Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Letter From New York 05 18 15 Of a grey day with some things interesting, some tragic…

May 18, 2015

As I trained into the city today from Claverack, the east bank of the Hudson River was shrouded in a fog, hiding the foliage on the far bank of the river, casting a ghostly pall across the landscape. It felt like the first shot in a Gothic romance set in the Victorian Age.

Closer into the city, the fog dissipated but New York has been grey all day, a heaviness that seems to have affected the citizens. Smiles have been hard to find today. One crossed my mouth as I passed through Penn Station this morning on my way to the subway.

I have almost gotten to the point where the soldiers blend into the background and are simply a part of the scenery. Today one soldier was tapping his foot to the rhythm of the music being played by a busker a hundred feet away. I smiled.

While on the train and the subway, I scanned the headlines of the day.

Blazoned across all the news outlets was the story of the fall of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, hard fought for by American soldiers twelve years ago, now in the hands of IS. Iraqi soldiers were reported fleeing as fast they could. 25000 civilians fled the city, seeking safety in the capital. Reports have indicated at least some have been turned away from Baghdad.

It is also grimly reported that IS has slaughtered at least 500 as they overran the city, specifically seeking any soldiers or policemen.

In Waco, Texas there have been at least 192 arrests of bikers after a fistfight got out of control in front of a Twin Peaks restaurant, ending with nine bikers dead and eighteen others wounded. There are rumors that bikers from around the country are riding toward Waco, an image that calls up scenes from Mad Max, the older one, as I haven’t seen the new one yet. Police have cordoned off exits around the area and have said they’re ready.

At least five different motorcycle gangs were involved, including the Cossacks and the Bandidos.

Speaking of Twin Peaks, do any of you remember that quirky, creepy television show “Twin Peaks” from twenty-five years ago? It’s coming back. David Lynch will return to direct. Kyle McLachlan will be back to play his character, Special Agent Dale Cooper. Showtime has committed to a new series, picking up the crazy thread of a show that had everyone confused most of the time, while contributing regularly to nightmares. Will the “Log Lady” return?

The southern boundaries of Europe have seen increasing migrations of people desperate to depart Africa, much of the traffic coming from Libya and organized by criminal gangs involved in human trafficking. The EU has proposed launching a naval campaign to destroy their boats, thus disrupting their business. It awaits UN approval.

It appears the smugglers are being allowed by IS to operate out of the part of Libya they control in exchange for half their profits.

Macedonia’s crisis continues. The opposition is demanding the departure of Prime Minister Gruevski and he has been saying: no way, Jose! The opposition has rallies. Gruevski gets out his followers. Violence is in the air. Gruevski is saying this is all the result of foreigners.

That sounds familiar.

What is unfamiliar is that President Maduro of Venezuela may face real opposition in the next elections. Sentiment is growing against him. Polls indicate that if elections were held today, he would be out on the street.

In less dramatic news today, the President of the United States got his own twitter account. @Potus. There was some kidding back and forth between Obama and Bill Clinton [@billclinton]. Apparently the twitter handle will go to the next occupier of the Oval Office.

Also, little Elian Gonzalez, who was found floating off Florida in 1999 by some fishermen is now grown up. His mother died attempting to get the two of them from Cuba to America. His arrival caused a tug of war between those who wanted him to stay and those who thought he should be returned to his father. In a dramatic moment, armed men stormed the house where he was staying with one of the rescuing fishermen and forcibly removed him so as to return him to Cuba.

He now would like to return to America to express his love for this country, he has said in an exclusive ABC interview.

Speaking of ABC, George Stephanopoulos has found himself in some uncomfortably hot water. Apparently he has given $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation without telling his bosses at ABC. They consider it an honest mistake. Republicans are, not unexpectedly, calling for some version of his scalp.

Today has been full of events, some just interesting, some like Ramadi, tragic, and it would be possible to continue longer but it’s time to wrap up.

I’m off to seek some sustenance at the end of the day and see if I can shake the weight of this grey day.

April 11, 2011

Letter From New York
April 11, 2011
Or, as it seems to me…

There hasn’t been a missive in a couple of weeks; it’s not for lack of effort – there have been several drafts.

But I was never happy with what I have seen on the page. Coming back from SXSW, I felt the hope that was in the crowd at the Interactive portion – people could use technology to make the world better.

However, when I returned I was overwhelmed by events in the world. Libya. A third war for the U.S. Ongoing troubles across the Arab world, the price of oil soaring, budgetary crises in Washington, nuclear meltdown in Japan, a flurry of publicity and chitter chatter about the iPad 2.

I ask myself all the time: what is really important? The arrival of the iPad 2? Yes, it’s important. Apple and its devices are BIG news. But so is what is happening in Kabul and Baghdad. And all of that is pretty incredible and we have become, I’m afraid, immune to it – we have lived with this for too many years. We are at war in a lot of places: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, as someone noted to me today, how about Mexico, which is on the edge of exploding? That’s the way it is in the world today.

I can’t ignore it. And I can’t do much about it. I write regular letters to my Representatives and hope they hear what I am saying. There is a huge dialogue in the country about bringing down the deficit but it seems focused on Amtrak and NPR and PBS and all kinds of social service programs that really represent a fraction of the budget while no one talks about the cost of the wars we are engaged in or how do we make Social Security really viable for the next 100 years. We’re not having the conversations we really need to have.

I’m angry with everyone right now. I think the Republicans are demagogues and the Democrats aren’t offering real alternatives. And I don’t like waking up in the morning to NPR because the news seems all bad but I don’t change the channel because I feel I need to know what is really going on. And while I am depending on NPR to give the ugly news of what is going on I am also faced with a Congress that wants to defund NPR so that I won’t wake up in the morning knowing how bad things are. Because then we can live in the America that they think we’re living in which is not the America we’re living in.

We are, as a country, way down on the lists of good things. We’re not at the top of lists of almost anything. And that really worries me. It doesn’t seem to worry many people how far down the list we are in terms of medical care. Doesn’t it worry anyone else that Costa Rica is better than we are in medical care overall? It does me. Now granted, that’s overall and not necessarily a specific situation. In a specific trauma situation we may well be the best but we’re not overall.

We’re 17th in math and science these days. And should I really worry about this? Yes, because this is my home. Once in the long ago and far away, I thought about emigrating to Canada or Australia but didn’t because America is my home, my homeland.

The United States is so many different things to so many different people, all inhabiting the boundaries, physically and psychologically of this unique, strange, wonderful, magnificent, convoluted thing called “America.” It is the dichotomies, rabid politics of some, the yearnings and tensions, the palpable ache for something better that makes this country what it is and today it is am much a riot as it ever has been if not more so.

My angst doesn’t change that the sun is shining in while I am working on this, with a nice Italian white wine while waiting for an old friend, which is also much of what life is about, so we can sit at lunch and talk about all of these strange things.

Letter From New York February 27, 2011

February 27, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Two days ago my friend Beverly, who receives and reads this missive, sent me an email wondering what I was thinking about Libya. What is happening there is less covered than events in Tunisia and Egypt. The difference: there aren’t that many cameras in Libya and there aren’t that many correspondents reporting out of there.

Gaddafi invited foreign correspondents to Tripoli, the capital, to demonstrate that all was under his control. It apparently backfired as some squares and streets were filled with protestors, demonstrating that all was not well and under the dictator’s control. Correspondents were eager to see things up close, particularly after a telecast from Tripoli of a long, peculiar, rambling rant of Mr. Gaddafi informing his subjects that he was still in control, wasn’t going to leave Libya, wanted to die there as a “martyr” and that all the trouble was being caused because Mr. Obama, our President, was seeing to it that young Libyans were being provided hallucinogenic drugs. I saw some of it and it was mesmerizing in a terrifying way as it demonstrated his dangerously erratic behavior and probable madness.

He is a thug; yesterday I listened on NPR to a heartbreaking report from Tripoli from a man who described the relief he and friends felt when ambulances showed up at the scene of a melee between protesters and security forces and how relief became horror as Gaddafi’s security forces burst from the backs of those ambulances to shoot into the crowd. It is such actions that have resulted in the UN Security Council recommending that Gaddafi and his cronies be referred to the Tribunal for War Crimes while placing sanctions against them, which makes me believe that Gaddafi might feel he is going to have to really embrace that martyr role because there will be no place for him [or his sons] to run.

Reviewing online some of the African press this morning, it is clear there is concern that Libya will have a Ceausescu moment when Gaddafi falls, looking back at the execution of Romania’s dictator and his wife when their communist state collapsed beneath them.

There is a provisional government that has been formed in the east of the country under a former Justice Minister who defected to the rebels a few days ago and which is currently being recognized by the former Libyan Ambassador to the U.N. who also has renounced Gaddafi. The situation is confusing and complex and frightening. Some governments are quickly evacuating their citizens but migrant workers from poorer nations are adrift with their native governments unable or unwilling to assist them. Workers from African nations are gathering in compounds and are being guarded because Libyans are confusing them with African mercenaries brought in by Gaddafi and his boys to subdue them.

It appears that it’s only a matter of time before Libya is freed from the Gaddafi family; it is only a matter of how much blood will be lost in the process. And that is the terrifying reality. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the army is split and some of them are firing on the Libyan people though others are defecting and turning on their Colonel.

Much of the news is coming out via Twitter and Facebook because the correspondents are not there in the same force they were in Tunisia and Egypt. And the Tweets and Facebook postings are also showing that unrest remains in much of the Arab world. The Arabian King is offering significant financial assistance to his population to quell their unrest while Yemen’s dictator is under increasing pressure with old allies beginning to abandon him. Bahrain’s monarch is shuffling his cabinet as protests continue. Oman has begun to experience its first protests.

What began two months ago in Tunisia and then swept into Egypt and has now been blown into Libya and Yemen and Bahrain and Oman and Saudi Arabia. We will have to watch closely because the world is shifting before our eyes and the eventual outcomes will undoubtedly shape the geo-politic for years to come, for good or ill.