wave with his remarks about Mexican immigrants, causing consternation among Republican candidates. Rick Perry has found him offensive and others are working to distance themselves from him. He may be a train wreck but he’s ahead in the polls, believe it or not.

The Pope arrived in Quito today on a trip to Latin America, the continent where he was born. He will be in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay but not his native Argentina. He will be bringing the church to the poor. It is seen by some as a test of his ability to keep the faithful within the church. Roman Catholicism has been losing to Protestant Evangelicals in many parts of the continent.

While warplanes were attacking Raqqa and the Greeks seemed to be voting “no,” little Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge was christened in the country, on her Great-Grandmother’s estate at Sandringham, at St Mary Magdalene Church, where Diana, Princess of Wales, was christened in 1961. It was a nod to the Princess’s paternal grandmother as were some of the music choices and the fact that a cousin of Diana’s was named as one of the godparents. Princess Charlotte has five of them.

Afterwards, Queen Elizabeth II served champagne and tea at her palace. 3500 came out to greet the newly christened Princess. It was a pretty day; with young Prince George wearing an outfit that was very similar to the one his father wore to Prince Harry’s christening.

All was very civilized and far from the chaos in other parts of the world.

Taking a cue from the civilized behavior of the Cambridge’s, I am planning to finish this, sip a martini, shaken, not stirred [as I am writing, I am also half watching a Sean Connery Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever”] and then head to the Thames Street Oyster House for a civilized dinner.P

Letter From New York, October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Outside it is pouring rain and I’m curled on a couch in the cottage, ruminating on the last two weeks, wondering about what I want to write. As I have been thinking about this missive, I have been thinking of people.

Just hours ago, I heard my cousin Marion, whom I always thought of as an Aunt, given the disparity in our ages, had passed away, luckily surrounded by family, including her wonderful sister Virginia, who is so long suffering, gentle, sweet and forgiving that she deserves the sobriquet: saint. She is one of the most loving humans I have ever encountered or probably will ever encounter. She suffered my mother, in all her moods and wonders, lovingly and with persistent kindness, always a wonder to me, a gift we all appreciated. Marion was tougher and more pragmatic albeit loving and between the two of them they allowed our mother to live at home longer than she would have been able to if they had not been present. I’ll lift a glass to the two of them this evening.

I also thought this week of a livery driver who picked me up this week, a man from Ecuador, who loved this country because of the opportunities it would give his children. He worked fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, in order that his daughters could go to good secondary schools and then get into good colleges. Both were doing well and the oldest had just been accepted into the John Jay College of Justice in Manhattan. He was bursting with pride and I marveled at him; I work hard but driving fourteen hours a day in New York? He represented to me the immigrant experience which is America and which has driven us along through history and made me wince when I think of some of the anti-immigration legislation being made in states like Alabama. I don’t know all the rights and wrongs; I do wonder about it all. We are, all of us, after all, children of immigrants and we should remember that heritage.

And mostly, I relished remembering the marriage this past weekend of my friends, Gary and Angel, two men whom I helped meet and who, in their marriage, helped me understand the institution of marriage in a way I had never before comprehended, viscerally. Marriage, to me as a baby boomer, has seemed somewhat redundant, a non-necessity, something, perhaps, a bit archaic and even anachronistic.

But then I attended their wedding and saw the importance and the joy of declaring love to a community and committing oneself to the other in the presence of that community.

Gary and Angel met each other two years ago. From the first date they have constantly discovered new layers within the other that have deepened their respect and admiration of the other and in that deepening have grown to a place where their love is incandescent – a rare thing to be treasured in the human experience and something that is a treasure to all who know them.

Because they are two men they would have not been able to declare their love in this way until recently and now they can and in helping witness their marriage I understood why two people of any combination would want to publicly declare their love and to incorporate their union through the laws of the land, to make it public, legal, not inescapable but more complex to part. They have a love so profound as to dazzle the people around them, including me. And I now understand why people want to be married, to publically and legally declare their love for one another. I was privileged to have been with them as they declared their commitment and were united in marriage.

So, as I finish this week’s letter, I lift my hat to all of us, living our lives, passing through on the great journey called life, to the celebrations at joyful moments and the acknowledgement of the hard ones – the marriages and the deaths, the hard long hours most of us put in to make our lives the dream we dream.