Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Bader Ginsberg’

Letter From New York 09 04 15 Refugees, destruction and murdering grandmothers…

September 4, 2015

It started as a lovely day here in New York that has gradually become grey but it is not blistering hot, as it was yesterday. My brother, sister-in-law and his daughter and her husband, are out at the U.S. Open and so the weather should be kind to them as they are going to be out there all day long, not expected back until near midnight.

I met them for breakfast and then came down to Broderville to do some work though I found myself easily distracted today as we slip into the Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial end of summer.

The advent of this weekend always makes me a little sulky, as I know the winter is in front of us; we can’t quite touch it but it is definitely coming. The feel of fall was in the wind that channeled through the concrete valleys of the city this morning.

Tonight, while my family watches tennis matches, I will be having dinner with my friends David and Bill at their West End apartment, where David has lived since he was in law school at Columbia. His decision to go to law school was triggered by a conversation with none other than Ruth Bader Ginsberg, now sitting on the Supreme Court.

Their refusal to hear Kim Davis’ appeal regarding providing marriage licenses to same sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, and her continuing refusal to obey the law, has resulted in her finding herself in jail, in contempt of court.

Rachel Held Evans [@rachelheldevans] tweeted today: No one’s being jailed for practicing her religion. Someone’s being jailed for using the government to force others to practice her religion.

Much re-tweeted and frequently shared on Facebook, including by me, I thought her insight offered a bit of clarity.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have leapt to the defense of Kim Evans and she is becoming a potent symbol for the Christian right. I wonder where the Christian Left is on this; don’t recall hearing anything from them.

While some of us are melting down over the Kim Davis situation, IS has blown up three “Tower Tombs,” ancient artifacts that were uniquely Palmyran. UNESCO is calling their actions: intolerable crimes against civilization. The ancient world must have felt the same toward the Romans when they tore down buildings as they conquered towns or the barbarians as they overtook the Romans. We have a new set of barbarians loose in the land and they are taking with them what we had at long last started to preserve.

The death of little Alyan Kurdi, the three year old who died with his mother and brother, attempting to cross to Greek Kos from Turkey, was brought home to Kobane in Syria for burial.

The heartbreaking images of the boy seem to have stirred the EU into sorting out what they are going to do with the masses of refugees swarming upon them.

Cameron of the UK has said it will take 65,000 refugees. Individuals in the UK are gathering together, offering to help. Local Councils are beginning to do the same. Iceland has a movement agitating for their government to listen to the individuals and organizations that are willing to help with refugees.

A little boy has died; he will not soon be forgotten.

Hungary has been attempting to contain refugees there but they have broken out and are walking toward the borders. Nearly a thousand refugees are marching across Hungary after trains and buses to Germany were denied them.

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s right wing Prime Minister, has had the borders closed and raised a razor wire fence to prevent refugees from crossing the border. His actions have been denounced across Europe.

Right and Left are at odds all across Europe as the crisis continues.

An Egyptian billionaire has said he wants to buy an island from Greece or Italy to provide a new homeland for refugees.

Putin has admitted that Russia is giving logistical support to Assad’s government in Syria, something that has been suspected but had remained unconfirmed. The Russian President has left the door open for Russian troops though he has said he wants to keep conferring with his “partner,” the United States.

And, out of Russia, came the story of an elderly woman who has been jailed, suspected of perhaps as many as eleven murders. She was caught on video as she was disposing of a woman after having used a hacksaw to remove her hands and head. She then boiled them.

Her home contained books on black magic. The latest victim was a 79-year-old woman who was in her care. The Russians are calling her “Granny Ripper.”

Today is Force Friday. I hadn’t a clue about it until I read the Times this morning. Stores like “Toys R Us” and Walmart opened at midnight to start selling merchandise related to the upcoming Star Wars movie that is premiering in December. There is a new version of the Lego Millennium Falcon; an item that is on the top of many lists of must have items.

The day is ending. The sky is less grey and there’s more sunlight. I am heading out to buy a bottle of wine to give to my dinner hosts.

Letter From New York 01 13 15 Deciding for yourself…

February 13, 2015

On this Friday the 13th, I find myself in the Acela Lounge at Penn Station, warding off the freezing temperatures that have descended on the Northeast. Actually, I am waiting here to hear from my friend Paul, who may need some help from me after he has outpatient surgery today. He is having a stent put in his leg this afternoon. I am waiting to hear from him about going to his apartment, not far from Penn, to be with him after his surgery.

While Claverack will probably only get bitter cold today and tomorrow, the coastal areas of New England will be hammered again by snow, another foot added to the already record amounts that have fallen. Locally, the harsh winter has resulted in a road salt shortage and rationing has been started.

While a peace deal has been signed in Minsk, fighting is continuing in Ukraine and there is some skepticism that fighting will end when it is supposed to at midnight Saturday night. Ukraine has a slumping economy and has received a promise of $17.5 billion from the IMF to prop it up.

The negotiations to reach the agreement were difficult and “buckets of coffee” were drunk, according to the host, the President of Belarus. It was the first time in years any western leader had visited his country. He’s known as Europe’s last dictator. He met Angela Merkel with a small bouquet of flowers and seemed very pleased she and Hollande were there.

Probably not very pleased right now is President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina as a prosecutor has launched an investigation concerning her potential involvement in a cover-up regarding facts about a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires of a synagogue in which 85 people were killed. Iran has been blamed, a statement they deny.

It is the latest twist in a bizarre case. The last prosecutor, Nisman, was found dead in his apartment the night before he was testify in the case. Supposedly a suicide, it is now being investigated as a potential murder. The case is riveting Argentina.

Another riveting scene is watching who will blink first in the Greek debt restructuring negotiations. Greece isn’t budging from its position of wanting a restructuring and European Finance Ministers are not moving from demanding that Greece honor the terms of the bailout. Particularly severe is Schaeuble of Germany, a formidable figure, in a wheelchair as a result of a 1990 assassination attempt.

The Boko Haram launched their first attack on Chad. The BBC reported that the savagery was severe. Soldiers had their throats cut and women were carried off as “war booty.” President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria is requesting American troops to fight Boko Haram.

In another chapter in a sorry week for media, David Carr, the well-respected media critic for the New York Times, collapsed last night in the Times’ newsroom and died. He had battled drug addiction in his younger years and had climbed out of that hole and become one of the most respected reporters in the country.

Brian Williams is reported to be considering an apology tour of the country after seeking counseling. As he considers his next moves, investigations are continuing into many comments that he made that are now doubted. Was he with Seal Team 6 as they flew into Baghdad? Did he actually shake the hand of Pope Paul II? Was he at the Brandenburg Gate the night the wall fell? He might need to wait to make that apology tour until he knows exactly all that he needs to apologize for.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of our Supreme Court is reported as having had a bit too much wine the night of the State of the Union address and drifted off during Obama’s speech. It made her seem so human.

Speaking of things human, the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey opens this weekend. The reviews I’ve read or heard are all over the place, from superb to terrible, beautifully acted to woodenly performed. One reviewer reported that at the end of the screening she attended, everyone began to giggle, probably from a combination of factors. If you are interested [and it is assumed a lot of people are going to be interested], you will probably have to rely on your own take.