Posts Tagged ‘Maduro’

Letter From New York 05 20 2016 Thoughts from yesterday and today…

May 20, 2016

It is a bit hazy as I rumble south, down the river, toward the city.  I am having dinner tonight with my good friends Annette and David Fox.  About once a quarter, we get together, order Indian from Indus Valley near their West End Avenue apartment and visit, over wine and an Indian dinner.

All day my mind has wandered back to the Egypt Air flight that crashed on its way from Paris to Cairo, in the Mediterranean off Crete.  My phone screen was clustered with updates when I awoke this morning. 

It is appearing that the plane’s crash is likely the result of terrorism though nothing can be known until the plane’s debris is studied.  Why did it make wild turns just before it disappeared?  What must have the passengers been experiencing?  I shudder to think.  It’s one thing to be there one moment and another not but what must have been in their minds as the plane made a 360 degree rotation?

Chaos erupted on the floor of the House today over a bill that would have denied contracts to Federal contractors if they discriminated against LGBT individuals.  It was lost by one vote and reporters heard jeers and shouts from the House floor.  Championed by Representative Sean Maloney, Democrat of New York in a district just south of me.  Moments before the vote, the measure had 217 votes and House Leader McCarthy twisted Republican arms to change their vote as the presiding officer kept the vote open longer than is normal.

Ah, politics…  All the remaining candidates, Trump, Sanders and Clinton hurled invectives and innuendoes today, as they do every day.

To put it kindly, Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump have been “at odds.”  They had a sit down at Trump Tower and then another on Megyn Kelly’s premiere of her new interview show as she pursues becoming the next Barbara Walters.  It was roundly panned and accusations flew that she played easy with her former adversary.

A week ago the legendary CBS reporter, Morley Safer, retired.  A long planned special tribute to him aired on “Sixty Minutes” this past Sunday.  Today, he died.  He covered the world, from war to art, with panache and precision, exuding a style that is hard to find, particularly now.

The wonderful Hubble Telescope, hovering in space for twenty-five years now, has sent home spectacular views of Mars which is swinging in and will be as close as it gets to earth on Sunday, May 22nd.  From these photos we have learned there were mega-tsunamis on Mars in the long ago.  With luck, it will continue working at least until 2020 or, perhaps, a little longer.

This week,  a Chibok girl, kidnapped two years ago by Boko Haram in Nigeria was freed.  Today, another girl has been rescued, two out of two hundred.  The first one has met with the Nigerian President but it may be hard for any rescued girls to be reintegrated.  The first girl has a Boko Haram “husband” apparently.

In Venezuela, Maduro is cracking down as his regime seems to be cracking up.  Tear gas was fired on a crowd of thousands who were demanding his recall.  Chants of “food, food, food” are being heard in the streets of many cities.  Hospitals are often without power or medicine.  Patients are reported to lie in pools of blood.

Even his fellow leftists are beginning to think him crazy.  One called Maduro “crazy like a goat.” But maybe that’s a compliment?

The train arrived in New York and then I was off to dinner and sleep.  Now it is a beautiful Friday morning in the city, sunlight streaming through the blinds and shortly I’m off to Baltimore to visit friends. 

Yesterday’s drumbeat continues today.  Debris has been found from the Egypt Air flight.  Accepting the inevitable, the Republicans are rallying behind Trump and it will make an interesting fall campaign as Trump and Clinton seemed to be disliked in comparable numbers, meaning no one likes either of them much.

Oklahoma has passed a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion thereby making it virtually impossible to get an abortion in the state.

Israel’s Defense Minister has resigned, accusing Netanyahu of “extremism.”  And if  he continues on the current path, Netanyahu’s government will become the most right wing in Israel’s history.

Now, as it is nearing noon, I need to prepare to leave, with another coffee in my future and some work for WGXC.

Letter From New York 03 10 15 Some feeling pressure…

March 10, 2015

It is late morning and I am settled in at the Acela Club at Penn Station, having done some emails and doing some work before I go to my afternoon appointment. I’m catching up with my old friend, Peter Kaufman, who was one of my first clients. The day is pretty grey but it’s going to warm up to fifty degrees here in the city and that’s pretty marvelous! Rain may come this afternoon.

The ride into the city on Amtrak was a feast for the eyes. Near Hudson, the river was an almost solid sheet of ice. A Coast Guard icebreaker had cut a narrow line through the ice and a barge was majestically threading its way down the river. Further south, the ice became loose with small floes bobbing on the water.

As the train’s Internet service was going in and out, I often found myself staring out the window at the magnificence rolling by. Lately, bald eagles have been flying along the river, across from the train. A lone coyote has been seen making his way across the open ice. West Point sails by in all its sturdiness.

It will be a long time and perhaps never before the ice thaws between the current President and the current Congress. There is brutal chill right now due to the open letter sent to the Leaders of Iran by 47 Republican Senators suggesting any agreement with Iran wouldn’t outlast Obama. It resulted in a blistering response from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, pointing out to the Senators that what is being negotiated is not a unilateral agreement with the US but with the US and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Zarif has a point.

Four officers rescued an 18-month-old baby who had survived for fourteen hours upside down in her car seat while in a vehicle in a river. Her mother had passed away. After the ordeal, she is gradually improving. All four officers claim they heard someone calling for help within the car. They are not sure where the voice was coming from.

In another accident, 55 were injured when an Amtrak train struck a semi stalled at a crossing. The accident was in North Carolina. The train was New York bound.

In Argentina, three French sports stars and five members of a French television crew, along with the pilots of two helicopters, died when the two copters apparently collided. They were on the way to shoot an episode of a French reality show called “Dropping.” France is in mourning.

Ukraine has been quiet the last few days though today the Ukrainian military authorities are claiming that the rebels are using the truce to amass major weaponry.

Reaching critical mass is the cry for Hillary Clinton to say something about the email fiasco. She is expected to do so today. The right is digging its teeth into this, hoping, I expect, for another Benghazi moment. Some on the left are rising in support but most are just asking her to explain herself. Quickly, before it gets worse.

Wikipedia and the ACLU are suing the NSA over privacy concerns. Among the thousands of documents Edward Snowden leaked was one that showed the NSA was particularly targeting Wikipedia, among others, including CNN.com. Wikipedia joins a long list of corporations and foundations suing the NSA over their snooping. It will probably keep growing unless some come to court and receive rulings.

What is definitely growing is pressure on “Bibi” Netanyahu at home, facing elections. They promise to be extremely close. Some recent polls have shown him falling behind and he is claiming a worldwide effort to get him out of office. Commentators in Israel see him showing the stress.

Also facing pressure from a crumbling economy is President Maduro of Venezuela, who is facing the challenge by asking Parliament for extraordinary powers to face down “imperialism.”

Not looking very imperial today is the Euro, which has hit a twelve year low against the American dollar. It costs $1.08 to buy one Euro, a bargain for travelers but a challenge for businessmen attempting to sell their goods on the continent. The market is responding by diving lower.

And now it is time to close up for the day and head off to meet my friend Peter up by Columbia University. He suggested hot cocoa but it may actually be a day for iced tea.

Letter From New York 03 01 15 Waiting, expectantly…

March 1, 2015

Classical music, mostly Mozart, plays in the background. As I left for church this morning, a dusting of snow was falling and then it stopped. None falls now but we are predicted to have another three to six inches tonight.

Church was followed by a long and lazy brunch at the Red Dot; folks from Christ Church populated the table. It seemed a good third of the restaurant were folks who had been to the 10:30 service there.

We talked of many things. Some church related. Some not. I met new people, always a nice thing. As it became 3:00, I had to bid my adieu and head home so that I might get today’s blog written and still have enough time to prepare dinner. I am planning a salad followed by chicken pasta with vodka sauce.

Simple but hearty, I hope.

Simple is not a word used for the world today.

As I type, Netanyahu is flying toward the US, with some signs of tensions easing as seen by a statement from Secretary of State Kerry that he was “welcome” to speak in the US. But half of US voters, according to polls, think that the speech should have gone through Obama.

Back in Israel, 180 former military and security officers held a press conference denouncing Netanyahu’s actions, declaring that the speech was making things worse for Israel. Some of the founding generals of the group, Commanders for Israel’s Security, are legends in Israel.

Netanyahu is sparking controversy, at home and abroad.

In Russia, between 30,000 and 70,000 people marched in remembrance of Boris Nemtsov, a Putin critic, who was shot down on Friday night. There are a number of Putin critics who have been eternally silenced in the last decade. Putin has called this murder “vile” and promises to find who did it.

We will follow this.

There is now video which seems to show the three British girls who left home to join IS, have actually crossed over into Syria. Nearly 60 young British Muslims have left the UK and made the journey to Syria. Back in Britain their parents are heart broken after the girls did not heed their appeals to return home.

Iraq is reportedly about to commit to an offensive campaign to reclaim Tikrit, hometown of Saddam Hussein. At the same time a few of the Assyrian Christians that were captured by IS have been released. No reason has been given for their release though it has been noted by the press that all of them were over fifty while another report states they paid money to a Sharia Court for freedom. In the meantime, another two hundred Assyrian Christians remain in the hands of IS.

In Venezuela, several Americans have been detained for espionage and a number of American politicians, including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as well as some sitting Congressman, have been banned from travel to Venezuela. President Maduro is accused by his critics of attempting to distract his country from a collapsing economy. Oil, the country’s economic backbone, has seen huge price declines in the last six months.

Down in the Washington, DC, area CPAC, a conservative political group met, and in their straw poll, chose Rand Paul over everyone else. At this conference, Scott Walker of Wisconsin said, “If I can take on a 100,000 protestors, I can take on the world.” Some took it that he was equating Union Protestors with IS and he has been having to defend his remarks, telling folks he was talking about leadership and not making a parallel between the two.

Scott Walker was number two in the CPAC straw poll.

Speaking of DC, a weeklong bill was passed that funds the Department of Homeland Security but there seems to be no long-term solution on the table. This is something to be watched this week.

I am watching the weather outside my window. The snow was supposed to have started in earnest four hours ago. It isn’t here yet and I am hoping it misses us. My snow tolerance is nearly exhausted.