Posts Tagged ‘MH370’

Letter From New York 08 05 15 Thoughts from the train heading north…

August 5, 2015

The last letter I wrote was from a train headed south. This one in being started while riding north, headed back home for a day before a quick trip to the Vineyard. I’ll arrive on Friday and leave on Tuesday with a day back in Claverack and then to the city for a couple of days.

The Hudson River is steel grey and the sun is shielded behind clouds, giving a grey hue to the whole world. I am happily munching popcorn and sipping a Diet Pepsi while the river glides by to my right. It feels good to be headed home and I’m looking forward to my time on the Vineyard.

I’m having a good afternoon. I’ve been grumpy the last two days and this morning became dissatisfied with being grumpy and determined not to be. So far, so good.

The field has been declared for the Fox debate among the top ten Republican candidates. Leading the pack: The Donald. Almost everyone I know of is panting to watch the debate, eager to see how he performs because it will be a performance.

My family was Catholic. My two siblings and I attended Catholic school through high school. My brother’s entire education was in Catholic institutions as well as my sister, who, after high school, entered the convent. I rebelled and went to the University of Minnesota. My sister left the convent, got married, got divorced, got remarried. My brother is also divorced and remarried.

Today, Pope Francis encouraged Bishops to be gentle with divorced Catholics, to not treat them like pariahs. Still no communion or confession but a little reconciliation can go a fair way. Not deviating from church teaching, Pope Francis still managed to sound conciliatory and healing.

The Malaysian Prime Minister announced today that the piece of a 777 found on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean is from MH 370, the first piece of evidence regarding the fate of the flight that has been found. At lunch, a friend said to me: at least we now know aliens didn’t abduct them.

Obama is working hard to sell the Iran deal, lobbying via speeches at various places. He has written off the Republicans and is hoping to convince wavering Democrats to stay the course with him.

USA Today had a good editorial about the deal today. It argues there is no real alternative; if it fails because of the U.S., the coalition that has brought Iran to the table will fall apart. Here is the link:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/08/05/iran-nuclear-deal-obama-congress-editorials-debates/31067637/

Tomorrow morning at 8:15, a temple bell will toll and tens of thousands of people will be silent. The representatives of a hundred countries will be present. It is 70 years ago since the first atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. The U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, will be there.

To some degree, we all have lived in terror since.

The survivors are called the hibakusha. Every year the names of those who have died since the last memorial service are added to the peace park’s cenotaph.  In total, there are 292,325 names inscribed.

The train arrived in Hudson and Jerry, my favorite cab driver, brought me back to the cottage. When I first moved here, he taught me how to pronounce the name of my town, Claverack, as if I were a native and not a weekender.

I am now sitting on the deck with the creek glittering in the setting sun. A chipmunk is settled on the deck near me, completely unfazed by my presence. The birds are chirping, the sky is blue with a light splattering of clouds.

The peace of the moment is overwhelming.

Letter From New York 07 30 15 A party on the train and a missing dentist…

July 30, 2015

The moment I stepped out of the apartment this morning, my glasses steamed up. It was that kind of day. Stopping at CVS to pick up prescription, I exited into a torrential downpour. I stood for ten to fifteen minutes getting a cab, while balancing a suitcase, knapsack and CVS bag before one arrived.

The reason I was weighted down with all this “stuff” is that tonight is July 30th and I was appointed bartender for tonight’s Empire Regulars’ Retirement party for Ray, one of the most beloved conductors on the Empire Service. I think tomorrow is his last day; today is his last time conducting on one of our regular trains.

Emails have been racing back and forth all day about who was going to bring what…

Cheese and crackers and cold meats and Italian sausages, soft drinks and my “Ray Martin” drink, a concoction of limeade, seltzer, ice, and vodka, topped by a maraschino cherry.

It’s been my job for nearly ten years this fall to come up with a signature drink for our train parties. I did “Baby ‘Tinis” for a baby shower, held for a couple of regulars having their first child. One was pink; one was blue. They had opted not to know the sex of their child so I did one for each possibility. For a Halloween party, I created a “Pumpkin Tini” and so it has gone for all these years.

Ray has been great to all of us and we want to send him off in our signature style, a party on the train.

Not very much a party was Gay Pride in Israel. An ultra-Orthodox Jew named Yishai Schlissel stabbed six people in the Pride Parade. Just a few weeks ago, he was released from prison, having served his time for stabbing three people in the 2005 Pride Parade.

The plane part found on Reunion Island, a French territory in the Western Indian Ocean, is being closely examined to make sure that it is truly from a 777. If it is, it is probably from MH 370, as there are no other missing 777’s. There is no desire to give friends and relatives of the flight’s passengers anything but 100% certainty.

Ray Tensing, a University of Cincinnati policeman, has been charged with murder of a black man, Sam Dubose, after he shot Dubose following a stop for a missing license plate. Tensing was wearing a body camera. The Cincinnati prosecutor has called it “senseless and asinine.” Tensing has pleaded not guilty and is held under a million-dollar bail.

The Greek Debt Crisis continues roiling. Tsipras is being confronted by the far left of his party and he has thrown down the gauntlet to them. Germany wants the IMF to be part of the bail out. The IMP says not right now; it wants to know Greece can succeed. Who knows what will happen?

Tsipras remains incredibly popular, even after his U turn. He seems refreshing to the Greek populace, so used to career politicians.

Walter Palmer, the Bloomington, Minnesota dentist who has brought down the world’s wrath by killing Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, has disappeared. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officials have been relentlessly attempting to contact him. It’s not the first time they’ve been in touch with him. There was an incident a few years ago here in the States.

No success. Silent as a tomb, where some people would like him to be.

But if I am going to be successful at tonight’s party, it’s time for me to finish this and head for Penn Station to join my fellow revelers. Shhhh! It’s a surprise.

Letter From New York 07 29 15 Of missile launches, lion hunts and other things…

July 29, 2015

It is a sunny and blistering hot day in New York. I had a lunch today at Sarabeth’s in Lord & Taylor on 5th Avenue. It is not a terrible walk but by the time I arrived there, I was more than damp and glad I had topped off with a cold drink of water before I left. Coming back, I caught the bus right outside the store and rode it to Penn Station, walking from there to the office.

When I left the apartment this morning, I turned off the air conditioning but it may have been wiser to leave it on. Heat warnings are in effect for NYC until tomorrow at 8:00 PM. People are to restrain outside activities between 11 and 4 and cooling centers are open for those who might not have air conditioning.

As the day begins to fade, I am gathering my thoughts about the events of the world.

Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban, has apparently been dead for the last two years, according to the Afghans. US Intelligence is examining the claim closely. Supposedly, he died in a Pakistani hospital of an undetermined illness. If he is dead, it may help the peace process. Or not. Some of his supporters have broken from the Taliban and proclaimed their allegiance to IS.

The murkiness continues.

Some parts of a plane washed up on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. They are being examined to see if they are pieces to the missing MH 370, the Malaysian Airlines flight that disappeared in March of 2014, leaving behind no trace. Despite huge search efforts, nothing has been found and the mystery has been unabated.

Another Malaysian Airliner was shot down over Ukraine. Effort has been being made to initiate a UN tribunal to look into the events surrounding the downing of the flight but they are being blocked by Russia.

Two young Florida boys went fishing. Their boat was found capsized 180 miles from where they started. The search continues, without a trace of them so far.

There is a religious festival that is held every five years in Nepal. Five hundred thousand [500,000] animals have their throats cut. It won’t be happening this year. Priests at the temple of Gidhimai have said that there will be an indefinite halt to the sacrifices to this Goddess of Power. Animal activists are pleased but don’t intend to lower their watch. I think it’s the use of the word “indefinite” that concerns them.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is an old saying that is not holding up between the Turks and the Kurds. Both are fighting IS but they haven’t quit fighting each other. Erdogan, President of Turkey, is concerned because the Kurdish party won 13% of the vote in the last election. Something it has never done. Erdogan is accusing some of the Kurdish members of Parliament of having ties to terrorism. The Erdogan accusations are getting a lot of play; Kurdish rebuttals are receiving little attention.

The Government of Kim Jong-un, everyone’s favorite pudgy little dictator, looks like it is getting ready for a new missile test, having just finished upgrading its rocket launch facility. It will raise tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world, again, and probably result in more sanctions. It will probably happen in October when there is a big political celebration.

Over the last couple of days, hundreds of migrants have stormed the Chunnel, between England and France, desperate to make it to the UK. Riot police have been called out. The Mediterranean problem is sweeping north.

A Minnesota dentist paid $50,000 for a big game hunt in Zimbabwe. He hired a couple of locals. They lured a lion out of a park and he was felled with a crossbow. It turns out the lion was a local tourist favorite, Cecil the Lion. The uproar is horrific. Walter Palmer, the dentist, is apologetic, saying he relied on the locals to ensure a legal hunt. But it looks like the website to his practice has been taken down and he has been thoroughly trashed on social media.

I was not aware that one could still legally hunt wild game in Africa. I thought the only shooting that could be done was with a camera. I was wrong.

It took the hunters forty hours to locate Cecil and to end his misery with a gunshot.

And in ending today’s blog, how better to end it than with an update on The Donald? He has gone on record saying he would welcome Sarah Palin in his administration.

Oh my.

Letter From New York 05 13 15 In search of laughs but not snark…

May 13, 2015

As the workday draws to a close in New York, I am preparing to go to see “The 39 Steps” Off Broadway. A few weeks ago I made a pledge to myself that I would work to do one cultural thing a week for myself. Two weeks ago I went to “It’s Only A Play” on Broadway with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing. The following week I went to a screen of the new film version of “Far From The Madding Crowd,” the rom com version according to some reviewers. And I went to the new Whitney Museum.

Tonight, it’s “The 39 Steps” a lighthearted take on Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name. Earlier today I was seeking out what I might do next week. Maybe a morning at another museum?

What has been dominating headlines and my email today has been the tragic Amtrak crash last night just outside of Philadelphia, killing seven at the last account and injuring many dozens. I could almost visualize the spot where the train left the track. I don’t know how many times I have traveled that route, coming and going between New York and D.C.

My nephew, Kevin Malone, phoned me last night to see if I was all right when I didn’t respond to two texts. I was already in the soft arms of Morpheus when they came in and didn’t hear the alert sound. Several other friends checked in on me today, all knowing that the route is one of my regular trips.

It now appears the train was traveling at near 100 MPH when the curve is supposed to be taken at 50 MPH.

There are about 100 of us who are regular commuters on the Empire Line, which runs from New York to Albany. We have a Google groups mailing list and it has been very active today. It feels as if distant members of our “family” have been involved.

In what may have been inappropriate or at least awkward timing, a Committee in the House voted today to cut funding for Amtrak.

As a regular consumer of Amtrak, I am a big supporter and can’t believe that we are allowing our rail infrastructure to slip the way it is. But then I am boggled at the way we are letting all our infrastructure crumble. I think about it every time I cross a bridge; thousands of them are not up to snuff.

The peevish and pudgy North Korean dictator has apparently executed the number two man in the army for falling asleep at one of his meetings. He had him shot with an anti-aircraft gun, certainly a way of making sure the job was done thoroughly. Probably he didn’t sleep through that.

A number of North Korean officials have simply disappeared and he is said to have had his aunt poisoned after ordering his uncle, her husband, killed.

Still awake is George Lucas, who is celebrating his 71st birthday. Happy, Happy to the man who gave us “Star Wars.”

In what is probably no surprise to anyone who follows the tech world, Facebook and Instagram are the two top social apps for mobile users. Facebook owns Instagram. The Zuckerberg juggernaut plows forward.

The Verizon purchase of AOL is continuing to be parsed in the press, with bits of snark attached to many such as: this will be the second time AOL has been involved in the world’s worst merger.

On the campaign trail, the big story today is that Jeb Bush fumbled a question about the Iraq war and that has created a discomfort among his supporters and an opening for his rivals.

In Iraq, the defense ministry is claiming that Abu Alaa Al-Fari, second in command of IS, has been killed in an air raid on a mosque. The U.S. cannot confirm the death but does confirm the mosque was bombed.

Fourteen months ago, MH370 disappeared into the ocean and has not been found. Searchers did find an unidentified shipwreck. It shows the equipment is working well though still not find the missing plane.

In the South China Sea, the Chinese are building some islands. Their position is that the extension of the islands increases the area of their international waters. The U.S. doesn’t agree. Nor do Japan and the Philippines.   A U.S. warship sailed through those waters and the Chinese are upset, sounding warnings about playing nice in very strong words.

I am off to catch my play, with hopes of a bit of food before the curtain rises, looking forward to an evening of laughs not snark.