Posts Tagged ‘Myanmar’

Letter From Claverack 10 03 2017 Not making sense of Las Vegas, or much else…

October 3, 2017


It’s a day of exquisite autumnal beauty and I am squirreled up on the deck, dressed warmly as there is a chill in the air but I want to be here, surrounded by the peace of this setting, this day, because out in the world, it is a grim and gruesome place.

It has not been possible for me to process the Las Vegas shootings.  There are only two people I know who live there, my friends Chuck and Lois, and I found out they are only a couple of hours from me, visiting their daughter, safe.

But safe? We might need to find a new definition of safe.

Until about ten years ago, I made an annual or bi-annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for conventions.  While I don’t have a soft spot in my heart for the place, I have, because of business, visited regularly since 1980 and have a sense of familiarity.  The Mandalay is a hotel I’ve been in more times than I can count and I’ve walked that part of the Strip.  All before we began to need a new definition of safety, which is what the last sixteen years have been about, since hijackers used box cutters to attempt to bring down an empire.

It has seemed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are running rampant and there are some who are reading into these events a portending of the end times.

And it’s a little hard to blame them.

Just in the last weeks, we have had Harvey, Irma, Maria, two enormous earthquakes in Mexico, heart wrenching images of refugees from all over the world, from Myanmar to Syria, from Libya to the coasts of Italy and Greece.

And now, Las Vegas, an event I can’t process.  What made Stephen Paddock decide to gun down hundreds, killing 59 at last count?  What? What?

And the number of dead will likely mount as dozens of the injured are in critical condition.

The numbers could have been worse, if not for the many acts of individual bravery, like Jonathan Smith, who led at least thirty people to safety behind a row of cars before a bullet found his neck.  He will live.

There are tears in my eyes and there have been tears in my eyes too many times recently, crying for people who are suffering and for brave people who scorned danger to save others.

Maybe it’s a good thing it’s hard for me to process Las Vegas because it will live with me just as Sandy Hook lives with me, like 9/11 will never not be part of my life while I live.

It’s no wonder we are searching for distractions, which is what the twenty plus thousand people at the Las Vegas concert were doing.  Looking for fun, celebrating life, seeking joy and then were subjected to unbelievable violence.

Following is a great summation of what late night hosts said, men who are finding themselves in the uncomfortable place of feeling society is demanding they raise their voices.  Here.

Paul Ryan announced today that because of Las Vegas a vote will be delayed in Congress about making it easier to get silencers for guns.

Trump was in Puerto Rico today handing out supplies and, according to some reporters, making sure “the optics” were good.  Not particularly caring about optics, read what this DC chef is doing in Puerto Rico. Here.

Tonight, as I finish this letter, I find myself feeling very alone, not personally frightened but frightened, in a broader sense, in the sense I can’t make sense of Las Vegas or fill in the blank.

Come Sunday, I will light more than one candle for Las Vegas.  And before I sleep tonight, I will say prayers for the victims and will pray for Spain as Catalan announces it will be declaring independence within days and I will pray for the refugees streaming out of Myanmar and for people who are undoubtedly being tossed about the Mediterranean tonight as the summer season winds down, before heavy seas prevail.

There is no end of things for which to pray.


Letter From New York 05 11 15 Of glittering sun and charming princes…

May 11, 2015

Today dawned gloriously, bright shiny sunlight came barreling down from the east, casting a disc of yellow/white onto the creek, glinting up at me as I stood on the deck for a moment before heading for the city.

The Hudson looked peaceful as I rolled south on the train, giving no evidence that there had been a fire at Indian Point, the nuclear reactor forty miles north of midtown Manhattan or that oil from there had seeped into the river, causing environmental concerns. Governor Cuomo was there over the weekend, being briefed on the happenings. It makes him and many others nervous about a nuclear plant that close to the city.

Anything nuclear makes me nervous.

For those who have a fond spot for Britain, it may be time to be nervous. While last week’s election has saved the political career of David Cameron it might just herald the beginning of the end for “Great Britain.” The SNP [Scottish National Party] won 56 of 59 seats that Scotland has in Britain’s Parliament. They also are very much in favor of holding another vote about Scotland going its own way from the rest of the United Kingdom [England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland]. Just doesn’t seem right but it could happen.

What does seem right is the idea of a truce in Yemen that is supposed to start tomorrow to allow aid to reach the Yemenis. Fuel resources are almost exhausted and food is scarce. Days ago it was estimated that 80% of Yemenis were going hungry. It’s only become worse since then.

As the time for the truce draws near, the Saudis are deploying a strike force near the Yemen/Saudi border. Trucks carrying tanks have been traveling through the night to take positions. The Houthis say they will honor the truce as long as the Saudis do but if there are infractions they will immediately respond.

One UN official felt five days would not be enough time to get aid to the Yemenis but it is all they have, if they manage to hold the truce for that amount of time.

Secretary of State John Kerry is off to Sochi, Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria, Ukraine and Iran. I wonder what that conversation is going to be like?

In more Washington news, writer Seymour Hersh has written a piece for the London Review of Books claiming that the story of Osama Bin Laden’s death was a lot of bunk and the truth is quite different. Seems he thinks that it was an American/Pakistani conspiracy and that OBL was actually a Pakistani prisoner at the time of the raid and the raid was a cover-up for Pakistan’s involvement.

Pretty far fetched and, like most conspiracy theories, pretty hard to prove.

From The Moscow Times, an English language newspaper in Russia not known for partisanship to Putin, claims that Russian soldiers have, in small numbers, quit the army after being forced to serve in Ukraine.

According to Vladimir Putin, no Russian soldiers are in Ukraine, only volunteers.

While the migrant focus has been on the thousands attempting to cross from Libya to Italy, another migrant drama has been playing out. Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi immigrants have been rescued at sea attempting to reach Malaysia since Thailand has been cracking down on human trafficking. The Rohingya are not allowed citizenship in Myanmar and as Muslims are a minority in that mostly Buddhist country and have been singled out for ethnic violence. Because of the Thai crackdown, aid workers are concerned that many have been abandoned at sea by their smugglers.

George Zimmerman, he of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, is back in the news today, having been himself slightly wounded in a road rage incident.

And Tom Brady, Quarterback of the Patriots, has been suspended by the NFL for four games while the Patriots were fined a million dollars and two draft picks in coming years. Seems a slight slap on the wrist though it is almost assured that Brady will appeal his suspension. Ah, Deflategate!

Prince Harry, now fifth in line for the British throne after the birth of his niece, Charlotte, is in New Zealand, learning about the aftereffects of the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. By all accounts he is charming the New Zealanders to no end.

And that brings me to the end of today’s Letter From New York. I am about to do a conference call and then see about some dinner. That sounds charming.