Posts Tagged ‘King Abdullah’

Letter From New York 02 04 15 Far from a troubled world…

February 4, 2015

Returning to Claverack last night, I found my drive bordered with small mountains of snow from the plowman. Waking this morning, I saw that for the first time in all the years I have been here, the creek has frozen over. It was a brisk three degrees this morning when I got up to make the morning coffee. The cold seemed to permeate the walls.

When I was pulling into the drive after a foray to the store for food and a fresh ink cartridge for my printer I had to wait at the base of the drive for the daily deer migration. Checking the car clock, I saw it was four o’clock. I’ve been wondering why at four, almost precisely, they cross my property?

The world outside my window seems, once again, almost a black and white photo, as the sun is setting. The moon is full and last night cast magical sparkles on the snow driving home.

When I had my morning coffee, I checked in on the New York Times, catching up with the world.

Last night, tragically, an SUV got stuck in a railroad crossing, and was hit by a northbound train. It exploded and the driver, a young Jewish woman and mother of three, was killed along with five of the train’s passengers, including the curator of European painting at the Metropolitan Museum.   It was the worst accident ever on Metro North Rail, plagued in the last two years by a series of accidents.

The accident happened while I was riding an Amtrak train, heading home. One of our fellow passengers got a news alert and looked it up online. The photos were gruesome. It seemed surprising the loss of life was not worse.

King Abdullah II of Jordan was in Washington, DC for a visit with Obama when it was announced yesterday that Moaz al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS, had been burnt alive. He headed back home immediately. While he was still in the air, two prisoners convicted of terrorism were executed, just as he had promised. When the King landed, he was meet by an unexpectedly warm welcome.

Promising a strong response to ISIS, Abdullah huddled with his security chiefs today, seeking a strategy for revenge.

Around the Arab world, there has been a wave of revulsion for this death. There was a surprising chorus of agreement from Muslims: this was a step too far. Only Allah can burn a man, in hell.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed, a billionaire investor, dumped most of his holdings in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, parent of Fox News. He was also named today by convicted terrorist Moussaoui as one of the early funders of Al Qaeda. The naming of several prominent Saudi princes as funders of terror comes at a delicate time for the US, as one King has just died and another King has just taken the throne. It stirs a pot that has been simmering since 9/11 when it was learned that most of the terrorists on the planes were of Saudi origin.

Moussaoui has also had his mental competence challenged.

In the worlds of arts and letters, two things have happened.

Harper Lee, of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD fame, will be coming out with another book, TO SET A WATCHMAN, a sequel to MOCKINGBIRD. Her attorney recently uncovered the manuscript, long thought lost. It will be released this summer, with a printing of two million copies.

Marina Picasso, granddaughter of Pablo, the great painter who was not a great grandfather according to her, intends to sell some of the many paintings she controls, potentially throwing into disarray the market for Picassos. She will use the proceeds to fund her charitable endeavors.

The sky has turned pearl grey and lights are flickering on in my little circle of the world. Tonight, after finishing this, I will head to the kitchen to prepare a meal for friends, a salted roasted chicken with baby new potatoes. I will lose myself in the simple pleasures of preparing a meal, taking myself far from the troubled world in which we live.

Letter From New York 01 23 15 At home and out in the world…

January 23, 2015

It is a day when the sun has been sparkling off the ice on the drive. I knew it was four o’clock because the deer wandered across the yard in their daily pilgrimage. The setting sun, still bright, is casting long tree shadows outside my windows.

I am freshly back from the city, settling down into a freshly cleaned cottage, ready to enjoy the weekend. There are buckets of things to do tomorrow; I have emails to catch up on and bills to pay over the weekend.

A winter storm is coming, not a terrible one but they’re predicting about four inches of snow in total and the nights will be, for here, bitterly cold. Wood is stacked by the Franklin stove to help heat the house tomorrow.

After getting back home, I took a break and walked my neighborhood. The house that will forever, to me, be Rosemary’s cottage has been torn down and a new one is being built on the old footprint. It is a sign of change in the neighborhood. I haven’t really met the new owners yet, hopefully will. They’re living in a rental next door right now and haven’t been very visible.

Out in the wide, wide world Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia, died, replaced by his half-brother Salman, who has assumed the throne and assured everyone he will continue the course. Abdullah was 90; Salman is 79. I think the older generation is thinning out and the younger ones will start getting a chance but will it make much of a difference? Stay tuned.

Out on Mars, the rover Opportunity is celebrating its eleventh anniversary. Designed to last for three months, it has kept on going and going and going with no signs of stopping. Remarkable little machine. Space stories give me so much delight.

Out in the Mideast, the deadline has passed for Japan to pay a ransom for two of its citizens being held by ISIS. The world waits to see what will happen.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t follow football. But even I have not been able to escape what has become known as Ballghazi and Deflategate. The Patriots apparently were playing with deflated balls when they defeated the Colts and that’s not allowed. Belichick, coach of the Patriots, and Tom Brady, the quarterback, have NO idea how that happened. NONE whatsoever. The NFL continues to investigate. And, for some reason, I find it fascinating.

What has been absolutely fascinating has been the arrest of Sheldon Silver, who is the Speaker of the State Assembly. Accused of taking millions as graft, the papers today were filled with photos of him being taken for arraignment in hand cuffs. The NY Times is calling for him to resign and the Post relished his predicament and devoted endless pages to it in their paper today.

It may well shake the very foundations of government in New York State, not that that would be a bad thing. New York is notorious – not as notorious as Illinois but the impression I’ve had is that Albany politics are pretty grimy.

So we go into the weekend, the sun almost set. Off to dinner with friends and then a cozy night at the cottage.