Posts Tagged ‘Mayor DeBlasio’

Letter From New York 09 02 15 Deliciously happy while refugees flee…

September 2, 2015

It’s been a warm but not unpleasant day in New York. The sun glittered down on the city and people moved about without seeming to be too uncomfortable though there was one man who got on the 1 train with me whose shirt was drenched. As I was walking up to the subway to head to my first appointment, I was thinking I was deliciously happy. Everything in my universe seemed quite right.

Of course, it isn’t. Since my friend, Robert Murray, mentioned it, I have noticed that there seem to be more beggars on the streets of New York this year. For months, Mayor DeBlasio has been downplaying homelessness as an issue. He has apparently realized it is a problem; the deputy mayor in charge of the issue, Ms. Barrios-Paoli, announced her resignation this week and more funds have been allocated for mental health care for the homeless.

The Syrian Crisis went viral today when its intensity and tragedy were captured in photographs of a drowned Syrian Kurd washed up on the shores of Turkey after failing to reach the Greek Island of Kos. He was three years old. His brother, five, also was lost. There are eleven million Syrian refugees, half the total of that country’s population.

Here is the picture if you would like to see. It broke my heart.

https://twitter.com/LizSly/status/639042438984699904

It makes the New York crisis seem small.

Chaos continues in Budapest as migrants attempt to make their way to Germany. For the second day in a row, trains have not run. Many migrants hold tickets but are not being allowed on the trains. EU officials continue to attempt to cope.

Greece, stuttering along under a caretaker government until elections on September 20th, is facing a huge crisis at a time it can least afford it. Kos is only a few miles from Turkey but the journey is dangerous and will become more so with the autumn.

IS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a mosque in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. At least 28 people are dead. I wonder how history will interpret this orgy of Muslim killing Muslim? It makes me think I should study the Hundred Years War; Christians were killing Christians in fierce numbers during that conflict.

I confess I don’t understand it.

I don’t understand Kim Davis who is the County Clerk in Kentucky who continues to refuse to give marriage licenses to gay couples. [Or anyone for that matter.] She has been married four times, twice to the same man. She found Jesus four years ago. When elected to office she pledged  “[I] will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”

That she hasn’t done.

Someone launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for her. So far, it’s not raised a single dime.

Tomorrow she and her staff go to court to explain why she/they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court.

In another court matter, a Baltimore judge refused to throw out the cases against the policemen indicted in the death of Freddie Gray. His death set off days of riots in Baltimore. In a win for the defense, the cases will be tried separately, something the prosecution wanted. Baltimore has cancelled all leaves for policemen during this period though early protests have been mostly peaceful.

In San Antonio, controversy continues over the death of Gilbert Flores. Video apparently showed him with his arms up though he may have been holding a knife. It’s a stretch, hence the controversy, that holding a knife in a hand upraised in a surrender signal, constituted a real and present danger to the police that were present.

Outside my window, the day is shading gray and I’m going off to get some food at Thai Market and then head home to read. I’ve taken to falling asleep in bed, reading off my Kindle. It’s a nice way to slip into the arms of Morpheus.

Letter From New York 03 06 15 Ranting on a sunny evening…

June 3, 2015

Returning to the office from a series of appointments and meetings, I met with one of the phenomenon of New York City, the partially crazy person we all learn to just ignore. As I exited the 1 line at 28th Street, a very large gentleman came down 7th Avenue carrying huge black nylon bag, swinging at his side. As he strode the Avenue like a colossus, he was not exactly shouting; it was more like braying. He sounded rather like a human imitation of a siren. As I reached my turn at 30th Street, he began to alternate the braying with shouts of “I hate effing everything and everyone!”

No one seemed to really notice him. He just went on his way, slicing through the pedestrian traffic, a human battleship on some kind of mission.

Almost any foray onto the streets of New York means an encounter with at least one person with a loose grip on reality.

The other morning, there was a well-dressed, middle-aged lady on West End Avenue, chattering away. I thought she was speaking to someone while wearing a Jawbone. But she wasn’t. No Jawbone. Just having a merry conversation with her best imaginary friend.

We don’t intervene or do much except to give them as wide a berth as we can. If they’re not doing any harm, they sail on down the streets. Such people are part of the fabric of any metropolitan area. It sometimes causes me to think on the social welfare net we don’t seem to have for these folks.

There are so many human needs all over the world. Hundreds of thousands are facing potential starvation in South Sudan. Migrants are dying while attempting to reach Italy from Africa or from Myanmar to Indonesia. Nepal is in ruins. Heat is killing them by the hundreds in India.

The huge man on 7th Avenue got me thinking about the state of humanity. We spend so much time and money on fighting each other rather than uniting in curing what ails us. Howard Bloom posits that is part of our nature in “The Lucifer Principle.” He’s probably right. But my hope is that we head toward a better future though I’m not banking on it so much right this moment.

Fierce fighting has broken out in Ukraine again. Boko Haram has slaughtered thousands and kidnapped at least hundreds while Amnesty International is claiming the Nigerian Army has managed to kill off at least 7000 and should be investigated for war crimes.

China, Russia and the United States are all jockeying for position. Saudi Arabia and Iran are duking it out to see who is going to be the big kid on the block in the Middle East. Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines along with the U.S. are skittering to keep China from controlling the South China Sea.

But at the end of the day it is all geo-political nonsense that has been going on since the beginning of empires. The Egyptians wanted to be the big guy on the block and they were for a while. So were the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, Alexander had his moment – and it was just a moment – then came the Romans and so on and on and on. All about conquering and crushing.

I must pick up a copy of Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” Today it doesn’t feel like it.

While Mayor DeBlasio proclaims that New York is the safest big city in the country, murder rates have inched up the last two years.

Ah, I am ranting tonight but it’s what is on my mind tonight. And isn’t that what blogs are for? Our individual thoughts and rants and hopes and prayers?

Letter From New York 01 08 15 Starting with the Magna Carta…

January 8, 2015

To the left of me, the Hudson River is steel grey, ice clinging to its shores. The sun is just beginning to set to the West. I’m headed north after a day in the city, going home to see if my pipes have frozen.

It is bitterly cold here; not as cold as the Midwest but nearly so. I don’t remember a time when the wind chill was predicted to reach minus thirty-five in Claverack, not in the fourteen years I have been here.

It is beautiful, this ride up the Hudson, good for thinking and pulling together one’s thoughts or to just absorb the beauty. In the clear channel of the river, barges plow their way through the frigid waters.

In France, the hunt for the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo killings is focused on northern France. In New York, at Penn Station, squads of State Police were present as security throughout the city has been heightened. Extra police are stationed at various news outlets today in case anyone in New York should decide to play copycat.

For a moment today, distracted by the cold, I had forgotten about the massacre in Paris and the ramifications it would have in New York. Whenever there is violence in a western city, New York beefs up security reflexively. We go about our business but never forget we feel like a bull’s-eye is on our back.

Mayor DeBlasio phoned the Mayor of Paris and offered his condolences.

There has been much written today about freedom of the press and Charlie Hedbo, including a very moving one from a journalist from Wired, reporting from the Consumer Electronics Show happening in Vegas. I tweeted his article out today.

In Yemen, thirty-seven were killed in a car bomb attack. In Nigeria, two thousand have died in the latest onslaught of the Boko Haram. But those two events have not captured the world’s attention in the way that the Charlie Hedbo killings have. The articles I’ve read today have speculated it was because they were journalists and freedom of the press is one of the sacred tenets of the West.

800 years ago in 1215, a group of rebel Barons coerced the Magna Carta out of King John, beginning the ongoing process that resulted in our Constitution. 800 years of growing freedom and a few masked men want to roll it all back.

It may be that this assault on journalists has forced us all to think about the freedoms we have as evidenced by Charlie Hedbo exerting its privilege to be provocative, profane, rebellious, etc. It is a privilege that has been earned over generations from the Barons of England to our rebellious Founding Fathers to the peasants who stormed the Bastille in Paris to those who are fighting today in various parts of the world to hold back the darkness.

And that is why, I think, Charlie Hedbo has been so deeply felt by so many. The killings were designed to kill something greater than the poor souls who died; it was an assault of our Western sense of freedom.