Posts Tagged ‘President Xi’

Letter From Claverack 05 15 2017 Messy in the life politic…

May 16, 2017

As I ride south on the train, white caps lap at the island which hold the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle, a building designed in the 19th Century to look like a medieval European fortress, purposed for holding ammunition and which began its slide to ruin when the ammunition blew the building up.

It’s one of the sites on the journey down into the city, where I am going today for a doctor’s appointment, a lunch and afternoon drinks with my friend, Ann Frisbee Naymie, in from Vancouver, British Columbia.  Back in the day, we worked together at A&E in Los Angeles before life took her north of the border.

Across from me now is the citadel of West Point, the redoubt of American military might. The Catskills are covered in the verdant green of spring and the sun is attempting to break through the clouds which have hovered over us for several days now.

Riding in the café car on a train that has no café, people sit at the tables working; Stephen sleeps and there is a quiet.  Most of us in here know each other: we are Empire Regulars, folks who ride this line enough that we are on the email list which informs us of all train developments.  It’s been busy this past week as Amtrak is planning repair work on several tunnels in Penn, which may result in some trains going in and out of Grand Central.  Whatever happens, it will be messy.

Messy, too, is the life politic.  Some Republican Senators seem to be backing away from Mr. Trump, alarmed by his “inconsistencies,” a few shocked by his weekend threats to fired FBI Director Comey that he should hope there were no “tapes” of their conversations.

Republicans still support him though his overall ratings remain low, 39% in a WSJ/NBC poll, not low enough for mass defection but low enough for wariness.

A friend in California, a Trump supporter, is convinced Trump has a plan.  This presidency seems improvisational and some improvisations go well and others…

If we didn’t know the definition of ransomware before the weekend, we are likely to know it now as hundreds of thousands of computers around the world have been infected with the “Wanna Cry” virus, locking them down until a ransom in bitcoin has been paid or a workaround is found.  China is a mess today because of it; their use of pirated software making them especially vulnerable.  Britain’s National Health took a blow as did the German national rail company.

That pudgy, pouty, unpredictable little man who is North Korea’s dictator, fired a rocket into the Sea of Japan, ending in the water not terribly far from Vladivostok.  I doubt Tsar Vladimir is amused. But who knows?  It may serve his purpose to look away.

And President Xi of China is finding that North Korea is more of a headache than he’d like these days, as he announces a new “Silk Road” to knit together some 60 countries with hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments.

We are gliding through the stretch of towns that line the Hudson, bedroom communities, passing by Metro North stations, all of it testifying to the hum and thrum of New York City, not far away now.

Letter from the Train, returning… Passover arrives and Tillerson departs…

April 10, 2017

The train is rumbling north from Baltimore to New York City where I change trains to Hudson, arriving there around 3:30 this afternoon.  It is a sunny day and the fleece pullover and winter jacket needed on the way down are unnecessary on the way home.

Hudson River

As I travel north, I have trimmed down the email inbox, sent some electronic Passover cards and started reading how to make large quantities of scrambled eggs as this coming Sunday is Easter Sunday and I am in charge of preparing the Easter Brunch that follows the 10:30 service.

It’s my hope that Mother Eileen’s clipboard filled with some people to help me. If not…

The weekend visit with Lionel and Pierre and Marcel, the poodle, was wonderful, overflowing with good food at various venues:  Modern Cook Shop, Peter’s Inn, Red Star, Rusty Scupper, Nanimi, Petit Louis.

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On “The Avenue” [36th Street] I shopped the antique stores and found some Christmas presents, tucked in my luggage; that it is expandable saved me from buying another piece.  At BJ’s with Pierre, I stocked up on Excedrin, Prilosec and more.

Long train rides give one a time to think and I enjoy them for that, for being able to see the countryside glide by without the responsibility of driving.

Pierre sings in the choir at the Church of the Advent in Baltimore.  While Lionel and I were preparing to go to hear him at church, the television flashed pictures and video of the Palm Sunday explosions in Egypt, targeting Coptic Christians, who represent about ten percent of that country’s population.  Last word I heard, forty-seven have died and scores are injured.  At Christ Church this week, I will light a candle for them.

In response to the bombings, responsibility for which was claimed by IS, Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency.

Rex Tillerson, our low-profile Secretary of State, heads to Moscow for meetings, either strengthened or weakened [depending on your view] by the US bombing of the airfield in Syria where chemical attacks against a rebel city were initiated.  Tillerson called the Russians incompetent for allowing Assad to keep chemical weapons.

Putin is thinking of revoking the award he gave to Tillerson.

This should be an interesting week for watching Syrian affairs.  How are they all going to react?  Niki Hailey is talking regime change; Tillerson is not. Trump is unpredictable and Putin a risk taker; Assad seemingly a wily survivor who managed to turn peaceful protests into a civil war no one seems capable of winning or willing to negotiate an end.

Syria is bringing five questions about the situation to the head, outlined in an article in Bloomberg, available here.

We have ships moving toward the Korean peninsula, possibly to be in place in case there is a decision to attack North Korea and its pudgy, vindictive, unpredictable little dictator, Kim Jong Un.

President Xi of China and Trump managed to get through their summit without damaging each other and we will await to see what China will do vis-à-vis North Korea.

In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” and McConnell said they would live to regret it, which they did last week when Gorsuch was successfully nominated to the Supreme Court and sworn in this morning.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right French candidate for president, has declared that France was NOT responsible for the deportation of Jews during WWII, a statement that has created, as one might imagine, more than a soupcon of controversy.

New York is the first state offering free four-year public college to its students in families with incomes under $100,000, a move to help residents avoid crushing college loans and to help the state have a work force ready for the future.

May it work.

For all my friends celebrating Passover tonight, Chaq Kasher veSameach! [Happy Passover!]