Posts Tagged ‘Prince William’

Letter From New York 07 13 15 Thoughts while traveling south by train to New York City…

July 13, 2015

The ride on Amtrak from Hudson to New York is one of the most beautiful train rides in the country, if not the world. There are a couple of bad patches like the gravel pit that seems to go on for quite a while and there is the passage by Sing Sing Prison, ominous, concrete and barbed wire. But 90% of the ride is astounding. Right now I am passing gently rolling hills that look much as they must have when Henry Hudson sailed the river centuries ago.

Opting to come in on a post noon train, I sat on the deck this morning with coffee in hand, listening to the birds sing and reading the New York Times. It was quiet, peaceful and soul soothing.

The markets have bounced up on having a deal with Greece in sight, despite the wariness of some European governments about the sincerity of the Greeks in keeping promises they’re making. There is a long road to go because this is just an agreement to negotiate. But, as someone once said to me, something is always better than nothing.

The Greek banks are still closed and cash is very, very short.

Scott Walker of Wisconsin surprised no one by announcing he is running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Donald Trump still holds the lead in the polls for the Republican pack.

Chapo Guzman, “El Chapo,” escaped yesterday from a prison in Mexico. A nearly mile long tunnel was dug to his shower in his cell. Slipping in to the shower, he stepped into the tunnel and is now on the run. This is his second escape from a maximum-security prison. Last time he stayed free for thirteen years. There is, of course, a manhunt on but his escape has made Mexicans more cynical, and more distrusting of their officials. Bribery and/or intimidation are suspected factors in the escape. “El Chapo” has an estimated worth of $ 1 billion.

We have just glided by Indian Point, the nuclear reactor that sits on the Hudson River. Always controversial, its detractors want it closed. A couple of recent incidents have made people nervous.

Brian Gallagher is on the train with me. He’s the right hand of Joe Boardman, who is the President of Amtrak. Brian and I chat regularly about our favorite long distance routes. I need to go to Minneapolis this summer for my annual familial visit and I am probably going to take the train one way. I love the sense of traveling that trains provide, of moving through space on your way to a place.

Right now, as I move south, I also wish there was a boat that sailed from New York and put in at Hudson for a stop. I would love to make the trip by water, also a great way of having a sense of traveling.

While I am moving down the Hudson Valley, in Vienna there are more last minute efforts to hammer out an Iranian nuclear deal despite rumors that an announcement would be made today that there was a deal in place. Perhaps not until later this week, if it happens at all.

The Iraqis are planning on an offensive to take back its largest province, Anbar, from IS.

The President of Nigeria has fired all the heads of his armed forces and will replace them. It has been expected. The chaps fired were the ones who didn’t make any progress against Boko Haram. Now that Boko Haram has lost much of its territory, Nigeria having had help from Chad and Cameroon, it has stepped up suicide attacks.

For those whose day is not complete without a bit of royal update, Prince William launched his career today as an air ambulance pilot.

Right this minute, I am south of Croton Harmon, with a stunning river view. West Point slipped by on the far shore not long ago.

Once in town, I am meeting a friend and then we are joining a third friend for our quarterly Indian dinner, tonight at Pipalli, on 29th near Lexington, in the heart of “Curry Hill.” Nick, David and I have been doing this for three or four years, always a good chance to get caught up and have a martini, our official drink.

Tomorrow, I will let you know how it is.

Letter From New York 07 05 15 Civilized things in an uncivilized world…

July 5, 2015

Well, at last there is a sunny day! I am sitting at the dining room table at my friends’ apartment in Baltimore and sun is pouring down on the deck. It’s been sunny all day! And I’m just delighted.

As many people have been doing, I have been watching what has been happening in Greece. It seems the Greek people are voting “no” in the referendum that was held today – at least that is what the early opinion polls are showing. And now we will wait to see how it plays out this week. Will the European Central Bank give fresh funds to Greek Banks, who will probably run out of cash this week? Will a deal be done or is this Greece’s farewell to the Eurozone?

As the Greeks were voting, US warplanes were striking at Raqqa, the “capital” of the IS Caliphate. It was intended to cripple the group’s efforts to move military resources further into Iraq or Syria.

IS has been active in Sinai, at least fifty are dead there. From there, they have heaved some missiles into southern Israel.

An evangelical church in Nigeria lost six worshipers today when a suicide bomber attacked.

Donald Trump is riding a populist wave with his remarks about Mexican immigrants, causing consternation among Republican candidates. Rick Perry has found him offensive and others are working to distance themselves from him. He may be a train wreck but he’s ahead in the polls, believe it or not.

The Pope arrived in Quito today on a trip to Latin America, the continent where he was born. He will be in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay but not his native Argentina. He will be bringing the church to the poor. It is seen by some as a test of his ability to keep the faithful within the church. Roman Catholicism has been losing to Protestant Evangelicals in many parts of the continent.

While warplanes were attacking Raqqa and the Greeks seemed to be voting “no,” little Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge was christened in the country, on her Great-Grandmother’s estate at Sandringham, at St Mary Magdalene Church, where Diana, Princess of Wales, was christened in 1961. It was a nod to the Princess’s paternal grandmother as were some of the music choices and the fact that a cousin of Diana’s was named as one of the godparents. Princess Charlotte has five of them.

Afterwards, Queen Elizabeth II served champagne and tea at her palace. 3500 came out to greet the newly christened Princess. It was a pretty day; with young Prince George wearing an outfit that was very similar to the one his father wore to Prince Harry’s christening.

All was very civilized and far from the chaos in other parts of the world.

Taking a cue from the civilized behavior of the Cambridge’s, I am planning to finish this, sip a martini, shaken, not stirred [as I am writing, I am also half watching a Sean Connery Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever”] and then head to the Thames Street Oyster House for a civilized dinner.P

Letter from New York 04 28 15 Notes on a restless world…

April 28, 2015

As I was sitting at a Producer’s Guild event last night about Multi Channel Networks, I was also texting back and forth with my friend Lionel, who has moved recently to Baltimore where, last night, the city was rocked by violence. One person was critically injured, 235 were arrested and the National Guard was called in to help restore order. AOL, where Lionel works, closed for the day and offered hotels to employees who worked in areas where rioting was occurring. At ten last night, Lionel could hear gunshots from his apartment.

Today, President Obama made an impassioned plea for “soul searching” as another city was rocked by violence over the death of a young black man at the hands of police.

Down the road in Washington, DC, the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments on gay marriage. From what I can gather from reading reports, there was no clear indication from the Justice’s questions as to which way the Court will rule in June. Both sides left cautiously optimistic.

In the turbulent world beyond the US, events keep happening that make it easy to be uneasy.

Iran has seized a Marshall Islands flagged cargo vessel, the Maersk Tigris, operated for the Danish Maersk Line. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which forced the Tigris deeper into Iran’s territorial waters, claims the move was over legality and not for military reasons. The US has sent the Farragut to observe. No Americans were aboard.

Indonesia executed eight foreigners convicted of drug smuggling, today. They died at the hands of a firing squad. A ninth, a Filipino woman, was spared at the 11th hour. Australia, whose citizens were among those executed, may withdraw their Ambassador to Indonesia in protest.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan is in Washington to help sew up the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, including our old nemesis, Vietnam. Abe and Obama are also talking strengthening their mutual defense commitments as Obama is accusing China of using its “muscle” on its neighbors.

Tonight there will be a State Dinner for the Prime Minister and his wife.

Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, has pushed his Finance Minister into the sidelines as a conciliatory gesture to the Euro Group with whom Greece is negotiating. Mr. Varoufakis is known for his volubility and his strident stands. He has been replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford educated gentleman who is 180 degrees different from Varoufakis.

In Yemen, the number of displaced has grown to 300,000. Saudi warplanes bombed the airport at Sana’a to prevent an Iranian plane from landing.

The number affected by the earthquake is rising. Over 4600 are confirmed dead and the Prime Minister has said that the toll may rise above 10,000.

In the affected area of Nepal live 8,000,000 people. One million of them are children. Nowhere are supplies adequate and people are living in makeshift tents as rain continues to pour down on them. Hospitals are overflowing and lacking supplies. The country’s economy was fragile before the quake and seems ravaged now.

In Rome, Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Science has convened a conference on climate change. In June, Francis will issue an encyclical on climate change that Ban Ki-moon of the UN says will come at a critical time. In September, Francis will address Congress during his visit to the US.

Francis is not the first Pope to take on climate change but he may be the most effective. His is a powerful presence.

Several American conservative groups, including one funded by the Koch brothers, attended the conference in order to refute its findings, not wanting the Pope and the Church to listen only to climate change alarmists.

In a sweet note, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, sent out pastries and coffee to the scores who are camped out in front of the hospital waiting for the Duchess to give birth to their second child.

The day here in New York is winding down. I am going to a screening of the new version of “Far From The Madding Crowd” tonight and will be looking for a nibble on my way there.

It is relatively quiet in Baltimore, according to my last text from Lionel. Supermarkets are closing at six and most restaurants and bars are not opening, battening down the hatches for another night.