Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

Letter From New York 09 27 15 From Syria to Claverack…

September 28, 2015

The Pope is preached brotherly love in Philadelphia. Putin and Obama will meet. The GOP is in disarray. Watching the Super Moon. Finishing the Tennessee Williams Festival. Death visits while on the Haj. Iraq, Russia, Syria and Iran are all playing footsie with one another.

All of these are things I was thinking about while I was crawling down US-6 from Provincetown, working my way slowly to get home. I left before 10:30, thinking I would miss the traffic. I was wrong.

It gave me much time to think. I had had a more than pleasant five days in Provincetown with my friends Dawn McCall and Gail Williams. I attended four performances at the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, all of them thought provoking.

Last night, Dawn and Gail invited my friends Nick and Lisa to dinner and we had a wonderful time. We started with martinis and made our way through an extraordinary dinner of steak and grilled vegetables. Dawn works the grill better than anyone I know.

On the way home, I listened to a variety of NPR radio stations, a mélange of music and news.

Pope Francis did preach brotherly love in Philadelphia and met with survivors of sexual abuse. He has, as I write this, departed Philadelphia and is headed back to Rome. I am sure he will be sleeping soundly on the flight; it has been a busy ten days between Cuba and the U.S.

With Boehner leaving Congress it will be fascinating to see what will happen next with the Republicans. It seems John Boehner had had enough of his fractious colleagues and just decided to pack his toys and go home. It probably means there will not be a government shutdown this go round but who knows what mayhem will come next?

Iran is demanding an apology from Saudi Arabia over the deaths at this year’s Haj. I doubt that will happen but it does point out how dangerous and volatile the Haj has become in recent years. It’s the equivalent of a rather large city on the move, all at one time.

Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia have come to an agreement to work together to defeat IS. Russia is out there, working to claim its place in this mess. They support Assad. I’m not sure whom the other players actually support but it now seems like they have aligned themselves with Russia, and Assad.

Tomorrow, Putin and Obama will meet. Neither of them claims to have requested the meeting but they will meet. It, hopefully, will be a good thing.

Returning home tonight, I was peckish and went down to the Dot for a bite. David Drake is the bartender on Sundays and Mondays. When not bartending, he paints. I have two of his paintings in my home. I love them.

As I was driving home, I saw the full moon, huge, low in the sky. I probably will not be able to see it when it turns blood red and there is an eclipse of it. I am home and when the eclipse happens, the small forest of trees that surrounds my home will hide the moon. But the moon was huge tonight.

As I sit here writing, the heat is now on, the first time this year. When I entered the house after my return from Provincetown, it was cool to the point of uncomfortable.

Tomorrow will be another day. I think. There are those who claim that tonight’s Super Moon, the fourth in a succession of them, is a harbinger of the end of the world.

I don’t think so.

Letter From New York 05 10 15 On Mother’s Day and the existence of real world problems…

May 10, 2015

Today is the 10th of May. It’s Mother’s Day. My mother is long gone though I still am surprised that there are moments when I think: I need to call Mom and tell her this. So does my brother once in awhile.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all and sundry; when I was having my haircut today the woman cutting my hair asked me what I was doing for Mother’s Day and I had to tell her nothing. My mother has now been dead for twenty years. It seems impossible but it’s true. The last time I saw her she thought I was her brother Ted. It broke my heart.

And those are the things we have to face with aging parents and to worry about for ourselves as we age. I do, for myself. On Sundays I read the Wedding section of The New York Times and the Obituaries. Today there were a few people near my age who had died and it struck me how fragile our time on life earth is and how fleeting.

But these are existential questions and probably first world problems.

In Yemen, they are hoping that the conversation about a ceasefire will become reality. It will help get supplies to folks who are on the edge of starving. That’s a real world problem.

Apparently, there is an attempt being made to get a five-day truce to start on Tuesday to allow for the delivery of humanitarian supplies. There is also going to be a meeting between Arab leaders and Obama at Camp David this week though today King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced he would not be attending. Instead he is sending his Crown Prince and his Deputy Crown Prince in a gesture intended to communicate his displeasure with the US and its effort to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

In Liberia today the churches celebrated that the country now seems free from Ebola. That’s a real world celebration.

In devastated Nepal, efforts are being made to provide sanitation for all of those who have lost their homes in an effort to prevent cholera and other diseases in advance of the coming Monsoon season. It is critical for the country that has in the past few years made major progress in creating better sanitation; much of that has been reversed by the earthquake. That is a very real problem. And it’s not a first world problem.

In our first world set of problems, security has been increased at US bases in this country because of a heightened concern over ISIS attacks in the homeland.

“Homeland” is a word I don’t remember being used for this country before 9/11, before there was a Department of Homeland Security. It is vaguely unsettling to me – like the Nazis who called Germany “The Fatherland.” It evokes a sense of siege, which I suppose we are in, in a way.

ISIS is a very real world problem all over the world.

Raul Castro met with Pope Francis. He is now thinking about going back to church. That’s a “Saul on the road to Damascus” moment if there ever was one.

Two days of mourning have been declared in Macedonia for the death of eight police officers that were killed in a raid against a terrorist organization, which seemed to have been made of ethnic Albanians. In the story, there are threads of organized crime, heroin and the continued instability of countries that once made up Yugoslavia.

Speaking of a Yugoslavian kind of situation, the hegemony of the television networks is really beginning to splinter this year as we go into the “upfronts,” that moment in the year when television networks get as much as 75% of their inventory purchased by advertisers.

Television ratings, overall, are down 9% from last year to this. Digital is getting more dollars and networks are facing a moribund upfront. It will still be huge but probably flat or down. It is an amazing thing to watch.

What is also amazing to watch is the sunset happening outside. Today was supposed to be a day of thunderstorms but instead there were crisp blue skies and the warmest day of the year. Clouds are beginning to form and we’ll probably have rain tomorrow but today was spectacular.

Letter From New York 04 11 15 After a pause…

April 11, 2015

Yesterday, there was no Letter From New York. As the afternoon wore on, I felt pensive and uninspired. My mind was full of thoughts from my lunch with Isaac Phillips, a young entrepreneur whom I had met at a New York Video Meet-up. He is working on several apps and is whip smart in technology.

We had a wide ranging conversation about technology and then the general state of the world. After Isaac departed, I stayed and answered a couple of texts. Feeling discouraged about the state of the world based on my conversations with Isaac, I couldn’t seem to motivate my mind to move my fingers for a blog post.

Even though the day was grey, damp, and chill in New York, I had entered it with a good attitude and was feeling upbeat about most things. But if you look out on the global landscape, it’s hard to be upbeat. And I was thinking globally yesterday.

Today, I am thinking very locally. Tomorrow my friends Lionel and Pierre will be driving off to Baltimore so that Lionel can start his new job with AOL’s Ad Tech group. Tonight, I am having several neighbors over for a little farewell splash at the cottage so I need to be organized and moving today.

Falling asleep early last night, I woke early and decided to get my morning coffee, peruse the Times and do a blog early, so that it wouldn’t be on my mind as I prep for this evening’s serious nibbles and drinks.

While Lionel and Pierre have only been living across the street for eighteen months, they have been regular visitors at the cottage since the very beginning. Having them across the street brought another layer of security and hominess to this little neighborhood in Claverack. They hope to get up on a monthly basis and I am going to attempt to get down on a monthly basis to see them but it won’t be the same as having them in residence.

What will be in residence in all our lives for the next eighteen months will be the build-up to the 2016 Presidential Election. It will kick off with seriousness tomorrow when it is anticipated Hillary Clinton will officially enter the fray. She heads off immediately for Iowa after her Sunday announcement and our lives will be pummeled by politics until the last vote is counted.

In the background, Obama has been quietly praising up his former Secretary of State. It will be interesting to see what role he might play in the campaign ahead.

In financial news, GE is selling off its financial unit, GE Capital, to refocus on its core manufacturing skillsets. Being a financial giant doesn’t look as good today as it did before the financial crisis and GE is making a bold move to reshape itself.

In a low key but historic moment, Obama and Raul Castro shook hands at the Summit of the Americas being held in Panama. There will be, I’m sure, other encounters through the weekend.

Today, Saturday, Walter Scott, the South Carolinian shot in the back by a police officer, will be buried while a number of Southern Californian deputies are suspended after video surfaced showing them beating a suspect after his capture.

Captured in Yemen were two Iranian officers, allegedly offering support to the Houthis. If true, this will ratchet up the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, both vying to be the big guy in the Middle East. In the meantime, Yemen is in chaos.

Outside my window, the sun is streaking down, cutting a path of light across my bedroom carpet. Today is supposed to be cloudy, grey and maybe a little rainy so the morning sunshine is deeply appreciated.

I still feel a little melancholy today but it should pass as I prepare for the evening’s fete. It will be a good day!