Posts Tagged ‘Nicola Sturgeon’

Letter From New York 05 15 15 Of sunny afternoons and death sentences…

May 15, 2015

There was no Letter from New York yesterday; the day was simply too full for me to pound one out. From fairly early in the morning until deep into the evening, I was scurrying from one end of Manhattan to another. There was a breakfast, a lunch, a wine meeting, a couple of conference calls and everything else in between.

Today is a sunny afternoon on a spring like day in New York City and in a couple of hours I’ll begin to make my way to Penn Station to head up to the cottage for a weekend retreat. I’m looking forward to a weekend of catching up. I’ve spent the day plowing through all manner of emails but don’t feel like I’ve managed anything too productive.

B.B. King died today, the man who brought blues into the mainstream, the man whose name emblazons a club here in New York, an 89 year old living legend is now gone. Fans went to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to lay flowers but most were washed away by the rain sweeping through Los Angeles, a welcome wetness though according to meteorologists not enough to break the drought.

The Iraqi city of Ramadi seems to have been mostly overrun by the IS forces. Suicide bombers killed ten police officers. Washington calls the situation “fluid.” It’s been a back and forth battle for weeks and this is probably one more of those. In the meantime, nearly 150,000 people have fled the city, mostly to Baghdad. Ramadi lies in the center of the area where many Sunni Muslims live.

To the east of Ramadi, in Syria, IS is advancing on the area where lie the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra, a city that was at the crossroads of the Greeks, Romans and the Persians. The ruins there are probably the best set of extant classical ruins in the world today. IS is not directly targeting the ruins but if the area falls under their control it is feared they will have more opportunities to film themselves destroying ancient artifacts, as they did in Nineveh.

We are now halfway through the five day truce that was to allow for the dispensing of emergency aid in Yemen and it is looking as if there will not be enough time to get all the emergency aid needed, dispersed.

On Tuesday of this week, a U.S. helicopter on an aid mission in Nepal went missing. It has been found on a mountainside at 11,200 feet. It does not appear that there are survivors.

In the U.K. David Cameron met with Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP [Scottish National Party]. He will consider more powers for Scotland but won’t think about another referendum on independence, thank you very much.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg has married Gauthier Desteney, his long time partner. He is the first EU Prime Minister to have married his gay partner. The first European Prime Minister to do so was Johanna Sigurdardottir, Premier of Iceland, back in 2010. Luxembourg legalized gay marriage in January.

Having met with Putin at Sochi, Kerry jetted back to D.C. for meetings with Arabic leaders and he is now heading to China, where he will arrive tomorrow. He and his Chinese counterparts will be hammering out details of the Chinese leader’s visit to Washington in September.

They will also be working to defuse the situation in the South China Sea. Like good little beavers, the Chinese are building up some small islands into bigger islands. On one of them, it is constructing a runway that could land even the largest planes. It is a source of tension, particularly with Japan and the Philippines. Both sides are eager to defuse the situation but this seems to be a must do project for Mr. Xi and not something he can gracefully back away from. Tensions will mount.

Boko Haram in Nigeria has been in retreat the last few weeks but now is in a counteroffensive and has retaken a key village. They just won’t go away.

In Pakistan, the military has begun an attack on the Taliban in the Shawal Valley while the President of that country has issued a rare public rebuke of the Taliban, calling them “terrorists.” Imagine that. But it is evidence of new toughness toward the group.

And in an ending note, the jury has returned a judgment on young Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston for the Marathon bombings. He has been sentenced to die.

I have never felt the death penalty accomplished anything.

It is closing in on four o’clock. I am going to post this and then probably gather my things and head toward the train station, rolling north to sit tomorrow on my deck and admire the new grill I will be acquiring.

Letter From New York 04 20 15 Thoughts from a Pain Quotidian…

April 20, 2015

It is a chillish, greyish, rainyish day in New York City. I am delighted I remembered to bring an umbrella into the city today when I left the cottage. It was drizzling as I left for the train and when I got off in New York, it was pelting down. Good thing I had only a short walk to my meeting from Penn Station.

Now I am at a Pain Quotidian having just spent some time with an old friend of mine, Fred Silverman. He’s in the process of selling his tech company and we talked about all things digital.

An old school journalist and filmmaker, he is troubled by the lack of fact checking in today’s digital sites, a thing which concerns me too. It also troubles him that many sites are paying low wages to their young workers, building very profitable businesses on the back of low wages.

It was an interesting talk; heightening the concerns I have about both journalism and the American work scene. All of it will work out, I’m sure, though probably not in my lifetime. There are probably some bumpy years ahead.

Fred is very attuned to the number of college students who are coming out of college saddled with heavy loans and without great job prospects. He has children in college and employs some shortly out of college.

It was, in fact, a subject that was covered in an interview with Martin O’Malley, a former governor of Maryland, who will probably challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He was on NPR this morning, talking about how students were coming out of college with loans that have interest rates of 7% when interest rates in general are at historic lows.

He gave careful, thoughtful answers to the questions asked him. I was impressed. I doubt he has a snowball’s chance in that warmer climate to get the nomination but I think it will be good his voice will be heard.

Jeb Bush is flying off to Europe right now in advance of his expected announcement about seeking the Republican nomination for President. He has a slight lead in polls but is no means in the position that Hillary has with the Democrats.

While Jeb jets, Hillary and Bill are facing the publication of a book called “Clinton Cash” on May 5 that tears them for their mixing of politics and philanthropy. The author is Peter Schweizer, a voluable conservative but the liberal press seems to think the book could be trouble.

The EU is scrambling to meet the needs of the immigrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Before this, it has been mostly left to Italy but the loss of 700 in the last week has stirred a regional response.

Another region that has heightened tensions is the area around Yemen. The US is sending warships there right now to intercept Iranian vessels potentially carrying arms to the Houthis. It could be a powder keg.

Ethiopia has declared three days of mourning for its citizens slaughtered by IS in Libya.

Six Minnesotans have been detained by authorities who believe they were attempting to join IS.

The US has started training the troops of Ukraine to bolster them in their fight against the rebels even while the ceasefire is marginally working.

Kim Jong-un of North Korea, the young and pudgy dictator of that country, claims to have climbed the nation’s tallest peak. Since the photographs of him at the top show him wearing pristine leather shoes and a slight overcoat, skepticism abounds over the validity of the claim.

In the British election, currently coming down to the wire, Nicola Sturgeon, Head of the SNP [Scotland’s National Party] has been indicating that if they are part of the coalition that governs with the Labour Party, they’ll be the ones calling the shots at Westminster. Ed Miliband, of Labour, disagrees.

Today stocks are higher on the news that China is stimulating its economy while the Euro is under pressure because of, what else, worries about Greek debt.

The Hubble Telescope is 25 years old and has provided us with some glorious pictures of the universe.

The rain seems to have departed and now it is time for me to depart from Pain Quotidian; the dinner crowd is arriving.

Letter From New York 04 05 15 On the way from Delhi…

April 5, 2015

It is Easter, the most important and holiest of Christian holidays, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the central moment at the heart of the Christian religion, celebrated each day a service is held. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again, in all his glory to judge the living and the dead.

If I were in Hudson, I would be at Christ Church Episcopal, celebrating Easter with that little community, listening to my friend Lionel sing his Easter solo. There would be coffee and cakes and community afterwards and then, probably, I would have cooked an Easter dinner or a group of us would have gone out for Easter dinner.

As it is, I am some 30,000 plus feet in the air, in the final hours of the long flight from Delhi to London, where I will spend a few hours and then head on to New York and to home.

The flight has been uneventful, which is always what one wants a flight to be.

A very young lady from India has been very unhappy and has spent most of the flight screaming at regular intervals, a series of wails that soared through the cabin. She has now, I believe, exhausted herself and slipped into sleep; she lasted six and a half hours.

While I napped, I never completely fell asleep as I could hear her in the background. It reminded me of a time when I had teeth pulled. I was asleep but was going around a wheel with a candle at the bottom and every time I went round, the candle burned me.

When I boarded, I was handed a copy of yesterday’s Daily Mail from London, a paper short on news and long on gossip.

It did report the depth of unhappiness Prime Minister Netanyahu holds about the potential Iranian nuclear deal and a great deal about Nicola Sturgeon, who heads Scotland’s SNP. She may be the power broker in the general elections in Britain in May. Seems she did a right fine job of outdebating her English rivals. She’s being hailed “Queen of Scots” today. If her party wins a predicted 40 or more seats, she could align with Labour and form a government. That wouldn’t have happened since 1924.

There was also a huge exegesis of the fashion turnaround of the last ten years by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Charles, Prince of Wales.

Several juicy stories about politicians in sexual peccadillos followed.

All fascinating.

And here I am, having awakened in Delhi and, if all things go as planned, will fall asleep in New York, half a world away from where I have been living the last two weeks.

One of the things I was thinking about this morning as I was closing my suitcases was the light in India. Everything in India seemed bathed in a softer light than New York, as if light came through a filter, even when it was at its hottest and brightest. I remember thinking that in other trips to India; how different the light was. It may be the dust and the pollution or some other factor.

Indulging myself, I have been reading Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, great fun for long flights and travel. I have several of them on my Kindle.

Sitting here in my seat, I have a sense of traveling away from somewhere; a sense of movement, which I am sure, would have been intensified a century ago when the only way to India was by long sea voyage.

Today we are catapulted from one world to another, with just hours to adjust. I think I would like to have that time at sea to contemplate what I had seen, heard, felt and experienced.

Now I am rushing to make sense of things. It is the way of the world in which we live, a rush of things, a rush of information, a rush between places and a rush to assimilate the information we are receiving.

Yes, right now I would like to be on a deck chair on a steamer slowly making its way back to London so I could pause and gather my thoughts, feel my way internally through my experiences.