Posts Tagged ‘Moaz al-Kasasbeh’

Letter From New York 02 08 15 As the snow falls…

February 8, 2015

About fifteen hours later than was predicted, snow has begun to fall in Claverack. We are supposed to get another eighteen inches tonight if the forecast actually holds. It will be interesting to wake up in the morning and see what we actually have gotten. I am supposed to go into the city tomorrow but have a feeling I may have to cancel my meetings and reschedule them.

Freshly back from the Red Dot, my favorite local place, I am sitting at my desk, looking out at the small snowflakes which are falling, growing slowly in their intensity and size. It’s been another one of those grey and gloomy days and I went down to the Red Dot for both a bite to eat and a bit of company. Living alone sometimes leads to a bit of isolation, which I do my best to counter with forays into the world.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and the de facto leader of the EU, is facing her biggest challenges right now. Desperately, Europe is attempting to defuse the growing crisis in the Ukraine and the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine are meeting tomorrow in Minsk to see if they can avert a spiral into chaos. Meanwhile, she is also attempting to manage Greece’s rebellion against austerity. The former chairman of the Fed, Alan Greenspan, has predicted that Greece will leave the Eurozone and that the Eurozone itself is doomed unless there is greater political connectivity – in effect, a United States of Europe. That’s grim.

Brian Williams’ problems continue to grow. More and more folks are calling for him to resign and it seems that he will be irrevocably damaged even if he keeps his job, which is becoming more doubtful by the day.

Out in the Mideast, Jordanian planes continue to pound ISIS. Jordan is claiming it has destroyed 20% of ISIS’s military capacity. The immolation of the Jordanian pilot, Moaz Al-Kasasbeh, has apparently united the Arab coalition against ISIS, which is the opposite of what they expected. The globe is uniting in their condemnation of ISIS in a way they haven’t before.

In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a crisis and may well lose his leadership position in his party, echoing what happened to his predecessors. Internecine warfare seems to becoming the norm in Australian politics, regardless of party.

Iran is indicating this is the best opportunity there will ever be for a nuclear agreement. President Rouhani of Iran, a moderate, is walking a fine line against the religious leaders of Iran while our Congress is talking about more sanctions, which could scuttle the talks. President Obama has said that he will veto such sanctions but everyone is walking a tightrope right now. Rouhani’s Foreign Minister, Zarif, was criticized for taking a walk with Secretary of State John Kerry. Rouhani struck back at the critics but he is playing a very limited game of cards. He is not the final say in Iran. Khamenei, the religious leader, has the final say.

Ah, what a world in which we live, full of discord and violence, while at the same time, so full of beauty. My deer are crossing the yard as the snow falls around them, moving slowly off to the west, beautiful in their passage and innocent in their lives. Jazz still plays on Pandora and soon I will leave to watch the Grammies with friends.

Letter From New York 02 04 15 Far from a troubled world…

February 4, 2015

Returning to Claverack last night, I found my drive bordered with small mountains of snow from the plowman. Waking this morning, I saw that for the first time in all the years I have been here, the creek has frozen over. It was a brisk three degrees this morning when I got up to make the morning coffee. The cold seemed to permeate the walls.

When I was pulling into the drive after a foray to the store for food and a fresh ink cartridge for my printer I had to wait at the base of the drive for the daily deer migration. Checking the car clock, I saw it was four o’clock. I’ve been wondering why at four, almost precisely, they cross my property?

The world outside my window seems, once again, almost a black and white photo, as the sun is setting. The moon is full and last night cast magical sparkles on the snow driving home.

When I had my morning coffee, I checked in on the New York Times, catching up with the world.

Last night, tragically, an SUV got stuck in a railroad crossing, and was hit by a northbound train. It exploded and the driver, a young Jewish woman and mother of three, was killed along with five of the train’s passengers, including the curator of European painting at the Metropolitan Museum.   It was the worst accident ever on Metro North Rail, plagued in the last two years by a series of accidents.

The accident happened while I was riding an Amtrak train, heading home. One of our fellow passengers got a news alert and looked it up online. The photos were gruesome. It seemed surprising the loss of life was not worse.

King Abdullah II of Jordan was in Washington, DC for a visit with Obama when it was announced yesterday that Moaz al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS, had been burnt alive. He headed back home immediately. While he was still in the air, two prisoners convicted of terrorism were executed, just as he had promised. When the King landed, he was meet by an unexpectedly warm welcome.

Promising a strong response to ISIS, Abdullah huddled with his security chiefs today, seeking a strategy for revenge.

Around the Arab world, there has been a wave of revulsion for this death. There was a surprising chorus of agreement from Muslims: this was a step too far. Only Allah can burn a man, in hell.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed, a billionaire investor, dumped most of his holdings in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, parent of Fox News. He was also named today by convicted terrorist Moussaoui as one of the early funders of Al Qaeda. The naming of several prominent Saudi princes as funders of terror comes at a delicate time for the US, as one King has just died and another King has just taken the throne. It stirs a pot that has been simmering since 9/11 when it was learned that most of the terrorists on the planes were of Saudi origin.

Moussaoui has also had his mental competence challenged.

In the worlds of arts and letters, two things have happened.

Harper Lee, of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD fame, will be coming out with another book, TO SET A WATCHMAN, a sequel to MOCKINGBIRD. Her attorney recently uncovered the manuscript, long thought lost. It will be released this summer, with a printing of two million copies.

Marina Picasso, granddaughter of Pablo, the great painter who was not a great grandfather according to her, intends to sell some of the many paintings she controls, potentially throwing into disarray the market for Picassos. She will use the proceeds to fund her charitable endeavors.

The sky has turned pearl grey and lights are flickering on in my little circle of the world. Tonight, after finishing this, I will head to the kitchen to prepare a meal for friends, a salted roasted chicken with baby new potatoes. I will lose myself in the simple pleasures of preparing a meal, taking myself far from the troubled world in which we live.