Posts Tagged ‘Kayla Mueller’

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.

Letter From New York 02 06 15 Strange Patterns…

February 6, 2015

It is that time of day when the golden light of the setting sun flashes across the mounds of snow lining my drive. It looks inviting but the temperature is very low, with a wind chill pushing it down even further. It was a day to be huddled inside. Even with the heat up and a sweater and a fleece jacket on, there is a chilly feeling to the cottage. When I finish writing, I am going to build a fire and begin prepping dinner.

As I usually do before sitting down to write, I scan the trending stories on Google News, trying to catch up with all that is happening out there in the world, far from the tranquil spot where I sit.

By now, Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Hollande of France must be on their way home from Moscow, where they were to meet with Putin today. Meanwhile, while they were in Moscow, a truce was called and buses were sent to evacuate more people from the contested zone. As of now, 1.2 million have fled the fighting in Ukraine, helping to add to the global refugee crisis. It has been reported that there are more refugees now than at any time since the end of World War II.

NBC has launched an internal investigation of Brian Williams, the face of NBC News, now accused of inflating events in Iraq in 2003. It is also now being claimed he may have also “misremembered” things that happened to him during Hurricane Katrina. His scandal is growing and there are even a few of his peers who are suggesting he had best resign.

ISIS has issued a report that the Jordanian bombing of Raqqa killed an American hostage, a young woman by the name of Kayla Mueller. She was working with Syrian refugees when she was kidnapped. Other than the statement, there has been no verification. It maybe that the Jordanian attack gave ISIS cover to announce the death of Ms. Mueller. The beheading or immolation of a female hostage could have been a nightmare for ISIS. They are doing these terrible things to garner attention but they have a sometimes canny sense of what they can or cannot do.

Though they seem to have gone too far with the immolation of the Jordanian pilot. The backlash they are receiving is louder and more strident than anything before and they have now an entire Islamic nation enraged.

Enraged at Obama is what the Christian right is today after his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. He reminded the audience that Christians, too, have had blood on their hands over the course of history. He mentioned the Crusades, the Inquisition and Jim Crow. And the response from the right was thunderous. But Obama has no more campaigns to run and is saying what he thinks. While he was correct, it is not actually current. Christianity hasn’t been fighting crusades for a long time and the horrific behavior of the Colonial era is sliding into the past as Christians are now emerging as the most persecuted group in the world. They have moved from the persecutors to the persecuted in a few generations.

But the ones who are suffering the most, I suspect, are Muslims. The rift between Sunni and Shia is enormous and is used to justify a lot of suicide bombings.

One of the questions that often asked is why is religion so often the cause for violence and not for healing?

I don’t have an answer. I do know that historically religion has been at the center of most of human conflict. My God doesn’t like your God so I am going to kill you. It’s a strange pattern. Jesus wouldn’t have agreed but over the centuries lots and lots and lots of human beings have lost their lives to other human beings with a different interpretation of Jesus.

A similar thing seems to be going on within Islam.

Ah, the sun has almost set. There is a pink glow to the west. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Let us hope that the pink glow presages a good day tomorrow.