Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Letter From The Train 08 25 15 Black holes, Putin’s justice and barbarians on the march…

August 25, 2015

It was a hot, muggy day in New York. About four this afternoon, as I was strolling back to the office after a meeting on Park Avenue South, a walk of about fifteen minutes, I determined that I would go home even though I have a meeting tomorrow in the afternoon.

It’s a gorgeous day and I want to be home, sleep in my own bed and listen to the insects buzz outside while I sit on the deck and watch the creek, lit up by floodlights beneath the deck.

The markets bounced upwards most of the day before closing another 205 points down. The China rout continues; one Chinese billionaire by the name of Wang has lost thirteen billion dollars so far. That’s a big bucket of dollars.

The outrage of the world about the destruction of the temple to Baalshamin continues. Much has been destroyed by Islamic militants in the last year, including the temple to Baalshamin as well as the two statues of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan some years ago and treasures in Timbuktu.

Barbarians. Barbarous in the way they treat treasures and barbarous in the way they treat people.

Refugees are swarming across the world. The island of Kos in Greece is overrun and the Mediterranean is filled with boats of every size carrying souls from Africa. From Kos, thousands have made their way by hook or crook through the Balkans to the border of countries like Hungary, which is scrambling to build a fence to hold them back. The refugee problem is the worst it has been since the end of WWII.

Germany alone will be taking in 800,000 refugees this year, four times last year’s total. I don’t think we take in that many immigrants in a year and Germany is a fraction of our size. If I am remembering correctly, Germany has some eighty million people living there. They will be adding one percent to their population this year. That is a lot of assimilation.

The Baltic countries are balking about taking in even a couple of hundred refugees and anti-immigrant rallies are all over in Germany. The immigrant problem has overwhelmed Merkel’s agenda as thoroughly as Greece did.

Putin’s Russia has just sentenced Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director, to twenty years in a Labor Camp for plotting terrorist attacks against Russians after their annexation of the Crimea. The Russians say the bruises on his body after his arrest were from S&M sex he had before his arrest.

The chief prosecution witness against Sentsov withdrew his testimony halfway through the trial, announcing he had been tortured to get it.

Ah, the joys of Putin’s democracy…

Think of Sentsov in the months to come. He will haunt my thoughts for a while.

Megyn Kelly is flourishing despite The Donald’s tirades against her on Twitter. She has been gone on an eleven-day vacation, which may or may not have been scheduled. Her return resulted in her best ratings of the year, even though she didn’t mention Trump.

Her boss, Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News, has demanded that Trump apologize. What is an ice cube’s chance in hell?

Sex sites have taken a beating recently. Ashleymadison.com was hacked. 15,000 of their email accounts were linked to .gov or .edu addresses, causing some wonder about our government officials and our educators. Josh Duggar was a member, furthering the nation’s perception of him as the sleaziest man alive. Lawsuits are landing on their doorstep.

Today rentboy.com was raided and six present and past employees were arrested. It is alleged it was actually a site for prostitution and not for companionship. I think the allegation may prove true.

Stephen Hawking, the legendary physicist, speaking is Stockholm has said that if you fall into a black hole, don’t worry. There is a way out. You might pop out in an alternative universe. Do I find that comforting? I’m not much worried about black holes, not having encountered one in my life but, if I do, I will remember this as I am sucked in.

Letter From Martha’s Vineyard 08 18 15 A good day, a good sail…

August 19, 2015

As I begin this, I am sitting in Terminal 5 at JFK, waiting for the short flight from here to Martha’s Vineyard. In front of me, I am facing an iPad, from which I have just ordered a latte and on which I can check the status of my flight, though that shouldn’t be necessary as I am right at the gate. I am surrounded by people of a myriad of backgrounds and speaking a variety of languages.

Terminal 5, which services Jet Blue, feels a little bit out of a science fiction film; we could all be waiting for flights to the stars. But we’re not, we’re waiting to go to domestic and international destinations, people laughing and enjoying, caught in the pleasure of departure and arrival.

A kind young man delivered me my latte and then circled back to make sure all was well with it.

I am continuing my binge reading of the “Roma Sub Rosa” series by Steven Saylor, up to number eight or nine now, I think, out of twelve. I downloaded two more last night to tide me over, coming and going from the Vineyard as well as reading time on the island.

Perusing the New York Times this morning, it now appears that Donald Trump has a commanding lead among Republicans. Ad Age yesterday had an article that stated Trump was JUST what television needed; his polarizing personality will revitalize viewing and boost ratings. He has boasted that he is “a TV ratings magnet.” And it is apparently too true…

As I finished typing the above sentence, they called my flight and I am now on the Vineyard, having just returned from a two-hour sail and having showered to get all the salt water off me.

The wind was good; we made twenty knots at one point and were thoroughly doused at more than one point. It was great fun.

A humanoid robot went for a walk through the woods today. I hope there were warnings out that he was coming. He looked a bit frightening to anyone just stumbling upon him.

22 were killed and 120, at least, injured in a bombing in Bangkok at a Hindu shrine. CCTV footage has police looking for a man in a yellow T-shirt and black-rimmed glasses. One minute he has a backpack; the next he doesn’t.

The world is tripping on, violent as ever. There are lots of trials going on of police officers all over the country for homicide, something like five of them right now.

Greece is stumbling through two crises. One is their financial one and the other is the flood of immigrants striving to make it to the island of Kos from Turkey. It has been overwhelming resources in that already battered country.

Out the window is Edgartown Harbor. The sun is beginning to set and I must leave you tonight to go meet my friends and see what dinner plans we have. Or take a book and read. It’s been a lovely day for me; may it have been for you too.

Letter From New York 07 23 15 A perfect day in Columbia County…

July 24, 2015

In the west, the sun is slowly setting, a great golden orb pulsing through the trees and almost hurting my eyes as I sit at my desk typing. It has been a magical summer day in Columbia County. Rising early in a cool morning, I sat on my deck reading and sipping coffee, reminded of summer mornings when I was a child in Minnesota. Then the sun was glittering off the creek. Snapping a shot of it, I sent it to Nick Stuart, my friend who is currently touring Southern California with his daughter Francesca. He returned with a shot of a greyish morning in LA, with downtown Los Angeles visible in the background of the shot.

It is Thursday night and another week has slipped away. Last Friday night I was headed north, plumped with the excitement of having a full week at the cottage. Now that time has slipped away and it has been very sweet. Friends have visited, I have had friends for dinner, books have been read, shopping has been done and now that time is coming to an end. Next week I will be back in the city.

World events swirl around me while I am here and I make note of them but feel far from them. We have done a deal with Iran, something that seemed impossible. Republicans are going to attempt to derail it. Interestingly, the Ayatollah Khamenei seems to have decided he is okay with it. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Ash Carter, the Secretary of Defense, has surprised Baghdad with a visit to discuss the preparations to retake Ramadi from IS. How strange it is that I have become so familiar with such unfamiliar names of places like Ramadi. Years of war have caused them now to be tattooed on my brain.

Obama is about to make a visit to Kenya to address the Global Entrepreneurship Summit; Kenya is agog with excitement. Obama’s father was Kenyan of the Luo in the west of Kenya. “Mama Sarah,” his grandmother, will go to Nairobi to see him but he will not go to the ancestral lands of his father. Kenya is deeply invested in the success of Barak Obama. Schools are named after him; children are named after him. He is the “native” son who has become the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

Ah, the sun has slipped down and the sky is now a soft pearl grey. Twilight has arrived while I review the events of the day.

NASA has announced the finding of a near Earth twin, Keplar 452b. Well, may be an older cousin like planet but one that holds the possibility for all the factors NASA believe are necessary for life. Heavier gravity, older than earth, but in the “Goldilocks” zone, it may well be a place where life has evolved. Hopefully, radio telescopes are looking at it to see if there are messages that might be coming from it. Unfortunately, it is 1400 light years from here. We will need warp drive to get there.

Donald Trump is in Laredo, Texas. I would so like to chat with my friend Alicia who is from there. Would love to get her take on his visit. He is causing constant conniptions in Republican circles, even more so now that he is thinking of running as a 3rd party candidate. They see catastrophe in front of them. The Donald is leading in the polls! And if he doesn’t get the nomination, he might not go away! Ouch!

How rich is he? Hard to tell from the forms filed but Forbes is guessing $4 billion.

The Euro is up on the progression of Greece obtaining new loans from the EU. Reading an article just now it seemed like it’s Peter borrowing from Paul to pay…I have to say it seems more and more like a house of cards that will only work if there is a reduction in Greece’s debt, which is unsustainable. The country can’t survive with the amount of debt it has.

The sun is almost gone. Evening is upon us. The light has turned on for the fountain in the courtyard. Soon it will be summer dark.

What a wonderful summer day it has been. I am going to curl up with a new book or a good movie and let the day slip away. Tomorrow I have lunch with a new friend and then dinner at home with my friends Susan and Jim; we know each other from the train.

Perfect. May your day be perfect too!

Letter From New York 07 10 15 From Hudson to Greece to Ukraine

July 10, 2015

For the most part, today has been sunny and warm, not too humid, the sun slipping in and out between the clouds, more out than in. I’m sitting at the dining room table at the cottage, looking out at all the green that surrounds the cottage.

For two days, I didn’t write a Letter From New York. I had a feeling I had run out of things to say or that what I had to say wasn’t all that important. Perhaps it was just a case of emotional inertia but as the afternoon wore on today, I wanted to put fingers to keyboard and see words appear on the electronic white page on my MacBook Air.

Waking early, I had coffee, scanned the Times [NY], dashed off a few emails and then ran errands. I picked up prescriptions, I dropped off shirts at the laundry, went to Lowe’s, had the car washed, filled it with gas, all pedestrian things that need to be done, usually Saturday chores but done today because I was home.

Last night was my first night at the cottage in twelve days and I reveled in being home and in my own bed, surrounded by the coziness and my books. I finished reading “My Townie Heart” by Diana Sperrazza; I sent off a congratulatory email.

The surveyor came and I paid him for the work he did on seeing if can get me from needing flood insurance. We chatted for a while and then I went off to mail some things to my cousins and headed into Hudson for a long, leisurely lunch with Peter Spear, who does market research. We haven’t sat down in years and it was good and fun.

As I did my errands, I heard the cheering on the radio as the Confederate Flag came down in South Carolina. There were eulogies for Omar Sharif, who passed away today in Cairo, best remembered for his role as “Doctor Zhivago.” It is in that role that I first remember him, a breathtaking film that made me curious about the period in Russian history when the Empire gave way to the Soviet Union.

The markets were buoyant today, as it appeared to many that a Greek deal would be done. The Germans are still not convinced but we will see what the weekend brings. There will be more meetings. Greece is taking up a huge amount of Europe’s political bandwidth.

There is an argument to be made that Greece today is worse off than the US during the Great Depression. Then the US joblessness rate topped out at 26%. Greece is at 28% now and it could conceivably go higher.

The deal Tsipras is selling to the Greeks is essentially the one they rejected last week but it feels, in the news reports, like they will go along with it.

Dylann Roof, who allegedly killed nine in Charleston, SC, bought a gun to commit the deed. It was revealed today by the FBI that he should not have been able to buy it; he should not have passed the background check. He slipped through the system.

Prevented from falling through the system was a young, homeless seven-year-old Filipino boy. Photographed studying on a stool by the light of a local McDonald’s, the photo went viral and aid is being delivered to he and his mother, enough money to get him through college. He wants to grow up and be a policeman.

Tunisia has declared a state of emergency to deal with terrorist threats. Some tourists are leaving, cancelling trips to the country and at least one cruise line is not going to be calling there this year and next.

Shanghai, the largest city in the world by population, is battening down the hatches in advance of Typhoon Chan-hom, which will be upon the city tomorrow. While not a huge storm it is the first time in near 65 years that a storm this size has hit Shanghai.

Angela Merkel of Germany and Hollande of France, when not dealing with the Greeks, are putting pressure on the President of Ukraine, Poroshenko, to begin giving autonomy, promised in the Minsk Accords, to the rebels in the East, something he is dragging his feet on doing. Merkel and Hollande are becoming very blunt about it, something that usually doesn’t happen in diplomacy.

The sun is setting in the west, light is filtering through the trees and I will soon head down to Hudson for a light dinner at the Dot. It’s been a lovely day.

It was good to write again. Hope you enjoyed it..

Letter From New York 07 07 15 Of anniversaries and Quaaludes…

July 7, 2015

The forecast for this afternoon was scattered thunderstorms, dark and gloomy with possible flash floods but… It hasn’t turned out that way, yet! Right now the sun is shining down; it’s warm and more than a little muggy but no torrents of rain have appeared.

Today I started the day with a long conversation over coffee with my friend, Robert Murray, who mentioned that his daughter, Fiona, likes art. I am going to recommend he take Fiona to the John Singer Sargent exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That was what I did after coffee with Robert. I went to the Met, met my friend David Wolf and strolled through a beautiful array of Sargent’s work. He was considered the greatest portrait artist of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. An American born in Florence, he managed to stride both sides of the Atlantic, earning kudos almost everywhere.

One painting caused a Parisian scandal. It showed a woman with one strap of her dress slipping down on her arm. Sargent had to depart Paris for London until the scandal simmered down.

Following our museum experience, David and I lunched at a small French bistro on 86th Street on the east side. I felt quite the boulevardier this morning and then went off to the office and have been grinding through emails in the afternoon.

It is the tenth anniversary of the London suicide bombings that claimed the lives of 52 people, the worst terrorist attack in that city’s history. Two days afterwards, I arrived on a business trip and walked through a city that felt not unlike New York in the days after 9/11, stunned, silent, mourning. As I rode in a black taxi to my hotel, the silence was pierced by a wailing siren as a motorcycle policeman roared by, answering the call of a jittery citizen.

It was a beautiful summer day that day. The normally crowded London streets seemed rather empty. A few days later, on the tube to go to dinner with some friends, a man entered my car, wearing what seemed to be too many clothes for the temperate evening. I was nervous, as was everyone else in the car. He was revealed to be a homeless person. The tension was palpable.

Ah, I spoke too soon. Rain has just begun falling, splattering against the windows of the office where I’m working, big, heavy drops.

ESPN has pulled a game from a Trump golf course as a sign of protest for The Donald’s remarks about Mexicans. It is a celebrity charity tourney held to benefit a foundation that provides cancer help for minorities.

In the world of television, summer scripted series are swooning in the heat, drawing abysmal ratings and giving, I’m sure, some network executives in the television world are having the equivalent of heat stroke.

Subway is having a public relations problem. Jared Fogle, their spokesperson, is being investigated for child pornography. They have suspended their relationship with him.

Bill Cosby is in the spotlight again over his drug and sex scandal as court documents have been released from a case settled out of court where he admits that he gave the woman in the case Quaaludes. Oh my. BET and Bounce TV have pulled re-runs of his program from their schedules.

Greece has until Thursday to put together a new set of proposals for its creditors. They will then hold a meeting on them on Sunday. The IMF came out with a report that states Greece will need some kind of debt relief, causing the other EU creditors to feel a little cranky.

Some of them are beginning to think they need to give Greece some debt relief while the others are demanding a continuation of austerity.

The markets here closed higher while China’s sank some more. The Shanghai index is down 30%, much of it happening while the world was watching Greece. The Chinese are upset with the government for not doing something about it quickly enough.

The original deadline for the Iranian Nuclear talks was June 30, pushed to today and now the deadline is being pushed again so talks can continue. So close yet so far.

Three people got too close to the bulls in Pamplona as the Annual Running of the Bulls and were gored.

Jerry Weintraub, legendary Hollywood producer [“Ocean’s Eleven” among many others] died after his colon ruptured and he suffered two heart attacks. RIP.

The rain has stopped. I am going to use the pause to finish and then head up to the UWS for a bite. I am reading “My Townie Heart” by my friend Diana Sperrazza, who was Exec Producer on a couple of my projects at Discovery. It’s good.

Letter From New York 07 04 14 Happy Birthday, America!

July 4, 2015

Today is the birthday of the United States and I am spending it in Baltimore, sitting in a lovely apartment in the Inner Harbor area called Fell’s Point. Outside it is, as almost everyday seems to be this summer, grey.

We all went to see “Inside Out,” the new film from Pixar and it was everything I didn’t expect it to be. It was heartwarming and brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it. A young girl from Minnesota migrates with her parents to San Francisco. In a mishap, the emotions and characters Joy and Sadness get lost with all her good core memories and poor Riley, the girl, finds herself left with Disgust, Anger and Fear. Not a good combination. But the combination of elements in the film make it wonderful and so, once again, I highly recommend it.

We are waiting to see the fireworks tonight – unless they pull a rain check and decide to do them tomorrow though the forecast for Sunday isn’t better than today’s.

While America is celebrating its birthday, the Dalai Lama is celebrating his July 6th birthday all weekend with a whole series of parties. Happy Birthday! The venerable Dalai Lama turns 80 on Tuesday.

As America celebrates its nationhood, Vladimir Putin has sent holiday greetings to President Obama and suggested there were many things they could work on together, like global terrorism. Obama apparently reminded him of the necessity of living up to the Minsk Accords, which require Russia to pull back men and armaments from Ukraine. I suspect it was not a jolly conversation but at least they’re talking, always a good thing.

Yesterday, I mentioned that IS has begun destroying some of the ancient artifacts of Palmyra. One of the noted spots in the ruins is an amphitheater where, I suspect, the plays of the ancients were performed. I’m sure there was nothing quite like a good comedy by Aristophanes to lighten a moment in Roman times.

Yesterday, the amphitheater was used by IS as a stage for killing 25 captured soldiers. The firing squad was composed of militants as young as 13 and 14.

Iraqi jets soared over Mosul earlier today, dropping not bombs but leaflets promising that soon a campaign to free the city would begin. A new radio station, Mosul FM, would soon begin broadcasting and the city’s citizens should listen to it for instructions when the campaign to retake the city begins.

IS did its best to keep people from reading the leaflets.

In the meantime, bombs in Baghdad killed 19.

Tomorrow is the fateful day for Greece. They will go to the polls to vote yes or no about the bailout that has already expired. Apparently, media is encouraging people to vote yes while the government is encouraging a no vote. Lots of Greeks aren’t really sure for what they’re voting. Polls indicate it could go either way, with the country seeming to be split almost exactly down the middle.

European leaders are predicting a Greek collapse if the vote is a no. The Greek leaders are telling the Greeks that it will give them a stronger position in negotiating with their creditors.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t bring a collapse for the rest of us if Greece votes no.

While Greece is voting, the British will be celebrating the christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge which will occur on the Queen’s Sandringham estate at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the grounds. The Princess is fourth in line to the throne and generally someone this close to the throne would be christened in London but the Cambridge’s are breaking with tradition.

It will give the world something happy to focus on while watching the vote in Greece.

Right now, I am munching on cheese and crackers while writing and sipping a martini made by Lionel. Our chairs are on the balcony, facing the Inner Harbor, ready for the fireworks.

It was here, in Baltimore, that Francis Scott Keyes composed the “Star Spangled Banner” during the war of 1812, a song set to a ditty that was making the rounds of London’s Gentleman’s Clubs in the late 1700’s.

I hope all of you have exceptional and safe 4th of July’s.

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 29 15 “You’re fired!” and other things from the day…

June 29, 2015

We are reaching the end of June and I find that a bit mind-boggling but here it is. On this, the penultimate day of June, the sun has come flirting with us at the end of a day of mostly grey with a refreshing warm/cool feel to the air. Coming in to the city today from Claverack, I rode past the Hudson River, churning brown with all the recent storms, just as the creek was as I left the house this morning for the train station. One of the conductors said the Hudson reminded him of the Danube, and I agreed.

It has been a wild day for the international money markets, all seriously rattled as the Greek crisis is playing out in real time. Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece has called for a national referendum on the deal for Sunday. The banks and markets there are all closed. If you are a Greek citizen you are allowed to only withdraw 60 Euros a day. Foreigners are exempt. The German market was down over three percent as was the French CAC 40. London and New York managed to hold to a 2% loss. It will be interesting, exciting and maybe a little frightening to watch what happens the rest of this week.

Tomorrow could be the day when Greece goes into default. Europe is warning Greek citizens a “no” vote on Sunday means an exit from the Euro. We will all be holding our breath, hoping the Greek conflagration doesn’t disrupt the world economy. Greece’s is a small economy, smaller than many of our individual states but the significance of current events is also around what this means for the Euro overall.

Puerto Rico also says it can’t pay its debts. Wonder what is going to come of that?

Sunday was Pride Weekend in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco with wild celebrations in the cities over the Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage. Not everyone was celebrating. Texas is resisting, to no one’s great surprise, offering to defend clerks who refuse to issue licenses. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is going to make the issue front and center in his campaign for the Republican nomination for President.

Upstate New York is breathing a sign of relief as the second of two escaped murderers was apprehended. David Sweat was captured around 3:20 yesterday afternoon, shot twice when he refused to thrown down his weapon and as he almost reached a line of trees that could have offered shelter. He is in Albany Medical Center in critical condition. His fellow escapee, Richard Matt, was killed five days ago.

Tunisia has arrested some suspected of having offered support and weapons to Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi, a 23 year old IS recruit, who gunned down 39 people, 30 of them British. IS has claimed responsibility; Britain is in shock.

While IS has lost a quarter of its territory in its “Caliphate,” it still controls some major cities and has demonstrated its abilities to strike by such actions as the recent taking of Palmyra. And it is exporting its religious terrorism to other places.

Boko Haram in Nigeria, which declares fealty to IS, has been using captured girls as fighters. Some of them have been trained to slit the throats of Boko Haram captives. As some are rescued as Nigeria and its allies experience some military successes, the plight of those who remain in captivity is being revealed.

Egypt’s highest prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was killed in a bomb attack on his convoy.

“You’re fired,” has become an iconic line in the U.S. due to the popularity of “The Apprentice,” starring Donald Trump, a recent addition to the race for the Republican nomination. He made some choice remarks about Mexicans at the time and today NBC has told him, “You’re fired!” They have dumped his beauty pageants, as has Univision [no surprise] and underscored he will not be part of “The Apprentice” anymore.

And I’m fine with that.

The evening is arriving and I’m going off to have a bite to eat and then continue my consumption of a Louise Penny mystery, “A Fatal Grace.”

Letter From New York 06 22 15 After me, the deluge?

June 22, 2015

Last night, I slept very deeply and forgot, as I was waking that I was in the city. I thought the beep beep beep I was hearing was the alarm going off and I was attempting to turn it off when I realized it was not the alarm but the sound of a truck backing up outside. I had a hard time waking up this morning but when I finally found consciousness, I found myself in a happy mood. No reason particularly. I was just happy.

Henry IV, Part 1 was delightful last night. Hotspur was played by a woman, which I found interesting. And she played it with such passion. I’d give you her name but the program is back in the apartment and I’m sitting at the Café du Soleil. I had been in the apartment most of the day and needed to see some new scenery so I came here to have a martini and to write my blog.

Nick, the bartender here, is leaving and I’ve grown fond of him. I often come here to have a glass of wine and a bite to eat when I find myself alone and hungry. So I am trying to stop by here once a week until he leaves for Miami.

It’s interesting when you eat at bars as much as I do. Whenever I joined my friends Lionel and Pierre for dinner in the city, which was often, we always ate at the bar. That’s Lionel’s preference. I went along even though I prefer a table usually.

It’s a New York night tonight, warm, a little humid but not unpleasant. The folding doors of the Café du Soleil are open and the sidewalk tables are bustling with folks. People are treasuring the night as tomorrow it’s supposed to rain and be very hot.

It’s so hot in Pakistan that over 200 people have died, mirroring the carnage in India earlier when thousands died from the heat.

The Greeks have offered proposals to resolve the debt crisis. Markets went up today on hopes that it will come together. Bonds went down. So goes the strange world of global finance.

In a very surprising move, Senator Lindsey Graham and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have both called for retiring the Confederate flag, putting it in a museum. In one online article I read, it stated that the Confederate flag was never authorized by the Confederate Congress and really came to the fore under the KKK. Ouch.

Obama did an interview today for a podcast where he used the “N” word. Not for the first time but the first time since he has been President. He will give a eulogy for Pastor Pinckney who was one of the Charleston Nine. They were personal friends. His anger is more to the front than it has been during his Presidency. As are his emotions, he has been know to tear up when talking about his daughters and choked back tears as he gave the eulogy for Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Biden.

Interestingly, the leader of the White Supremacist group with whom Dylann Storm Roof, the alleged killer, is associated, has given to the Presidential campaigns of several Republicans, including Rand Paul.

Taylor Swift, all of 24 years old, has brought Apple to its knees. They weren’t going to give royalties to artists while subscribers were on their trial period. She called them out for it and they are now going to pay royalties. She seems to be quite an amazing young woman.

The Taliban attacked the Afghan Parliament. The attackers were killed. Parliamentarians were safe but it was a brazen attack in the capital. So the beat goes on in the world.

According to the Pope, we live on a dying planet. But then so does the BBC, who thinks we have entered the next extinction phase. Slower than when the meteor knocked out the age of dinosaurs but still happening.

Cheery news to think about, as I will go to sleep tonight. But it is a perfect summer night in New York and I will enjoy the night. What did Louis XVI say: after me, the deluge? Let’s hope we avoid the deluge of this age.

Letter From New York 06 21 15 Father’s Day, International Day of Yoga and Summer Solstice…

June 21, 2015

Today is Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers who might be reading this…

It’s a grey day in New York. I’m on the train down to the city where I will be attending a play in Riverside Park at the Police and Firemen’s Memorial near 89th and Riverside, a mere four blocks from the apartment in New York. A friend invited me to join her and her family and friends and I committed to it a while ago.

My own father passed away when I was twelve years old. He was a quiet, reclusive sort of man around the house, preferring to putter every evening in his basement woodworking shop to almost anything else. He maintained a golf course perfect lawn, was well liked at work. He managed a commercial bakery in Minneapolis, owned by American Bakeries; at the time it was the second largest commercial baking company in the world. American made Taystee Bread, “baked while you sleep.” The largest baking company was Continental; they made Wonder Bread.

We were not close the last six years of his life. He became more withdrawn. His health faded following two heart attacks. While recuperating, he played endless games of solitaire in the den, at the desk facing the window; playing cards and watching the world go by. Like him, I have a fondness for the game.

He and my mother were in a very rough patch of their marriage, though I only realized that later, with the wisdom that comes from growing older and ruminating on what has passed, coupled with conversations with my older brother and sister.

The night before he died, I was being a squirrely twelve year old. He was annoyed and told me to go to my room. It was our last encounter. In the morning, he suffered a massive stroke and was gone in minutes.

Over the intervening years, I have grown to have appreciation for him. He did his best with me, given what was going on with him and I now credit him for that. Rest in peace, dad, and Happy Father’s Day.

Today is the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice; from now on the days grow shorter until the Winter Solstice. That’s a little depressing but there is still some time before the days grow short.

Today was chosen by India to celebrate International Yoga Day and all over the world Yoga is being practiced to mark the occasion. My friend, Raja Choudhury, created the official Indian Yoga Film, which is being shown at Indian Embassies around the world.

In Charleston, SC the Emmanuel AME Church has reopened for services after last Wednesday’s massacre. To me it is a sign of resilience and hope that they are worshiping there today.

Just about now, Greece’s creditors are having a meeting in Brussels in advance of an emergency meeting tomorrow to see if there can be a resolution of the Greek debt crisis. Tsipras, Greece’s Prime Minister, flies there tonight after meeting with his cabinet on a “definitive” proposal to their debtors.

Tsipras has also been playing footsie with Vladimir Putin, who says he might consider a loan to Greece. It’s been seen by many as a mutual attempt to thumb noses at Europe and unlikely to happen. But stranger things have happened in Putin’s Russia.

Shortly, I will be off to see the play in Riverside Park. The grey and threatening day seems to have given way to sun and breezes, the air heavy after the night’s rain. It is Henry IV, Part 1 by Shakespeare. I had a small part in it when I was in college.

Right now, I am chilling the white wine in the freezer with a timer set so I don’t forget it. I am bringing strawberries, cherries, cheeses, apples and some bread from yesterday’s Farmer’s Market in Hudson. It should make a good repast. There will be five or six of us.

I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.