Posts Tagged ‘Queen Victoria’

Letter From the Train 09 10 15 On the train south, with an eerie landscape slipping by…

September 10, 2015

It is a grey and almost cool day as I ride the train south to the city; tomorrow I am making a day trip with a client to Washington, DC. The Hudson River is almost bronze in color, with small waves rocking the boats at anchor. It is a day that feels depressing; I have worked hard to be cheery and not cranky.

Mostly I have succeeded.

Bernie Sanders is “stunned” by the fact he is pulling close to Hillary Clinton in polls in key states like Iowa. Hollywood Democrats are re-thinking their support for her; wondering if Joe Biden will cease biding his time and jump into the race. One headline today from the Washington Post suggested it might be time for Hillary to go into panic mode.

On the Republican side, Trump and Ben Carson, both outsiders, are now doing a bit of infighting, while dominating the field. Carson questioned The Donald’s faith and Trump, of course, shot back. He also took a slam at Carly Fiorina, saying something that sounded like he thought she was ugly. He responded, nah, not her face, just her persona.

It certainly is keeping things amusing if not just a little frightening.

Scientists stunned the world with the announcement of a new human ancestor, Homo Naledi, found in a dark cave in South Africa by a team that was supported, in part, by the National Geographic Society.

That estimable group has now sold the majority interest in all its media properties to 21st Century Fox, including the venerable magazine, raising nearly three quarters of a billion dollars for the society. For the first time in its history, National Geographic Magazine will be a for profit operation.

I was stunned when I heard the news. Somehow it feels wrong.

Today there was a procedural vote to disapprove the Iranian Nuclear Deal. It was blocked by a vote of 58 to 42. Obama will not have to use his veto. It was a significant win for Democrats. We will all see how it plays out over the next decade.

A mist is now hovering over the river, obscuring the west bank of the Hudson. It is barely visible and slight streaks of rain are splashed against the window next to me. It is oddly comforting to be here, sitting on the train and watching the eerie landscape slide by.

We just slipped by Bannerman’s Castle, a structure built in the 19th century as a munitions depot that has fallen into ruins. It looks like a haunted castle, sitting on a small island that hugs close to the east bank of the Hudson. Dark and threatening clouds hover over the river.

IS is offering a Norwegian citizen and a Chinese citizen “for sale” in their online magazine. The Chinese government has not responded and the Norwegians have said they won’t pay ransom. A wealthy individual could rescue them, I suppose. The amount requested is, according the Norwegians, substantial.

To assist President Assad of Syria cling to power, the Russians have sent military advisers and troops to that country, bolstering Assad and his forces at a time when they seem to be losing on all fronts. Syria has been close to Moscow since 1955 and Putin is determined not to let it slip from his side. It complicates the equation for everyone.

In a story that brought me a smile, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, is now the longest reigning British monarch, having now reigned longer than her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria. She has now been Queen since 1952 and Britain today is much different from Britain then, wildly more diverse with great gaps in wealth between the cities and the countryside. Through it all, the slow devolution of a great Empire, Elizabeth has been there, a calming presence.

How it will go with Charles on the throne is yet to be seen. But in the meantime, good on you, Ma’am…

The rain has increased. It looks like a scene from a thriller out my window. Soon I will be arriving in New York.

Have a good evening.

Letter From New York 05 15 15 Perhaps a toast to Maximillian?

May 5, 2015

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a day celebrated by the Mexicans to commemorate their victory over the French in 1862. It is NOT the day of Mexican Independence; that’s celebrated on September 16th.

It’s a complicated story of debts not repaid, French ire and later a desire to build an empire in Mexico that was to expand French influence.

After their defeat at Puebla in 1862, the French came back with more troops and took over Mexico and installed Maximillian I as Emperor of Mexico, a situation that lasted only three years and ended with his death by firing squad.

His wife, the Empress Carlotta, a first cousin of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Victoria’s consort, was in Europe attempting to raise support for her husband when news of his death arrived. She went insane.

So, as you have your margaritas tonight, you might want to think of Maximillian.

You might want to give a thought to David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain. The British Election season is ending and the voters are going to the polls. Cameron’s government has done a fairly good job on economic reforms and getting the country on the way to recovery so he is trying to use those accomplishments to get people to vote for him.

And he will probably end up with the most seats but not enough to form a government on his own and he’ll have to put together some sort of coalition to rule. It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens; things are very interesting in Britain right now. Let’s see how it all falls out.

Today in the UK, Queen Elizabeth II, visited her great granddaughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. No word on her reaction to the child though one of her middle names is Elizabeth; another is Diana.

Across the Channel in France, the legislature has voted to vastly expand the abilities for security services surveillance capabilities, almost without judicial governance. It is a reaction to the terrorist attacks earlier this year. It reminds one judge, who is opposed to it; of America’s Patriot Act.

Also in France a political drama is unfolding. The far right National Front Party has suspended its founder, Jean-Marie LePen, on orders of his daughter, Marine LePen, after he, once again, minimized the Holocaust. Jean-Marie is hoping his daughter will marry soon so her name would change. He’s ashamed of her. Really good soap opera.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram, at last, seems on the run. Nigerian soldiers have been paid back wages and given hazard pay as well as getting better arms. A year ago Nigerian troops were doing the running and this year they are reclaiming lost territory and have freed 700 women and girls in the last week alone. It is said that Boko Haram is running low on ammunition and supplies. Fighters from Niger, Chad and Cameroon have joined Nigeria, helping to tilt the balance against Boko Haram.

Sadly, another forty migrants from Africa have drowned in the Mediterranean, according to Save The Children. 4,500 migrants were rescued from the sea over the last weekend.

Joo Won-moon, a South Korean student at NYU’s Stern School of Business, traveled to North Korea, via the Great Wall of China, wanting to be arrested. He seemed to think his arrest would trigger some event that would warm relations between North and South Korea. It hasn’t happened, of course. He seems to be being treated well by the North Koreans but no word on releasing him. Not a place I’d like to be.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Lavrov, has declared that “someone” in the EU does not want the Ukrainian truce to hold. He doesn’t say who that someone is.

John Kerry, Secretary of State for the U.S., dropped in on troubled Somalia to give them a confidence booster.

In Saudi Arabia, King Salman abruptly fired a top aide for apparently slapping a foreign correspondent covering the reception being held for King Mohammed of Morocco. The move was a hit on Saudi Arabian social media. Thumbs up for the King.

And in a final note for the day, one of my favorite actors, Martin Freeman, he of “The Hobbit” and “Sherlock” has joined the cast of “Captain America: Civil War” due out at the end of next year.

Now, I’m off to dinner with my friend, and attorney, Mary Ann Zimmer, at her apartment. Tomorrow is another day.