Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Letter From New York, still via the Vineyard 06 28 2016 Nowhere without pain…

June 29, 2016

The sun has set here on Martha’s Vineyard.  Today has been a day that has reminded me I am no longer as young as once I was. 

Yesterday someone did not show up for their shift at Edgartown Books and I basically worked from 8:15 in the morning to 10:30 in the evening.  I was also joltingly awake as I had an iced latte with an extra shot at 6:00.

All day I have been sadly tired and after lunch came home and rested.  Tomorrow is another day.

Another day will not be coming for at least 36 people, plus three suicide bombers, who died at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.  IS seems to have claimed responsibility, not that there weren’t immediately suspected as soon as the bombers blew themselves up.

The Benghazi Panel has at last, I think, [though I thought they had wrapped up once before] and found no smoking guns against Hillary Clinton, though putting blame on the Administration.

Reading a report on the findings, I discovered why I thought it had ended once before.  This was the eighth Congressional Panel on Benghazi, cumulatively it seems they all have cost more than our investigation of 9/11.  This one cost was 7million dollars.

No one comes off well here.  No one…

The Republicans have revealed the stage design upon which Trump will give his acceptance speech.  And probably several more.  It appears The Donald will be speaking all four nights of the Republican Convention.  No one else has been racing to share the stage.

The Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s decision to not restrict abortion rights though abortion law is still not crystal clear.   The Supreme Court also vacated the conviction of Bob McDonnell, former Governor of Virginia, who had been convicted of taking money for influence.

The chaos in the markets over Brexit has subsided as people’s nerves are calming as the world hasn’t ended but the rocky ride is far from over.  The EU wants to separate quickly and cleanly while the Brits are going “we don’t want to leave quite yet.”   Brexit regret is surging in the streets as has an uptick in violence against immigrants, the perpetrators feeling emboldened by the move.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are considering what they can do to stay in.  Scotland is even throwing out the notion it can veto Brexit.  The Northern Irish have accelerated their efforts to get Irish passports.

The EU, which has been making English the default second language is thinking of changing that though I suspect they will not actually make that move.

Nigel Lafarge, who orchestrated the Brexit is a member of the EU Parliament and was booed and had backs turned on him when he walked onto the EU Parliament’s floor today.  “Why are you here?”

Mr. Lafarge is the politician who revealed that the claim by Brexit supporters that money that went to the EU from Britain would be turned over to Britain’s National Health Service, will not be happening.  It was one of the major reasons older voters voted Brexit.

Through it all, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has remained mum.

I, too, will now turn mum as I head to bed.  I will hold the bombing victims from the Istanbul Airport in my heart as well as everyone else that is hurting tonight, in Syria, Nigeria, Turkey, Iraq; there isn’t a country where there is no pain, including right here.

Letter From New York 10 16 15 Kardashians, Refugees, Turkey and a night out..

October 16, 2015

Lamar Odom. Khloe Kardashian. Israel. Palestine. Israeli knifings. Turkey. European Union. Refugees. Erdogan.

It is unbelievable to me that we have rounded into the second half of October in the year 2015. Stunning, the way time has been slipping through my fingers.

The last three days have been a battle with paperwork and machines. I had some complicated documents to complete and must have printed page two of the forms four times before I filled them, hopefully, correctly. They got sent off today by UPS and will arrive on Tuesday.

My Internet connection fluttered, my printer won’t print wirelessly and I have done everything in my power to get it back online, to no avail. Time to call in the experts.

Because of all of this, I am behind on a report for a client. ARGH! But all will be well, I’m sure.

All may be well for Lamar Odom, who apparently regained consciousness and is breathing on his own after losing consciousness while on a spree that reportedly included alcohol, cocaine and herbal sex stimulants. He was at a legal brothel in Nevada.

Soon to be ex-wife, Khloe Kardashian, is at his side. Do I see a reconciliation coming for the cameras? Pardon me if I am cynical.

All is not well in Israel, where Palestinians are killing Jews in knifings while the Israelis are killing Palestinians who attack them. Hamas has praised the men killed by Israel as martyrs. And that sad beat goes on; defying efforts to have any kind of peace break out.

It came to me that this violence has been a constant backdrop of my entire life.

Turkey and the EU are bickering over an aid deal to help Turkey with the refugee crisis, a deal that the Turks have called “insincere.” In the mix are suggestions from the EU that they will start accession talks with Turkey again about admission to the EU. Turkey’s Erdogan is skeptical.

In the meantime, it’s estimated 5,000 refugees slip out of Turkey and into Europe every day, not counting all the others that are striving for Europe from all across the eastern and southern Mediterranean.

Like last night, I set up a fire in the wood stove. I just got up and checked it and realized that absorbing the day’s news had made me feel physically tired. It causes me to sit down sometimes and put my head in my hands. It is no surprise that for a day or two, I might ignore the world outside my little glen.

We are all like that, I’m sure.

In the meantime, I must get ready. In twenty minutes, I am headed to the Dot to meet a friend for dinner.

Letter From New York 09 22 15 The Pope, Putin, Syria, Refugees and so much more…

September 22, 2015

As I am sitting in the Acela Club at Penn Station, I am watching CNN, which is covering the arrival of the Pope. He landed at Joint Base Andrews and at this moment is arriving at the Diplomatic Mission of the Vatican in Washington, DC, on Massachusetts Avenue.

When Francis touched down, President and Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden were present to greet him, an unprecedented honor. He is waving to the crowd as he slips into the residence for a night of rest.

Tonight is Yom Kippur, the holiest of nights to Jews, and Pope Francis does not want to detract from that. Tens of thousands have been mobilized to keep him safe. The Secret Service sent a man to Rome to watch how Francis interacts with crowds so they might anticipate what they needed to do.

While waiting for Francis to address a Joint Session of Congress [a first], we are, once again, facing a shutdown of the government. The Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood and the Democrats are opposed to that. Somehow I fail to see why the Republicans are SO against Planned Parenthood.

My Republican respect keeps descending.

While all eyes are watching Francis and his movements, EU leaders have been meeting, working to decide how to handle the thousands of refugees and migrants. I found the information a little confused and oriented to dealing with the future rather than the present.

While the EU is determining what to do with the refugees there, Turkey and the US are working to figure out what Putin is up to in Syria. He intends to start bombing ASAP. They’re not sure who it is he will be bombing. Will it be IS as he says OR will it be the anti-Assad Syrian rebels who are also fighting IS? Turkey and the US fear it will be the latter as Putin and Assad have been playing footsie for decades.

I’m now on the train, heading north, on my right the Hudson River glides by with the setting sun glinting off its surface. It’s been mostly a grey day in New York but now the sun is bursting out from behind the clouds as it descends in the west.

All the way out west, in Burbank, CA, a 24 year-old man was taken into custody after he punched a 78 year-old in the face over Nutella Waffle Samples at a Costco. It seems like something that should be in “The Onion” and not real news. But it is real. The young man could face up to 11 years in prison.

There is a soft, golden glow in the west as we move north. The landscape is inescapably beautiful. I am closing down now for the night, wanting to enjoy the beauty around me before the sunset and we are gathered in the dark.

I am coming to the end of reading Steven Saylor’s Roman novels – at least all the ones he’s written so far. Another one is coming out in October. But they remind me that world has always been full of travail and that gives me hope that we will survive this time and find our own next future.

Letter From New York 07 01 15 Different ways to celebrate nationhood…

July 1, 2015

By the time this summer is over, we may be calling this “The Grey Summer” as most days seem to be more grey than sunny. Today is no exception, nor was yesterday, nor the day before. When I left the building this morning, William, the doorman, warned me it was supposed to rain. So far it hasn’t but the day hasn’t been sunny.

Yesterday was another day that got away from me without a Letter, too many meetings and calls and running to make appointments, through the crowded subways of New York.

On my way to a 5:00 drinks meeting at the Warwick Hotel in Midtown, I passed through the Times Square Station, where many of the city’s line converge. As I was getting off the 1 train to head to N, Q, R line, I met a man in a wheelchair, holding out his hat, plaintively asking for money. Usually, I don’t but this time I slipped him a dollar.

Traveling toward the N, Q, R I passed a man with stumps for arms and legs, sitting in a motorized chair, singing with one of the most breathtaking voices I have ever heard. Then came the man on a microphone pronouncing the end of the world, loudly, stridently and incoherently for the most part. Just yards from him was another man, handing out Biblical Literature with a friendly smile and soft voice. I nodded to him and smiled back.

Just another subway day…

It’s the 1st of July and that means it is “Canada Day!” So Happy Birthday Canada! I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Canada. Many of my relations are Canadian. My maternal grandmother’s sister emigrated from Sweden to Canada rather to America like her sister. So there were Canadian cousins and not infrequent trips to Winnipeg where they lived.

In my senior year of college, I spent some months there with my college roommate who was marrying a very proper Torontonian young lady. He wanted me around for moral support. [That may not have worked out so well; her parents definitely liked me while they loathed my roommate.]

But the marriage happened and I went back to Minnesota to finish my degree with lots of great Canadian memories. Like us, they celebrate with barbecue and fireworks.

There is another celebration of nationhood going on also. IS is celebrating one year of its Caliphate with a spree of executions. I don’t know if they are including fireworks. They have been particularly gruesome in their celebration. They have taken to crucifying [yes, you read that right, crucifying] young boys who, in their opinion, did not sufficiently fast for Ramadan.

They have started beheading women, which they haven’t done before. They have locked people they don’t like in vehicles and then used them for rocket practice. I am not sure what constitutes magic to the Islamists but they have been beheading men and women accused of that crime. And, of course, if you’re Shia, better hope they don’t find out. That will get you killed, too. Sodomy results in being thrown from a tall building. Some children have just been tortured. Some have been buried alive or sold as sex slaves and, if they can get them to, they are being recruited for the Caliphate to fight. They have a group called “Cubs for the Caliphate” that grooms young fighters.

What a way to celebrate. Good old blood and guts on the streets!

I will take a moment to pray for those who have died in these terrible ways.

There are over three thousand who have been executed, not to mention all those who died in the fighting.

Not physically fighting but verbally sparring, the EU and Greece are still attempting to resolve their differences. Tsipras announced that Greece would accept most of the latest European proposals and markets soared on the news but that doesn’t mean the deal will be done.

Merkel and other European leaders are saying no negotiations until after the referendum on Sunday. What’s the point?

And in a note that is sad but more hopeful, at least about the human condition, Sir Nicholas Winton passed away at the age of 106. In the months leading up to World War II, Winton managed to get over 600 children out of Prague before the declaration of war between Britain and Germany.

He worked as a one-man advocate for children when most resources were working to get intellectuals away from the Nazis. His efforts, which earned him the title “Britain’s Schindler”, were unknown for nearly fifty years after the war. He didn’t mention them. Only when his wife found papers in the attic was he convinced to speak about what he had done.

Good job, Sir Nicholas! Good job!

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 06 02 15 Muddling through…

June 2, 2015

It’s been downright chill in New York City today and I wish I had worn a wool sweater instead of a cotton one. I am heading this evening up to Hudson; Alana, my friend who is the owner of my favorite bistro, The Red Dot, is having a special Japanese meal at the restaurant and asked me if I could be there for it. Hard to say no to such a good friend so I am up tonight and back tomorrow.

When I get to the cottage, I may have to turn on the heat, as it will be chiller there than it is in the city. If I weren’t coming back to the city in the morning, there’d be a Franklin stove fire in my future.

What is not in the future for Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, is more time as head of FIFA. I subscribe to VICE News and its news of the resignation popped up on the upper right corner of my screen while I was on a conference call. The paper trail is moving closer to him in regards to the corruption scandal. His right hand man, Jerome Valcke, apparently was a recipient of a letter that links him to the alleged $10,000,000 bribe for the World Cup to be held in South Africa.

Bruce Jenner has now officially become Caitlyn Jenner, doing so with a splash in a Vanity Fair spread. She gained a million twitter followers more quickly than Obama did when he launched @potus. As someone who remembers her when she was Bruce and the triumphant Olympian, I can only imagine what a journey this has been for her. So public a life, so private a journey.

Last night on the Yangtze River, a river cruise ship named the Eastern Star or Oriental Star, depending on how you translate its Chinese name, was sailing through a storm when high winds struck and the ship capsized. So far, only fourteen people have been found alive of the 456 aboard. One survivor, a cruise director, floated fifty miles downriver before rescue.

There was no distress signal and the first realization of the disaster was when a few survivors reached shore and raised the cry.

Most of the passengers were elderly Chinese on holiday.

The Patriot Act, with some revisions, was resuscitated on the Hill today and will go to President Obama for his signature, which he has pledged to do. I have some mixed feelings about this. I have friends who rant that the Patriot Act has turned us into a police state while others are equally adamant that it is absolutely necessary for protection.

The process has elevated Rand Paul who worked against it and weakened Mitch McConnell, who thought it should be passed without revisions. Somewhere along the line he miscalculated the misgivings of his fellow Senators.

To me, whatever you think of Snowden, he revealed some unsavory aspects to our spying that have left, at least me, uncomfortable.

The situation in Syria is deteriorating. IS has begun to encroach upon Aleppo and non-IS affiliated rebels are accusing Assad of using his air force to support IS against them. Which in the convoluted realities of Syria today might actually be true.

A meeting of anti-IS countries concluded a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry attending by video link. Everyone agreed more needs to be done but didn’t seem to come up with any concrete steps beyond muddling along in the same way they currently are.

Which is what we’re doing, muddling along through one of the great crises of our time.

The EU seems to be muddling along through the Greek crisis, with more meetings scheduled for tomorrow. The EU financial ministers can’t seem to get their arms around the political realities on the ground in Greece.   Greece is living through a Great Depression experience and is desperate, which is why Tsipras was so overwhelmingly elected. He promised to change that and Greece needs some positive changes.

In a startling rewrite to biology books, the endangered smalltooth sawfish, has found away to avoid extinction. They have now seemed to have mastered “virgin births.” Seen occasionally in animals in captivity, it is not entirely unknown but what happens to men when women can experience “virgin births?”

On the train going up north, it has been a frustrating ride. North of where we were, a Metro North train had become disabled and we waited thirty minutes for the track to be cleared. I will probably arrive in time for dessert. But so it goes when you travel the rails, in America.