Posts Tagged ‘Minsk Accords’

Letter From New York 07 10 15 From Hudson to Greece to Ukraine

July 10, 2015

For the most part, today has been sunny and warm, not too humid, the sun slipping in and out between the clouds, more out than in. I’m sitting at the dining room table at the cottage, looking out at all the green that surrounds the cottage.

For two days, I didn’t write a Letter From New York. I had a feeling I had run out of things to say or that what I had to say wasn’t all that important. Perhaps it was just a case of emotional inertia but as the afternoon wore on today, I wanted to put fingers to keyboard and see words appear on the electronic white page on my MacBook Air.

Waking early, I had coffee, scanned the Times [NY], dashed off a few emails and then ran errands. I picked up prescriptions, I dropped off shirts at the laundry, went to Lowe’s, had the car washed, filled it with gas, all pedestrian things that need to be done, usually Saturday chores but done today because I was home.

Last night was my first night at the cottage in twelve days and I reveled in being home and in my own bed, surrounded by the coziness and my books. I finished reading “My Townie Heart” by Diana Sperrazza; I sent off a congratulatory email.

The surveyor came and I paid him for the work he did on seeing if can get me from needing flood insurance. We chatted for a while and then I went off to mail some things to my cousins and headed into Hudson for a long, leisurely lunch with Peter Spear, who does market research. We haven’t sat down in years and it was good and fun.

As I did my errands, I heard the cheering on the radio as the Confederate Flag came down in South Carolina. There were eulogies for Omar Sharif, who passed away today in Cairo, best remembered for his role as “Doctor Zhivago.” It is in that role that I first remember him, a breathtaking film that made me curious about the period in Russian history when the Empire gave way to the Soviet Union.

The markets were buoyant today, as it appeared to many that a Greek deal would be done. The Germans are still not convinced but we will see what the weekend brings. There will be more meetings. Greece is taking up a huge amount of Europe’s political bandwidth.

There is an argument to be made that Greece today is worse off than the US during the Great Depression. Then the US joblessness rate topped out at 26%. Greece is at 28% now and it could conceivably go higher.

The deal Tsipras is selling to the Greeks is essentially the one they rejected last week but it feels, in the news reports, like they will go along with it.

Dylann Roof, who allegedly killed nine in Charleston, SC, bought a gun to commit the deed. It was revealed today by the FBI that he should not have been able to buy it; he should not have passed the background check. He slipped through the system.

Prevented from falling through the system was a young, homeless seven-year-old Filipino boy. Photographed studying on a stool by the light of a local McDonald’s, the photo went viral and aid is being delivered to he and his mother, enough money to get him through college. He wants to grow up and be a policeman.

Tunisia has declared a state of emergency to deal with terrorist threats. Some tourists are leaving, cancelling trips to the country and at least one cruise line is not going to be calling there this year and next.

Shanghai, the largest city in the world by population, is battening down the hatches in advance of Typhoon Chan-hom, which will be upon the city tomorrow. While not a huge storm it is the first time in near 65 years that a storm this size has hit Shanghai.

Angela Merkel of Germany and Hollande of France, when not dealing with the Greeks, are putting pressure on the President of Ukraine, Poroshenko, to begin giving autonomy, promised in the Minsk Accords, to the rebels in the East, something he is dragging his feet on doing. Merkel and Hollande are becoming very blunt about it, something that usually doesn’t happen in diplomacy.

The sun is setting in the west, light is filtering through the trees and I will soon head down to Hudson for a light dinner at the Dot. It’s been a lovely day.

It was good to write again. Hope you enjoyed it..

Letter From New York 07 04 14 Happy Birthday, America!

July 4, 2015

Today is the birthday of the United States and I am spending it in Baltimore, sitting in a lovely apartment in the Inner Harbor area called Fell’s Point. Outside it is, as almost everyday seems to be this summer, grey.

We all went to see “Inside Out,” the new film from Pixar and it was everything I didn’t expect it to be. It was heartwarming and brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it. A young girl from Minnesota migrates with her parents to San Francisco. In a mishap, the emotions and characters Joy and Sadness get lost with all her good core memories and poor Riley, the girl, finds herself left with Disgust, Anger and Fear. Not a good combination. But the combination of elements in the film make it wonderful and so, once again, I highly recommend it.

We are waiting to see the fireworks tonight – unless they pull a rain check and decide to do them tomorrow though the forecast for Sunday isn’t better than today’s.

While America is celebrating its birthday, the Dalai Lama is celebrating his July 6th birthday all weekend with a whole series of parties. Happy Birthday! The venerable Dalai Lama turns 80 on Tuesday.

As America celebrates its nationhood, Vladimir Putin has sent holiday greetings to President Obama and suggested there were many things they could work on together, like global terrorism. Obama apparently reminded him of the necessity of living up to the Minsk Accords, which require Russia to pull back men and armaments from Ukraine. I suspect it was not a jolly conversation but at least they’re talking, always a good thing.

Yesterday, I mentioned that IS has begun destroying some of the ancient artifacts of Palmyra. One of the noted spots in the ruins is an amphitheater where, I suspect, the plays of the ancients were performed. I’m sure there was nothing quite like a good comedy by Aristophanes to lighten a moment in Roman times.

Yesterday, the amphitheater was used by IS as a stage for killing 25 captured soldiers. The firing squad was composed of militants as young as 13 and 14.

Iraqi jets soared over Mosul earlier today, dropping not bombs but leaflets promising that soon a campaign to free the city would begin. A new radio station, Mosul FM, would soon begin broadcasting and the city’s citizens should listen to it for instructions when the campaign to retake the city begins.

IS did its best to keep people from reading the leaflets.

In the meantime, bombs in Baghdad killed 19.

Tomorrow is the fateful day for Greece. They will go to the polls to vote yes or no about the bailout that has already expired. Apparently, media is encouraging people to vote yes while the government is encouraging a no vote. Lots of Greeks aren’t really sure for what they’re voting. Polls indicate it could go either way, with the country seeming to be split almost exactly down the middle.

European leaders are predicting a Greek collapse if the vote is a no. The Greek leaders are telling the Greeks that it will give them a stronger position in negotiating with their creditors.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t bring a collapse for the rest of us if Greece votes no.

While Greece is voting, the British will be celebrating the christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge which will occur on the Queen’s Sandringham estate at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the grounds. The Princess is fourth in line to the throne and generally someone this close to the throne would be christened in London but the Cambridge’s are breaking with tradition.

It will give the world something happy to focus on while watching the vote in Greece.

Right now, I am munching on cheese and crackers while writing and sipping a martini made by Lionel. Our chairs are on the balcony, facing the Inner Harbor, ready for the fireworks.

It was here, in Baltimore, that Francis Scott Keyes composed the “Star Spangled Banner” during the war of 1812, a song set to a ditty that was making the rounds of London’s Gentleman’s Clubs in the late 1700’s.

I hope all of you have exceptional and safe 4th of July’s.