Posts Tagged ‘Lavrov’

Letter From New York 01 11 16 A temporary peace…

February 11, 2016

Amtrak  Hudson River  Gary and Angel Koven  The Knot  Bernie Sanders  Donald Trump  Hillary Clinton  Einstein  Theory of Relativity  Oregon Standoff  Ammon Bundy  NATO  Syria  Russia  Secretary Kerry  Lavrov  Saudi Arabia 

As I start this, I am riding south on Amtrak, heading into the city to see my primary care physician, who is in the city, to bring him up to date on my medical adventures.

The Hudson is a steely grey, occasionally looking like burnished silver when the sun breaks through the heavy cloud cover.  My friend, James Linkin, is sitting beside me, happy to see me up and walking.

The river is choppy, not surprising as the wind is up and biting, making it feel much colder than the temperature.  I am tired as I often am these days though grateful to be up and out of bed and on the move.

My world feels altered in some way by my sojourn in the hospital.  My friends often describe me as thoughtful and I am more so right now.  The last few days, I have lived in quiet, without my usual jazz playing in the background.  I’ve started to turn it on and then decided against it, preferring silence as my solace.

Tonight, I will have dinner with my friends Gary and Angel.  They have been married now for four + years and I was at their wedding.  Today their love for each other is as incandescent as it was the day they married.  I recommended them for a shoot for the 20th anniversary of The Knot, a website devoted to marriage.  One of the crew told me they were his favorite couple.

While I have been recovering, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won their respective races in New Hampshire.  Headlines wonder whether Hillary’s campaign is about to implode and I wonder about the future of the country.  The Trump juggernaut continues and that scares the hell out of me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.  The Daily News had scathing headlines about his victory saying zombies had come out to vote.  One wonders…

Scientists are wondering less since they have found gravitational waves which fit into Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Great scientific excitement and my friend, James, was particularly excited.  He’s a fan of the physicist and shares his birthday with Einstein.

The Oregon Standoff is over.  Bundy, Sr. has been arrested, following son Ammon to jail.  And other standoff chapter is finished and this time, thankfully, without mass deaths.

NATO is sending warships into the Aegean to see if it can stem the flow of refugees, many being transported by human traffickers.  The seas are rough, dozens are dying and the fighting rages back in Syria.

Saudi Arabia is said to have made a “final” decision to send troops to Syria.  That is not going to uncomplicate things.

And while they might be sending troops, they’re not taking in their brethren, rather letting them suffer their fate on water than let them into their own lands.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Lavrov, says this will result in an terminable, never ending war with the possibility of a new world war at the end of the game.  Loverly.

The Saudis might make their move in concert with the Turks, who have been engaged in verbal hostilities with Russia ever since they downed a Russian jet before the New Year.

Secretary Kerry is desperately trying to get the Peace Talks going but it seems hard to get the sides into the same building not to mention the same room.  Well, actually, they have no intention of being in the same room.  If there is any dialogue, it will be through messengers shuttling between rooms.  Could cost a lot of shoe leather but if there is progress, it would be worth it.

The Mideast already seems mired in that “interminable war.”  470,000 have died in Syria since the outbreak of protests against Assad five years ago.  Millions of Syrians are in camps and desperate to get out to a better life, somewhere.

The day has faded.  I am sitting in a deli in the city, sipping a cup of black coffee [I’m not allowed cream yet], looking out into the night that has fallen, the bright lights of cars heading down 7th Avenue, people scurrying from the cold.

All peaceful here.  But for how long?

Letter from New York 10 01 15 From Russia to Nefertiti to Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost

October 1, 2015

Russia. Putin. Kerry. Lavrov. IS. Syria. Joaquin. Nefertiti. Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden. Abraham Lincoln’s ghost.

There are so many things to think about today as the Acela glides south toward Washington, D.C. I am headed down there for a couple of “get togethers,” not really meetings.

My former partner and I are having lunch; he recently found something emotionally important to me in a drawer and is returning it to me and then I am having drinks with my dear, good friend, Rita Mullin, who recently left Discovery and is contemplating her future.

While I am contemplating a pleasant day, the world stage is filled with players doing unpleasant things.

Russia has built up its military presence in Syria and launched airstrikes. Surprising to some but not to me, they didn’t bomb IS but anti-Assad troops, some of them trained by the U.S. As early as today, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Lavrov, will meet to discuss ways of avoiding unanticipated “encounters.”

In other words, the whole Syrian situation has become more chaotic. Putin has one military base outside of Russia. It’s in Syria and he is not going to let it go while he works to ensure he is perceived as a player on the stage of world events.

I’m afraid many more may die to help him perceive himself in that role.

Hurricane Joaquin is battering the Bahamas and is headed north, skipping Florida and probably coming ashore in the Carolinas, then working its way north. New York City is in, as the Times said, “the cone of uncertainty.” I will say a prayer Joaquin does not disrupt my Sunday flight to Indianapolis.

As I have mentioned before, I dreamed in my childhood of being an Egyptologist. That world is all atwitter, as I have also mentioned before, that there is a room behind the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen, which may well be the burial place of Nefertiti. If it is true, the place may no longer be known at King Tut’s but as Queen Nefertiti’s.

She was a more important figure than Tutankhamen, who died at 17. She co-ruled with her husband and then, suddenly, disappeared from the historical scene. Her bust sits in a room of its own in a museum in Berlin, regal and enchanting, alluring and mystifying.

While Nefertiti has enchanted across the millennia, in the moment we seem to be enchanted with “outsiders” in our political process. On the Republican side, the frontrunners are Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, none of whom have held political office.

Bernie Sanders is beginning to clip at the heels of Hillary Clinton. In the last fund raising period Sanders raised $24 million to Hillary’s $28 million. Complicating Hillary’s situation is the specter that Biden will throw his hat in the ring. Her camp is suddenly taking the possibility seriously and is working to outflank him.

Recent polls indicate he would be the most popular candidate of either the Democrats or Republicans.

Speaking of specters, my friend Joshua Warren, has released a photo that was shot during the renovation of the White House under President Truman, which shows a figure that cannot be explained. He is sure that it is the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. You can find out more, here: http://freecharm.com/WhiteHouseGhostPhoto.html

We are soon arriving in Baltimore, my ultimate destination today. Tomorrow evening we will be celebrating my Australian “brother’s” birthday at his favorite restaurant in Baltimore, where he now lives. Streaks of rain have begun to touch the windows of the train; all around me the early morning travelers seem to be largely napping, catching a few winks before arriving in DC.

The day is grey but I’m not in a grey mood. I hope you’re not either.

Letter From New York 02 11 15 A bit of chaos here and there…

February 11, 2015

As I ride south into the city, the Hudson River to my right is ice bound, with bright light glittering off the frozen surface of the river. The journey into the city was precipitated by a couple of meetings, one of which has already been cancelled while I was boarding the train. My friend Rita’s plane from DC was cancelled and she is rushing to the train station to get the next train.

After many bad experiences, I am skeptical about the wisdom of doing anything but training between Washington and New York.

My train is bumping along as it works its way to New York. It arrived late in Hudson because of equipment trouble but only by thirty minutes. The equipment is suffering from the cold and hence the ride is rockier than usual. I can feel it in my back.

The world of television has been rocked in the last twenty-four hours.

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show for the last fifteen years, announced yesterday that he would be departing the program this year, as early as July or as late as December, but he is leaving.

It is a double blow for Comedy Central, which also lost Stephen Colbert this year to CBS where he is taking over late night duties for David Letterman. The network has indicated The Daily Show will continue and there is scrambling to find a replacement for him.

Scrambling is also going on over at NBC. Steven Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, paid a visit to Brian Williams yesterday and informed him that he was going to be suspended without pay for the next six months. It may be the beginning of the end of Williams’ career. Twitter has tweets that NBC is now looking into his expense reports and investigating the veracity of other stories that Mr. Williams has told about his in-field experiences.

As I write this, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are huddling in Minsk, Belarus, in an effort to find some political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. There are rumors of some progress, but sides still seem far apart. More than 5,300 have lost their lives. Somewhere between 1.2 million and 1.5 million have been made refugees.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, has commented that there has been “noticeable progress.” Interpretation: Russia is getting closer to what it wants, I guess. Ms. Merkel of Germany holds out slim hope but will continue to walk the diplomatic path in honor of the civilians who have died.

Hundreds of refugees from Africa are believed to have died in an attempt to reach Italy, joining the thousands who have already drowned in the last years, trying to cross the Mediterranean, hoping to find a better life in Europe.

Three Muslim adult students were gunned down in Chapel Hill, SC. It may have been a hate crime or it may have been a parking dispute. Either way, a tragedy.

Obama has asked for war authorization against ISIS. He used interesting phrasing, with the plan barring “enduring offensive combat operations.” It is to last three years. Speaker Boehner quickly criticized the plan and indicated there would be Congressional changes.

A little over three years ago, the cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground off an Italian island and 32 people lost their lives. Today, just moments ago, its Captain, Francesco Schettino, was found guilty of manslaughter. He faces 26 years in prison. He was also accused, and found guilty of, abandoning his passengers to save himself.

It was said that when the Costa Concordia hit the rocks, there was chaos. In Alabama today there is a bit of judicial chaos. The Supreme Court refused to put a stay on gay marriage in Alabama and that should have been the end of it. But gay couples can only get married in parts of Alabama today as some judges refuse to carry out ceremonies. An Alabama female minister was arrested on disorderly conduct charges after offering to conduct a same sex wedding. She is in jail.

Alabama has a long history of fighting orders from the Federal Courts. It will be interesting to watch how all this plays out.

Far enough south now, the Hudson River flows freely at the center. The train is approaching New York City. The equipment, however, has not thawed out and I will be glad to end the bumpy ride.

Letter From New York 02 09 15 In the midst of an absurd winter…

February 9, 2015

For the last eighteen hours it has been snowing steadily here in Claverack; about ten inches in on the ground and it’s supposed to continue snowing until morning. The snowplow was just here to plow the drive and got stuck backing down the drive. Another truck had to come and pull him out. It was interesting to watch. I went out and asked the driver of the stuck truck if he wanted to come in and wait inside but he demurred and shortly after his boss arrived and they managed the situation.

Two and a half feet of snow are piled on the deck; icicles ring the house and the snow keeps falling. It’s very much winter in the Northeast. Boston is buried in snow again and has run out of room to put the newest snowfall. Some in Boston are calling this winter “absurd.”

From pictures I have seen today from Alabama, it is not very wintry there. Gay couples in shirtsleeves showed up this morning to get married. In some counties they could and in some counties they couldn’t and in some counties nobody could get married, gay or straight.

The Alabama Supreme Court Justice, Roy Moore, declared that Probate Judges, who issue marriage licenses, didn’t have to obey a Federal Court order that they had to start marrying gays. Understandably, some confusion ensued. The Supreme Court of the United States refused a request by the Attorney General of Alabama to stay gay marriage in that state until the Supreme Court rules upon the matter later this spring.

So, some gay men and women got married in Alabama today, the 37th state to now acknowledge gay marriage. At least in some places.

The Ukraine crisis stutters along. More consultations will take place, ministers will meet, Heads of State will confer but, as the Washington Post, opined today we don’t have a long-term strategy towards Ukraine. Putin seems to have one. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and other foreign ministers were at the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday. Lavrov continued the Russian hard line while also apparently insinuating that the re-unification of Germany might not have been legal. Normally a staid affair, it was anything but this year.

In Marseilles, gunfire erupted between drug related gangs, with the city’s police chief momentarily pinned down by the violence. The French Prime Minister was just arriving in the city to boast how crime was on the decline in Marseilles, a big center for drug trafficking from Morocco.

In what was disturbing news today, even a bit creepy, is that apparently your Smart TV, if equipped with voice recognition software, might just be spying on you. That fight with your significant other might be being piped over to the servers of the set’s builders. And it has been sometimes been happening even when the feature has been turned off. I think that unseemly. I wonder if Amazon’s Alexa does that? I will have to be careful of what I say when I am over at my neighbor’s.