Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Obama’

Letter From New York 09 22 15 The Pope, Putin, Syria, Refugees and so much more…

September 22, 2015

As I am sitting in the Acela Club at Penn Station, I am watching CNN, which is covering the arrival of the Pope. He landed at Joint Base Andrews and at this moment is arriving at the Diplomatic Mission of the Vatican in Washington, DC, on Massachusetts Avenue.

When Francis touched down, President and Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden were present to greet him, an unprecedented honor. He is waving to the crowd as he slips into the residence for a night of rest.

Tonight is Yom Kippur, the holiest of nights to Jews, and Pope Francis does not want to detract from that. Tens of thousands have been mobilized to keep him safe. The Secret Service sent a man to Rome to watch how Francis interacts with crowds so they might anticipate what they needed to do.

While waiting for Francis to address a Joint Session of Congress [a first], we are, once again, facing a shutdown of the government. The Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood and the Democrats are opposed to that. Somehow I fail to see why the Republicans are SO against Planned Parenthood.

My Republican respect keeps descending.

While all eyes are watching Francis and his movements, EU leaders have been meeting, working to decide how to handle the thousands of refugees and migrants. I found the information a little confused and oriented to dealing with the future rather than the present.

While the EU is determining what to do with the refugees there, Turkey and the US are working to figure out what Putin is up to in Syria. He intends to start bombing ASAP. They’re not sure who it is he will be bombing. Will it be IS as he says OR will it be the anti-Assad Syrian rebels who are also fighting IS? Turkey and the US fear it will be the latter as Putin and Assad have been playing footsie for decades.

I’m now on the train, heading north, on my right the Hudson River glides by with the setting sun glinting off its surface. It’s been mostly a grey day in New York but now the sun is bursting out from behind the clouds as it descends in the west.

All the way out west, in Burbank, CA, a 24 year-old man was taken into custody after he punched a 78 year-old in the face over Nutella Waffle Samples at a Costco. It seems like something that should be in “The Onion” and not real news. But it is real. The young man could face up to 11 years in prison.

There is a soft, golden glow in the west as we move north. The landscape is inescapably beautiful. I am closing down now for the night, wanting to enjoy the beauty around me before the sunset and we are gathered in the dark.

I am coming to the end of reading Steven Saylor’s Roman novels – at least all the ones he’s written so far. Another one is coming out in October. But they remind me that world has always been full of travail and that gives me hope that we will survive this time and find our own next future.

Letter From New York 03 18 15 The Day After…

March 18, 2015

As I start this, I am sitting in the café car of a train that will soon head north, bringing me back to the Hudson Valley. Once back, I am heading over to the Old Inn on the Green, a restaurant in Great Barrington, MA for a small farewell party for Lionel and Pierre, who are moving to Baltimore shortly after I return from India.

Riding the train down into the city this morning, a bevy of bald eagles flew north above the Hudson River as the train rumbled south. It was a magnificent sight to watch them soar over the river, their great expanse of wingspan helping them sail north.

There was a panel today at the “God Box” at 475 Riverside Drive in New York. Actually named The Interchurch Center, it was built in the early ‘60’s by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation to house, exclusively, not for profits that have a religious affiliation of some kind.

Church World Services is there and hosted a meeting of the Religious Communicators Council today for a panel on Twitter that I moderated. Also on the panel was Jaweed Kaleem, the Senior Religion Reporter for The Huffington Post, Ryan Koch, formerly of the State Department and now at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Teri Tynes, web and social media strategist for the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church.

It was great. I love moderating panels and all the panelists were in very good form.

The very big news of the day was that “Bibi” Netanyahu received a victory, bigger than could have been expected, in yesterday’s Israeli elections. I know much more now about Israeli politics than I ever have. My thinking is that I will keep up with the Israeli scene. I follow an Israeli political blogger, Dan Berman [Mind Crawl on WordPress]. As a member of the Left he was depressed this morning.

In Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, 19 people, 17 of them tourists, were killed today in a terrorist attack. They were getting off a bus to go into a museum. Two of the attackers are dead and a manhunt is on for at least one other.

There has been a shooter situation in Mesa, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. One is dead, five have been wounded and police were hunting a bald white man with a tattoo on his neck. He is apparently now in custody.

Markets rallied today on the careful wording of statements from the Fed and its Chairperson Janet Yellen on the timing of a rate increase.

Sounding much like the Tsars of yore, Putin declared that the peoples of Russia and Ukraine were “one people” while admitting that Western sanctions had been painful. 100,000 thousand people screamed “Russia! Russia!” while he spoke. It is the one year anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by Russia.

Even as Tsar Vladimir was speaking, the EU is working to decide how to counter the growing threat of Russian propaganda, which is at a fervor level not seen since the Cold War.

Michelle Obama and her two daughters have arrived in Tokyo for a visit to promote education globally for girls. At the same time, Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter and current Ambassador to Japan, has been receiving death threats. Authorities are taking this very seriously and are attempting to find out who has been calling the Embassy and issuing the threats, in English.

Representative Aaron Schock of Illinois has announced he is going to resign. He has been widely in the news of late but not in a good way. He redecorated his office in Washington based on the BBC series “Downton Abbey” and then was questioned about the number of aides he brought to New York for a conference. There were a number of very expensive dinners involved.

It is too bad for him. He could have easily spent the rest of his life in Congress. He is a Republican in a severely red district.

In the tech world, Apple seems to be investigating launching a streaming service this fall. It is reported to be in talks with Viacom, Discovery, Disney and others about including their content. It is not in discussions with NBCUniversal. There has been a falling out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent, Comcast. If it happens, it is another blow to the traditional TV business.

The afternoon sun glitters silver over the Hudson. The ice is breaking up and we are rolling toward home.